Why Do I Feel Soooo Bad?
Because I feel guilty.
I resist the sensation in my body, because I can not trust if I am feeling guilty because I have a true reason to or because I am taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings – as is the sad story of my young and mid life.
I take on others’ discomfort when I am around them, or when I know them well. I anticipate what is going to bother or annoy or offend people – especially the codependent, volatile people in my life.
Sitting here, trying to find a truth or two that will make me feel better, help me to uncover the truth about my guilt and relieve the physical effects of that anxiety, I think I can separate a few threads…
My mother and legal father have been divorced since 1980. Yes, 35 years. My mother continues to loathe my father, and my father is no more grown up about the situation, in many ways. And I still feel like I am in a meat grinder between them…
It’s Christmas vacation and I have come home and stayed at my father’s, but my mother is back in town so there is I feel guilty because I know that staying over at my father’s house during this holiday break would upset my mother.
I am 43. This is ridiculous. Just like all of the ways I have allowed the fear of my mother’s discontent with me rule my actions, or rule the way I feel about my actions.
So, I don’t know how I, myself, feel about my father emotionally. I have memories of him terrorizing me. (I had to look that word up in the dictionary to make sure I am not over-exaggerating. One of the definitions is: “to dominate or coerce by intimidation.” And yes, he did that.) He frightened me, terrified – hitting me – flagrantly – and trying to smother me with a pillow because I wouldn’t stop crying… all while I was under the age of 8.
Now, as an adult (an adult in a few different programs of recovery…guh!) I recognize a couple of things about how I justify interacting with my father, who is not a sensitive, warm, presence —
- I think that I think I deserve to have someone (a father) take care of me, care what happens to me…so I leave the door for the relationship open…I leave the door open for him to apologize, actually, I think.
- I think that I think I deserve to be treated well by him given how he treated me as a kid. I am spending time with him to give him chances to treat me more warmly or gently.
- I am caught in this trap, I think like I am in every (especially romantic) relationship I have ever been in… Thinking I have to leave the door open…wait for the bad-feeling stuff to stop and the good-feeling stuff to begin.
So, to recap so far,
I think I feel guilty for doing something that my mother will be hurt by. Because she has always acted like there were sides in the situation and so when I spend any time with John I am disloyal or my decision says that everything he ‘did to her’ was ok…
Also, because I have told her what he did and how I felt about him as a kid, my spending time with him would seem to contradict my feelings and confuse her.
I feel guilty for so many reasons — including looking like I am not being true to myself. AND I feel guilty because I might be being dishonest with him (but I don’t know for sure…)… acting like I am ok with him when maybe I am not.
I have this thought in my head that I am giving him a chance, (the excuse being) because he is also a person. And it is decades after the fact(s). That is perfectly reasonable, right?! Lots of people do that, give their father who has been abusive the time of day…
I guess I am not positive that I am being true to myself. Am I trying to prove something? Or am I sincerely trying. It is a messy situation, it feels like. But I know there are simple truths.
The bottom line is that I have been preoccupied much to long to help alleviate stress in relationships that are not 100% my responsibility to care for. They are 50% or less my responsibility.
I have not begun a life that puts these concerns way down on my priority list. I should be much more preoccupied with my own creations in life, my creation of a life, my creation of a life together with someone and we can be all of the kind things that my mother and father were not.
Since I have a good idea of what those things are, I can work towards those things every day…
Observation and appreciation of other people’s feelings, especially my kids.
Not intimidating people or refusing or trying to control their feelings or thoughts about anything.
Positive thoughts, expectations, wishes, observations, initiatives, plans, execution.
Taking a whole different perspective and approach on the world. Now.