March 29, 2001

Guilt


I could have gone out to lunch with them. I should have gone out to lunch with them. Feeling guilty for two days and counting is worse.

Lately my father has been grumbling that I don't visit often enough. He's right - I don't. I take him and Stepmom to appointments but tend to put off just visiting.

A year ago when Dad was in the hospital I was there every day. Once he was home and recovering it settled down to once or twice a week. Now it's probably a bit less than once a week.

I always used to be the one to grumble that he didn't set aside enough time for us.

My stepmother has early Alzheimer's disease and I've been avoiding being around her more and more lately.

When Daddy was ill I had no choice; I was on the day shift to take her to the hospital, watch her and make sure she ate and didn't get lost. She's a bit worse now than then but she can still live independently as long as Daddy is with her.

Daddy wants to be with her. He doesn't seem to be overly burdened by her illness. Sometimes I think he's in denial; other times I think that being so desperately needed is good for him. Still, it's scary that my 85 year old father who fought off two cancers in the past year and sometimes has trouble getting out of a chair has this kind of responsibility.

Stepmom's three daughters are all living out of town now. It doesn't make a practical difference to me - I gladly take both her and Dad to their appointments, and have done so since they needed help. What I worry about is if (when?) something happens to my father. I don't know how I'll handle that plus the possibility of having to take care of my stepmother until someone arrives.

On Tuesday Stepmom had an appointment at the memory clinic. She's on medication that's supposed to slow the progress of the disease, and this was a routine follow-up.
These visits upset her. The memory tests show her how she's deteriorated, and it's terrifying for her. She cries more each time we go there.

After, Dad invited me to have lunch with them but I declined. I knew the guilt would get me in the long run but I just didn't have the emotional energy.

I'm angry with myself about that. Furious.

Today on the phone Dad asked when he was going to see me; he also asked how I was.
Dad: You didn't seem too chipper last time, is anything wrong?
Me: Oh, you know, (muttermutter) hormones, (muttermutter) mood swings..
Dad: (pleasantly) Oh ok, as long as nothing's wrong with you or the family, you can be as bitchy as you like.

Nothing serves to ratchet up the guilt like someone being nice to you about it.

Needless to say, I'll drop in on them tomorrow.

I suppose it's good that feeling this way isn't a common occurrence for me anymore. I've been good about guilt these last few years, since I turned 40 and decided I wasn't getting any younger, and guilt was a waste of time. When it descended this time it was like getting together with a long-lost friend. Sort of.

This was a difficult entry to write and to decide to post online.
I have a feeling I may regret it, especially if someone in my stepmother's family reads it. I don't think they've been here lately although they do have the url.

So why do this?
If I try to write about something other than what's uppermost in my mind, it doesn't work.
It's selfish. It helps me deal with things. Just writing it isn't enough.. I have to spill my guts (although it came out a bit more restrained than it could have) all over the WWW.
I guess if I know someone's going to read, it forces me to be as honest as I can.
So I'm piling guilt upon guilt.. guilt for feeling the way I do, and guilt for broadcasting it to the world even though it might hurt someone.

Maybe I should just go back to researching dryer lint...

What's the perfect accompaniment for guilt? Anxiety, of course!

Linque Du Jour:   The Page of Anxiety

Subtitled "New and Old things for you to be anxious about"

Many many links. Be afraid. Very.

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