Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Guilt: A-Z Challenge


G is for Guilt



“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

An innocent question most kids ask the moment they walk through the door.  Especially teen boys.

“Uh,” I said, glancing at the clock.  I wondered where the time went. “It’s fend for yourself night.”

“Again?” he asked.

“Yes. Again.”  I was annoyed by the question. I was busy!  I needed to make sure his dad didn’t have a slip in his addiction.  Compulsively, I searched the computer for evidence.

It didn’t occur to me that I was addicted to his addiction.  Nor did I realize I was neglecting my own children in the process.

~~@  ~~@

Months went by before it dawned on me just how emotionally unhealthy I was. From being codependent on Devin to neglecting my children, I was a hot mess.

I was wracked with guilt. 

What type of mom put her own needs ahead of her kids?  At first I thought, “a really crappy one”.  As I recovered from the trauma of my husband’s sex addiction, I realized I was wrong.

I was trying to mentally survive my own marriage. But, how could I explain this to my kids?  They had no idea about their dad’s addiction. I felt they were owed the truth but knew it wasn’t my place to tell them.  It was his addiction to share.  Not mine.

When I was ready, I apologized for not being the mom I should have been the last few months.  For making them take care of themselves, and at times, me. 

Rather than meet my amends with judgment or anger, my children told me how proud they were of the work I’d done on myself.  They were excited for me.  They assured me they saw changes since I’d been working my twelve steps and been in counseling. 

My kids. Proud.  I was speechless.  I cried as the guilt lifted from my soul.

Have you ever felt guilty about something?  Ever make an awkward apology?

~~~

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?



43 comments:

  1. They were watching you more closely than you thought. Bet those were sweet words to hear!

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    1. They were unbelievably supportive. My oldest kept saying I was carrying guilt for no reason, that I had been a good mom. But, it was hard to accept when I knew I could have been better for them.

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  2. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. It's a hard lesson to learn because our society teaches us that we're selfish if we do that, especially if children are in any way involved. Your children didn't have to hunt for food, the food was there, they had to prepare it. You needed to heal and they saw that, even if you couldn't at the time.

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    1. It's such a hard lesson to learn, Frank. I felt guilty, even when I knew better, if I took time for myself. Like when I triggered, I would take a warm bath to calm down, but while in there couldn't quite relax. It actually took practice to learn how to be good to myself. I did a post awhile back called Treat Yo Self (from Parks and Rec) about the importance of being good to yourself. You really do have to feel good in order to help others thrive.

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  3. I'm a recovering Catholic and am socially awkward....guilt is a way of life.

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    1. My mom was the queen of guilt. I think she learned it from her mom, a Jewish thing =P

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  4. i love their reaction to your ammends...its so easy in that moment to want to take care of...to fix...and in doing so forget about the others around us...addicted to his addiction...i have seen that in many of the families that i have worked with....

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    1. I love your unique understanding of what I've been through. Being addicted to his addiction really caused me so much grief and harm. And, it was a massive waste of time. I missed so much. *sigh*

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  5. Kids sure see more and know more than parents think they do. Guilt though at my sea? Pfft nah, when you are a mean old cat, you don't have to worry about that lol

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    1. Kids are super perceptive and able to recover from much more than we give them credit for. Why am I not surprised you feel no guilt. Crotchety old cat!

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    2. Yeah and they heal faster too, I need to find the damn fountain of youth lol

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  6. Kids amaze me!! Stopping by to share some A to Z love <3

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    1. They really are amazing in their forgiveness and hope.

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  7. The fact that you were aware of your mental condition shows that you were a good Mom. It's good that they let you know how they viewed you and were proud of you rather than disappointed. See, you raised the well.

    Have I ever felt guilty? The better question would be "Have I ever not felt guilty?" Catholic guilt is a permanent thing and I spend most of my time trying to find things I've done right just to offset it every day.

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    1. =) I raised some damn good kids (just ask me) even with the mess that happened early on in the boys' lives and then again when they were all older. I did my best to make them happy but more importantly, feel secure. It's good to know they each made it through the tough times well adjusted.

      Yep, that Catholic guilt was in my family too, except I also had Jewish guilt because my mom converted when she married my dad. The best of both worlds. For what it's worth, Anne, I can think of plenty of things you do each day to make others happy.

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  8. Kids always know/see more than we think. Yes, they might have noticed that you weren't "there" like you were before, but they also noticed that you tried, improved, and became a healthier you. I think it shows how far you came that you were able to apologize to them (do you know that some people simply cannot say they are sorry????) and it opened the door for this amazing conversation.

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    1. I was that person who didn't apologize. Well, hang on, I was the person that apologized for every little thing except when it counted. Those were really difficult for me to make. But, apologize to a strange, sure…no problem. Now, it's a bit easier to say, "I'm sorry"

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  9. Everyone already beat me to the "Catholic guilt" punchline so I'll just say that when I get swept up taking care of others, I sometimes neglect to take care of myself, which is something I'm always trying to work on. Not eating and looking homeless because I'm too stressed/busy isn't going to help anyone, especially myself.

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    1. It's especially not going to help your beautiful wife!

      Funny how we forget to the basic necessities of life when we are feeling stressed or sad. I've been guilty of skipping meals in the past. Now, I should probably stick to eating better. But, Goldfish are so delicious.

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  10. Have I ever felt guilty??? I'm Jewish - it's like a constant state of being! ;) Seriously though, I do work hard to let go of guilt. It's incredibly difficult, but I try to remind myself that it's truly a waste of energy.

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    1. My mom was Jewish until she married my dad, so I understand that ingrained guilt. "No, no, I understand you can't go to lunch with me. I'm sure there will be plenty of chances before I die." That was my mom. It really is a waste of energy.

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  11. I see guilt as a symptom of something else. As in, there's something deeper underneath. Fix the underneath bits, and the rest takes care of itself.

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    1. For me, it was all about feeling like a crappy mom. I was so worried I'd neglected them while I was busy with Devin's addiction. It turned out, I wasn't as bad as I thought. I'm really lucky.

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    2. And that's it. You went back to the root and figured it out. You weren't a crappy mom.

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    3. I just personally, don't have the energy to waste of a symptom because I'd rather spend the time working on the core root and again, you've done that.

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  12. Kids don't miss much. And, yeah, I've been guilty of keeping my head in the novel way past the time people expected dinner. Guess I shouldn't do it every night. :P

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    1. No, they are sharp as tacks - especially about stuff we don't want them to be!

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  13. I feel guilty many times dear sigh! a nice post!
    and Ditto all nights what we are going to dinner? and sometimes I don't want make any! omy But I made,
    Sometimes I feel so tired dear Elsie!

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    1. You're not alone, Gloria. I feel tired all the time. =P I'm so grateful they make EZ meals for my lazy butt to just stick in the oven!!!

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  14. Guilt is just Satan's way to erode us. We are constantly making it easy for him by our birthright gift of being able to destroy ourselves without knowing it's happening. Or, as Walt Kelly put it, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

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    1. I love that saying - I never remember it, but I really like it because it's so true. We are our own worst enemies.

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  15. Nice post. Guilt is an unwelcome emotion yet it never leaves us alone!

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    1. The worst feelings are the ones that tend to stick around. Buggers!

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  16. OH MAN I feel guilty about EVERYTHING. The other night, Mr Bunches (our youngest) saw Mr F (second youngest) throw a cupcake on the floor. Mr F and Mr Bunches are kind of a long story. Anyway, Mr F threw a cupcake and Mr Bunches thought it looked like fund and so he threw SIX and when I saw...

    I DID NOT YELL or even look angry, but I was... SERIOUS... when I said "What did you do?"

    and Mr Bunches, who'd thought this was just a game, suddenly realized that he'd done something wrong and his face fell and he said "Can I just go to bed?" and I felt guilty for simply questioning why someone would throw cupcakes on the floor.

    So yeah, I can relate, but then, my stuff wasn't as serious as your stuff. As parents we're all just doing the best we can, and as long as you recognize (like you did) that you need to improve on things, you're doing well.

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    1. Your story made my heart sink. I've been there. In fact, it just happened last night. My daughter didn't pay attention to a recipe while she was helping me cook, she rushed through it, ruined part of it and I was like, "why don't you slow down and pay attention instead of thinking you know how the recipe's going to go?" Same thing as your son - her face fell and I felt like crap. Here she was trying to her mom and I was being critical of a simple mistake. I had to apologize and give her a hug, but still, ugh!

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  17. I am touched by your post ~ I believe if we are open to our kids about our challenges, they would understand us better ~

    I feel guilty for neglecting my kids sometimes too but I reason that I need time for myself now because they are older ~

    Wishing you happy day ~

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    1. I agree with you so much, Grace. When our kids understand just a bit about what's going on, it helps them process life. I don't think they need to know every detail, but if they at least understand, hey, mom and/or dad are going through a rough patch but it will pass. I'm the same as you now, I don't feel nearly as bad taking time for myself as I did when they were younger.

      Have a great day!

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  18. Sweet kids.

    I've apologized to Chelsea so many times for the bad period when I wasn't on my medicine. She assures me all is forgiven and she just wants me better, but I clearly remember what it was like. I do struggle with guilt still.

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    1. I think when we apologize to our kids, it let's them know it's okay to say their sorry too. I'm glad you two are so close now!

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  19. As a son I know even when we don't know all that's going on, we know when to be proud of our parents.

    Whether or not we admit this in our rebellious years is a different story.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.