The unwanted guest

Allie Shep hospitalThere are currently five people that live in my house. Erron, myself, Shepherd, Charlotte… and Guilt. Guilt snuck in the back door when we brought Shep home. At first, he was a noticeable unwanted guest, his presence was palpable and overbearing, but he learned how to blend into the background….he wove his way into our everyday life so I forget he’s even there most of the time. I’m so used to Guilt’s presence that he’s like my shadow…but he’s poisoning the well.

Guilt sleeps in my bed, between me and Erron. He likes to whisper in my ear, pointing out how different our parenting styles are, and that Shep would never have been hurt like that on Erron’s watch. I believe Guilt. More than I believe my husband when he tells me Guilt doesn’t need to live here anymore. That he was never welcome in the first place. Now, Guilt is so comfortable with me, he’s on me like white on rice. When Shep is super emotional and has a rough day/week(s), Guilt reminds me, “This could have been prevented, you’re his mother, you failed.” When I’m with my parents and Shep melting down, I get tense, they get a little worried,and Guilt asks me , “Why can’t you get over this? Stop over analyzing! You are weak, and hurting the people you love with your grief.” Even Charlotte is not excluded. She’ll be sassifying the heck out of a situation and while I’m trying to deal with her, I hear guilt clucking at me in the background, “…You’ve dropped the ball on her, you focused so much energy on Shep that you lost sight of Charlotte.”

Just when I’m ready to tell Guilt to get the hell out of my house he pulls out his trump card, warning me,“You won’t make it without me…You’ll get too happy and relax. You will drop your guard again and you know what happened last time. You need me to keep your family safe, the next bad thing is just around the corner, stick with me… and you might just be ready for it.

Guilt is full of  BS but he’s a REALLY good liar. So I panic, invite Guilt back in, give him some more room. Just to be safe. My head knows Guilt will not protect me, it will rip apart all that is good… but my heart is afraid.

Thanksgiving at my sweet parents’ house was challenging.  I brought my Guilt with me so he could have a field day with the Guilt that lives with them, it’s insane. It drove me to hide in my child-hood closet, hyperventilating over what happened, about how close we were to having a Thanksgiving without Shepherd. We’ve all felt a little crazy at different times these last 5 months, but we’re not. Just guilty. Poor Erron is left out of this club, even though Shep is as much his son as he is mine. Since Erron wasn’t there when Shep fell in the water, I exclude him instead of letting him in, which means he usually has to deal with all of his hurt (and mine) on his own. His pain triggers mine, so he buries it. It’s not right and it’s not fair. But Guilt has me handcuffed, he’s calling the shots.

By writing this down, I’m hoping to drag Guilt out of my house and into the light, where I can expose him for what he really is: A liar, manipulator, a thief of peace and joy. Guilt is a dictator and he rules with fear.

It was an accident. It was nobody’s fault,  but I’m a pleaser, I’m a responsible person, I feel like this guilt is my burden to bear….but that would defeat the purpose of grace, wouldn’t it?  My guilt is already accounted for and discarded, if I can just hand it over. I’m trying, but it’s hard. It takes time, prayer, and more time. I set it down for a bit, then nervously pick it back up.

There is another voice. One that says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.” Matthew 11:28

This voice is gentle, strong but loving, and it does not lie to me.
I’m listening.

10 thoughts on “The unwanted guest

  1. Allie, I don’t know you. I am only acquaintances of some friends of yours and thus have been following your story. My heart aches for you. I haven’t been through anything like it, but as a mother it’s been one of my biggest fears. I think you are incredibly brave to share your story and it’s beautiful to see the way you are open and real with the struggles. I don’t know you but I think you are an amazing woman. Here’s to kicking guilt to the curb. Sending love and prayers to your family.

  2. Your words are so honest and eloquently written. As a pediatric nurse I have watched so many families be torn apart by the very presence of the emotions you identify here. Your family’s strength is moving, and your faith inspiring. Please keep sharing your message and offering hope of recovery to those who need it most.

  3. I can totally relate to everything you wrote in this article. after the traumatic birth of our twins be being a labor and delivery nurse I felt like what did I miss? I should have seen something, it still haunts me to this day and it’s been almost 18 months.

  4. Praying for you, sweet mama! Guilt cannot stand in the light of God’s grace, and you just dragged it out in the full glow. I’m praying with you that you can leave it there. I struggle with guilt and fear myself. Giving God the glory for using an accident to show off His incredible, saving power to heal!

  5. Beautiful, honest words Allie. There could no better mother to Shep and Charlotte. They are blessed beyond words to have you as their mom.

  6. Allie,
    You have such a gift and I’m so glad God has given you the courage to share it with the world! Thank you for being so real so that 1. I know exactly how to pray for yall and 2. The Lord can show me it’s okay to share weakness in my own life. Philippians 4:8 is my life verse and when Guilt and other unwanted guests like Self-pity come knocking I can be ready to send them away with that verse. 🙂

  7. Such a hard topic beautifully written! This really tugged at my heart strings. This could not have been easy to write. When I read your posts, I feel like I have stepped into your life for a moment. It was so honest, transparent, hard but hopeful. And yes… “Guilt can get the hell out of your house.” God has immeasurable grace for you and I pray that God will help you truly accept that! I find it is the hardest to give grace to yourself even though sometimes I can give grace to others like its candy. I can relate to the voices that play tug of war on your heart and mind. You have so much courage, wisdom, strength, patience and love… what wonderful traits to have in a mom & wife! Thanks for writing about a hard topic that is undoubtably helping so many people struggling with any kind of guilt/fear… mom or not. Keep sharing! You truly have a gift!

  8. I lost an adult sister to bipolar disorder (meaning she took her own life) and I have yet to read as wonderful a description of the effects of guilt on a person or a family as this beautifully written piece. Allie, thank you for sharing your pain as it makes others feel so much less alone.

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