Recently I received a question that I thought would make a really great blog post. The question was; “In relation to leaving or reducing contact with your “FOO” (which stands for Family of Origin) do you feel guilty about going no contact with your family of origin?”
This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive and it is a really worthwhile topic to dig more deeply into. I know that my readers want to know the simple answer to these questions but if I wrote the simple answer you would only have my answer and I want you to know the answer for you; we are all individuals; the same answer doesn’t fit for all.
Not only do I get asked if I feel guilty, I get asked a lot of other related questions so here are a few quick facts:
Both of my parents are still alive. They are divorced and they have been divorced since I was a teenager.
I use my legal maiden name for this blog and on my book. I use the name that I was given when I was born. I actually had my married name legally changed back to my original name when I began to heal. There is something about doing that that made me feel like I was taking MY life back.
Both my parents and in fact my entire family are aware of my blog and what I am doing here. I don’t know if, when or how often they check on it, but I am not concerned about that. I am empowered with the knowledge and comprehension that it isn’t really any of their business what I am writing about OR what I am talking about. One of the hardest truths for me to embrace in my recovery was the fact that I have a right to talk about my life. I have a right to have feelings about what happened to me. I am an individual and not an extension of my family of origin. Busting through that brainwashing wasn’t the easiest thing that I have ever done; I was taught (brainwashed) to believe that I was wrong ~ to think for myself was wrong, to feel, talk, and to be me; I was always somehow ~ “wrong”. I was taught that I had no rights. I was taught what to believe about the world and about myself through all of the examples that I share in my blog. (For the ‘fast track version’ of this see my book “The beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” which you can access here on the upper right side bar)
I believe that the most important thing about writing publically or even about talking about my life and my family of origin is how I feel about what I am doing. I wish my family no malice or emotional harm. My motive is purely about delivering the message of hope, freedom and wholeness in a hurting world by illustrating how I found it for myself.
Getting back to the question ~ Do I Feel Guilty about Going No Contact with My Family of Origin?
Something that I really can’t emphasize enough is that going no contact was not a choice I made.
If you have read very much of my blog then you know a little bit about how I came to be writing about this dysfunctional family stuff. It isn’t that I decided to walk away from my parents or to stop talking to them or to officially go “no contact” with them ~ it’s that I decided to set some boundaries and they didn’t respect those boundaries. It isn’t that I decided to stop seeing them. I decided that I was worth being respected and valued and treated with kindness and consideration; the same respect, value, kindness and consideration that I treated them with.
My father pretends that he doesn’t understand what I am talking about. He says “he is sorry” and that “he is trying” and he presents himself like the victim in the situation. But in our last conversation he denied his part in an email exchange between my daughter, my half-sister and my father where instead of admitting his part in the issue, he threw me under the bus. He let me take the fall and let the blame rest with me without clarifying to my daughter OR to my half-sister that HE had given them false information about why he was not in attendance for my daughters graduation. After the phone call, I dug up the emails (because I am still learning to stop questioning myself) and there it was in writing… exactly the way I remembered it. He may have everyone else the family fooled, but I am on to him. If only he would put a fraction of the effort into having a relationship with me, as he puts into making sure his image is intact then perhaps I would believe that he is actually “sorry” and that he regrets his actions. After all, “I’m Sorry” is an action statement.
My mother has always been a victim. I can only imagine how she sees this whole thing because when we last spoke (years ago now) she asked me if we could just put this behind us and start over. I said no that it had to be talked out this time. She said that we had always been able to resolve our differences in the past. I pointed out that in actual fact, I had always ‘let it go’ and ‘backed off’ or ‘gave in to her’ and I told her that I was no longer willing to have a relationship with her on those terms.
She asked me what “my terms were”. I asked for mutual respect. I asked her to stop saying that I had a crush on her boyfriend which is why he came into my room and molested me ~ a fact that she had never acknowledged in the first place, even though she was willing to bring up this “crush” I had on him in relation to the story. And I asked her to stop constantly asking (requiring) me to “prove” that I liked and accepted her current husband. I only asked those three things.
To which she replied; something like ~ “well, I will let you think about this and you can decide what you want to do”… and I was almost shocked into silence, but I quickly found my voice and I responded with something like “NO Mom, I just told you what I want… this time YOU can think about it and YOU decide what YOU want to do.”
She never called me again. That was it. She gave up on me ~ she gave me up that easy! Just like that she decided “no”. To be honest, as the weeks and then months went by, it felt like she was saying “no Darlene… you aren’t worth it…”
So you tell me, am I the one that went no contact or was ‘no contact’ a result of their actions?
Why would I feel guilty? What do I really have to feel guilty about? I had to ask myself these questions in order to heal. What exactly did I do that inspired this ‘guilt’? In my book “The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing,” I talk about the few little normal kid things that I did that I believed were the ‘proof’ that they were right about me that I was the one who was ‘bad’ ‘wrong’ etc. but the truth is that those little things were nothing out of the ordinary.
Your situation may be different, and most of the time EVERY situation IS different, but what I am getting at here is the actual truth about going no contact. My goal was never to go ‘no contact’. ‘No contact’ was a result of the decisions that “THEY” made.
I was asking for something that I needed. I was asking to be treated with equal value and equal respect. My motive was for having a better relationship based on the true definition of love, which values equally ALL parties in the relationship and the response that I got was “NO”. So why am I the one holding the guilt cards? I know that ‘they say’ that the guilt is mine, but that doesn’t make it true.
This isn’t my fault. I tried and I wanted our relationship to be one rooted in love and mutuality. My motive is based in love. Their motives are based in the misuse of their power for the purpose of control.
Therefore, I don’t feel guilty; I have nothing to feel guilty about. I felt guilty for a very long time but once I worked through the truth about that guilt, I was able to overcome the emotion of guilt which didn’t actually belong with me. Guilt in fact was a learned behavior that learned it from the people who falsely inflicted it upon me.
And as the years went by I realized that not only did it “feel” like my mother and father were saying ‘NO you are not worth it Darlene’ ~ actions speak pretty loudly and that is exactly what their actions said. ~My mother’s actions said that her ‘rights’ as a parent trumped the truth and I was tired of questioning if I had any rights; it was time for me to take my rights and choices BACK~ and the truth is that their actions had been hurting me a lot longer than I realized.
~My mother’s belief in her higher value squished my value and I was tired of fighting it and my father’s lack of interest in me kept my self-esteem in the pits.
~I was tired of trying to prove my worth over and over again and proving my worth seemed like a requirement in the relationship
~I was tired of never being heard.
~I was tired of trying to prove that I loved them.
~I was tired….
When a person is not heard or given the right to have a voice or if a person is consistently devalued or disrespected, then the relationship (or contact itself) is conditional. When I looked at who was the one being ‘conditional’~ when I looked at who actually held the cards and who actually makes the rules and who set those rules in place, I saw the truth about the conditions on the relationship. These are all things that I had to take a look at when I realized why I was so tired in the first place and how I realized that ‘no contact’ was more of a result of the dysfunction and not a choice I made.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time
If you like the subject matter I write about you may enjoy my e-book “Emerging from Broken the Beginning of Hope for emotional Healing” available HERE on the right side bar of the website or through the following LINK. “Emerging from Broken e-book”