Guilt

This weekend I watched a certain video and it got my inner debate about guilt going again. I had come to terms with it, more or less, but then it all got loose in my head again. Maybe everything was my fault? Maybe I am guilty and no one else is? Who would judge me? With these question the urge to ask everyone’s opinion returned as well. I would like to tell some people my story and ask them if I think it was my fault. On the other hand, I don’t want to tell it, because I would feel bad if they’d say it was my fault. However much I agree, I want to hear them say that I’m not guilty. I want to ask everyone for forgiveness. I want to ask for forgiveness while I only need to forgive myself, really.

This dictionary defines guilt like this:

1.

the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability:He admitted his guilt.

2.

a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

3.

conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.: to live a life of guilt.

Interestingly, they also define it as a feeling of responsibility, whether real or imagined. Guilt isn’t necessarily based on facts. It’s not black and white. There is an entire gray zone for every feeling, including this one. It’s very well possible that I blame myself way too much for what has happened. It’s very well possible that it is my fault. In the end though, I will never know, because there is no real answer to this question. No one has the right nor the ability to say how much of it was my fault and how much wasn’t my fault.
And yet I fear that people would judge me and think less of me. It would hurt immensely if someone who’s important to me would tell me that yes, I am guilty and no, (s)he doesn’t think I’m so “valuable” anymore. So far none of my friends has judged me, but who knows, maybe someone who knows me in another way would?
I do feel regret, and maybe that makes up for guilt, in a way. We want murderers to feel regret after all. I only harmed my own feelings, but maybe the thought of regret compensating guilt could make it better.
In order to feel comforted without telling you what happened, I would like you to judge this case, not regarding the consequences:
Imagine you know a man. He seems to be thinking of death a lot, you are talking to him about it and he seems to think it’s not bad, it could even be good. He lets you listen to a song about suicide. He hands you a gun, and when you load it, he turns to you so you could shoot him straight in the heart. However, during all this, he is high on morphine.
Would it be okay to kill him?
And if he weren’t high on morphine but living through a rough divorce, for example, would that make a difference?
(Luckily, I haven’t killed anyone, nor am I high on morphine. I just spent a while thinking about wrong and right and that’s when this all came up again.)
(It’s WordPress’s fault that the spaces don’t show. If anyone knows how to solve this, please tell me. It’s so annoying to read…)
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The Punishment

They gave me a ridiculously long, shapeless black dress to wear, which made me trip all the way to the court. Two guards held me firmly by the arms, and suddenly I was glad about that. At least I wouldn’t drop on the floor.
The court was a high, dark building. Some daylight fought its way inside, but there was only big window, placed directly above the main jury. I figured it was done like that to create a dramatic atmosphere. Not very original, I thought. But I see through it. The thought somehow consoled me a little bit.

The judge was an old, partially bald man with a sharp nose and cold eyes. He wore a black dress as well it seemed, or something that resembled it at least. How does one get a job like this? He’s probably frustrated because he had always been too shy to talk to women, I decided. I imagined him in a bar, unable to find the right words to talk to that pretty brunette with the cute smile. Seemingly humble I bowed my head, but inside I was grinning.

“Nina?” he suddenly said. The room got quiet. All men in black were staring at me. I looked up.

Bring it on.

“Yes”, I said. The judge looked at me with angry eyes. Was I not supposed to speak? Then someone should have told me.

“We have come here to look at your punishment and to decide upon new ones, or, in the best case, the abolition of it.”

I nodded, but at the same time thought: Punishment? What punishment?

“Are you sorry?”

That was unexpected.

“What for?”

The judge took a deep, disapproving breath.

“Apparently you are not sorry.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“You’re only regret is that you don’t understand?” He smiled bitterly, then continued talking to the men in black surrounding me. “I don’t think it’s time to stop the punishment.”

Some men mumbled in agreement. It was too dark to see their faces and that annoyed me.

“Let’s see what that punishment included so far. We noticed that you wanted to be loved, so we sent some boys you trusted your way. We let them use you and make you feel that you’re not good enough.”

Oh, that seems to have worked.

“But apparently that wasn’t enough. So as soon as we saw you wanted to go to Russia, we delayed everything. In short, your punishment is broken hope.”

I bowed my head again.

“As you still seem to refuse to show remorse, we might need to refuse to let you go to Russia.”

Don’t cry.

“On what grounds then?” I tried again. The evil judge gave me a death stare. The light grew weaker and I barely saw anything anymore. I looked at my hands clawing in my black dress.

“I think we haven’t made our point clear yet”, the judge said. Some more muttering in the court. Heads nodding. I sighed. How was it possible that I was being punished without knowing why? Apparently they wanted me to figure that out by myself, but I couldn’t find a single thing I had intentionally done wrong. Of course I wasn’t a saint, but who is? And yet it didn’t matter. The punishment would go on.

“Unless now you show remorse. We grant you one more chance.”

I didn’t even try to say anything anymore.

“Get her out.”

The guards took me by my arms again. I lifted my dress, turned around and started walking away. Daylight was still forcing its way in. It appeared to be a sunny day. Right before the guards would let go of my arms, I turned to them.

“Do you have any wine for me?”

Whatever you do, be prepared…

It was a normal sunday during a normal year when I was 17. Sundays were never really exciting. There wasn’t a single reason to leave the house, so there wasn’t a single reason to put on make up or to dress up. I used to just pick some clothes and walk around looking ‘casual’. If only my family saw me, why would I do any effort? I’m vain, but also lazy. So to hell with it.

So I sat there, reading a magazine, casually as ever. Soon I’d do some more school related stuff, but I was  17 and life was easy, school was easy, everything was boring as it always was. How could I have foreseen what was about to happen? How should I have known? I only recently got to know we had nice neighbours, only four houses next to us, with even some kids a bit older than my brother and I. For years I suspected our street to be populated with old people. I was just sitting there, naive, not knowing what would happen next…

My parents, for some reason, left to see the neighbours and I could hear them return. But suddenly, I heard more than two voices. Wait – they were bringing someone? Oh noes, the neighbour. And I look bad. Sad thing. Wait – that’s not only the neighbour, that is, no wait, do I-

Damn.

A moment of silence. My parents, introducing me to the most handsome, good-looking, pretty, beautiful Son of the Neighbours. A guy like you imagine a beautiful guy. Someone who would make it in life, just graduated, smart, clever, living so close to us, standing so close in front of me.

Me. ‘Casual’. Looking crappy. Wearing some random clothes I could find. Without makeup. My hair quickly tied together.

Fuck.

My.

Life.

It traumatized me. For months I couldn’t stop thinking how stupid it all was, how I would never leave the house without makeup, o dear lord, what does he think of me…? Makeup was my dearest friend from then of. Never would I be trapped in such a situation again. I told my parents they should warn me (sirens, smoke signal, whatever) before bringing someone to our house on a Sunday. Slowly, the memory faded. No, that’s not true. I suppressed it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done what I did later on…

We went on a holiday, by car, and we returned on a random Friday. That holiday, I always met a friend on Friday, and as we arrived at home quite early, I decided we could still go for a drink that night. Of course I hadn’t done much effort to look good – sitting in a car for an entire day ruins every effort you do anyway. I still had the time to fix it at home, I thought. But as the hours passed by, I realized there wouldn’t be all too much time. Nah, whatever, I thought, and I left the house a bit in a hurry to be on time, by foot.

The gods conspired against me or something – right when I walked past The House of the Neighbours, the door opened and they all came out. The man, the woman, the wife of the eldest son, and then…

…the handsome son, in a white Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt. Looking better than ever. And I, I walked right, almost straight out of the car. Makeup? Barely. Nice hair? To be washed. Face overall? Let’s not think about it. Fuck my life. Again.

Since that day, I understood all hope was lost – I had to let him go. He had seen me in the worst situation. Our love was doomed to die. I decided I loved him enough to let him be happy with a girl who was fully in makeup when he met for the first time.

Ahem.

A lot of months have passed, but believe me, never have I been tricked again. I’ve been in a similar situation several times, but each time I was prepared. I’ve seen friends of a friend on the bus I take each Sunday, and I always wore makeup. I’ve met that friend several times out of the blue, but I always wore something nice.

You never know who’ll you meet somewhere.

Preparation is everything.