Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Yesterday, Sarah changed the Slurpee rules. I can now have 2 per week, no specific days, and if they're sugar-free I can have all I want.  So I had one yesterday. And it was delicious.

But oh, the guilt!!  Sarah said I didn't have to blog about it, because this is an anonymous blog.  But I believe in being honest, true, ---wait a minute. Do I?  Well, yeah. I never needed something formally written up to define what I believe. I do believe in being honest. Most of the time. Just don't ask me how many pairs of shoes I bought last month. Okay, it was probably 5 pairs, and they are all absolutely cute. So there.

Guilt. Guilt guilt guilt.  Did you ever see Brighton Beach Memoirs?  This exchange between Eugene and his mother, Kate, beautifully illustrates guilt and nagging and logic:

Kate: I need bread.
Eugene: What?
Kate: I don't have enough bread. Run over to Greenblatt's and get me a fresh rye bread.
Eugene: Again? I just came back from Grennblatt's.
Kate: So You'll go again.
Eugene: I'm always going to the store. When I grow up, that's all I'll be trained to do, go to the store.
Kate: You don't want to go?... Never mind, I'll go.
Eugene: Don't do that! Don't make me feel guilty. I'll go.
Kate: And get a quarter of a pound of butter.
Eugene: I bought a quarter pound of butter this morning. Why don't you buy a half pound at a time?
Kate: And suppose the house burned down this afternoon? Why do I need an extra quarter pound of butter?

Eugene: If my mom taught logic in high school, this would be some weird country."

Mormons, though, have a special monopoly on guilt. Remember, we're not saved by the grace of Christ giving up his life for us and atoning for our sins.  I guess that's not strictly accurate. We are saved by grace, after all we can do.  This means that you have to do your dead level best to be perfect, because if you fall short of all you can do, you won't be saved.

So if you're a Mormon, particularly if you're a Mormon woman (because who has more to do than a faithful Mormon woman), you probably know from guilt.  If you're an infertile Mormon woman, you know from guilt. If you're an infertile Mormon woman who can't adopt, you know from guilt. If you're an infertile Mormon woman who can't adopt and you're angry and hurt not only at the home teacher's family who betrayed you and adopted your nephew right out from under you without anyone telling you, but also at LDS Social Services for allowing this to happen in such an underhanded way, you know from guilt. If your husband has issues that make being married difficult, you know from guilt. If your husband travels a lot, and you're happy when he walks out the door for another trip, you know from guilt.  If he tells you he's coming home, and your first reaction is, "oh, shit!", you know from guilt.   If you decide to just live together and be roommates, instead of spouses, at least until the credit cards are paid off and the house is ready to sell, you know from guilt (and misery, but that's another blog post for another day).

If you start asking questions, and would like to talk things over with your bishop but you don't dare because you worry he'll hold a court of love, you know from guilt. If you study more, and find answers to your questions that help you decide the church is built on a stack of lies told by sexual predators, you know from guilt.  If you take off your garments and proudly wear tank tops and cute underwear, you know from guilt. If you take a big glass of sangria in the bathroom and savour it while you take a long hot tub, you know from guilt (and you might get a little, um, mellow, let's say).

But it's not normal to live with such guilt. If you do believe in Christ, and the infinite and eternal atonement the church leaders (aka old white men) are always talking about, why would there be a limit on it? Don't the words "infinite" and "eternal" mean anything?  I think they do. I think that I want to quit worrying about the mythical all I can do, and just be a decent person. I'd rather donate my time and limited funds to groups that actually help people instead of groups who, while professing to provide great humanitarian aid, actually build malls and condos, donating a pathetically small amount to humanitarian needs.

So at lunch I bought two cute pairs of panties, and a sleeveless blouse. I have a writing deadline to meet tomorrow night, so I'll hold off on the sangria until Thursday night, but I plan to enjoy a completely guilt-free thoroughly decadent tub. Heaven help me.


  1. Of course I do things and think maybe I oughtn'ta, sometimes. But do you know how long it's been since I felt really guilty about something? I realised yesterday that it's been a long long time, but when I was in the Church, the guilt was just always there.

    I wonder if guilt is a natural consequence when someone is forced into a moral system they didn't choose.

  2. Daniel, interesting thought. A little less guilt in my life would be a good thing.

  3. Terrific post. Guilt nearly killed me, literally. I never felt good enough, never felt like I was "worthy" of grace (do other churches even have a concept of "worthiness"?), and consequently I didn't like myself very much.

    It took a suicide attempt, a stay in a psych hospital, and quite a bit of therapy to lose the guilt. These days I am starting to forget what it was like to hate myself.

  4. Fascinating post! I wonder where guilt comes from? That is, why we evolved in such a way as to feel it? I'm sure it has something to do with our being social animals, but just what it has to do with that is a mystery to me.

  5. I have stumbled on your blog and been reading several of your entries tonight. Your plight of leaving the church and all the struggles makes me want to hug you. I am not a Mormon. I am a Christian and feel very much to tell you that there is a salvation with no limit. It comes from believing that Jesus, God's son, died on the cross as the payment for our sins and accepting him as our savior. That is it. There is no "as much as I can do" to it. "God is not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to him." "By faith you have been saved through grace." "Not of works of righteousness"

    You don't have to live in guilt. You don't have to do everything just right. You can believe in God and be saved and have absolute assurance of your salvation and eternity. And you don't even have to do crafts. ;-)

    Best wishes to you.