Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Guilt

GuiltSo this is one theme Rabbi Sommer didn't put in her list, but it has been on my mind lately.

Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamed I was visiting one of my March96 friends, except that rather than being on the East Coast where she really lives, it was in California. The details are vague, but what I remember most clearly is that we had agreed to do some things together, and for various reasons I decided to do something else. I think my family was there, but the decision was mine. Of course my friend had made arrangements and even paid money for some of the things we were going to do, and she was very sad and upset that I had just let it go like that and abandoned her and her family.

I woke up because of the feeling of crushing guilt that was smothering me in my dream. Of course this is the time of year that we are particularly sensitive to guilt - we are supposed to make amends for any pain we may have caused anyone in the past year.

I've been trying to understand this dream and what the real guilt is that I'm dealing with (I've done many things, but not this particular one!). Fifty years on this earth give plenty of opportunity to hurt and abandon people, so I guess I get to choose which one was really behind this dream.

As we move into the Ten Days of Atonement, how have you been handling your guilt? Have you found ways to atone that satisfy both you and the person you have hurt? These are hard questions we prefer to run away from, but when we do that, they intrude on our dreams.


  1. I think a lot of what lies behind guilt (especially when it is a vague feeling rather than attached directly to an action) is our illusion that we're in control. "If only I had xxx, then yyy wouldn't have happened to my child." Rather than just accepting what is, our brains insist we are larger than life and should have controlled the situation.
    That's all directed at the vague feelings of guilt I often have - which other people may or may not have. :-) Just thinking...

  2. I totally agree, Jen! I usually don't think of myself as a control freak, but maybe my unconscious self has more of that than I realise ;-). Deep cleansing breaths ...


Comments make my day! Please join the conversation.