The Devil’s in the DNA: Chapter Five – Shame and Guilt 101

What do you know? I didn’t go splat.

Loo-Hoo, husband Chef, my hubby and I had a lovely dinner and time spent chatting and laughing. There was little talk of the baby making business. But what few things that were said in regard to having a baby were very eye opening to say the least. Loo-Hoo first asked me why it was that I wanted a child after saying for so long that I did not. I fumbled around for a while until I gained my footing to be truthful about it. “I want the experience of it.” She smiled. She said that was what she had wanted too. I went on blabbing about how if we were told it would be very difficult or dangerous for me to conceive and carry to term we would look at other alternatives. She arched a perfect brow at me. I rambled on about this and that as she busied herself in the kitchen. Stretching her form long to put away some dishes she said with a soft knowing, “It might very well come to an alternative.” She turned and faced me. “Are you prepared for that?” I tried to say something. Several responses started and then got stuck in my throat rather than in my brain or heart. I mulled on that for a bit. Why was I trying to speak without consulting the expert on what I wanted? Me. So I actually sat still for a moment. “You know what? No.” She stood still and looked at me. Patiently waiting for me to wiggle free from what I thought I should say, or should want. I felt a little vulnerable just then. A little pang of selfishness, shame and guilt. “I don’t think I would want to adopt if we couldn’t have the experience of creating a child together. What I want is the experience of it. That’s what I want.” She turned and busied herself a bit more, then she stooped down to put away something and turned slightly toward me. “That’s okay, you know. You need to know what you really want. If you don’t know that, it isn’t fair to anyone involved. Including a child.” I nodded…feeling a little shocked and numb that I had just said what I said. I wasn’t feeling much guilt or shame over it anymore, a little like the man-ape who just happens to stumble upon the obelisk. Just blinking in wonder. Huh…so that’s what I want. Well, there you go. It was actually a little freeing.

Later in the evening, Loo-Hoo read my Medicine Cards. I pulled Beaver. Loo-Hoo and I used to have great fun reading our cards. We call them Animal cards. It’s a divination deal where the Native American way of using animals as symbols, working with the animals strengths and weaknesses, and examining the myths of these creatures to help guide you back onto your path.

“Beaver is a doer…and has a strong sense of family and home… In building its home, Beaver always leaves itself many alternative escape routes. This practice is a lesson to all of us not to paint ourselves into corners. If we eliminate our alternatives, we dam the flow of experience in our lives.”

I was getting excited at this point, but Beaver wasn’t talking to me about children. Beaver was there to thwack her tail and splash water in my face regarding finishing up my doctorate.

“If Beaver has appeared…it may be time to put your ideas into action or to complete some project that has been neglected…to look for alternative solutions to life’s challenges and to protect the creations which you put your love and energy into.” Loo-Hoo closed the book slowly. “Sometimes I really have to put some interpretation into these readings. Not for you” Hubby sniffed loudly, cleared his throat and muttered, “Nope. Even I got that one.” Chef chimed in “Looks pretty obvious to me.” Sigh.

Earlier in the evening Loo-Hoo had asked me, “How much energy are you using, and what are you using it on?” I always feel like a student when she asks me such questions. I want to be able to know the answer, raise my hand in the air proudly and be chosen in front of the whole class to expound with brilliant mental dexterity the perfect explanation. All I managed was a blank stare and maybe a slight “Uhhhh…” When she could tell that I was, at that time, using all of my energy to not poop myself she added, “How can you ask yourself to spend so much time feeling guilty and shameful about not doing the work on your doctorate and trying to get pregnant while working on trying to accomplish those things at the same time?” I was wishing for my 1980’s mall-bangs to hide behind at this point because I was not wanting to fess up on all the time I spent flagellating myself about these very topics. All I managed was a whiney “I know.” I sounded like a scolded child. She wasn’t scolding me, though. I was. DAMNIT! She went on, “You will finish your doctorate. You will.” I felt myself turn into a three-year-old hearing that Santa will bring me everything I want if I’m a good little girl. My eyes wide with childlike wonder I managed to squeak out, “I will?” She nodded slowly never blinking and never taking her eyes from mine. “But you are going to have to start telling yourself that you can. You will need to stop looking at the past and stop focusing on all that you could have done. There is nothing you can do about it and no reason to spend time and energy on beating yourself up over it. Let it go. Set it down.”

Set it down? Set it DOWN!?! But that’s how I spend my days!! You mean if I work on my dissertation for just three hours a day five days a week I will have done fifteen hours of work and will still have time to spend with my husband on the weekend? Whuuut? I have such a lovely routine of sick stomachs and anxiety and procrastinating and finding ways to cover up aforementioned bad-dog feelings. I’ve worked for a year and a half to be able to fit in as much self-depreciation as I do now. When will have time to punish myself? Why is Loo-Hoo so mean to me!?! I still didn’t go splat, though. It was okay. It is going to be okay. I will be okay, right? Sitting on the patio later that night as Loo-Hoo was still trying to convince me to cut back my energy spending on shame and guilt, my eyes glazed over and I stared at the bricks of their home and had a flash of Pink Floyd’s movie “The Wall”…the part where it gets all silent and then it just blows apart. “Loo-Hoo, I’m just so good at taking responsibility for my actions that I feel like I get stuck in a vat of culpability.” She smiled, her eyes full of understanding “Of course you do, sweetie. You always did. You had to. You were the only adult in your family. You were just a child and it wasn’t fair. You were the one taking stock of every time one of your parents did not take responsibility for their actions and you took it upon yourself to pay restitution for each of their sins. As well as your own.”

I’m proper fucked.

I stared for quite a bit at that last sentence. Like it was my mantra. Then something else came to mind, something that Loo-Hoo had told me over a decade ago after she was widowed as a young woman. “Life does not give you a map. It gives you a compass. You must learn to read your compass. Trust it to guide you to your next destination. You must not use a map to guide you. A map does not know your destination. You will merely get lost along the way.”

Okay, I need to use my compass. Now, where the hell did I put that thing?

This blog was written by the oh so talented Miss Emily.

If you like Emily’s work, you can read more of her writing at


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