Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Early Hours Confession #4567

I realise the guilt is becoming a problem again. I realise this because I'm awake at half one in the morning. I've had a few disturbed nights with the pain lately, but there's niggling as well. So if I use you as a Priest and confess all, maybe I'll feel better. I haven't used the blog in anything like this way for a while, but hey, it's my blog.

The main reason I feel guilty right now is that I actually did something rather nasty. I wrote an e-mail earlier this evening when I was tired, pissed off and had some steam to let off. I wrote it to a trusted friend but in it, I was really very horrible about a third party. I mocked someone in a very personal way, someone who I don't know very well at all and who hasn't done me any harm except to annoy me. And that's really my problem as opposed to theirs.

It was totally unfair. And even though my friend isn't their friend, and I trust my friend implicitly, as soon as it was sent – which I naturally did in a hurry without thinking – I began to feel panicky about it. I began to think of bizarre (read outrageous) scenarios in which the subject of my venom would come to learn of what I had written. I felt like throwing up with the horror of what I had done - really. It even occurred to me that if Al Queda were intercepting my e-mails and they turned up and threatened to publish that e-mail on-line if I didn't blow myself up in a public place, I might feel a bit conflicted. What can I say? It's late.

There's a part of me that says, that was nasty, but it was ultimately harmless nastiness; the victim will never have an inkling and your friend is unlikely to think less of you for it (my friend who probably gets tired of my usual wet fish sympathy for all humankind outlook). And if that e-mail is, as it probably is, the nastiest thing you have done to anyone in ages, then you're probably quite a nice person.

My imp, who is naturally on my shoulder throughout all this, says, “But you're not a nice person. If you were a nice person you wouldn't do such things full stop. Also, since you do feel so extremely guilty about what is currently a victimless offence (at least until the series of inevitable freak accidents which will lead to the e-mail spreading throughout the web), this renders all your niceness void. Clearly you are just nice to people in order to selfishly avoid the agony of your guilt.”

My imp is kind of clever in a stupid way. I'm very tired, so I can't work out why that's stupid. Or is it? One could argue that someone with a powerful conscience is a fake since it is ultimately selfish to act in order to avoid guilt or make oneself feel better by being nice to people. Therefore, only a person without a conscience is truly free to be good or bad. Which is interesting because when we talk about psychopathy, which is supposedly the state of not having a conscience (a highly controversial label), we assume that a psychpath always behaves badly because they have all the self-preserving instincts of human nature without the altruism which keeps such things in check for the rest of us. In theory they could chose to be good. But yet to what extent is altruism instinctive and to what extent is it learnt? And can altruism be said to be the thing gives you a conscience, what causes you to feel guilt? In any case, if a person without a conscience chose to be good, could they be said to be a nice person, or would one have to conclude that they came to their choice through a process of logic as opposed to compassion? And is compassion a more valid motive than logic? And is compassion a more valid motive than guilt? What? Shut up!

Okay well, that's probably sorted both of us out for a good night's sleep now, so I won't bother boring you with all the other things I feel guilty about which I was planning to list. Yes. Good.

I should add, for anyone who is as paranoid as I am, that the person about whom I was so shamefully horrible is extremely unlikely to be reading this. It definitely wasn't you.


Maddy said...

It is precisely because of those kind s of feelings that I have a cast iron rule about not computering [have to cast the net wide] about anything after 10 p.m.

And for your punishment [penance] my child you have been tagged. I'd email you with it but I am unable to track down your email.

marmiteboy said...


Isn't that what friends a for though, blowing off a bit of steam? I'm sure your friend won't judge you in anyway and will take whatever you wrote for what it was, a bit of venting. If the third party is never going to find out about it and only you and your friend are the only two people who knows what it is about, then please don't feel guilty.

Unless of course the email was about me. If it was I am deeply hurt and have been crying ever since ;-)

Mary said...

Firstly, thank you for that final sentence. *puts paranoia back in box*

Secondly, no human people are nice and fluffy and mindful of equality and utterly inoffensive ALL the time and frankly, anyone who thinks they are is delusional.

Some quote about how humanity is where the falling angel meets the rising ape. You know the one I mean.

I can't stand people who are (or pretend to everyone that they are) Practically Perfect In Every Way. Not only does the overbearing self-righteousness piss me off and give me the distinct impression that they are trying to make my warts-and-all self feel inferior, but also, real people are far more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Not just feeling guilty, but feeling guilty about feeling guilty. Heh. I've visited that place. And of course, I'm embarrassed about it.

No one healthy is expecting you to behave like a perfect angel at all times. Gak, how boring would you be?

I hope you really did get back to sleep okay. Good sleep is necessary for keeping imps where they belong, in the closet and under the bed.

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank crap for that.


Usually, see, in these cases it's bound to be me. I know it's true because my Imp tells me so. You ARE annoying, he goes. Everyone thinks so, he goes. Why don't you shave your head and go live in a ditch, he goes. I get that all the time. But we're not here to talk about me.

Mary said it, and I second it! And really, only a very good person would be torturing herself with such questions at 1:00 am anyway-- though perhaps in that instance she's not being very good to herself. ;) There's no shame in allowing oneself to vent spleen to a trusted friend. Everybody does that. It keeps us from doing worse. Give Goldfish a break. I think she's a lovely person. :)

Sage said...

I third the others; I love to vent. It's neither necessary nor ethical, but it sure feels good to get crap off my chest about other people. I don't trust my friends not to say anything, which is why I need to vent about them so much, but I trust all of you here in blogland. And, I figure, hey, if someone comes across my blog and recognizes my bile smeared across their recent words or actions, then maybe we can have a more honest relationship henceforth since they're newly familiar with the dark recesses of my soul and all. Or maybe they'll take to despising me, and no longer talk to me ever again. So it's all good.

On compassion and logic - I think the action is good regardless of the motivation that gets one there. And the person is good who does good actions even if there's an alterior motive for the action. Because otherwise, really, we're all egoistic and selfish and how often do we not do things for our own devises, even if it's just to get a good feeling. If I give you my dessert because it makes me feel good inside, I'm acting egoistically. But I'm still being nice.

That's what I think anyway.

S. said...

Oh, I did a different kind of bad social thing last week, one that my objective part thinks I couldn't have known not to do but my imp is taking it out of me anyway.

This was about sharing information that was private in a space where I had reason to assume the information was already known. In fact, no actual harm came of it, but I was called on it, and I felt miserable to the roots of my hair.

Thinking about it after the fuss was over--after I had checked on possible damage and apologized and been told it was not so terrible--I still felt awful. Less awful, but not un-awful.

I think it is because I have done things like that before and thought "I will not do that again," and yet somehow I did blunder into it again. I thought there was a lesson I have learned, but I find that it is in some way an *unlearnable* lesson. Yet I still think I should learn it.

The Goldfish said...

Thanks everyone. You are a lovely bunch, you know? I do feel much better today, although am missing the sleep I lost.

I do seem to be bumbling at the moment with a lot of social and practical things; there's not much energy to spare, which makes me quite grumpy at the same time as struggling to get across all the positive stuff to people I care about.

But then when I get paranoid like this, I worry for my mental health, which has wandered off in that direction in a serious way in the past. It is very comforting to know that other people have imps who propose ditch residence! Bastards, aren't they?

Sage, yes, you're write about motivation. The only time it matters when motivation effects the action; i.e. people participate in one-off charity events to feel good but are pretty awful to everyone the rest of the time.

Anonymous said...

I'm so much rougher around the edges than yourself, that that situation comes around often for me...I just send the email to the person I'm venting to, hope I can trust them, and then wake up out of a dead sleep wondering...and force myself back to sleep....

Venting is a necessary sanity break...we all have to do it.

Anonymous said...

The rather strange unexplainable part about life and/or God... is~~~

That here I am on 9-11-07 trying to be still and let God be God because he sure can do it better than any of us...Finds me here why?? because right after a prayer time and being still before the Lord, the numbers 4567 pop into my little head and refuse to leave!!! Thus, the google search with the question "why 4567???" leading me to YOU...
so I would guess it is safe to say the good Lord has forgiven you for your unkind act and you may go in peace with your fellow man with the warning that I guess God really does see all hear all and answers us all in His perfect time

Go in peace brother, your sins have been forgiven~~~