It is a beautiful sunshiny day here in Central Indiana! As the morning dawns I can see nothing but blue sky! Awesome! As I sit here in my sun room contemplating what it is that I want to say, a thought comes to me; I can’t believe I am sitting in a room in the Mid-West!! Really? I remember a time (as ironic as this is) when I would mock anyone who had the idea that they wanted to move to the Midwest….OK, truth, I actually had a conversation with a young woman about moving to Muncie, Indiana only a few months before I decided to move to Indianapolis, Indiana! And yes, the conversation had a bit of a mocking tone to it! Ha! Yes I have changed.
Ok, I digress! I wanted to talk about my feelings this morning, the ones which had me reeling for a little while in self-loathing guilt. <———- that there is some strong guilt! So what were these thoughts? Well before I tell you let me first say that there is a happy ending to my self-loathing guilt! Whew! I knew you would want to hear that bit of information first!
Now then what could cause all this horrible caliber guilt? FAMILY! For a lot of you I can probably stop right there and you would understand. We all have those times when we feel overwhelmed for one reason or another in relation to our family. Even the best intentioned person can get to a point where they just think “what is the point?” And yes, sometimes I get there. As I am sure most of you who read my blog understand right off, I do not mean “what is the point” in a terrible “I hate them” kind of way. But I do mean it in an “I’m giving up” kind of way. Yes….self-pity! Yay!
A little back story for perspective you say? Well, suffice it to say I always had a vision of how my life would be once my children were adults and had children of their own. I nurtured these ideas maybe too well over the years. I raised my kids as a single parent (during the time I raised them I did have two relationships but truly I was the only parent there) I always had this idea that we would be close forever. But of course as the kids became adults it changed. They have their own lives, and no that is not where the self-pity comes in, although it was a hard adjustment to make! The self-pity comes in because not only did my vision not come to fruition but others stepped into the picture and they then began to live my dream…with my kids. No it is not the absent parent, it is just other people, people who my children, through circumstance or choice, have found to be more necessary to their lives than I am.
OK, so you have some back story, and I really do not want to go into more detail, it is what it is! I got OK with it all a while ago. Now pay attention….because here comes the self-loathing guilt part….
As the years went by and I realized I do not have this relationship, this life that I wanted, I began to let go and feel better. I was able to step back and just be happy that my kids are grown, have families of their own, and are happy! But then it happens….I take a step away to reclaim some form of life for me and the self-loathing guilt hits! I came to realize the only way to ever have a relationship with my family was to set my days/schedules according to theirs, or it just wouldn’t happen! And for years now that is what I have done, but it has become too hard! I was always rearranging my schedule so that I could have some time with my family. There wasn’t a lot of balance. I realize if I wanted any kind of life I needed to take a step back. I thought if I did this the other side would push back a little, maybe come a little closer to the balance line; but it didn’t happen. I guess that is where the self-pity started. When they didn’t come to me at all, I resisted changing my routine back so that I could once again come to them. Why? Because I realized that they had all the quality of my life, but my life, personal and professional, well it lacked quality because of the nature of having to meet everyone else on their terms.
OK but what is it I am trying to say here? I need to bottom line this.
What I am trying to say is this morning I began a thought process where I asked myself “so are you going to chase them all down and find out what their schedules are this week so you can get some time? Are you going to try to accommodate all of their expectations for when, who, how, where?” And the answer I got was “no” and then I felt overwhelming guilt. OK…self-loathing guilt. It took me a few minutes of thinking on it, in which time I thought about my adult children, as well as my parents, and siblings, all extended family really and then it occurred to me- why am I stressing over being there or not being there for others? Why am I having such a hard time living my life without the guilt I place on myself over what type or how deep of a relationship I have with anyone? If I give my best, treat them well when we are together, love them from afar, keep in touch via other means of communication, etc… Why should there be any guilt?
Why? Because I create the guilt, I mean it is all mine. Nobody makes me have this guilt, heck probably at least half the time if I sat down and talked to any family member about it they would not think any guilt was warranted. Although I know there is some because I know they all sit around and discuss whether we are measuring up as parents/grandparents (because I have been witness to them doing it about the other parents/grandparents) but that should not matter to me. That is not my problem. It is none of my business if others want to judge, or talk about me, as long as I am confident in my actions, my thoughts, my love, my abilities. And I do no harm.
So this really goes back to my detachment post from last week, as well as unconditional love, forgiveness, and gratitude. All of these attributes can help me in this situation, but most of all I need to start with letting go of what others think about me; even family.
It is said that we can’t pick our family and it is said that we have an obligation to our family. And I do feel we have an obligation to an extent. Most definitely in times of need, but I need to let go of this picture I have of how family is supposed to be. My vision, the vision I nurtured all of my adult life (and honestly well before I was an adult) of life with adult children. I need to be OK with the fact that I have a life to live and I need to live it, without guilt, of any kind, because I am doing nothing wrong. I love my family and sometimes they are not available to me and I need to realize that this does not mean my life is held hostage waiting for an opportunity….and that is said with no malice. We all need to live our lives and when we do see each other it should be good and when we are apart we should stay in touch and that should be good enough. We should be happy that we have that. Because I know some families who do not speak…period!
If we only see each other once a month it needs to be good! And we should speak to each other often! SPEAK…not only text. And there should be no guilt. And if your family is not available to you when you are available or if they refuse to make time for you in any way you should not tear your life apart with guilt. It is not yours to have. It is not about you.
Do the best you can, be the best you can, and be OK with that!
And this also means if you want to move 1000 miles away; do not let guilt stop you! If God calls you somewhere… you go. There is Skype, text, phone, planes, trains, and automobiles! Ha! I mean come on!! The quality of relationship that you have with your family is what you make of it; no matter how close or far you live from each other.
I believe I try too hard to create this vision I had for our life and that is hard on everyone in my family. I can’t help but feel as though I’m being judged by them for not living up to this image I created. But what I realize, and yes it has taken me a long time, is that if indeed they are judging me, then this is not my problem. I need to be confident in my love and how I express it! I can’t live to please others, I just need to know that I love as best I can and I make sure others know how I feel! And I can’t backslide because someone decides my actions seem as though I do not care. I am secure in my love for them!! I need to own that and own who I am! No blame for others!! No blame, no guilt. We love the best we can and say it….as often as possible. We do no harm. And we are secure in who we are. Guilt so often is a figment of our own mind. And usually only we can rid our lives of that guilt!