Dear Jonny, Guilt And Regret
I have done a few things that could land me in prison for the rest of my life. What I did I had no choice but to do, but as a result my conscience is heavy with guilt and regret. I am Catholic, so confession is a regular part of my life. It does no good. Neither does therapy, and I’ve had a lot. Turning myself in for what I’ve done is not even a remote possibility. Do you have any thoughts on what I should do?
– Wish To Remain Anonymous
Dear Wishes To Remain Anonymous,
Guilt and regret can be difficult to live with. I, myself, have a lot of both. Usually I’m able to repress it, which is an excellent temporary solution. However, on a long enough timeline the cache of frustrated emotion will manifest itself in the form of excessive introspection, depression, anger, and rage (though not necessarily in that order). Bottom line: Bad things are sure to happen if you don’t deal with your shit. How to do deal? My best advice is this: Attempt to come to terms with what you did in the context of the difficulty of our world. Human beings are tragic, chaotic, largely clueless characters trying desperately to survive in the unstable civilizations we’ve erected amidst a brutal, indifferent natural world. Things are fucking hard. Sometimes we make mistakes. And shit happens. So don’t feel too bad. Instead, make an effort to fill your life with things and people that will assist you in relieving the baggage of lugging around that heavy conscience. Rather than dwell on guilt and regret, see your past indiscretions as reminders of how vital it is to avoid regressing into dark, counterproductive places; both literally and in your head. Keep strong, be tough, and stay focused. Good luck.