The unwarranted guilt I struggle with


Maybe its a legacy of being a caring, sensitive person who has known pain.  Maybe its due to the fact I’ve been alone and in hospital many times but part of me wants to be there for my family when they are ill or going through some kind of operation or procedure and this week both my mother and my sister have had or are having minor procedures done and I am not giving them practical support.

In the past I have given so much support and I am certainly there emotionally for them, but at the moment caring for myself and Jasper is a full time job.  I feel on the border of tiredness very much due to the help and support I needed to give in the past and facing and going through my own breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy treatment earlier in the year has drained all my energy reserves.  I really need to rest and take care of myself and due to my own problems with emotional neglect, this is where I struggle most.

It is early morning here and I just had to put a call through to my therapist.  I awoke beating myself up about not taking my sister to her procedure today and not visiting my mother yesterday.  Yesterday I actually met with a cousin whose son is going through a lot of difficulties in order to listen and give emotional support. I was also helping another friend in recovery on the phone yesterday afternoon and last night I was asleep and awake a sleep and awake and fell into a sleep again at about 5 am and awoke at 8 tussling and turning with thoughts of guilt going through my mind.   Writing about it now and having shared with my therapist I see that all this guilt is not necessary. And I also see there is sadness around other losses associated to the need I feel to be there for others.

I still feel guilty taking care of myself.  Part of my catholic conditioning is that it is selfish to take care of myself.  But I know that not taking care of myself first is co-dependent and part of recovering and changing a lifelong pattern is realising a burning guilt may not be mine at all but just a reaction to painful things and experiences in the past.  Today I just have to face the guilt and feel it but not allow it to motive my actions too much while recognising a lot of the guilt I feel is unwarranted and doesn’t take into account how much I do give.

The way I am going to work with this today is name the feeling : guilt.  Try to recognise the fears that it might hide : fear that I will appear selfish if I don’t help, sad that others are suffering over things that aren’t really to do with me anyway, and to respond with a degree of distance and detachment to the punishing thought processes that can play over and over about it in my mind.

I am seeing more and more and more the hard time I give myself.  How much I expect of myself.   After posting a blog on failure yesterday I had these kind of thoughts “aren’t you just trying to make excuses for the fact you haven’t tried hard enough and are lazy?”  Examining those thoughts I don’t feel they are true.  I am not lazy but I have been scared at times to put myself and my true feelings forward.  Certainly healing requires courage and honesty and there are many times I have had made mistakes and needed to say sorry or make amends.  In truth I am a human being who struggles with all the usual

human emotions and responses.  I am far from perfect but I do have gifts and most often I don’t see my gifts, I just see my deficits.  Apparently this is part of co-dependence and a childhood of emotional neglect too.

Anyway today I was too exhausted to even get the dog food out of the cupboard for Jasper (before calling my therapist).  I asked him to climb on my lap and then called Katina.  While we were talking and he was lying flat out on my tummy, she said to me “you struggle to hold onto your own ground about what you really feel and need” at that point Jasper gave a little semi growl/sigh almost in agreement.  I told Katina and we laughed about it.

After the phone call I had the energy to feed Jasper and while writing this I feel my life energy returning.  I am seeing the truth is that often I tire myself out with critical negative thoughts probably not truly associated to reality.  It’s good to get a reality check.  I need that as sometimes when I stay inside my own head I get locked up and imprisoned in a place of gloom and doom from which it seems there is no exit.  The anti-dote for me is to get back in present time, and take practical steps to care for me and my life and to make some kind of attempt to bring my mind into a more positive and realistic space.  So for now the work is clear, breakfast, walk and the park, lunch and therapy.  Those are my priorities for today.


2 thoughts on “The unwarranted guilt I struggle with

  1. You are growing in strength and awareness Deborah.It is so wonderful to see..The guilt will slowly fade more and more into the background. It is part of your conditioning. I can relate to this too. Hugs to you.

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