GUILT

The push for walking takes me out even on a cold dreary day. Drunk with the pleasures of spring, even a grey day brings new wonders. A pilated woodpecker appears, a foot long. The tree tappings sound like a hammer, their trill distinctive.

A group of deer hidden in the forest across the water, their grey hides matching the trees where they seem to be eating, unperturbed by my red jacket or movement. The little diving bird sitting on the fallen tree over the creek looking for food of some sort in the water. Although what other than catfish could down in the mud?

There is always something in the meadow or creek-side to fill me with joy. The brilliant green grass at my feet, growing long, dotted with simple dandelions almost too beautiful to absorb in its country grace.

Always in the back of mind guilt at telling my younger brother Stevie no, not this summer, after his constant pressure that we visit his new home on a lake.

“It’s a work visit,” he boldly states, wanting Samuel to put in a new electrical panel since he is an experienced electrician.

“No, probably not this summer, until he gets his hip fixed,” I say on the video call.

“What’s wrong with his hip?” Stevie asks.

Well, I thought, if you bothered to keep in touch on a regular basis, other that when you want something, you’d know.

Placing boundaries is a rather miraculous occurrence. Usually I can be pressured to do whatever it is another wants. Saying no brings up guilt while trying to balance the needs of others with my own. Mine don’t usually matter, not to me, not to others.

But that is changing. Change for the betterment of my health is a very good thing, but growth is hard! I can say no, but the guilt afterwards brings on the harsh, relentless critic lashing out repeatedly without kindness. Stevie’s lost a grown daughter to drugs. His only other grown son is in a half-way house diagnosed with schizophrenia. On and on my guilt list goes.

What about my needs? What about compassion for just how hard traveling is, and trying to sleep elsewhere? What about Samuel’s hip? Just watching him limp hurts me. Walking and stairs aggravate it to the point of pain so great he cannot sleep. Not ready for surgery he uses potent anti-inflammatories a lot.

Samuel says he can manage it. Stevie’s home is 30 stone steps up just to get inside. Which means up and down to the basement just to get to the panel box. He could do it, but not without a probable flare-up.

Oddly, once saying no, I’ve not heard from him since. That makes me feel guilty. But if that is how somehow behaves, getting mad when they are hurt, turning off what little communication they bothered with in the first place because they did not get what they wanted, is that when I want to send an email saying we will come just let us know when you’re ready to put in the new panel?

Because that is what I was going to do yesterday, the guilt starting to eat at me. Reward bad behavior by acquiescing— not this time. Though it is so hard to look at my needs and respect them, that is my choice. (so far) It is more than possible that my perceptions are skewed, but they are mine. I do feel manipulated. And couching the visit in the terms he used, that it’s a work visit, also gave me pause, not liking being ordered instead of asked.

Round and round, laps pile up more than ever, talking aloud trying to figure it out. To honor his command out of fear of rejection, or being talked about badly, or because he will now wash his hands of me? If any of that is true, it may be the healthiest path forward.

Alone not Lonely

It is a rare family that discloses sexual abuse upon one of their own by one of their own. Instead the child is silenced due to the family’s shame. And she is left to hold the trauma’s within her and bear the load on tiny shoulders.

So much stolen. Family stolen. Family that grounds us, terrifies. Family that grounds, betrays. Family that grounds a person through life, gone.

Because a child grows, and she learns that it was not her fault, and she opens the wounds to heal. But family betrays her again. To remain she must be silent.

For many, taking a life all over again is too much, and she goes it alone. She has always been alone anyway. The ones who did it, the ones who knew and did nothing. And if they didn’t know then, they know now. 

And still betray. Still abandon. Still stay silent, as silent as she was forced to be. There is no one to stand testament to her pain. Not family. But others who become more family than blood. There is trust in the world if you persist in finding it.