guilty as charged

When I was a kid I learned how to internalize guilt because, despite being powerless over the situation, I was made to feel guilty whenever something bad happened. I became conditioned to accept blame for things that were not my fault and that I had no control over. I still carry those tendencies with me, and I have no idea how to let go of that notion that I am not to blame for everything. As a result, I have accumulated a tremendous amount of guilt over time, some of it warranted and some not. It weights on me like extra gravity that no one else can feel, dragging me downward and draining my energy day after day.

One of the biggest sources of guilt right now is that every time I look at Nicole and see all the weight she gained, I blame myself for allowing her to stay on the wrong medication when I should have known it would make her gain weight just like it did to me. Now her beauty is hidden, and despite her positive attitude, I know it affects her life, just like my fat affects my life. I hate myself for not putting a stop to the medicine before this happened.

I feel guilty about the state of our marriage. I know some people our age find it difficult to keep the passion alive, but I feel like I checked out emotionally years ago and I don’t know how to come back. We are good business partners, we seem to be friends, but we’re just not lovers anymore. I entirely blame myself for that, due to a medication-induced lack of libido and a general lack of interest in intimacy. I wish things were better for her, but I don’t know how I could ever fit into that better picture. She is stuck with me, and that makes me sad for her.

Another major source of guilt is the sudden news that Dan has been feeling suicidal over the past few years, and I think the root cause goes way back to the decision to move here from California. Despite it being good for the family, he never did handle it well, but I never knew the extent of his depression. If he would have said something … but what example have I shown? I tried to hide my bipolar symptoms from the kids as much as possible. Dan’s personality never was very demonstrative, and he learned to hide everything he was feeling.

I feel guilty for so many things. There seems to be no way to let go, no way to fix things, no way to be redeemed. The root of my sadness and depression is the guilt that festers inside me.

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together

(This is a cheery poem from 2015. It might be a little too depressing for my public poetry blog.)

Snowflakes falling,
each one a thing of beauty,
but together they smother the earth.

Clumps of soil,
each one giving nutrition and life,
but together they bury the dead.

Droplets of water,
each one flowing and trickling,
but together they drown the weary.

Sheets of paper,
each one a part of my work,
but together they break my back.

Seconds in the day,
each one a brief moment,
but together they measure the length of sorrow.

Thoughts of ending it all,
each one a fleeting fantasy,
but together they extinguish the will to live.

… and the snowflakes keep falling.

tidepools

I saw your picture on Fakebook, loooking slightly windblown in a sweatshirt and jeans, braving the Mendocino weather. You were leaning on a smooth bleached log in the sand, surrounded by friends, enjoying the moment.

That was supposed to be my picture.

I took you and our friends camping on the beach. I showed you the creatures in the tidepools; you got pinched by a crab, and I kissed your hand to make it feel better. We walked up the beach for an hour, and returned closer than before. The group drank and played games by the fire, and I told you this had been the best day we ever spent together. Your deep brown eyes hinted at something more, and later that night we broke through the “friend barrier”. I cooked everyone breakfast, and you surprised the group by giving me a long, full tender kiss; in response to everyone’s stares, you smiled and said “thanks for breakfast.” Best campout ever.

I saw your picture on Fakebook, and but for a twist of fate, I would have been the one behind the lens.

Of course the world moved on, as did our lives, and here we are years later in separate worlds. As tidepools are abandoned by the receding tide, so do the feelings of love, sadness, and missed opportunity become more isolated over time … until one photo brings the flood of memories back again.

fake

I’m holding my head in my hands while trying to work. I can pretend I have a headache. I can fake that.

I’m close to weeping at my desk. I can pretend my allergies are bothering me. I can fake that.

I go home and want to crawl in bed and just be alone. I can pretend I have a migraine. I can fake that.

I am tempted to put my real feelings on Fakebook, but instead I make a witty observation or post a funny picture. I can pretend to be my old self. I can fake that.

I don’t want to live being hopelessly depressed all the time. I wish I would suddenly just cease to live.

I don’t know how to fake that.