I was not always a good person. Not really.
When I was a child, I went through a lot of stress in my family life. I watched my family members suffer, some more than others.
My big brother, the person who I was arguably closest to at the time, felt it the most. He began acting up at school and getting into trouble. He was angry a lot. I would hear him storm out of the house late at night, and cry myself to sleep, wondering where he was and if he was okay.
We were so young. So impressionable. I began feeling angry and bitter. My quick temper meant I would lash out at my friends at school, verbally and physically.
I remember once, my friends had taken my school cardigan and were throwing it back and forth to one another; whilst I raced around the middle of them trying to snatch it back. I was so humiliated being “piggy in the middle,” and I was fed up of asking them to let me have it back. I grabbed one end of it whilst my friend had the other end, and a brief tug-of-war ensued. When I realised she would overpower me, I drew back my fist and lashed out, connecting with her collar bone. She immediately let go of my cardigan.
Seeing my friend burst into tears because of me was a moment I’ve replayed in my head time and time again. The worst part of it all was that when my friend went to First Aid to get checked over, she told the teachers that she had fallen over so I wouldn’t get into trouble.
I was such a sweet, clever child at times; but I could also be aggressive and nasty. It’s not how I was brought up, and it wasn’t in my nature to act in that way. But I couldn’t help myself. My mindset was so negative, and I cried myself almost dry.
When I moved up to secondary school, I retreated into my shell.
As I became a teenager, I realised how terribly I had acted, and the guilt set in. I became extremely shy and awkward, my self-esteem at its lowest. By the age of 14, I had developed severe anxiety, and I would spend most of my spare time in bed; sleeping or crying.
I moved up to a different school for year 10 along with all of my friends, but it felt different. I was going through the normal things that teenagers do, learning who my real friends were etc. Throughout it all though, I was making myself more and more ill with the guilt and the anxiety it was causing.
I would sob to my mother in the middle of the night, begging her to let me stay home from school in the morning. All this time, I was putting on a brave face, and hiding what I really felt to the world. I still had fun and made some great memories, but the feeling of guilt was always there at the back of my mind when I found myself enjoying something; almost as if I didn’t deserve to be happy.
I no longer thought bad things about strangers. I would look for the positive in everyone. I was mindful of how I spoke to people, and made sure it always came from a place of kindness.
The guilt still lingered though.
I never spoke to anyone about how guilty I felt. In fact, I still haven’t.
I was rude and snappy to the ones I loved, taking my anger out on whoever was around. I am not like that anymore, or I’m working on it at least.
As an adult reflecting on the situation, I now know that I have probably made it all far worse in my head.
What felt like pure evil at the time, was probably just a hurt child going through some rough times and lashing out because of it.
If I saw a child now behaving as I did, living through my experiences, I wouldn’t be angry with them. I would nurture them and love them. I would teach them not to feel guilt for how they act as a child; it’s not their fault.
It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that and apply that wisdom to my own inner child.
I asked my closest friends to describe me and I got responses like caring, intuitive, gentle, considerate, compassionate, warm, and creative. Some of these friends are people that have known me for most of my life, and they still don’t think badly of me. I know my family are proud of me too, and love the woman I’ve become.
Deep down, I believe that I am a good person. I know I am. I would never say the things I once did or act the way I did back then.
I stand up for people when someone else is being hurtful; and I apologise openly when I know I’ve done wrong. I can’t spend my life feeling guilty for how I was as a child or teenager. They were my growth periods, not who I truly am.
Who I truly am, is who I am now. I know that now.
I am kind. I am thoughtful. I have pure intentions. I love fully. I want to help people. I let go of anger. I am caring. I have an innate desire to nurture.
It’s been a long process letting go of who I used to be and making room for who I truly am. Guilt is a dangerous feeling. It consumes.
I still suffer with low self-esteem sometimes and my mental health, but I am trying to love myself through it. It’s not worth holding on to guilt when the only person that’s not forgiven you is you.
We are humans. We make human mistakes. We feel remorse, guilt, and anger towards ourselves. But the only real way to become a better version of ourselves, is to let it go.
It’s time to shake off past guilt, and start living for now.