A Sense of Guilt


Nope you’ve got me on that one.

20 thoughts on “A Sense of Guilt

  1. NarcAngel says:

    I do not love or feel love. My biological father ran before I was born. I met him when I was 50 and despite these reunion shows where people cry when meeting for the first time, I felt absolutely nothing when seeing him for the first time and it quickly turned to disgust. My mother did what was legally required for us (4 children) but I do not recall any touching moments or feeling of love despite knowing from a young age that I wanted more than she was giving. She was too busy catering to the whims and moods of my StepNarc (who abused us all) because of her own issues. Still I felt protective of my mother and the other children, and responsible, but not love, and that remains. I live the pretence you mention. Contact with my mother and siblings is very limited (couple times a year for those near and I havent seen my one brother for over 30 yrs), mainly for my empath sister, and the fact that the facade is easier than explaining to outsiders. We all pretend there is something because it just seems wrong somehow to admit there is nothing but pain that links us and that there will actually be relief when we no longer have to make the effort.
    I feel things like responsibility, disgust, indifference, and also a little sadness and a lot of anger at all of the lost potential, but not love.

    I do not feel shame or guilt though. None. I did nothing wrong and I will not carry it for others. They failed me in being consumed with themselves.
    Nor did you do anything wrong so I hope you refuse to carry it or abuse yourself by repeating it.

    1. Catherine says:

      Thank you for sharing your story; it sounds harsh and bleak and to me you seem from your comments to have come out of it wise, colourful, with strong integrity and with an amazing sense of humour. I applaud you for that and for not feeling any shame or any guilt! That’s where I need to be at. The life of pretence you describe is also mine; I try to see as little as possible of my mother and when I read your comment it struck me that maybe it’s responsibility I feel for her that I’ve mistaken so long for love, or rather hoped would substitute the love I might not feel for her. Since my life has been overturned by my encounter with the man that made me reenact my childhood I feel that I don’t know anything for certain right now. But I did feel responsible for my mothers emotional wellbeing even as a very small girl and then I’ve just continued with assuming that it must be my fault when people treat me bad. Love might be something I don’t know much about; I only know the dramatic kind where suffering is constantly evolved and where I, like my mother, need external validation to feel that I’m a worthy human being. That’s not what I want for myself anymore and I won’t let myself be abused anymore either. Thank you for your enlightening reply.

  2. Mara says:


    I wasn’t expecting that when I opened the email notification for this and it cracked me up, hehe

  3. Hurt&Confused (but it’s becoming clearer) says:

    I can relate to so much of what you have written. My father has strong narcissistic traits, but I do not believe he has NPD. Let’s just say my childhood was not all sunshine and rainbows. He is not an evil man, but he certainly has some issues that came through in his parenting style. He played favourites (and still does), used fear and guilt to control me (still tries to now), was/is emotionally unavailable and overly critical.
    Boundaries and independence are still things I have to fight for, even at 32. I did not stand a chance as a child,and as a teenager.
    Like you, I never felt secure or loved. I always felt that if I made one wrong move, everything would be taken away from me. His love always came with conditions that I could never meet. He always put me down, would always focus on my mistakes, never praised my achievements. I could never “win” his love. Some parents do their best to shield their children from the struggles of life. My father had no issue letting me know how hard he was finding it, how tired he was, how angry he was at life and at me. How dissatisfied he was. How we were struggling financially. I used to cry myself to sleep thinking that we were going to run out of money. I was a very anxious child, and I grew up to be an anxious adult. Highly agreeable, highly conscientious, and high on neuroticism, if we are going with the five factor model of personality, hehe.
    It didn’t help that he used to send me away to other family members a lot, so I always felt that I was a burden to him and to others. He was a single parent (my mother passed away when I was a baby) and he had four children to raise, all at different stages of life, with different needs. So I can’t blame him completely. I can understand how difficult it must have been. And it could have been a lot worse. But I still feel a great deal of anger and resentment towards him.I feel guilty because I cannot let go of my anger and resentment. Mainly because he never changed. Once our family got through the difficult times, he didn’t suddenly become father of the year. He still plays favourites. He is still overly critical. He still uses guilt (his health is failing) to try and control me. I haven’t lived up to his expectations, so no outpouring of love. No respect for my boundaries. No emotional support whatsoever. I don’t think he has ever asked me a simple “how are you?”.
    And so the resentment lingers. And I feel guilty because his health is failing and I don’t know how long he will be around for. Yet I can’t seem to forgive him. So guilt is a feeling I am familiar with.
    And I can also understand why I was so open and susceptible to the person who I was “entangled” with. I won’t go into the details, I have ranted enough. Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to say that I understand, Catherine.

    1. Catherine says:

      Thank you for sharing your story; it sounds a lot like mine and although I grew up with both my parents my father wasn’t really mentally there even if he was physically present. I guess it was his way of escaping the pressure my mother constantly put on him. I also recognise the guilt making to gain control; my mother is a master at getting what she wants through riddling her environment with crippling guilt all the time and even when she gets it her way she’ll never be content anyhow; it’s all a tiring and never ending powerplay with her. I’m thinking about what you write about forgiveness because I am in the same position with my mother; she’s old and her health is failing, but does forgiveness have to be about forgiving the person who hurt you or could forgiveness be solely about yourself and the gained awareness of the whys and the hows of what we’ve been through? Can you not love but forgive and be at peace with it?

      1. Hurt&Confused (but it’s becoming clearer) says:

        Hi Catherine, I am also glad you shared your story and opened up the discussion. I have been reading the replies from everyone and it seems we have all experienced similar things but in different ways.

        I have also noticed that everyone here is showing a great deal of emotional resilience and self awareness. Two things which are definitely needed on this journey to better mental health and well-being. What is it that they say? Deal with your issues or they will deal with you.

        And yes, I believe you can forgive without having to let someone back in emotionally. You do not owe your mother love. But you do owe yourself love and forgiveness. We all do.

  4. Catherine says:

    Oh yes! That’s my territory; I’m dressed from head to toe in guilt from growing up with narcissism; from never being allowed boundaries, from never being allowed to be my own person, from being helplessly scared of abandonment by a mother who made security and love into a one dimensional game of uncertainty and drama. That’s my original trauma and the man I fell in love with now later on just repeated that well known pattern for me. He’s really not that important.

    I talked about this the other day in therapy; about the guilt and the eternal shame that runs through my veins since childhood and my therapist asked me straight out why I feel this shame; this guilt; what’s it all about? I couldn’t somehow articulate it; I never could and my mind shies from it as soon as the subject is touched upon ever so slightly. But she was persistant; could it be shame over the fact that I don’t love my mother? I recoiled from it then, but it’s been on my mind the last few days a lot. My mother made me feel that love was just a game; that it was false and only a forced way for me to validate her; what she called love was conditional to my behaviour aligning with what she wanted from me as well as lots of other factors around that I never could control even though I tried second guessing them over and over again. Love was a constant drama and my mother never made me feel safe and loved as a child. Still I never doubted that I love her; for me anything else has always been unthinkable. Who would I be then; if my life has been about a pretence of loving someone because I can’t face the truth of it?

    Now I’m thinking that I go around the world being this kind of love junkie and maybe still not having the faintest clue about what love really is. Does anyone else feel this way? Do you love the parents who abused you? Do you feel this constant shame and guilt for what you went through?

    1. All out of Fuel says:

      I can relate to pretty much everything you are saying except the only difference is my mother was severely mentally ill which attributed to her behavior but she has very similar narc traits like no boundaries, blows hot and cold, cannot recall any events (makes up shit, rewrites history, etc.). I also feel the guilt you describe as well. And the fear of abandonment too. I just began seeing a new therapist and we are also discussing guilt as well. We have yet to scratch the surface of my time immersed in the land of Mr. Piano Recital narc. It is all a game of “connect the dots” for me at this point but I can definitely relate to everything you are saying almost word for word.

      1. Catherine says:

        Thank you Gabrielle for your answer. I think it doesn’t really matter what kind of condition our abusive parents have; if we’re abused it will take its toll on us and sooner or later in life I guess we have to go back and face that childhood to be able to choose a healthier life onwards. Your early years sound a lot like mine and I’m so sorry for what you had to go through. Therapy helps and to be guests of HG here helps a lot in working through that maze of very strong emotions. I think most of us deep down inside fear abandonment; either by never connecting to someone else at all or by clinging on to tightly when we should instead let go. I have a difficulty connecting in the beginning, I’m not blinded with emotion from the start of any relationship, but when I do let someone in there are no boundaries at all with me. That’s scary. I do hope for you to be able to immerse yourself in that land of Mr Piano Recital and see how you’re maybe repeating old patterns because his unavailability awakened this primal fear of abandonment in you and that you will actually rejoice in knowing that you’ll survive being abandoned. Because we do survive and we are much stronger than we think we are. Getting to know ourselves is a true adventure. Thank you again Gabrielle for your thoughtful reply.

    2. K says:

      My parents were so violent, I hated them both and wanted them dead. I have no guilt or shame about my childhood, even though it was riddled with violence and bereft of love, also, I have no idea what it is like to feel “real” love from an adult; sometimes I wonder what it would be like.

      1. Catherine says:

        I feel so sorry for you reading what you went through. It’s truly horrifying how people who are not supposed to have children at all hurt them so bad. Yet, from your comments, I’ve always had this notion of you being so strong and so vivacious. I’m glad you don’t feel guilt or shame about it; I know it’s not our fault how we are treated by the people who bring us into this world, but I’ve gone through life with a blindfold when it comes to my mother, refusing to see how her treatment of me has affected my grown up life. I’d say the most important revelation I’ve had so far in this process of grieving a man who doesn’t even deserve it is when I found HG and when I found all of you who comment here. Only then did I realise that my childhood isn’t uncommon at all with us who suffer from being entangled in these kind of abusive relationships; it’s rather very common. That’s been so helpful and healing to me, I’ll be forever grateful to HG and you for that kind of immensely important validation and provision of that missing piece of my puzzle.
        And maybe I just need to come to terms with the fact that I don’t know what love is even though I’ve searched all my life for it. I’ll have to start anew; mould it into what I want it to be instead of believing that I know all about it; I most certainly don’t know much anyway. Thank you K!

        1. K says:

          Thank you, Catherine
          My parents never should of had children and they should have gone to jail for child abuse and neglect. Although my comments are upbeat now, I did go through a heart break/rage period. Right now, I am in the indifference stage.

          You are correct; it is not our fault how our parents treated us and it is time to remove the blindfold and the emotion (guilt and shame) from the equation. Your mother is responsible for herself and you are responsible for yourself, your behavior and your happiness. Keep it simple; it isn’t personal; it is survival. Your mother was the adult and it was her job to take care of you, not the other way around. Shame on her, not you.

          We have been brought together by dint of painful childhoods and intimate relationships and I, too, am grateful for you, HG and all the commenters on this site. We may not know much about “true love” but we are both here trying and that is good enough for me.

      2. H. says:

        It seems many of us had abusive parents.

        K…..you sound like you have grown into a strong woman despite it all. Good for you.

        1. K says:

          Thank you H
          Yes, indeed, many of us here have had very abusive parents and no one is to blame for their parent’s failings. My motto: move forward and stay away from them whenever possible; they are all nuts.

          1. H. says:

            Yea, I did that years ago through instinct. But the abusive family scars have endured…but hey, live and learn, and learning I am.

      3. Catherine says:

        Thank you K for your kind words! You’re right. I’ll keep it simple because like you say it’s not personal, it’s survival. Being here trying together to work through what happened to us and what we are because of it is good enough for me too. More than good enough actually. I’ve come a far way from being totally devastated a few months ago and I’m so grateful for that. Hugs!

        1. K says:

          My pleasure, Catherine. And virtual hugs right back at you!

    3. Antifragile says:

      Same as you.

      Love them, of course. I’m trying to realize now what’s wrong in their course of childrearing. So subtle not evident discourse that made me this depressed not living thing with false self … Trying to find who I am indeed underneath of people pleasing.
      Alice Miller, James Masterson – all are about how does parents make us that way…

      1. Catherine says:


        Yes, our parents have intense power over who we become as adults and it’s a good thing to sort through issues now. I’m grateful in that way to the narcissist because he’s made the loss of him into a journey where I hope to gain myself instead. That’s healing and even though I’m now in a phase of some painful stuff I need to face the past once and for all. Thanks for you comment!

  5. K says:

    My two IRL empaths are racked with guilt. It is no wonder narcissists can use guilt to manipulate people. Both narcs and empaths are included in my petri dish of observation; they are my variables and HG is the control, of course.

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