Guilt Carries You

Content warning for suicidal ideation, description of sexual assault and racial slurs.

A young black person paraphrases Andrea Dworkin to themselves, pushing back against self-imposed guilt moments after bumping and grinding with someone at a party where music, weed and alcohol are present. And of course, someone recorded them doing this. They retreat to a room upstairs and wrestle with their guilt while confessing the incident on a private social media profile until they scream. As the party halts and disperses, they receive messages from a longtime friend telling them to not make the entire incident about them and to either apologize or move on. The morning after, they write an apology letter and send it downstairs, being told by the landlord of the house they are living at not to do scream like a maniac again. Then the black person leaves the house and watch, “Mad Max: Fury Road” inside a theater, wander outside afterward in a gaze of guilt, elation, enthusiasm and sadness. Finally they tell their friend about the apology they sent and are told to simply move on and do better going forward.

Said person hasn’t been invited to house parties at their current location since, but months later they would embrace their trans identity to the point of attending support groups and going to therapists, culminating in them coming out to their workplace the day after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. They are still employed as of this writing, but the longer they go on the more they suspect that their days of being a so-called, “productive member of society” are numbered. Even after the apology, and confirmation from a former roommate that it has been accepted (with a comment that nothing bad happened, really), they still feel immense guilt not just for that night, but also current events, their childhood, their breakups, their failures and their existence.

They feel ashamed of the ongoing suffering around the world, as if they are directly responsible for it still going on. They also feel guilty about living paycheck to paycheck but often being broke to the point where partners sometimes buy food for them. Every tweet, news feed, brush against a stranger while walking their bike and microaggression at work is just more ammunition for their shame. Every caught glance and invasive thought brings them guilt, and they feel an immense obsession with the need to affirm their right to exist, or at least the fact that they are not at fault for the shitty things going on in the world. But no matter what good deed they do, forgiveness they are given and love they receive, the guilt eats at them. It tells them that nothing they are doing is good enough, that everyone will hate them eventually, that they will be replaced, then homeless, then dead.

The guilt uses passages from dead writers and living passerby to reinforce itself and push its host to a breaking point. It is there when they masturbate, it berates them as they subsist on instant ramen, it insults their taste in clothing, music, partners, and everything else. It scrutinizes their politics and compares them to storied folks of the past and present, then tells them that they must delay all affection, yearning and even basic human self-maintenance until they achieve the same level of importance, if not more so, than all of them combined. Then it screams obscenities at them as they plunge themselves headfirst into an interesting book, an expensive meal, a pleasant experience, or anything that affirms their existence for better or worse.

Sometimes the black person is able to free themselves from this by paying active attention to the love they receive. But sometimes it just feels hollow, even though the other person is being as earnest as possible. The guilt tells them that such love is bullshit and that they are a fuckup who will destroy this moment of kindness the way they fucked up all the others. And that this past of fucking up is proof that they are a worthless piece of shit sapping off the power of their betters.

And the truth is, That One Person you read about online, at the library or some other place is referring specifically to them. Yes, they are to blame for the exploitation of millions, because otherwise they would have stopped it, or be working to stop it. Yes, them renting a room in a house is stealing from someone else who is way more deserving of shelter than you. Their collection of media, technology and other shit not only comes at the expense of the world at large but is also sitting unused to the potential of making Them Not A Parasitic Piece of Shit. Don’t even get the guilt started on the stuff they managed to have to show for after…what, 27 years?

Their writing is garbage, they are a declining mediocrity of an employee, their tits are too small, their face too masculine and their voice is irritating. Why the fuck are they picking at their hair constantly, they were supposed to take a shower days ago, and for the love of fuck they should stop sharing nudes with people they flirt with. They’re hairy, ugly, a nigger and their participation within/support of sex work makes them a rapist. God, they are fake feminist piece of shit. They deserve to be molested by that 13-year old they met when you were 10. To say nothing of the other times they let them sexually manipulate you. And yet they dare to get off? They are reinforcing the things that hurt them. They deserve no sympathy. They strut their stuff and dare to wake up in the morning despite of all the times them allowed yourself to be taken advantage of, beaten, and fail at the basic fucking task of fulfilling their obligation as a transaction for their betters.

They walk among gods. They walk amongst geniuses, the oppressed and wealthy, and after all of the shit they pulled just to affirm themselves they have the fucking nerve to bitch and moan about their guilt? Guilt gives them motivation. It is the only fucking reason they have a moral compass lest they shoot up some place out of malice and rage like the piece of shit they are and always have been. And they should not fucking dare bring their companions into this. They hate them. Hate them.

This guilt will destroy everything and everyone they love. No, they will destroy them. They are the common denominator of all the shit happening on this miserable space rock, and they fail to account for this every fucking moment they breathe. So they should end it. Slit their throat and have their blood nourish the seeds of the good that will only exist when they’re gone, because nothing that involves them is ever good. Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. Fuck them.

So, this black person is supposed to be seeing a therapist soon, and also getting a new supply of Estradiol plus Spiro so that they can begin to have the body they want. They filled out a survey that gave away maybe a little too much, and the doctor became worried to the point of recommending that you see a therapist. After their last breakdown at work, after which they received a warning for being disruptive, they got a phone number to a counselor. They have not made that call, but that concerned doctor who is assisting them during their transition just gave a reminder. A reminder that sort of put a dent into their otherwise nice weekend because it reminded them that their hardships are not just that of rude customers or growing inaccessibility and complexity of technology which makes working customer service soul-crushing. Their hardships are not just related to the breakup they had, or the friendship that broke apart, the food they are sometimes not able to get due to other expenses or even the political party that sees them as either a plague to be destroyed or a pawn to manipulate to maintain power. Their hardships seem to permeate time and space. Maybe it’s that hard for them because they are black, bisexual, have an annual income of $37,000, dropped out of community college due to abuse and stress, and are transfeminine. Or maybe things are hard for them because they are being punished for the wretchedness they are.

Whatever the causes are, they want it to stop. They just want it to fucking stop. And they feel guilty for not making it stop sooner.

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