Client Journal: Why I Feel Guilty

Client: I feel like a failure for being 29 and not being in a serious relationship.
I rationalize my dad’s behavior by thinking that maybe he doesn’t talk to me that much on the phone because I didn’t have a personal relationship with him when I was little.

For some reason, I don’t know why, I thought it was my responsibility to give my parents advice when they asked for it, I thought that was part of being a good daughter.

I feel guilty because I agree with my mom that my dad does and has done hurtful things to everyone, and I feel sad that she is in a relationship like that and I feel like I have to take care of her.

I feel guilty about not always remembering or being on time with a birthday card/phone call because I feel that it makes me a selfish person and a shitty daughter.

I feel guilty about judging my brother and my sister based on their lifestyles and how they live. I see my sister as a winner because she makes a lot of money and I see my brother as a loser because he lives with my parents.

I feel guilty that whenever my dad hurts my mom, I am unable to do anything about it to make her feel better.

Client’s Reaction: After reading what I wrote, I realized that a lot of my guilt comes from the fact that I have the messed up belief that a good daughter is someone who is able to take care of her parents, no matter what, even at an early age. And when I really think about it, it is a stupid belief. I shouldn’t have to be a parent to my parents, I am their daughter. It should be the other way around! A lot of my guilt also comes from me trying to be their version of perfect. And I still feel guilty that I am not their version of perfect. I am still trying to impress them, I am still trying to win their love.

Marta: We all want the fantasy. It is what helps us survive, but as we grow, the fantasy turns sour and limiting. Of course the fear is of the your own dark rage. How to build a container for it, use it to grow and build, instead of destroy and collapse – that is the work. Growing and receiving the world, family and yourself is not easy. Holding emotional energy is intense, particularly trauma energy. Feeling your feet and hips helps to stay grounded in the body, so that the child doesn’t exit or collapse. Where does your child exit from the overwhelm of the emotions?

You are disgusted and feel gross.  You hate them more than love them. Do you blame yourself that you hate them more than love them?Do you please people you don’t even like, be the good girl?

Client Journal: What Does Saving Someone Mean For Me?

Client: What does saving someone mean for me? It means redemption, validation, acceptance, an end to denial, a sense of self and safety. I only feel good when I am sacrificing something of myself, or on my behalf, to save someone else and that people are watching me do it. It’s a high. That’s when I feel I exist, when I feel proud or best about myself. How much blood can I pour out to save someone else? How many bullets do I have to take to save someone? How much pain do I have to endure to save someone else? I’m guessing, the more the better. Every fantasy I have involves almost killing myself in order to save someone else – usually a guy. And if I can save them, they can look at me and know that I exist, that I deserve respect, that I’m made of stronger stuff, and they can love me back. And then I can love myself.

Marta: Right here is the pattern: This is how deep your wound is with your father and mother. This is how much you need this to be healed. Write more about this. Find the little girl who is so empty that she would die to get love. Find the adult who is now saying I love and I won’t leave you. Get the little girl to hear the adult in you, the one who is finding her feet and wanting healthy love.

Client Journal: Saving vs. Receiving

Receiving in an intimate relationship is an act of surrender. What would it be like to just fall into another without fear or judgment?

Client: What is the balance between helping and just receiving someone else? I don’t want to be a “saver”. I want to be on the receiving end too, which is so hard. I am trained and paid to solve problems. Through the long-term relationships I have, it is so much easier to have the flow, the balance is easier to find, than when I am in the women’s group. Thank you..

Marta: When you’re receiving, that is all your doing, just receiving. Receiving is a practice. To merely take in another person without jumping out to save them is being able to have emotional boundaries that hold you, like water in a bottle. If you want to help, you ask, “Is there anything you need from me?”  If not, then you can feel your compassion, but you do not have to do anything else. You can just say I understand how painful that is for you. And that’s all. Sometimes people just want to vent, and nothing else. If you don’t want them to vent to you, draw a boundary. Ask them a question that gives them responsibility to solve their own problem: “What are you going to do about it?” or,  “I don’t feel I am able to do much but listen, right now,” or whatever you feel is the truth for you in the moment. Most times when a person is expressing a feeling, if you give them advice, try to fix the problem or distract them from their thoughts or feelings, they might resent you and close down; ie: helping someone across the street who doesn’t want to go across the street. They’ll hit you with an umbrella. One time I told a friend I was feeling sad. The person answered, “Why don’t you write down everything you’re grateful for and the sadness will go away.”  I answered, “What makes you think I am not grateful because I feel sad?”

In terms of being received, you need to be able to ask the person for what you need. You cannot assume that others know what you need.  Many times we need recognition, attention or to just be hugged.  It is OK to ask for recognition and acknowledgement. We need to be vulnerable to receive and ask for what we want. We need to trust ourselves and others.

The balance is to know what you need, what you want, and what you are willing to give.  In truth, none of us can save anyone…. all we can do ask, “What do you need?  Inquire into yourself: what is the healthiest thing for you emotionally that you can give or not?  Or just give your empathy, by sharing something personal that you went through to connect to them….not give advice, just share that you have gone through a similar situation. If the person wants to know how you did it, it is up to them to ask you. This way you are not giving yourself away, you are sharing, connecting and giving yourself validation without seeking it out or saving anyone.

Receiving: Receiving is when a person is in the moment, fully engaged, alive and simply allows the expression of another to come into their bodies like a drink of water. We allow it to drop in and then we feel how the other feels to us, without judgment or the need to change them.  Receiving is a surrender to the other. Not a giving up, or passivity, but an openness to truly feel who the other is and what they are saying. You don’t have to agree or feel as they do, you are just there to hold the energy. In receiving both you and the other are fully connected and seen. Most of us just want to be seen and heard. If you are receiving another you will feel warmth, energy and an aliveness that will then turn into a feeling in your body. Once you receive you can simply express with a feeling, I feel________. If you want to share why you feel that then you can, if not then you can just wait until the other person tells you what they need.

Caretaking-Saving: When you want validation to get another person’s love. There is a fear of loss that the other will leave unless you give them an answer or take care of them. There also a control and unworthiness in this act of saving. Unless a person is falling off a mountain, about to be hit by a car, or going to drink a poisonous drink, then saving a person is interference in their ability to take care of themselves.