Guilt…

Dear Guilt:

You suck…and I appreciate you.  Kinda contradictory there, huh?  Let me help you out with that.  July 21st, 1996…remember that night?  I do, like it was yesterday.  Visiting with my dad, how weird he was acting, how terrified he was, yet how insistent that he was fine…calling my husband to tell him that something was wrong and I needed to stay the night with him, only to have him argue and tell me I had a child and a family I needed to get home to, that he wouldn’t watch our child in the morning so that I could stay with dad.  I was forced to choose between my dad and my child, so I went home.  All the while, knowing in  my heart dad wasn’t ok, almost knowing it would be the last time I saw him.  Crying all the way home because I wasn’t there for him, taking care of him.  Fast forward to the next morning, finding him…dead.  Immediately, there you were…GUILT…standing on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, over and over again, like some annoying, chanting toddler…”it’s YOUR fault…you weren’t there…you left him when he needed you most…how could you????  He was always there for you and the one time he needed you, you bailed…you failed.  Great job, you succeeded as a mother and failed as a daughter.”  That was the beginning of my spiral downward…all because you couldn’t shut your damn mouth.  No one knew, not about you.  They couldn’t see you or hear you…cause I’d put on  my smile, pretend I had it all together…perfect life, perfect marriage…perfect…after all, that’s what they all expected, couldn’t dare let anyone else down, now could I?

You almost cost me my life…remember that night?  Sitting on the couch with my husband asleep in one room and my child asleep in the other, you wouldn’t let me sleep…just that damn incessant yelling in my ear how I failed him, how it was my fault…the pain unbearable.  You almost won, but daddy’s voice was louder than yours, his voice saved me…at least in the physical sense…for that moment.  But mentally, emotionally, spiritually, you gradually continued to whisper, never letting up, never giving me a break.  You made me into an unhappy person, made me hate myself, doubt myself, make choices I otherwise wouldn’t have made…almost costing me my marriage cause daddy taught me family always comes first, ALWAYS take care of family.  So every time…every damn time my sister would call, I’d go running…couldn’t let her down, not like I did dad…dad would be disappointed if I didn’t go take care of her, right??? That’s what you kept saying.

Be there for her…be there for mom…all at the expense of my husband..my children.  Every time, every single time…I’d argue with you, “but my husband and children need me, but…but…”  But you’d just yell, make me doubt myself and you’d win…again…and again.  After all, daddy would still be here if I’d listened to you in the first place, right?  Wrong!  Took me many years of work and a wonderful therapist to show me he wouldn’t still be alive, that I couldn’t have saved him by staying, at least not forever…that it wasn’t my fault…that you lied.

You were the reason I stayed in such a wrong marriage, abuse, unfaithfulness, sadness, resentment…after all, a divorce would horribly hurt my children and let them down…guilt…again.  But you, you, Guilt, you couldn’t keep my marriage together, could you?  And even though it was my husband’s decision, I STILL felt your presence, overwhelming, drowning me…cause I failed my kids…their tears, their sadness…it was all my fault.

Flash forward several years and here you are again…trying to keep me from where I want to be.  It didn’t hit me until Deb asked me how I’d feel about moving to be with the love of my life, to finally start my life of peace…and leaving mom here, in the nursing home, that you came out of the shadows.  Life had been so good that your loud chatter had become almost a silent whisper…almost non-existent…but you did exist.  You were just waiting for this moment, for me to finally be happy to try to rob me of this, yet again.  That’s your thing, isn’t it?  Creating heartache, sadness, chaos, preventing people from moving forward in life, from achieving their goals, enjoying peace.  After all these years, I thought I was through with you…but no, there you were, the chanting getting louder and louder…”You can’t leave her here and move to SC!  What kind of daughter would you be??  Look what happened when you left your dad…she’ll die!  And it will be all your fault…just like your dad’s death!”  But it won’t…and I’m older, wiser…God’s on my side and I will not allow you to dictate my life yet again.  I deserve this happiness, this is a blessing from God and I’ll be damned if I let you ruin that.  Soooo, all that to say, that is why you suck…because you have robbed me of happiness, choices, peace.

However, even with all of that pain and struggle, I appreciate you, Guilt.  Yes, appreciate.  I appreciate you because if it were not for you, I wouldn’t have made the choices I did, may not be where I am today…and if that were the case, I’d be a different person.  And quite frankly, I kinda like the person I am today.  I am smart, a great mother, friend and daughter and a good girlfriend to the most wonderful man…I am a child of God who’s renewed that relationship and I will never allow you to distract me from any of that ever again.  I know that from time to time…I wholeheartedly expect it, actually, that you will tap me on the shoulder, whispering about how I should feel guilty for some decision or another, that I’m not good enough, or that I’m letting someone down…but it’s in those moments that I’ll ask God to silence you… 🙂

Sincerely,

Me–Winner Over Guilt

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