Living Between the Lines

Misplaced Guilt…

Do you suffer from misplaced guilt?

The smallest thing can cause this condition to appear, such as wondering if you have said the right thing or if your actions have been misunderstood—the latter is a big one for me. I am working on it though. I give myself a good talking to if unwarranted guilt threatens. That said, it is always there, biding its time, ready to pounce at any given moment. It can seem as though someone is standing at my side demanding, “Explain yourself!”
Today there were two occasions when misplaced guilt raised its ugly head.
The first was as I left the supermarket and headed back to my car with a full trolley. The Car Wash folk were out in the rain. (I had felt guilty ignoring them so had asked for a ten pound car wash). I could see they had finished mine so fished in my bag for a ten pound note.
Proffering it with a smile I was astonished when it was handed back to me by the East European car washer, with an apologetic smile. (Sorry Lady, this is not legal tender,)
I was taken aback, not legal tender?
‘It isn’t plastic,’ he showed me a note he already had in his possession. I immediately realised my mistake.
Let’s be fair here. I obtained the ten pound note in question, from my elderly mother who had been saving it for me, with several others, in payment for her shopping. I did not think to check the notes she handed me. I doubt she is aware that she may have a stash of obsolete notes now. Still, as the Car Washer sadly declined the ten pounds, I felt extremely guilty for having offered it to him in the first place. I did not of course, explain why I was in possession of an obsolete paper note (they went out of circulation on March 1st) even though I wanted to. I took back the illegal tender and offered him a twenty pound note which he exchanged for the ‘good’ plastic ten pounds. My feelings of guilt were misplaced by anyone’s standard. Funnily enough, he looked as though he felt guilty too, at having to tell me he couldn’t accept it.
Having sorted that out, I threw my shopping into the car boot and pushed my trolley into the nearest bay.

Still smarting from that first bout of misplaced guilt I little knew another lay in store.
Checking the aisle behind me, into which I needed to reverse to exit the car park, I saw that to my right, the car wash men and their trolleys and some pedestrians, were blocking the way. I would have to reverse in the opposite direction. This I did, with due care and attention.
As I prepared to drive on, I saw another driver heading towards me, a frown on his face. As he drew level, he fixed me with a steely eyed stare. It clicked, this was a one-way aisle and I was now facing the wrong way. I affected the surprise that I genuinely felt and with an exaggerated “oops!” clapped my hand to my mouth. He grinned and nodded before driving on. I was forgiven.
I had not given in to the urge to explain my actions, I preferred to make him smile instead. This is the basis of my “banish the guilt” strategy.
I should also say that I then turned the car round and drove the correct way out of the aisle. Even though the exit onto the main route out was a mere twenty yards away and clear, I could not bring myself to drive out of here, the wrong way, once I had realised my mistake.

Now, couple this with the ‘basket only’ escapade of the other week and I really will begin to think I should not be let loose in a supermarket ever again. Ironically, when I pushed my full trolley towards the nearest checkout today, three people ahead of me were unloading their baskets onto the conveyor belt. Naturally, I checked for any signs telling me that this was a basket only checkout. Not seeing a sign, but not fully trusting myself to have noticed any either, I asked the chap ahead of me,
“Is this a basket only aisle?”
“No, that isn’t open yet,” he explained, a tad defensively, I thought.
I nodded. It only occurred to me afterwards that maybe he thought I was accusing him of being in the wrong aisle. We won’t go into that, I have had quite enough feelings of misplaced guilt for one day.

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Patricia Hamilton

    Oh you are describing my life to a T right now. I have 2 guilty moments in my life that will not let go. One when I was three and one when newly married. They both came to talk to me as I read your delightful post. Thank you for sharing. For some reason I had to sign in again today and I could not make the like button work? My phone maybe?

    • Debbie

      Those guilty moment do tend to stay with us don’t they? Now I have reminded you again! As for having to sign in and buttons not working…I had to approve your post which I don’t normally have to do so perhaps it is your phone or those gremlins again. 🙂

  • Teresa Ashby

    I was so glad to read this and realise I’m not the only one. I seem to live my life in a cloud of guilt and it seems so irrational at times! I love your banish the guilt strategy! I shall give it a try xx

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