Dear Guilt

| by Darolyn Jones |

Dear Guilt,

I was introduced to you by my mother, who loved to live vicariously through you and invite or manipulate others to join the two of you in your daily Guiltfests.  I grew up waiting for the bottom to fall out… because it usually did.  And I would feel guilty about it even when it was never my fault. I was a child.  Despite your grip, I was good at most things I tried: school, sports, creative projects.  And, yet I was made to feel guilty for wanting more, guilty for trying.

Once I was cast as an outsider from my family, I remained holding tight to you, Guilt.  You were the only emotion I knew.  You helped me both cope and succeed.  I would guilt myself into running faster, even if it meant injury after injury.  I would guilt myself into staying up later and later to do more and more reading and writing so I could get into college someday.  I would guilt myself into joining every activity and school leadership organization so I could be successful.

I had the best high when I was running faster than anyone else, hitting the ball harder and farther than anyone else, acing tests, and winning awards.  Nobody gave me a high like you.  You got me where I wanted.  But, we fought a lot. The more I did, the more you made me do.  I thought you might ease up, but you never let up.  It was exhausting.

Guilt, you forgot to remind me of your denotative definition, which is a feeling of remorse for an offense, a wrong, a crime.  I had committed no wrong, but if I didn’t do what you asked; I was responsible for not being good enough.  I hid you behind a smile and an “everything is excellent” attitude, never revealing how sleep deprived, anxious, and sick of it l was.  I alienated many of my family and friends. I tried to leave you.  I came close.  I was finally feeling settled with a loving husband and a successful career.  But, then Will was born dead. The bottom’s where you got me.  Born dead and then lived, but doomed to live a life dictated by medical intervention and disability.

Twelve years have now passed since you returned with a fierce stronghold on me.  And, I clung to you for help to once again cope and succeed.  After all you’ve done to me, I still love that you helped me succeed, and I’m tempted to keep you around.

But, I’m writing to let you know that you no longer control my life.  I have found a new emotion.  I haven’t failed.   Will wasn’t “done” to me.  He isn’t a failure.  He’s a gift, my joymaker.  My part Angel/part boy. And I failed him no less then he was failed by how he came to this Earth.  He came to me as a part angel/part boy.  Shit, I should be feeling like Superman’s adoptive mom, Martha Kent.  You no longer control me, Guilt.

Signed, A Former Mother Guilt Addict

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