The Poisonous Guilt

“Guilt upon the conscience, like rust upon iron, both defiles and consumes it, gnawing and creeping into it, as that does which at last eats out the very heart and substance of the metal.” – Robert South

‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’ I’ve heard this quote more times than I can count. It holds a lot of truth in it, yes. But I feel overwhelmed by the amount of weight such simple words hold; how powerful they are, and how much impact they’ve had in my life recently.

I have made so many mistakes but it’s the most recent one that has affected me most. For the first time in my life, I’ve broken the trust of two of my friends and I’ve hurt them. I didn’t think of the consequences of my actions at the time, and now the guilt and regret I feel is like hell. It is like poison being poured onto my heart. It has been hours and the guilt has not diminished and I’m afraid it never will. And I feel like I deserve it.

The first friend was upset with me initially, but told me he forgave me and he still trusts me. And while I feel like he was being too lenient and I didn’t deserve it, I accepted it with gratitude.
My other friend, whose reaction I was more afraid of from the beginning, reacted just as I’d imagined, only worse. He started out calm but angry and his words cut me like a knife. The calm didn’t last for long and he shouted at me and while it hurt, I felt like I deserved every biting remark. I still feel like I deserve it. So at the end of the conversation when he told me he was disappointed in himself for getting involved with me in the first place, it hurt so bad but the pain was nothing compared to the pain of knowing I had broken his trust and he may never trust me again.

I haven’t felt pain like this in a long time. In unintentionally hurting my friends, I hurt myself. And I could never blame them for being angry. I blame myself as well, and rightfully so. The other part of the quote says “…to forgive, divine.” I have found that it is easier to forgive others than to forgive myself. Because right now, I feel like I will never be able to forgive myself, even if my friends have. I know that rather than being too hard on myself, I should learn from my mistakes and try my hardest never do something like this again. But at present, I find that almost impossible.

Maybe in due time I will learn to forgive myself. But right now, the guilt is like an endless cycle of being stabbed in the heart, and regret is all I am able to feel.

And I am so sorry.

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