Living with an overwhelming sense of guilt

Touch wood.

I live with an overwhelming sense of guilt and the anxiety emanating from this guilt is crushing, yet I haven’t done anything wrong.

I have lived a blessed life, one of relative financial and physical comfort. Sure, there have been the usual ups and downs of life’s rollercoaster ride. There have been miscarriages, financial hardships, time spent unemployed, divorces within the broader family and I have lost more friends to cancer than I care to acknowledge.

However, when I look around and really take stock of my life, I’ve yet to experience REAL adversity or REAL loss…and that’s what provides this sense of guilt, feeding the anxiety of what’s inevitably round the corner. Has my rather sterile existence sufficiently prepared me to deal with the emotional tsunami’s gathering speed just over the horizon?

I’m devastated by the funerals I have to attend, saddened by the loss, but at the same time think to myself ‘it’s not my wife, my father or my son’. It seems that that one-degree of separation makes all the difference.

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This emotional state dictates more of my life than I care to give it credit for. I’m not sure how to get around it, yet feel somewhat selfish for even thinking I have a problem in the first place.

Some of the things my friends and broader family have had to deal with are rather shocking, dreadful and inconceivable. Too often tragedy seems to hit the same family over and over again. What did they do to deserve that? What I have done to escape it? Is it truly the luck of the draw? How can it be that God’s plan to see how much pain one family can endure before they break? Sometimes the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” isn’t applicable.

I don’t want to bury my parents, my brother or sister, or god forbid, my children and grandchildren. I don’t want my wife to have to deal with breast cancer, Alzheimer’s or MND. I’d prefer not to have a stroke, heart attack or prostate cancer either for that matter.

Why is it then that I carry such weight on my shoulders? How can the weight of nothing be so heavy? Shouldn’t I be relishing in the life that has been given to me? Why be burdened by the dread of things that have not and might not happen? Surely I owe it to those not so fortunate to embrace my good luck and make the most of every day?

But the fear, the fear of, at some point, having to deal with this is suffocating. It’s not like I’m willing it to happen – quite the contrary really – I’m just petrified of when it will.

It’s a tough topic but how do you feel about the writer’s raw emotions? Should we feel guilty for our good fortune?