Guilt. It’s the new black

I’ve been trying my best to be my best self. I wanted to be the good person, the strong one, level-headed and sane. I wanted to be amicable, reasonable, helpful, courteous, kind (must be my Boy Scout training) and not lose my mind. I wanted to be supportive, happy for others, available and open. I want to come through this all without any damage.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s possible to balance it all. At least not everyday. Maybe not even all day for one day. And I can only try damage control, giving up on the idea that I can do this without losing part of myself along the way.

This summer has been a struggle, to say the least. I was so looking forward to having a good, relaxing summer with my kids. Giving up the daily scheduling that comes with school, sports, jobs and activities. Taking the time to go to the beach, to take impromptu road trips, to sit on the patio by the pool and cookout for our dinners. I wanted that luxurious, slow, sunshine filled summer to just take in all that I am thankful for and love, and to savor one last summer of having all of my boys home together. Our oldest graduated this year and will be moving on with his life all too soon, I am sure.

But, that slow moving summer was not meant to be thanks to this ugly chapter in our lives. We barely cooked at home, much less barbecued. We didn’t take the usual road trip, or go to the beach (I haven’t been once, oddly enough, and I love the beach) We didn’t just hang out by the pool together. Actually, many days I was too busy, my day chopped up with appointments. Yes, busy with appointments. In the summer.

Not just the meetings with the lawyers, but the house search with the realtor, the meetings with a mediator, doctor’s appointments and the therapy that I now need to purge my deepest fears and worries to keep myself sane and functional.

I’ve had days that I didn’t even want to leave my house, let alone actually “do something”. I feel guilty, a lot. And I’ve become consumed with guilt for so many reasons. Guilt about our marriage failing, guilt about allowing this crippled relationship to continue for so long, guilt that we have ruined our children’s childhood, guilt that I didn’t better prepare myself for the “what-ifs” of a possible life on my own (When did I give up my independence? When did I hand over the wheel and become a passenger? When did I stop believing in myself?)

Then there’s the guilt I feel when I leave my youngest to entertain himself for hours, on many days this summer, while I look for a house, or meet with a “team” to help us get divorced, or attend one of the many appointments that I have to make and keep.

And let’s not forget the guilt that plagues me, almost daily, that I am also not the same family member or friend that I was before this all began. I don’t have the energy, or the concentration, to put forth the effort that I used to worrying about the details and making sure that everyone feels loved, heard and important. I have so much on my mind, pulling me in so many directions, that a missed birthday party or broken plans or promises are almost meaningless right now. It’s all background noise, and seen through a blurry lens.

I am broken and unable to put the pieces back together.

Just guilt everywhere. Spread like a thick layer of peanut butter, that sticks to everything I touch. In every facet of my life, no matter what I am doing or who I am doing it with or for. I cannot live up to my usual expectations, or commit my time and energy to the same areas.

Guilt. It’s the new black.




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