This one word describes my sense of self for the last several years. Only recently I have come to the realization that I still feel guilty. And with that realization, how I have been engaged in an internal struggle with myself: knowing that I shouldn’t feel guilty, wanting to feel like I deserve the love of my wife and children, but not feeling like I do.
Friday, December 16, 2011
This was the day I chose the life of my son over the lives of my wife and daughter. I find it difficult to even read that sentence aloud. I feel so ashamed of my decision that night. And even though all of my family survived, I still chose the life of my 2yo son; fearing that my wife and 1yo daughter would most likely be raped and slaughtered to death. My decision was based on the facts that I knew my son was alive at the time; but I did not know for certain, if I were to give chase to our attackers, if I could get my wife and daughter back. I didn’t even know if they were still alive. I also considered that my son could be taken during the time it took me to chase our attackers – because I didn’t know for certain if he and I were still safe; if there were any attackers still lurking in the dark.
On that Friday evening, we were the victims of an extremely violent home invasion in Africa. Not everyone survived. I am so thankful that my wife, my daughter, and my son all survived. Both my wife and I have struggled in different ways since then. For myself, over the last 5 years, 2 months, and 12 days, I have needed to forgive myself: for making the hardest decision in my life, which I allowed myself 2 seconds to make.
I'm writing this now because I want today to be that day when I release my guilt into the mountains, to drift away and disappear. I have held onto this guilt for too long. I have been ashamed for too long. So I will be ashamed no more.
Goodnight guilty feelings.