Guilt versus Personal Accountability

I’m writing this article as much for myself as I am writing it for the people in my life that matter. I am actively pursuing the Clergy path and I feel that sharing my experiences and my inner motivations with everyone in my life is every bit as important as realizing truth for myself. This is a tale of the concepts of guilt and personal accountability as experienced by a Pagan woman who has lived most of her life in a mental construct that acted as a stone blocking a vast and endless river of energy, creativity, and will. I share these stories to chronicle my own journey through my depression, mental illness, and self-defeat, however, I write these articles in the spirit that someone who needs help will feel comforted that there are many people in the Pagan community who go through similar struggles within their own minds. Our greatest battlefield is the one we encounter inside our minds.

Our passions, fears, intellectual thoughts, spiritual constructs, perceptions, conditioning and deepest personal beliefs are all spread before us like some grand chess board. The only person we’re ever playing against is ourselves. Can we reconstruct our minds from toxicity after a lifetime of pain and sadness that we feel has been unfairly cast upon us? While I do believe in dharmic cycles and embrace karma, I have thoughts that are separate of the Hindu tradition of which I am studying. I am not fully Hindu nor am I purely Pagan. There is no such way for me to fully embrace a culture that I was born separate from however I do subscribe to the idea that I can passionately pursue my spirituality in any form that I desire and get some kind of result that will positively impact my entire experience. I’ve often said that life does not bestow sadness or happiness as some form of cosmic revenge. It is not personal in my belief that the universe has it out for us.

We may feel that we’ve lived a life that has been unfair and cruel. A ‘fair life’ is a construct of ego. There is no place in the natural world that says we are entitled to anything ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ In fact, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ do not exist in nature. Karma and the dharmic process are spiritual tools that help us understand how our actions can adversely or favorably reflect the reality we’ve created for ourselves in this life and the next. The only construct of entitlement comes from ourselves. There is the perception of reality within our minds and then there is REALITY, the shared concept of what we are all thinking, feeling, acting and saying that intermingles and dances between order and chaos. We may feel that we are lost to this tide, however, I challenge that as Pagans we are not slaves to fate.

I have long battled with a sense of entitlement that I can trace back to my early childhood memories. I very much wanted a mother who loved me and a father who understood my intentions and supported me in my pursuits. My childhood recollections do not reflect this as truth. For a very long time, the course of thirty-three years on this planet, I wrestled with the pain of that loss and also I strove to better myself as a parent in the pursuit of making my children’s lives ‘better.’  I felt a crippling sense of guilt when these ideas did not play out as I had originally intended for my family.

I felt I was cheated out of this life until I realized that my sense of entitlement was the very battle with ego that I started when I fully embraced Goddess Kali when I became a dedicated Pagan. Entitlement has a very negative connotation and this is where I may infuriate a lot of Pagans who read my blog without knowing who I am as a person or even people who consider themselves to be my close friends. Entitlement is a construct of the ego however it is not a purely negative concept. Wanting to be better than you are and rising above the expectations of others shows a healthy knowledge of self and also the ability to exercise one’s personal will to change reality.

In the pursuit of what I call becoming a ‘wholly person’ I challenged the idea of entitlement in my own mind and sought a way to see how nature and reality play a huge part in having a healthy grasp on what we can change our lives. Entitlement has a very negative connotation and this is where I may infuriate a lot of Pagans who read my blog without knowing who I am as a person or even people who consider themselves to be my close friends.

Entitlement is a construct of ego, however, it is not a purely negative concept. Wanting to be better than you are and rising above the expectations of others shows a healthy knowledge of self and also the ability to exercise one’s personal will to change reality. I would challenge the notion that what I am speaking about isn’t really entitlement as it so much is an expression of will that I don’t have a better word for at this time.

The truth is, I was never entitled to a life that was ‘better’ than what I received. If I am to fully embrace my spirituality, I have to understand and accept that whatever has befallen me is something generated by my karma from either this life or one in the past. That does not mean that I have to succumb to abuse and pain either perpetrated by my own ego constructs or the constructs of personal influences. Putting it as simply as I know how, I’m saying that my life, full of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse only had to go on as long as I allowed it.

As a child, I could not get away from my family who seemed to be actively working against me however as an adult, I chose to enter romantic relationships and friendships that generated that same violent and abusive atmosphere. It was all I knew until I allowed myself to see that I had something to contribute and therefore, with that as my end goal, I destroyed the ego concepts within my mind that kept these cycles of pain from continuation.

It’s hard work. First, I had to separate what was guilt, which in my definition is a state of being in pain caused by one’s actions that either belongs to them or not. Sometimes we feel guilty for the actions of others however I see that as paying car insurance on a vehicle you don’t own. Would you, the reader, be paying for some one else’s car insurance if that person would not pay for yours or even appreciate the fact that you were paying for it? Most of you would probably answer ‘no.’ I had to ask myself, WHY THE HELL AM I PAYING FOR THE ACTIONS OF MY PARENTS? I am not my parents. I have not forgotten their faces however I do not wear their face. I wear my own face and I wear it without a mask.

So why am I continuing the perpetuation of these self-destructive actions? Ah, here enters personal accountability. If you are able to recognize that your actions are your own and you can only personally blame your parents or anyone else who’s harmed you for so long as you can until you recognize that you are following hastily in their footsteps, then you have entered the realm of personal accountability. This is a terrifying place if you’ve never encountered it before and can keep you up crying into the wee hours of the morning when you realize that your parents or whoever abused you in the past, only did it as long as you allowed them to do so and your actions in spite of theirs caused you to lose a part of yourself in the process. It does not mean that this lost self is gone forever. It means that you now have the tool to take back what you allowed to be taken from yourself. 

Living this lifestyle does not suggest that you are now going to be ‘perfect’ in the sense of how humans understand and accept perfection and never make mistakes again. You’ll stumble, you’ll fall on your ass and you may even take three huge steps forward only to slide back two steps one day while you’re wrestling with your own mind. This happens to me frequently and all I have to do is keep reminding myself that I have the will within myself to change my circumstances for my own personal benefit and also the benefit of those around me if they are willing to engage in such a change.

It takes a huge amount of courage to face the real demons that have been living inside of you since you experienced this pain. Having courage comes from experiencing and acknowledging the fear that we all have within our minds. It can be a fear of failure or success. In my case, it’s a very real fear of success without having an ego construct to contain my urges. We all share in the pain even if our circumstances are different and we all have the ability, if we will it, to change our situations and ourselves so that we can adequately function and survive in a world that offers us no guarantees other than these two ideas.

Things will change. It will happen. You can not stop this from happening. Order and Chaos dance together throughout our universe and eventually, no matter how well you’ve planned or thought things through, they will find you and change you.

You will die. Your life will cease and everything about your existence will eventually vanish into the flow of time and destiny. How you are remembered by those you have touched is entirely up to you and within your control. It will be hard and painful to make that sacrifice however it is rewarding if you desire to be remembered a certain way. You may believe in an afterlife and I do as well, I believe in reincarnation, spirits, and an Underworld. I believe in Gods and Goddesses and I have had personal interactions with all of Them at some point or another. Death is not the end for me and I will myself to live in the face of this certainty that will inevitably find us all.

And more importantly, I see the guilt that was put upon me as a child in the visage of spirituality (Catholicism) and adults trying to justify their actions. I do not subscribe to their guilt or my own guilt over my life choices as a state of being. I made a very powerful decision to accept my actions and the consequences of those actions as reality and change reality by facing the ugliest parts of myself that I hid from the world unknowingly. I am actively changing my life even if it means that I have to sacrifice all of the pawns on my own personal chess board to save the Queen. Myself.

I’ll end this by saying that this journey is my own and these reflections of my meditations work only for myself and the life that I have lived. I’m not preaching this to anyone outside of myself. If my writing reaches you and gives you a different thought process that helps, I am happy to be of service. If my writing angers you, that’s alright too, you have an opinion in your mind that may be fact because it works for you. Only you, the reader, can make that decision. No member of Clergy, political official or even a therapist can completely understand what you are going through and the kinds of tools and gifts that have been bestowed upon you.

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