Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My Guilty Plea

A few posts ago, I wrote about being too comfortable... about how I needed to get out of my comfort zone and take some chances in my life and career. Well, little did I know how uncomfortable the entire world would get in 7 short weeks.

While many of us are feeling a lot of the same emotions; stress, fear, impatience, sadness... this pandemic has brought out a feeling I wasn't quite prepared for; guilt. All different shades of guilt, too. From vintage to new-found, my guilt cup runneth over.


Security Guilt
If you're lucky, you still have a job and are working from home. As an actor and freelance writer, I'm on hold with projects. With acting, self-taped auditions are always a possibility, however as most productions have shut down, there aren't any jobs available. As a writer, clients aren't looking to hire for any extraneous writing projects at the moment. So yeah, here I am in limbo from any paid gigs, but my husband has never been busier. He works in a field where his digital solution-based background is pretty invaluable.

I'm not freaking out about financial security because of my husband. Oh, welcome back vintage guilt about Being Financially Dependent On My Husband! You're always lurking in the shadows, but man did you make a grand entrance recently! I ping-pong between gratitude and guilt, spending more time on the guilt side of the table since I know so many family and friends who are worried about how long receiving a paycheck will be an actuality.

Even before this pandemic and quarantine, this is something I've wanted to write about for a long time. In a nutshell, I feel very undeserving of the life I have. The house I live in, the car I drive, the ability to not have a traditional job with a regular paycheck... none of it. The reason? Because I do not feel I've earned any of it. Simple as that. If my husband and I purchased our house 50/50 with both our incomes, the guilt cloud would dissipate. If my job was paying for half of all our expenses, that guilt cloud would never reappear. In reality however, my contributions in the financial arena of our family life isn't a blip on the screen. And I know myself enough to know that that guilt will never go away until I have the goddamn bank statements to back it up.

Now, I realize there are different ways to contribute to a family that has nothing to do with money. You could say that my taking on the brunt of all the home and kid stuff has allowed my husband the time to focus on his career, thus his success is also my success. Yeah well... I can barely balance that pin at the end of the lane before the bowling ball knocks it down. And not without severely pinching my fingers, as well. I've been so conditioned to see money as the equivalent to worth, and now with the financial security of millions in jeopardy, I've never felt guiltier about my lack of worth... and guiltier still that my lack of worth won't be an issue since my husband provides our security. It's a whole guilt tornado that I have too much time to think about.

Guilt Academy
This is the second week of e-learning for my kids and it's been pretty smooth so far. Well, because I have the time to spend organizing and helping. On a recent Zoom call with some lifelong friends, all the busy working parents were lamenting about how difficult it is to juggle work and all the virtual school stuff. Oh, hi Stay-at-Home-Mom guilt! You surged after both kids went to school full-time, ebbed after I had accepted my creative purpose, but your re-entrance last week was epic!

So many of my working mom friends have posted about squeezing in lessons in between conference calls, or after work entirely so it's sort of a night-school situation and some are even saving all the work for a marathon lesson session over one day. For us, the daily work is usually done by lunch and the rest of the day I can focus on my stuff. Only, sigh... my stuff has been neglected and that segues nicely into my next type of guilt...

Useless Guilt
Oh, is that... oh it's you! Hi there No Practical Skills Because I Squandered My Education And I Make So Many Excuses To Justify My Lack Of Motivation Guilt!! Ya know, I had made SO much progress squashing you into a deep dank hole, but the way you just sprung up a few weeks ago was one for the books.

Besides feeling useless because I cannot be saving lives or making PPE for medical professionals, I've also let my projects suffer because... pandemic. My tendency to let every emotional upheaval affect my productivity has been in overdrive. The old Sheevani stand-by to let projects suffer because of "going through a hard time," couldn't be more prevalent and I feel guilty about backsliding. Before all this madness, I was on a productivity streak of writing, auditioning, setting goals with timelines, etc. But like... the kids need my computer for school, so OF COURSE I cannot do my writing. What? Oh right, they are done by lunch... but like, I just need time to workout and decompress after making sure they turned in everything, ya know? Huh? After they go to bed? I mean... I could... but like... pandemic, ya know?


Okay, guilt pity party over. This isn't about feeling sorry for myself, BELIEVE ME. It's just about acknowledging what I'm feeling. One thing I am VERY proud of is the grace I give myself to evolve and learn from the past. I know the things I feel guilty about are the things I should feel gratitude about. I'm so f*cking lucky to feel secure and to have the time with my kids and engage in their schoolwork... and well, taking a break from a project or two doesn't mean I cannot jump right back in with more vigor than before. Which is what I'm doing right now. The guilt I'm feeling is pointless... there are plenty of ways to support those who are truly suffering and I am already doing that. Food banks, neighborhood senior support, reaching out to friends in need... done it, doing it and will continue. If I turn this guilt into action, then I have nothing to feel guilty about.

In the spirit of gratitude, many friends I made during my formative years have turned out to be brilliant humans who I have the honor of knowing. One of those friends is Dr. Jenna Elwart. She recently posted a video that spoke so loudly to me. I can think of no better way to end this post than with her message:

"Living in the Ands" by Dr. Jenna Elwart

Stay safe and stay home, friends xo