Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Enabler guilt

Growing up I felt it was my responsibility to clean, to take care if my siblings, to make sure nothing set my HP off. I somehow knew this wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but I took it upon myself & soon it was expected of me. 
I knew what it was like to get a spanking every night before bed, whether i was good that day & if i was bad ,I got two. Bad? What exactly could a little kid do that was so bad to get the belt? I still shutter everytime I hear the jingle of a belt buckle, that was the first sound I heard before the sting of the leather belt hitting me. It was awfully hard to "shut up and go to sleep" after that every night. No child should be that afraid of their parents, they are supposed to protect you, not hurt you. 
I was often put in charge of my younger siblings, feed them, diaper them, watch them, bathe them. I spent most of my summers being the surrogate mother. That's a lot of pressure for a ten year old. I know the guilt when one of them got hurt under my watch, my baby sister falling on a piece of glass & being taken away in an ambulance to get her arm sewed up. Yup, my fault, mom wasn't there ... again... My little brother hit in the head with a rock, stitches, again, my fault, no mom. My brother would take off on his bike, through the neighborhood, laughing at me  & I would try to chase him down, but he was too fast. I had recurring nightmares of him taking off & getting hit by a car, and would wake up crying from the guilt.

Even as I got older I felt like I had to be the one to help them with everything, if I didn't, who would? 
I took my sister in when she had no place to live, my brothers always came to me for advice first, about marriage, babies, car loans, mortgages, all the questions about life that you would talk to your parents about. I didn't have anyone to ask, I figured it out, I figured it out myself... (My own damn wisdom) 
I took my responsibility of being a parent to my own children very seriously, I knew what it felt like to be a child put in charge of your siblings & vowed never to make my children take care of their siblings unless they wanted to. I never made my son babysit his sister & even got sitters for both kids until they were 13 years old. I feeling is that My children did not ask to be born, they owe me nothing, each child I had was my responsibility and I would never expect them to help me with any aspect of raising my child that I chose to have. It wouldn't be fair to them, they need their own childhood. They are not here for me, I am here for them...

Family gatherings were expected to be at my house, because it was big & clean, unfortunately there was always some kind of controversy.  Usually holidays were when my HP was in prime form, ranting & raving about something minor, that wasn't just how she pictured it to be in her head. Or she was jealous that I had a big clean house & hosted a nice get together & her jealously would spew out of her mouth in insults. 
When my sister decided she wanted a divorce from her husband & asked me if I could tell him for her, I knew that I was doing too much... I was in the habit of taking care of my family, I was enabling them, all of them. I didn't know how not to. They have to start making decisions on their own, seeking their own advice, figuring their life out, being responsible for their choices. Walking away from the enabling position was one of the hardest things I have done, the guilt I feel is the worst kind, but the peace & freedom I have gained from letting go is worth trying to erase any guilt left. That is my goal this year, to let go of the guilt. Take on my responsibility of the family that I created & not the family that I came from..

1 comment:

  1. Love this!

    That seems to be a common theme amongst the first born COHs: having to step in to keep the whole damn thing together because our parents were incapable to do so.

    On one hand, you can be proud for the fact that you were able to be an emotional rock in the storm of your childhood. Considering the fact that you didn't ask to be placed in that position and had no experience to draw upon is remarkable, yet had great success in keeping your siblings' heads afloat is remarkable.

    I think that it's natural to feel guilty, but I believe that the fact that you recognize it and are taking steps to back away is healthy.

    I don't imagine that it'll be easy, as you appear to be feeling the same way a parent would be in these sorts of circumstances, but you recognize it's importance and that is saying something.

    Until Next Time,