Letting go of the guilt

If you’ve been instrumental in trying to help someone who has been through trauma, or it’s your own trauma, it’s easy to feel guilty that you should have been able to help bring the rightful conclusion, so that everyone is happy. I know that the outcome we’re left with, no matter what the outcome is, is where we’re supposed to be.

When a different decision to the one we want is made and we know there’s nothing we can do to change the final outcome, then it’s time to let go. With all trauma, the final outcome will never be the one we worked so hard for, or the one we want. That’s the thing about trauma.

And when dealing with trauma, not everyone will understand our ending. Because of that it would be very easy for us to live with the guilt of not having achieved the outcome we were working for, the outcome we would have had, had we not have had to deal with trauma in the first place.

The truth is that what is done is done. It’s not something we can change, therefore there’s no point in holding on or hankering for a different ending.

Sometimes it’s time to let go and although that’s hard, it’s right.


24 Aug, 2014

8 thoughts on “Letting go of the guilt

  1. I feel guilty a lot, especially when it comes to my children. I feel I cheated the girls by not spending as much time with them as I do their brother, but our little boy is special needs and needs the extra time we spend with him.

    The girls haven’t said anything, but I know they probably have thought what I’m thinking at some point. I agree with you in that we need to learn to let go of guilt or it will eat us up.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I know exactly how that goes.

      When we come from a place of care, which you clearly do Lisa, it’s easy to feel guilty about how your other children will feel and on the part of your other children, it is normal for them to have the thoughts you describe. I know my siblings felt the same way about what I had to deal with.

      Unfortunately there are no winners as it becomes a non-win situation for other family members too.

  2. Guilt is something that I know a lot about and probably 90% of what I carry isn’t my own! I know personally I felt guilty for even being alive, since it seemed to make my mother so unhappy that she actually had children to take care of. This is why very often I say that I wish that my parents would have never had children, rather than being put through what I was.

    It’s the same exact reason as to why I feel like I do about my mother, which tends to be shocking to most people. Mothers are portrayed quite often as the greatest person in your life which was so very far from my case!

    Acceptance has been one of the hardest things to do in my life, especially considering it’s talked about so much in AA. It finally dawned on me and someone probably mentioned it that even though I have to accept something, doesn’t mean that I have to like it!

    I may be able to forgive to an extent, but I will never be able to forget. It’s no wonder I couldn’t function for a long time because of the amount of baggage I was carrying that wasn’t even my own! I’m working on trying to let things go, but some days are better than others.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes, it’s easy to carry another person’s guilt, but from what you say it sounds as though your mother had emotional issues to deal with. I remember carrying guilt over my education until I realised it wasn’t my guilt to carry.

      I agree, it’s also not always easy to unburden ourselves, but we must at least try if we want to let go of guilt. I think half the battle is understanding that the guilt we carry isn’t always ours to carry… as you have eloquently pointed out in your response.

      It’s easy for any of us to accept blame when others aren’t accepting responsibility for what we’re left to deal with. It’s a human failing I’m sure, but when we’re able to see the bigger picture on a situation where we’re carrying guilt, then I believe we are in a better position to make informed choices of whether we need to continue to carry that guilt or not.

      I hope you continue to work on trying to let things go Randy. The guilt you have isn’t your guilt to have, let alone carry. Perhaps it’s time to let it go. I know you’ll be so much more at peace with yourself when you do.

      I’m routing for you Randy and am here for you too.

  3. It’s the burden of guilt that plays to the weakness of our nature. Sometimes we just have to let go and let things work itself out.

    And Randy’s last paragraph resonates with me. It is ethical, moral and dignified to forgive, but it’s dangerous to forget.

    1. Thanks Tim. I agree with your first sentence completely. Guilt has a way of working itself into our psyche and in one way or another weakens our resolve.

      I think when anyone forgives they do become dignified. I agree that we should at least try to aim to forgive where it’s appropriate, but I’m not sure we ever forget. Unfortunately and it is my experience that the unconscious mind has a way of reminding us.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with this post and Tim has eloquently described my thoughts. I’m not the best at forgiving but I am pretty good at not forgetting!

    1. I’m not sure whether it’s the minority or majority who aren’t good at forgiving. Either way I see it as a human failing. When we can learn to accept and be forgiving, we will become more spiritual.

      To forget can show the same spiritual qualities. Some of us who can’t forget unconsciously may still hold a grudge. If we’re able to achieve forgiveness because of our inner-most qualities, I really don’t see why we can’t learn to forget in the same way.

      When we understand and see the bigger picture I believe we will manage and do both.

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