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Feeling extreme guilt over past mistake

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  • This topic has 18 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 3 days ago by anita.
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  • #359708
    Jeff
    Participant

    I’m not sure how to start this story as my view on it constantly changes. But I will give it a try. Three months ago I suddenly remembered a mistake I made as a 13 year old. Back then I  took naked pictures of my team mates while showering after soccer. Purely out of curiosity and to find out what this might mean for me. There were no bad intentions involved. They never realized I did this. And I soon felt very bad about it. Although it simply wasn’t that big of a deal. This seriously is the worst thing I have ever done in my life.  Now years later I suddenly remember this mistake again. And in no ways can I imagine that I have ever done such a thing. This act stands so incredibly far from the person I am today. And even back then I felt like I should have known better. I really regret it. And the story has haunted me every minute of the day for months now. At first I wanted to confess to these people. But we don’t interact anymore . And they are happy living their lives. I know this as we actually met. And I decided to apologize for everything that I’ve ever did to them that was wrong.  Kinda vague and uncomfortable. As we met up, they didn’t really understand. As they felt there wasn’t really something to apologize for, at least from my side. I hoped giving them an apology for ‘something’ would lighten my chest. Unfortunately it didn’t.  Rationally I know that with my actions I never harmed anyone.

    And that me confessing in the conservative environment that I live in could become a big deal. As they might not keep my confession to themselves. Which of course is their right, but it could become very messy. As I already expierence so much heavy guilt from this. They might experience some mental trouble from it too. Which I don’t want them too.

    I also don’t want to start a ‘big thing’, and hurt people like my family and friends. Over past actions knowing I grew from that. Yet I have no way of imagining that I have done such a thing. I find it strange how I feel such guilt to people who have not treated me right in the first place. While this could be my ego speaking. Meanwhile my thoughts just haunt me. The situation simply keeps replaying in my head. It must have happened over 10 million times at this point. Which is insane. The annoying part is that one day I can look at myself as this horrible human being. And the other day I can completely understand that everybody makes mistakes. And some things are better left unsaid for everybody’s sanity. (even this feels conflicting as who am I to decide) This constant conflict makes me lose my mind. I don’t function the way I used to before. Yet I came a long way from having panic attacks all the time about this situation. To where I am now 3 months later at least being able to function ‘normally’ again. Yet it still takes up 90% of my headspace all day long (don’t get me wrong it’s still unbearable, but I has been worse). Which is such a waste because there are so many good things happening right now. And I just want to be able to move forward and forgive myself.  Sometimes it seems as because of these good things that are happening I have to ruin it. I alway try to forgiving others, who do not apologize. Knowing they might have grown from their actions.

    I did explain the story in detail to some friends who told me not to  confess, and so did my doctor. Who I went to see because of the physical problems it caused me. They say I  would create a problem that simply does not exist. And that my actions are not as horrible as I view them to be. The fact is I simply would rather not tell them. To protect them, others and myself. And not hurt people like my family and friends.  This feels good sometimes. And in other moments It feels like the easy way out. Like I am not taking responsibility for my actions. I simply have no way of imagining that I have done such a thing. And my thoughts just haunt me.  As normally I always preach and actually practice honesty. Yet I must come to termes with the fact that I have. I simply wasn’t aware enough of my actions. And that’s how mistakes are being made. I decided to come on here, to apologize. To let the people who are involved know that I feel extremely bad about this situation. And to also warn others not to make the same mistake as I have made. Simply do not do such a thing. Because at the end of the day I am/you are 100% responsible for my/your actions.

    I sometimes wonder if there is something lying underneath that is the actual cause of this feeling. But I don’t seem to reach it. For now I can just hope that things will get better. And I hope that if the situation might ever leak. That they have the generosity to forgive me. Because I seem to  be a bit lost at this point. And there simply does not seem to be a solution.

    #359715
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    It is not a good idea for you to confess to the guys, and apologize to them for the specific act of taking photos without their consent. It was wrong to do, but confessing/ apologizing for it will cause trouble to them and to your family if they get to hear about it. I imagine you destroyed those photos (?)

    You wrote that they “have not treated me right in the first place”, that you “always try to forgive others, who do not apologize. Knowing they might have grown from their actions”. And you wrote: “I sometimes wonder if there is something lying underneath that is the actual cause of this feeling”-

    – what’s lying underneath my be a problem that you have with anger. The soccer team mates didnt treat you right, you shared that (quote above). Naturally you felt anger at them- it is an automatic, natural reaction to being mistreated. Anger is not a good feeling or a bad feeling. When you feel anger, it doesn’t make you a bad person. When you feel no anger- it doesn’t make you a good person.

    We all feel anger, and when we do, thoughts of harming the ones we are angry at cross our minds. Those thoughts are not bad thoughts and we are not bad for thinking them.

    What makes us good  or bad is what we do following feeling angry at another. Sometimes the right thing to do, such as when being physically attacked, is to attack the attacker, and immediately. At other times, the right thing to do is to assert oneself otherwise, for example, to state to the person: I don’t like the way you treat me (and specifically point to the mistreatment). Sometimes the right thing to do is to fill in a formal complaint.

    Unless we are physically attacked and have to defend ourselves immediately, we need to take time out when angry and evaluate the situation, figuring out what to do next that will correct the injustice we experienced.

    Back to the soccer teammates: they mistreated you. Naturally you felt angry at them. Naturally you probably had thoughts about hurting them back. Maybe you took the photos with a thought underneath of using those photos against them, or maybe sometime after taking the photos, a thought crossed your mind to use those photos against them, as revenge, a payback for them hurting you.

    What may be alarming you is that you are capable of feeling anger, forming angry thoughts, knowing that physically you are capable of materializing those thoughts and actually harming others.

    Is this the case?

    anita

     

    #359741
    Bill
    Participant

    If you have not read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, I very highly recommend it. It is also an amazing book to listen to, as it is read by the author. If we allow our past mistakes – especially those we made as teenagers – to haunt us, they can consume us, as it sounds like this one is consuming you.

    Let go. Forgive yourself. Recognize that you are no longer that person.

    I

    #359762
    Jeff
    Participant

    Dear Anita

    Thank you for you’re reply. You have an interesting take on the situation. I will now explain the situation a bit further. The people I took photo’s of used to be some of my best friends. I didn’t take photo’s of them because of them, but it mainly happened to be them. During that period our friendship started to show some cracks. As they seemed to have different priorities. Fast forward 2 years we completely lost touch. As it was constantly me asking them to particapte in our friendship. It was all very one sided. And in this period they constantly back stabed me. Deciding to part ways was a really though decision for me. But we did eventually and I think it was the right thing for all of us. Even though they could have apologized for the things they did to me. They didn’t. And years later I decided to talk to them and we sort of spoke things out. I’m probably not holy either so it was great to leave things in the past. We didn’t become friends again, as our lives are just completly different. And that’s fine. But I must say I feel mostly guilty towards two persons in this situation. They used to be my best friends. And for the others I feel much less guilt. Which is weird but also understandable, I guess. The weird part is that there does not seem to be any emotional connection between us anymore. Anyway I ofcourse deleted these pictures as I felt so bad about it. It just didn’t feel right to have them. As it in a sense is a sort of power. Which is wrong.

    one part of this situation I can understand, that it’s just completely not who I am as a person. And that this makes it such a big deal for me. On the other hand I have no idea how this thing can control my life the way it does. As my body has completly identified with this ungoing state of stress. And it just doesn’t feel healthy, I feel out of balance. On top of that it seems like i’m the only who has done this. And the entire internet is holy. Especially on social media. Where people keep calling other people out for past actions. This scares me. Even though I know I never hurt anyone. It’s so weird how my mind seems to be in ungoing state of confusion. Spirtually I can’t understand how this might be some sort of awakening. As I read about it online. The hardest part about it as how I thought to be over it so many times now. And it keeps coming back. It indeed controls my life. And I have no idea what I’m supposed to learn from this. Also I have a hard time forgiving myself. Which I know is so important in this process. But I’m always very tough on myself. So if you have some tips that would be great.

    Thanks!

    #359764
    Jeff
    Participant

    Hi Bill,

    Thankyou for the suggestion. I have watched many video’s of eckhart at this point. They always seem to give me some sort of relief. It’s definitely consuming my body and mind. And it’s exhausting. I wish I could forgive myself. But that seems to be the hardest part. As I’m trying to solve a problem that only exists in my mind. Also the constant relief, and then my negative thoughts that are returning is so exhausting. Any more depth on how to let go and forgive?

    Thank!

    #359767
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    I need to understand better what you mean by some of the things you wrote. If you explain the following to me, maybe I will be able to suggest something useful to you:

    1) “I took naked pictures of my team mates.. Purely out of curiosity and to find out what this might mean for me”-

    – what do you mean by “out of curiosity”, curiosity for what?

    – what do you mean by “what this might mean for me”?

    2) Were you ever angry with your team mates/best friends for the friendships becoming one sided, for them backs tabbing you and for not apologizing to you?

    If your answer is yes, what happened with this anger, did you express it or repress it?

    3) “I must say I feel mostly guilty towards two persons in this situation”- did these two persons two of the team mates who had a one sided friendship with you, then back stabbed you and then, did not apologize to you?

    Can you tell me about the nature of your guilt toward the two, what is it exactly that you feel guilty for?

    anita

     

     

    #359830
    Jeff
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    1) “I took naked pictures of my team mates.. Purely out of curiosity and to find out what this might mean for me”-

    – what do you mean by “out of curiosity”, curiosity for what?

    – what do you mean by “what this might mean for me”?

    What I meant by these statements is that I think it was a way of finding out more about my own sexualility. I think I was curious if I would like having these pictures. So I could draw conclusions from there. At least that’s what I think it was. As it’s so long ago, that I can’t completely remember.

    2) Were you ever angry with your team mates/best friends for the friendships becoming one sided, for them backs tabbing you and for not apologizing to you?

    If your answer is yes, what happened with this anger, did you express it or repress it?

    Yes I have felt a lot anger and frustation towards them. For a long time. I never decided to adress it during that period. But I did addres it years later. Getting little compasion or empathy. At that time I felt like I already moved on from it though.

    3) “I must say I feel mostly guilty towards two persons in this situation”- did these two persons two of the team mates who had a one sided friendship with you, then back stabbed you and then, did not apologize to you?

    Yes, this is right. I simply don’t really know what I feel.

    but it’s just that their names keep popping up in my head. Maybe I feel guilty for holding them accountable for their actions towards me.  At that time that I didn’t like at all. Completely forgetting that I have done something towards them that is wrong too. In the bigger picture I just think it’s sad how relationships with people can change so much. Even though I know it’s completely fine. That people change as persons. And that we didn’t held each other back in our lives, just to stay friends. My biggest issues is most likely self-forgiveness.

    Can you tell me about the nature of your guilt toward the two, what is it exactly that you feel guilty for?

     

    #359841
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    I will try to re-tell your story with the new information (your recent post) inserted into the old (your original and second posts). After you read my post, you can post back to me and tell me if I told your story correctly, and if not, correct the parts that are not accurate:

    When you were 13, a boy playing soccer with other boys. At the time, you felt sexually attracted to other boys. After showering with your soccer teammates after a practice or a game, at one point, you took photos of the other boys naked while they were showering and/ or getting dressed. A few of your best friends were in the photos you took. Your motivation in taking those photos was to sexually explore and enjoy looking at the photos later, at your convenience.

    In the course of your friendships with a few of the boys, you chased them for their time, feeling that the friendships are one-sided, and you say that they repeatedly back stabbed you. As a result you felt “a lot of anger and frustration towards them. For a long time.”

    Years after taking the photos, you remembered having taken those photos years before, regretting it and becoming obsessed with having taken those photos: “the story has haunted me every minute of the day for months now… my thoughts just haunt me.. The situation just keeps replaying in my head. It must have happened over a million times at this point…it still takes up 90% of my headspace all day long”.

    You met a few of your former best friends recently and you apologized generally, not mentioning the act of taking their naked photos (“I decided to apologize for everything that I’ve ever did to them that was wrong… vague”). When hearing your general, vague apology, they “felt there wasn’t really something to apologize for”.

    And now quotes from you and my thoughts and another question for you. You wrote: “I sometimes wonder if there is something lying underneath that is the actual cause of this feeling… I have no idea what I’m supposed to learn from this”-

    – the elephant in the room is your sexuality and whether you are keeping it a secret. You wrote about taking the naked photos of the other boys: “it was a way of finding out more about my own sexuality”-

    Well, what did you find out???

    anita

    #359848
    Jeff
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Well I do think everyone at one point in their live questions their sexuality. Especially at that age. I always try to question things. That’s why I kind of saw it as an experiment. What I found out is that I felt bad about taking these pictures. I also didn’t think that much off it. As I actually forgot about it. I identify as straight and I’ve never in my life had any feelings for a man. I also don’t think I am keeping my sexuality a secret? As there’s not much to confess. I’m very open minded. And maybe in a few years I will have a different out take on this. But I don’t necessarily think that to be honest. It would just be so much easier if I could just confess this, move on, without causing harm. Well that’s not possible so I have to deal with it.

    #359852
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    The problem with confessing to the young men that long ago you took photos of them naked, is like you wrote, and like your friends advised you, the information you will be giving these young men cannot possibly help them, and it is likely hurt you and your family members if the young men will share your confession with others, leading to gossip.

    You wrote that you saw a doctor about your  emotional turmoil and suffering regarding the incident at 13. Did the doctor give you a medical checkup, and did he/ she diagnose you and/ or suggest any treatment for you, such as medications and/ or counseling?

    anita

    #359880
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    I want to be clear, in case I wasn’t: the issue is not what your sexual orientation is (although it does matter whether your sexual orientation, whatever it may be, causes you anxiety!). The issue is what seems to me to be your obsession. This is what you wrote about what you referred to as “the story” and “the situation”, and which I think of as an obsession: “The story has haunted me every minute of the day for months.. my thoughts just haunt me.. The situation just keeps replaying in my head.. over a million times at this point.. it still takes up to 90% of my headspace all day long”.

    I personally suffered from obsessive thinking since I was about six years old. I was later diagnosed with  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What fuels OCD is anxiety.

    I wonder if you obsessed about other events, other topics, before your current obsession, and if you discussed your current and other obsession with a medical professional. If you haven’t, you may want to make an appointment and bring this possibility up to the professional.

    anita

    #360085
    Jeff
    Participant

    Hi Anita

     

    Wow this is an extremely interesting take on the situation. As I actually suffered from OCD when I was around the age of 13 years old. My doctor advised me to get into therapy as I faced a lot of depressive periods in my life. I’m working on this now. Lately I felt anxiety over covid 19. And also I was getting a new job. Which caused me a lot of stress as well. This guilt situation started around the time I was applying for this new job. And I think your right the obsession is the problem. Also the fact the thoughts are very self-destructive and pretty extreme are problematic. The idea that you can’t be an authentic person when you keep secrets. Could you maybe explain what the relation between OCD and thinking can be from your experience?

     

    Thanks!

     

    #360092
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    Covid-19 and a new job-  these are two significant stressors that probably awakened your OCD. These two recent stressors are like fires that ignited the old OCD. And obsessive thinking further fuels anxiety.

    “The idea that you can’t be an authentic person when you keep secrets. Could you maybe explain what the relation between OCD and thinking can be from your experience?”-

    – I am not sure I understand what you are asking. I would like to answer you though. Can you explain your question  more clearly?

    anita

    #360332
    Jeff
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    My first feeling was that I felt like you can’t be an authentic person if you have secrets. I was just expressing this thought that had crossed my mind. The question I were asking is: What is the relationship between excessive thinking and OCD from your expierence or knowledge?

    Thanks!

    Jeff

    #360361
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jeff:

    “What is the relationship between excessive thinking and OCD from your experience or knowledge?”-

    OCD = Excessive thinking + fear/anxiety.

    Excessive thinking is in the definition of OCD. It is in the O of OCD (Obsessive/ excessive thinking).

    Fear fuels the thinking: first we feel  fear, then we think: what is the problem and how can we solve the problem. If we thought about the real problem, we could think about it and come up with a solution, implement the solution and the thinking stops.

    But having suffered from OCD for decades, I didn’t think about the real problem that needs to be solved. Instead I focused on substitute problems and tried to  solve them. Because I didn’t focus and tried to solve the real problem, fear remained and fueled more and more useless thinking.

    Please let me know if my answer is clear and if you would like me to elaborate on anything.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by anita.
    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by anita.
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