As I look up I see her and she sees me. Standing no more than a few feet away is my youngest sister. We stare at each other and panic engulfs me. What do I do? Should I say hello or walk away? I can’t pretend I haven’t seen her for I have already held her gaze.
My heart is pounding “say hello” it whispers. My head is screaming “walk away” it shouts. I look at the floor and walk away. My head is stronger.
Suddenly I am overcome with emotion and tears fill my eyes. I walk hurriedly into work hoping that she won’t try and follow me but at the same time hoping she does. I am willing my tears to disappear and not show themselves.
This is the first time I have seen any family member since my stepfather’s arrest. I don’t know how I was expecting to feel but it wasn’t like this. It wasn’t guilt.
Instant pain hits me. I suddenly feel remorse for speaking up. Deep down I know I shouldn’t but in this moment, after seeing my youngest sister standing there staring at me, I feel overwhelmed with guilt.
Guilt for tearing apart her life. Guilt for tearing apart her family’s life, my family’s life. Guilt for any sadness or confusion she feels. Guilt for not being her biggest sister right now. Guilt for wanting my life back.
Sadness hits me. I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to live a life without his abuse. Yet here I am feeling responsible because I spoke up.
He is the cause of all this, not me, but somehow I know that right now she doesn’t know that.
What does she know? Does she hate me? Do my other siblings hate me? Do they believe me? If they did wouldn’t they have reached out by now? There are so many “what ifs” that I can’t cope.
I am overwhelmed as a huge wave of emotion hits me; guilt, grief, anger, sadness and pain. I feel paralyzed by emotion.
I know deep down that I shouldn’t feel guilty. I know I am a victim. His victim. However seeing my little sister has brought a wave of emotion that I can’t control and top of that is guilt.
I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting a life without pain or sadness but I do. A secret guilt consumes me because I still care for and love my siblings. I hate the guilt and I can’t control it. It makes me sad and brings me pain because I know they won’t know the truth and won’t understand. I know they will think badly of me and that makes my guilt ten times worse. They won’t know that I spent my whole childhood trying to protect them.
I am angry at his betrayal. I am angry at my mother’s betrayal. I hate that I am losing my siblings because of them and what they did! They are the cause of all this pain but yet I still feel guilty. The guilt just won’t ease.
Guilt isn’t rational. Guilt sits on your shoulders and sits on your chest crushing you whether you like it or not.
Guilt is weighing me down.
I know my guilt is unearned.
I just wish that I could make it go away and break free.
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