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I grabbed the buzzing phone when I saw the words Credit Valley Hospital. The nurse explained my seriously ill husband rode in an ambulance heading to another hospital in the city which could better deal with his failing heart. My bus headed in the opposite direction and I realized I couldn’t visit him tonight. I would go home early, eat something other than a dry sandwich and sleep. Relief washed over me, immediately followed by crippling guilt. What kind of a wife was I?
Like the tiny worm buried deep within the apple, guilt can hide. On the surface, we cope with crushing stress and look like heroes without capes to those around us. Not until the smell of rotten apples permeates do we realize guilt has consumed us and rendered us useless.
Guilt speaks many languages.
The language of your loved one. You never come to see me. (You visited two days ago.)
The language of the doctor. You need to make sure she takes her medication on time. (How do you persuade her if she refuses?)
The language of yourself. Nothing I do is right or enough or(fill in the blank.)
Guilt speaks most harshly to the person listening.
Elaine K. Sanchez tells the poignant story of Madelyn, a care partner consumed with guilt on her wedding anniversary.
Guilt seldom produces a positive result.
So what do you do with it?
Ask yourself the questions.
1. Did I intentionally cause harm?
2. Is the feeling self-imposed or is it being imposed by someone else?
3. Is there anything I can do to change the situation?
4. Is my guilt benefitting my care receiver?
5. How is guilt serving me?
Just like the worm in the apple, guilt hides and completes its insidious work in secret. It may boil up in anger, sink into depression or compel you to hide in shame. But if that apple is cut open before the worm has a chance to destroy it, the worm dies. Exposure causes it to whither.
Look at those guilty feelings in the light of day. Do you have anything to apologize for? Do it immediately. Are my expectations of myself unrealistic? Are my perfectionist tendencies getting in the way of what’s reasonable?
Promise yourself you will be kinder to you today.
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okbwgmd0sPA
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