16

April

What if I really am to blame?

Thursday April 16, 2020


We've been told not to self-blame. Our therapists, supporters, and self-help books tell us that depression, anxiety, loneliness, PTSD, mania, etc., are not the sufferer's fault, but are of complex physiological-social-genetic origins that science still doesn't understand.

But–what if I really am to blame?

I am mired in a 10-year bout of depression. To make a long story short, I am supporting my husband's need to stay near his 80-something parents, one of whom has cancer, instead of moving on with my life – moving away from many ghosts that haunt me and inhibit my recovery. I have made this choice with eyes open because sometimes I have to do the moral thing instead of the best thing.

I am trying to fight the Black Dog with my husband of 40 years as my only life preserver.

My estrangement from several of my family members, especially my mother and brother, is one of the worst circumstances. I've done some reading about the psychology of parent-child estrangement, and my situation is textbook. My mother is a perpetual victim. Because we have had a strained relationship my entire adulthood, she naturally sees me as the abuser and herself as the wounded party. She is close to my brother, and therefore, he believes I am the devil incarnate. His screams of, "I hate you," over my mother's ICU bed as she was recovering from a near-fatal stroke were a shock and revelation to me.

Repeatedly, I have asked myself what I have done that is so horrific that a brother could hate me and have to be restrained from punching me? I must have done something because people don't just suddenly start hating their siblings and refuse all contact with them. Right?

My therapist has helped me to understand the unnatural attachment between my mother and brother and my mother's ongoing victim's masquerade.

Yet, I still have a nagging feeling that I have done something wrong.

Because this bout of depression has been so long, I can look back and see macro trends. It also helps that I'm 58 and have been experiencing depression since I was about five. Since my trauma in 2010, I have lost two close friends; I have an extremely strained relationship with my daughter, son and his wife, and my mother; and my brother has completely cut ties with me.

Upon further reflection, I realize that my life is littered with failed friendships and estrangements. And the fallout has been more severe over the last 10 years. I can give myself credit for maturity and leniency in some of the failures having done all I should and more. For instance, I was almost 40 before I cut my abusive father out of my life. But it's still a failed relationship.

I can't help but wondering: Is it me?

Assuming that talking to the estranged parties is not possible, how do I know? Who can be trusted?

Have you ever faced such a dilemma as this?

Kelley
A Moodscope member.

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