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Archive for July, 2005

why do i always feel so guilty? even when i am completely innocent, or at least guilty of nothing more than doing something for myself, i feel totally and utterly stricken with guilt. sick with it. to the point that i write long, guilt-stricken letters to people that i’m not even close friends with, just so that they won’t hate me or think i’m a bad person. and, i stress, people i’m not even close friends with. why do i feel this constant need to solve everyone’s problems, make everyone happy, and generally try to save the day?

i need to get over this. i need to realize that i will never be able to make everyone happy. full stop. end of story.

so here’s the beginning of the story: a girl i work with asked me to pick up a shift for her next month. she is going out of town and misjudged the dates of her trip when she put in her schedule request, so she is scheduled to work one day that she’ll be gone. i told her i’d probably be able to work, but i’d have to check. i checked, and, sure enough, that is the day that i was planning to go to ‘movies in the park’, a big outdoor film festival held on tuesdays in july and august. it runs several tuesdays, but that week’s film is the only one i am interested in seeing- ‘the hustler’, with paul newman. J and i go to movies in the park every summer, it’s one of our traditional summer outings, and sad as that may be, it’s a big deal to me. so i stupidly told my co-worker that i couldn’t work because i really wanted to go to movies in the park that night. silly me, i didn’t just lie and say i had something i couldn’t get out of that night, i told the truth. bad move. she kind of huffed away, saying nevermind, and mumbling something about how no one ever covers hers shifts. beyond that, another guy we work with, someone i actually consider a friend, already told her he would work if she couldn’t find anyone else- he wanted to be a last resort because his dad and little sisters are in town that night. i, of course, immediatly felt crippled with guilt. why? because i didn’t give up my own plans and my own night off to help out a co-worker- no, make that TWO co-workers, one of which is a friend.

and now i feel like an evil, evil, EVIL bitch.

so i wrote this co-worker an email (even worse, i’m a PASSIVE evil bitch), telling her of my overwhelming guilt, my future willingness to help her out in any other situation that i can, and calling myself all sorts of bad names. she wrote me back: “Not your problem. I’ll be home in California so I won’t be working that day anyway. I’ll just be more careful about when I work for other people from now on.”

man. talk about salt on the wound.

so my question is this- why do i feel so guilty? i am not killing her family, causing her bodily harm, emptying her bank account or otherwise hurting her in any way. i made her no promises, and i have absolutley no obligation to work- it’s my rightful, scheduled day off. and this girl is not even my friend. she won’t have to work- essentially the shift is covered. i even called around for her to see if i could persuade someone else to work- did her job for her, technically. as she said herself (though snarkily):THIS IS NOT MY PROBLEM.

but still the guilt persists. if it wasn’t too repetitious, i would say this is yet another sign that i need therapy. guilt complex, irrational need to please others, probably because of something my parents did or did not do…

dammit- i get all of the guilt of religion, with none of the comfort.

(totally off the guilt subject: if you’re looking for news from my iowa city workshop experience, read below. i actually used links, and i’m pretty proud of myself)

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catch up

okay, so like a rodent’s advanced scheduling, my plan to blog more often is once again unraveling. but i perservere…

thanks to everyone who sent kind and supportive words in response to my iowa city post. i felt the love, really i did. actually, my time in iowa turned out to be a great experience- i met some fantastic fellow writers, made some friends, gained some perspective and focus on my writing goals, bought a ton of books, and found some vintage scarves for wedding decorations. i realized (and was reminded by one of the women i met there) that i am much better at making friends than i thought i was, and generally recharged my independance and self-esteem. i also decided that i could never live in the middle of the midwest; lake michigan may not be an ocean, but at least it gives the illusion of coastal living.

my workshop itself was a little less than gratifying, but i made the most of it. the teacher was not what i wanted her to be- she was a little cold and withdrawn, not quite as hands on and inspiring as i had hoped- and the workload did not kick my butt as much as i had expected, but i got a good start on some stories about my dad that have been floating in my head for a while. and, most importantly, i met some other writers who are interested in sharing work and critiques online. yea for community! i also met some really cool writers/speakers, including one who was my mini intellectual crush for the (last two days of) the week, and who agreed to help me with my submission to the Oxford American.

(in case Julia or Lauren are reading: i emailed him telling him how much i love his book, and he emailed me back right away- {girlish squeal!}. for the rest of you, his book really is great, you should read it)

(and in case any of the rest of you are indignantly judging my betrayal of J, he knows all about my little literary crush. ‘i’m a good girl, i am…’ )

(you should also check out this book– she was a great speaker as well)

another interesting outcome of the week was that i realized there are a lot of people around my age who have lost parents. at least half of our class had lost at least one parent, and one other girl had lost both. i always like to meet other “adult orphans”(does that sound morbid?). it’s good to share experiences and it makes me feel less freakish, which is nice. it also made me realize that a lot of really great writing has been (and is being) inspired by loss, and that’s something i know i’ve got down. i like to think of it as my artistic liscense- i have suffered, therefore i am validated in my artistic expression. therefore my pain and my point of view are interesting enough to subject others to. total bullshit, i know, but it works for me. anything that keeps the ink flowing. i think i am going to write a collection of stories about my father.

so that’s enough for now. more later. i hope, i promise… (squeak squeak)

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stretching

so here i am in lovely iowa city. trying to be a writer. ho hum.

i was terrified of coming here, for so many reasons. first and foremost, i am not particularly good at making friends, and though i like being alone, i do need social contact after a while, so the thought of spending six days in a strange town surrounded by no one i know was a bit unnerving. secondly, the workshop i am taking is called ‘family memoirs’ and the thought of spending six days in a strange town surrounded by no one i know while being forced to think about my dead parents thrilled me even less. oh, and then there’s the whole ‘who am i fooling, i’m not a real writer and i probably never will be; this is just another wild goose chase for a career that i will never be able to decide upon’ line of thought.

fun stuff.

but, so far so good. i have actually managed to bypass my usual shyness, and (with the help of two nerve building glasses of reisling) i actually initiated a group dinner last night. and i have been talking to strangers left and right.
in fact, i am off to dinner right now, so more later, but so far so good. all i have to do now is deal with the parents stuff, and that should be a piece of cake…

right?

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thanks…

for the support everyone. not that i was surprised to get such a pro-therapy response from all of my therapy-attending friends… i am going to call J’s therapist for a recommendation as soon as i get back from iowa city. i know it will take time, and it will be hard, and that i will never be totally “cured” of being sad about my parents. i just want to be able to think about them without crying.
lately, i have been getting really sad about my dad. today, J and i were driving in to work along lakeshore drive, listening to a sam cooke tape that belonged to dad, and i was suddenly overcome with sadness and started to cry. i saw the beach that we went to after he helped me move to chicago, and i was listening to the music that he loved to dance to, and i just started to miss him so much. i hate that he won’t get to dance with me at my wedding. i know it sounds stupid, but i think that his death has not really hit me yet. i think that his death brought back my mom’s death so strongly that it distracted me from actually losing him.
yikes, i don’t like the idea of another wave of grief just building offshore. i suppose therapy can help me batten down the hatches.

on an even sadder note- is anyone else scared as hell of our supreme court now? sandy, why are you leaving us? who’s going to save us from the church? who’s going to be our moderate voice of reason? i’m glad i’m still renting; it will make it easier to move to canada when the crazy christians finish conquering our government.

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