What is the last thing I felt guilty about?
The last thing I felt guilty about, an interesting thing to ask a former PresbyCatholic*, where guilt abounds as if raised by a Jewish grandmother in the postmodern era.
I think it was being diagnosed with cancer, I still go through bouts of guilt about it. I don’t know how to make the conversation easier. My cancer was the direct result of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), so the dirty little secret that I had sex is out there for all. I am a woman with a certain kind of community cred, and it feels like a dirty little secret.
Almost every time I talk about this my soul hurts, my tendency to mentally self flagellate rolls into gear, my chest hurts. I recall all the thoughtless comments people I love have made about the disease and other related or similar diseases – and I hurt… I feel judged and I really hurt. I wonder why I wasn’t the lucky kind of human who was able to safely beat the virus and stop it from making that mutation. Why there are still whispers of having this, and when shared I feel honor bound to respect the privacy because holy fucking shit if there aren’t some fucking overly opinionated assholes out there.
And the thing is, I know it is so fleeting for them… the vitriol spewers. They forget that long past the speaking (or writing) of the words, the injury lingers. The pain of not just having to navigate the aftermath of a disease but the opinions of the community as well.
I wonder where it came from and what the story line to my disease is. It is silent and thus capable of being rendered into a million stories. I think that the hardest part is that in this digital age, there is a such a deep vulnerability. If you ever get the desire to see how people are willing to react to you in the ethers, monitor Post Secret then head over to the PS Community and read what people say. Some people are very kind and others have a vitriol fueled by their online anonymity. Conversely, go and read the comments on any news article about anything controversial. People can be such assholes.
“So full of artless jealousy is guilt, It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet
* I was not really raised in any particular religion until I was around 12. I grew up in Roman Catholic countries and feel a deep affinity for what they all taught me (hey I loved the Jesuits (and liberation theologists) that were prevalent. Once in the USA I was told I came from a looooong line of Presbyterians (though I had been baptized Nazarene) and so I decided to learn about them. They are kind of cool. But the vestiges of the RC influence hangs on, maybe less with the theology end of things. I have a soft spot for images of Our Lady and while I love her best in kitschy forms (i.e. glow in the dark, glittered) I love her more sacred images too. I love the idea of The Saints. It is strange navigating this as a new atheist (thought I still balk at saying that because I associate that with the ilk of Richard Dawkins** and I find his proselytizing to be obnoxious and as hateful as the Christian (and other) believes he demeans.
** I am listening to his memoir right now. I roll my eyes so much I may be disfigured. I have met him several times and found him to be ridiculous (he wore cut off jean shorts so short you could see the crack of his buttocks and other such normally personal body parts).