Guilt has always intrigued me. How people can torture themselves with guilt. I even wrote a novel about it called, “Web of Guilt”, which I published on Amazon Kindle.
But for this story, I will cite the case of a friend of mine, who I will call Jim.
Jim knocked on my door one night, when I opened the door, he looked absolutely drained!
“I feel terrible, can I come in?”
“Sure, Jim, come in.”
I led him to a comfortable chair and got him and myself a beer.
“What’s the matter, Jim?”
“I have these terrible guilt feelings over my mother’s health,” he said, grimacing and biting his lip.
“Tell me what happened.”
“Well, as you know, I’ve been planning a months holiday traveling around Europe.” Jim was taking deep breaths and staring down at his feet.
He continued: “I told my mother of my travel plans and she said:
“A month away! You know how sick I get if you aren’t around. If you go for a month I could have a heart attack! The doctor told you how weak my heart is!”
“Mother if you take your medication you will be fine.”
“No, I won’t be fine!”
“By now my mother was getting cantankerous!”
“I’ve looked after you for many years and now you are going away for a month. I will die, I know I will!”
“I walked out of my mother’s apartment feeling totally miserable.”
“Are you still going ahead with your travel plans?”
Jim was visibly uncomfortable with that question. He looked pale and he had a haunted look on his face.
“I don’t know what to do. My thoughts are filled with self-loathing.” Jim kept fidgeting in his chair.
“I think you have to stand your ground, Jim. Your mother is attempting to manipulate you with guilt. She will be alright. Make sure she has all the telephone numbers she needs to call for help and that she is as comfortable as possible. And make sure she has all her medication handy.”
“Sometimes, I think if I feel guilty enough, I will be freed of these terrible feelings.”
“Jim, the present moment will still be the same and your guilt is just wasteful activity. Don’t throw your life away because someone makes you feel guilty.”
“So, you think I should go on my trip?”
“Absolutely, why cancel and be miserable? The present moment is the only life you have, the only time you can enjoy and be happy!”
“Okay, I’ll go on my trip. I’m getting fed up with my self-imposed guilt over my mother’s health. I’m feeling bad but the hurting can do nothing to change anything.”
“That’s right. Your mother will use every guilt-producing trick to keep you from living your life. In the end she will respect you for standing your ground.”
A month later, I saw Jim again.
“How was the trip?”
“It was great and I’m planning another one for next year!”
Should we presume that “mom” survived?
Anne Ireson said:
This story reminds me of my mother-in-law. She’s been at death’s door for the last 82 years!
Being Jewish, I totally understand guilt. I was brought up with it and now my wife has taken over from my mother. I have learned to live with it and have even learned how to use it to my advantage sometimes…….But no one can ever reach the professionalism of a jewish mother..although the Italians have made great advances.
Sometimes guilt can be used to your advantage by using it as a motivator to get you moving in the right direction!
Guilt brings out the best and the worst in us, sometimes you have to put your gut feelings aside and go with whats best for you.
It’s strange you write about a guilt trip, I was feeling guilty about letting things go and taking a small holiday in Duluth MN. But I only felt guilty as I was walking out the door, as soon as I got behind the wheel and started down the road all the guilt faded. Now I read your story and little twinges return. Thank.s a lot cousin!
Guilt is never a good thing. Neither is manipulation. If I was the author of this story, it would have had a different ending. But then, some of my stories are pretty dark. LOL
People have different opinions on the subject of guilt and how it affects them.
The mother sounds like a good, old-fashioned passive-aggressive. They’re always suffering from one vague ailment or another that come and go with no discernible pattern. The usual goals of a passive-aggressive are to a) punish and b) get revenge. Most likely, the mother didn’t want the son to enjoy a vacation with his spouse.