Image courtesy of “Pink Rose” by foto76, freedigitalphotos.net
Guilt is such a destructive emotion.
It eats away at you like ratsak, melting every good feeling away from you from the inside out. It is that experience where you question your actions and wish you could take back what you did.
When I was a child, I heard my parents talking about three rose bushes that lined the fence outside the kitchen window. They'd say to each other, "we have to get rid of those bloody old rose bushes." I heard that message over and over again.
So I got it into my child head to do this for them. It was my way of helping my mum and dad out.
I imagined how happy they would be with me for doing the deed and chopping the rose bushes down. I imagined that they would sweep me up into their arms and say, "thank you Selina, you saved us the trouble of cutting those old rose bushes down."
When I showed my mum my handiwork, I was bursting with happiness and pride. But, when she saw what I had done to the three gnarled bushes, she gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth, "oh no! What have you done!"
As a child I didn't understand my mum's reaction and my beautiful world (that I had constructed for myself in my imagination) crumpled to dust on the wind all around me as I realised I'd crossed an invisible boundary. I felt panic rise in my gut. What had I done? I looked around at the rose bushes that I had cut down to the roots and tried to make sense of my mum's words.
I thought I had been helping. I thought my parents would appreciate my care and thought, but the look of horror on mum's face at my handiwork told me otherwise. I felt sick. My poor mum!
"We can't let dad see them," my mum said. "Quick, we have to put something over them and hide them."
"Why?" I asked while running around trying to help my mum to find some old board to hide the massacred the rose bushes.
"Because, dad was just saying this morning how he wanted to keep them and how much he liked them."
At that moment, my heart shattered into a million zillion pieces and guilt took root deep down in my gut. It began to eat away at me from the inside out and internally I corroded with every passing moment as I anxiously waited for my dad to come home from work. My fear grew ever bigger as I imagined the trouble I would be in for cutting down dad's 'prize' roses.
That day I felt like a Dementor from Harry Potter's The Prisoner of Azkaban, had showed up and sucked every vestige of happiness out of me.
In the end, dad came home and didn't seem to notice. He never said a thing to me about it, and mum never told me if he noticed what I had done to the rose bushes.
But I lived with the guilt of my actions for years, even though it is not logical to do so. All that worry, guilt and fear for nothing.
That ugly, malformed, demon-child of guilt has woken up from time to time and tried rip a hole out through my belly, just like in a horror movie. Obviously, it was time to get rid of the guilt.
Guilt, not only has a way of creeping up on you, but it hides deep inside your body, mind and emotions for years on end until the day you let it go and release it completely.
My intentions for the rose bushes were noble and filled with the expression of love from a child to her parents.
As a 42 year old woman, I am now able to step back and see the experience with mature eyes and see how I can change the emotional triggers that had caused the guilt to live on inside me. Just because I have had an experience that has written on the page of my life does not mean that I have to keep reading it or be defined by it.
I have choices as an adult and so do you.
If you have guilt lurking in the recesses of your body, mind, heart and soul that are still driving your life, I say it's time to let it go. Tell it to "get off the damn bus!" Stamp your foot, point your finger and mean business. March that guilt right out the door. Get into the drivers seat, shut the bus door and drive away.
Then, I want you to watch that guilt dying in the dust behind you. See it shrivel and gasp for air. See it starving for the attention you once gave it. Then turn away and look ahead to see what the world has to offer you. Rejoice in the new world view you will have and feel the freedom that you took your power back from guilt and left it lying on the highway of life, like road-kill that has turned to dust.
Releasing guilt like this is all about embracing your personal power to be free.
Don't wait, start pulling the guilt roots out of the ground like old weeds and throw them away. Let that space be empty so something good can grow there from this moment forward.