Fear, obligation and guilt.

I have been having a great deal of anxiety and stress this past week.

My younger sister, 31, eloped two weeks ago after getting divorced in June.   She started dating her new husband in March.   I found out about it two days later when my oldest sister notified me by phone, and shortly thereafter younger sister notified me by phone.

I wasn’t feeling that she made a particularly wise decision, and, in fact, I was kind of upset that she rushed into marriage after I asked her a couple of times to not jump from one person to another, and also hurt she didn’t invite any of our family.  I made the mistake of questioning her as to why they had to rush into things and not invite anyone.  She then promptly said, “My relationship with you is now over” and hung up on me.

That wasn’t so surprising.  It’s what she does.  Neither was what went down later with the rest of the family.   I thought about sharing all the details, but re-hashing the details only hurts me and doesn’t really help you understand.

It amounts to fear, obligation and guilt.

Emotional blackmail.


Which in turn leads me to obsessive self-criticism.

Which in turn, slows me down, hurts me and steals my confidence, my happiness and my vitality.  It lowers my immunity and makes me depressed.  I’m functionally depressed.  Meaning I can keep moving forward, but internally, I am lost in self-doubt.  I have arguments with myself all the time.  On one side, being my best friend and champion.  On the other, being my worst critic.

I realized I have irrational, obsessive thinking about certain things.  And toxic self-criticism.

I realized last night, that somehow have expected to be ‘normal’ after all the experiences I’ve had with other people’s dysfunction.  I’m not.  I’ve got a compulsion to act-in and self-abuse with self-criticism.

I’d like to change that.  And I know it’s going to take some time.

I wanted to share some resources:

What to do about Fear, Obligation and Guilt:  Exercises to help you resist emotional blackmail by Randy Kreger.

Introducing Toxic Criticism by Eric Maisel.

Silencing Self-Criticism by Eric Maisel.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Elopment, obligation and guilt, Personal growth, PTSD, self-criticism. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fear, obligation and guilt.

  1. Phil says:

    The scripts we fall prey to when interacting with family are often the most deeply entrenched scrips of all. Like a deep rut, they are easy to fall into. You can detach and re-write those scripts, but admittedly it is very hard work to do. You cannot live your sister’s life any more than she can live yours. We all walk a path unique to ourselves, and though we may share some of that path along the way with others, we cannot and should not force others to continue down our path when it no longer suits them.

    So much easier said than done: Try not to over analyze what occurred, and certainly do not blame yourself. Try not to obsess. Oftentimes, clarity comes from detachment, not from the continual replay in your mind of the events. Let the subconscious process it for you while you go about other things.

    Hope things get better soon. Take care.

    • Casey says:

      “You cannot live your sister’s life any more than she can live yours”.

      Oh, I’m in total agreement there. I don’t want to live her life. She’s so impulsive and twists reality around and is cruel. She just can’t be alone.

      But a month ago, she sent out invitations to an ‘engagement’ party. She then ditched her cousins wedding the day before her own elopement. Now this engagement party is meant to be a wedding celebration/meet the in-laws party.

      I feel all sorts of uncomfortable with this. So I called my mom just to understand why she would do all that.

      Then she left a message on my voicemail saying I’m ‘harrassing’ my mother about this. I wasn’t. I was asking what was going on. Supposedly there are ‘secret reasons’ and I’m not supposed to know.

      She left a text on my husband’s cell phone. The first thing she said, “You need to control your wife.” And then she says “She needs to get herself under control. If she doesn’t want to come, don’t come. I honestly don’t want her around because she’s an embarrassment right now. Me, mom, K., dad, and my husband are all pissed off over this.”

      She’s speaking for the whole family. Is everyone angry with me? I don’t know.

      Does everyone think I’m an embarrassment? That’s actually quite possible.

      Am I under control? I think so. But this kind of stuff makes me wonder.

      Am I an embarrassment right now? I hope not. I can’t help but feel that I am.

      About the obsessing? Well, if it’s not this particular thing, its another.

      I know it’s been a while since we conversed and I don’t remember the last time we had spoken. It’s not just family of origin stuff. This new stuff just stirs up a lot of things in me.

      Mostly it’s just a feeling of trying to hold onto my sanity while people around me go crazy. And then say it’s because of me. But then later say, no it’s not.

      Anyway, as far as going about other things…the two younger girls and I are decorating for Halloween. And then I have to put together my Halloween costume. I’m going to a Halloween part with former colleagues of mine at the crime lab I used to work at. It will be a fun time. Always is a lot of fun.

      I’m going as a tree. Yeah, weird I know, but I think I can pull it off.

      Husband is going as a zombie Bob Ross (the artist dude on TV).

  2. Gail Merda says:

    I can relate absolutely with you post It is not so much the situation as how we internalize it. we criticize ourselves for others behavior and an unhealthy family is always ready to place blame on us, as we become outsiders to the game and its rules. I appreciate your blog.

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