Sunday, March 23, 2008

Things I know about Guilt and Regret...

As I sit here this morning, the sun barely showing itself, thoughts flood my mind. The words Guilt and Regret slammed into my head and I wonder how different they really are. Guilt is defined in brief as "state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done)." Regret has the meaning of "a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss or disappointment." It is also a sense of dissatisfaction.
It appears to me that the two words are very much alike and yet when applied to life, they are not so similar. I take you to a lifetime of love and care-giving. A story you have read about before and yet, no matter what I tell you, there always seems to be more to say. It is perhaps impossible to write 24 years of love and life and sickness in a few blogs. Memories that span what was to be forever don't fit so neatly in a write or two. Thoughts that aren't as far away as one would think the years would have made them.
Guilt at doing or not doing something is where my mind often goes these days. Words that may cause the reader to suddenly see me in a different light. If I am anything in my writes and the who I am here, I am honest to perhaps a fault. What I write are not excuses in any way. They are reasons for things that happened. I remember walking into the hospital room where Sheila laid and seeing doctors cutting on her neck. They were doing what I had not yet been educated in yet. No longer able to draw blood as they needed it, they were doing a "cut-down." I freaked and ran in to pull them off of Sheila, only to be pulled outside by orderlies and have the procedure explained to me. Someone was to have stopped me before I entered and failed. Then began the side effects to all the meds she had been on for so long. More cut-downs and infections of the skin that needed lanced and packed. All terribly painful and all so needed for her to live. Watching her as I held her hand, doctors cutting over and over. And then one day it happened... I turned away in tears. No longer able to watch her in pain, I simply lost connection with life. I cried at the thought of taking her in each time this had to be done. More times truly than I care to count for you.
The guilt that riddled my soul because I was no longer the Anchor that she could hold too as I had been for 10 years. Guilt that tore at me and made me feel less and less worthy of this woman's love and trust. A man that now feared seeing the woman he loved being hurt, even if it meant she would live. What man prayed to God to "no longer allow his love to hurt" no matter what the cost? The "adenosine" used to slow her heart when it raced over 200 was just another treatment used to save her life. Injected slowly, it stopped the heart for seconds at a time and then the heart restart in it's normal rhythm. Holding her hand and my breath as I watched her flat line for 6 to 12 seconds was so frightening. She had this procedure done over 50 times before they decided to do a "heart ablation." It worked for 2 weeks and then we were back to where we had been before the operation. Again, guilt because I had such a hard time seeing all of this happen. Where there should have been strength, there were tears. And I live with that guilt even today.
So much had happened that we found a duplex and lived side by side. The doorway connected us always but I found my mind needed to feel as if I were separated from the pain she was in sometimes. I never left her side through 24 years but I did move into my own side. Bipolar crept in and though we bonded more and more with each medical crisis, I felt and feel always that I let My love down. I let God down, who entrusted her life to me. The guilt that comes with it all is something few could understand and fewer will ever know. I pray one day that no one ever have the reason to feel it.
Regret??? How is it the same? How is it different from guilt? I will tell you that in my next write. We were blessed with 24 years of love and cherished memories. But none of it came without some guilt or regrets.

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