This is one of those philosophical musings that I share with you sometimes. Guilt. Uggghhh…..I don’t know if it’s religious based, or just human nature, but I always seem to be beating myself up about something, particularly late at night. Guilt seems to settle in like a fog bank in the dark of night. I think it happens more when I get tired, but it’s also part of my nature. And since I live alone without a mate, when I start ruminating late at night, there is no one to talk me out of it and lighten the moment.

I grew up Catholic, so guilt was built in at an early age. But I’ve also discovered that Catholics haven’t cornered the market on guilt. The Jewish faith also seems to suffer from guilt as well. Maybe guilt is a mechanism that organized religion uses to keep people in line. And maybe that’s not entirely a bad thing, but it is a heavy burden at times.

What I hate most about guilt is that when good things are happening, I somehow expect to be ‘punished’ for it later on; as though I secretly believe that I don’t have a right to be happy, or have good things happen to me. I examine my conscience and actions constantly. Did I speak to someone too sharply? Was I unfair to a child? Was I unkind? Did I spend too much, forget to calla friend with a problem, was I selfish or indifferent to someone else’s plight? And what punishment will be meted out to me for that? When will the axe or the other shoe fall? It wears me out worrying about it.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions; because I don’t like to disappoint myself. But maybe what we all need to keep in mind is to be kind and compassionate to ourselves. Forgive ourselves our mistakes, realize that we’re not perfect, nor is anyone else. Maybe what we all need to remember is that charity begins at home, so let’s be charitable with ourselves. I will try to remember that when the late night guilt rolls in like fog! Be kind to yourself!

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10 Comments so far
  1. Suzy Jordan February 24, 2010 6:13 pm

    I would like to express my gratitude to you for writing books that i have disappeared into and loved every minute of reading ever since i was a young teenage girl. One aspect of your books that i have always appreciated, was your ability to weave educational information into the fictional story. For example, i have become substantially more knowledgeable about WWII from your novels set during that time period. It had been several months since i’d read one of your books, when i saw Rogue at Costco (love Costco!). I took it to Kauai to read on the beach and finished it in two days! I was sorry that i hadn’t brought a few!

    Thank you again and many good wishes to you and your family.

    Suzy Jordan

  2. Taylor Frazee February 25, 2010 7:31 pm

    Miss Steel,
    I’m 14 years old. In english, we’re writing essays, on who your hero is. I put you as mine. Which means I wrote an entire four-page essay all about you! I read your books, (eben the really adult ones) But I’m mature, and I’m writing a book of my own! I hope one day I can send you a copy of my essay. I want you to read it! But everyone gets lost in the “guilt fog” sometimes. I read your blog all the time!! Thank you for being my hero, and giving me hope.
    – Taylor Frazee

  3. kimmi February 25, 2010 7:37 pm

    Guilt, worry and fear all rolls together when we are fatigued. And seems to blanket at night for everyone. A good book, writing a letter, exercise and or some nice music are good distractions and helps replace the negative with positives.

  4. Heather Linkenheimer February 25, 2010 8:08 pm

    Ah yes, guilt. I loved how you said that the Catholics haven’t cornered the market but I would have to say, they are better at it! I am 42, and 12 years sober and have never forgiven myself over the destruction that I caused in my own life. In addition, I hurt someone I loved very much and although asked for forgiveness, the guilt has remained. I was at an AA meeting once and a Priest said to me, if God can forgive you than what makes you feel that you are above him when you can’t forgive yourself when he already has? It made sense and many things make sense in your head and with words but when it deals with your heart, they are two different things. I have waited and prayed for a second chance because I have written a story about my journey as my redemption to help heal my guilt and to save lives. On one hand, guilt is a good thing because it keeps your character in tact. On the other hand, who is ever better than beating on ourself up than ourselves? I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks because no one can beat myself up more than I already do. I forgive others instantly but still have not progressed to forgiving myself for falling into severe Alcoholism as I chased a singing career. I know all the cliches’ that those who are without mistakes, have never made a self discovery but sometimes it just doesn’t go away. I saw you on The View today and you are one class act and your God given abilities are astounding. Congratulations….The best way that I have learned to deal with regret & guilt is to go out and serve others and that is whay I try to do daily. You are my hero in life and you and your family are beautiful. Yes, you are blessed but that doesn’t mean you are without crosses to bear either. May you also be kind to yourself as well and God Bless.

    A huge, huge fan……Heather

  5. Linda Henrichsen February 25, 2010 11:24 pm

    You made me smile, because as a Lutheran pastor’s daughter, I too feel that same guilt sometimes, even though my folks have been gone for years. I think it’s just our inner conscience playing mind games, or maybe it is God whispering to us. Absolute’s seem so rare anymore, as political correctness contributes to the acceptance, that any kind of belief or idea is okay. I’m only a few years younger than you, so perhaps it’s a generational thing :o) God has blessed you richly, and your ability to share with all of us must be exhausting sometimes. Still, no matter our lot in life, it’s easier if we like ourselves, and what we stand for. My younger sister died last month of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Her faith and love of family got us all through. Prayer is a godsend……and I’m going to say one for you right now. Sweet and pleasant dreams Danielle.

  6. Peggy Darty February 26, 2010 9:53 am

    Ms. Steele,
    I have been a devoted fan for 30 years. I feel I have a unique situation with your books. First, you influenced me to write and I became published on a much smaller scale.

    Then, years ago, when I was stunned by breast cancer as a young mother, I read your books while I was recovering. Life was drab and you took me on glorious journeys yet provided lessons in survival. This past summer the dreaded word cancer was spoken again, and I am now reeling from a grim prognosis. As always, I turn to favorite authors, you first, for escape. I have so enjoyed your websit and particularly your blog. Never went to Paris, but always wanted to go. So I travel with you and soak up all the pleasure and excitement.

    Thanks again for blessing your readers with your awesome talent and for allowing us to share bits of your life through your intresting blogs.

    Peggy Darty

  7. Vani February 27, 2010 9:45 am

    I’m a 40 year old female living in Canada with my husband. I enjoy receiving your updates via email Ms. Steel. I really love reading your books. I’m proud that I’ve gotten both my Mum and Mother-in-law hooked to reading you:) I could relate to your article about guilt. You are a beautiful woman Ms. Steel and deserve all that you have accomplished.

    Love from Canada

  8. julie jones February 27, 2010 10:04 pm

    i just finished your book big i have read them all..i just got a computer and thought i would check out your web site..i love to read and have had a difficult year..i admire you and your work so much..never dreamed you are someone who could ever have bad moments like everyone else..please know you bring happiness to lots of people and someone as beautiful as you wont be a “table for one for long”..julie

  9. Michelle M. March 1, 2010 8:07 am

    Hi Danielle ~

    Yep, the proverbial “waiting for the other shoe” to drop syndrome! I know it all too well. Like you, when something good happens in my life, I can’t help but worry about when the other shoe will drop. I do this because it undoubtedly always does. But hey, that’s just part of life, right? The ups and downs of this rollercoaster we’re all riding on in life teaches us some very important lessons. For me, I always learn the most important lessons when I’m on the downslide. I’ve learned that it’s what you do when the other shoe drops. If it brings humility, and I realize my faults and make every effort to correct them, then I’ve done well. I am a firm believer in karma. Karma, both good and bad, have always come back at me. I have learned that I am a better person for it too, when that other shoe eventually drops. I guess everything really does happen for a reason! I believe you feel this guilt because you truly are a generous, loving, and compassionate woman. I believe that the “good” people on this earth will always be the one’s who feel the guilt. So I guess what I am longwindedly trying to say is that as long as you still have the ability to feel guilt, just know that it’s because you are a caring and compassionate person.


  10. Francesco March 4, 2010 2:34 pm

    Guilt is a mischievously sinister companion because it finds great pleasure in the pain of those who are contemptuous of their own selfish interests and reflective values. This is particularly true in Italian homes where men are enfranchised with certain unearned rights and cultural privileges that the Roman Catholic Church is than expected to subjugate with an uncompromising judicial sledgehammer masquerading as a benevolent education of the spirit.

    When you are alone, usually late in the evening, and you introduce family secrets, financial distress, annoying colleagues, an undrinkable Chianti, and cold pasta into the aforementioned narrative; guilt or depression are your only alternatives. That is when you get down on your knees and start praying for an incurable disease; but all the Church can offer at that point is continued good health. You just can’t win, can you?

    Yes, I am an Italian man living in the States, and your books are a guilty pleasure of mine. Although I will share this secret only on this blog, and in a confession booth; both of which are not in the possession of my name or address. Some rhetorical musings are better left to the imagination. Or at least my imagination. Me, as opposed to anyone else. Guilty as charged.