I’ve noticed something recently. I feel guilty about my daydreams, my imagination, my intuition, my deeply held visions.
I just do. As soon as a big one pops up, I feel guilty. Then, I am discovering, I look around to find something to confirm my guilt. Something, that is, to confirm that it’s wrong for me to dream this or that.
And, no surprise, I can always find evidence that my dreams, imagination, intuition, and visions are wrong. Not wrong as in incorrect, but wrong as in immoral, unethical, harmful.
Such fun. I was thinking about the life I lived growing up, in which guilt featured prominently as a motivator. My upbringing has often been referred to as sheltered, presumably because I spent most of it in church or around church-type people. I wonder what I was sheltered from, though? I spent my formative years listening to harangue after harangue about how if I weren’t saved I’d be going to a literal fiery burning hell forever; and if I am saved it’s my duty to go out and save as many other people in the world as possible from that same fate. It was terrifying. I was subjected to constant lectures on something called sin, the rules about which seemed to change with the speaker (always with Bible verses for backup, though), and the path to virtue seemed to be to feel terribly guilty.
In fact, the only way to freedom and happiness was to feel completely guilty and entirely worthless. So I wonder, in what way, exactly, was my upbringing sheltered? It was pretty brutal from an emotional perspective. If my children were subjected to the sorts of things I had to hear every day of the week, I would remove them immediately from the situation. I can’t believe that children have to hear such horrible things about themselves, about the universe, and about the parts of life that we don’t really understand.
So here I am, decades later, still peeling back the layers of what it means to live freely. Again and again and over again I come up against this intrusive and physically painful feeling of guilt, of worthlessness. It has nothing to do with who I am, how I live, or what I believe now. It has nothing to do with my hopes for the future. It has nothing to do with my dreams. But it still occupies a large space in my psyche.
Recently, I posted a short quote from my favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. The essence of it was that once you have removed all other possible solutions, the one remaining, however improbable, has to be the truth. This quote is my life jacket in these days. I am removing possible solutions and looking at the improbable truth.
Removing the solution that freedom is bought through believing in one’s innate worthlessness.
Removing the solution that happiness is obtained through feeling completely guilty.
Removing the solution that sin exists, and can be defined, and brings on a literal fiery eternal hell (I cannot imagine what my people were thinking of when they told little tiny me, a determined people-lover and people-pleaser, such a horrible thing).
Removing the solution that my dreams are wrong, sinful, inspired by selfishness or worse.
Removing the solution that my intuition is inherently and horribly evil.
There are more removals to be done. But when they are gone, the improbable truth that remains is that I can feel free when I believe I am worthy. I can feel happy when I feel self-love. I can understand that people do not always treat each other well, and there certainly exists a level of behavior that I will probably always call evil – but my little four year old self wasn’t evil, and my inner self isn’t, still. I can understand that my dreams are really just my life spinning out into the future. And my intuition is how I know my dreams have a shimmer on them.
I have a couple of places in my life where I am testing this out right now, big time. And I think that is why I am feeling the backlash of the old guilt. These couple of places are huge priorities for me, and they go against everything I was ever taught, even as an adult, that I should do, be, or believe. But they are me. They are me. I have few priorities in life. But these few – they are there because they reflect my inner self.
I wonder, too, about something – I have times when I feel the guilt and the shame and the unworthiness and all of those feelings that swamped my childhood psyche, are just gone. And I’m wondering these days about what I can do to fill that space that has been occupied by guilt for so much of my life. It’s a big space. What do I want to put there? What do I want to do with it?
I think I might use it as a space for singing. It is really big, and has hard walls, and so it’s bound to have good acoustics. And I know that one of the reasons I HAVE to sing (I don’t speak my priorities aloud much, but this one is clear and open), is because when I sing I believe in my dreams.
Growing up how I did, coming out later in life as I did, and living with restrictions that put me in a box, have left me with – the exact opposite of what my upbringing was supposed to bring. Because at the end of the day I keep reaching for something happy and free, just over the rainbow…