Now, I know a thing or two about guilt. I was raised Catholic for the first seven years of my life and the remaining years by people who were raised Catholic for their entire lives. I should write a book about guilt. I could give training lessons about guilt, but I would need my mother and grandmother as guest speakers. Experts in the field, you know.

Anyway, I have enough Jewish friends to know that supposedly they have the corner on guilt, but honestly I think they go to the same training school. On one side of the hall the teachers dress like penguins and discipline with rulers. This would not be experience talking at all. Thanks Mrs. Walker for looking out for your third graders in Wednesday Mass. Oh yes, a big shout out to my mother and father for signing the permission slip giving those repressed women the right to beat me at will. What were you thinking? I bet that’s why they closed that school. For beating little kids. How do you feel about that?- you were an ENABLER! On the other side of the hall, men with funny accents and hats that give you money for doing things right. I’m not actually sure that’s accurate but that’s what I choose to believe, how else do Jewish people learn to be rich?

Back to guilt – actually, wait – back to letting those nuns spank me. Why would you do that? I mean, it’s not like you guys spared the rod at home. I could see if I didn’t get any discipline at all. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve what I got, because until my little brother and sister came along – I definitely deserved what I got. Later, however, is a subject of much debate. Maybe it’s that in our family we like to share the pain. You know, all for one and that crap. My parents were raised Catholic and got their fair share of beatings. I wasn’t there but I know I inherited my smart mouth (Thanks Dad) and my inability to pay attention (All you Mom).

Mom – don’t even try to deny that by the way. You are the same woman that sits in the movie with the rest of the family that has to ask, “What? What happened? What did she say? Why did he do that? Oh my God, are they going to die? What happens next?” That’s you right? I mean, I understand that you were distracted by say the alarming way Kirsten Dunst could NOT act her way out of a paper bag with directions and flashlight in Spiderman 3. Or maybe the horrid screeching she called singing along with the possibly worse clothing they kept putting her shapeless form in made you miss a word or two, but seriously – we’re going to rip into the movie afterwards anyway, can’t it wait? (Note: My sister (theatre major) and I (theatre minor) both act, I occasionally direct and coach, my mother is a costumer, my brother is an engineer with a memory for every detail of a storyline (especially sequels) and my father is ex-military, so your protocol and weaponry better be dead-on: we’re a tough audience.)

What the hell was I saying? Oh yeah, guilt.

Anyway, my mother swears she was sane before she had children. My father, who has known her since age 7, says this is debatable but in my opinion the pot can’t talk about the kettle, so we’ll let that go. Suffice to say, she is the family title holder for Guilt. No, wait that’s my grandmother, my mother has to be content with runner-up.

My entire life, I have sworn I would never be this way. I wouldn’t hold the emotional ax over people I love to make them be more attentive or encourage them to work harder. I would never manipulate my actions to make them a direct result of someone else’s failure, thereby alleviating myself of any responsibility.

I lied. Hooo Boy did I ever. Once I started working for the government I found out the only way to get things done around here was to threaten or guilt trip people into doing their jobs. Otherwise, you get ignored. I don’t do “ignored” well. Ask around.

Suffice to say, I’ve noticed what are efficient work skills spilling into my personal life. Recently, and this phenomenon seems to be limited to the men in my life – go figure, I have found myself being “that girl”. It’s my birthday and I want you to come out with me – I turn into that girl. The women that backed out… ok, that’s cool I understand. The men that backed out… well, there weren’t many that did because, well – it’s me! But the few that did (you know who you are), have all (almost all) apologized and tried to make it up to me.

This is not good. It wasn’t even a milestone birthday. I’m not that kind of person. I’m really not. So like Bart Simpson, I’m going to start writing myself some very pertinent reminders.
Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.
Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.
Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my only living grandmother because I’m her only grandchild that never calls and she could die any day you know and won’t I feel horrible if I haven’t called and to at least find out how she’s doing?

Mom, I’ll see you Sunday. *sigh*

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