Guilt is an unwelcome part of my daily life.
I'm certain it's tied in part with my anxiety (which I have yet to write about here but hope to soon). Guilt, to me, potentially comes from everywhere.
It's like my own personal recipe of potential anxiety.
I have vaccum cleaner guilt (I work from home but my husband is the head floor cleaner around our house) and "it takes a village" guilt (which I get when I ask anyone else to watch my son). I have "first world country" guilt that stems from the fact that I have the opportunity to be upset that my favorite tube of yellow paint is currently on back order instead of the much more legitimate complaint of not having food, shelter, or safety.
It all stems from the fact that life isn't as beautiful for others as it is for me. And, in a weird way, it holds me back. "Why do I deserve all the good things? Shouldn't I tamper this exuberance a bit?"
My great grandmother Mae was a sharecropper in central Texas.
She, her husband, and their six children planted, weeded and picked vegetables without owning the land they worked. When they sold their produce the majority of the proceeds would go back to the landowner who would allow then the "privilege" of working the land the following year.
I cringe when I think about the struggles that my tiny grandmother must have endured to raise six children miles from town and family, in the dusty heat of central Texas. I want to hug the tall girl that was my Nana, the oldest of the six children, and often the default mother for the younger siblings who's parents were doing hard labor in the fields.
That's where my struggle with privilege begins.
Who am I to spend a few hours a week painting while someone else watches my child when these women whose blood runs in my veins never had that opportunity?
The answer comes when I recall my admittedly fuzzy memories of Granny Mae.
I was almost 3 when she passed but I distinctly remember being held by my mom as we walked up to the door of her trailer house and being kissed and held and fussed over as we entered. On this visit (or was it another?) she gave me a Strawberry Shortcake doll/pillow that she had made. Two things:1- this was the mid 80s when SS was hot. 2- this was when my grandmother was in her mid 80s.
If my spirit was (is?) able to go back in time and say, "Would you be okay if this chubby cheeked great granddaughter of yours carries on the tradition that you're showing her of creating things with her hands, and using her creativity?"
I have no question that her answer would be an enthusiastic, "Absolutely."
(As a woman who outlived three husbands, she would also probably be impressed with my vacuuming husband.)
It's a bit of a relief.
Knowing that she would encourage and support my creative opportunities makes me realize that I have no reason to hold back.
Will everyone support me? No. But ultimately that's not my issue and I have no reason to feel guilty for someone else's reaction.