Replacing Guilt With Gratitude

It seems like most often in the throes of turmoil I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for putting the people around me through whatever abject misery I’m subjecting them to. You know, things like making them uncomfortable as I cry constantly, or irritating them as I whine about how much my muscles hurt from depression and anxiety. Maybe even such fun as accusing them of doing or thinking things they didn’t do… or, everyone’s favorite, breaking their things in a fit of rage.

The guilt that comes with being “unmanageable” is overwhelming at times. Sometimes my ego swells into that place of, “you really deserve to be around somebody sane,” -in other words, you deserve better than me. This is apparently just me wallowing in my own depression and whatnot, and when I recognize these moments I find myself uttering a long, sloppy, “I’m sorrys”.

Now it is one thing to be sorry about messing someone’s shit up, and it is another to find yourself saying nothing but “I’m sorry” for hours at a time.

What I wonder is if my string of “sorrys” really makes any difference to the receiver. I mean, one sorry is nice to hear. Maybe even two, but then it is time to move on to other conversation. I’ve sensed that my broken record of “sorrys” is inevitably doing more harm than good, after all, is my obsessive behavior undoing the very peace I’ve meant to convey?

Lately I’ve changed tactics. One moment a week or two ago I realized that as much as I was saying I was sorry, what I really meant to say was thank you. 

Thank you for being supportive of me.

Thank you for putting up with my endless emotional black hole.

Thank you for listening to the things I have to say that may not actually make any sense to you.

The result was instantaneous. With my first sobbing, “thank you” to my boyfriend (replacing the long string of “I’m sorrys”) something happened that I didn’t expect.

I didn’t have anything to say next.

Somehow the “thank you” acted as a period on the end of my emotional run-on-sentence, leaving Corey feeling good about helping me and me ultimately feeling less sorry about how I was acting.

I realized that after all this time there was only so much apologizing I could do about being who I am and at this point I’ve used it up. My boyfriend knows who I am. My friends know who I am. My family knows I am struggling and that it isn’t my fault. There is no apology they haven’t heard, or that will change the way I feel. I’ve tried apologizing to feel better and it doesn’t work. 

I’m not saying being grateful is a cure-all, I still cry a lot. I still have fits of anger and excitement. The difference is that I’m not letting my guilt about feeling this way control my actions and my relationships. I want the people around me to know how much I appreciate their love and support, so why not focus on that instead? I bet you’ll find it does a lot to change a situation for the better.

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4 responses to “Replacing Guilt With Gratitude

  1. shejustwantedlove

    Reblogged this on shejustwantedlove.

  2. This is a really great post. I have always had the tendency to apologize to those around me for the same reasons you just described. It actually makes my fiance angry when I tell him I’m sorry. He says I shouldn’t apologize for something I had no control over, but I always feel guilty anyway. But saying thank for ______ instead of I’m sorry for _______ really does make a huge difference. I think it’s because when I apologize he feels guilty because he couldn’t prevent whatever happened, but when I thank him for helping me through it he realizes he is making a positive difference.

  3. This is why the song “Not Your Fault” By AWOLnation hits me really hard. I have an outburst and realize later that I might have really hurt someone’s feelings. Of course I’m sorry but lately I have felt the same as you. I have been more grateful than anything for what I have and what I can’t scare away. The wife that, after watching me stomp a coffee table to parts for no good reason and then immediately going to put myself to bed in the bathtub because I am convinced she won’t want to sleep next to me, who instead comes to guide me back to bed. How can you repay this kind of love? It humbles you. I am really grateful, where would I be without her? I really feel this.

  4. This is brilliant. Even playing out those situations in my head followed with that response makes me feel less guilty. I often end up avoiding people altogether because I’m embarrassed of all those emotions. I try to spare them, assuming they don’t want to be bothered with my troubles so frequently and I don’t want to apologize to them (which makes me feel horrid about the whole situation.)

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