Not your garden variety Jewish guilt, but the kind that comes from deliberately saying hateful things for purely selfish reasons.
The (very) abridged backstory: The most destructive and important relationship of my young life came to an end three years ago. The romance hasn't been rekindled since then, but contact with J has flared up a few times, mostly in an attempt to make peace. The last time we tried it fell to pieces and I finally pulled my fingers out of the dam and let all (well, most) of my pent-up anger wash over us both. And as you might expect, it was cathartic. And as you also might expect, it did not make me feel good or give me the closure I was hoping for.
Every day we're faced with the option to speak our minds or be kind by holding back. (Usually we think of it as "being the bigger person," but half the time it's just being the bigger pussy.) Almost always I choose to say nothing. Example: Not long ago I dated an impotent fetishist who called me "sexually disappointing" when I declined to play his little handcuff game. In the moment I was too stunned to spit back. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't; The guy had insulted me out of embarrasment over his own dysfunction, and no amount of pointing and laughing would have have restored the half-ounce of pride he'd slapped out of my hands. I quietly collected my underpants and went home.
Chalk it up to good manners -- I believe they're defined as behavior intended to make others feel comfortable.
But this one time, with my ex, I took the low road. Not that he didn't deserve it -- J broke me so deeply and accepted so little responsibility, his comeuppance was long overdue. Nonetheless, it was foolish of me to let loose on him and think the guilt wouldn't stick around like gum on my shoe.
I'm tempted to post the last letter I wrote to him in hopes that making it public (to the 2.5 people who may be reading this blog) will lift some of its weight from my heart. You know, like when a kept secret feels like the end of the world until you say it out loud and realize it's not that bad.
Should I? Is this thing on?