What is something that was not your fault, but you still feel guilty for?

When I was 16, I was in an accident that necessitated four surgeries over three months. Total cost: Around $200,000. My mom’s insurance didn’t cover much of that at all. My dad didn’t kick in a dime to help us. The enormous hospital bills led to my mom having to declare bankruptcy and she lost the house I had spent a large portion of my childhood in.

I realize that the accident and medical expenses weren’t my fault exactly, but I still feel tremendously, tremendously guilty for putting my family through so much turmoil. This happened about ten years ago now. I’ve told this to my mother and she doesn’t want me to feel bad about this anymore.* Doesn’t matter. I doubt this is something I’ll ever let go of.

Anyone else have guilt they don’t deserve, but carry around anyway?

*And as a good mother, she feels bad that I feel bad. Which makes me feel even worse. I was raised Catholic, if that explains anything.

Kind of a dumb one, but I used to work at a huge company as my first job after getting an MBA (50,000+ employees) and was treated like dirt. Everyone was a backstabber, getting even a cost of living raise was next to impossible (even during a booming economy at the time), and you were always made to feel like you were completely replaceable. If they even suspected you were looking for another job, you were reprimanded or even fired in some extreme cases. I left that crapfest and went to work at a smaller (150 employee) company, which I thought was awesome and swore I would never work in a toxic big company environment like that again.

A friend graduating from my same business school was looking for a job so I got her one at my same small company, ensuring her it was an awesome place to work and a great job prospect even if it did pay a little less, didn’t have as good of benefits, etc. So what happens? She ended up working for the one person at the company who was a complete shithead that undermined everything she did to the point where she would sometimes go home crying. Her experience was worse than mine was at the big company. I had practically begged her to take the job, which was in a completely different group than my own, and told her she was going to love it there. Boy was I wrong. She ended up having trouble getting another job too because it looked suspicious to already be looking when she had only been at this one for 3 months and was a new grad. It caused her a huge amount of grief, and some financial losses as well. Obviously she doesn’t blame me, but I have continued to feel guilty about it.

I also carry some guilt for trying to prevent a couple my wife and I liked hanging out with from breaking up, because we wanted to hang out with them as ‘a couple’. They tried counseling and stayed together, miserably, for probably an additional six months before they had a fight so bad the police had to get involved. Turns out the woman was a complete psycho. Now we hang out with the guy and his new wife, who is totally normal. So I harbor some guilt for feeling like I forced he and his ex to stay together for my own stupid convenience when it was clear they weren’t meant to be…


I am one of those people that blames themselves for everything wrong that happens in their life. I can’t help it…but I do.

I am thoroughly convinced right now that I am ruining the life of a good 4 people (at least…) by just being alive around them.

My mom told me of a Christmas or two when my older brothers and sisters got things like an orange in their stocking, so the little ones who believed in Santa could have a gift ‘from him’. I don’t think I was even born yet, and I still feel guilty.

When I was 17, some friends and I had a hangout spot where we would regularly go to get high: the local gravel pit. We’d park the car outside the gate, duck under, and walk beside the water and toke up. One night, just as we were getting out of the car, we heard voices coming from the direction of the lake. “Oh shit,” we thought, “The cops are down there! Better bail before we get caught!” So we piled back into the car and hauled ass outta there. The next day, the local tv stations blew up with the story of what had really been going on down there. Turns out, some thugs had beaten a guy unconscious, then took him to the gravel pit and dumped him in the water, where he drowned.

The rational part of my brain knows that if my friends and I had entered the gravel pit, we probably would have met the same fate. But even now, ten years later, I feel guilty that we wimped out. What if we could have saved his life? I’ll remember his name forever. Bobby Welker.

I have mentioned this before, but I still feel horrible.

I got an apartment in Berlin ages ago from an American guy who was moving back to the States. He introduced me to his sweet, elderly neighbor and asked if I would be so kind as to take care of her and buy some heavy groceries, etc. when I went to the market. It was a third floor walk up and she had trouble making those stairs alone, let alone with groceries.

I did, and for several years she would leave me little notes in my door and I would bring back bottled water, milk, the occasional bottle of “medicinal alcohol” for her tea, and other things.

Eventually, I got a new job and it paid me quite well, and I was finally able to look for a new apartment with central heating, better location, etc. I found the perfect place and signed the lease. I came back to the old apartment, and in my youthful, blissful ignorance, told my neighbor the great news that I got a new place! She congratulated me and wished me well and I still didn’t “get it”.

I packed and packed, had friends help me move and finally got into my new place. I went back to my old apartment a week later and…oh fuck! I found out my neighbor’s son, from a small town in the western part of Germany, had come to pick up his mother and help her move to a home. It seems I had become her lifeline and without me, there was no way she could survive on her own in that place; the place she had lived for over 60 years!

I was devastated! Her son was there and I broke down and said how horrible I felt and he said, “It is really a good thing. I have been trying to get her to move nearer to me for years, but she refused to leave Berlin. Now I can see her more often and make sure she is OK.”

I kept in contact and she bore no ill will, but shortly after going into that home near her son, she got ill and died less than two years later. I still feel guilty about forcing her to move from her home and cannot believe how inconsiderate I was when I just leaped at the chance to move without taking her needs into consideration for even a second.

Grrr! It isn’t you who should feel guilty. Grrr! Can I be furious on your behalf? Grrr.

When I was about 20 I knew a group of people sort of peripherally - I’d see them every two or three months.

One time I was at their place and they were showing me their new ‘stuff.’ They had been camping beside a group of teens. The teens left on a Saturday and never came back. So my ‘friends’ took all their stuff. Electronics, camping gear, stoves, pumps, etc. They had it proudly displayed in their living room and were bragging about it.

The teens had all drown in a rafting accident which is why they had never returned. My friends had used post-it notes to put a cross above the new boom box in their living room.

I feel guilty that I was ever friends with people that disgusting and that I never did anything, although to this day I’m unclear as to what I should have done. I’m not sure that getting back a stolen camp stove from a bunch of low-lifes would have made things better or worse for the parents of the dead teens.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my early relationships had a violent break-up. That Ex became the prime suspect in a murder investigation. A woman had been strangled while he was staying across the road from her. He had no alibi, but a lot of attitude when the police spoke to him.

The murder took place three weeks after he’d strangled and left me for dead. He’d been out of prison on bail for less than a week.

Of course, I reasoned, if I had done the decent thing and died then he’d have had to stay in prison and that innocent woman would have lived.

The guilt stayed with me. After ten years I got in touch with the officer who still had the case open and asked if there was anything further I could do to help. He had to consult some people, but got back to thank me for the offer but say there was nothing short of a confession that could help by that stage. He also told me that the victim’s family had been torn apart by the case. Her father and brother had died from stress related illnesses. Her mother and sister still cried whenever they spoke to the local police about the lack of progress.

After another seven years (seventeen years from the murder), DNA technology caught up with the minuscule amount of physical evidence the police had held onto. This evidence pointed to another attacker - a fifteen year-old boy (at the time) who’d had his sister and neighbour lie to give him an alibi.

I probably wasted another few weeks thinking that maybe if I had died and my ex had stayed in prison, then the police wouldn’t have been distracted by the ready-made target he presented (and played up to).

Seventeen years feeling guilty for surviving, when it made no difference to anyone else? What do I win?:frowning:

Thank you for this.

This made me very sad to read. I hope you experience only happinesses in your future.

It was a background feeling, I still went out and had a life. Certainly taught me that regretting things you can’t change is a complete waste of time. Thanks for the good wishes.

I called a friend last week … and whilst on the phone she fell down the stairs … broke her ankle and now faces 6 weeks on crutches and she has twins and a baby all under 3!! I feel VERY guilty that maybe if I hadn’t called it would never have happened … but I know it really wasn’t my fault.

several thousand dollars my parents paid for orthodontia and other dental work. It’s not my fault all my teeth grew in crooked, but that doesn’t stop the guilt!

then there was the time that I was responsible for a kid and without really thinking I let her do something mildly dangerous, and she ended up in the hospital where they removed the piece of metal that got stuck in her leg.

Well, on the not-so-serious side, a few weeks ago a friend biked over to my house at night. I told him that theft was almost nonexistent in my part of town, so he didn’t need to chain it up. We later go outside to see his bike was stolen. D’oh! :smack:

Mine is so far out of my control that it’s absolutely absurd that I should feel guilty, but I do.

I’m a huge Edmonton Oilers fan. Last year, they made a big push to the playoffs, but were officially out with one game to go against the Vancouver Canucks. Even though the Oilers had nothing really to gain by winning, they went out and fought hard and knocked the Canucks out of a possible playoff spot.

A few weeks later, a young Canuck player from my home province (Luc Bourdon) was killed in a motorcycle accident. I can’t help but wonder, if the Oilers hadn’t won that game and the Canucks had made the playoffs, would he still be alive today? He wouldn’t have gone home and bought the motorcycle and had that accident, he would have been playing hockey like he should have been doing for years to come. It’s dumb that I should feel guilty for this, but I do.

RIP, Luc.