Letting Go

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“And what is it that makes you feel guilty?”

I sucked in a breath and held it. That same question had plagued me all week. As the air escaped my mouth, my body sank deeper into the small two-seater sofa in his office.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Have you always felt guilty?”

“Yeah.”

“Even as a child?”

“Even as a child.”

“Did anything happen to you?” He seemed almost as desperate for this answer as I was. It was as if just being a certain way wasn’t enough, instead there had to be a reason behind it.

“No. Not that I can think of, and I have been thinking about it. A lot.”

I thought about my earliest memory of guilt. I tried to recall that unbearable sensation when I would feel as if there was no way of coming back from the thing which had made me feel so awful. It was always after an argument with my parents.

I think I would feel upset first and then scared; Scared that they would always be mad at me for the bad thing I had done to warrant a telling-off. I’d always thought my dad had a tempter and I would be petrified of him shouting at me.

Looking back now, he wasn’t scary at all. He was a normal dad. He never hurt me, was always generous with his time and money, and generally a fantastic parent who I have had the honour of being brought up by.

My mum was always the quietest of the pair and actually very rarely shouted. I was never scared of her, just her threats of ‘you wait till your dad gets home’.

Following an argument, somewhere between the tears and hiding in my room, my sadness would turn into guilt. I would feel so despondent after fighting with them and would torment myself over the things I had said to upset them. I would carry the mean words on my shoulders like a broken doll that was beyond playing with. Even after I said sorry.

“Did your parents ever try to put blame on you?”

“No.”

“Did you ever feel as if you were to blame for anything?”

“Yes, for everything bad that happened. I always felt like it was my fault. I feel the same now.”

He picked up his pen for the first time that day and made brief notes on the piece of paper trapped on his clipboard.

In the car, on the way home, my husband turns the radio up and sings along to a song I don’t know. Its name flashes up on the screen and I can see it’s called I Hate People. I press the skip button.

“Do you think people can just be something because that’s who they are? Or do we always have to have a reason for why we act the way we do?” I needed to share my thoughts.

“Yes.”

“Yes to which one?”

“The first one. Yes sometimes our behaviour can be the way it is because that is the sort of person we are.”

“Do you think I feel guilty all the time because of what happened to me?”

“You’re bound to have bad days where you feel as if it was your fault, but you need to keep reminding yourself he is to blame for that, not you.”

I try to hold on to the thought that I am a survivor of rape and not a victim. I don’t want to be having that discussion with myself today. Beside, I think the guilt started long before he interrupted my life.

It’s not that I can’t do things I want to, I just often feel as if my parental responsibilities and my duty as a wife makes me bottom of the food chain. The mental tug of war which goes on in my mind, even over the smallest of things, is tiring.

And I am exhausted.

I want desperately to let go of this guilt but first I need to find the source of it. What if I don’t find a reason? That terrifies me. With nothing to blame I will have to own it.

And then what?

I will share this with the counsellor next week and he will look at me and say: “And then Donna, we can begin to help you let go of the guilt.”

I hope he’s right.

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About Donna-Louise Bishop

I'm a writer, freelance reporter, creative writing tutor, and blogger, living in the beautiful county of Norfolk UK. In my spare time I am also a wife, a mother to three boys, and a human washing machine.
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10 Responses to Letting Go

  1. Guilt is definitely a complicated emotion. It’s exhausting feeling responsible for everything and having young kids is exhausting just on its own.
    From a writing standpoint, you describe bare emotion very well. It’s a heavy piece and I appreciated the hope at the end, as well as the realistic fear that went with it.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Phew. Thank you for your honest feedback. I was hoping that by writing this piece it would give me the answers I am looking for. It hasn’t yet but hopefully I can begin to start ploughing through it. Thank you for your kind words x

  2. Srilata says:

    Guilt shows up in weirdest forms. Hope you can channel all that and actually transform it into something beautiful 🙂 tc.

  3. KALPANA Solsi says:

    The nine emotions (navras) are joy, anger, fright…….. And guilt is one of them. We are all human to experience guilt in varying degrees from time to time. Liked the positive ending to your post.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Hi KAL, thanks for your comment. I will be taking a look at navras. It’s nice to know my guilt can be normal, it sometimes makes me feel like I’m losing control.

  4. ..keep calling your child names, by the time he reaches nine, he will be most of them.

  5. Bozdar says:

    “You wait till your dad gets home”, this was what I was told regularly in my childhood. Guilt is frightening to me. I am also guilty of doing some things and not doing others. I am happy that you decided to reach a counsellor, this is not what I haven’t done yet.
    In writing perspective, you carried out both conversational parts very well. It shows, how good is your communication or how good the subject communicates with others. Good!

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