I had never experienced survivor’s guilt until very recently. Today at work we had a Macmillan Coffee Morning to raise money for cancer support, and I figured the day was going to be hard. For the first hour
I sat squeezing my stress ball trying to stop my hands from shaking. I don’t even know why they were shaking. My discomfort and reluctance to have anything to do with cancer charity related events seems somewhat illogical. I mean, the Macmillan charity has never tried to kill me. So I already started today having a difficult time trying to understand myself.
But in the midst of feeling weird about the whole day, I remembered that there are people I know who have lost loved ones to cancer. They have had friends or relatives die, and here I am, still alive. And what am I doing? Being self-absorbed, making everything about me, and not being grateful enough that I’m still alive while other people are not. If other people can cope with this kind of stuff – getting involved in cancer-related events, watching adverts for cancer charities, and so on – why can’t I? I should be more grateful for being alive, and consider other people. So I feel guilty about not being able to handle stuff like that very well.
And guilt gets very circular, because once I feel guilty, I feel like I’m being self-absorbed. It’s still all about me, only now it’s about my
guilt and how bad that makes me feel. And I can’t even mention it, because what would that sound like? “Your grief for your friend is making me feel bad”. Not that I would ever say anything like that anyway, but it makes me feel isolated because of it. So I’m just left feeling alone and guilty.
I don’t know if this is survivor’s guilt, because I don’t feel bad for being alive while other people aren’t, because that seems illogical to
me. (Not that anything about this is really logical.) But I feel guilty about not being more grateful for being alive, and for not considering that fact more, or considering other people, and that I’m just focusing on myself. I feel bad for feeling bad. I don’t know what that’s called, but it doesn’t feel good.
I wrote this blog post earlier this evening, and then I ended up talking to my partner about it, and he made me feel better because he’s amazing, and he told me that it’s normal to feel like this, and I believe him. I am very lucky to have him. But all the same, if anyone else experiences these kinds of feelings, I would be very interested to hear about it!