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When guilt is deserved... how to handle?

In the bookstore whenever I look for books to help deal with guilt, they all seem to focus on guilt that I would call "misplaced". For example, a mother has super-high standards for herself that of course she fails at, and then feels guilty. Or some overzealous Catholic mother taught someone that she is evil to masturbate, and so someone labors in guilt whenever she "caves in" and does it. I don't have these types of guilts that one inherits improperly.

But what about when guilt really is deserved? Like if my husband divorced me and a friend rejected me because of actions that I took myself, as an adult? I am painfully aware that my selfishness, crass horniness, and disregard for important relationships caused me to take actions that hurt my ex, our two kids, and my former close friend (yes I was with her husband). How do I deal with this? I've been miserable for over a year now.


Asked by Anonymous at 6:38 PM on Jul. 20, 2009 in Relationships

This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • You admit you were wrong, you are sorry for it, you can't go back and change any of it now. What's done is done. It's time for you to forgive yourself. Living with this guilt isn't doing any good for anyone involved...including you. You need to just let it go, admit your mistakes and try to learn something from it....but the most important thing is to forgive yourself.

    Answer by robinann5 at 9:57 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • You need to accept that you screwed up, and then move on. You were obviously very wrong, you know this. Time to forgive yourself and move on. The others you affected may not forgive you. You may need to prove yourself to them, or they may just never forgive you, period. Those books may help you, even if they deal with a different type of guilt. If the books don't help you, and you can't move past it on your own, consider talking to a therapist. They can help you figure out why you did what you did, why you can't let go of the guilt and then get past it. I'm glad to see that you accept the blame for your mistake and that you know what you did wrong; some people never do that.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 6:45 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • Eventually you have to forgive yourself. And then vow never to do the action that you know is wrong, ever again. It's hard to do....but you have to forgive yourself and start enjoying your life before it passes you by. It's too short to be miserable forever because of a few mistakes. We all make mistakes.

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:45 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • Seek counseling. Have you made a change in your life? Sometimes living 'right' is the best way to overcome mistakes. You screwed up. You admit it. Ask for forgiveness from your higher power if you have one. Then you forgive yourself and vow you will never behave that way again. Then you move on in a positive direction. You will have to learn to deal with this because your kids will make sure you have to deal with it as they get older. "Mom WHY did you and Daddy divorce" and they want and deserve truthful ansers. You tell them Mom made some bad choices that hurt Dad and I'm sorry but I can't take it back. Being truly remorseful is about the best you can do. Don't beat yourself up, it solves nothing.

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 6:46 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • Thank you.. these are good answers, all of them. I need it and appreciate the insights.

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:48 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • I agree with the previous posters. I would add that sometimes beating yourself up for something you did may also be a way of continually punishing yourself because you don't think you deserve to be forgiven. The term self-esteem is so overused these days, but in your case, you may want to talk with a psychologist about why you are so mean to yourself.

    (You know what I'm talking knew you'd derail your life by doing those things, but did it anyway.)

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:57 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • Forgive yourself and realize that they will have reasons now to be mad and hurt. Even though you now you were wrong you still have to move on. Just stay positive and never expect the other person to forgive you because that is their decision and it should be respected. You can go back and change the past either so live for today and tomorrow and let go of the troubles of the past.


    Answer by SylviaNCali at 7:10 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • Guilt sucks. It sucks us dry so we can't function. All of that is in the past. Let it go. If you are religious then ask for forgiveness and move on. If you are not then tell yourself the same thing you'd tell your child if he/she screwed up. It's over. Don't do it again. Now go play. Enjoy life. Don't let what you can't change ruin your life. Learn from your mistakes and don't repeat them. It's all good.

    Answer by admckenzie at 7:14 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • you sound like me BEFORE i got diagnosed with Bipolar disorder! i was always out doing what i did..i was always thinking about ME before anyone...The only time i was faithful to my ex was when i was pregnant...then the guilt i felt after was horrible! you need to talk to someone...

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:08 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

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