It’s Always My Fault

Every time I drive by the church where it happened, I still look away. I drown the memory in a parade of new thoughts and have managed to take Hidden Valley with the casualness I run through any other road. That evening six years ago, I was leaving the church with my toddler in my arms and didn’t realize I was about to step off a curb as we neared the parking lot. I thought I was on level ground. When the pavement gave way under my foot, we didn’t just fall. We crashed straight like a tree, Tennyson’s forehead bearing the full weight of my body in the sickening clap with concrete. I can hear him scream.

I am finding this the hardest thing I have written on this blog. The tears aside, my heart pounds with fresh pain and I am clammy with sweat, replaying the tape. My boy was okay (by medical standards, though I knew cells and neurons had their work cut out for them). And as I walked through a doorway the next day wearing him on my back, I didn’t know he was sticking his head out to the side. BAM went his head against the wall along the threshold. Yes, on the same spot.

I was beside myself when I called my husband. Rather than blame me for my incompetence and idiocy, the amazing man expressed compassion. He had only to imagine what I was going through to feel terrible for me. I will never forgive myself the injuries my son suffered that week. And I will shut off the comments if you try to encourage me out of it. Finger on the trigger.

I peer at myself as I would a lab specimen. I am not one of those people who goes around saying sorry. I don’t wring my hands, gush to please and – as much as I pity them – don’t cry for cats that are run over. I am also well versed in the theology of forgiveness and grace, my surety and the cornerstone of my faith. But when I dissect the narratives in my head, I discover so many threads of quiet self-condemnation it’s as though I’m built out of it. The bruises of masochistic abuse remain well hidden. They are more like innocent white noise of the subtext that plays out in my day.

Even now it takes effort to switch off the autopilot on the self-blame when Tennyson comes down with a cold. Why didn’t I dress him more warmly yesterday? I shouldn’t have given him dairy. My mind reels back through the previous few days to puzzle where I’d gone wrong, what I ought to have done to keep him well. I live with the sense of failure for not keeping my home tidier. Tennyson’s math workbook disappeared recently. But I just organized! I marveled. For days I scoured the car, the learning room, the laundry room, family room, office, and then looped back wondering how I could be so inept at the housekeeping so as to lose lesson books. I asked the little man again if he’d seen it. Then when I presented him with the next book in the series I’d resigned to fast-forwarding him to, my sweet child exclaimed, “Oh, I know where it is!” slipping the magic find out of a crevice behind a poster.

Disbelief. He had hidden it so he wouldn’t have to do his math. My son, who’s made no habit of lying.

I swallow guilt every morning I start him with the book while (and so that) I can get back to readers. I should sit with him more. My conscience reminds me that I have yet to teach him piano and the Korean alphabet. What will I do with myself when I come through? Ah, fortunately for me the Holistic Fault Factory runs a tireless operation. Can’t disappoint Korean management. I’ve spoken of the ongoing struggle it is for me as an artist, caught between my writing and the life outside it. A friend shared a bit of wisdom she picked up in regard to time that I have to digest: receive the gift of your limitations.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Even when freed up to blog, I’ve felt bad for shooting out more than one post in a day, though a new rhythm is something I’ve had to deal with in the fall school year; I’ve hated to bother you. I refrained from writing about myself in any depth for a full year, not wanting to waste your time with stories of my past. I will sometimes disable the likes, feeling bad for getting “too many”. Simply unable to keep up, I’ve grudgingly learned to fall behind on all the blogs to visit back. I’m tapping into followers and visitors from January – not that anyone’s waiting. So trying to make heads and tails out of this strange creature in the mirror, I’ve a suspicion guilt is something we experience in and between relationships. I feel its weight as wife and mother, and even as blogger.

I grapple with it in connection with my body, eating guilt when I don’t do enough vegetables. As a teenager, I didn’t salt my food. I felt guilty for the flavor. Then there’s the chagrin when I ease up on the work-outs in order to write. And the resentment, those other days, in not being able to open the windows of my mind, let my words out, is actually the sorrow of being untrue to myself. I’m crazy. Annoyed every time my mother cries about all the ways she (says that she) wronged me in my younger years, I think people derive a certain pleasure in the self-incrimination. It is possible – God makes it possible – for us to live free from our failings and remorse. Why are we afraid to let these go? Why do we resist grace?

164 thoughts on “It’s Always My Fault

  1. This is an awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Guilt sucks. I hate guilt and shame! This last year has been my year to finally get free of it. I don’t know why, but there seems to be a timing for freedom. You battle and battle and battle and then suddenly there’s a break and things start shifting. I’ve felt that shift. Sometimes I hear old voices coming back and I have the grace to say no I won’t go there. It is wonderful. Thank you Lord for your journey of freedom:-) Let us keep going for the prize! Carpe Diem!

      • Well, I was being pulled down more and more by shame and it was affecting my whole outlook on life of course. One day my husband, who has a powerful prophetic gift, said to me, ‘I want you to get up every morning and look in the mirror and say I am not ashamed’. Doing that seemed to be an act of faith that activated what God was doing for me. It’s been a long road of overcoming shame in layers. I think that’s what happens. We get a measure of freedom and then we have to wait for the next measure. We don’t get deliverance all at once. God just gave me the grace to overcome those voices when it was the right time.
        Starting to blog was part of that healing. Putting myself out there instead of hiding from people. I started getting more confidence and boldness. Again, it was a kairos time. God is Sovereign and he knows what’s best for us. Ultimately, it’s all about relationship with him. That’s what he’s after in all of our struggles. He just wants us to trust him. Often, that is so hard to do. We want to rescue ourselves somehow without waiting or trusting. That’s what I’ve found to be true in my life anyway. Sorry to blab so long………….God bless you with the grace to carry on until the next breakthrough comes<3

      • Beautiful. I see it, your (painful, incredible) journey toward freedom, claiming the victory He purchased for you. You really hit bull’s-eye, as did many here today. It’s not about ME. It does come down to laying it ALL down before His sovereignty. Letting God be GOD, hopping off my throne.

        Easier said than done! I like my guilt!!!

        Thanks so much for sharing. An honor knowing you better.

        Diana

      • Dear Diana, thank you for your answer to my long winded response. I still feel inordinately guilty about stuff, but again, I think the root cause is gone and it’s just a matter of retraining some of those thought patterns. Now I recognize them more easily and am able to shut them down. Before I didn’t seem able to do that. I’m happy to be walking the road with you Holistic Wayfarer. πŸ™‚

      • ” and am able to shut them down.” You know, Rosh, I am finding your testimony of transformation (that it really is possible! Theology come alive) inspirational today. Thanks for reminding me to keep tabs on the self-talk, the lies that steal the joy Jesus purchased for me with His blood.

        Warmly,
        Diana

      • I hope you don’t mind that I shared these comments in one of my posts for a Blogging 101 assignment. It’s about the title of my blog. I had been thinking about changing the name of it, but after our exchange I feel I’m supposed to keep the name “Coming Out of Hiding”.
        What do you think?
        Darcy:-)

  2. Let it go, God gives us the key, sometimes it is to lock the door on the junk room and then to throw it away. One wise thing I heard as a teenager was ‘keep short accounts with The Lord” cry for it, but get up the next day knowing it’s gone, heaven keeps no account of our human failings … So why should we,

  3. I recognize bits of myself in this post – not as a mother, (I do not have children) but as a blogger who feels twinges of guilt when I point click and delete through the email notifications sent by WordPress, without surfing to read the blogs. I enjoy reading blog posts. Engagement is necessary and good manners, after all. It’s my duty, it’s the promise I made when I elected to follow a writer.

    I recognize the “survivor guilt”, too. Having food to salt and savour, having a husband to complain about, a roof over my head, the “hardship” of too much time on my hands.

    “People derive a certain pleasure in the self-incrimination.” Yup. Like picking a scab. Keeping the feeling alive – any feeling. Though I think this is another sign that shame is at work. Shame is sticky. It doesn’t fade away like anger. It’s actually the slimy residue.

    You have an enormous capacity for generosity, Diana. After reading this and knowing the work that you do behind the scenes, I am deeply grateful for the efforts you put forth. Astounded, even.

    “Receive the gift of your limitations.” Yup, this is a good bit of advice and I’m grateful that you shared it with us.

  4. It’s okay to feel guilty for some time, eventually though you will have to start to heal. Forgiving oneself is the hardest thing to do. You have an amazing husband that supports you and I’m sure your son does to. I wish you luck in winning out the demons you have in your mind.

  5. When our older two children were small, I went back to finish my first degreeβ€”that last, leftover year I needed to graduate in order to become a teacher. The house suffered. Friendships suffered. And our family suffered.

    I remember the night our elder son was sent to bed without his usual prayer and a β€œtuck in” chat because I had a paper to write for the next day. I heard his voice from his bedroom complain, β€œI can’t GO to bed; nobody made it up this morning!”

    Then there was the baby girl, not yet a toddler just three years younger than her brother, who willingly went to bed but who said her first prayer aloud all by herself. Not only was it her first prayer, but it was also her first full sentence. Those words were the first words she had ever spoken and I will never forget my shock at hearing, β€œI wove you, Gawd.”

    Then came the many unnecessary sicknesses, the long sleepless nights when neither child nor I could sleep. I almost lost my mind trying to find ways to help them sleep until one day, when I came home at an unscheduled time and found the wretched lady GONE, out selling candy on the streets while my babies slept at home alone with quilts nailed over the windows to block the light. That revelation made everything painfully clear that my children had suffered through weeks of doing nothing but sleeping because one selfish woman wanted to make an extra buck.

    Did I feel guilt? You can believe I did. Not only did I feel guilty for having forsaken my family at a time in their lives when they needed me most, but I felt a wave of loneliness so deep, it almost drowned me. I was lonely for the closeness we had known and for the sharing I had abandoned because of my career goals.

    Many say, β€œOh, you are so lucky to have finished college and made something of yourself.”

    Women and some men talk about the seasons of life, but looking back now at that season of my life, if I had it to do over, I would never do what I did. In our foolish youth, my husband and I had determined that I would finish a degree first so I could support him while he finished a doctorate. Did either of us consider the serious need our growing children had? We certainly thought we loved them and may have had fleeting thoughts of what our work would entail, but nobody could warn of the times of pain and guilt we would feel over the small things.

    More than twelve years later, when we adopted a son and had a baby girl a year later, I read Bible stories, Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose until my throat felt paralyzed. We read, sang, walked, worked together until they had to begin school. My determination to be with them was realized and maybe the older ones saw and understood I would have done the same things for them if I could have.

    • Powerful testimony, Beth. I so appreciate your sharing from a pain that cuts again in the revisiting of those chapters. I love your no-nonsense honesty. How you own up to things hindsight showed you you could’ve done better. It’s the opposite I didn’t want to hear. That I’m ok, you’re ok, my son’s ok and I should move on. It was quite a crucible for you, caught in the furnace between work outside the home and the needs in it. Esp with your many different abilities. I’m so glad you got to do it differently, not necessarily bc I feel you should’ve but bc it was a dream you were able to realize.

      Love,
      me

      • I revised my comment slightly, sent it to both my older children and asked them if they remembered. Of course they did not. What they remember is that I loved them and they loved me–still do.

        Imitation is the purest form of flattery and they both have children raised by stay-at-home moms–not addicted to TV or FB. They homeschool and are committed to teaching their children the way they remember I taught them. I would say that is a wonderful sign of forgiveness on their part.

  6. this was an accident, not intentional.. Out of your hands so to speak. You have moved on in life, and now it is time to let the horrible time go. blessings eve

  7. I follow your blog because I like everything you write and whenever you write it. Lighten up. People don’t remember half the stuff we do and beat ourselves up over, to boot. Or do they remember everything and never let us forget? Either way, who cares? Don’t get crazy over it all. Life’s short. Move on, Diana. You are a truly wonderful person.

  8. Different circumstances, but same feelings of guilt, what could I have done different and why didn’t I see it coming: When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, the nurse made a comment that helped me immensely to move on. “Breast cancer can be caused by bad genes, or by bad habits, but mostly it is caused by bad luck.” Yes, bad luck does exist. Sometimes (when the lesson has already been learned), the blame game simply sucks our energy for things that don’t matter. Glad to hear that you and your son were okay.

    • “the blame game simply sucks our energy for things that don’t matter.”

      Second thought for the day.

      Though I’ll be chkg in on you – you know I’ll visit sooner or later! – are you all right, Debbie? All gone?

  9. It’s those standards we set, and expectations we have. Hardwired to achieve, Our Utmost for His Highest. I get it. Do we ever find peace when we miss the mark? Grace covers the error, and acceptance grants permission to move on; applied liberally, peace can emerge. I do not fault others, nor myself, for journeying that narrow path, grace on one side, guilt on the other. It’s tricky, but worth the trek!

  10. I was speaking on Thursday night last week with fellow mothers about one of the last posts, and the belief that guilt is the other side of mothering. Every woman in the room acknowledged that, and was relieved by it too. From meal times, to getting angry, to accidents, to not getting a child ready for school on time in the morning (after said child refused to get dressed for half an hour), guilt is a part of our experiences. We love so much, and want to be more than humanly possible. And yet it is impossible to let it go, because we fear we would stop striving.

    Objectively, perhaps it is easy to see, and perhaps the reason children are so frustrated by parents. And yet they have to be frustrated, have to move on and become their own people too, so that they can pass on the love, pay it forward, and live out their own struggles, which will be different.

    Grace…a name for a girl, and also a thought that could change the world (U2). We mothers don’t have the wisdom of the divine. We are merely human.

    • Seriously. Guilt, what you sign up for at the Mothering station. Why is it comforting to read of your talk w/ the moms?

      Yes, you brought up something I’d been thinking in writing this. Guilt is the expression of our love. I think we’d feel guilty if we didn’t feel guilty! Except there comes a point where I as my mother’s daughter want Mom free of it and would like her to receive my love in the self-acceptance. And we can go on to apply this in all our relationships.

      “and want to be more than humanly possible. And yet it is impossible to let it go, because we fear we would stop striving.”

      The way you enrich my roundtable….thanks ever so much.

      Diana

  11. Aah, the mother-guilt I think is the strongest of all. Your post triggered some memories of how I had failed with my little boy when he was growing up and tears started to fall. He was /is sitting next to me as I type this, now a 19yr old home from Uni and I asked for his forgiveness of two incidents in his childhood. He looked astounded and thought I was being incredibly silly! I had hardly killed him. But I get you – such is a mother’s heart. But all said and done, I try not to feel guilty about any other thing. LIfe is too precious to be wasted thus.

  12. You do not deserve to feel guilty (that sounds negative, but it’s meant to be comforting. What I mean by that is you have done nothing to feel guilty about.) You home school your child. That in itself is so selfless, it makes up for any inadvertent reasons for guilt.

    Even though I have never met you, I recognize in you my own tendency towards self recrimination that arises from perfectionism. We form ideals in our heads and when outcomes fail to match these, through our own failings or unexpected resistance/feedback from others, we dwell, flagellate, roll our shoulders to get rid of the tightness that seems intent on staying.

    Unlike you, however, I have ample reason to feel guilty. My kids are in school eight hours a day, allowing my plenty of me time, and yet, when they are home, I still carve out more time for myself at their expense. I know as this is happening that I should be spending time with them and that I will hate myself later, but most of the time, I still choose me. And, do you know what the most heart breaking thing is: my kids are used to this. They no longer ask to spend time with me. They decline when I ask them to do things, preferring their own company. It breaks my heart because I know I have created this distance. It’s hard to describe how my heart feels: swollen with misery, aching with regret, throbbing with self hatred. Oh, how selfish I have been.

    I resolve to change this dynamic between my kids and me every day, and every night I feel defeated by my inability to break through. Did I try hard enough? Did I cave and revert to my introvert/scared tendency? Do they hate me? UGH! This is too hard to write about. I have to stop. What started as reassurance has turned into a disgusting self pitying fest. I am sorry my comment turned into being all about me.

    You are a good mother, and you deserve grace.

    Love,
    E

    • Oh, Elizabeth. Your feedback “took a turn” because it needed to and you saw yourself in the post. Because you’re a mom. I won’t bother trying to convince you out of the guilt, as I know it has deep roots for us – actually, deeper than the time we entered motherhood. I’ve noticed a lot of women (who just adore their kids) struggle with the matter of quality time together or don’t even bother struggling (just dump them in daycare, for instance). For many, it’s the desire to retain their identity and not lose it to the mothering (be it through work outside or inside the home or the pursuit of a personal passion or gift). For many others, it is the simple desire to unglue from their kids and the endless duties or just relax, part of which is legit and part selfish. I’m sure what you shared resonates not only with me but others because we’re a complicated mix of habits, fears, societal conditioning, selfishness, legitimate needs. We should be able to look selfishness in the eye. It is the human condition and we have to do this with anything we hope to conquer or take baby steps away from. Women’s issues seem extra tough, I am finally seeing, for the drama we spin in our self-talk from the drama all the other mamas seem to make in envy of the postmodern Mrs. Cleaver. What can I say? Before I started writing, I wrestled with loads of guilt for all the time I put in the kitchen (for the best I could give him, from scratch). Time here means time away from there. We’re a hot mess!

    • The comments are uber-fantastic today. Chk out Beth Johnson’s and Paul’s, if you can. Paul – on perception, again. I’m not trying to override or muffle some of the things you’ve recognized – as much as I want to comfort you, E. I just wonder if you’ll find nuggets you can take away.

  13. OMG HW! You hit his head twice in one day?! How could you? He is so precious. – There now that I’ve blamed you enough to keep the comments open , let’s get to the real point of this comment.

    Ha! I was a latch key kid – my Dad worked long hours and my Mom was studying at university most of my young life. I didn’t see them much. I can hardly consider my self deficient for that. They were doing what they felt was right for them and by extention what was right for me (better wages, more “things” [i.e.microscope, chemistry set, books, etc] , better opportunities for me, better neighborhood with better friends and less crime, the list goes on). They also both enjoyed what they did, found it challenging and, to the best of my knowledge didn’t overly regret the time they spent doing it. The times were a bit different then – they had grown up during the second world war when there was little or nothing for individuals except long hours and hard work to keep the world free. The way they saw it, I was lucky to have the opportunities and freedom I did. And they were happy to provide by doing something they liked rather than building war machines and bombs – what their parents did, like it or not, while they were growing up. It was contextual – all their contemporaries were doing the same thing for the same reasons. There was no blame. Perhaps there could have been or should have been, but there wasn’t. When everyone aorund you perceives a certain life style to be “good” or even the “best” – there is no one to criicize you and hence you are much less likely to criticize your self.

    So, my first question to you HW, is : What is around you, what context do you live in, or did you grow up in, that is contributing to your feelings? It takes a village to raise a child.

    Which brings us neatly to my second point. I’ll start with a story (not too long) that was told to me as a joke, but I saw much, much more in it beyond the humor – see if it affects you that way as well.

    A very rich woman was enamoured of her family home – “mansion” is a more appropriate word (this is not a criticism of the rich). She loved the view of her home from the front where its pristine, white, stately grandeur was focussed by a huge oak tree that grew up from behind the home and towered two stories above, providing a canopy under which the mansion lounged in the shade. So, she wanted a generational memory of this beauty and elegance and decided to have a “portrait” of her home painted to preserve the memory. She hired a very talented artist whose time was very expensive and explained what she wanted. Her ideal was to capture the view of her home from the front of the building with the towering oak above – just the perspective one would have upon approaching the front of the house up the driveway. Anyway,the artist spent the first day doing sketches of the front – with details – and of the grounds. She was pleased with the progress and decided that he had the right idea, so she felt comfortable leaving him alone with the staff the next day while she took care of business in town.

    The next day, she left as the artist was arriving and she spent a fruitful day away from home. When she returned she saw the artist’s car still there but no sign of him. She looked everywhere and eventually walked around behind the building and found him there sketching the tree trunk and roots. She was very upset and demanded to know what he was doing -emphasizing the money she was paying him for his services. Why, when she wanted a portrait of her house from the front, was he wasting time around the back painting sketches of the bottom of the tree? The artist was rather taken aback. He raised his brow and said : “But ma’am, how could I possibly paint the top of the tree over the house, until I know and understand how it is anchored in the ground and grew up to the roofline behind the house?”

    And so it is Diana for all of us. What we see of each other or allow others to see, is generally only a small part of who we are. If we truly want to understand ourselves and want others to see and understand as well, then we have to allow ourselves to be vunerable by exposing our roots and development – our deepest thoughts and fears and joys. You speak about feeling disinclined or unsettled spending time talking about yourself and yet I would submit to you that the only way you will be truly successful in expressing the world and making a profound difference with your words, is to do exactly what you are doing – exposing your roots and trunk for you and all to see. (I’m speaking emotionally, of course, this does not have to affect your privacy.)

    Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I hope you don’t turn off the comments or likes for this. I likely would have told it differently if you hadn’t threatened to do that. Que sera.

    Great post HW. Really thought provoking and emotionally engaging. Thank You,

    • Wonderful, Paul. You know you’re preaching to the choir (as I may have said already). I love every bit of this. That small matter of perception again to short-circuit self-talk and relationships, as we had seen it in the Race. I love the whole thing with the context and roots. I’m always about that. And here you are holding up the mirror. I may/not come back and elaborate with those answers – depends on how well this tired brain is functioning this wk. But in quick strokes, I was overly responsible as a kid, a second mom to my little brother, while my parents slaved to build their immigrant life in NY. I’m a hot mess bc I also have – as you know – very strong and clear ideas (yes, perceptions, ideals) ideas about how things should be. Yes, point is how/why I reached those conclusions. Deep thanks for another marvelous post LOL.

      D.

    • “What is around you, what context do you live in, or did you grow up in, that is contributing to your feelings?” EXACTLY what I wanted to say! Well, not in verbatim, but the idea…You said it well, Paul. πŸ™‚

  14. Aww.. *Hug**

    Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing with us. It sounds like it was a painful experience. I recently tripped and fell while I was running to catch a train, and the impact to knees and hands were so painful-actually, i still have bruises and it’s been over a month. So I can’t imagine how horrified you must’ve been to fall while carrying your son… I am thankful he is okay though and he didn’t have any major head trauma.

    I think it’s totally natural to have guilt over things we things we have done or in your case, have no control over. (In more extreme cases, like people who survive a major disaster or catastrophe and have survivors guilt).

    That guilt can be so gnawing and haunting, but as you mentioned, god can free us from that guilt.

    It is an ongoing struggle, to fight the feelings of guilt and instead embrace His grace. On the days when it’s hard, may you feel His presence near to you…

  15. No matter what you do or fail to do, Tennyson will turn out the way he’s supposed to turn out. If God’s really in charge then he chose you to be the kid’s parent and knew you’d make some mistakes–just like your parents did and their parents did.

    I have that perfection demon, too, but it is a demon. And it’s a lie. God is the only perfection. Tennyson might rebel against piano one day and maybe you’ll even be relieved. Who knows? Maybe he’ll just know he has a great mother who did her best.

    • *Side grin* I always love the matter-of-factness you bring, Adrienne. Eve set us on a tailspin when she believed a lie, right? Ok, I’ll stop raggin’ on her.

      You nailed it, actually. God’s sovereignty. Gosh, you guys are good. I am so full of myself as to think I have to (and can) tilt situations a certain way with the guilt. Freeing myself and others in grace is really freeing God to be God.

      Oh, that’s something.

      • I’m with you–that Eve! She really messed things up. πŸ˜‰

        I read a dumb interview of southern actress at the dentist’s office the other day. When asked the last time she said sorry, she replied that as a Southerner you say sorry 100 times a day–I wonder if that’s just women.

  16. Are you Catholic?? I’m teasing you, of course. I somehow managed to inherit Catholic guilt through osmosis or something. It’s now hardwired into my DNA.

    “I think people derive a certain pleasure in the self-incrimination.”
    We sure do. I don’t fully understand it, but it can be a bit like an addiction.

    • LOL! Man, you opened a whole can of worms. You’re right, Europe was built on and stood on the rock of guilt for thousands of years, wasn’t it? And has influenced the world over. Bless Martin Luther, my hero. Sorry I have failed you, Martin. Ah – there I go again.

  17. I honestly thought a paragraph or so in that you were going to say your child had died from a head injury! I have dealt with guilt and shame too but you have got to let that stuff go. I think it must hurt God very much when we punish ourselves with that kind of stinky mind crap. Fight those thoughts like you would any other thief intruding on your life. It sounds like a family curse that has created a stronghold. I have been fighting off a stronghold of fear that came down from my mom. I am believing that will not come down on my son and am claiming the promises in Bible that says we are no longer under a curse.

  18. I’ll respect your desire to leave you alone with your guilt. You already know you will be better off — as will your son and the others around you — when you’ve worked it out of your system. This honest entry is part of the process. It is the curse of loving motherhood, but you are on the road to reducing it. I bet that one of these days you’ll discover with surprise that you have freed yourself from the intensity.

    • I appreciate your controlling the impulse to coax me out of it, Mona. Yes,

      “the curse of loving motherhood, ”

      as I have said with some here. Though I don’t see myself as being “very Korean”, I find myself drawing on my parents’ culture in regard to this issue. Seems the more we love our kids, the more we have to self-flagellate. I really appreciate your being here.

      Love,
      Diana

  19. Wow, so much to digest here Diana.
    I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and share so much of your life and feelings. I believe you are describing a very universal struggle; learning to forgive ourselves and others for perceived wrong, make more space in our hearts for love, grace, Jesus (however it most resonates for you). I have been learning to more gentle and compassionate with myself. Every time guilt, fear or any feeling other than love comes up, I honor the feeling first and then offer myself a few words (sometimes silent, sometimes out loud) of self love, compassion or encouragement.

    You are a brave and caring soul. Be as kind to yourself as you are to your family and readers. You are worthy of great love and compassion. Sending cyber hugs, kind thoughts and other warm fuzzies!

    Feel free to ignore this unsolicited advice and keep being hard on yourself if that works for you! XD

    • LOL! This comment takes the cake among all your sweet, thoughtful ones. You’re RIGHT I’d rather stay hard on myself.

      You put your finger on it (you guys are smokin’ today)! I have needed great work in this area: “to be more gentle and compassionate with myself” – and many times, with the ones I love the most as I take them for granted.

      My worldview, different from yours, says something radical that initially can offend people. I AM unworthy. Hence the universal problem of guilt. BUt I am infinitely loved. Therein lies my security. You traced this problem back to love so insightfully, Brad. And I so appreciate the love. You managed to send me a bucketful without making me lock up the comments lol.

  20. So, what do you want to hear? Concentrate only on the things that you can control. An accident? Deal with the aftermath. Illness? Seek treatment. All the stuff we can’t control is really none of our business. That’s what faith and a belief in higher power is for, to clear space for the stuff you can do. Love your site, BTW.

  21. “autopilot on the self-blame”
    Why can’t I kaizen this? Like tweek it out of existence. Ugh! Ouch! Grrrrrrr!
    I am addicted to wanting to be right. Can I blame this on Adam? LoL!
    My name is Lady Cheetah and I am a self-blame-a-holic.

      • Ha ha! Yes it is a must and without getting too twisted into scriptural details it wasn’t until Adam took the bite that civilization fell. Adam….was the weakest link!

        Now I need to find a support group who will likewise own up to it my disease as well. Ya, good luck with that…..

        πŸ™‚

  22. If I told people of the guilt that assuages me, on a different subject altogether, they’d call me everything but the name I was born with! I thank you for your honesty and wish I could let go like that. Hoping for better days for us all…

  23. Yes, God does make it possible to free us from our failings and remorse. It’s an examination of conscience, confession then ammending. When done let it go. For to Him, he does forgive and forget. Not seven times as He said, but, seventy times seven-meaning always.
    Can you pour a glass of water into the ocean and then retrieve that same water? No, that is how God sees forgiveness. We’d be a lot happier, as well as those around us, if we did too.
    -Alan

    • You guys are nailing it today. “We’d be a lot happier, as well as those around us, if we did too.” Yes, I was wondering where I have room for happiness, as I wrote this! Thanks, Alan. I feel your heart.

  24. I think we all feel this at times. What helps me when I feel guilty or condemned is the verse, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” That says it all. I just have to honestly confess to Him (and anyone affected) holding nothing back and I know I’m forgiven (and cleansed also).

  25. I hesitate to comment feeling like I couldn’t win for losing (smile), but I will say…that deep, dark pit you’re in is not one you climb out, it’s one you must be lifted out. And it requires willingness to be rescued by Him. I, myself, am finally beginning to see light break in. The warmth is a welcome change!

  26. Well, I suppose I will be the proverbial ‘devil’s advocate,’ in a good way that is, and be a lone voice.

    You are correct, it is not all right. Don’t tell me that while I bury my father, ‘it’s all right now!’ Please! Its not all right until I say so.

    If there is a sea of despondency, or a lake of sorrow, STAY THERE…….stay until every imaginable argument is met with fiercely and fairly, exhaust the library of heaven, and your memory without blame, then and only then, don’t look back. It’s ‘all right’ when you say it is.

    Then again, perhaps your essay here was meant more for others………………….and you were an obedient conduit.

    There is the ministry of suffering which is cloaked in so many jackets. Dissecting an event in our lives is necessary I believe to hone us from suffering to glory, and it is perfectly ok not to forget…..

  27. When you figure out a way to get rid of guilt, lemme know, will ya? πŸ˜‰

    No, but seriously… I was that oldest child, the one who felt guilty about everything. I took on the guilt for my parents’ unhappiness as a young age. I am much better at looking at others and rationalizing why they do things and understanding and forgiving that behavior than I am at forgiving myself. Perhaps because I know myself so well. Perhaps because I know He calls us to be better than we are – and because I have full knowledge of how far I fall from the standard.

    I can’t speak of a mother’s guilt (no children), only the guilt of trying to do more, be more, and expect more of myself than perhaps I am capable of achieving. It’s easier to forgive others than ourselves, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

    • “because I know He calls us to be better than we are” ONLY when with the consciousness that it begins, runs, and ends with grACE! (I really woulda become a preacher, if I were a man.) If we’re such hot stuff why did Jesus have to come? Why praise Him for His gift? I know I need to apprehend and apply this in all these sullied, messed-up areas of my life.

      And btw, I can see you as you describe yourself in your comments. You are very giving, Kate.

      • Do you teach a bible study? You remind me very much of a dear friend of mine. She, too, would have been a preacher had she been a man; instead, she teaches a bible study. I think any group you might teach would be blessed by what you have to say.

        Thanks for the kind comment.

  28. Love this post, as I can totally identify with the guilt permeating my existence. Read it, liked it, and the only thing I would ask in return is that you don’t beat yourself up over not having time to visit my blog, especially since you just recently did πŸ˜‰ We all spend too much time worrying about the little things, and in the grand scheme of the universe, our blogs are but little things πŸ™‚

  29. Relatable post, thank you. I’ve found that forgiveness is a process, a habit, and a bit of a mystery. As a wife and mother, I am much quicker to forgive others than myself but I know that’s unreasonable and unkind to me (and to others if it affects my mood.) So, I’ve been practicing forgiving myself. For years. And time is taking care of this tricky thing called forgiveness. It’s a lot like how you can’t force a young child to read before he or she is developmentally ready. I can’t force myself to forgive myself but I can have the desire and intention to forgive myself and I can pray to have the burden of un-forgiveness lifted. We can pray for each other πŸ™‚

    • Appreciate the thoughtful share, Angie. Interesting that you’ve found there is a whole season or years where we might just not be ready, where it won’t be viable. It really is a supernatural work, not something we can pull ourselves by the bootstrap for. Yes, the praying sounds wonderful, thanks. =)

      Diana

      • Thanks for the validation, Diana. If I add extra pressure on myself to do most anything, it will often backfire! So if I add pressure to myself to forgive myself then I don’t/can’t forgive myself then I have one more thing to not forgive myself about 😦 So, enough of that! I’ll let prayer, God, and time meet my intention to forgive myself as it will. I also find that a yummy cookie and a nice cup of tea can help as well πŸ˜‰ Always good to hear from you ❀

      • But the cookie will feed my guilt. I shouldn’t be eating pastries and sugar. LOL

        BAH!!! We’re crazy. I actually like that word on how it backfires to pressure ourself.

        OK, y’all have given me so much food for thought (will satiate and leave me satisfied so I don’t reach for that cookie.) πŸ˜›

  30. Pingback: Blogging 101 – Say Your Name | Coming out of Hiding

  31. Lots of wisdom in your post and in the comments following. Dizzying how much we all can relate in this. I remember sitting in therapy raging against my parents for my perceived notions of what they should have done and what they shouldn’t have done to ME (emphasis on my self-centered needs there) and we came to the conclusion that my parents did the best that they could with the tools that they had – mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. I had to look at things from their POV. And that helped to alleviate the resentments I had towards them. That perspective came into sharper focus when I became a parent myself.

    Now, part of my story of being an alcoholic is that I used to drink and drive. A lot. And with my son. Nothing to be proud of and there is a part of me that feels shame in even saying that. I got arrested for DUI with him in the backseat, playing with his Thomas trains with a police officer. It still brings a lump to my throat when I think of it. You can imagine the shame and guilt I carried with me regarding this. It took me a long time to see past this. To get to a place where I accepted what happened – not condone it of course, but to see my part in it and see where I was at at that time. Grace…well, if I didn’t believe about grace then, I do now. I had to learn and practice self-forgiveness and not carry my shame and guilt like a tote bag.

    The gift of limitations is a wonderful way of looking at things. I still need to learn that lesson, but the more that I can accept what He has given me, and how I can use them to serve Him and His children (including my own children and family), the more serenity I have. And guilt and shame need not occupy the same space. Self-forgiveness has been one of the greatest gifts and pleasures I have experienced through my faith in God. If He can forgive me, why can’t I?

    Thank you for this vulnerable, honest and beautifully written post. Lots to chew on.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Getting chills (must be the umpteenth time, thanks to you). SAME thing for me, and the same conclusion I came to draw the last several years, esp the past year blogging! —>

      “I remember sitting in therapy raging against my parents for my perceived notions of what they should have done and what they shouldn’t have done to ME.”

      Paul, thank you so much for the great humility in speaking of the DUI. Know what? For the simple fact that I’m human, I would find it hard to read of your confession (esp as a parent) without anger or judgmt, but I find myself feeling nothing but sympathy for you and the burden you carried afterwards. Prolly along the lines of what my husband felt for me in the incidents with my little one.

      You’re the first one here to bring up self-accEptance, in its distinction to condoning.

      “To get to a place where I accepted what happened – not condone it of course, but to see my part in it and see where I was at at that time.” That to me is a critical precursor to the forgiving – whomever it is of. To face it squarely in the eye (in its context, as the other Paul so awesomely elaborated on and as you mention). This helps us to deal with it with our mind and with reason than if we’d just kept our hands clapped over our eyes, unable to hold up under the emotional pain.

      As to God’s forgiveness, I’ve been thinking on it more the last 24 hrs as the comments have come in. It is actually the defining truth and power of Christianity, isn’t it? It first declares that we fall short, which offends many, but then lifts us up as heirs of heaven with the good news that no, we will never measure up and don’t need to in the Sufficiency Jesus paid for us with His perfect life and suffering. It is my conviction that we have a ways to go before we call ourselves Christians if we don’t embrace the freedom and the pleasure I love hearing you talk of, and it is when we accept His forgiveness that yes, we are able to forgive ourself.

      Now the hard part. To coax all this truth down down down from head to heart….

      Appreciate you,
      D.

  32. That guilt is a hard one to shake. I sense though that in the awareness you are reaching for that grace, Diana. As someone who grew up Catholic, I had a lot of guilt- still do. But a part of me feels that the guilt is more cultural than related to God, who I have a feeling is a lot more compassionate and forgiving than I am.

    • Very interesting. Don’t mean to offend but to ride on the experience you share, yes, the Catholics sure take the cake on this matter. And so that’s quite a culture you grew up in for you to feel “that the guilt is more cultural than related to God, who I have a feeling is a lot more compassionate and forgiving than I am.” Wow. I’ve actually been thinking about the underpinning of guilt in the Korean culture (a lot of social obligations, for instance). I think self-condemnation is also how mothers prove their love for their kids! That would be fascinating to hear more of the Filipino culture in this regard. No obLiGation, though, LOL, in your busyness. Just saying.

  33. I don’t see a lot of value in guilt, D. When you make a mistake, do what you can to correct it, try not to repeat it, and move on. Otherwise we become lost in the past, instead of living in the present and preparing for the future. It is as important to forgive yourself as it is to forgive others. Having said all that, I realize how tough it is to do sometimes. –Curt

  34. oh the guilt of motherhood…all the “shouldas”….I am learning, as I get older to leave it behind and focus on today…easier said than done…You truly are a gifted writer….your writing must be healing…your words—– reflect so many of my thoughts throught time….

    • “your writing must be healing”

      Actually, what I can share is that my writing challenges me in the hard places. The comments are as healing and more thought-provoking, I think, than my posts. Thank you for the sweet word and for connecting, Robbie. Glad (and sad!) this resonated.

      Diana

  35. You said that it bothers you that your mother pours over possible mistakes that she made in the past. Maybe she has rubbed off on you?

    I think all mothers (at least, all good mothers) tend to do that: blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in their child’s life. Some fathers do that, too.

    A lot of times, God uses negative experiences and turns them into good. So even the things you may have done wrong as a parent can turn out to help your child in some way or another to be stronger or learn some kind of lesson or something.

    I really hope my mother doesn’t blame herself for anything bad that has happened to me. I’m betting that your child feels the same way!

    -john

    • Yes, I was aware that I do what she does in the self-blame when I wrote that, John. =) As I said to a few here, seems mothers – I think Asian esp – feel the self-condemnation is proof of their love. Thank God He’s in this. Appreciate your time. =)

      Diana

  36. I think guilt is an evolutionary mechanism to keep us feeling so bad that it’s etched forever in our minds, which makes us cautious about not repeating the same mistakes. I think? Well, I like to guilt myself on days I’ve not been as productive as I think I should be, so that it takes a toll on my the next morning and I sit down to work dutifully.

  37. I feel so much with your writing…and how horrible you must have felt at those time. The guilt made even worse by your unconditional love. I can imagine you’d do anything to make all better but that is just not possible, so comes the guilt that will always remain ~ a reminder of how much we love & care. It teaches us, which is good. Even better, is that much of the guilt can be washed away with a smile that reflects your unconditional love right back at you. Pretty powerful stuff πŸ™‚

    • Hey Randall, thanks so much for the empathy. This goes a long way – even more than the “Oh, that’s all right. He’s okay now.”

      “I can imagine you’d do anything to make all better”. YES. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back in time. A waste of a thought and energy, I know. But that’s the way a mother’s heart bleeds. It would be fascinating to hear if you observed/heard Asians speak of guilt more than Westerners. Hey, thanks for your precious time. Appreciate you.

      Diana

      • Interesting thought, and yes I think there is more guilt from Asians. While having no statistics at hand, I would imagine the differences can be derived from the education received at childhood.

        Westerners are a bit more creative and flexible with their thinking/analysis because schooling makes them learn to think/analyze/rationalize outside of the box so to speak, so when something goes wrong Westerners are able to vent/release guilt a bit more easily.

        Conversely, I think the Asian educational environment tends to focus on logic and tight parameters,so if something is wrong, this “wrong” comes from within the system and therefore more guilt, frustrations, etc.

        And then the thought that many of my Asian friends talk about, is the idea that many Asian cultures hold onto the past so much that it becomes almost an automatic reaction to dwell, where as in the west society/schools tend to focus on the now & tomorrow aspect of life that leaves little time to dwell.

        Just thoughts πŸ™‚ Although this is an interesting article about education in China that I enjoyed (it was forward to me from one of my great friends in HK who chose to educate their children in a much less stressful local Chinese school (harsher & rote memorization) and instead sent their daughter to an International School (and I am stunned by the change in the child over the past couple years ~ just great confidence in herself). Here is the link: http://chinadailymail.com/2014/09/21/is-chinas-basic-education-a-success-or-does-it-destroy-the-morality-of-society/

      • Yes, as far as I’ve known, that is how education is in Korea. Although I did read on the heels of the NY Times bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that parts of China actually started making changes toward innovation in their education system.

        I told a few of the commenters here that I think nursing guilt is how Korean mothers prove their love. You’re the first one to posit some reasons why guilt makes up the fabric of Asian culture. On releasing/venting more expressively, I add that Westerners are simply more vocal than Asians.

        The temporal perspective of Westerners’ being more forward-looking is very interesting. Living in the past certainly will encourage the harboring of guilt. Oh, such a rich discussion, love the food for thought. Thank you!

        Can’t resist. Here’s a hug.
        Diana =)

  38. 1. We are all really messed up. But few of us say it as well as you.
    2. That’s why you have a bazillion comments/likes.
    3. So, I’m messed up and amazed.
    4. Hope in the promise.

    • LOL LOL (Hey, I didn’t know you could be funny, Lon. Do your church members know? Meant as a compliment. Ha ha ha)

      The day we allow gratitude to trump the guilt is the day we apprehend the gospel. We go around feeling guilty because we often are. And we do need to forgive ourself. But we’re enabled to do this to the fullest measure IN the forgiveness Jesus purchased for us.

      Hope in the promise indeed. We come up entirely short in our own resources.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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