Addicted to Guilt

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” – Psalm 32:5

“You’re addicted to feeling guilty,” she said.

“You are so used to living with guilt that you find reasons to feel guilty for everything, even if you don’t really feel guilty. That’s where you find yourself most at home.”

I stared at my therapist in silence.

Of course, I’d heard of alcohol and drug addictions. Sex addictions. Money addictions.

But addictions to guilt? This one was new.

“So what do I do then?” I asked.

“Start living in reality,” she said. “If you stop feeling guilty for everything without reason, you’ll start seeing how you really feel about what’s happening around you and actually have a chance to be happy.”

I couldn’t just let it go. I never let anything go without an argument.

“But what if I actually feel guilty about all these things?” I asked.

“Then realize you can’t change the past, forgive yourself, and do better next time,” she said. “But I still don’t think you even feel guilty. You’re just not used to taking care of yourself. But keep doing it, and the feeling of guilt will go away.”

That conversation was what some would call an “Oprah aha!” moment, but what I call a God moment.

Sometimes, living with dysfunction and self-doubt is a lot easier than choosing to live the redeemed life our Savior intended.

Look in the mirror, shed your shame, and commit to being the best you anyway. Lay yourself bare before God, and know that even on your worst days, you are enough.

Help me release my need to martyr myself through guilt and shame and know that I’ve been set free through the power of your precious name. Amen.

About the Author
Marchaé Grair is the Director of Public Relations and Outreach for the Unitarian Universalist Association and a member of South Euclid United Church of Christ, South Euclid, Ohio.