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The "Wu Word" Blog

The Weight of Guilt

Tears filled my mother’s eyes yet again.  Single crystal clear teardrops trickled down her face.
 
No doubt and no second-guessing—yes, her tears were real.  Each teardrop that fell held anguish, pain, sadness, and the heavy and pounding weight of her guilt. However, her tears were also attention-seeking and bordered on crocodile tears of, “Look at me.  Focus on me.  This is all about me.  Forget about you and that this day was supposed to be happy, carefree, and simple.  Forget about you and your sister who were trying to bond and befriend.  Forget about this delicious meal that your sister and you were to have in calm serenity.  Remember me and remember my past and the guilt that continues to haunt and live like a bad dream series in my head and will now continue on and affect you from me making this about me and no one else.”    
 
Yesterday was supposed to be a day for my half-sister and me to bond.  More than a couple weeks ago, she had contacted me that she wanted to spend some time with me alone.  I was more than happy and excited to forge forward in sisterly bonding time.  I carefully chose a French-Moroccan restaurant that I was certain my half-sister would enjoy since she was a lover of French food.  While it was clear that my mother was excited about my half-sister and me making attempts to grow closer, she also felt left out and hurt that I was more eager and willing to spend time with my half-sister than my very own mother. 
 
This is when our mother had to infringe upon any potential sisterly only time by insisting that she would drive my half-sister up rather than my half-sister taking the train as she originally intended.  The warning bells went off in my head and the invisible wall that I utilize every now and then immediately came out as my protective mechanism. Though our mother insisted she would not have dinner with us by words, her words mismatched her actions when she ended up joining my half-sister and me for dinner.  A delicious dinner intended for sisterly fun times of chatter and laughter was quickly destroyed when it manifested into a nightmare of my mother crying and carrying on in intricate details of her past mistakes involving my father, my older sister, and me.  Bottom lines: It became all about her and her past.  It became all about the weight of her guilt that was hot and live wired.     
 
Every time my mother sees me, she ends up crying and revisiting and reliving the past until the weight of her guilt is so visible to the point of trying to touch and hurt me and everyone else. More often than not, whenever a person starts crying, I always ended up crying as well.  The tears that fill the eyes and fall down the face of the other person stings the corners of my very own eyes until I feel like I am going to cry. However, this time that my mother was crying yet again, I was fed up, tired, annoyed, and drained.    These were crocodile tears that fell down her face.  For me to pity her.  For me to try to alleviate the weight of her guilt.  Maybe I should have felt guilty for being so cold and stoic to her antics and drama, but I did not.  I was angry and starting to set the firm line of boundaries that could not be crossed from anyone or anything to make me feel guilty. 
 
In the depths of me, I knew I should have been kind rather than cruel.  That I should have felt empathy or at least sympathy. That my heart should have melted.  That my features should have softened.  That my hands should have reached out in solace and comfort. But these ‘shoulds’ were not ‘coulds’ or ‘woulds.’   These would all be lies.  I no longer have the energy to lie anymore to myself or to others—especially to those that have hurt me so severely that I have created an invisible and protective wall for myself.  My heart was as cold as a smooth and unbreakable and crushing stone.  My arms were wrapped tightly and protectively around myself.  Hands were balled up into fists until nails dug into the flesh of my hands.  The voice in my head that hissed vehemently, “Here we go again.”
 
Her shrill voice was turning into white noise that I could somewhat shut out.  This torture of her rehashing the past yet again would soon be over with, I thought to myself.  She just can’t help it.  Nor can I help her.  Nor can I ever alleviate the weight of her guilt that is so intense and so severe that they are like tentacles to reach out and try to wrap, strangle, and hurt others.  Have you ever had anyone in your life that lives with such severe guilt to the point of affecting and even trying to make you feel guilty?  Have you ever felt the weight of guilt?  Where do you think guilt actually derives from?   
 
My mother says time and time again that God has forgiven her.  I have told her time and time again that I have forgiven her and that all I want to do is to be in the here and now with her—not think about or dwell on the past that is over with and not worry about the future that we have no idea what will happen.  My words fall on her deaf ears.  She is a victim of dwelling on the past and focusing so much on the future that she is missing out on now.  I never want to be this way.  What makes it worse is all of this time of NOT being able to live in the now has fed and made the weight of guilt even heavier and more debilitating than ever before until she has made herself a victim and for others to pity her. 
 
The white noise became her real voice when her final words were spoken directly at me: “Well, you know, you are a ‘tragedy.’” 
 
I sharply looked at her with an icy gaze that could potentially hurt and even kill.  I have been called many things in my life.  Complex.  Complicated.  Enigma.  Oxymoron. Indescribable.  I can tolerate people and their ‘ways’ fairly decently, but the two accusatory actions that I cannot and will not tolerate from others is their guilt trying to make me feel guilty and their pity of me as though I am a charitable case. 
 
I was never called a ‘tragedy’ before. 
 
I never even imagined such a word could cross someone’s (especially a parent) mind to vocally speak it aloud. 
 
As soon as the words came out from her mouth, I could now see regret swimming alongside remorse and guilt in her wet eyes.  She wanted to take it back.  But, she couldn’t.  She opened her mouth to try to explain when I cut in piercingly and said: “I am not a tragedy.  Everything that has happened in my life has not been a tragedy.  There is always good that comes out of bad and past circumstances.  Even you leaving.” 
 
There was nothing more to say.  There was nothing more than could be said.  An evening that was meant for warmth and happiness was turned cold and cruel.  An evening meant for going forward in the best of ways turned into the demons of the past in the worst of ways.  I see my mother and how I never want to be like her.  I never want to be a victim or pitiful case of my past and live in such crushing and pulverizing guilt that, I believe, stems from regrets and the vicious thoughts of what could have been and what I did wrong that I could not make right.  I never want to be so focused on the future that I miss out on the here and now with the person or people that I am with. 
 
The thing is that all I ask from my mother to try to ‘make it right’ is to live for now and to be with me right here and now.  I understand, though, that she just is not capable and probably never will be at that point of capability, which leaves me incredibly sad and bereft more so for her than for me.  I feel terribly sorry for her to live with such unbearable and grinding guilt.  I feel terribly sorry for her that she is aware of how much she has hurt others, but to feel like she cannot ever make it right in her mind that continues to dwell in the past without foreseeing the future.  I feel terrible for her that everyone has forgiven her, but she cannot forgive herself.   
 
The weight of guilt is so heavy.  The weight of my mother’s inability to forgive herself and move forward is the most cruel and crushing of all.  The weight of my forgiveness is feather-like freeing.  Anger is so crippling and draining that I just do not have any energy for and no longer wish to give the hurting party the satisfaction of my fury and wrath.    I will never forget;  I will forgive not for the person who hurt me, but for me to be free. 
 
What have you felt guilty about?  Do you think others make you feel guilty or that guilt stems from us?  Do you believe in ‘forgive and forget’? 
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary :-) 

 

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