How deep is your guilt?

 

Contemplation small

How deep is your love is a great sentiment and it’s something that pops into my mind occasionally as an adoptive parent – how deep is my love and compassion for my children; with their pain, angst and general confusion at life sometimes? Well this week I’ve been struck more by another emotion that is just as powerful, even more so sometimes and which threatens to overwhelm me – GUILT.

I know I’ve written about this subject before many moons ago and am amazed to see it still raising its ugly head but it’s something that is always hovering in the background of my mind – that feeling that what I’m doing, or not doing, or how I’m doing or not doing something with my children may damage them even more then they are already damaged. That somehow my lack of understanding and more importantly lack of self control and calmness, could in fact hinder their development and healing is a devastating thought and one which I have to wrestle with daily.

I remember saying to a therapist once who was seeing one of my children (and me….moreso me I think) that I was frightened of making things worse for them and her response was “you couldn’t make things worse” and she’s right. My heart says – “no that’s not true I could really screw them up” but my brain tells me that because I’m even asking those questions shows that whatever I do or don’t do at this stage will not be worse than what they have already experienced in their short lives. Because I desperately want to make things right for them it drives me to repair the damage I may have done as soon as I possibly can.

Of course this doesn’t mean it’s ok to ignore the signs they give me that they need more time with me, or to shout at them when staying calm would be a much better environment for all concerned. But it does mean that as I strive to do the right thing, and fail at times, I can know that when I go to repair with them – that action in itself is helping them to develop. The fact that we can talk about things after they have happened and admit our failings as a parent and human being means they can see what it is to be human. That when they lose control and feel that they have no control over their emotions – they can see that they are not alone – that we all experience the full range of emotions. Of course how we choice to express those emotions is another thing and something that we are all learning and growing in.

So if you are anything like me and you have good intentions to be the best therapeutic parent you can – and you fail – take heart. You can repair with your child and you can decide to try again. Also of course there may be times when you need help to manage different emotions as our children are very skilled at pushing the buttons that get a reaction from us. There are places to go to get help. It may be that you just need rest and respite. Or maybe there are things from your own past that need resolving. Whatever it is – don’t ignore it but stare it straight in the face and decide to engage with the process of changing and you’ll be amazed at how much you will progress. Speak to someone you know who understands, a support group maybe or someone else within the adoption world. Don’t face it alone, guilt can be a very isolating feeling that makes us draw back from people when in fact we need to move towards others.

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