Since I mentioned Protestant guilt in a recent post, I thought I’d expand on the theme. Both husband and I have it, a legacy from mothers who regularly dragged us to Sunday school. It generally takes the form of “we don’t deserve this,” and the intensity varies depending on the volume of wine consumed and number of telephone customer service reps I’ve lost my temper with that particular week. It’s a more vanilla type of guilt than the sex/mother anxiety and acting out I’ve observed in my lapsed Catholic friends (and Fellini). How typically Protestant.
I try to tell myself mitigating things like our cottage is the size of a shed on the estate of a truly rich Cotswoldian. It doesn’t really work. Nor is there any solace in the £50 contribution to charity that’s automatically deducted from each of my paychecks. In fact, I’m embarrassed to write down the number because it’s so low. There’s just no getting away from the fact that we own three properties (the third is our LA rental), are middle class and overfed.
I can’t justify why a second home or any number of the other excessive things I do—£16 hair conditioner and eating out five times a week to name a few—are ok in a world as fucked as ours, but then again two Zen masters could never really satisfactorily explain to me why “everything is exactly as it should be.” In the past year I’ve just accepted that I like the sound of church bells and birds, witnessing the seasons, and that being in the country seems to have some chemical effect for the better on husband’s depression. On a good day, I even try to be grateful.