Survivor’s guilt: it’s not what you think.
For years I wasn’t able to blissfully schedule things.
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. For awhile there I wanted to plan and I searched the internet dreaming of trips to take, but not taking them. Every time we had something planned I would have a further health issue and it would all get cancelled or switched until I gave up.
Then, finally, I managed to make a few plans and keep them. And then a few more. Now that I am closing in on 8 years cancer free I have more bravery when it comes to such things.
But there is a secret I have been hiding.
Sometimes I feel guilty for inflicting cancer on my family.
I know. I know what you are going to say, “It isn’t like you chose to have cancer.” And no, it isn’t. But when you talk about survivor’s guilt, everyone talks about surviving while others don’t. That is the guilt they speak of.
There is another type of guilty conscience.
I remember Mom asking me why my kids were doing something(some behavior I can’t remember now) and I said, “I don’t know why they do that but then I don’t know what it is to have your mom almost die, lose her hair and be throughly under the weather for 2 and 1/2 years.
My mother is unstoppable and healthy and always has been.
I don’t know what it is to be my kid.
No matter how good a face I put on it I felt horrid for some of it and we had to cancel plans over and over again for my health or due to needing another surgery.
Kids are resilient. Our kids are resilient.
I still feel guilty for making them go through it. I wish they hadn’t had to. I wish we could have just had this bucolic life. But we didn’t and now here we are.
My kids are amazing. They have their learning curves. They have their challenges and their triumphs. I love seeing them grow. They keep moving forward and exploring thier options and so do I.
The arc of their life is their arc. It is not mine to live or to decide upon. Their dad and I are merely here as guides and a support system.
I leave you with these words I have used as a guide to parenting my children. They had a meaning when they were born and these words have even deeper meaning now: Please take the time to read in its entirety.
From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you…
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth…