The Price of Guilt

“Why are THEY my family”, we may find ourselves wondering. It's not unusual to feel disconnected and alienated from our relatives … we tell ourselves that we're different – or that we can simply never “fit in” or get along with them.

I no longer buy the notion that my family is not THE family I'm supposed to have. I see so plainly how my family, each & every one of them (especially those with whom I struggle the most), are exactly a perfect fit for me. I believe this is true for us all, no matter how much pain we may feel in our dealings with these loved ones.

By “perfect fit”, I mean that these closest relations are designed to bring us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and the limited judgments and beliefs we hold that keep us fettered and suffering.

A recent experience with a loved one illustrates this well. Let me share a recent healing experience that occurred between myself and a family member ….

We were eating lunch together and the conversation turned to one of the many “hot” topics that I generally avoid with this family member because they tend to become hostile fast – and it did this time.

She became angry and accusatory – venting her hurt and anger about things she had been feeling hurt and resentful towards me about. I remained largely non-reactive – at least outwardly – and mostly listened.

She told me that she felt like an outcast in the family and that she “knew” that we would never accept her because she didn't think like the rest of us. She said other things too, but these were the things said that I noticed brought an internal negative reaction in me.

I've learned to pay attention in my interaction with others to anything that triggers a negative reaction in me. This is because I know that what triggers me will inevitably have some element of truth in it. Unfailingly, it will point out to me a belief/judgment that I am holding against myself, and/or the other.

By my reaction I knew there must be something to her accusations. But it wasn't until I awoke the next morning that I realized how accurate her words actually had been.

She was right. I HAD been acting towards her in, what could be perceived as uncaring ways! Why, I'd never even been to see her new home! No wonder she felt unappreciated!

Until that moment I'd made it all about her. She was so negative and defensive, I told myself … yada – yada …. But her words had prompted me to look more deeply within and wonder … why was I was so reactive and evasive towards her – really?

This deeper investigation into my own motives allowed me to realize that I had been carrying unacknowledged guilt for her unhappiness. I had been holding myself responsible for things that happened to her in childhood – although I'd denied these feelings and hidden them away. Believing such distorted thoughts had me acting in a most unloving way towards this precious family member….
This is the inevitable price of guilt.

Well, then … of course, I didn't like to be around her! No wonder I felt uncomfortable whenever we got together -because internally, I was accusing myself of the very same things she accused me of! My natural response then was to avoid her altogether which only served to verify her own story.

The wonderful part of this whole thing (and it is wonderful), is the recognition of how our relationship was perfectly designed to do exactly what it was doing – which was to show me my own truth.

How else would I ever have been able to see these hidden concepts about myself except through the condemning eyes of a loved one longing to be loved? She was the mirror that was showing me where I had condemned myself. How could I be anything less than incredibly grateful for that?

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