This thing could ruin our lives…if we let it

We have been stationary in Montenegro for almost 2 months now. There is a reason for that. I had some things to sort out. WE had some things to sort out as a family, also. I want to share the sorting.

The new clock tower seems out of place amidst the ruins...but still beautiful!

The new clock tower seems out of place amidst the ruins…but still beautiful!

What can cause someone to stop and stay in a tiny country on the eastern side of Europe for a few months, outside of medical problems? We have had issues. There are several that we have floating around in our family, but I have narrowed one of my own BIG issues down to one basic thing…I’ll get to that in a minute.

I have been fumbling my way through life and have been dissatisfied for a long time, like something is missing…and at the same time there is too much of something else that I can never put my finger on. Some people may think, “You travel, live in interesting places, do out of the ordinary things – How can you possibly be dissatisfied?! What right do you have to even say this?” . I have to come clean – all is not what it seems. I have not been who most people think I am for a very long time.

How can I be dissatisfied?

How can I be dissatisfied?

Most of my life, even in my childhood, I have harbored a huge secret. No one ever knew, and I refused to acknowledge this thing, even to myself. I hoped if I didn’t speak it’s name, it would go away. I hid it from my family as a child, while thinking that if they knew, they may not love me as much. I have hidden this from my children, because surely if they knew, they could not possibly care for me. My friendships, established or potential, have all had this lurking around like a poisonous toad. Ideas of romantic attachments abandoned (I know, 8 children and I should even think of that?!), with this thing that has been my silent, but ever present burden. A thing that has shaped my life, as well as my children’s, like a boulder shifting the flow of a river.

What could be so ever present and monstrous? GUILT. I have lost the “me” in life because I have hoarded guilt, heaped it upon myself, let it grow until it became the thing that I secretly consulted about my every decision in life. The guilt is so pervasive, it’s as though I have been raised by 20 Yiddish grandmothers! My childhood was overwhelmed by guilt of not being pretty enough, not smart enough, not good enough, just never enough!

At 5 months old, do I look like I was created to be guilty?  I don't  think so...

At 5 months old, do I look like I was created to be guilty? I don’t think so…

What would I like to eat? My initial response is the thing that makes me feel the least guilty…but no matter what it is, I will feel guilty. When I need new clothes, I mull it over and over, then no matter what I do, I feel guilty, because it costs too much, is too pink, it makes me look fat, one of the kids needed something and so on. I have felt guilty for turning on the air conditioner in a hotel room when the heat is ridiculous, I have felt guilty if we don’t clean our mess in a restaurant, I have felt guilty if I leave an Airbnb home (where we paid a cleaning service fee!) anything other than spotless!

Marriage and relationships failed, or just never began, because I always knew I was always guilty for some reason – I was not enough of something…or everything. I even owned victim’s guilt syndrome when I was on the receiving end of domestic violence, because I felt I was just as much at fault when hit me (he was sorry, after all, right?).

Of course, the parenting has left me a wreck at times. If my parenting skills were less than perfect, which of course they are every day, I have felt guilty. When I yelled, guilt. When I disciplined in anger, guilt. When I said bad words, guilt. When I wasn’t sunshine and giggles, guilt. When my eldest chose a self destructive path, guilt. The list goes on, of course.

My beautiful daughter, Faethe Rose.  She shines and sparkles when she smiles!

My beautiful daughter, Faethe Rose. She shines and sparkles when she smiles!

The real definition of guilt is FEAR. Fear of the unknown, of not being loved, being alone, maybe even a fear of just BEING. If anyone knew who we truly are, could they live with us…could we live with it? The problem with that is, that for any of us who live with guilt, AKA fear, aren’t really living at all. I want to live as myself, not who everyone else thinks I should be. In reality, I just want to live! Doesn’t everyone? Many of my friends have lived with guilt/fear for their whole lives because of their sexuality, religion, or something. You name it and someone feels guilty for it.

I want to share what I know. It’s all a lie. Where is the necessity in feeling guilty or afraid? We were taught that if we don’t feel guilty for what we have done wrong, we must not be sorry. We were taught that if we didn’t feel guilty about the wrongs, we won’t correct them. Without guilt or fear, we might not remember how to do better, be kinder, get it right.

We have applied “guilty” to our daily lives as if living is a crime and we stand trial for everything, everyday. Guilt is a courtroom verdict, the culmination of a criminal trial. Likewise, we are not sentenced to live in guilt and fear, just because we live! We are not on trial for everything we do and we have set ourselves up to perpetuate this life = crime mentality to future generations.

Being the baby ain't all sunshine and giggles...especially when you steal  your big brothers' ice cream, take off running and he catches up super fast!  #brotherlove

Being the baby ain’t all sunshine and giggles…especially when you steal your big brothers’ ice cream, take off running and he catches up super fast! #brotherlove

It’s all a fake, something we were sold and believed in to make us believe we should want the things other people tell us we should want. I also think that guilt doesn’t make us behave better, it just reminds us to hold tight to fear. If guilt was a motivator, alcoholism and drug abuse wouldn’t be a problem, because guilt would be enough to get everyone sober, right? People would stop hitting because they felt guilty, too. But that isn’t what happens.
I change my behaviour because I want to, not because I feel really horrible. If guilt were a true motivator, I would be a slender, sculpted powerhouse, super organized, dressed like a super model, all the while accomplishing astonishing feats of humanity…with a smile on my face! I am not (yet) any of those things, so clearly guilt hasn’t motivated me!

I was not created to be this guilty “lifer” and it’s just time to let it go. I was not created to be guilty, fearful, angry, mean, anxious, stressed, etc.. This stuff was learned, we weren’t born with these feelings. It is our choice then to continue on with these heavy burdens dragging us down, refusing to budge, even when joy and happiness would drag us up, would we let them.

Just me...being me

Just me…being me

My faith plays an important role in this. I know God is right here, encouraging me! I am a Divine creation. God was INSPIRED to create me! Let that sink in – I, AND YOU, ARE DIVINELY INSPIRED CREATIONS! Was He Divinely inspired to create a bone bag fattened on guilt and fear? Absolutely not!

Remember, the Bible frequently reminds us to “fear not” and many similar statements about not fearing or worrying. If He said not to do it, there’s a reason for it. That’s not the business God is about. I can’t find a single place in the Bible where God says to feel guilty for anything, or suggests it’s a virtue. I am compelled by my very creation to let go of this thing that keeps me separated from God, what we call sin, and live as the person He created me to be, not who someone else decided I should be.

Finding beauty in unusual places...Seamus (right) and the Fox

Finding beauty in unusual places…Seamus (right) and the Fox

My simple little realization has set me free. I am free to express myself, as the “real me”. While I can’t remember all of who I was, I will, and what I don’t remember, I intend to create. By knocking out guilt and fear, and all of the associated stress, from my life, I now have room for so many other personality traits that I had shelved – joy, happiness, strength, decisiveness, true independence – and get on with this business of living.

I hope you aren’t alone in your feelings and can let go of the guilt that keeps you from living, too. Everyone can go forward, drop the guilt and live a beautiful life!

Cosmo drinking it all in

Cosmo drinking it all in