mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

Guilt

I was abused sexually/emotionally as a young child by my Mother’s first husband. As a teen I was abused physically/emotionally by my Mother’s second husband. For years I would find, whenever referencing any of the abuse, that I would always be sure to mention my part in it. For instance, I would say ‘yes my Stepfather physically abused me, but I was an incredibly difficult teenager’ or ‘he would beat me, but then I was such a nightmare when I was younger’, there was always the default reaction of mentioning how terrible I was. For most of my life I genuinely believed that I was an active contributor to my abuse, that essentially I deserved it. I have spent so many hours of my life reeling in guilt, guilt over shitty things I have done to people, guilt over shitty things people have done to me just bathing in it and letting it swallow me up. When I was younger I would go to bed and lay there in the dark for hours thinking about details of things I have done to people, like running out on ex boyfriends or being a dick to a friend or whatever, any mistakes I have made have been played out in my mind over and over and I have let it cause so much anxiety it’s incredible.

A few years ago I did therapy and actually made some progress, the therapist was talking to me about my children and asked me if there is anything my children could do that would warrant me hurting them physically as a response and I said no of course not, and through this I realized that I was a child when my abuse occurred, and badly behaved or not there is no way, as a child, I could have actually warranted my own abuse. I know it may sound simple to most but for me it was a revelation, I started to let go of so much guilt and anxiety and began seeing things perhaps a little closer to reality.

The fact of it is that all of us do shitty things sometimes, whether you’re bipolar or not, whether you’re depressed or schizophrenic or any number of things, every human being has done shitty things to another human being. It’s just life, we all screw up and make mistakes. What I tell my children about mistakes is that everybody makes them, it’s ok to makes mistakes so long as you learn from them and do your best not to repeat the same mistakes. I tell them this often, so why can’t I take my own advice eh? Why do some of us hold ourselves to this impossible standard of human behaviour where we feel like we’re letting the entire world down if we step out of line? The fact is, the entire world really doesn’t care about our trivial screw ups and we need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, I guess I just need to remind myself that it’s ok to make mistakes, I just need to make sure I learn from my errors wherever possible and try not to repeat poor behaviour. Beyond that I need to relax and focus on healing, when all your energy goes into feeling shitty about yourself you really can’t heal any of the past trauma that’s happened, but now, I can begin.

Peace xo

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Bipolar and guilt

I have spoken to some people this week about their experience with bipolar disorder, and there have been a few common themes that seem to run amongst those of us with bipolar, guilt is at the forefront.

See a lot of us, especially as teenagers, acted badly. We weren’t stable and acted out in so many different ways. A lot of us still act out as adults, shutting people out and distancing ourselves from relationships and things that feel confronting or outside our somewhat tiny comfort zone. And that’s the thing about a comfort zone, mine is always changing depending on my mood. If i’m stable and doing well i’m a positive, accepting and open person, I like spending time with my friends and seek them out, but if i’m low, I want to shut the whole world out and there’s little wiggle room for socializing.

I learned through therapy that it wasn’t my fault that i was such a “bad” person as a teenager and that i’ve done some shitty things to people. It is in part the bizarre upbringing I had and in part the bipolar. Since this epiphany, I’ve been letting go of the guilt, and it’s amazing what a chain reaction it has. I’ve started to heal, instead of accepting that i’m just a shit and terrible person and trying to hide my issues with denial or pot or booze or whatever means i could, i’ve been shining a light on them and really thinking about the issues of my past and present that plague me. I don’t think I could confront my problems if i hadn’t let go of the guilt, and that’s not to say i don’t still get pangs of guilt, i most certainly do, but i just remind myself that with my condition, there’s bound to be some crazy behaviour, and i had little control over it at the time, hell i didn’t even find out i was bipolar till quite recently.

So for those of you who feel like you’re just running through the same motions, the same cycle of up and down and round and round, it can be broken. Usually the right meds are part of it, but letting go of the guilt and not hiding from the problems we have is also so important. I know it’s easy to say “let go” but seriously, it wasn’t your fault. You have an illness. If a person with cancer has symptoms, no one judges them, they’re sick, and their illness has consequences, so does ours. The consequences to our illness is our moods, our sensitivity to negativity, and our guilt over past stupidity or bad actions.

Just remember, it’s not your fault. You have an illness, it’s not your fault.

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