The pain of an abusive childhood can seem impossible to break away from and the guilt can be like a chain that keeps you tied to the pain. Think of this; you were a child, you were abused and… you feel guilty.
How, can that be so?
You are angry because you feel victimized and powerless. Confused, because you do not know what you did to deserve/cause the abuse. Yet, you feel responsible.
The questions that run rampant in your young mind are often paralyzing. Your sister gets molested and you wonder, ‘What did I do? Why didn’t I stop it? Is there something I did that I am being punished for?’ Maybe, you decide, ‘There must be something that I do not remember.’
The scars that are the result of the abuse can run your life, you might become addicted to many things. You may become an introvert or extrovert or become consumed with other means of self-destruction. You are constantly fighting or running from something and you do not know what or why. You trust no one and nothing at all. Hope becomes your enemy because it always ends up in disappointment.
Maybe you are actually, at least externally, successful. Maybe you have wealth and fame but internally you might be a disaster. You really let no one in and you let no one know you. The isolation and loneliness eat away at your soul and you may even become physically ill.
Perhaps you are in trouble with the authorities constantly. You quit, good jobs, leave loving friends, and hurt those that care about you. The unwarranted guilt festers and grows.
At some point, you seem to break, something inside screams, ‘There has got to be something else.’
You may go to a Twelve Step program, a Church, a shelter, join a group and a small ray of hope shines through all the lies and you begin to believe, ‘Maybe?’; Maybe I can do more,? Maybe I can be more? Maybe I can start to breathe?
Things begin to change for you and you see you too can have a life. You too, can be free, have a relationship and maybe you too, can love and be loved.
Still, something inside gnaws away at you, pulls at you and holds you back. You feel like you are wrong for leaving those that didn’t change. You think, ‘Why me? Why do I deserve what they don’t have? How did I get so lucky? I should try to pull them out. Save them.’
You try to save them but they do not want it and once again the guilt sets in. You feel this way because you once abandoned them and left them behind. The guilt that comes from moving on can keep anyone from that exact act of moving on but we are not responsible for other individual choices or our family member’s choices, only our own.
You ever ask yourself about all the people that almost brag about coming from a culture that is known for its guilt tactics? The Jewish people will always speak of how their moms were masters of using guilt to modify their behavior. Catholics will swear that the Sisters were the true masters of guilt. Each of the churches, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodists all think the guilt was their way. Often we are all the masters of guilt.
What is the attraction to all of this guilt? There are some pretty twisted and hidden reasons for us to be drawn to it.
What if we did something that we thought might not be the best thing to do, and we didn’t feel guilty? What would people think?
We are all so drawn to guilt we must think that it serves us in some way. Why? We have been trained and we have trained others to believe that feeling guilty is like paying our penance. We are also afraid that if we do not feel guilty that we may be just heartless and uncaring.
What if we gave ourselves a break from the guilt? What if when we do something that does not serve all of us and that we just decide to do it differently the next time. Deep within us we seem to believe that, ‘We must make ourselves wrong to get ourselves right.’ This is not so! We can just decide to do it differently without beating ourselves up with guilt.