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By Alex: 031

Guilt and shame have their hooks in me. I don’t think I have even fully realised this until recently. Or maybe I did realise but haven’t admitted it to myself. I try not to let it surface, but its manifests in other ways. Self-sabotage. Self-hatred. Its runs deep. I’m proud of myself too, proud of what I have, my children, husband, friends. But I nearly had none of it, nearly had a very different version of it. Sliding doors. But make it slow and painful. Love is painful in every way. When I was younger I didn’t think that was true. I didn’t see the big deal, especially around romantic love. Getting attached to someone to that degree seemed silly, naïve, near-impossible, dramatic. But I guess time proved me wrong. I got attached, then I got attached again. Destructive and ego-centric, I made choices as if I was bullet-proof, as if my love was. I was lucky, I kept my greatest attachment, just. And we moved on, we moved upward. New country, new home, one baby, then two. We survived the stress and the joy of it all. Our love remains, and we work towards making it stronger every day. We chose each other. But I forgot to choose myself. I buried my guilt and shame deep inside, pouring everything into this person so that I didn’t lose their love. And while I have long-since felt the imbalance in our relationship has been corrected - no blame or resentment from them, no desperate apologies, real or symbolic, from me – my internal relationship is still wonky. I let my person down, and I let myself down. Why is forgiving myself so much harder? I can’t escape the thoughts, and even when they aren’t at the forefront, not as fully formed ideas or abstract ones, I know they have already stained every part of me. Out, damned spot!

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