OK… So here goes… I’ve decided to write about things that I have learned by analyzing my memories of the dynamics of my family of origin over the years. I’ve debated this for quite some time. Wondering if it’s appropriate because they’re all gone. My parents, stepmother, and three older brothers… All deceased. I was worried that, by writing about them, it would just look like very poor form….like some twisted revenge thing.
My intention is not to beat up on the deceased. My intention is to talk about real things and surviving and maybe help someone else who is trying to understand some of their own actions and reactions. My hope is that what I write might support someone else in their own healing journey.
I will absolutely take ownership of the fact that, these are my personal memories and perspectives… It’s my truth. But there could well be other truths out there that I am not aware of… Fair is fair… And I believe in fairness! So here we go…
I am much, much better now. But I had a long history of being a control freak. I also carried tremendous guilt… ABOUT EVERYTHING! I carried guilt about my own stuff but also about everybody else’s stuff too. And at some point I decided that I needed to look at that… In fact, it was so bad, even as a child, that I resonated deeply with a song by John Denver in which he says:
… “I’m sorry for the way things are in China
I’m sorry things ain’t what they used to be”….
Apologizing for the way things are in China! I could absolutely see myself doing that… Even as a kid in high school. To say that that is exhausting, is wildly inadequate. Guilt not only makes you beat yourself up, it also makes you worry about every single choice you make… At least that’s true for me. Consequently, another byproduct of guilt is indecision. Before I ever made a decision I had to play out potential scenarios in my head to see if I was going to inadvertently cause something that I would later feel guilty about… Absolutely crazy making!
I would watch my friends who made decisions quickly. My observation was that they could decide easily and never look back, never second-guess themselves. I envied that.
So how did I get here? Why did I always feel guilty? Where did that come from? How could I get rid of it?
I started to really look at my childhood. It wasn’t all bad. And it wasn’t that good. My brothers were all out of the house by the time I was 12. My parents divorced then and my dad got sole custody of me. And I believe he did his best.
Unfortunately, he then married someone with very deep, deep emotional challenges. She could and would have daily verbal meltdowns for a week for even the slightest infraction of the rules. And most of the rules were never voiced or discussed. They were just there… Like tripwires waiting to be stepped on.
She would rarely come at me herself. She would verbally attack him, my dad, and then make him come after me. And he eventually would come at me. It was never ever physical. It was only verbal… But verbal attacks can do their own significant damage.
When he finally had enough of her verbal assaults, he would… Out of the blue… Start yelling at me about something. I would have no idea that there was a storm brewing. I believe he was trying to shelter me from her frequent rages. But when he couldn’t take it anymore, it trickled downhill to me. Forgetting to put my empty soda can in the garbage would morph into what a horrible, insensitive, thoughtless person I was. And everything was my fault. During these tirades, I was told that his back pain was my fault, his high blood pressure was my fault , even a speeding ticket that he got while I was in the car was my fault. And I believed him. It was that simple. This man who filed for custody of me because he knew that my very alcoholic mother couldn’t take care of me was telling me now that I was a horrible, thoughtless person. And that I caused every aggravation in his life. How could I not believe him?
So I grew with that seed planted deep, deep in my psyche. And every decision that I made had that as a basis. I caused horrible things for the man who fought to care for me. So I was a horrible person … Who meant well… But still caused constant harm. I did have enough presence of mind to know that I wasn’t causing any of these things intentionally. But I was not mature enough to know that it was just wrong.
And I carried all of that with me through most of my adult life. I allowed friendships to lapse… Lots of friendships… Because I believed that I was far more trouble than I was worth. There were so many tentacles to this one core belief. I’m still finding them. Even now, I watch myself being cautious in friendships because I have these deep beliefs of… Nonsense!
And one of the tentacles that I had to really, really work on was the need to control everything. I was an admitted control freak but I didn’t really understand why until recently. You see, when everything is your fault then everything becomes your responsibility! I’m going to say that again to make sure you get it. When everything is your fault then everything becomes your responsibility… Let that sink in.
If I was going to be blamed for everything then I needed to make sure that things were under control and that bad things didn’t happen… Everything was on my watch. And my watch was 24/7 every day of every year. You never get a break when everything is your fault and your responsibility.
Again… Exhausting! But I can tell you that this story has a happy ending. I have been able to dig deep and find the seeds that were planted when I was so young. I have been able to redefine and reframe cause and effect in my own life. I’ve cut my father some slack. I believe he was doing his best even though his best wasn’t good enough. And now, every time I think something is my fault, a bell goes off in my head. And I really look at it and make sure that I’m perceiving things correctly. When I’m not, I reframe once again!
If you walk around with too much guilt or with too much responsibility, I invite you to take some time and look deep within. Were you given wrong messages as a child? Did your child self misinterpret the data in your life? We all deserve to heal.
I wish you deep peace and healing in your own life.
I’m glad you’re here💜
****This post is part of the 2022 Nanopoblano November writing challenge. We commit to writing a blog post every day if it all possible and to supporting each other in our writing endeavors. All of my cheer pepper friends would appreciate your support. You can find all of their blogs HERE: