In response to The Guilt that Haunts Me

It was a long time ago when some stuff happened with my family. Bad stuff. Stuff that hurt me deep down in my soul and made me question everything. But there was always something that I never told anyone. Something that still haunts me today. Something that I think about over and over again.

Something that I tell very few people, let alone strangers over the internet, is that someone in my family suffers from depression and a few years ago attempted to take their own life.

At the time I was young and didn’t fully understand. I blamed myself, I tried myself to sleep for months and only stopped because we were going on a family holiday where I would be sharing a room. It took me a long time to get over it because we didn’t talk about it.

But I don’t feel guilt over it just because it happened. Not any more.

Now, I still feel guilt because I saw that person right before they wandered off to do what they did. They came home to return their keys and a few other things and I asked what they were doing back and when they would be home for good. That was it. The only exchange I had with them. I remember the exact words, where I was standing (on the upstairs landing, leaning over the railing) and where the were (just about to leave the front door). But I never told anyone this.

I have never said to anyone, EVER, that I saw them. And I didn’t realise the state that they were in.

That is what I feel most guilty over.

Not some prank played when I was too young to know better, not a breakup, not a harsh word. The fact that I was unable to notice what was right in front of me. That I was unable to realise the pain someone was in. The fact that a few hours later, if they had decided differently and not gone to the hospital after they did what they did, it would have been my very last exchange with them.

So, that is what I keep inside. That is the pain I can return to when I need to find that part of me that realises that not everything is as it seems, that not everyone is what or how they seem, that sometimes you need to move from the railing, down the stairs and look a little closer.

I still feel some guilt over it, despite the fact that things turned out ok in the end. I doubt that I will ever be free of the guilt that I feel because my child mind has locked it into my brain.

But perhaps writing this is a start. Perhaps this is when I start to feel less guilt.