A meeting topic this week focused on guilt. It seems to be something that rises up for various reasons and can drag us down if we let it. Guilt is defined as having remorse for having done something wrong. What is important is to decide to forgive ourselves by letting go of what others have done to us. Forgiveness is where healing occurs.
I know that it's easy to slip into the feelings of guilt. But guilt is like almost all feelings, best just felt and let go. The danger for me comes when guilt turns into shame, the feeling that I am somehow a bad person for making choices that bring on guilt. I feel it is natural to feel some guilt when I make a choice to take care of myself at the cost of someone else's needs. It is unhealthy though if I let that turn into shame.
I think that most people who have been affected by alcoholism feel guilt. It's a powerful tool used by both the alcoholic and the co-dependent. One woman shared in the meeting that her alcoholic son wanted to come home for Christmas, yet she thought his coming home would be a disruption to her and the rest of the family. She felt a lot of guilt about the decision. At this time, she has established a boundary and isn't ready to have her son come home.
Perhaps as time progresses, her guilt will ease. I know that as I've grown in recovery, I've let go of the past and realized that I don't want to harbor resentment for those who have hurt me. Forgiveness is what I can give both others and myself when I let go of guilt. I forgive myself when I put my needs ahead of others. I have learned to forgive my parents for things that hurt me when I was a kid. I don't make excuses for what happened but I've learned to not hold onto the resentment because it will ultimately hurt me.