Do You Like Your Guilt Too Much?

Do you like your guilt too much? I know that this may seem like a strange question, but too often, I have seen men, including myself, languish in our own guilt as a way not to move forward in our lives.

As a man who is attracted to men, (I even married one), and was previously married to a woman, I made choices along the way. But unlike other men I have talked to in support group meetings for men with similar histories, I made the decision not to shoulder the burden of guilt alone. I choose to share the blame with the other three culprits involved. Without the weight of culture, family, and religion to shape our view of the world and of homosexuality our lives might have been different.

My parents fully embraced who I was when I came out to them in 2014, but I could not have imagined them embracing my attraction to men in the late 1970s. I was not prepared in 1976, as I headed off to college, to tell my parents about my attraction to men for fear of my fathers anger, being disowned, and seeing my eduction go down the drain.

Religion did not play the role for me that it does for so many men, but the weight of culture loomed large in my mind. I was not prepared to bear the weight of living a life that was seen by the broader culture at the time as depraved, abnormal, amoral, or sick. I wanted what I considered a normal life. I wanted a family and children. I did not want to live in a marginal subculture that the world abhorred.

When I finally began to come out and attend support group meetings in 2012 I was struck by how many men were riddled with guilt for what they saw as “their choices” that they alone made. When I have heard men take the weight of the world on their shoulders I have always tried to push back. Their choices were, in large part, underwritten by the power and force of religion, culture, and family. Usually some combination of all three.

I was also surprised by men I observed clinging to their guilt.  I began to wonder if they were holding on their guilt as a subconscious way not to move forward. Guilt kept them in marriages they knew that they should leave. Guilt, (and shame, but that is another topic,) kept them from having sexual or social experiences with other same-sex attracted men.

I think men would feel a little bit less constrained by guilt if they could place part of the burden of guilt where it truly belongs.

4 thoughts on “Do You Like Your Guilt Too Much?

  1. Interesting thoughts. I think many of us who feel particularly guilty about previous life choices maybe do so because we feel we are not worthy of love and happiness. So we become attached to the guilt, as you say, as a way to avoid what we don’t believe we deserve. After being bullied for years – my defence was to withdraw. My guilt about not taking responsibility for the longer term issues with depression and anxiety I suffered was actually a way form of avoidance based on deeper issues of not believing I was truly capable of change. When I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started believing, my life finally began to change. Thanks for sharing

    Like

    • Thank you for sharing a part of your story. Is not believing that you are capable of change a way of holding on tightly to the labels and bullying that the world gives us? I know for a long time I believed all the crap that culture put on my homosexuality and so was boxed in. Until I could see past that I couldn’t change.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good question – emphatically yes. Obviously for something like your sexuality acceptance is necessary. You are who you are – just like the colour of your eyes or your skin, you can’t change that part of yourself. How you think and what you believe – these things can always be changed and always are changing. I think we’re either strengthening certain beliefs or letting go of other ones. That’s the nature of the mind. You’re right I clung tightly to the labels put on me. I believed I wasn’t capable or worthy. I clung so tightly they became at the core of who I thought I was. It was only through therapy and true insight that I was then able to slowly change these long held beliefs. I’d also add that accepting that part of who I was (letting go of the guilt) was paradoxically what allowed me to change it. Like you say we have to see through these false beliefs that either tell us to change something we know we cannot (and therefore need to accept), or tell us we can’t change when we can.

        Like

  2. Just got a chance to look at your blog. Like you I have chosen to keep my blog anonymous. Even thought at this point I am completely out in all parts of my life I like the freedom to write without being known. Earlier in my life I was also a private pilot. I flew for about ten years until the birth of my son. I could not manage the time for instrument training and the demands of a new baby. But I had a lot of fun flying, including a few years doing aerobatic training.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s