By Laurie Szostak, (Recycled from October/November 2014, Edition 8)
Photo: Courtesy of Organic Hudson Valley Publications, LLC
The dreaded G word: Guilt. How many of us have done something wrong or behaved in a way that was unacceptable? I’ve developed several types of guilt through the years, each carrying a certain weight, some heavier and some lighter. My heaviest guilt was from when I was a single parent to my then four-year-old daughter. I had a full-time job in Westchester and needed child care, but I couldn’t afford an actual day care center, so I had to find people to take care of her. I felt terrible putting the care of someone so precious to me in the hands of someone else whom I really didn’t know that much about.
When I could finally afford to place my daughter in a reputable day care center, I had to work another job waitressing to help pay for that care. There were even times that I took my daughter to work with me when she was sick because I couldn’t miss work. I remember having her in my office, lying down by my desk. How sad is that? I couldn’t call in to work because I couldn’t take a chance of losing my job. But, was I really going to lose my job or did I just not want to miss the work that I loved to do and was working so hard at to get ahead? My career was very important to me.
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we make regrettable decisions that cannot be reversed. I could not change what happened, and it weighed heavily on my shoulders. I made decisions I thought were good for my daughter, myself and my career, but in hindsight I felt they were selfish and done out of not knowing what was going to happen. Fear of the unknown! The consequences affected the relationships I had with my daughter, myself and men that I met. Back then I didn’t see things clearly, and the choices I made may have been innocent, but they did hurt my daughter and that was a heavy burden to bear.
I later joined a support group; I shared and listened to others in the same situation as I was, which saved me.
Guilt eats up a lot of energy that could be better used elsewhere. Most of us have already punished ourselves many times over. Isn’t it time now to climb down off the guilt trip, step away from the whipping post and consider the debt settled? It’s time to accept and forgive ourselves for what happened and move forward. Once we let go of the guilt, there is more room for positive energy to come into our lives. And by doing so, we can put that positive energy into parenting our children. Let’s make better choices for ourselves and for our families. █