“The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.” -Ayn Rand
I say the words “I’m sorry” countless times a day about everything. It has become a habit of mine. A lot of people respond to this phrase by telling me it’s not my fault. Rationally, I know that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still feel bad. I somehow feel guilty and responsible when something bad happens to the people I care about, especially when I’m involved in any way in the situation. I always think that I could have done something to prevent it, or that it wouldn’t have happened in the first place if they hadn’t met me in some cases.
I worry that they’re going to feel like it’s my fault somehow, and I don’t want them to be mad at me. I can reason out that it’s not my fault, but it’s a lot easier for people to blame someone else. I also worry that the future consequences of the event may be my fault. I harbor a lot of guilt for everything even if it isn’t my fault because in some way I think it could have been different if I wasn’t around.
My guilt starts with my parents’ divorce when I was about 6. I know everyone says that it’s not the child’s fault in these situations, but maybe it was my fault. I told my father that my mother was really close to one of her male coworkers. They fought about it because my father was the jealous type. Less than a week later, my mom and I moved out. I can’t help, but blame myself. Maybe their relationship could have lasted if I hadn’t said some stupid comment. I can’t take it back, and it bothers me.
I also feel guilty about my mother’s life. I feel like me being born ruined it. She blames me for it and the problems she has. Every time we fight she throws it in my face. I was the reason she had to stay in a crappy little town because she couldn’t move me. I was the reason she had a crappy job because that’s the only one she could keep and take care of a child at the same time. This also caused her to have a college degree that she couldn’t put to use. I was the reason she was alone because it’s hard for single mothers to date. Everything was my fault even though I never asked to be born.
I try so hard not to cause people pain or inconvenience, but I’m not perfect, and I know I do. I’m so worried that maybe it’s my fault that I find ways to make it my fault. Maybe that’s selfish in a way to turn things into my blame when they aren’t, but it’s easier for me to blame myself because I don’t want the blame to fall on someone else. I don’t want someone else to feel guilty for it because I already do anyway. I know I can’t control situations, but I always go to the what ifs. What if I could have done something? What if it would have been different if they didn’t know me or I didn’t exist? The list goes on and on.
“No matter how frustrated, disappointed and discouraged we may feel in the face of our failures, it’s only temporary. And the faster you can stop wallowing in guilt, blame or resentment, the faster you can put it behind you.” -Fabrizio Moreira
The problem is when I blame myself, the people around me end up feeling bad for me or annoyed that I think it’s my fault, and I don’t want that either. There really is no good answer in these situations because everyone just ends up feeling bad. I know I have to let all the guilt go and realize it isn’t really my fault or it will continue to consume me. I just feel like if I don’t accept the guilt, then it might cause the people I care about pain. None of it really makes sense if you think about it in a logical way, but my brain works on emotion not logic.