I am amazingly good at blaming myself. During the Year That Was Black and Desperate I blamed myself for everything.
I wasn't good enough. I wasn't a good enough mom to Girl X. I was a terrible wife. I was an awful friend. I should have been a better daughter. I didn't do enough for others. I should have known something was wrong and said something, anything to the Dr because he could have waved his magic stethoscope and fixed everything for me.
And I know that's nonsense, but I have become a professional at the blame game. There are days where I think I must enjoy torturing myself because I am so damn good at it.
Recently, I've even found a way to blame myself for my MIL's mental illness. Perhaps if I had converted or just once not rolled my eyes and instead simply smiled, maybe the last time I saw here, the time I looked at her in such disgust she could not have missed it, maybe that was the thing that pushed her over the edge.
And again, I know that her problems were there long before I came along and would have been there no matter what I did or did not do.
When Girl X was first born and it was essentially just the 2 of us, the guilt was a 2 ton truck with blaring sirens I wore on my back every day.
For the brief period that her 'sperm-donor' and I were together and I was home with her, I felt guilt for not working and taking control of the finances. Something that would get us out of that hole in the wall we lived in. And when I did work, I felt guilt for knowing that I had just left her in the care of someone who would probably leave her in her crib for the time I was gone. My only saving grace was a neighbor who would listen for her and get her when he would inevitably leave.
When I could no longer kid myself about what our life was and left him, I felt guilt because I knew that he was never going to be what she needed and would most likely disappear once the restraints (me) were gone.
I felt guilt because I was working all the time in a vain attempt to pay all the bills and pay off the insurmountable debt that being married to him had left me.
I wasn't there enough. I missed so much time. So much that I can't get back. Knowing that there was no other choice didn't stop me from blaming myself when Girl X would scream and cry everytime I left her at her baby sitters. It wasn't that they weren't good to her or that they didn't love her because they did. She was adored there. But it wasn't me. It wasn't her one solid thing.
By the time Mr X came into the picture, I was itching for change. I could feel it. I just couldn't reach it.
Girl X distrusted men. She would allow only my father and brother within 5 feet of her. Any other male and she would scream bloody murder.
When Mr X bent down to say hello and shake her hand, she smiled at him. It stopped me in my tracks.
He played on the floor with her for 2 hours. She would not leave his side. It was amazing.
And I felt instant guilt. She needed a father. I had been doing my best to keep every male on the other side of my wall. I thought it was wise but I never considered the fact that it wasn't what was best for my daughter.
In many cliched ways, in ways that it's sometimes hard to admit, Mr X saved us.
He brought that change we needed so badly.
I don't buy into that 'you complete me' and 'he's my soul mate' stuff. Barf.
But I do believe that we fit. Pieces of a puzzle that were missing.
My life has turned 180 from where I started. And so has Girl X's. I am endlessly grateful for that.
There are moments where I still feel guilt. Especially when I see Baby X and the stages he is passing and I realize that I missed much of this with Girl X.
And then there are the moments, brief and sweet, where she lays her head in my lap as we watch a movie. She sighs and gently brush back her hair with my fingers. She smells like grape shampoo and peppermint. She giggles when the Robot busts out some Britney Spears dance moves. I smile and she snuggles in and whispers "mom, you're the best". I can let just a little bit of that guilt go.
There are many things I never thought I'd have and do now, but none I prize so highly as contentment.