Guilt and confusion

So, it’s Mother’s Day here. I spent much of the weekend at my parents’ house which, as you know, is never a good thing for me.

My father was his rude obnoxious self, making snide remarks to me and calling my mother awful names. Why does he do that? I just don’t get it.

My mother spent most of her time complaining about my father. When I offered the “logical” solution of putting him in a nursing home (which is what he needs), she just made various remarks on the theme of: “It’s not that easy.”

I thought, “Bulltish it’s not, Mum, but this is your life.”

Anyway, none of that is really the point of this post. The point of this post is guilt – feeling guilty, to be precise. Or ranting and rambling about feeling guilty. And being confused about feeling guilty.

It struck me today that I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I no longer play the “good daughter” routine where my father is concerned. I will be civil to him, but that’s about it. I won’t engage in conversation with him, and I try not to look at him as far as is possible. Given how rude he usually is to me this generally means we say hello to each other, and nothing more. I certainly don’t make any effort, not like a “normal” daughter would. Thankfully, at least, this trip I didn’t have to sit through dinner with him – that’s always quite triggering for me.

Anyway, as I was packing the car to come home, I made the mistake of looking at him. He gave me that look – the look of a sad, frail old man. I hate that. It made me feel guilty for not feeling more compassionate towards him, and for not making the effort.

Now I’m confused and torn because as soon as this guilt thing hits, I start yelling and screaming at myself that I don’t need to feel bad for not being the adoring daughter – he’s hardly been the adoring father.

So… guilt and confusion. It’s a mess.

When I came home I settled in to some colouring. It didn’t solve the guilt, or the confusion, but it calmed me a little (even if it’s not William Morris; not even a real Roger Burrows book).

I also took some photos in the garden after the rain. 

I still feel guilty, and I still feel confused, but I’m better able to sit with those feelings. For now, at least.

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4 thoughts on “Guilt and confusion

  1. Beautiful photo Kerro. )
    And I know exactly what you mean about guilt. My mother has been in the hospital for the last three weeks and I have experienced some of that guilt. She’s feeling a bit better now and yesterday when I visited, she was approaching her usual self absorbed personality. Made me bristle and leave early. I’m taking the kids to visit her today – should absorb some of that negativism.

    Take care of yourself!

  2. The fact that you are feeling such ambivalence is not indicative of being cold or uncaring, quite the opposite in fact. If you were really dispassionate then you wouldn’t be tearing yourself to pieces over this. That’s not to say guilt is all that helpful, but I understand just how difficult it can be to let go and let people deal with their own problems, when they have made their problems the centre of your universe for so long. You aren’t that powerless kid any more Kerro, you have strength and wisdom in spades. It is possible to love and dislike someone at the same time and survive it, and it is possible to keep yourself safe and separate from those who seek to cause you pain. You’re already doing it, you just don’t know it. Give yourself a break sweetie, you deserve better.

    Lola x

  3. Guilt is so difficult. Your father sounds like a hard person to be around, but to you of course he is still your father. And now that he is older and frail it must be very hard for you. I think it is great that you are taking care of you though, despite the guilty feelings. I’m sure it is confusing, after all what is the point of taking care of you when it just makes you feel guilty? How does that help? But I suppose it helps in the long run. It sucks that nothing is easy, and that you have to deal with the guilt in order not to have to deal with things that are even worse.

  4. @ OLJ – Thank you. 🙂 I’m sorry your mother is in hospital and still sucking you into the guilt thing. I know what you mean about the bad behaviour being a sign she’s getting better – my father is the same. You take care too.

    @ Lola Snow – Thanks for your words of wisdom – I confess I have been puzzling over them since you wrote. I would never say that I “love” my father – how can I when he has done such horrible things to my mother and me, and when I have such hatred for him in my heart? It’s so confusing. And yea, it really is hard to step back and make other people responsible for themselves when you have been made to feel responsible for them for so long.

    @ Harriet – You are right – my father is difficult to be around and the best thing I can do right now is look after me (for a change). Thank you. I hope you can take some time for yourself this week in your post-Mother’s Day fog.

    ((Hugs)) to all of you, if you want them.

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