And the guilt returns

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JKF, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    For the last few days I've been thinking about difficult child a lot and thinking about how if I'd done certain things differently he would have had a better life than he has now. It makes me so sad. I hate when I get into these "funks". It takes a lot out of me. I know I can't change the past but I can't help but feel guilty for some of the bad decisions I've made concerning difficult child. Yes - I know I've also done a lot to help him but the one thing he always hoped and wished for the most was to be able to live at home and have a "normal" childhood. It definitely didn't work out that way and I cry when I think of him out on his own, living at the shelter, and blindly making his way through his life. It literally breaks my heart sometimes. Uggggh!
  2. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I think one of the problems is that my younger son is doing well and is living the life that difficult child so desperately wanted to have. A stable life. Same house, school, friends, etc. I was so young when I had difficult child and made so many mistakes. We moved a lot bc his bio dad was such a big loser and was always in trouble. I'm a different person now that I'm twice the age I was when I had difficult child and I live a way different life than I did when he was young. My husband and I are responsible, stable people. We both work very hard and own a nice home. I wish I could have given *this* life to difficult child as well.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Awww, JKF, I'm sorry you've got a case of the guilts, it feels so bad, I know. I guess we all go back in time and wish we could have done it differently, particularly with our difficult child's.........I've done that too. I wish I could make these feelings go away for you, but I know sometimes we just have to walk through until we get to the other side.

    You always did your best, that's the important thing..........and you loved him, you gave him the best life you could at that time in your life, you were younger, it's hard to compare how we are now with how we were then............and now, when he is being in his gfgness to the max, you are supportive of him in every way you can, including knowing when to let to, which to me is an act of love too. All any of us can do is our best at any given time and as humans, we all make mistakes and learn from them, we all get better as we age and gain wisdom, we all have regrets and we all could have done better if we had known's part of being human. Hopefully, this will pass for you soon and when you wake up in the morning you'll be back in the present and able to leave the past behind. Hugs to you Mom, I hope your heartache goes away quickly........
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Even if you COULD have... difficult child would probably still be a difficult child.

    You see, there are kids who come out of absolutely horrid circumstances... and are "normal".
    And other kids who have everything going for them... except what they are inside.
    It is NOT all "nurture". Trust me.

    Someone else has this in their sig - paraphrasing: We did the best we could with what we knew, and when we knew better we did better.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JKF....I dont know if you have been around long enough to have read some of my guilt posts about Cory or if you were if you even read them. I understand your guilt. Even though Cory is my youngest son and I was 24 when I had him, I was a young mom when I started having kids. I was 19 when I had my first son. Only one year older than you.

    I have felt so guilty about the genes I past down to him even though I had no clue at the time that my mom was mental ill and her mom before her. I also knew when I ended up pregnant with him that I had been extremely sick and received several rounds of xray's and had taken several rounds of medications that could hurt the fetus during the first trimester. My obstetrician told me that there was a chance, and they couldnt give me the odds, that the baby would have birth defects of some sort and I had the option to abort him when we found out I was pregnant after all the above. I had no clue I was pregnant when I was sick. We chose to keep him. Over the years we have wondered if we were fair to him to have kept him. Not fair to us because we love him dearly and wouldnt trade him for the world and would do everything we have done all over again in a minute. We dont regret anything we have had to go through because of how much we love him but we wonder how fair it has been to him to have had to had all this happen to him.

    Yeah....I get guilt.
  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Has there ever been an opportunity where you could actually say all that in an appropriate way to difficult child directly? I think it might be a relief for both of you.
    You both have made mistakes...all humans do - we are imperfect. The thing to remember is we CAN change to some degree, we do have at least some control of how we choose to live our lives, and we can repair ourselves and our relationships if we choose to, and we can go on and be even stronger. Perhaps acknowledging all that with difficult child would do you both some good? I don't know.
    When difficult child was going to psychiatrist for SA issues, I guess he blamed me for the fact that he was adopted. I know - that's irrational, but he had to take it out on somebody, so he was mad at his birthmother, and he couldn't take it out on her, so he took it out on me. We butted heads constantly. Anyway, the psychiatrist had a session with husband, me and difficult child, and he wanted us to air out all our grievances about one another, and for us to each acknowledge and validate the other person's feelings, even if we didn't agree. difficult child said some hurtful stuff, some of it was embellished, and I was resistant to validate, because I was very hurt and I felt this child we adopted was turning on me after all we did for him. When I heard his complaints, I bit my tongue and genuinely said something like, "I'm really sorry if I made you feel that way. I certainly didn't have that intention and I'm sorry you're hurting. I hope I can do better going forward." I didn't say it in an insincere manner, and I looked him in the eye when I said it. It made all the difference in our relationship, and we've repaired a great deal since then.
    Sometimes, acknowledging the elephant in the room is the best policy, even though you can't go back and have a do-over. Hugs to you, it's hard...I know.
  7. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I'm feeling a little better this morning. I cried for a bit last night and got some of it out and I find that helps a lot more than keeping everything bottled up inside. RE and IC - Thanks for reminding me that I did do the best that I could at that moment in time. I do tend to forget that it was a difficult, challenging time in my life and while I made some major mistakes I did the best I could. Now being older and wiser I see that I could have done things different but I can't change that. I have to accept that it is what it is and move on.

    Janet - I have read some of your posts about the guilt you feel over certain decisions you've made. Thank you for sharing your stories and wisdom with me. It makes me feel not so alone in this situation and always remember you're not alone either! :hugs:
  8. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We all have things we wished we had done differently. We don't really know what might have made a difference, or not. But quite honestly, our kids tend to use that guilt against us... when what they're doing NOW is up to them, no matter what we may or may not have done for them in the past. We should carry no guilt over that. I've apologized to Youngest, been honest with her about my feelings about wishing I'd done some things differently, and it backfires at times. I'll tell you what my therapist told me about guilt, though: dump it. Here's what I wrote in my journal the night after a particularly rough (but good) therapy session (yup I went and looked it up so I could share) :

    "... I have nothing to feel guilty about because [Youngest] is an adult who made her own choices. Choices she made in blatant disregard to advice I gave her to the contrary, and which resulted in outcomes that I even predicted. As much as Youngest's choices have [hoovered], they are hers."

    That was a paraphrase of what my therapist had said to me that day, and it freed me.
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi CD Hall of Fame

    I struggle with this, too. I wish I could've given mine a house with a fenced yard and a playset. I wish I could've afforded to take time off work to spend days at school with her when she was younger and wanted me there. I wish I had more patience with her. I wish I could provide all the help she really needs, I wish our area provided all the help she really needs... I grieve for the life I think she could have, should have, might never have because she's a difficult child and I'm barely scraping by. You know the drill. *HUGS*
  10. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    Our Kiddo and her big sister had that perfect suburban life for many years. She had all kinds of therapy, we went everywhere we could with supplements and techniques and in-home interventions by the bucketload.

    She's still autistic, and yeah maybe she wouldn't have been as high (?) functioning as she is, but sometimes I wonder if having her be as functional as she is now exceeds her ability to process, and that was my mistake?

    Any of you read "Animal Farm?" The character, Boxer the Mule I think it was, reacted to every setback by saying "I will work harder." He felt anything could be fixed if you just work harder - but eventually you end up broken and on the knacker's truck. I was like that for many years, and it was a huge mistake in hindsight.

    We do what we can, and sometimes a little more, but if we damage ourselves in pursuit of the best possible outcome, is that right?
  11. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I'm definitely feeling better which is a good thing. I was so scared I was reverting back into my "old" self.

    I actually talked to difficult child this morning and he seems to be doing well. He's in high spirits and is coping well at the shelter. The shelter director said he's cooperative and gets along with most of the guys there. He had court last week and they put him in the ARD program which stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. He has to complete a year of that program and has to pay a fine every month. He also can't get in any more trouble or he'll be taken out of that program and sent to jail. So that's a good incentive hopefully because he's terrified of going back to jail. He said his probation officer is very nice and understands difficult child's situation. He's waiting for his medical application to get approved by the state he's in and once that happens he can get on his medications and get some therapy if he wants it. So things are ok in his world for now. So I need to keep working on MY world and not let the past creep into the present or future. Easier said than done sometimes!

    Again, I really appreciate all of you sharing your wisdom and experiences. It helps me so much to have the support of people who actually understand what I'm going through!
  12. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

  13. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    ... I have nothing to feel guilty about because [Youngest] is an adult who made her own choices. Choices she made in blatant disregard to advice I gave her to the contrary, and which resulted in outcomes that I even predicted. As much as Youngest's choices have [hoovered], they are hers."

    Thanks, CrazyinVA! copying and pasting this!

    Read more: