After spending a great deal of time on describing what guilt does towards destroying relationships,it would be remiss of me to say that too often it holds poor relationships together,as well. Those relationships can consist of couples, friends,family,groups,organizations or political party.
When my husband and I married, I told him that if he ever hit me or had an affair that our marriage would be over. What I really meant, but was not aware of it,since I can forgive almost anything, was if I ever reached the point that I could never trust him again, the relationship would be over.
Many times couples will say, “they no longer love each other,” and use that as the grounds of their divorce. I argue that if once we truly love each other we cannot simply quit loving each other. Instead I reason that most couples or one of them in the marriage, have hurt or betrayed each or the other to the point there is no trust left in the relationship. This is true when long-term friendships end, as well as, when family members leave and never return. Without trust we lose the entire foundation that holds up any relationship.
Love and respect go hand in hand with trust. Why else would we promise to dedicate ourselves for life, to a common cause, and forsake all others if we did not have a great deal of trust in each other and our ability to maintain as well as keep the oath of marriage?
Some people can reach the conclusion that a person or group is untrustworthy after the first time they betray them, and walk away in peace. If you can, more power to you. I can also do that until I am dealing with one of the most important people in my life. I think that is true with most of us. Many times we just keep taking on the poor behavior until we do realize we have spent way too many years hurt by the same person.I make a great deal of allowance for people who would lie to me when they are family, before I draw that conclusion. Too many of us will think that they will start treating us nicer the more we try to do for them. Even when I knew two family members thought they were playing me for a fool with their conspiracy to get out of me, all they could,and they thought I didn’t know a thing, I gave them years of knowing they believed they were out smarting me, until I reached the point, “that the straw broke the camel’s back.”
There are people who can’t fathom that people are willing to do nice things for others without being paid for it or having strings attached. When we do, “random acts of kindness.” those same people come up with words like “big Turkey’,”loser”,”Sucker”,”"Wimp”, and you name it. It is sad that we have such little respect for people who are simply kinder than ourselves. I have often thought the resentment for them makes others who always have a price for everything, simply feel uncomfortable about themselves. The sad thing, is when people do behave in this way, those who receive the kindness many times then do feel as though they are entitled to the same behavior again and again. There are also those who treat family like they are the bank and as long as they are willing to pay them back(sometimes no matter how long it takes) they are entitled to borrow any amount at any time.
As is common with all abusers my antagonists enjoyed their own deceitfulness for almost 40 years (I exclude the other years of my life before they formed their collusion)about how they went behind my back and outsmarted me, before I decided that enough was enough. I need to make certain before I do make that final and last decision that I will never contribute another dime,lend another hand, show up to visit and be insulted one more time, or write another word or letter or make another phone call again, before I can comfortably leave a relationship where I still love the people involved.
Walking away from those who have formed a tight co-dependency or any organization that we have been passionate about for years, is not an easy decision to make but when every ounce of hope or trust is used up, it is time to move on and never look back.
Not all people seek peace of mind and joy but when it became necessary for me to do so in order to look into those trusting eyes of my sweet trusting grandchildren who tell me,”I love and need you Grandma” How could I possibly explain to those sweet boys that Grandma allowed two people to think they were playing me for a fool, while I kept giving of my time,money and love, for so many years, and not feel shame? I knew my efforts to accept, the abusers’ hurt needed to leave in order for my health to give me all the time the Dear Lord would grant me with the grandsons along with my other loved ones,whom I truly admire and respect. Once I made the decision I could almost hear the Angels sing:)
Most people do not get in a lifetime, the number of truly terrific people who I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. I’m sure that played a role in being as tolerate, as I was, with the one-sided relationship,as well. I have always believed, “To those who are given much, much is expected.”
I never spent much time in thinking living with chronic pain due to spinal stenosis on both sides of my spine,before I reached 30 was a hardship. I also did not waste time making decisions based on childhood abuse as a reason to walk away. When the verbal abuse began again in my adult years I did take breaks from it by walking away but never quit loving my mother nor being concern about her. Life has always had too much interests, to me, to let much of anything or anyone get me down for too long.
I got set up even on my wedding day by the twosome and then there was the time I walked into the hospital room in California to be told I was the biggest loser of all only to have it repeated a number of times over the years, later, a trip to Kansas City where I was deliberately shunned by the two of them, pretenses and lies surrounding Mom’s moving in making demands followed by abusive behavior encouraged by my sister, and being excluded from the family reunions that I organized for my brother and again when my daughter got married, and the list continues from there only getting longer the longer I stayed and put up with it. Still I stayed and contributed but the knowledge that I need to give back to those who do love and appreciate me, for being me, and do not have ulterior motives as to how to best use me, has made my decision an easy one, at long last.
I do not write this to encourage or discourage anyone else from knowing when and if the time is ever right to leave a relationship of any kind much less one that you feel is void of hope, but instead to put it out there and let you understand why a person can know and find joy on a daily basis, by making some of the toughest decisions that they will ever have to make. Being honest with ourselves and finding and evaluating our own mistakes are always a more difficult endeavor than doing it in others. I know and understand that for those who have never had to deal with abuse, it does sound ridiculous, to think walking away from it would ever be difficult. That is the point of my writing this entire group on guilt and taking responsibility. I want you to know if nobody else understands you, I do.
43 years after marrying my husband I realize that if he had hit me or had an affair I probably could have forgiven him, but I still would not have stayed, even though when I was young I never dreamt I would ever let anyone ever abuse me again,much less the same person who did when I was a child without letting her know exactly how badly she hurt me.
That would come approximately 30 years later and accelerate their vindictiveness. Since it was so out of character for me and I had a lot of ground to cover, I have no doubt that she must have felt a small amount of the pain I felt all those years. I did not expect acknowledgement of my hurt as no abusers ever will acknowledge they did anything wrong. It is the peace of mind I received in being able to finally face the truth that had went unspoken and denied for years, that matters most to me.
I made some of the family members irate when I did it,but I spoked for them as much as I did for myself. We were all meant to keep what we all had spoken about behind her back, for years,secret, as near as I can tell. In dysfunctional homes,it is rare if ever, that truth or mistakes are confronted or spoken about. It is always better to avoid “the elephant in the room” than it is to acknowledge its presence.
It took maturity on my part and knowing life is seldom as it seems until we live it, before I knew it was the total depletion of trust that would have destroyed our marriage vows. Since that is what it took to end my relationship with my mother, no doubt it would have with my husband as well. I am very fortunate that I got the good guy that I did choose and never had to be tested that way but some things we know in our hearts.
I’m a slow learner folks,when it comes to matters of the heart, but I do encourage all of you to make certain you know yourself well enough to know what it is that will allow you to walk away from or recognize when a hurtful relationship leaves no room for hope, and still feel joy on a daily basis, before you make that decision. Too often we are the losers when we make decisions based on hurt feelings or rash judgements.
No one certainly needs to put in 40 years as I did but I do not regret turning the other cheek either as it did convince me “That, that does not kill us, makes us stronger.” I do regret though that it did take my teen-age daughters to tell me,”Mom if you don’t stop her from mistreating you, we will lose all respect for you.” I would like to think had I had been wiser, I would have stopped it before the verbal abuse started up again. Other times I think sometimes it takes knowing 100% before we find the peace that comes along with giving our best. I take full responsibility at the same time that it was wrong-wrong-wrong for me to let it go on for that long and never would I repeat that mistake again, for the sake of those who truly do love me. Sadly abuse is always a contradiction and for that reason none of us should ever judge the confusion of the victims. All abusers are convincing manipulators and con artists.
I will jump a moment to political party as versus personal problems, since a great deal of todays upset also center around politics. I’m a much faster learner when I see what the right-wing conservatives and the Tea Party are doing towards drying up the United States Treasury in the interests of Wall Street and the Oil Companies. I know leaving party affiliation is as difficult to some as leaving our own family is. There is no possible reason, in my view, that anyone could trust any of them in the Republican Party, nor any of the right-wing who number a few in the Democratic Party. They simply are missing any foundation of trust that would allow equality for all or the middle class to exist in Democracy or to grow and I urge all to think before we vote. We must vote wisely and informed, for the sake of our Children and Grandchildren, “who love and need us.”
We all have our own response zone as to when to stay and when to leave. Those of you who think I was a fool for staying as long as I did, have every right to think as you do. I can promise you that some of my greatest supporters would agree with you:) Guilt held me and an inability to forgive myself because of my belief in the Commandments kept me going back for more.I finally realized the best way to “Honor” their last round of rejection was to honor and love her in silence, as two of my other siblings do. My soul needed to heal from the insanity of it all. I will always be grateful for the effort I made but even more grateful for the new-found freedom that I own.
I hope I covered the entire subject of guilt,responsibility and forgiving ourselves well enough over the last few weeks so it can help you if you are at a cross-road of indecision regardless who the person may be who you are struggling with or what group that relationship might be with.Denial of the stress it creates not only strips all of us of the joy we are entitled to but also can lead to an early grave. Good luck!
(even I am a bit over whelmed by the cliché’s in this post but they are often quoted for a reason:)