Guilt in the Shower

I love being in the shower. It’s one of my few indulgences. The hot water hitting my skin and flowing through my hair is soothing and relaxing. It doesn’t stop my mind from working—it runs like crazy, in fact. But the shower is the one place where I can be alone with those thoughts, where I don’t have to answer phones, emails, or the door. I don’t have people asking me questions or telling me to do things. I don’t have to do ten things at once—I only need to do one thing: feel the caress of the water on my skin.long-hot-shower-

During the week, I try to hurry (emphasis on “try”) and get out. After all, I have a job to get to. But on the weekends or days off, after I’ve washed, I allow myself a few minutes of just standing there to enjoy the water. However, after a few moments, I start to feel guilty. The kind of guilt that comes from white, Western privilege. This is not to say that I don’t know what it’s like to be oppressed and discriminated against. I am, after all, a woman and a lesbian, and believe me, I have felt, from others, the stupidness that comes from being both. But my skin is white, the religion I grew up with was Christian, and, more importantly to this discussion, although I struggle sometimes to pay my bills, I’m not poor.

I constantly think about how lucky I am to be able to stand in my shower and enjoy it. I think about how lucky I am to not have to carry my water in buckets from a river. I think about how lucky I am that I have a water heater and modern plumbing so that I have unlimited access to water.

And I wonder how long this will last. How long before clean water becomes a scarcity? How long before access is cut off? How long before there isn’t enough water for drinking, let alone for long, hot showers?

So then, between the guilt about having water in the first place and stress about perhaps one day not having it at all, my relaxing, therapeutic shower quickly becomes a mini-nightmare.

Does it stop me from standing there and enjoying my shower anyway? No, it doesn’t. Because then I think, I may not get to do this in the future, so I’d might as well enjoy it while I can. I do what I can in my circumstances to help the environment: I compost; I don’t run water unnecessarily; I reuse aluminum foil and plastic bags/wrap until they beg to be put out of their misery; I recycle every scrap of paper; I give old clothes away to local churches; I never throw away leftover food but give it to co-workers instead; I pay to recycle old digital/electronic media; etc.

So, is it so much to ask to take a long, hot shower? Maybe. In the future, the answer might just be a definite yes. It still doesn’t stop me. And so the guilt continues.doggie showerTomorrow, when I step into the shower, my thoughts will run their usual course—I’m so tired. Goddammit, I hate this fucking job. Why do I bother doing anything? Why is this stupid song stuck in my head? Mmm, this shampoo smells good. That reminds me, I need to go to the drugstore today. And the produce store. What was I going to make this weekend? It’s my week to blog, isn’t it? Oh, shit, tonight is dinner with the group. I hope I won’t be the only one drinking. Oh, this water feels so good. I wish I could stay in here all day. I wish….ahhhh. Dammit, I have to get out.

After all, I’m only human.



  1. ohhhh, you are more then due to have some indulgence. enjoy, guiltlessly, you do quite enough to deserve it!


  2. I love being in water, whether a shower or a swim, but we’ve had droughts for so long in California that I can’t take a long shower any more. I’m too used to filling water bottles while the water warms up and using as little as possible that a long shower sounds absolutely wonderful. Enjoy it now while you can. Who knows what climate change will bring…


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