| by Darolyn Jones |
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