As I mentioned in my last post, I have started therapy. One common thread in the sessions to date relates to my near constant feelings of guilt. I don’t know if it is how I was raised (Catholic, middle child/diplomat), the example set by my Mom (she could fix nearly any situation or problem, if you would just shut up and listen to her) or if it is just *me*, but I feel more guilt in a day than I can count. I actually did try to count one night last week, and had four rushes of guilt in an hour. And this was just light-hearted and fun conversation, not an argument or conflict in any way. There were just things that I wanted to do for loved ones, fix for them, surprise them with, things like that. And I felt guilty because I hadn’t or was unable to make these things happen for them.
When I mentioned this to my therapist yesterday, she assigned me homework that goes against everything I understand and know. I have to remind myself throughout the day (and every time I feel guilt) that
“I am powerless in fixing things for other people. I can not fix any person, place or situation. I can be present for them to lend support, I can do acts of kindness, I can do fund-raising and any other efforts or attempts to help. But I can not fix it.”
It is completely logical and reasonable, yet it is a string of words that may as well be in a foreign language since I am unable to truly understand and accept it and make it a part of my inner monologue. I have it written on paper and have to constantly re-read it because I can’t memorize it. It is like memorizing a speech in an alien tongue, and will take time. And it doesn’t mean DON’T try to help people. It is simply meant to be a reminder that it is not in my control how much sadness or hardship others have in their life.
I currently have a lot of guilt in not being able to fix problems for a loved one that is weighing on me heavily. I have done a lot, and more than some have told me I should. And it’s entirely due to actions of said loved one, no victim of circumstance there. I am happy to say that I am making a huge difference in a tangential issue as a result of the person’s actions. And I take joy from the impact my husband and I are making on the life of this innocent victim. But… it’s not enough. I feel compelled to fix the whole thing and have been trapped for months in a pit of uselessness and guilt because of my inability to do so. I have literally done everything I can, and it is not enough. Not for me, and not for the person that got themself into this situation. In spite of it being all I can do, I am spiritually crushed under the weight of the guilt.
So I’m going back to the dictionary to re-learn this word. It seems to be at the core of my guilt, and if not, then it is at least a great place to start.
2. feeble, impotent, prostrate, infirm.