You Wear Guilt
You wear guilt like a noose around your neck. There it hangs, just waiting to be yanked by me and the tightening ligature around that slender neck will bring you back into line. I can then allow the noose to hang about your neck once again, ready to be used as soon as I decide that it is necessary. You do not even try to remove this noose, you would, of course feel guilty if you tried to do so and as a consequence it will always remain with you, on you and about you.
There is no slow squeezing when this noose is called into action. It is immediate, painful and chastising. It allows the sudden and instant exertion of control. What better way than to achieve this than relying on something that is intrinsic to another person. This noose burns, it constricts and it chokes and you know that it is not going to go anywhere. The only way to deal with it is to comply and then the noose will slacken but it will not grant you release.
You have carried this noose for a very long time. Once upon a time it was only a few strands thick, yet for all of that apparent fragility, it could not be cut nor broken, neither snapped or torn. As time went on, the strands multiplied so that the thickness increased until now it hangs about you, sturdy and effective. Nobody else wove those additional strands into it. You did. You brought it all on yourself because of the twisted delight you have to wear this noose. You regard it as an obligation. It is part of who you are and whilst the pain it causes you is something that you would prefer not to have to suffer, you know that when it makes you suffer, you gain comfort from its presence and effect.
You know that not everybody has such a noose. There are those who do not even have one. You wonder often what that must be like. Not to have the yoke about you which weighs you down, restricts you and governs you. What must such freedom feel like? Then there are those who have such a noose but they seem to be able to lift it off and leave it behind when it suits them. Others still find that the noose is weak and it snaps apart when it seeks to apply pressure against its wearer. No such release for you.
This is the noose that has you always compliant. Sometimes you fight against it, hoping that you might perhaps once, just once, be able to exert such strength that causes it to break, but it never happens. No matter what resistance you exhibit or how much you strain to tear it apart, you fail and have no choice other than to comply so that the pain recedes. It leaves its mark about you. There is no doubt about it. Even though the searing pain may have lessened, you can feel that tight grip still and you know that others can see where it has left its mark. Not all have this ability to recognise the mark of the noose, but a certain group do and they always want to exploit its presence. Oh there have been times when you have sought to hide this noose, mask its presence in the hope that you escape the attention of those who recognise it. Even if you manage to conceal the noose, the mark that it has left about your neck is like an indelible stain. You cannot remove it and it is the stamp that tells those who know these things that you carry such a noose.
You may not realise that it is you who has added those additional strands over the years, causing the noose to thicken and strengthen. Those strands are bound together, layer upon layer, wound about one another, so that they become more than the sum of their parts. The strands which are fashioned from your pervasive, deep-seated guilt, are added to because of those things which you say and do. Each time you think a certain way, which you cannot help but do because of who and what you are, another strand is added, then another, until soon the noose becomes thick and heavy. Each time you think the following
It is my fault; I did not listen.
I need to do more to help.
He cannot help it.
I need to ensure I understand.
If only I could be stronger.
If only I knew what to do.
I should be getting home; he will wonder where I am.
I should not be doing this.
I should not speak ill of him really; he is my husband.
I should not think these things, I do love him, I just feel so weak and this is when I have these thoughts.
I ought to have realised.
I must listen more.
I have to keep trying.
I owe it to him to help.
He isn’t as bad as people say.
If I just keep going it will become better.
I have to try because if I don’t, who will be there for him.
It is my duty.
I made my vows and I shall abide by them.
I must be doing something wrong to make him feel like this.
I just seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
These thoughts and words, plus many more, cause the noose to become stronger. Thus it tightens and I yank it, pulling you in my direction so that you remain under my control, bound by this guilt to serve, to support and to fuel. An ever present burden which you add to yourself each and every day. A method by which you are manipulated, cajoled and coerced to fulfil my needs.
This noose is not there to hang you. No, there is no desire to bring about your demise. You are more effective to us functioning. Your guilt will not bring about your end, but instead it acts to maintain your imprisonment.
You make the noose grow.
I make the noose control you.
Can it be escaped? We think not. It is for life. Even though it may not tighten or constrict for some time, even years, it is always there and with the mark so prominent, another may come and utilise the control that the noose affords even though we may not be able to.
We will not lift it. It matters too greatly to us.
We will not lift it because it is your burden, perpetuated by you.
But it can be lifted. It is not simple or straightforward and we ensure we do not allow you the opportunity to address this chance to relieve yourself of this noose of guilt. It can be done. It is quite the task to achieve but for you, that journey begins by answering one question.
Who put it there in the first place?
45 thoughts on “You Wear Guilt”
It’s so ironic to read this now. I started reading a book while my husband was in the shower, then got bored and started reading your blog. He came out and noticed I had my phone between my book because of some irrational fear of him knowing I was reading this. But, of course, he took this to mean that I am of course a cheater. How did I become the one to feel so much guilt over nothing? How did I get here? Somehow this relationship has taken all of my confidence and turned me into a person who is constantly questioning her own moral character. I have to keep telling myself that I’m not what he keeps saying I am. He is the one with so many secrets and disappears all of the time yet I find myself feeling all the guilt of WHAT? You wrote about it as being a noose around ones neck and I literally feel the tendons in my neck sore from a constant feeling of tightness. I hate who I’ve let myself be reduced to.
So many great examples here. It helps my healing to hear he similarities.
When I was about five years old, I neglected to shut the bathroom door where some kittens were being kept. During dinner my N mother got up to get something from the fridge and slammed the door on one of the kittens that had tried to slip in. She yelled “did you leave the door open?” I think I responded with an apology but it is all kind of fuzzy. My dad got up from the table and said “we can’t let it suffer” and heard him go to the gun cabinet. My brothers and my mom sat quietly at the table while he took the kitten outside to hear a gunshot a little bit later. I was sobbing. No body spoke. He came back in and everyone just finished dinner. I felt horrible and had no outlet for processing the guilt. That is one memory that only recently came back but I am sure there are many other times I was shamed as a child.
I’m so sorry you had that traumatic experience and those feelings forced upon you. You were only 5 yrs born into this mad world and incapable of being held responsible for anything. It was not your fault, and I’m sure you know now that if it were not that experience it would have been something else. There was always that something else waiting for us to have to carry no matter how small we were because they were smaller and weaker and could not face despising themselves.
Thank you, NarcAngel. Your kind and caring words are welcomed. I realize there are probably many situations that I suffered while growing up that I blocked out and don’t remember. I am sure it is the same for others here.
Dearest Sweetest Perfection,
Tragically, emotional thinking is truly our enemy and guilt is a curse !
Time is definitely a healer
We all make mistakes precious …. doesn’t mean we deserve a life sentence … you’ve already served one year …. I feel you’ve suffered enough ….. you are still a good person
Time to start being kinder to yourself beautiful
The past has gone, the present is now…. try to give it your best ….that’s all you can do
Everything has a way of working itself out
My hearfelt warm fuzzies to you lovely one
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Who put the guilt there?
One of my friends in childhood was kidnapped and murdered after school, on the opposite side of town from me…and I wasn’t.
Soon after I got off the school bus that day — with my Mom on her way home from work — I took one of my puppies outside on the driveway with me. Not long after, a man pulled up in a car and slowed way down to look at me, as I sat toward the end of the driveway with the pup in my lap. I stood up, and I remember being surprised that my legs were shaking. I pressed the puppy against me, and ran into the house, never looking back. I slammed the door and locked it… and then ran to sit on my bed, snuggling the puppy. I started crying. It was not my normal behavior, by any means.
Another girl, a few streets over from me, was also approached the same way, and she too got away. The police were notified of both events.
My friend did not get away. She was killed in the most horrific manner. I was devastated. I kept wondering if there was any way I could have prevented what happened to her. Even today, I sometimes replay that entire day at school… remembering the tiniest details about the day & wondering what I could have said or done so that my friend was not in the location she was when she was taken.
It makes no sense that I do this. I logically know I could not have prevented it. (The case was resolved, if you want to call it that).
I think this is where most of my false guilt comes from… Today, at times, I’m prone to this type of thinking:
Maybe if I pay close enough attention and notice everything…
Maybe if this intuition I have is sharp enough…
Maybe if I say or do just the right thing, at the right time…
Maybe — just maybe — I can alter bad outcomes for others… it’s what I *wish* I was able to do.
But maybe I was just an empathic, innocent little girl — not WonderGirl.
And maybe today I’m an empathic, sensitive woman…but not WonderWoman either.
I’m working on this.
I’m so sorry, Caroline! I don’t have words to say about the horrible that man caused to your friend years ago and to you still now. Have you found a Survivor’s Guilt support group?
You are a strong woman who couldn’t stop evil as a child.
Thanks for your kindness, GT. There’s a certain way I process & handle difficult things, and this site has helped the most with this particular issue. It’s not that I’m opposed to support groups; it’s that I’m the type who thrives on self-reflection & finding my own way on healing myself, over time. My very closest friends know about the loss of my friend though. It occurred to me yesterday that I never felt safe to tell the narcissist about this… rather interesting…says a lot about my gut, on self-protection.
I also had an epiphany of sorts after writing that out about what happened… because on an entry somewhere on this site (something about a car), I wrote about how the narcissist took me for a ride on his motorcycle, when he was really angry with me, and how he drove recklessly and scared me. When I got off his bike, my legs were shaking… and I immediately got in my car (parked at his lake house) and slammed the car door — really hard — and peeled out.
It hit me…
It’s like a repeat of the driveway that day, in how I fled and slammed the door. It’s making me realize even more that we can trust ourselves… we are our own rescuers, if we only listen to our inner voice — our gut-level check.
I think I’ll make more progress in connecting things about this childhood tragedy, that I need to now.
Thank you for your caring heart, GT.
I understand about different ways to process. That is great that you have close friends you have trusted! Thank you for trusting us!
What an amazing gut you have that you trusted to not share with your narcissist. You are 100% correct that we need to learn to trust our guts. So many of us told ourselves things we shut down. What a gift to yourself that you listened in that time.
Your reaction to your narcissist that day makes sense without your childhood tragedy; with your childhood tragedy, it speaks volumes! Sharing, thinking, connecting events and thoughts are all healthy and hopefully will be the progress to healing. You are strong in allowing yourself to do those things. Keep it up! Please remember you were a little girl who lost a childhood friend in a horrific way and a little girl who knew she almost faced the same situation. Each on their own is a lot for an adult, so I cannot imagine the internal impact of both together for a child. You don’t deserve the guilt you carry for that time nor how that event later led you with your narcissist.
Thanks for your thoughtful insights & encouragement. They mean a lot to me.
This probably seems weird, but I don’t think I’ve even had much of a chance to fully process her death, as at that time, all the authority figures (teachers/parents) all seemed to sweep it rather quickly away, like they didn’t know how to handle it. I’m sure it scared all of them almost as much as us kiddos, but it seemed not the best way to handle it. Then my life has always been pretty full-on busy, which isn’t a bad thing, but years just pave over and pave over what happened…
But it’s always there, inside, like anything of significance is for any of us. So although I can’t say for sure there’s a direct link between the tragedy & my initially being in a relationship with a narcissist (he gives off all appearances of a convincing Prince Charming, but with an edge), I do believe the way I reacted to various dysfunctional things about him can be directly correlated to the tragedy, and my subsequent feelings on that.
It’s been really good for me to think more specifically about this, especially while I’m away.
Thanks, GT. I’ll keep moving forward, for sure. 🙂
It’s not weird at all! It’s actually not surprising that you have not processed the loss of your friend.
In general, many adults don’t understand grief and how to process it. Some think it is a step of stages and when one gets to “acceptance,” the process is over and that no one revisits any of the stages. That does injustice to the complexity of the grief process. Some think there should be a timeline to grief: ” why are you crying, he died a year ago?” Some think life overrides any need to grieve “you have kids, get yourself together and move forward. Life goes on.” Others think all grieve the same “he must not be sad, he is laughing. I didn’t laugh.” People have different needs at different times when it comes to the grief process.
I once heard that some substance abuse and addictive behaviors are tied to the grieving process. Some individuals subconsciously are fighting against the hurt and pain of a grief and looking for ease. Unfortunately that ease sometimes leads to other pain.
As for your experience, you were a child who didn’t understand the grieving process and relied on adults who probably were in shock, maybe didn’t understand grief, and maybe thought “time heals all wounds” and “we need to push normal to get to normal.” You were also a child dealing with your own internal realizations that you were in danger so your mindset may not have been ready for grieving a friend when you were dealing with your own survival mechanism. That is not your fault.
I think we have moved forward on steps when it comes to grief for kids now. When I was in school, a classmate committed suicide. I don’t remember any discussion of counseling or help for her friends. Now I see schools offering that when a child dies.
I’m sorry for the long dissertation on my opinion of grief but wanted to share that it isn’t weird.
I’m so glad to hear you are moving forward. You deserve it!
Don’t apologize, GT~your thoughts on grief are all insightful & true. Thanks for taking the time. 🙂
Caroline, do not feel guilty. You did not do anything to hurt the other girl. I cannot imagine what it is to be so close to such a horrendous experience but I am glad you survived it. I am so sorry you had to live that, but I am glad you lived.
Thanks, sweetie “Sweetest.”
Caroline, I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure this for so long. I can’t imagine what a burden that would be. I’m so so sorry. Xx
Thank you, Blackunicorn…you have such a sweet & tender heart. I appreciate you.
Writing that out was hard for me, but it was also freeing. I think I can be more aware of that tragedy & link it up in how it applies to certain elements related to the dynamic with the narcissist. The rest of my “guilt leftovers” are (relatively speaking) pretty small potatoes, as those are linked to a highly narcissistic parent…but those issues I’ve largely dealt with over time, and it’s a world of difference today in how I handle that… but this childhood tragedy has more (and harder) lessons to still teach me, perhaps about the sadder, painful realities of life & how I take those in & respond.
I think I’ll get there a little quicker now, in my healing… as for closure, my heart will never find total closure on this tragedy. An incredible, beautiful girl (inside & out) died senselessly, and it was beyond cruel and unfair.
I’m so sorry to hear that Caroline, that is really quite something to have to carry around for all of these years.
So, I’m guessing that your Contagion strand saved you there? That’s a powerful gift but of course it will do nothing to alleviate your guilt.
Have you received any specialised therapy?
Wow, Caroline. I decided to look at the comments on this post only because of the convo we were having about guilt. I never expected to see something so horrific written by you, but I am glad you posted it here and can continue to have conversations about it. It seems like it could be a breakthrough for you. Big hugs.
Thanks, SMH…yeah, this is a big one for me to look at more closely. It’s already helping me.
Caroline, That is the kind of thing that a professional could also help with. I know you said you are not a joiner but individual and targeted therapy might be really useful.
True, it can be. Is that a tunnel pic — or am I going toward the Light? lol
It is a tunnel pic, Caroline, and there is a light at the end of it. Stay on my train!
Love it, SMH!:-)
I, Tamar, am a robot, and guilt cannot hurt me anymore, or make me cry. And, other’s cruelty does not penetrate my feelings because I have none. I only have logic. I am no longer bait for Narcissists or Sociopaths. I am invisible to these kind. Thank you, and Good Day.
Hmmm…I do not have a noose so is that some kind of indicator of something I’m missing? The way I see this is like – got out of the shower and picked out an outfit – shockingly the outfit did not fit me as I outgrew the victim suit!! IT did enough damage I feel and I’m sure as shit not adding anymore. Have a great evening!!
I’m changing my name to Jussie Smollett!
That is true. I wear guilt. But I didn’t put it there. The narc gave me this guilt, I didn’t have any before getting entangled. And I will have to wear this fucking guilt until I die, like shackles on my feet.
You don’t SP… you can forgive yourself. In time, the shackles will be released.
Thank you, Empath007. I wake up every morning with pain inside and a feeling of anxiety. I don’t think I will ever feel good about this.
That breaks my heart. What has the time frame been? I find it usually takes a year or two after a traumatic incident before one feels “normal” again.
Were you one of the ones who is married? To the empath ? 🙂
Long term relationships go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of people do not want to talk about the ugly truths of marriage and monogamy in general. You’ve committed no unforgivable crime no matter how opposite of that it may feel.
Forgiving yourself is one of the first steps to moving forward ❤️ The fact it will take time is only proof of your good character.
Yes, I’m that one. The narc is married too, but of course, he doesn’t feel guilt. It’s been a year, but you are right, it may need another one for me to feel free from this feeling.
I hope he doesn’t win until death, SP. You have the right to full freedom and to not be tied to him through your guilt. I understand anxiety well and know how hard it is to break free from what is causing it. If there is any way you can figure out your best way to overtake the anxiety, you deserve it!
I hope you know I am not taking your feelings of guilt lightly. I know the feeling of guilt. It can weigh you down and it can drive you to make further decisions you wouldn’t without it. You are a good person and worthy of forgiving yourself in every way! You are not your past. Your past helps develop you but it doesn’t define you.
Thank you, I like your name: Getting There.
Thank you, SP.
I hope you find peace and relief from your guilt. You deserve it!
Dearest Sweetest Perfection,
Why do you say that precious one ? What is your pain and what is your anxiety?
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
The pain and guilt of being a dirty Empath, Bubbles.
SP – it will get better, but it takes a long time, at least two years as has already been stated. Yet, it will get better. Be kind to yourself. Xx
I’m a dirty empath too. It’s diffcult making big mistakes and giving in to our own dark sides and desires because of the guilt. I don’t see the guilt as a negative thing and people need to take the appropriate amount of time to work through their feelings (and that will look different for everyone). The problem is if we become stuck in one place… stuck in anger, resentment, guilt etc for too long it can impede our healing. And I know all too well it’s hard to move on.
It’s ok to have regrets.
It’s ok to make mistakes.
You would be pleasantly surprised as to how the people who know you and love you will rally by your side. Likely including your husband.
The narc does not define you… OR your marriage.
I know how guilt can weigh on you and eat you alive from the inside out. You have beaten yourself up enough over this, it will take you more time just because of the sweetheart you are! Give yourself a break and enjoy the life you have. 😘🥰
SP, I understand you feel guilty, but I don’t think it’s the narc who put the guilt in you. Society in general condemns adultery because of many reasons, mainly social control. So guilt is instilled in us in regards to adultery. I know there is also the fact that you betrayed your husband who is a good and loving husband and that knowing about your infidelity would hurt him enormously But, as many have said here, we are humans and make mistakes. I prefer to see these “mistakes” as experiences we learn from, and I think you have learned a good deal from this. So get rid of that guilt and keep the lesson you’ve got from it. I think your husband did it too.
It is always in the past and serves no purpose but to rob you of more time. Lose it and begin living as who you are today. That is where you can make a difference for yourself and those you care about.
NA and everyone else who commented on my guilt, thanks so much for your words. I am not gonna linger in my past actions anymore, if he can move on without accountability of his cheating, so can I. Why should I take all the responsibility? I still feel anxiety but it will pass eventually I hope.
Just keep talking kindly to yourself about it. Change what you can now…as you know more, you do better (for yourself & others)… and there are no perfect people! (footnote clarifying point: there are no perfect people – but abusers must be avoided).
You’ll get there. It takes time. XO.
I second want Caroline says ! It’s all about self talk. It sounds ridiculous but it actually works when you begin to Implement it.
Change negative thoughts into logical ones. So every morning when you wake up and start
To feel that anxiety. Say to yourself:
“I lied and I cheated. I did a terrible thing. But just because I did a terrible thing does not make me a terrible person. I am worthy of forgiveness.”
It works. Another good thought
That helps me is:
“This is how the narc wants me to feel. And I don’t do what he wants anymore”
Empath007…I especially love this part> “This is how the narc wants me to feel. I don’t do what he says anymore.”
As a take-off on that, with the particular situation I’m in, I need to remind myself: “The narcissist will use his personal emergency to tie me back to him. He has family and friends who will attend to him, and they are not in danger the way I am. I was kind. Now I need to keep my boundary.”
I do think this type of mind discipline becomes a good habit after awhile (just like errant inner messages become a bad habit)… but I have a LOT more practice to do in this guilt area!