If I had to name one feeling that has followed me around all my life...it's guilt.
You know how humans are basically giant bags of water....biologically speaking? Psychologically speaking...I was a bag of guilt.
I clearly remember feeling guilty at a fairly young age because I had the power to make my parents sick. If I was naughty, I gave my dad a stomachache. If I annoyed my mother, she'd say, "You don't know what you're putting me through."
When my high school boyfriend broke up with me and I stumbled in the house, crying my eyes out, my mother was furious because I'd managed to scare her to death and she slapped me (not very hard)...she'd thought I'd been raped. She went to her room, highly upset, saying I'd put her through an ordeal.
My announcement that I was going away to college, years older than the typical student, was met with accusations that I was abandoning them, "after all we've done for you."
In fact, my mother was really big on reminding me of all the stuff they'd ever done for me...whether I'd asked for them or not.
After my mother died due to complications of Alzheimer's (she became docile...nice to be around as the disease advanced) and my father was alone, he went into overdrive laying on the guilt. He'd say stuff like:
"Don't forget about me, you're all I've got now" (I'm an only child);
"I'm so lonely, where are you?"
"I just wanted to hear your voice" (then he'd proceed to talk the entire conversation and wouldn't let me say a word)
Of course, I asked my father - repeatedly - to move closer to me so I could see him more often and help him out. He refused. Then created situations that forced me to travel 400 miles to rescue him. Until I put my foot down.
Of course, he told all the neighbors and anybody who'd listen about what a lousy daughter I was, that I'd taken their retirement money for my college education (they refused to help/I paid ever single penny) and then abandoned him in his old age. I was, to say the least, mortified.
The thing is...we could never just have a parent-child relationship without the guilt. The guilt was a like third person in our family...the one that held the whip.
Personally, I'd feel silly trying to make my daughters feel guilty, mostly because it takes a lot of theatrics and heavy sighing and they'd probably laugh.
The only weapon against The Guilt Trip is achieving Emotional Detachment. I finally, finally don't feel guilty anymore...although I sometimes do feel the occasional pang of guilt...but nothing like Crippling Guilt.
I've come to think of Emotional Detachment as the secret weapon against the narcissist's secret weapon...a state of enlightenment that is only achieved after much practice.
As always, please feel free to share your opinions, thoughts and stories!