Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Forgive me Father for I have sinned ...

If you are a Catholic and were subjected to the guilt filled upbringing that accompanies Catholic schooling and attending church every Sunday, you will have very strong memories of those words.

Last night I went to bed with a good dose of Catholic guilt - something I haven't had in quite some time.  

Oh don't get me wrong, I feel guilty about a whole lot of things ... working too much, not working enough, lunching with friends while hubby is working, not spending enough time with my teenagers, refusing to do my teenager's washing and the list goes on and on.  But that type of guilt is more "mother and wife" guilt.  

Catholic guilt is a whole other ball game.

Let me explain why I felt so guilty.

Last night I shamed someone on social media.  Shaming people, those less fortunate than me or those who have been caught on camera in awkward and unattractive poses, is not kind and something I have avoided doing.  Until last night.

I can't put my finger on why I thought it was okay to do it last night ... perhaps it was the fact that when I first saw the picture it did make me laugh.  Out.  Loud.  On face value it was very funny and the accompanying caption was very clever, and funny too. 

In hindsight ... not so funny.  Just mean and cruel.

I saw it earlier in the day when I was working, and out of respect for my employer I didn't share it at that time.  I have a rule that if it's not something I'd share to the listeners or on the work Facebook account I can't share it while I'm working.   That in itself should be enough to make me stop, think and assess whether I should share it at all.

Last night I saw it again in my timeline and quickly shared it with my friends.  Almost immediately I began to feel uncomfortable ... not enough to take it down though.   The cloud was starting to settle above me and the slow drizzle of guilt washed slowly over me.  By the time I got into bed the cloud was bucketing down on me and I lay in bed feeling all kinds of awful.  A friend* on Facebook commented that we should be celebrating people who feel comfortable no matter what they look like.  She is right.  So very right.

The lady I shamed was someone's daughter, mother, sister, friend ... somewhere she is something special to someone else. 

I was going to remove the post from Facebook this morning, but it seems Facebook has done that for me.  

Life is hard, really bloody hard for some people, and none of us have the right to shame people.  Somewhere, somehow the internet has made it okay to find people who look different and surreptitiously photograph them and post the photos on the internet for the world to ridicule.  We've all laughed at them.  We've all probably shared them.  Thankfully not all of us take the photos.

In a world where I have friends who are right this minute dealing with cancer, death, suicide, mental health and everything in between ... and in a world where millions of people are doing it tougher than I could even imagine ... I think we need to practice a lot more kindness, tolerance and Catholic guilt.  Or whatever it is that makes us stop and think about the things we do and say to others.

* Thank you Sandra Skelton for reminding me to be kind


  1. Oh dear god, woman. You're one of the kindest, most generous and thoughtful people I have ever met. We all make bad judgement calls from time to time. (Except for me. I make them most days.) And social media is rife with 'shaming' so it's not hard to fall into that groove. Let it go. You are beyond awesome.

  2. Was going to pretty much write what Kerri has already covered. You're a great human being, but the catch is that 'human' part. We all stuff up. xo

  3. Annie, as I consider myself a host-body for Catholic guilt, I beseech you not to beat yourself up. Whilst I totally agree with your sentiments about the treatment of others, if the picture is the one I'm thinking of, the subject of that picture is has given little thought to the feelings of her parents, children, friends etc. On top of which, I suspect the purpose of "letting her dogs out" was precisely so that they would be shared - as far and wide as possible.

  4. Oh don't sweat it Annie. You should try taking about death and funerals! Honestly, most of my friends and twitter people just went underground with their fingers in their ears. For goodness sakes, how hard is it to discuss in an open honest way? I have NO idea how to respond these days to anything. Someone will always pull you down. Big hugs x

  5. I commented "oh my" on the photo - not on yours but another mutual friends's. and I also regretted commenting. Because those body shaming photos go against what I stand for, what I'm trying to eradicate. Yes I found the photo amusing, a little freaky too. But that lady is obviously proud of who she is, and proud to show off her body. Thank you for writing this. You are awesome. X

  6. I shared the photo as well Annie (after seeing it on your page) - uh oh, is that going to send you spiraling into another wave of catholic guilt? :-) I thought the woman was great, I didn't understand why she chose to paint her puppies, but I thought she was great.

  7. I didn't see the picture but I do sure know all about Catholic guilt - and it aint much fun. We're all human, we err. The fact you felt you needed to express your feelings shows you are a good person so I hope you shed that awful cloak of Catholic guilt soon x


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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