I’ve had an idea to do a post on this for a while, but it’s a little hard to put into words… well, it’s hard to put right. This is a very personal post and I think everyone will have a slightly different response. Please feel free to add your own experience and together I think we will grow in greater understanding, compassion and maybe acceptance. I expect in a few years when I look back at this, my perspective will once again change… that tends to be what happens with perspective right?! Take this as a snapshot of how I feel now – whether right or wrong. So anyway, here goes…
I felt tremendous guilt when we first found out about our son’s allergies. Not so much guilt of passing on annoying genes, but more the guilt that I had been basically poisoning my son by the food I ate, by the food I was giving him, by the creams I’d been using on him and the products I had been using myself that touched his skin. As you can tell, there was a tremendous amount of guilt there. This feeling of guilt comes back every time I give him food that doesn’t agree with his body. It comes back when I’ve become impatient and tried a few new foods quickly and am not sure which is the culprit.
For me, the source of guilt comes mostly from our son’s allergies. For others I imagine there is still guilt – guilt about returning to work or staying at home, guilt about being too soft or too strict. Guilt about letting him climb so high and not getting there in time to catch him, or guilt about not letting him explore the world the way he wants to. I did say “mostly” from our son’s allergies – as you can tell from that last spiel, there is guilt from other sources too! There are books that refer to a mother’s guilt, and I think it is something we feel in new ways when we become mums.
So is it good, bad or ugly?
Firstly, am I guilty? Well, I have to have done something wrong for the guilt to be valid. This is different from whether I did it intentionally or by accident. It’s a fact… did I feed him something bad? Did I do something wrong? Not did I mean to do it. In many cases, the answer is yes, I am guilty of doing something wrong, although I may not have intended it that way. In reality, we are all probably guilty of something.
But I’ve read that guilt is meant to be like a car wash. You feel it, then you need to go through it, not stay in it. If we can accept our own guilt then use it to move forward onto something better, or onto a new path, we can be thankful for the new path our guilt brings us to. How do we move forward? Well that’s a post for another time… but just in case it takes me too long, it does involve forgiveness and restoration. Stay tuned :-)