Guilty Conscious



Reflection is important.
That sounds so ridiculously obvious, I’m sure.
In fact, probably a lot of what I’m about to say is obvious, but it hasn’t always been for me.

There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with self reflection. For most of my life I did it the wrong way.

As long as I can remember, I have always been hyper aware of my “self”. I don’t believe I’ve ever been too egotistical, narcissistic, or overly confident or anything, but I’m always reflecting on myself. That being said, I’m sure there are some people out there that would ascribe some of these attributes to me. Perhaps rightfully so based on my interactions with them, but I know deep down they are mostly untrue. If I had shown any of these characteristics it was surely out of insecurity or an attempt to hide my flaws. I’m confident making that claim, as most of my awareness has been hyper focused on the negative attributes of myself and almost zero directed towards the positive.

For most of my life, guilt has been my most treasured annoyance. I have written about it here excessively, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the debilitating nature of my guilt held me back from some pretty amazing things: Relationships, career opportunities, everyday life, etc.

I was constantly aware of my past sins and unable to forgive myself. There was a running tab of all the horrible shit I had done playing through my head 24/7 -weighing me down each and every day.

Want an example?
In second grade I scammed a fourth grader named Tyson out of a foil Blastoise Pokemon card by convincing him that the less evolved squirtle was “cuter” and therefore more valuable to him. I knew the monetary value of both cards as I had a magazine that listed the current trading prices and he did not. If you know anything about pokemon cards, you know just how maniacal I had acted. He didn’t know that a Squirtle was one of the most common cards (non valuable) and that the foiled Blastoise was deemed a “rare” card (valuable). I took advantage of his ignorance and have felt guilty ever since.

I use that as a pretty “cute” example of my guilt, but it’s not when I think about it. It’s a perfect example of how unhealthy my guilt had become. I carried that with me my entire life. In high school, Tyson’s mother passed away and my immediate reaction was immense guilt over a Pokemon card. As illogical and ridiculous as it is, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Oh no, I screwed him over a Blastoise and his mom died.” I know these are unrelated and would never ever register as comparable, but that was my honest reaction. I held onto my sleight against him without ever rectifying the situation allowing my guilt to build and build.

I have struggled with depression most of my waking life and a big part of that was feeling guilty about things I had done. I never once thought of a happy memory. I just associated my past with the negatives and would solely focus on those experiences. I would get so down on myself for my past behavior, that I wouldn’t exist in the moment. Because I was too busy wallowing in the past I failed to make corrections in the present which naturally doomed the future. I was aware at how the circle perpetuated itself, yet I couldn’t seem to forgive myself enough to change it.

I have since made some enormous changes in my life, my attitude, and my relationship with the past. In talking with so many patient people in my life, I was able to get to a point where I could start forgiving myself a little bit. I still hold on to a lot of things, but I hold onto them because I’m not done with them yet. If I look back at something I don’t like, I make sure I don’t repeat those behaviors in the future. I actively strive to become better as a friend, brother, significant other, and person alive in this day and age. The things I still hold onto, I haven’t figured out a way to adjust, but I’m confident I will.

I am still hyper aware of my flaws and shortcomings, but I promise I’m working on them. I’m not sure I’ll ever be “done” becoming the person I think I should be, but I enjoy that thought. Who I am right now is a much better person than I was just one year ago. I hope that I look back in a year and acknowledge the strides I’ve made this coming year, but recognize some more of the things I’m still holding onto.

I think I may finally be to a point where I’ve got this whole self reflection thing down to a healthy and manageable way.

Reflect on past behaviors/situations.
Identify what is immoral, unwanted, or cringeworthy. 
Accept that it was me.
Either make amends, or forgive myself.
Make adjustments immediately.
Be aware of the adjustments and practice them until it’s my nature.

Move forward a better human.




Matthew Forgives (himself)

Coffee Stained Teeth


I woke up late. I slowly crawled out of bed and crept into my kitchen to figure out my life. I mean, make coffee.
My garbage is quickly being filled with used coffee grounds in piles of bitter mud that I will most certainly add to today. And the next day.

And the next.

My coffee addiction might be out of control, but I’ll figure that out at a later date.

My morning routine thrives because of the consumption of that hot black goodness. It gives me a moment to reflect before the day starts. The process in which I consume the drink is almost sacred to me.

When I was young my parents consumed the beverage daily. Every morning the scent of a fresh pot would fill the house and usher in a youth full of fond familiarity. The scent of coffee, though, is misleading to a child. For me, it smelled delicious and amazing and I associated it with positive aspects in my life. Reality struck when I tasted it for the first time.

It’s fucking bitter.
Children don’t like bitter things, I reckon.

So why did I keep drinking it? How does one go from repulsion to infatuation? Is my love of coffee based entirely on social constructs that convinced me to develop a taste for it?

America has an interesting relationship with coffee. Rejecting taxation on tea (and the UK in general), mixed with crop failure and convenience gave rise to a culture that consumed more and more coffee. It became American. I wonder if we just convinced ourselves it was great, then dominated the world, and now everyone else is falling in line.

Coffee is great. Say it.
Now believe it.

I’m using coffee as a shitty way to introduce what I really want to talk about: I wanted to write something to address the lies I’ve told this week.

With the guidance of the sacred beverage I’m sipping, the period of reflection that goes along with it and the guilt of a formerly religious person, I must confess my sins: I have lied this week.

I don’t enjoy lying one bit.

When I was young I would lie to get my way or to get out of a tricky situation solely for selfish reasons.
Hold the judgement.
We all did.

A lot of people still do.

However, the older I get the more disgusting I find this. I see adults doing it all the time and it freaks me out. I try to refrain. Sure, I still lie, but these days it seems like I’m mostly lying for others’ benefit. I benefit as well, obviously, but I feel like the main goal is to ease others'. But maybe I’m just lying to myself. Am I that naive? I'm not that great of a person.

You be the judge. This week:

I lied that a cat scratched me years ago and that’s how I got the scar on my stomach. I’ve told a few people this. It is a lie. The truth doesn’t necessarily breed any ground breaking conversation and will only make people feel uncomfortable around me. I’m not necessarily embarrassed by the truth, no one can use it against me, but it seems to skew the night. So I lied. And now I feel uncomfortable. Social Norms.

I lied and said that I was working to get out of hanging out with people. This is a common lie and it seems selfish, and I’m sure it is, but I can be a moody prick sometimes and no one deserves to be around that. I don’t think it adds value to others’ lives when I’m in those moods. I’m not one for holding my tongue, and I’ve learned it’s best to just hide away and read. Preservation.

I’ve successfully held the truth back about my feelings for multiple people this week. Constantly not wanting to go any further in personal relationships is either a selfish or selfless venture. I can’t tell yet; the jury is still out. You see, I’m a recovering romantic with a tendency to be overly passionate. I’m impulsive with feelings and I often put them out my mind the second the person they’re directed at is out of sight. This doesn’t seem to be fair to anyone so I remain King Casual, Lord of all Douchebags. This title benefits everyone in the long run. Convenience.

The point is: I’ve lied this week.
I don’t enjoy it.
Convenience, preservation, social norms or any other justification I give for telling a lie doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a lie. Not to be too dramatic, but it feels like each lie starts to eat away at my soul. It gets easier. It starts to taste good. The easier lying becomes the more aware of it I feel I have to be. I have to take note, feel the guilt, and change my behavior so that I don’t continue lying in the future. Sure, I didn’t tell any “big” lies and I’m not out here manipulating others, but what’s the point of putting so much value in honesty if I’m hypocrite at the end of the day?

And I truly value honesty. But god, I would have so few friends were I honest at all times. What does that mean? What does that say about me, about my relationships, about society? Why can’t we all be honest? Why do we worry about others’ feelings so much and why do we get so offended when people think differently about us? It seems so childish. So trivial. So sensitive. It’s detrimental to progress.

My coffee is cold now. I need to make more.

Until next time,

-Matthew Lies