Saturday, February 8, 2014

Guilt - a powerful emotion that often outweighs logic

As I search for the proper diagnosis and treatments for Little Miss M, I find myself going through a vast range of emotions. From fear to happiness to worry and everything in between, I ride the emotional roller coaster daily. However, the emotion I tend to feel the most of is guilt. Perhaps it's my upbringing, or maybe it's just my nature, but I tend to retreat to that guilty feeling more often than not.
At the beginning, I felt guilt for the situation. Was there something I did when I was pregnant? Was there something I did wrong? Logic dictates I did nothing wrong, I didn't cause Little Miss M to have a life full of seemingly unending struggles. Logic doesn't always make that little voice inside my head go away though. It took a long time to make peace with myself that there wasn't anything I did or didn't do that hurt Little Miss M. It's instinctive to want to blame someone, and I chose myself.

As time wore on, my friend guilt wore many different hats. Whether it was the guilt on not giving someone enough attention -0 one of the kids, my husband, myself -- or the guilt of having to say "no" yet again, the feeling is always the same. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines guilt as: a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking you did something bad or wrong. Yet, the textbook definition doesn't seem to do justice to the weight of guilt on your shoulders and on your heart.

Every day brings a new emotion to the surface, some days are like Groundhog Day, and it's the same emotion over and over again.

As a parent I question every decision I make, every action I take, every thing I do. If I choose to clean the bathroom over playing Monopoly Junior for the fifth time, I feel guilty, even though the bathroom had to be cleaned and I certainly did not neglect my kids. I feel guilty when I have to stay in the hospital with Little Miss M and leave K-Bear and Z-Baby behind with the Husband. I feel guilty leaving the house, even for a short time, without the kids. None of my guilt is rational, because I've logically done nothing wrong. However, guilt is a powerful emotion and logic does not always win.

My point in sharing this, is that I think we, as caregivers are really too hard on ourselves. We internalize so much of what our children do and who they are, which is important, but we are human. We make mistakes; we are not always right, but if we constantly do the best that we are capable of, then there is nothing to feel guilty about. Don't be so hard on yourself. Breathe and relax and just love your kids and show them how much you love them, and guilt will start to go away. I say these words as much to myself as I do to everyone else.

I do carry the feelings of guilt with me daily, but they are nowhere near as sharp as they used to be, because I started to forgive myself. I am not perfect, far from it, and to expect perfection is to set me up for failure. I work very hard to make sure that I only allow those feelings of guilt to truly surface when I haven't done my best, and even then, I've learned to forgive myself. Instead, I try to focus on the good and the happy, and you know what? That awful guilty feeling is much duller.

Hang in there. I share because I know what it means to not feel alone out there. Please feel free to share your thoughts or stories with us in the comments.


Amanda is doing her best to keep guilt at bay and focus on making happy memories.

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