I used to think I was an awful person
I was just standing there listening to my friend talking about her two marriages and I felt awful.
“I feel so lucky in my new marriage”, she said. “I can’t believe that a relationship like this even exists. In my previous marriage I felt ugly, stupid and unfeminine and I felt like a failure. I thought that was all I deserved. I thought I was not worthy of anyone’s respect or love and all I deserved was to be tolerated”.
Why would she say that?
“I thought I was an awful person”, she said.
Who told her that?
“No one. I just felt like I was supposed to be a better person. No matter how hard I tried, I felt like I could never be the person I wanted to be. I thought all I had to offer was rubbish, I felt worthless.”
I was thinking about the things she said all night. I just couldn’t believe it. It must be her guilt, I thought to myself. Guilt makes us feel like we’re not worthy of love and affection and that we don’t deserve to be the people we truly are. It makes us feel like we can’t talk about are real feelings or that we are not free to share our thoughts. I’ve been there before: I know what it’s like to be in your own prison, to be paralyzed. I was sad to learn that making someone feel guilty is one of the easiest ways to manipulate them; it’s also one of the most commonly disciplinary action used to deal with children. Religious communities, employers and even our partners might use our conscious against us.
I clearly remember the day and the hour I let go. When I felt like I was free. When I refused to feel guilty any longer. When I had the strength to say that I refuse to be a victim, I refuse to be punished and that only I am responsible for my own life. I set myself free. And I no longer felt guilty.
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