Author: Ann Schiebert
So there is mom, at the front door, inviting you in for the holiday meal. And the GUILT stage begins:
"I wouldn’t want to hurt mom’s feelings." "It would be so bad to disrespect mom by declining her invitation to celebrate the holiday in the house I grew up in." "And what about dad, he won’t be around forever."
To add to your own guilt, your family joins in: "Come on, what would it hurt? I haven’t seen you in so long and I miss you." Then dad comes to the door: "Don’t be such a stranger! You are a member of this family, don’t you know!" And your brother and his wife come to the door and beg you to join them. Well, you have just been guilted by the entire RDS in which physical abuse is the, "elephant in the living room," that no one will acknowledge.
There you are, feeling like a jerk, in front of your childhood home with the attention of your entire family on you. What will you do?
If you accept the invitation, you have returned to the depression stage because you will feel sad and down that you gave in and you will feel guilty that you are engaging with the RDS you are so desperately trying to leave. If you don’t accept your family’s enticing invite, you will feel that you’ve let them down and ask yourself, "Is this really worth it?" But! You will still be on the path to entering a RCS! Such a choice – return to a denial based system that covertly supports spousal abuse, or stay on your path of confronting the obvious and reaching toward clarity by saying, "Mom, Dad, as I was looking in the window, I saw my brother hit his wife. And then I saw you all try to excuse that action. I just can’t be around you until you ALL deal with this problem. And I wish you would, I really do, because I miss you. Please fix this!" And then you leave.
Hooray for you! And it feels crumby as you walk away toward your car. You have just overcome the GUILT with which your family has tried to manipulate you back into the RDS. You have resisted!
But you are not done – you haven’t passed through the BARGAINING stage – next post.