Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Guilt is not a currency

Guilt is not a currency.


It cannot be traded
It cannot be used to exchange for someone's feelings.

It cannot be given.

Guilt doesn't do anything if it doesn't cause some other action;
It's just a feeling.

No more valid and no more valuable than irritation, annoyance, or hunger.

It can be used to manipulate, but it really does nothing for the injured party.

It gives them nothing.

You cannot feel guilty enough to make it right, so why not see what you can do to make it right?
Or at least do something to abolish the feeling.

Some people think that if they feel guilty enough, that it excuses the wrongdoing.
"Oh, but I feel really guilty about it", so now everything is ok.

It is not.

You have to DO something to even the scales.

But what if you can't? What if what is done is done, and you can't change it, and guilt seems to be all you have left?

Well, I have a situation like that.

I had an aunt, actually my mother's aunt on her father's side who I called "Tia". In Spanish, "Tia" means aunt, but there's a little more to it. You can call someone a "Tia" if they take care of you.

Well, My Tia did a lot more than that.

She fed me, clothed me, rubbed my belly when it was sick, taught me spanish, cared for me, looked after me, helped my mother with me, held me, kissed me, laughed with me, laughed about me, and joyed in my being around.

She LOVED me.

She loved me pretty much as her own, since she had no children.

If anyone on this Earth missed the calling of motherhood, it was Tia.
Sometimes people wait for a situation that never comes.

She wasn't my actual mother though, so I didn't live with her.
She lived a whole 2 blocks away.

When I got old enough to start taking care of myself, I saw her less and less.
Two blocks seemed so far, and I was so busy with listening to music and getting my hair right.

I'd see her at family functions, and by the time I was a teenager, I was far too self-involved to reciprocate fully what she had given me for so much of my life.

I happened to be around the night before she died, and when I saw her in the hospital I was unprepared mentally or emotionally for what was happening. I hadn't really had anyone close to me die.

I retreated into an impatient adolescent cave.

Tubes coming out of her, and unable to speak, she tried to write something to me, which as I mentioned, I had no patience for. My mom told me that she was "trying to say goodbye", but I don't think I understood.

Don't get me wrong, I was 19 or so, and should have.
I should have seen what was happening.

I wish I had seen that the love I could always count on, the love I ignored for the past 10 years was going away, and it was going away unappreciated.

I said some sort of "Yeah, whatever" and gave her an obligatory kiss.

And that was it.

I lost her, and I can't possibly regret my actions more.

I wish I had visited more.
I wish I had laughed with her more
I wish I had shared with her more.
I wish I had given her more.

I wish I had said "Thank you for loving me".
Not just in that moment of goodbye, but with every day I had on Earth.

But i didn't feel it then.
I didn't feel it for years.
Maybe a decade.

Then it hit me; She was gone.

I remembered the way she held me, kissed me, soothed me, laughed with me, and loved me.
I realized that I had missed the chance to reflect it back. That I wouldn't ever get to stop by
and visit while she was sick... and she was sick for a long time.

I would visit later.
Later never came.

And all I was left with was guilt.
Guilt that I have carried around.

Guilt that I thought I couldn't do anything about.

But after feeling guilty about something totally unrelated, I realized that I could do something.
I realized that even though she was gone, that I could make sure it didn't happen again.
I realized that more than that, I could be the person who would remember the people who have loved me.

Because Love isn't just an emotion; Love is a verb.

I could choose to share my love, and give it like she did, being the kind of person who would make her proud, and let her know that she gave me the wish to be like her, and even if I come across someone who only takes, that I could still love them.

The guilt wasn't currency enough, so I am choosing to exchange it for love.

And LOVE is something you can give.

I'd appreciate it if you shared this post.
And if you don't, remember that your guilt doesn't help either :-)

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