A Heart Bursting With Guilt By Cookie

Guilt. How can a word that only consist of five letters, have such an impact on lives. This one word has had such devastating consequences on many people and their lives. Most of the time we have no idea how much impact this little word has on someone’s life, even our loved ones. There are times I am shocked when I look in the mirror there isn’t a scarlet letter G tattooed on my forehead, to show the world I am carrying the burden of blame. I know in my mind, it’s irrational that I should feel guilty about a lot of things; but I am unable to convince my heart otherwise.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to write about on the subject of Guilt. I was just going to do a generic one, but this is to be a soul-searching experience. So soul-searching I went.

I have carried the burden of guilt for as long as I can remember. My mother suffered from manic depression, which in turn kept her in turmoil. Thankfully as an adult I was able to come to terms and understanding about her and her illness and the effects that it had on my life. I remember feeling guilty as a small child, because I was always sickly. I came into this world an extremely premature baby weighing 2 pounds and 1 ounce. I spent months in the hospital causing extreme emotional strain on my parents along with financial burdens. I felt guilty for the financial burden my birth had placed on them. I felt guilty for surviving when my twin brothers had died three years prior to me. I felt guilty for being born a girl. This guilt was placed on my shoulders un-intentionally but placed there just the same. My health caused many burdens for my family for many years.

In my early teens I began suffering from severe stomach pains, most the time it was considered to be a way to get attention or because I was a sensitive child. I was and still am a very tender-hearted and sensitive person. This for me was the defining moment in my life that would carry until today. Suffer in silence, don’t make waves, don’t trouble anyone with what is bothering you, and deal with it your self, because no one is going to believe you any way.

One evening I was found on the floor curled up in a ball, in so much pain that no one was able to straighten me out. I was crying and trying not to show any emotion because I didn’t want to upset anyone. I was told that I shouldn’t go to such extreme to get attention. I was in the hospital for several days, they weren’t able to find out the cause of my pain, but said it was some form of epilepsy. It would be years before I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome due to Ankylosing Spondylitis. I carried that burden of guilt for a long time among many others.

I was a young teenager when I got pregnant and married, another burden of guilt I carried for bringing shame upon my family. I struggled being a teen mother and taking on adult responsibilities while secretly dealing with my aches and pains. It would be thirty-two very difficult years of struggling with health issues that no one could make sense of before I would be diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I felt guilty for not being the happy young girl my husband fell in love with. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to be more involved in my daughter’s activities.

I did the best that I could during that time. I am remorseful knowing it wasn’t enough. I am still struggling to forgive myself. I know that it couldn’t be helped but it doesn’t change the fact deep inside I feel that I am a failure when it comes to being a mother and a wife. There were times when I couldn’t so much as get out of bed for days with no explanation except that I was just lazy. I used to tell people I feel as if I have been unplugged and blood should be draining out of my body.

I feel guilty because my husband didn’t sign up for this, he married a happy, vibrant young girl who turned into a woman who looks four times her age and he has to wonder every time he looks at her, what is she mad about. I didn’t even realize that I always look mad. Just yesterday we went to the doctor and he joined me. We were discussing some serious medical issues I am dealing with at this time; the fear in his eyes was easy to see. I mentioned to him that I hoped he forgives me for everything I have put him through over the years, he said honey I know you are sick and it’s not your fault. I told him I was sorry and I hated the person I had become. He told me it isn’t that hard and I understand why you are bitchy most the time. My heart broke at that very moment not because he said it but because it was true. I stood up and said I wanted to leave, not that I was angry but because I was devastated and heart-broken. He got upset and asked me to forgive him, which I told him you can’t ask forgiveness for speaking the truth. I told him why are we bothering trying to keep me alive, why do I bother going to the doctors, all we are doing is prolonging the Ankylosing Spondylitis Monster. I said why? He said because I love you, I will die without you and I need you, you are my life. I sat there quietly crying waiting for the doctor to come in. The guilt of the burdens that my disease has placed on a person I love more than life it’s self may be a guilt that I never recover from.

When we decided on the topic of guilt I was unsure what I would write about, but there was one memory that kept coming back and haunting me. I was unsure if I would share it here in this blog. I have decided to for several reasons, one to remind us all that life is precious and fragile and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. To remember to take advantage of every second of our lives, even during the worst of times. One day even those moments will become a precious memory to you.

A long time ago my nephew and his wife were expecting a baby, a little boy they planned to name Jesse James. Seems my nephew was a big fan of out laws. In our family each new life that comes into our group, is blessed with a mob of over happy people waiting to say Howdy! Welcome home! This occasion would be no different, we always meet at the hospital all waiting for our turns to kiss and hug and rock the newest member of the clan. I was running late to the hospital and when I arrived it was not to joys and laughter but to silence and tears. I stood there quietly at the door trying to make sense of what was happening. There was my nephew and his wife in tears hugging each other. Finally Jesse James grandmother noticed me and walked over to me and said,He died. He didn’t make it, Cookie.

Emotions ran rapid through my mind, how could an innocent child die. Why are cruel people allowed to live? How in God’s name could I have wished so much of my life away? I walked over to the young parents who were grieved stricken and in fear of the unknown and asked them where the baby was. They pointed to the bassinet in the corner and I walked slowly over to him. I stood there looking down at a small lifeless body of a dark-haired baby boy. I reached out and gently stroked his temple with my fingertip, so sad that I couldn’t even react.

After a long time standing there I finally asked them if I could hold him.  I could tell they were shocked, appalled and grateful. I smiled and said in broken tears every baby that has come into our family has had to suffer hearing my singing as I rock them and welcome them to our family, and Jesse was no exception.  That is exactly what I did. I sat in a rocking chair in the corner and softly sang and rocked Jesse James and welcomed him to our hearts. When I was finished, I placed him in his mother’s arms and we began loving this little soul we would never have the honor of getting to know. Days later I was asked why I rocked him and sang to him. I said because I didn’t want him to tell God when he got to Heaven, that we didn’t love him while he was here.

I struggled with the guilt of knowing that more times than not, I didn’t wish to live the life I was blessed with. I carry the burden of guilt knowing that I struggled with thoughts of suicide. I struggle now with guilt, that I was given the gift of life and failed to appreciate it properly.

Every day since Jesse was born I carry him inside my heart, reminding myself you must appreciate your life and live it to the best ability you can.

I am not a perfect person. I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect mother. I am not a perfect grandmother and that is a burden of guilt, I will have to learn to forgive my self for.

I tell my self every morning and every evening the key to Happiness is forgiving your self for being human.

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2 Responses to “A Heart Bursting With Guilt By Cookie”

  1. Oh Cookie, I have just read your blog and I can hardly see the screen to type. Thank you for sharing your story with us all, it is never easy to have face full on these issues in order to write an honest blog.
    I think, reading your story and the others, it shows cleary how the the line between guilt and depression is very blurred. There is this attitude that depression is another of these hidden illnesses so people fake it or make it seem worse than it is, so it has had some bad press. This means that genuine cases can be hesitant to admit to it, but I would think it is inevitable when living with chronic illness.
    Take care xx

    • Dear Jackie,
      It was a difficult blog to write about. I was unsure how much to share or what to share. Sadly enough my heart is so full that I could of wrote a book on this topic alone. Thank you so much for your kind words, it helps me to try harder the next time. Many blessings my friend!

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