I've had a few different instances of feeling guilty lately---both at work and at home. I know the societal narrative these days is that guilt is useless and we should "banish guilt" and certainly my instinct is to push down and ignore any unpleasant emotions. But I do believe that guilt serves an important purpose in guiding us to act in tune with our moral compass. So I decided to investigate what it was about the specific situations that made me feel guilty, and how I could act differently in the future to prevent that outcome.
At work there were 2 end-of-day routine follow up patients that showed up late and I had to refuse to see them because I was already leaving/left for the next thing on my agenda (an important 5 pm meeting once, picking up kids and walking dog the other time). I felt terrible because they traveled quite a ways, and I understand that our patients have many circumstances making it difficult for them to get here on time. On the other hand, I carefully create my clinic schedule so that (barring emergencies) I can deal with my other responsibilities.
Then there is the review article I said I would write and submit LAST FALL. That I haven't started. I did ask for an extension, and they are awaiting other submissions but we are a whole season away now and its getting ridiculous. I have been been ignoring the follow up emails politely enquiring as to when I would be able to submit the review.
On the home front, G's been a little overwhelmed with a few weeks of back to back outings I've had (on the calendar, discussed beforehand). He just forgets and when I remind him the day of, he has this dejected look on his face. My kids also keep asking why I'm "always going out" and when will I take them with me, and etc.... And I seriously NEVER feel bad about fulfilling my need to socialize and live my life but this time, it just got to me.
And this weekend, G managed to clean all 3 bathrooms and vacuum, and change the sheets (basically everything the house cleaners used to do), plus get groceries from 3 different stores...while he was sick (he did these things while I took L to soccer, and supervised a play date, made kids lunches, meal planned...I wasn't sitting around eating bon bons, but he definitely drew the short straw). He was so tired and I had promised to take over clean up Sunday night. But...we had our neighbors over to watch the first half of the Super Bowl. And I had a beer (or two) too many and just fell asleep leaving him to get the kids to bed & take out the trash and clean up the kitchen. Oh man, I felt like &h^t.
So, back to the whole "purpose" part. Here's what I figured out.
For the late patients: I am working with the clinic to clarify our late policies, making sure the front desk staff is aware to ASK providers before rooming a late patient, and also remembering to let the staff know that I am leaving for the day and won't be able to see anyone else. If all that is done, I should have no guilt. Hey, I accidentally had the time wrong and showed up 20 minutes late for an appt and had to reschedule. It sucks but its life.
I went back and forth about the review, but basically decided I had to write it asap or let them know I'd backed out. I gave it some thought, discussed with colleagues, and decided it was worth my time to get my name on a review on a topic I'm trying to position myself as an expert on, so I made a writing schedule and I'm working on it. When it was just another task to be done I had no motivation to do it, but now that I actually see the career advantage, I'm actually excited to make it good.
As much as I wish he would, G just doesn't constantly review the calendar(s) the way I do, and if I want to spare him the surprise, we need to sit down and go over the week together. We did it this weekend (I have nothing going on any evening, so it was quick!) and hope to make it a habit. The kids can suck it with their whining, I am home 90% of evenings.
I promised to clean the bathrooms next time, and we are making a chore chart for the house cleaning. I need to make G promise NOT to do my chores on the chart even though he thinks he will do them better. Also no more beers for me for a good long time (I felt ugh the next morning, I cannot indulge like that anymore!).