It felt like I needed about four days to just shake off the guilt of being away from my responsibilities. Four days and a lot of wine and shopping! I am grateful to my friend Debbie and her girls for helping me to focus on my mission...fun! OMG! Such great tutors!
Still, late one night, I had to run an emotional cycle about guilt and not checking in with my mother. I haven't spoken to her since I left home. I'm having trouble shaking off her lingering judgement as I've been enjoying my time with good friends. And I've had to reread that cycle a few times to help me get back to the point of the vacation. (You'll notice themes from previous cycles...stuff just keeps coming back. I wish that once I worked through these cycles that I'd be done with the issue, but the reality of it is my feelings don't permanently resolve themselves.) :
What I'm most upset about is . . . I'm on vacation but I can't enjoy myself because I'm stressed about not contacting my elderly mother. I was fine until my sister let me know how she wasn't going to look after our mother while I was gone like I thought she was. Our mother is bipolar and narcissistic and very, very difficult. I really needed the break from her, but I'm just as stressed now as when I'm with her.
I feel ANGRY that . . . I can't stop thinking about Mom. I'm angry that my sister told me what she told me. I'm angry that now I am losing sleep over this. I'm angry that this is ruining my time away! I'm angry that I have to deal with this whole issue on vacation!
I feel SAD that . . . I don't feel free. I feel sad that I can't seem to enjoy myself. I feel sad that I can't find rest or peace.
I feel afraid that . . . I will never be free.
I feel guilty that I . . . I can't take steps to move forward on my own behalf to create a good life for myself. I feel guilty that I feel powerless in this situation.
My unreasonable expectation is . . . that choosing to go on vacation means I will be able to enjoy myself automatically.
I expect myself to...continue to feel stress and to try to do something about it, like a cycle, when it gets really difficult. I also expect myself to find something to do that will distract me.
My positive, powerful thought: I don't have to call Mom!
The Essential Pain is . . . I will be punished when I get home.
The Earned Reward is . . . I will have spent time practicing to deal with not contacting Mom…freedom!
My Grind In: I am learning to be free of Mom.The trick will be to be emotionally free of Mom once I get back home. That means I still do the things I need to do to help care for her, and I practice with becoming guilt-free from her expectations of me with everything else. Something she will feel the need to constantly keep heaping upon me.
Many have suggested that I should just run, move on with my life and move away. That is so tempting. Really, I cannot express how tempting that is. Is there a country where one can go and be free like that? Where one can experience liberty from oppression? Wait...I think I already live there! (Thank God!) I guess I need to learn how to make that work for me.
Here's the reality of my situation...my sons really need to stay where we are. They don't need any more upheaval in their life. They feel safe and secure right where we are. They're building connections, a solid network of friends. They're engaged in healthy activities and really growing as young men. They need stability in order to keep that going. It's really hard for children to find their bearings and keep growing when they have to move frequently. They have difficulty learning to develop the skills to maintain long-term relationships. My kids need to learn that. For them, I need to stay put for at least the next seven years, until my youngest son is in college. My boys will need a place that feels like home, even when they're at university. I am very happy to do that for them.
I can do that for them and move on with my life where I am. Really, I need to stay where I am for me. I need to be in a safe, familiar place to find myself again, to find healing for my heart, reprioritize my goals and grow in the right direction. I need to learn to trust my gut, and I need to learn to let people into my life in the right way. I need to connect with normal people in the normal, everyday world of middle-America, where I live now. I need my house to be my home, a place of my own creation, where I build good memories to sustain my later years in life. And all that requires time, investment of myself, some solitude and peace, safety and familiarity. There's a lot to be said for the familiarity of feeling at home. I long for it. I need it just as much as my sons.
But I also have to stay for Mom. She should have learned how to take care of herself in the modern world a long time ago. But she didn't. It's easy to say that it's not my responsibility to take care of her just because she didn't learn how to do it for herself. Then there's the everyday reality of the situation. She and Dad didn't plan for her life as a widow. Mom didn't want to be the one who was left alone. She didn't create an identity for herself. She didn't maintain healthy relationships with local friends. She cut herself off from her family. Her grasp of the English language is limited. She is not schooled in money matters. She doesn't know how to get around town on her own. She has no idea how to live independantly, and she never had any intention of having to learn how to do that. Despite her toxic behavior causing me such anxiety on a daily basis, she needs help. She's not loaded, so she can't pay for help. My sister and I, we're it. And I'm the one that lives nearby.