Living with depression and anxiety comes with a lot of guilt. Up until recently, the main thing I felt guilty about was moving out of my aunt's house while she was in the middle of chemotherapy treatments. Even though she assured me that she would be okay and that she had friends that she could rely on, I felt lousy about it for months.
Then I drove by the trailer where I spent a few months of my childhood while my family was homeless. I was in the area for other reasons and wanted to show my partner a piece of my past. I figured that it had been many years since I had been by there, and I was a little curious if it looked as horrific as I remember it.
The place itself still looked like a hell hole, but how it looked was nothing compared to the memories it drug up. Being told continuously that we (my brother and I) were unwanted and on the verge of being kicked out onto the street (we were about 10 and 12) is what I had remembered from this time; being told that you're going to be "on the outside looking in" is hard to forget. However, I had apparently repressed even worse memories.
The one that haunts me is of our family dog, a rottweiler/lab mix named Bo (named for Bo Diddley). We usually kept Bo inside at our home, but when we moved to the trailer, there wasn't enough room for 12 people as well as our dog (obviously there wasn't even enough room for just the people). Bo stayed outside like the other animals, tied up by himself.
Honestly, I don't know whose responsibility it was to take care of him and make sure he had food and water. All I know is that one day I saw him for the first time in weeks. He was skin and bones - literally starving to death. I can't even imagine the pain he went through during those weeks. It makes me sick just thinking about it.
Bo survived for about another year before he died when I was in 8th grade. I was heartbroken. I had awful dreams about his death. And now I have the weight of guilt. It doesn't matter if his pain and death was my fault or not. It's going to be on my conscience for the rest of my life.
|Bo and I at our old home|