No matter what circumstance life has thrown at you, the hardest thing to overcome is the guilt that follows it. They say there are 7 stages of grief, and I’ve lived this grief in more then just the loss of Josie – they just arose differently each time.
The entry ‘The Fog’ was my state of shock and denial – and one that still, on occassion arises. Bringing with it questions such as – did that all really happen – is this really my life? So whether it be a break up, a divorce, an argument, a friendship, or in this case, a death – the guilt that follows is usually quite intense, when it does choose to surface. And it’s something that can eat a person alive while trying to replay each detail. When you’re standing there wondering – ‘how did I get here?’ At what point did I go wrong – I must’ve missed the signs that were pointing to this moment – how could I have been so blind?!
For me, guilt has by far the heaviest of burdens to carry. It was something that sunk in, settled nice and deep and didn’t think of moving. It was a dark force that not only made me replay every last word, minute and scenario leading up to that phone call, but it imposed itself in every area of my life from there on out. The non-stop thought process of ‘I’m so sorry Josie, I’m just so sorry, will you ever forgive me? I should’ve known, I should’ve taken the time, I should’ve went the places she asked me to go instead of worrying about what it would cost, I should’ve asked more questions – real questions, not just the surface ones. I should’ve allowed her to speak, given her the opportunity to really open up without going into what was happening in my world. I should’ve claimed her more when we were younger instead of pawning her off. I should’ve let her sit on the bus with me, or sleep with me when she was scared. I should’ve listened to my mom – all the times she’d say ‘that’s all you’ve got is each other, be good to one another.’ I should’ve chose you over him, instead of worrying about what fight would stem from it. I should’ve traveled with you instead of worrying about getting ahead on payments and making sure my credit score was tip top. I should’ve said the words I thought when we were out smoking the night before ‘Jos, you seem so good, and you’ve lost weight!’ I shouldn’t have let it go when you hesitated after I brought up designing the wedding invites. I should’ve stayed up longer that night instead of being so concerned with getting to bed because I had just started a new job. I should’ve listened to my gut and gotten back up when I heard you shut down the computer and remember vividly hearing your footsteps walk across the floor, for what would be the last time. I should’ve acted, or reacted, when I had a fleeting thought while laying there listening to you put on your shoes, ‘I wonder what’s going on, I wonder if she’s OK, something seems off’. I normally never thought that stuff, because alot of times, that was the norm, her moods were up and down and she would get irritated with me, like siblings do and I’d brush it off and tell her to relax. I always told her to get over it and not to be so sensitive. But that night, I remember feeling like something was off as I laid there. I should’ve hugged and kissed her and said I love you, instead of worrying about pride or what that would look like. We were raised in a family of huggers, you didn’t get to walk in the door without being bombarded by hugs and kisses from everyone – no matter what the age. My mom’s side used to remind me of a big Italian family – kisses, hugs, everyone’s talking at once, loud laughter, wine, food – the whole works. (only thing missing was the minor detail that none of us were actually Italian lol) My parents were both affectionate with open communication and yet, her and I never did. Primarily because of me I’d have to say. I don’t know why – I guess I thought I was too ‘cool and tough’.
Instead, I waited until she was in the casket, only then did I try and squeeze in every last kiss, apology and ‘I love you’ that I could before they forced us to close it. From then on out – I was constantly begging for forgiveness. We all were. Always asking her and God to forgive us for what we did or didn’t do correctly, forgive us for making you feel like that was your only way out. Forgive us for not saving you. Forgive us for not making you feel…whatever it was you felt you were lacking! Forgive us for every word never spoken and all the ones that shouldn’t have been. ‘Forgive us our sins’…for we felt there were plenty.
The fear that set in with the guilt was uncontrollable. I constantly feared that I’d have to relive the guilt – so every decision became based on the thought of ‘I don’t want to live with this guilt if something were to happen.’ That was my life for years to follow – just plain fear of guilt. Fear I’d do something to mess another thing up, fear I’d loose someone else and have to live with even more damage that I created. Whether I actually wanted to do something or not, came with the constant reminder of ‘what if you lost them too.’ It became this internal battle with myself, that eventually just flowed into a new found reality and habit of forcing myself to remember how bad the pain can be if I weren’t to do it. At that point, although I didn’t know it – I started a cycle of constantly living in the past, surrounded by depression. I made sure I never forgot all the fuck ups I had ever made with her. And, let’s not forget the regret I forced myself to carry, while also making sure fear had the front the seat to remind me I had no room to fuck up again. And just like that – I found myself hauling that ‘old fat guy’ up the hill -more like the mountain – that I had built, to make sure I suffered for all the wrongs I couldn’t make right…
Continue reading Demons Within
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