I grew up in an incredibly conservative religious denomination with a narcissistic mother and bipolar father. So, I’ve experienced a lot of guilt over the years.
I legitimately feel guilty right now, which just brought out a realization: I haven’t suffered from lingering guilt in a long time–at some point, it stopped being the norm for me. That realization feels good.
I wish that I could change. I wish that I wouldn’t “fawn” as my stress response. I wish that I didn’t go toward guilt so readily.
I’m feeling guilty about things that aren’t my responsibility. I’m feeling guilty because my father is going through a major surgery and my mother hates him–she despises that he will need help. She hates that it inconveniences her. She is angry that there’s no one around to help—as in, she is mad that I won’t be there. I won’t be there because I simply cannot.
She did not expressly ask me to come, but when I apologized that I couldn’t be there, she was terribly quick with a hostile, “Well, that would have been nice. It’s going to be very hard with no help around. I don’t know how I will possibly do it.”
The thing is, I have two small children. I have two small children in a state where we have no family. I also have a husband who leaves for work by 5AM and often returns after 11PM. In order for me to go “help,” I couldn’t bring the kids with me. Even taking all of my work and personal responsibilities out of the equation (which would be hard enough during this time of year), we simply don’t have someone to arrive at our house at 4:45AM and leave at 11:00PM. It’s just not feasible–and it’s not fair to anyone.
The other thing I haven’t allowed myself to really think about is that I don’t want to go. My dad and I have a very odd relationship for a lot of reasons. We don’t talk; we don’t text. I see him on Facetime when my kids call them, and I hug him awkwardly when we visit and try to make small talk. I don’t want to be his post-surgery help.
And so, I’m feeling guilty in my heart, even though my head knows better.