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Letters From Listeners

Grief and Guilt Are Different

After years of torment at the hands of my parents, I decided to leave them. I could go on about how they consistently tried to undermine my marriage and lie to and ignore the needs of my children, but that would take me all day. The deal breaker was when my husband had cancer.

When I told my mother he was sick, her reply to me was “How much life insurance do you have on him?” and “When he dies, your dad and I can move in take care of you and the kids.” I knew from past experience they would find any way to move in and manipulate any kind of life insurance from my kids and me. It would be all about them all over again. So we did the unthinkable. We decided to buy a house in a different county and not tell them where we moved so I could care for my husband in peace. It was hard. My husband was very weak and my children were 10, 6, and 2. I was anxious and heartbroken over my decision and racked with fear over what they would do to us when they found out we had left. I felt what I thought was guilt for over a year. But after a year, my heart began to settle down.

My husband’s health got better.  The kids were happy that Mommy wasn’t crying and angry all the time. Upon reflection I realized I wasn’t feeling guilt: I was grieving. I grieved I couldn’t have parents who were supportive and helpful. I grieved I couldn’t jump through enough fiery hoops to change who they were. I had my “G” words confused. Grief and guilt are different from each other. Identifying that difference is what made the difference in my outlook.

By the way, my parents did try to hire a private investigator to find me.  It took them about a year. Things were not pretty. They got our phone number from my sister and made a lot of threatening calls to us.  When they learned that idea wouldn’t work, they gave up and left us alone. It was the hardest and most important decision that we have ever made. But the continual peace in our home was well worth it.


Tags: Attitude, Bad Childhood-Good Life, Marriage, Mental Health, Personal Responsibility, Relatives, Stress
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