This was written in September – my life has totally changed since then, and I am struggling with guilt. My husband is now in a permanent home, and every time I see him, and the state he is in, I think I should have done something, could have done something to motivate him over the last few years. Everybody assures me I did all I could. Only reference to my diary can help, where the daily log details the deterioration, and that everything possible was done.
The picture is germane to the subject. In Pondicherry, India, the Cluny sisters took us on a tour of the whole gamut of human suffering. The young man in the picture was dying of AIDS. The picture was painted by another young man who had recently died of the same malady. There was (may still be) a form of Evangelism in the USA, said to have 50 million followers, who said that sufferers from AIDS should not receive any medical treatment, as it was only a punishment for their sinful lives. In the middle ages lepers were given extreme unction, sent outside the town walls and forbidden to return.
I have managed to 'purge' some deep-seated guilt. When my parents separated (I was 16, an only child) I stayed with my father, and had no contact with my Mother. The guilt lasted a long time – until I realised that the bitterness between them was so acute that whoever I stayed with I would have been estranged from the other. I could not 'go it alone' as I would have been put into care. Only now, estranged from our youngest child, I can feel the agony my mother must have gone through. I have searched my soul endlessly to see 'where we went wrong' with our daughter. Now, it seems that she is intolerant and unforgiving by nature.
Much later, we moved to France, and got a lot of 'stick' for leaving the 'old country' while our mothers were still alive. They both lived to 100; we would have been too old to have made the move if we'd waited. I did feel guilty about 'abandoning' my mother, but she was in excellent sheltered accommodation, a sister nearby and lots of grand-children, and we visited at least 5 times a year. Between no longer being able to live alone and going into a home eldest son and his wife took her in, I am eternally grateful.
On the international front, before the Iraq war, the USA was badgering France to join in. France did not think it a 'just war'. The USA tried playing on the emotions, that France had been 'saved' from the Nazis, mostly by US power. Chirac asked if France had to be grateful for ever, even to doing what they saw as wrong.
My current guilt? Ephemeral. Playing too much Solitaire, an addiction to doughnuts and drinking at lunchtime. But I am sure many of us let guilt build up, unable to forget or 'atone'.
A Moodscope member.
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