I SUFFER from a serious sense of guilt. I dream about past failures and 'sins'. Mostly about stuff I can't do anything about now. Some of the victims of my insensitivity are dead. So there is no point in going back to 'make amends', as they say.
For example, it still breaks my heart to think I abandoned Louis, the precious cat I raised from a tiny kitten.
He was a wee stray covered with fleas and shivering in the rain. I loved him from the start. He lived with me for 4 years in a charming loft overlooking Seattle and Mount Rainier.
We played together in the grassy backyard and he curled in my lap when sat down to read. He had a special way of knowing when I needed the comfort of his presence - during those crazy late-adolescent years.
One day I got an invitation to take a wonderful new position in Chicago.
The apartment there did not allow pets.
I made the terrible decision to give Louis away . . . to a couple who lived on a farm and promised to love him forever.
Two years later a friend visited that farm and asked about my dear cat.
Louis had 'gone feral' they said. Last seen he was skinny, matted and wild-eyed. He trusted no human.
THAT WAS OVER 50 YEARS AGO! And everytime I think of that decision I feel guilty and sad.
The other guilts: like causing pain and heartbreak, the little and big lies, the deceptions, are worse, I suppose.
Maybe the huge heaviness of it comes from my upbringing in the archetypal field of heaven and hell. . .punishment and damnation. Apparently, one must confess these things?
Right now, just talking about these persistent guilts lightens the load a bit.
I am just human. Surely other people don't bear the burdens of their mistakes so heavily? Is it possible to let them go? OR, is it the mark of a human being to have a conscience that registers the pain one gives other creatures ?
I'M STILL WORKING ON IT.