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.