Guilt is something we all have to live with, that sickly feeling you get when you know
you're wrong, you know you've screwed up, and you know you could have helped it.  It's the thorn
that hits your side every time you walk past that memory of distress;  it's that sick feeling in your
stomach that tells you things could have worked out all right, things could have been different,
better, nicer, a whole lot prettier, but instead, through some fault of yours and yours alone, things
weren't better, things didn't turn out, disappointment and loss and all the rest of it came coming after.

You can't feel guilty for an accident, or a chance happening; those things are out of
your control, and no one can blame you for that.  But guilt is based on the things you did do wrong,
the mistakes you have regretted for you ever since.  I say "you" because I just don't want to say me, but
you understand that already, these are just my words, my thoughts, my memories coming back to haunt
me.  So don't be offended if I say "you", because I'm only talking to myself over here, and seeing no one
else's memories but my own.  These are just my thought, my words, things I have done, things I have
failed to do.  The next part is forgiveness, but I want to talk about guilt some more.

Sometimes the only thoughts in your mind are the bad ones, the ones that stab your heart
over and over again.  Distressful images of things gone wrong, the pictures of your life you wish
you could burn forever.  But they're always there; painful, regretful things that never vanish but take front
page.  Thoughts that play over and over again, things you wish would go away but always catch you as
you're about to fall.  Thoughts that just remind you of how utterly careless you have been, how rude
and how just plain wrong you were at the time.  These things can never be taken back, never forgotten,
the scars of your life, those skeletons in the closet of your mind.  Most of the time no one knows
the guilt you suffer from.  They're yours and your alone, and that's what make them painful.

Guilt you can share is guilt you can bare, when other people here of your past mistakes,
you're immediately absolved and lifted from that curse.  Guilt shared isn't guilt anymore, but a learning
experience, an episode of your life that was in the past and now you've moved on.  Guilt shared disappears,
like the smoke from a blown-out candle.  There aren't anymore reminders of those mistakes from the past,
and there aren't anymore thoughts that haunt your mind.

But how often can you share your guilt?  Who would understand the thoughts of your mind
and the reasons for your actions?  How can we share these things that bring us down, that shows us
our faults and our failings?  How can we share guilt when it incriminates us, and makes us the fools we mock
but sometimes be?  What kind of people do we make ourselves out to be?  We hide guilt the same way we
hide bad habits and dirty secrets; they're one and the same.  But sometimes guilt can be worse.
They're the things we hide from ourselves, the things we don't want anyone else to know.  We feel
guilty about the things in life we find most important, silly to some but oh so important to ourselves.
How can we share that, when we can't even share the simple pleasures of life among ourselves.
Guilt is the coffin we bury ourselves in, our hiding it from others the dirt we throw on top.

So what is my point about guilt?  Well, guilt sucks, and it sucks bad.  Because guilt is
usually true.  When you feel guilty, honestly and sincerely guilty, there's usually a real reason for it, and
a real mistake done on your part.  That's what sucks about guilt.  They are real, not imagined, mistakes;
faults that you can actually point out for yourself.  There's no modesty in guilt, no pretend pity; just real, honest
to goodness screw-ups on your part, and that's what you have to live with.  And they'll just stay with you, until they
happen to go away.  You want that from me, too?  Fine, just read this and skip the end.  How I would
end my guilt is by   1) talk to some people and get it off your chest, mind, and heart, and
2) learn how to forgive yourself, whatever that means.
(Probably means talking stock of your life and believing that your mistakes are okay
and that your okay too.  Whatever.)

So why did I write about guilt?  Because I feel guilty, silly.  Because I stare it in its eyes and it doesn't
blink before I do.  It never blinks.  It never goes away, not in my life but that's my problem anyway.  There
are thoughts in my head that wouldn't light a match in the real world, but would burn down houses and cities
in my mind.  But they're only thoughts, these are only words, I'm not looking to forgive myself by writing this.
I merely write to remind myself how wrong I've been in my life.  When I close my eyes I see the light from the
candles of regret I've lighted in my life.  They'll always be there, because forgiveness doesn't come so easy
for some one who cannot, will not, forget.  I have to remember everything, not matter how good or how bad,
no matter how I much I should let it go or how much I should let it be.  I write because I don't want to forget
these thoughts of my head.  And so guilt will haunt me the rest of my days.  When you see that look in my eyes,
the one where you could swear I'm looking at picture no one else sees, then you'll know that I'm just reliving my
life, one frame at a time, one regret after another.  But these are just thoughts, these are just words,
no help has ever come from them, but only more pictures to go in your mind.

-don bernal

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