The Power of Words and Guilt

By , Gastonia, NC
Mommy? Do we have to leave because of me?


There's a lot of guilt in the world, and sometimes the people who feel it the most aren't the ones who deserve it. Personally, I've had a lot of guilt trips in outer space, and I always come back with red, stinging eyes and a question in my head. "Am I really a bad person?"

I've managed to let a lot of guilt go, and the lack of guilt is like a miracle drug. I breathe easier, because I cut down on stress. I'm more optimistic, and I realize I'm not a horrible person because of little things I said years ago. It took me a long time to realize that.

I remember when I was nine or ten, and no longer liked being called a “little kid”. I resented being called little. I was big, wasn’t I? I was mentally ill and feeling very small in an always crushing world, so being called little was also crushing in its own way. I was big and strong and in control of my own life, or so I told myself. I told myself that because I didn’t feel that way.

The world was sweeping me up in a wave, and I was helpless. I was tossed here and there and told this and that, I felt good and bad and couldn’t figure out how to tell anyone how I felt. The guilt slithered in like a serpent. It lived in my gut and coiled around my fears. It made me want to throw up at times, and made it impossible to get words out when I needed to.

I still feel guilty for certain things. The names I called my mother, the most horrible, spiteful things I could think of, I still feel guilty for. I summoned them up from the deepest, angriest parts of me, because I was so angry, and so hurt, and I needed her to see. See what? I’m still not sure. I just needed her to know how I felt, and seeing as the snake cleverly cut off all forms of effective communication, I was just plain pissed off.

At one point, I made my dad cry. I remember that better than I remember yesterday. I hated myself for it. I’ve gotten over that hate, but it still hurts. Most of the guilt I put on myself has evaporated, and many things I can remember don’t even bother me anymore. What really hurts is when you ask someone… is this my fault? And they say yes.

When I was ten or so, our landlord told us to leave. He wanted to rent our apartment to his nephew and his nephew’s daughter. I asked mom if we were being evicted because of when I cried or yelled. Mom said yes. She was angry, and her words were bitter as she said them. We were losing our home because of me.

Later I realized this wasn’t true, and while dad told me the landlord had never even mentioned my crying, mom now says she doesn’t remember ever saying anything like that. But I remember, and it hurt for the longest time. We lost our home. It was my fault. I carried that around for years, and I tried to bury it. It was something thick and tangible that choked and hurt. I think my point is, guilt can be devastating. There are things you can say that will stick with someone, and they stick for a long time.

Don’t think I’m innocent of it myself. I’ve hurt people with things I’ve said, and I bet you have, too. All it takes is a handful of careless words, or a retaliation in anger, and someone might go their entire life, or at least years, blaming themselves for something that was never their fault. Words have power. Never think they don’t.





Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

Bethani said...
Sept. 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm
I'm sorry :(. Great article!
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback