Purging the Guilt


From a very young age I felt obligated to look after the needs of others. My parents had four kids; I was the baby of the family.  By the time I was about 12yrs old my two brothers and my sister had left to pursue their dreams and I was alone with my parents.

They fought constantly, conflict was a daily occurrence at home that resulted in my desire to squash it before it could destroy me.  My home life was a mess and I had no skills to deal with it, at this point with eyes bulging I wanted to escape this trap but I felt paralyzed and obligated to stay.

Growing up with a die-hard Catholic mother deathly concerned with what the neighbours would think it somehow became my job to keep the peace and make us look like a stable family to the outside world.

After the incident with my dad at the age of eight outlined in this post http://gailsforum.blogspot.ca/2011/08/his-name-is-peter.html I felt the only way to deal with chaos was to be the one to take control of it.  In other words it was my job to take away or fix anything that caused them to fight.

Over the years I have gotten so good at managing “pop-ups of insanity” as I call them: They are moments which when based on the laws of life nothing should go wrong oh but it does.

Situation: My father’s fist of thunder comes down on the kitchen table because mom got home late, he is screaming and her nervousness causes her to say things that aggravate the situation and all of a sudden it’s explosive and I’m running to calm him down and shooing my mother away to her room.

Solution: To avoid this happening again I stop playing with friends after school and come straight home to make dinner.

I am constantly fighting battles for friends, family, co-workers and even strangers, you have a problem ask Gail in fact now I’m getting referrals. This desire to solve problems has benefited me especially at work; I am quick on my feet, great at problem solving and seeing the big picture. It has also hurt and burned me out, there is no room in my head for anything more and physically I’m coming undone.

Now the time has come for me to manage this a bit better, to set some boundaries and think things through before trying to take control.

This is especially evident right now with my Mother’s care. I am trying to help but I need to tell myself that I wasn’t the one left in charge of her care.  My brothers and sister who are my elders need to step up to the plate.  It’s easy for me to take on responsibilities even when they aren’t mine to take because I feel guilty .

When my step-father passed away my sister was quick to say that I better help her or she is going to have a heart attack but the reality is that I am the one who has been sick over the years stemming from what was left behind when they pursued their dreams.

Now it’s my time to pursue my dream guilt-free and to enjoy my life.  I’m not trying to be heartless I just want to stop renting space in my head for other people’s issues and deal with mine.  I am purging the guilt from the abyss of my mind.

One comment

  1. Very well said Gail. You have done all you can to help others and if you don't now help yourself, you might just find life passes you by and nobody comes running to your aid. There is only so much one can take and do. I have first hand experience of jumping in when all goes wrong around me, and it took it's toll some time ago ( can't blog it). By jumping in, you can also take away the burden of responsibility from someone else. You disarm them from learning what they should be doing in those tough situations. Take heed before I end up having to writing to you in an institution!

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