Monday, June 28, 2010

wrestling with guilt

i divorced my parents about 3 months ago. lately the hubs has been asking me a question i can't answer. how do i see this ending?

last night one of my aunts (my mom's youngest sister) emailed me and said although she had no idea what was going on she really wished my mom and i could work things out. i emailed her, she emailed me back. in a nutshell she said if i don't make up w/ my mom someday it will be too late and i will be sorry. in a nutshell i told her she only knows the side of her sister that she's been shown and has no idea about what has been going on for the last 3-4 decades. i also told her that if we were talking about a relationship w/ a friend or spouse people would be encouraging me to run, not walk away.

the hubs thinks i will have regrets when my parents die if i don't do SOMETHING. neither of us is sure what that SOMETHING should be, but he's certain i will have regrets.

i asked him if it's really fair to have a relationship with someone based on the fact that you don't want to feel guilty when they die. he said absolutely. i just don't know about that.

i don't want my parents to die and i don't wish any ill will on them, but that doesn't change the fact that i don't like them and don't want to be around them. i don't know how to get around that.

i am not surprised that my aunt emailed me. i figured sooner or later one of them would. i would do the same thing if it were my bro and puddin' having problems. however, all anyone has ever known is my mom's side of things, whether she is talking about the current situation or not, she is and has always portrayed herself as the victim. that is how her family sees her.

i am not going to give my aunt a laundry list of why her sister isn't the victim she thinks she is. part of me wishes people knew how things really were/are but even then i question whether they'd still see mom as the victim. years ago when i told one of my aunts about just a part of my issue w/ them she was initially sickened w/ and then quickly did an about face.

i still go back to the thought that if the hubs was the one i'd had all of these issues w/ over the years, if he was the one causing all the drama and strife and emotional abuse and neglect, etc. people would think i was crazy to stay with him. why should it be any different just because it's my parents? why should i be the guilty one?


Just B said...

I think about this, too. And I agree with you. Just because they brought you, doesn't necessarily mean you will miss them when they go out. Of course, that is easy for us to say on this side of the grave.

I try to picture that situation--how I might feel at a funeral, hospital beside, etc. I've got nothing. The only thing that changes that, is trying to view it through the lens of my children's eyes...How will they feel when I'm not sad and do I want them to feel anything??

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate conflict myself, I am on the fence here. I am glad that you have less stress and drama with this separation. And I think it is a good example for the kids to not let your folks run over you anymore. I guess you just have to weigh that with the possibility of guilt down the road. You just can't predict that. I think it would be different if they had truly made an effort to own up to their issues and take responsibility, but they haven't, and you're the one that has suffered for it and tried to keep the peace until you just couldn't anymore. Do what you have to do to protect yourself and the kids.

Sweet T

Surely said...

I think you would have bigger regret if you hadn't said what you said & did what you did.

Having stood on the other side, my dad dying, I can tell you that there wasn't any regret in not "hashing things out". My brother did with him, and he felt better but I didn't feel the need nor do I nearly one year later.

It is a very personal decision and one only you can make or understand but I think you're on the right track.

Penny said...

I have been in your shoes before and honestly, I felt OK with it. I was happier and calmer with out the constant drama and hurt feelings..BUT I have contact with both of my parents now and we have an OK relationship and I'm happy with that too. I think most people come from the viewpoint where they have had somewhat healthy relationships with their parents so it is hard for them to understand being OK with not talking to them....

cheatymoon said...

I think about this a lot. My mom does not talk to anyone in her family (her sisters). None of the sisters talk to each other, and the one aunt that I was fairly close to stopped talking to everyone in her 'family of origin'. I don't really understand why she has divorced herself from us - but it is what it is.

Anyway, I know it is painful either way, and my wish is for everyone involved (in your case and in mine) to have some peace.

It seems that you have taken the most peaceful path for Right Now, but maybe you will change your mind later. You have tried very hard and are more than thoughtful about it.

And can I just say that your hubs is a rockstar for being so tuned in to this situation? Awesome.

Fragrant Liar said...

My parents and I have a great relationship, and always have. I think perhaps people who don't have your in-depth personal experience may not be able to completely identify or empathize with you and the way you feel about your parents. I can certainly sympathize and respect your feelings, but I can't quite get all the way there emotionally because of my ignorance of what your life has been like. Does that make sense?

I understand, truly. Perhaps you will regret it when they're gone, and perhaps not. None of us who doesn't walk in your shoes can truly judge, can we? I think you just have to do the best you can with what you've got and rest comfortably with your decision. This life we have is too short for regrets, whether you make amends with your mom or not.

Hugs, girl.

Astarte said...

(I love your new blog design!)

The thing with maybe feeling guilty is that in order to feel bad, you need to have an emotional tie to someone. If there's no emotional connection there, other than relief at being free, then there's no guilt. There's a difference at being sad about not having a *healthy* relationship with parents and being sad over not having a relationship with *your* parents.

I think about this sometimes, with my parents. I haven't talked to my father in a few years now: we spoke for about a year and a half fairly regularly after only having had a handful of communications since he left when I was 3. I can't be sure, but I don't think I will regret not talking to him anymore. I still talk to my mother, but if I had a way to get out of it easily, I wouldn't see her anymore, either. I don't think I would feel guilty about it, either. I just haven't had the impetus to do it. You have.

The only difference between this and an abusive husband is that parents are supposed to be an unconditional love connection, but when that connection isn't there, there's no difference at all.

The real question is, can we look at our children, imagine them in our shoes, and honestly expect that they would never talk to us again. If we take that feeling, imagine our parents maybe feeling it, and can do so without feeling guilty, then it's the right choice.

Spanx said...

Here's all I know from my experience of a very similar type:

I didn't and couldn't choose the family I was born into. I could however, when I was old enough, choose how or if I wanted any interaction with them. I also had to accept that I couldn't change them in any way, I could only change myself..

The hardest, but best thing I did (for me)was to detach. That didn't necessarily mean that the detachment was forever - but it gave me some much needed peace to re-group.

These are tough issues - hugs to you as you walk this path...I'm available if you ever want to talk about it.

drollgirl said...

i agree with you/your stance. i'd support your decision if you changed your mind, but i think you are rather clear-headed about this whole thing. for reals.

this is kind of not really related, but it used to drive me crazy that churchy types would "do the right thing" and act like they were all superior. but is it really that admirable if you "do the right thing" just because a reward (like heaven) is being dangled in front of you? that isn't altruistic at all, and is really a bit pathetic to me. and patching things up so that one avoids feeling guilty (even if THEY are not really the guilty party) seems kind of phony to me. but i get it. i see both sides, so i won't make any rash judgments here!

Unknown said...

i wrote a long comment to this, and the damn computer ate it. Anyway, with just a little experience about this kind of thing from one side of my family, I will ask what you can handle. If you attempt to have a relationship with them, they could: be appreciative and at least try to play nice. Or they could gloat and say they won. If you can find a way where this last one doesn't bother you and if you can turn off your head and shrug off their comments -- because you expect them, re-establishing some contact with them may work somewhat. If you still seethe at what they say, then maybe not. And other family members may never say they believe you because then they would have to acknowledge the ugliness. Good luck on what you choose.