Sunday, December 05, 2004

guilty conscience

Wracked with Guilt


Time and time again I try to steel myself against my heavily ingrained tendency to feel guilty about my mother's lot in life. I was fairly able to do so until last weekend, and now it's even worse.

My mom is not a bad person. She has bad habits and bad coping skills and her penchant for martyrdom is absolutely infuriating. To the point where I can't discuss anything with her. But she's still my mother, and hearing of her suffering makes me feel terrible. I wouldn't say I feel love towards her--because I feel like she was too manipulative of me as a kid for me to develop my own sense of my feelings toward her. I don't know if she feels love in any capacity that I would recognize. I suppose the same could be said for me.

In any case, her existence has not been a markedly happy one for some time. I was quite sympathetic towards it until I realized that I was complicit in her blame game by doing so. You see, she stayed with my dad because she had me. And she had me because she couldn't go through with an abortion. So I'm to blame, ultimately, for her lot in life. And I owe her for everything. And she never ceases to remind me of this fact.

You can imagine that sort of mind set makes it hard to enjoy life. I feel guilty every time I do anything for myself, anything selfish. I used to think that everything I did because I wanted to do it was selfish. I've taken a more moderate view now. Even so, it's still with me.

So when I spoke to my grandmother this morning and learned that my mom has an $8 an hour job, I felt a pang of guilt. That familiar hot flush and sinking tummy. I hate that feeling. I think part of me, to overcome it, has begun to get angry with her whenever I experience it. But today I'm not angry. I'm sad for her. I wish that she would have taken community college classes and gone back to school. I wish that she would have insisted that my dad find a way to pay for her to get psychiatric care and go to therapy.

My dad insisted that he was going to maintain my mom and sister's household, as is, when he moved out. I can't imagine he's doing so if my mom is working at such a pittance wage--granted, she hasn't worked in nearly 30 years, but even so, she has skills, just no confidence--even with my cousin living in the house with them, and I'm assuming, helping with the house payment. Did I mention my dad lives with his girlfriend? I wonder how long they've been together. She's a nice lady, but my dad is so damn avoidant that I didn't even know she existed until he was here around Halloween. And I wasn't forewarned. I hate how he does that. I see so much of that in my behavior and it is really a struggle not to do it.

Damn familial emotional legacies. They are atrocious. I'm going to have to figure out how to send some money to my mom. Curses.

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