Not only are Edgar Allan Poe’s stories disturbing (often very disturbing), but they’re always told in the first person. And most of the time, they are of someone doing some horrible deed, and then being discovered. Have you read The Tell-Tale Heart? Or even more horrifying, The Black Cat?
What kind of guilt must Poe have been carrying around to be forever writing like this?
Guilt is a funny thing. Sometimes we carry it around for years and years about stuff for which we’ve been forgiven for a long, long time. And yet, we have very little guilt for that shit that we continue to do on a day-to-day basis.
I know this is related to shame that I talked about recently, but it’s so pervasive. If we could just switch it around, our lives would be so much better. If I could take away the guilt for this stupid crap that I did years ago, that I carry around with me – all that shame that I have for stuff that I’ve actually been forgiven for. I could take that guilt and put it on the stuff that’s not so great that I’m doing today. And actually become a better person.
Because guilt has a place – it should prick us and cause us to want to change. But guilt can’t do it’s job when we don’t feel guilty about our day-to-day sins and only carry it on stuff that happened along time ago and doesn’t matter any more.
Think about it. What’s someone more likely to have guilt about? That divorce that happened 20 years ago? Or for yelling at their coworker, or some stranger today for no reason?
It could be a healthy thing if we used it correctly.