We can all, at times, be a glutton for punishment. Deep down, we think we deserve it. Worst of all, we know our own greatest weaknesses. And whether they’re insecurities, jealousies, or a really killer piece of chocolate babka, no one punishes us like ourselves:
You tried to be courteous by letting your date take the more comfortable spot on the couch, but you failed to consider the downside. Namely, that you're stuck watching The Boondock Saints 2 in a seat without a permanent imprint of your ass.
After a particularly egregious remark at your boyfriend's parents' Thanksgiving dinner, you take a vow of silence in repentance, a move you will later regard as a mistake, in light of your no-longer-burgeoning opera career.
You watch Marley & Me, or Love, Actually on a really bad day. You might even read a Mitch Albom novel if you really want to feel the pain.
Friends often describe you as “intense,” which is something you’ve been trying to work on, and they appreciate that. Unfortunately, the anime convention comes to town.
You purposefully and carefully rearrange your perfectly color-coded bookshelf, swapped the indigo section with the violet section. This lasts about thirty seconds, until you find the psychic anguish of this transgression is too much to bear.
You aim your gun carefully at the back of the fleeing criminal. But you find yourself disillusioned, wondering, "Who am I to fire this bullet?" You search through the case files you hold in your head, scanning through years of moral grayness, of ethically queasy decisions you've made on the job. You do occasionally help keep people safe, sure, but can it not be said that you primarily serve a deeply evil and malicious system, one you yourself don't even believe in any longer? The fleeing man is now out of your sight. You lower your gun. You sleep in your car that night, unable to face your wife. Unable to face your sunken eyes in the bathroom mirror. You wonder if you did the right thing. Of course, you didn't. The man was called the Garden State Slasher for a reason, and he goes on to murder twenty-three more drifters before he's finally apprehended.
You punish yourself the same way your mom always punished you in high school: No wearing black. No listening to The Cure. No smoking menthols in your step-dad Robert’s car.
You swear to stop telling so many mean jokes, right before your boy shows up with newly frosted tips.
You break the rules for the first time in your life, and the guilt nearly cripples you. After weeks of agony, you attempt to turn yourself in, only to find that Regal Cinemas doesn’t really care about you sneaking in that granola bar.
You give up on your dreams and get a job at a big corporation. A really evil one, too. They sell the U.S. Army bombs that only hurt children, or something. Henry Kissinger’s on the board, and you really have to suck up to him. “Yes, Mr. Kissinger! Of course, Mr. Kissinger,” you shout, day in and day out. “That’s not what I asked you to call me!” he screams, spittle flicking forth. “Yes, father!” you reply. “Very sorry father!” He gives you a carrot for being such a good learner.
You force yourself to follow through on your word and get a ticket to your cousin's improv show.
You allow everyone else on your team to take the lead on this next project, and commit yourself to being nothing but a good follower. You even last twenty full minutes before your head literally explodes.