*Has guilt ever almost eaten you alive? If so, how'd you - Like, how'd recuperate? Guilt is such a tricky emotion, don't you think? The sincerity behind true guilt is deafening.
Yes. I have felt completely consumed and overwhelmed by guilt many times in my life and I'm sure I will feel that many more times. A situation that always comes to mind when I think of feeling overwhelmed with guilt happened to me in High School.
I was dating a guy from ages 14-17. He was nothing but good to me for those years, but during the last few months things began to change, as things tend to in teenage relationships. He got arrested a few times for stealing and graffiti and other things. He started using this inflection in his voice to make himself sound more 'Mexican' (which was the weirdest part of the whole relationship, to me). He stopped showering and let his hair grow long. We started seeing each other less and less. He essentially became what, to me, felt 'emotionally distant', and the relationship, as most relationships do, fell apart
When we decided to break up our mutual best friend sort of 'took my side'. He stopped talking to my ex-boyfriend. He brought me along with him to social occasions and incorporated me into his friend group. He talked to me about the break up and generally made me feel better about myself and my situation during a time when I probably would have been very lonely otherwise. He introduced me to some people who I still consider close friends of mine. I am thankful for that.
He was, what I have described to family and friends as a 'serial monogamist'. He always had a girlfriend and was always cheating on her with another girl, and as soon as he could see that his girlfriend was on the verge of finding out about the other girl, he would quickly find a replacement and bail first from the relationship. Meaning, he would 'overlap' girlfriends but would also always have another girl who he was sleeping with on the side. So, occasionally he would be having sex with 3 girls at once without any of them knowing, besides the girl whose designated role was to be 'the other woman'. Like, essentially he would have one girl who was his 'girlfriend' who he was about to break up with, one girl who was the girl he was about to make his new girlfriend after he broke up with the first one, and one girl who was his 'mistress' (for lack of a better word). Does that make sense? Probably not. It was very complicated and not a great thing to witness. His life sort of seemed like a slow motion train wreck in retrospect.
A few weeks after I broke up with my boyfriend and had been hanging out with my best friend a lot (who at the time, had a girlfriend and was cheating on her with another girl, which I knew because he told me about it), I received a text from him to the effect of 'if I didn't have a girlfriend would you want to have sex with me?' I hadn't really thought about him in that way until he said that. We had already been platonic friends for years. Without thinking very much as all, I responded almost immediately with something to the effect of 'Yes.'
Upon sending that text something must have clicked in my adolescent mind, causing me to realize that I probably wanted to have sex with him all along but was too wrapped up in my relationship to notice.
The conversation ended with him essentially saying 'Lets have sex but never tell anyone.' Which we did. On and off for about 3 years. For the first two years I didn't tell a soul. Not even my mother, who I compulsively tell everything about my life. It felt like the sex part of our relationship wasn't really happening. During the day we were close friends. I would go to these massive family dinners at his grandma's house on Tuesdays and he would come to my house to hang out with me and my family any time he wasn't with his girlfriend. I texted with his mom and sister often. We went to parties together and had all the same friends. Then, at night, we would have sex in the back of my car. Or in the back of his car. Or any other place where people wouldn't suspect us. Nobody knew, not one person.
I always recall one time specifically when he and I were at our friend’s house with ~10 other people. It was an extremely large house and everyone was upstairs drinking beers and watching a movie. He stood up and announced that he was going to go buy more alcohol, then asked me to join him. We had sex on the kitchen counter, then left to the liquor store. Still, nobody knew.
The worst part, the part that makes me feel the most guilty when I think back to it, is that sex with him was some of the best sex I can ever remember having. Not because he was particularly 'good' at sex, or even anything about the physical sensation of it, but because he made me feel 'wanted' in a way nobody had before that. I had obviously been attracted to him all these years without realizing it, and him having sex with me felt like him showing me that he was attracted to me too. The sex was felt like him telling me that I was not only someone worthy of having sex with, but someone who he wanted to have sex with more than other people. He could have had sex with his girlfriend, or the girl he was cheating on his girlfriend with, or a handful of other girls, but he chose me. More than anything else, he made me feel desirable, which was something I desperately wanted at age 17.
As the years passed, things became less ideal. The relationship began to lose some of the novelty it once had. We stopped talking regularly, we stopped hanging out at each other's houses, we still went to the same parties but we didn't go together. We still hung around the same friend group but the two of us began drifting apart. We mostly stopped seeing each other outside of sex and big social gatherings.
I remember the day I finally admitted to another person, and to myself to some degree, that I was having sex with him. I was in my friend's car on our way to a party that he would inevitably be attending. She pulled the car over immediately when I told her. I thought for sure she was going to tell me to get out of the car, but she didn't. She was shocked and confused, but after that wore off she was nothing but supportive and I am still thankful for that. After telling her though, the situation sort of snowballed. Everything suddenly became 'real' in my mind and I no longer felt like I had the self-control to keep it a total secret. I told another close friend of mine, who then proceeded to tell just about everyone we knew. It got to the point where the majority of our friend group knew what was going on. Besides the people involved.
After people found out what was going on I began to feel intense guilt. More guilt than I had ever felt previously. I was in the wrong and there was no way to view the situation otherwise. I was selfishly hurting other people for my own personal satisfaction. There was no way to pretend I didn't know, there was no way to shift the story in my favor. I told him that I didn't want to have sex with him anymore. I tried the classic 'lets-stop-having-sex-but-still-be-friends' maneuver, which failed miserably. He went away to college in New York for 2 months before dropping out, only to come back to Los Angeles and continue having sex with me. Despite the fact that, by this point, we were already on very bad terms and could rarely have a conversation without arguing. For the next few months we continued this cycle of arguing, having angry sex, then arguing more.
One night, I took the advice of a friend and told him (in an extremely melodramatic email) that I didn't want to speak to him or see him anymore. He responded politely and we stopped contacting each other. I began seeing different friends in order to avoid running into him. We didn't talk or see each other at all, but we also didn't argue. I tried to live quietly with the comfort of knowing that maybe, one day, things could go back to the way they were before we ever had sex.
Unfortunately, that is not how it ended. Everything came to a head at a birthday party for our mutual friend. He came up to me and asked me where the bathroom was, which was, hilariously, our first interaction in months. I showed him to the bathroom, which just so happened to be in a dark corner of the house, devoid of other people. He walked towards me until I was backed in a corner and began kissing me. I kissed him back. I won't pretend that I didn't enjoy it. I felt like I had no control over the situation, like I couldn't get away from him no matter how hard I tried. I felt helpless and overwhelmed and shitty. That’s not to say what I felt then was justified, or even reasonable. I was doing a bad thing for my own satisfaction and I knew it.
After that night I made a choice which I'm still not sure was the right one. I told his girlfriend everything. I did it because I thought the only way for me to get out of the relationship was to do something that made him hate me. I was desperate. At the time I felt she deserved to know so that she could move on and find someone who didn't lie to her. And she did deserve better, but in retrospect my intentions were selfish. Perhaps that was not the way to make her realize that her boyfriend was not treating her well. If I were a stronger person, I could have stopped sleeping with him and disconnected from the situation entirely, allowing his girlfriend to draw her own conclusions and grow out of the relationship at her own speed.
My only contact with him after that was him calling me to tell me that I shouldn't come to our mutual friend's New Year’s Eve party, despite having been invited. [*NOTICE* You can listen to the voicemail he left me about this if you skip to 35 seconds into this video: https://vimeo.com/50783757 *NOTICE*]
Recently I saw him at a friend’s house in Los Angeles and sold him xanax. Then I saw him again a few weeks after that and he sold me adderall. We seem to be on okay terms now, many years later, but I guess that might change if he reads this essay…
I still feel guilty about this occasionally. Since then, I have been on the other side of a relationship like that. I have been cheated on and it feels worse than I currently feel capable of describing. Being the 'other woman' felt almost as bad as being cheated on, in a way. I can't speak to other people's experiences but, in my own life, the guilt of being 'the other woman' has lingered for years in very subtle ways, and affected the way I live my life now. Whereas the feeling of being cheated on consumed me for much longer than I would care to admit. For a while, my life was the pain of being cheated on and nothing more. I viewed every aspect of myself through the filter of 'I have been wronged by somebody who I loved because I am not good enough'. I hated myself more than I ever had before. Trusting anybody felt completely foreign and impossible. Being reminded of what I felt then can still be completely crippling sometimes.
Living my life knowing that I may have caused someone else to feel that pain is shameful, but it's not as bad as the feeling of being lied to by someone you trust.
I agree with you, that guilt is an extremely tricky emotion. If you're feeling guilty, that probably means you have done something to hurt someone who, in your view, didn't deserve it, and hence you should be feeling bad about it.
So, guilt can be positive, in that it may drive you to do things that will improve a specific situation, or stop you from causing people unnecessary pain in the future. Then again, sometimes you've already done something 'wrong' and there isn't anything you can do to fix it anymore. In which case, you have no choice but to accept that you have done something which makes you feel badly about yourself, and figure out a way to live with your guilt.
In that case, judging from my own experience, the only thing that fixes guilt is time. I used to spend every day thinking about how guilty I felt about the situation I just described. Since then I have made an effort to never put myself in a situation where I may do something like that again. I almost never think about it now unless I'm directly presented with something that reminds me, but the guilt is still there. For example, typing this out just now reminded me of how horrible I feel for having done that, and how much I never want to do something like that again.
So, maybe it’s less that you can 'cure' feelings of guilt and more that, with time, you can learn to live with them by acting in a way that doesn't cause unnecessary negativity in other people's lives.
*I feel self-conscious about my weight/ the way I look. I would like to look better without putting in too much effort. What would you recommend?
Here are some things that have helped me when I have felt self conscious about my weight or physical appearance:
- Finding someone to have sex with who likes my body exactly the way it is
- Not having sex with anybody who doesn't like my body exactly the way it is
- Using adderall
- Not using cocaine in excess
- Working so much that I am too busy and tired to have time to examine my own body
- Avoiding mirrors
- Taking flattering photos of myself
- Taking unflattering photos of myself
- Not eating for extended periods of time
Generally when I feel self-conscious about my weight and physical appearance, the main thing I do is stop eating or eat very little. Sometimes I use adderall to help me feel less hungry. Sometimes I will go to yoga classes that are way above my skill level or go running. Sometimes I will have meaningless sex with people who I wouldn't have sex with if I felt okay about myself. I wouldn't necessarily recommend those things.
Actually, come to think of it, I wouldn't recommend most of the things I just listed. I honestly can't imagine what aspect of the way I present myself in person or on the internet has lead anybody to believe that I have healthy coping mechanisms, or that taking advice from me is a good idea.
*Have you ever broken up with someone and remained on good terms? How did you do it?
My most recent relationship ended with me moving across the country. I had planned to only be gone for a month, but now I am here (LA) for the foreseeable future. He and I are still on very good terms. Instead of typing out the whole story I am just going to show you the emails leading up to our break up. I will add context where it is needed.
(For the purpose of anonymity, I have changed my ex-boyfriend's name to 'Oliver'.)
i don't know if i can keep doing this
i miss you
life seems stupid just going through the motions of life, rn, tbh
feel like in that kanye song 'tired of loving with nobody to love'
you shit head
when you left you said it would be for about a month, now it looks like it will be about another month, in a month who knows what it will look like
if i believed that we would be able to pick up where we seemed to be heading.. then.. something.. but rn..
[*CONTEXT* Our relationship was a little rocky and confusing at first. We had just gotten easier and more stable place after deciding to be 'exclusive'. One night we both took xanax and got in a useless fight that I don't fully remember, which was a big part of my decision to go home to Los Angeles. The next day, after telling him I was leaving for a month, we made up and decided to continue being exclusive while I was away. *CONTEXT*]
you will do whatever you think is best for you.. as far as time.. and place.. and that's good
do you have thoughts
i understand that and have been thinking similar things
'this' seems hard to maintain when im in california and confused as to when im coming home
feels shitty that you met me at a time in my life when im like, all over the place…
[*CONTEXT* I had just gotten out of a very bad relationship. I had been doing a lot of drugs. I was between jobs and unhappy with my life in general. *CONTEXT*]
i like you so much and i wish things were easier
or, i wish i was easier, or something...
its not fair of me to expect you to wait for me when i dont know what im doing or when i will be back
i feel confused about a lot of things right now
i feel like i agree and i dont know if i can continue doing this or continue making you do this
i like talking to you a lot
i miss you a lot
i have only good feelings about you. im sorry i couldnt... idk
i think we should call off the relationship, with nothing but the best feelings towards the other person
maybe god will put us in the same toilet again some day and he will actually flush this time and it will be perfect?
seems sad but also nice in that we still feel good about another person
but also like i'm just going to miss you in a different way now
you shit head
i agree. calling off the relationship does seem like the best option right now
maybe one day when im more... prepared... for something like this... we can be better
for now seems best to end it while we can still feel good about each other
i have nothing but good feelings about you
you have been sweet and caring and supportive to me
im going to miss you in a lot of ways, i think
seems sad but i feel happy that you exist and i got to spend time with you
*In light of the earth's relative insignificance in the universe, the inexplicability of the existence of life, the loss of belief in God and the inability to obtain God Mode (as well as the impossibility of life cheat codes in general), how would you characterize a proper orientation to 'the good life' and 'the noble death', in 140 characters or less?
A good life consists of spending most of your time in bed, causing little or no impact on anybody or anything. (110 characters)
A noble death is also in bed. (29 characters)
*Have you ever suddenly seen a ~5'7", dark-haired twenty-something male with a tasteful mustache/chin tuft wearing all white and posing in a group photograph?
*If so, did this man outshine all others in the photograph with his brilliant smile and an air that hinted at great erotic capacity?
Did he glance over at you and leave an indelible mark on your life and psyche?
Yes. His glance allowed me to experience ~3-5 of the best orgasms of my life.
And if so, what was his name?
In my dreams his name is simply 'Nico'. No middle name, no last name.
And at which corporately branded party did he first walk into your dreams?
None. He simply 'billowed' into my consciousness. Too perfect of a being to possibly exist in reality.