I have a little confession to make. All my life guilt has been my best friend, weighing me down while I’ve half heartedly attempted to get rid of it. There is a myriad of instances when guilt cast a shadow over me, such as when I made parenting mistakes, even though I was trying my best to do right (this will be expanded in another post). I felt guilt for cherishing a few minutes alone for sanity, which is a necessity for self preservation, peace and growth. Guilt rode upon my shoulder as I disposed undesirable friendships over the years, even though I had outgrown these relationships and it was time to move on. Clouded by this disabling emotion, I’ve performed terrible mistakes in conversations. When kind and innocent words were spoken, I immediately thought that people were giving me the guilt trip instead of truly listening with an open heart. Through the years I’ve had regrets but didn’t know how to change and release these feelings. I am quite aware that feeling negative guilt is unhealthy physically as well as emotionally. Then why do I keep resorting to it?
Quite often this guilt is also associated with my wife and mother roles. A simple night out at my class stirred up intense remorse, even though I was improving myself which affected my family in a positive way. While our sons were elementary age and growing, I was evolving as well! I took education classes for nine long years, one class at a time. Usually held once a week at night, the classes were my night out and a chance to flourish academically. Riding forty minutes alone, my soul welcomed the blasting radio as my companion. Unlike my mommy car rides riddled with little boys kicking their feet against the seat accompanied by their amusing chatter, the back seats were vacant. Yes,these rides were mine and I owned them peacefully. At first, it took a few times for me to refrain from the constant glancing in the rear view mirror to realize my sons were not part of this journey.
Following the quiet peace of class, I would trudge home with my books and newly learned ideas stirring in my brain. I distinctly remember a tired husband on the couch, as the boys were snugly in their cozy beds. A few dishes littered the sink and would have to wait until the next day. The magical night fizzled away and guilt set in. It breathed and prospered in me and I don’t know why I gave it life. While I appreciated my husband taking over for the night, I still carried guilt for going.
I know I am in the company of many women who fall back on guilt. Was this feeling learned and passed down from family like an heirloom quilt resting on a bed? Have we been taught as little girls to harbor these toxic feelings when faced with situations? Maybe society has failed us by teaching that it’s okay to feel guilt, starting ages ago in families and was passed on to each generation unknowingly. Guilt enables women to feel horrible about their life decisions, cramps relationships and ruins a woman’s confidence and self esteem.
Although many women dance intimately with guilt, men do not. They have it all figured out. I believe it’s an unknown emotion to them. My husband doesn’t feel a stitch of guilt and probably never has. He says and acts as he wants, without an inkling of guilt. This just solidifies my desire to live like him, without restrictions.
I think back to the 1980’s when I was in middle school and living on Court Street in Haverhill, New Hampshire. My dad had a nice little garden out back. He grew vegetables at the end of our yard, on the cusp of raspberry and blackberry bushes, just as his dad did in Vermont. He proudly asked me to check out his garden. Back then my interests were music and boys, excluding vegetables in the dirt. I don’t think I paid any attention and left soon after. Upon reflection, I realize he was reaching out to me and that I was stupid to ignore it! If I could, I would go back and walk that garden with my dad. When I think of it, I feel so much guilt for ignoring the moment. In some ways I feel like I’ve made it up to him, by cultivating a green thumb and planting my own garden. Every visit to my dad’s house in the summers always includes a walk through my dad’s garden and I perform this with no guilt, just love.
As I reflect and realize my relationship with consuming guilt, I have reached a point in my life that I’m tired of it and how it makes me feel. This is why I’ve vowed to ditch these feelings and happily replace them with love, compassion and acceptance of my decisions. I am worthy of releasing guilt and strong enough to overcome it once and for all. I can only wish that I succeed in this venture and that other women can follow suit. Living life in the best light, far away from the darkness of guilt is my ambition.
All my Best,
Heart and Soul ❤️