Guilt is "a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person"—Cambridge dictionaries online
According to the meaning it's a feeling you have because you have done something wrong, but I think that sometimes it can be just a doubt that what you did has harmed someone and you live with this feeling torturing you.
The feeling of guilt has developed inside of me ever since I was young because of the continuous blame of my parents with every mistake I made. My parents were very generous on reproach and criticism; I think that they believed that this was the best way to make us learn to be careful not to make mistakes. The focus they were giving to the mistakes was extremely huge while the encouragement and acknowledgement had no place in our lives. Until may be a few years ago, I defended myself all the time. Even in my inner self-talk, I always focused on how I will defend myself when my mother starts reproaching me. It was bitter feeling guilty and having to defend myself all the time even when I didn't harm anyone. I just gave myself the right to do something different than what she wanted me to do.
Becoming a mom developed a bigger feeling of guilt inside of me; a feeling that is depriving most women and moms from enjoying their lives. I had a full time job when I gave birth to my first son. During the first 2 years of his life, I used to spend 4 hours daily to commute from home to work and back. We used to leave the house together at 6 AM and be back at 6 PM. I sent him to a nursery at the age of 3 months and I left him from 8 AM to 4 PM since the first day. From the age of three months to the age of 5 years old he used to go to the nursery from 8 AM to 4 PM 5 days-a-week, and the feeling of guilt was poisoning my life. When he was 4 years old, I had to travel frequently and leave him with my husband or my mother. I had to be away for 4 to 5 days-a-week, 2 to 3 times-a-month for 10 months or almost a year and of course the feeling of guilt was killing me. I think he felt how the guilt was torturing me, so in turn he manipulated me and punished me in every ways. When I think back about those days of my life I can see how the negative feeling had left me drained, suffering and unhappy just because I thought that I am harming my son by leaving him at a very young age at the nursery. I can't forget how hard I cried the first day I sent him to the nursery; I felt like I was abandoning him. For me, my feeling of guilt was mainly because I was leaving my son to others to take care of for long hours, I didn’t have enough time to take care of him or spend quality time with him.
It took me many long years to get rid of that feeling and to understand that feeling guilty is one of the reasons why I felt drained and unhappy all the time. One time I talked about it to a counselor, and she told me that it was not a question of how much time you spend with your kids, but how you spend that time with them. Since then I started doing my best to make the time I spend with my kids enjoyable for me and for them. I learned about quality time. I learned that the concept of the mother being available for her kids 24/7 is not correct. I realized that the meaning of a good mother and a good wife that I inherited from my mother and my culture is not useful for me anymore and is not doing me any good. I had to rethink and redefine it according to my values, my priorities, my ambitions and my own definition of happiness.
Does my story sound familiar? Does it sound like yours or someone you know? I am sure that there are hundreds, thousands or may be millions of women who had similar experiences or stories in their lives, especially when their kids were young. On my post of next week I will share with you more information about the feeling of guilt and how to deal with it. If you have any questions, stories or tips to deal with the feeling of guilt, please share them with me.