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If Guilt Could Talk to You

Bob Baugher, Ph.D.


The big G here.

I’ve been living with you for quite some time now.

I’ve settled into your life

and I just sit here

waiting for every opportunity to pop up.

All it takes is for you to start thinking about things you did

or didn’t do with or for your loved one

and, all of a sudden, I’m staring you in the face.

There you are, going along with your day

and, suddenly I’m in your brain, your throat, your gut

as you begin saying to yourself:

If only,” “I should’ve,” “Why didn’t I?”

Every day you carry me on your back

as a 100-pound ball and chain.

Why am I here?

One reason is that my presence shows you’re a good person.

How, you ask?

You’re a good person

because your struggle with me shows that

you try to make things right—even if you can’t.

Over and over (and over) your brain goes back to the events in your life

that you regret—that you wish you could somehow do over.

You’ve beat yourself up enough with me:

Death-Causation Guilt—believing you somehow caused it

Grief Guilt—feeling like you’re not grieving “right”

Role Guilt—believing you weren’t a good enough parent, sibling, spouse

Survival Guilt—feeling like it should have been you that died

Getting Better Guilt—feeling guilty for enjoying a moment in life

Your job, as you cope with me in your life,

is to find ways to begin to forgive yourself.

Yes, that’s your job in your life right now.

Your loved one would want you to forgive yourself.

Wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t she?

I thought so.

You can work on forgiving yourself for the things you did or didn’t do

or you can live with me just as I am

for the rest of your life.

Besides, you didn’t think I’d planned to live with you

forever, did you?

I didn’t think so.

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