Monday, June 18, 2012

No Apologies

Isn't it funny how we ACOD's feel like we have to apologize? We feel sorry for crying about our parents. Maybe we feel sorry for reacting strongly to an intense situation. Or we're sorry for checking out of our friendships momentarily as we collect our thoughts (and try to regain our sanity) after we've heard our parents have divorced.

The truth is, we shouldn't be sorry for anything.

I was amazed by the intense, raw guilt I experienced after my parents' divorce. I felt guilty if I chose to go a few days without talking to them. I felt guilty for being angry. I even felt guilty for feeling like half a person during one of the darkest times of my life.

You may experience guilt too. Maybe you feel like you should be handling the news of your parents' divorce much more smoothly since you're an adult. Maybe you're mad at yourself for falling apart when you least expected it. It's important to realize the source of these feelings. Are they self-inflicted? Or are others telling you how you should feel? In either case, the feelings of guilt are actually causing you more damage. They're forcing you to try to bury your true feelings and act like everything is okay.

That's what did it for me. Here I was, acting like everything was okay. Finally I said to myself, "this is so not okay." My parents got divorced after 27 years of marriage, subsquently breaking our family apart. How is that ever okay?

So take that guilt and chuck it in the trash. It's completely useless and will only work against you. Give yourself the freedom to react how you want to react, not how anyone else expects you too. And like everything else in life, you can't always please everyone. In fact, you never will. So just try to please yourself and leave it at that. Try to give yourself allowances each day. Allowances to feel what you want to feel...sad, angry, frustrated, happy, whatever it may be. You'll probably feel all those emotions at varying points (yes, even happy). That's what part of makes you human. And it's what shows you that life really is worth living.


Sara said...

I often feel guilty because I feel like as an "adult", I should be able to suck it up and help my parents through their hard time...whether that be helping sort through belongings, a shoulder to cry on, or just an encourage-er. As a matter of fact, I found out that some of my mother's friends called my brother and me spoiled brats because we weren't stepping up to the plate.

I had to come to a place where I don't allow myself to feel guilty because I know that I'm already loaded up with as much as I can handle, and regardless of what it looks because I'm an adult, I'm not capable of helping them.

This is their marriage and their problem, so it is theirs to sort out. Not mine.

Serenity said...

I am aware of the term "false guilt" and so when I feel guilty, I try! to think about who or what is causing me to feel guilt and whether it should be felt because of something I did that was truly wrong in my dealings with others, or if it is false guilt which is usually due to others expectations of us that is not truly "wrong".

This helps me to not "give in" to false guilt and act ways JUST BECAUSE others expect me to do so.
This is really hard , though, because family members and others can say and do things out of ignorance of what the details are in divorce and adult children situations. I have learned to listen to accusations and then just try to calmly respond that it is complicated and that there are alot of things that the other person is not aware of. Then I just leave it and make my own decision ... it is hard to do it, but it gets easier the more I do.

MVroom said...

Sara -- you are so right when you say it's their problem and their marriage, not yours. So often I found myself getting wrapped up in my parents' problems and it only made things worse. I'm glad you've found a place where you don't need to feel guilty.

Serenity - great advice. It's important to evaluate where the guilt is coming from and whether it is really valid. And you're right about it being easier the more you do if I only i can do it more often! :)

Anonymous said...

I did feel guilty about being so angry and disgusted with how my parents divorced. It was VERY, VERY ugly and not handled well. In the middle of it was me-- the family peacemaker. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the experience nearly killed me. My mother moved to the other side of the country with her new boyfriend that she met on the internet, and left me with my abusive, narcissistic father to pick up the pieces of this shambles. Two years later, I hardly speak to my mother, and have cut off my father completely. It's been tough, but now I am starting to feel whole again, after realizing that even though it was really really hard, I don't need parents as a support or sounding board anymore, and I don't need their money. I do feel badly for my daughter since she lost both grandparents, but what else could I do? I do feel guilty about that, but I have to look out for my family's best interests in general. My parents blew it, and I can't feel guilty for their actions.


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