The term “survivor’s guilt” has been mentioned these past two weeks since I lost my dear friend, Amy. When I hear the term I immediately think of someone feeling guilty for being alive when their loved one has passed on. I imagine them off in a corner somewhere thinking it should have been me, it should have been me. I haven’t felt this way. I had a moment of thinking why do I get to be here and what am I supposed to do, but never thought it should have been me. Mark and the girls need me. It would be selfish to think that.
I do believe I am experiencing “survivor’s guilt” in a different way. Right now, I seem to be drowning in guilt. I am regretting all of the missed opportunities and the stupid excuses (not just with Amy). The girls are tired. The drive is too far. There are too many people to see. It’s too hard. There is not enough time. I feel bad for choosing the wrong words. Even after apologies are exchanged and accepted, I can’t stop flogging myself for putting them out there in the first place. I feel guilty for the things I want and the things I don’t want. I feel wrong for the love I do feel and the love I wish I felt. I feel like a horrible mother because I am lacking the energy it takes to turn off the TV and talk or play. I answer Callee’s demands because it’s easier than trying to teach her to ask politely. I can’t stay on top of the mess in my house and taking one look around makes me more angry at myself. I feel guilty for some of the things that I have written and for the stuff that just won’t get on the page.
In the last two weeks, I have told a lot of people that I’d call them. I can’t seem to pick up the phone. I feel guilty for wanting to crawl into a shell, just when I’ve been reminded how important relationships are. I feel bad for being attached and detached. There are relationships in my life that are in desperate need of healing and I’m too tired and angry to do the work. I feel guilty for how much pain I am experiencing at this loss because I know as much as it hurts there are a number of people that are hurting more. I feel guilty for almost everything.
Some months ago I had a conversation with a friend about guilt. We concluded that guilt is a useless emotion and gets us no where. I believe that now, especially as I am consumed by it. It is paralyzing me and making it hard to be in my own skin. I’m writing this now in hopes that by owning it, I can make it to the next step of letting it go.