Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guilt and how to deal with it:)

Upsi was inspired and wrote about working through guilt.  This in turn has inspired me to write a bit about this as well. If you are in this family rift/estrangement situation, undoubtedly you will feel (well a lot of things) and guilt will be among the party guests:) Many of us have been manipulated at least during our young lives and essentially programed to feel this to even our own reasonable responses, which another person without our history would not even think to feel guilty about.

On the living authentically blog (also referenced by Upsi and now discovered by me), there is this advice:

"There is a process (which comes from gestalt psychotherapy) for working with feeling guilty: underneath guilty there is a resentment and underneath resentment there is a demand. Once you get to the demand you aren’t bothered with feeling guilty anymore.
To experience this:

  1. Imagine yourself expressing your guilty feeling to someone. It can be someone you imagine or an idealised figure (like a judge) or the person or group you feel you transgressed against.
  2. Express the feeling fully. As you do this you will either finish with the feeling or feel resentment arise. If you don’t feel resentment you are probably finished with feeling guilty.
  3. If you feel resentment arise then express this resentment. Allow yourself to be very specific. Be as specific as you can.
  4. As you express you resentment you will find that you are making a series of demands. These demands are important. They contain, at their heart, what you need to thrive.
  5. As you find a way to get what you are demanding you will find that you are free of feeling guilty. "
From the age of 29 to the age of, er, 46; I have in such a roundabout way, I am sure, gone through this.   So as far as "my parents" are concerned the guilt phase lasted for a long time but finally I went past that.   So since I am in a good place, I would not write out these steps for that experience as I have already embraced my decisions, actions, and intentions with confidence.   I have also given myself the permission not to have to relive this as my "penance".

However, there is a situation regarding an individual of my FOO to where I can apply this.  I had actually promised we would have a phone conversation about this,once I was done enjoying some time off.   You can find part of the situation that I am speaking to in this attached post.

For a little more background, a few weeks ago I was puzzling over the best way to be upfront and direct about this.   A telephone call would have been the right and correct thing to do.   However, I was really stressed out after being so busy with my business (which is good but still makes one edgy and sleep deprived) that I just did not want to get any more emotionally upset or vested in this.   Therefore, here is the totally dysfunctional e-mail response (not so much the response but that I could not deal with it except at an arms length distance at the time).

This is actually an e-mail discussion that happened after my relative sent some third party messages through my husband to me:

Relative on FB to ME: Have Robert call me ASAP.

This is the point where the discussion with Robert to send third party messages also to me took place, and now the rest of the FB discussion is after receiving the messages from my husband.

Me on FB: Hey [Relative], I don't have your phone number, so I just wanted to address what you talked to [My Husband] about. I have no interest in talking about those parties either.

I know [My Husband] asks about them sometimes, but I really could care less. Also, when you bring me a third party message from your father at a meet and greet with  [Relative's girlfriend], I now have to talk about it with you. I mean I could be rude, but I feel obligated if someone brings it up to me.

Also, you once brought it up as a starting conversation with [Relative's girlfriend] at diner, as her kids also don't have a relationship with their dad.

People I do not interact with are not my family, nor do I want to talk to them. I don't know if you noticed, but I never bring it up (sometimes [My Husband] does). So just don't mention them either, [My Husband] won't mention them, and I have no interest in mentioning them.

So if you bring up the subject in the future, I will close it down with you immediately. Again, I would have called you, and I am not mad. I am actually glad you brought it up, as it is not something pleasant for me NOR something I want to think about when I am just trying to hang out. And as far what family that I interact with are doing at family outings, I have not interest in that either.

That I am not mad part was not an actual lie at the time.   I have been conditioned to feel as if I should not BE mad.   I had intended not to be mad, but the bottom line is that I was angry that after so many discussions of not passing on messages that he did it.  I really should not have said what my husband will or will not do, he is free to bring up, answer, or talk about anything he wants to in HIS OWN HOUSE.

Relative on FB I agree [Relative] Let's not discuss [Sperm Donor], [Step Monster], any third-party messages from my Parents, or Family Gatherings. My number is (NOE) MPA-THY!
...and, let the record state that [His Girlfriend] and I wanted to visit tomorrow! ;)

The "for the record" part slays me.  Yes, let's state that for appearances sake, we have a very tight and warm relationship.  I would like this documented "for the record".   And "for the record' he was told why I would not want him to come in the first place, so this is a favor to me in what way?

Me on FB:  Yes, I know. It has been way busy here, and I am not up for any company right now. I will probably be asleep for most of tomorrow OR spending some much needed alone time with [My Husband].

BTW if you want to try and plan something the week of August 13th is looking good. I was planning to take some major time off then.

And then after a few days of worrying that he would actually take me up on this, AND do that by having a last minute "duty call"....I took care of this inadvertent and conditioned brain fart on my part.   I would like to say that I wish I did not have to deal with this and have the brain fart in the first place.   However, this helps me clear up some things that have been bothering me.   This is when I was spending time agonizing as to whether to do the right thing and call OR the "wrong" thing with MY well being in mind for once.

Me on FBActually to tell you the truth, the above invite was given in a moment of guilt for being too tired and busy to see you last minute. I am really looking forward to my time next week, and you tend to be a bit of work to have over. Between now having to worry about putting up family photos where you might not (or Irene might not think you are perfect), having to worry about saying it was nice to have [you] here on Facebook so the wrong person doesn't see, needing to be available to receive you at a moments notice no matter what is going on in my life, and really you and [My Husband] more have the relationship than you and me. And many times you make it seem like some kind of favor that you are visiting me (and sometimes we all know you have had another agenda for coming over here), and often pass judgements or bring up my relationships with other people. Now my purpose here is not necessarily to sever my relationship with you, but I think it's important to have a mutally beneficial give and take relationship. Right now, you and I do not have that. And the one time it was fun and pleasant to have you over (the beach), you needed to make a drama about that over your picture. And whatever, if you don't want pics taken of you just say so. If you don't want your girlfriend to know you are here, either don't come or let her know you were here.

I have had enough dysfunctional relationships in my life. and this is a sort of dysfunctional way to talk to you, but I want to go on with my week just enjoying myself, and not worryign that I am going to get a last minute call that you are coming over. I have my brother in law, niece,and nephew here to enjoy, and I just want to stop worrying about this.

And as dysfunctional as it is. I don't want to talk about this this week or next week. Nor do I want messages passed to me through my husband. Thanks.

Relative on FB:   I'm glad your feelings to me. I completely understand and now that we've communicated about this, I hope we can work on re-establishing a better relationship. Love you

Quite frankly, I don't think this relative "completely understand"s how I feel.   This relative does not completely understand how anyone feels unless something very similar has happened to him.   What I am trying to say is the genetic lack of empathy appears to be alive and well in this relative.   We have talked about things that would provide for this "better relationship" not in that context but as plain courtesy.   And as yet courtesy has not been forwarded to me very often.

Me on FB:   Thanks, we will talk at a later date.

So it will be helpful to do the exercise at the very beginning of the post before our phone conversation (should this person be interested in having a phone conversation).

  1. I feel guilty, because I did not want visits from you "on the fly".   I feel guilty also for allowing you to use my husband as a third party vehicle (and therefore I was also using you as a third party vehicle as I did not want to talk to you in person about this), and not directly confronting you about this more honestly and sooner.  I also feel guilty about the way that I choose to respond to you before taking my time off.   However, after consideration, I really needed to take care of myself first.
  2. (I've thought about this a lot, so I don't feel resentment at the feeling but I certainly did at the time, so I am going forward with the next step)  
  3. I feel resentful as I have personally told you before that it is not always a good time to visit.   I know that you think if you are visiting "my parents" in the area, that you think I will be hurt because you do not come.   I am hurt that my relatives do not make plans with me (that are enjoyable and agreeable) before hand, and instead come unexpectedly for their "duty visit".   It is this that I resent.   If you did not visit during a visit to "my parents" I would not be hurt.   I have always told you that I would like to plan something fun for all of us, and so that the house is clean ET and since I work from home so that I don't have schedule conflicts.   The fact that you ignore this is what I resent.   I also resent that you indicated to my husband what topics could not be of conversation.   Not so much because of the topic at hand, but because you weren't even invited over and you brought up something that is particularly painful to me out of the blue.  Thereby interrupting my day (when you weren't going to be here and I was having a good day) with something disturbing to me, and you communicated that through a third party (link is to an instance where he delived a message to me from his father), my husband.  We have also personally had conversations about that.  
  4. Yes I see those demands in my head right now, and they are as follows...
  5. One if this person feels the need to edit topics at hand (that they bring up by the way by making comments that indicate that I should feel guilt over the estrangement to "my parents"), and have a problem with every visit---perhaps they should not be visiting.   I am not that close to this person.   They are okay, and I have felt beholden since they "grace" me with their last minute company to cleave onto this final FOO relationship, but if it continues in this one sided and thoughtless way it is not something that I need in my life.  So I guess my demand is planned outings whether they coincide with their trip to their girlfriend or "my parents"  or not.  I am not a duty dropping by place, and it is not enjoyable for me to be used as such.  Demand two is that I do not need (nor do you need to bitch to my husband about anything) third party messages from you.   Demand two continues to an old discussion where I don't need any third party messages brought to me from other relatives that can not pick up the phone and call me directly themselves.   Demand three, you never ever need to bring up "my parents" to me by saying things like "don't you miss them" or "they don't appear to be doing well".   I am fully capable of communicating my feelings to "my parents" myself, and they are still possessed of the ability to communicate to me at any time they wish to.   We do not need a third party intervention from people who have not lived and do not empathize.   I am through having to justify myself to someone, and if I need to continue hearing that from you (and then editing what I say in response, though I just don't want to hear it in the first place quite frankly) then we do not need to be visiting each other.
When your upbringing may hindered ones ability to communicate on the fly, sometimes it takes a plan to communicate.   Sitting down and thinking these things out can help you  more effectively communicate, and sometimes save a relationship (if it's worth saving in the first place).

Anyway, the ball is in my other relatives court, as I called to talk to him.   Had to leave a message on the answering machine, but there the first step has been made.  I stuck to what I said I would do, partly out of duty and partly out of interest to see if I can salvage a relationship out of my FOO. If he is interested in salvaging a relationship with me he will call, if not...I am ready to let it go.


mulderfan said...

These days, if I do happen to feel a tiny twinge of guilt, I remind myself that I have repaid and/or fulfilled any obligation I may have had toward my abusers a thousand times over. If people outside my immediate circle bring up my FOO, I simply refuse to discuss them.

In other words, "Fuck 'em!"

BTW Your "visitor" sounds like an insensitive douche!

Winterskiprincess said...

Most of my family does not like to "appear" that way, but it is a genetic trait.

mulderfan said...

Hm, you must be missing the gene or perhaps you're like me, determined to be ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING like the assholes in my NFOO!

Winterskiprincess said...

I think I have been determined to be nothing like them since the age of 5. I did not recognize it as such, but I think back to my younger childhood and not feeling connected, and I am pretty sure I know why LOL.