Sadistic words spoken to an innocent: “What’s the matter with you?” These are the words that inspire shame and a sense of doubt that I can do anything right. They are the words that taught me: I am guilty.
I feel bad about everything I don’t do perfectly. I feel a sense of responsibility for anyone around my who ever feels upset or scared or wronged. I think I need to fix it for them so that they can feel safe. So that I can feel safe.
Because I am guilty.
It may as well be my name.
And sometimes I think that I’ll never be able to change my name as long as I have to be around people. Because when I am around people, I am guilty. It is my name.
Guilt took root in my soul during a thousand moments of hearing that everything is my fault. That everything that I do is a mistake. That my mistakes are permanent. That the punishment for my mistakes should be taken out on my skin, through my bones and into my soul. Those roots planted themselves so firmly in me that guilt feels like it runs in my veins, rooted like a tree.
My abusers, like all abusers, wanted to make me believe it was all about me. That I was the reason for the problems in the world. That I couldn’t get anything right. And so I would have to get used to never being right. My abusers wanted me to believe that mine was the job of fixing everything so that they could remain comforted that I would always be busy with trying to solve this riddle within myself instead of looking at them and giving them the responsibility for what they do to plant those roots so firmly in me.
I’m tired and angry. I know that a casual gathering with friends should be fun and relaxing instead of an ordeal where I constantly have to tell myself to be calm. To relax. To unclench my jaw. I haven’t done anything wrong. Nobody is mad at me. People have pain. Their pain isn’t my fault.
I’m tired of carrying guilt and fear in my body so strongly that it breaks my teeth.
I won’t do it any more. Guilt requires my cooperation and I refuse to cooperate. I desire to live a life free from guilt and full of love. I want to enjoy life, built on the gifts that I can bring forward because of who I am. I want to remember who I am. I can remember:
I am good.
I am beautiful.
I am capable.
I am loveable.
I am free.
My freedom is what grants me permission to uproot that awful tree and pull the roots from my veins.
Today I will commit to myself to identify and dismember every poisonous root.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2015 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.