Two Right Answers?

July 9, 2011

In our Good Grief group meeting this last week, AR suggested that the two choices I have are both right. That neither one is wrong.

I can choose to take the emotional risk to once again call my parents. Or, I can choose to not take the risk…especially given the history and the next to zero chance that anything will have changed…and especially since my parents DO know how to contact me should they wish to actually connect.

We were talking about guilt…guilt over things we wish we had or had not said or done with the person we had lost. My focus right now is my mother who has melanoma. Although any relationship we once has been gone long ago, her death will bring a final end to any possibility of change.

My husband referred to it as “anticipated” guilt. I had shared how I am looking forward and wondering what decision I should make and whether it will be the right one. How can you know? One thing AR said is important is that we keep talking about the things we are experiencing surrounding the losses we have. Keep talking until we can work through it.

I have been pondering his comment that both decisions are right. In my mind, I kept feeling like I was being a wimp…too fearful to face my father’s abusive words. And what if my mother is somehow being controlled by my father? Forget that she was abusive, too!

In our last conversation, my mother admitted that it was being pushed aside for my son. She said she REALLY WANTED (her emphasis) for me to understand why that was…that it was IMPORTANT that I know. Then…no more contact. It could be manipulation. It could be that she actually let her guard down and got real for a couple of minutes. It could be all kinds of things.

I think it was really helpful for me to hear AR say that BOTH decisions were right….especially since he knows a lot more details than the other women in the group. He knows my parents are toxic for me from meeting with me previously.

I just want to do what is right, but having it pointed out that they KNOW the door is open…they KNOW they can write my hubby and my mother can write me…helped bring a more balanced perspective. It IS helpful to hear that from outside of myself.


  1. I went through that stage (I call it a stage, the only word I can think of at the moment) that you are going through in your journey about seven to eleven years ago (my mother died seven years ago now – 2004). I have to say this was the most difficult journey that I was in. The guilt takes in one shape or another … you just never know what will hit you until you are in that place. It was very difficult because I had to figure out what was the right thing for me to do given the situation that I was in … being the dutiful daughter that I was in and yet, I did not want to get sucked into manipulation or control. There are times that whatever I think was the right thing to do turns out not to be. And sometimes that right thing to do is all I can do with whatever information given to me. Just before my mom passed away, I did go back to her place but I also had my oldest half brother come and visit me as well and that helped a lot …. got to know my half brother (he is 20 years older then I am and I don’t know much about him) with the relationship with me and my mother, and how I thought would be turns out to be wrong in my mind … in other words, I could trust his judgement and I could also trust this relationship which was important to me. I could write a whole book about it but I wanted to let you know that I could defintely identify what you are sharing here. It is interesting to note that not many survivors would talk about it like you have.

    • Thank you for sharing, Grace. I would think that more WOULD share about this stuff. I know I hear about it in the sense that I see what some go through…over and over again…as they try to get that relationship with their parents that they always wanted. I watch them try and fail and try and fail. It is a really tough thing to go through and to watch.

      I am still trying to figure things out for myself. My honey does not want to see me contacting again. But he respects that it is my choice.

  2. It is good for me that you are writing about your relationship with your parents because although both of mine are dead, reading your post made me realize that they are still a part of my life. They represent something I will never have; parents that love me. It is time to let go of some of the emptiness I have felt for such a long, long time. Both of them hurt me than I could ever say, but in spite of all of it, I am okay. There are people who love me and I don’t know if it makes up for what they did, but it feels very good.

    • I offer you hugs, radicalhope. Grieving what wasn’t is just as important as grieving what was. There is definitely a finality in your parents death…a finality that I am trying to face before it is here. Not totally sure that is possible, but I am glad to see that you are recognizing how much they can still affect you and that you are ready to move on from that emptiness. I pray for your success.

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