SoCS: JC’s Confessions #21

[Non-stream of consciousness introduction. Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is to write about the first thing that come to mind from the phrase “let go.” I drew a blank at first but then this topic floated to the surface, probably because it was on my list of things to write about in my series, JC’s Confessions, so what follows is the very dangerous intersection of writing stream of consciousness on a difficult topic. I do use a standard opening to explain JC’s Confessions, which will follow as a block quote before launching into the SoC portion of the post.]

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.


I have trouble letting go of guilt.

Even when I’m feeling guilty about something that is not my fault.

Even when it’s something I couldn’t possibly have known. Or remedied.

I’ve had family members diagnosed with conditions which took years to figure out, yet I’m the one who feels guilty/responsible for not having figured it out sooner, even though I am not a trained health professional, just a family member and caregiver.

It would have taken asking totally implausible questions to figure some of these diagnoses out. For example, it turned out years later that one of my daughters’ migraines had started as a child with visual migraines, which manifested as things changing colors. Who would think to point out to their child that, in almost all instances, color is a fixed attribute of an object? Yet, I feel guilty for not having realized this problem before the more serious later intractable migraine that took six months to diagnose, two more to break, cost her a semester of high school, and would later prove to be only a small part of a larger diagnosis of fibromyalgia, now known as ME, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Never mind that it took the doctors ten years to figure it out from the time symptoms first appeared. As a mother, I thought I should have known and been able to alleviate her suffering and help her.

I know that this guilt is totally irrational. I know that my family doesn’t hold me responsible for not being a super-doctor or God or some all-knowing being and getting them help sooner, but still, as hard as I try, there is a vestige of guilt that I can’t shake.

(I can hear those of you who were raised Catholic thinking that this is par for the course of Catholic guilt, although I think it is probably not only that.)

One of my more recent struggles with this problem is the fact that it took months of suffering before my father, known here as Paco, was diagnosed with heart failure, only days before his death. I tried and tried to get the health professionals at his facility to figure things out and treat him appropriately but I failed, robbing him of the peace, comfort, and dignity he deserved in his final months.

It hurts.

I know that I shouldn’t feel guilt on top of the pain, that I’m not at fault, but I still can’t shake the underlying sense of responsibility, failure, and guilt.

Maybe, eventually, I’ll be able to let it go.
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January and/or Stream of Consciousness Saturday! (I promise it does not have to be as fraught as this post unfortunately is.) Find out more here:

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

7 thoughts on “SoCS: JC’s Confessions #21”

  1. We sure do have a lot in common. My post today is about shame which is almost synonymous with guilt. I can relate to knowing something intellectually, but not feeling it. When I read your words: ” but I failed, robbing him of the peace, comfort, and dignity he deserved in his final months,” I thought that was pretty hard and not accurate, especially the words, “robbing him.” I know it’s much easier to see these things in another person’s thinking than my own. It made me wonder what you would say to a friend who said that. You did everything you could and gave him comfort. I believe he appreciates that. Anyway, getting our thoughts in writing helps us to examine them. (I used a lot of CBT as a counselor and examining thoughts for accuracy and exploring alternatives was a big part of that.) My mom was Catholic, so maybe I inherited an overactive guilt gene, or learned it from her at an early age. For whatever reason, when we’ve thought a certain way most of our lives, it’s hard to change the wiring, but it is possible. I tell myself to focus on facts. Repeated affirmations can help create new pathways in our brains. I am not God. I am human. I did my best. I am enough….. Now, I need to take my own advice. Thanks for letting me ramble and process. Your confessions are healing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience, JoAnna. It’s likely that my language would have been less judgmental in the post had I been composing and editing rather than stream of consciousness, which is, of course, unfiltered and more revealing by nature.

      I wish you the best with your own journey with these issues. Your experience reinforces to me the depth of the struggle, knowing you face a similar dynamic even with so many years of training and experience in facing these challenges with others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I so understand. It reminds me of my attempts to parse my traumatic grief, which occurs when you lose a loved-one in a traumatic way (truly, is there any other way to lose a loved one?) One of the accompanying emotions is guilt—illogical, almost invisible, but persistently arising anew. I’m so sorry the heart failure misdiagnosis prevented you from feeling your dad’s last days were peaceful. Life can be so heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with similar emotional struggles, Ellen. Thank you so much for your support and understanding. Having others acknowledge their own version of this phenomenon helps me to feel less alone.


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