Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The things we do to ourselves

I am struggling today. I want to be angry with my step father. He has been cleaning out the house of all his stuff and today he got the carpets cleaned. Not something I should be upset with him for. But...read on.... These are things my mom had wanted him to do for the longest time. She would complain to him and they would fight about this on and off for as long as I can remember. She used to complain about how miserable she was in the house. How unhappy she was about how dirty and messy the house always was. It was always so full of stuff. Really cluttered and very disorganized. He's a pack-rat. He grew up during the depression and is one of those people who feel as if he's got to have a lot of stuff, just in case the stock market crashes again and he loses all his money. A number of years ago I had even spoken with his daughter and told her that my mom was very unhappy, that he was not willing to do it himself and that we (my siblings and I) were concerned because it was so bad it was a fire hazard. But nothing changed. Anyway, so now he's doing it. The house looks great! My sister tells me the carpets look almost new. And I'm upset because I wish he would have done this when my mom was alive.

Okay, so I'm chewing on this all day and I realize that I feel guilty. Why guilt you ask? Well, let me tell you why...I think I should have done more for my mom when she was alive. I should have forced my step-dad to clean out the house of all his junk, and to get the carpets cleaned and to etc., etc., etc. And I didn't. So...I feel angry with him so I don't have to feel guilty myself for not taking better care of her.

And I chew on this for most of the evening and I realize that my mom should have taken better care of herself. And she didn't. And I did try to help her get him to clean his stuff and to enlist his daughter in trying to get him to clean his stuff. But really, she needed to be able to step up and deal with him. To take better care of herself.

Through all of this digesting...I am feeling really really sad. And missing my mom a lot this evening. I also realized that I haven't felt sad in a couple of days, and I actually found myself singing along with the stereo and dancing to the beat. And for this...I feel even more guilt.

So I chew on this for about 30 minutes and remind myself that I am not dead. That I am alive and I have to figure a way to keep on living in the face of knowing that I am (just like we all are) dying.

So, I hope I don't get indigestion.


Elisabeth said...

Your entry reveals quite clearly the complexity of your feelings, here. Dealing with one's parents is one of the most difficult things that children have to do (and we are children, really, until both of our parents are gone, in my humble opinion.) I personally had a relationship fraught with tension with my father (I wrote a long entry on him on his birthday, March 7, this year, if you are interested in reading it), who passed away in 1993, and that with my mother is also tense, but for other reasons.

My take on your situation is that you cannot let yourself feel guilty for what you did nor did not do in the past. Obviously, and I think you hit the nail right on the head somewhere in your post, your mom was unhappy, but could not take charge of the situation and force your stepfather to clean the house. It was not necessarily your duty to step to the place and be her spokesperson or advocate.

Missing your mom is another issue. Of course, you will be missing her forever. Try to remember her for all the happy moments you shared with her, not for the gaps in her life, yours, and in your relationship with her. Think of her in ways that will MAKE YOU HAPPY. And play that favorite tune of yours and hers on the stereo!

BTW, I am not saying that you are not entitled to feel sad - of course, you are. Your are a human being, and sadness is a human feeling.

And keep on living - chances are, you still have a hell of a lot of good years ahead of you!

Elisabeth said...

I meant "step to the plate."

Pete said...

Hi Sue,

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I wish I knew what else to say. I'm praying for you though.

I'm so happy that I found you again. :)
(I lost most of my blog links, and just found them the other day on an old CD!)
I did continue to check your blog for a while, but it seemed like you had just lost interest. Glad to see you are back! You were right about the family stuff, among other things... and I missed reading your blog too. :)

So... I think it's great that you are teaching! I am actually going back to school this fall to become a teacher myself. I am majoring in History. Guess working at a college made an impression on me!

Well, I added your link to my favorites, so I will be back again soon! Feel free to e-mail too if you like. Hope you have a great day!