Guilt is a terrible cloud
(Milwaukee, WI USA)
At the age of 21, I was married. The next year, we gave birth to a beautiful son. My world was bliss, his father and I spent our lives treasuing our baby. He was never left with a stranger or babysitter, we devoted our lives 100% to him.
Then, my husband cheated on me. I threw him out, and he left us with absolutely no contact or help for a year.
During that year, I struggled, and was forced to make some very difficult decisions. While dealing with the overhwelming grief of losing my husband, I had to find a full-time job to pay the bills, and arrange child care for my 10-month-old son. I ended up going on welfare for a short while (2 weeks), which was humiliating. When I did land a good job, I had no choice but to put my son in daycare, and I couldn't afford the best daycare.
My sweet innocent little boy was suddenly thrown into a chaotic environment, with very little structure, and no discipline. He cried so sadly when I had to leave him there with strangers, for the first time in his life. And I did it everyday. He didn't get any peace or rest, he would take brief naps on the floor when he became exhausted and dropped, but never more than 10-15 minutes. He was trampled, hit, & repeatedly bit in his face. The daycare "cannot discipline", so nothing was ever done to protect him or correct the behavior from the other children. He was traumatized. The abandonment from his father paired with the abandonment from his mommy and the physical pain he was suffering was too much for him to bear. He became extremely clingy and demanding.
My crutch is smoking, and I go outside to smoke. My son would scream and bang his head on the door until his entire forehead was covered in bruises. If I went to the bathroom & closed the door, he would do the same thing. If I was trying to do something, say dishes, he
would do the same thing. He would injure himself badly, and scream like a banschee until I held him. He wanted all of my attention, all the time. I just couldn't deal with it. I couldn't deal with the stress of bills, my job, my non-stop schedule demands, the divorce, the exhaustion, and the screaming.
To my everlasting shame, there was a few times that I lost my temper, and I hit him. I slapped him upside his head, or pushed him while he was in his crib. He was only 10 months - 15 months. I would scream at him like a banschee, like he was a grown man, until my throat hurt. I've slapped his tummy or his back and left red handprints, and it makes me cringe and cry everytime I think of it. He was traumatized the frist time. He curled in a ball on the floor, face-down, sucking his thumb and sobbing quietly, just staring at me. He wouldn't let anyone touch him or get near him, he wouldn't eat or drink, and this lasted for days. He was traumatized. At that point, I contemplated surrendering my beloved baby to the care of someone who wasn't a monster.
I vowed to never let it happen again, and stuck to that promise. We are doing very good today, he is very happy and smart. But the guilt of those few times haunts me every single day. When I am looking through his baby pictures, I can't stop crying because I know he was suffering during those times. I don't know how I can ever forgive myself, I am no longer happy inside. I live a half-life, destroyed by the guilt of what I've done. I am on the verge of tears every single day when it comes to mind. I don't think I can ever forgive myself for what I've done. I wish something could save me. I'm missing out on watching my son grow up because I don't feel like I deserve the joy. I don't know what to do. =(