I often feel guilty about other people’s emotions and situations for no reason. I’m trying very hard not to feel guilty about something unless there is a reason. My husband came home in a bad mood last night and I really didn’t want to feel responsible for his emotions when I know I’m not. I don’t know how to do that, so I just stayed quiet and kept to myself. I do that with anyone, not just my husband. When people are upset, I either take on their emotions or I get completely quiet.
I tend to go from one extreme to the other. I know that there’s a middle ground between feeling guilty and not talking at all. I have no clue how to find that balance or how long it will take for me to find it.
When I was a kid, I was bullied by kids, but I also bullied other kids. For some reason, I didn’t put it together how hurtful it was to be made fun of, so I mocked other kids. The first time I remember being made fun of was in kindergarten, and it still affects me to this day. I remember being laughed at in my Halloween costume by upperclassmen. I go back to those feelings of embarrassment and misery every year at Halloween. I was made fun of at various times from kindergarten through high school. I was even made fun of while I was in the popular group.
I’m ashamed to admit that I bullied other kids, but I need to be honest. When I was bullying others, it was because I thought it was going to make me feel better and increase my self-esteem. I wish I could go back and tell myself how much harm I was doing to others, and that the kids who made fun of me were doing it for the same reason I was. During high school, I was made fun of because I was different from the other kids. I didn’t quite fit it and it was because of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. I feel horrible and guilty because I was hurtful back to those that hurt me. I think more about the harm I did to others. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. Bullying is permanent; once you emotionally hurt someone, the damage is done.
I don’t know why I feel guilt so often. If someone is upset, I feel as though it is my fault. Not only do I feel guilty, I feel as if I am responsible to resolve the situation. This is an exhausting and daunting task. I’m trying to fix this by not responding to someone when I know I am not at fault. I can say, “I’m sorry you are struggling.” However, I don’t need to take over their situation. I think my husband was the first one that pointed this out to me. I ignored it for a while because I thought he was wrong. However, I’m starting to realize that he is right. It’s not necessarily about what I say to others about feeling guilty, it’s about how I feel internally.
The feeling of guilt is overwhelming and onerous. Does anyone have other suggestions? I’m open to any ideas.