A recent therapy session ended with leaving me feeling a bit better than I expected. Normally I do feel better better when I go to see J, but recently they’ve been way more intense and I’ve been leaving feeling worse than I was before I got there. The guilt has been hard to handle. Talk about an anxiety rush!
This time we ended up talking about…wait for it…my mother. AGAIN. The topic of my life these last couple of months that just won’t go away. I suppose I shouldn’t beat myself up so much about it because in retrospect these feelings have been with me since I was a child and I’m just now starting to deal with them. See Lyric, you can give yourself a break now and then, it’s really OK!
Since patience is not exactly one of my virtues, it’s difficult to realize that I can’t understand everything as quickly as I’d like. I’m learning it’s a process, and not a linear one at that, but accepting that is easier said than done sometimes.
So when J could see that I had that frustrated, defeated, “stuck” look and really not gaining any ground she decided to bust out a tactic that I’m pretty good at, writing. In the Courage to Heal, there’s a section that involves a writing assignment on the topic of dealing with families. Almost immediately I rolled my eyes like, “oh God what does she have up her sleeve to try and get me to realize that not feeling guilty is OK”. The feeling guilty part comes from me feeling like I’m a terrible son, and brother, and that I’m just too different to ever fit into my family the way the others do. Basically because I don’t have the bond that my sister and brother do with my parents.
A bit of background…my sister and brother grew up while my dad was in the Navy. Even though my dad was away a lot at the time, they had a bond with my mom and with him because they are only two years apart. Even though the four of them moved around a lot, being a military family, they were close and stuck together. At least that’s what I’m told.
Then along came me, 12 years after my sister and 14 years after my brother. So I basically grew up an only child. I don’t remember much about my life before the abuse happened starting at around age 5 but ever since those events went down, I’ve been the outsider. Between being groomed to not tell anyone what happened, to feeling invalidated and judged constantly by my mother growing up, I grew further apart from them.
Anyways, I’ve been struggling with feeling guilty for not being there for my dad now that he’s older, and just generally not being as close part of the family as the other kids are with my parents. It’s like I’m on another planet and I come to visit around holidays or birthdays, and it’s just awkward and uncomfortable. This writing assignment I’m about to share addresses some of why J says that I shouldn’t have to feel so much guilt. Easier said than done but we’ll see.
She had write down as many attributes or qualities that I think a family should have, and I included friends too as a comparison. Below you can see my answers (you can click to enlarge it).
Rather than put names down of the people I referenced, I just used Friend 1, 2, and Family 1, 2, etc. What’s interesting is that the people who have the qualities I think are important, qualities that I have as well, and the ones that I gravitate towards are mostly outside of my family. The column “Family 4” was intentionally left blank because I just couldn’t bring myself to fill in anything positive about that person.
Ugh, when I write that down and say it to myself, it makes me feel like total crap. Like, I really can’t find anything good to say about this person? Maybe it’s just the state that I’m in right now and perhaps that will change in the future, then again perhaps not. Who knows. Still makes me feel like hell.
So J and I went over this together and in talking through it, it’s no wonder that I’m gravitating towards those people in my life that exhibit the qualities I think are important and why I distance myself from those that I don’t see as having those qualities. I want to be around people who are like me and people understand me.
Why then should I feel guilty for distancing myself from the people that don’t exhibit the attitudes and qualities that I think are important? The answer is, I shouldn’t have to feel that guilt.
Am I perfect? Not hardly! Do I expect others to be perfect? Of course not. I’m certainly not trying to be judgmental either but for all I know it’s coming out that way.
Yes I still feel guilty because everybody is always taught that family is important. You have to stick together because family is all you have. Family is always there for you. Insert your own cliche here.
Because I’m such a “nice guy”, I guess, I feel like I’m the black sheep. I’m an ungrateful son because I don’t embrace the family concept. Well, I guess the family concept is never something that I really felt like I was a part of in the first place. It’s not just because I was raised as mainly an only child, but rather the combination of life events that further broadened the canyon between me and my family.
So should I feel guilty? No. Do I feel guilty still? Yes, but I’m working on understanding this and coming to grips with what I’ve been through and how I was raised. It’s as enlightening as it is frustrating as it will be empowering hopefully one day.
I welcome and appreciate your thoughts in the comments.