"I will praise the one who's chosen me, to carry you"
-Selah: I will carry you

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Guilt vs shame

One of the sessions my husband and I had with our counsellors talked about the differences between guilt and shame, and how to deal with each of them. Last week at housegroup, I addressed them again, in a more general context, but all the same, feelings I have not been allowing myself to feel recently have resurfaced.

I have been thinking about this for a few days; These are difficult feelings for me to reflect on, so this post may not be written as eloquently as usual, and it may turn out to be quite hard to read. But, I feel a responsibility to my readers, and to myself, to be honest and true, so here it is.

Guilt is the feeling of having done something wrong. Shame is the feeling that you are something wrong.

I have felt both since losing my son, and in that context, I will try to address them.

Guilt, yep. That's one I have felt, still feel, and I have posted about it before. Guilt that I let him down, that my body failed him, that I didn't do my job. That if I had only kept him inside for even another week, maybe he would have lived. Robert was perfect, nothing wrong with him, nothing wrong with the placenta, no infections were found. He didn't have a genetic problem, this wasn't "nature being kind" to give us both a chance. If I had gone to term, I would have a perfect baby boy now. And so all that is left to me is to feel guilt, and blame myself. I have no other explanation. It still doesn't give me a "why" it just leads to more questions. Did I work too hard? Was I too stressed? Did I travel about too much? Am I just one of those women who can't carry to term? Any of these lead to guilt, self blame, "if only".

Shame is different. I feel shame, becuase I failed. I didn't do it right. I let everybody down. Myself, my husband, my family, my baby. I feel shame becuase I didn't do what society expected me to do. I was pregnant, but I didn't present my baby to the world; I told them about my angel. I made everyone uncomfortable by wearing my grief on my sleeve. I shared my darkest moments with everybody who would listen, whether they wanted to or not. I still do. I am living a taboo.

I told you this post would be a hard one.

So many people have told me this wasn't my fault, that I didn't do anything wrong, that I can't blame myself. I am his mum. It was my job to protect him, and I couldn't. Whether it was my fault or not, I still feel guilt and shame, whether I allow myself to acknowledge it or not.

For the first eight weeks or so of my grief, I told Bertie I was sorry every day. I felt like he had missed out on his life, and it was my fault. I felt like I didn't deserve to live, and I didn't want to live this life. I certainly didn't deserve to feel happy, or to treat myself. How could I enjoy anything when my baby was dead? I didn't feel like I deserved to be loved. I am happy to say that those feeling have eased. I now want to be happy again, and I want to live as full a life as it is possible for an angel mum to live. I want to live alongside the pain, not be drowned by it. I want to allow myself to feel loved, and I do. I wonder if I will ever stop feeling the guilt though, or if that one is here to stay, just a part of the new normal, a part of the new me.

1 comment:

  1. Selena, mummy to Karis9 July 2012 at 05:14

    I hear you loud and clear hun. I truly believe you can let go of at least most of the guilt when the time is right. Our society is such that we seem to have to blame someone for everything that doesn't go exactly to plan. When we lose a child, who is to blame? Certainly not the baby who we love more than anything. So we take on that blame. What really helped me was to realize that sometimes there simply is no blame to be given. Accidents happen. We can sit and wonder 'what if...' but the reality is that it didn't go that way. We didn't see it coming, and if we'd had any clue it would have ended this way we would not have hesitated to do anything in our power to change it. You wrote a while back about feeling that God must be angry that Robert died. It really hit home with me because even though I am not really religious, it gave me new thought towards the 'everything happens for a reason' deal. It made me wonder if that is generally the case but that accidents sometimes still happen. That would certainly be a good reason for God to be upset over his death-because he wanted more for Bertie here on earth as well. I know Karis's death was an accident, and that has given me peace because I know I could not have changed a thing. It really sounds like you are in the same boat as me. Doesn't change the way you feel now or your right to feel that way. But you are certainly not alone my lovely friend. Keep writing :) xxx