Catholic Guilt Compounded

Funny shelving category at San Francisco's Kayo Books: CATHOLIC GUILT
Image by gruntzooki via Flickr

I’m pretty familiar with my weaknesses. When it’s parroted back on the things I didn’t do, sometimes it feels like a triple whammy. I do a great job of making myself feel guilty for missed obigations, not doing enough this, that or the other thing. So, if I slightly screw up in another arena, and it’s pointed out to me, I feel triply guilty about this missed obligation. My Catholic guilt gets compounded.

It draws me to tears actually. I do not like letting people down. We can get into the psychology behind it, but what’s the point really? Who really enjoys letting people down. I’m now thinking about a weasly man I worked with a decade ago. He lied all the time, but why? For him, I think it was in part to cover his own ass, to make himself look better, and to come off with a charade of perfection where he never let another down. (To be clear, I don’t lie, but the comparison is for when we know we have a thing to do but we’re embarrassed to admit we’re behind.)

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about those who I currently work with is that they don’t compund my guilt. Since I’m an expert at internalizing things, I would have noticed. If a deadline is missed, they understand my intent wasn’t to piss someone off. They understand my intent was to maximize priorities and something got missed. I don’t screw around. I work. (Save the sporadic break to make up for the missed federal allotments.) Lately, the pirority juggle has been annoyingly difficult, and I haven’t found a healthful, balance filled way in which to tread these waters.

Today, I was made to feel guilty about a missed deadline. 1) This deadline was arbratarily decided upon by me and another party as a way to hold each other accountable to pulling off an event we know nothing about. 2) I had a helll of a time getting all the data I needed to accomplish this deadline. It was formatted strange with no simple way to siphon off the info needed. 3) All that is to say it was a little overwhelming, on top of these other priorities and… well, suddenly the product was desired and I had crap. So, embarrassingly, I sent off crap. Then, I got reemed for the crap.

I’m not one to make excuses. I’d rather take it, fix it, and move on. But they way this was dealt with on the other end… it’s been messing with my mind all day. What’s the point?

So, I’ve been pondering this all afternoon, and now, the only conclusion I can come to is that the reaming was a form of manipulation. What point is to be served by the way this exchange was handled? Sure, I get that this person wanted to convey their frustration, but to what end? This was an arbitrary deadline, so it didn’t really matter. I’ve realized, I’ve lost respect for this person. Suddenly, like Miss Marple might, I think of who his person reminds me of. And, it’s sad. The successful middle aged man who resorts to manipulation to remain at top and assume his control. How would this fit on the wheel of power and control?

So, what lesson is to be learned? My mother returned my non-violent communication book, but I’m not sure how to articluate my needs and make a request, especially given what I’ve realized. NVC requires compassion, and when I lose respect I lose compassion. I think of the narcissism warned by Cloud and Townsend, thankful that I have a stronger awareness of certain personalitites. First, stop internalizing. I know I’m not juggling things correctly, and I know it sucks. I don’t know how it’s going to get fixed until after the first of the year. The rest of the year will be a muddle through while trying to balance other things (mother, wife, soccer parent, food club president, board secretary, reader at church).

The whole thing just sucks pickles. I’m not enjoying this. I’m having trouble seeing the end goal: experience in the type of profession I think I want to show that I have stability at a job. Dealing with manipulative people will cross all worlds in which I travel, so that is a lesson worth learning. To bad I can’t quite figure it out.

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