This post was started in the summer of 2018 and finally finished recently.
Some of you may know that because of my health (I recently had pneumonia followed closely by a heart attack) and momma’s continued deterioration I recently put her into a nursing home. It was and still is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Whether it’s going there to visit her, leaving without her, dealing with all of the things that she has been hoarding for 82 years, even that time to myself that I craved with every fiber of my being is now tarnished with guilt.
Now the house echoes like a grand abandoned opera house that is only a shell of what once was. Not only is momma gone, but so is my best friend, humor relief, and sarcasm that would have Joan Rivers rolling on the floor laughing. The only thing taking up that empty space is my guilt, but why is that?
Why do caregivers, and women who caregive as a whole, wear our guilt around our shoulders like a well-worn coat that gets heavier with every passing year. Why is it that we think that we are the only ones who can do it and do it well enough to be successful even though we know it’s a downhill slide.
I feel guilty for my time alone because I should be at the nursing home, spending time with hubby or the grands, or scrubbing the bathroom floor. I feel guilty for taking a drive with the windows down and the radio up (see first reason). I feel guilty for laughing because I’m sitting here able to laugh and momma’s locked up in a nursing home not knowing where she is, who we are, and why she’s there when I promised I would take care of her.
That guilt can make you crazy or deteriorate your health like a room full of cigarette smoke and a bottle of whiskey while eating the greasiest hamburger you can find. Guilt leads to stress and they are both killers. I mentioned that I recently had a heart attack. I can’t imagine why as a 30-year smoker, overweight, stressed-out middle age woman that I would have a heart attack. The thing is, I watched my dad die the exact same way and he was two years younger than I am right now.
Even after momma’s death, the guilt is still there. Did I do enough? Could I have done better? Been better? I don’t have the answers even today, almost 2 years after momma’s death. We all try to be the picture of the most successful version that we want to be and when we fall short even just the tiniest bit we feel guilt.
Why don’t men feel this way? Sure some do, like the man who came every single day to have dinner with his mother at the nursing home. Every. Single. Day. Even that caused me to feel guilty. I don’t have the answers only more questions. What do you think?
Do you feel guilty about the things you do & the things you don’t do?
Does the guilt ever go away? How do you manage it and not let it rule your life?