Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coping Mechanisms: Avoiding Guilt

I talk a lot about coping mechanisms on this blog, usually knitting or other crafty-type activities (or humor, which is a really good one).  I'm currently facing a question on whether to engage in another kind of coping mechanism:  guilt avoidance.

That's a lousy name for the coping mechanism, but I'm at a loss for anything else.  At least it's descriptive:  "I am going to cope with crap by avoiding guilt."  Sounds simple enough.

So what I'm trying to do is avoid future guilt -- like, long-run guilt -- through my current actions.  Here's the story:  my dad was involved in a serious motorcycle accident a few days ago (okay, technically, it was a scooter accident, but "scooter accident" sounds so totally lame, I'm reinventing it to a "motorcycle accident").  It was in the local news and everything.  He moved to Florida about six or seven years ago, so it's not like I can just hop in the car and head over to the hospital and see him.

My brother found out about the accident Tuesday, when my dad's wife called my brother.  My brother called my husband that night and told him.  I had a breakdown Tuesday night, though, so my husband decided it may be better not to tell me about it until I felt better.  I knew my brother had called, but I assumed it was about Christmas gifts for the all the kids. So I finally found out about the accident yesterday morning, when, after sending my sister-in-law a long rambling email about what my kids would like for Christmas (since I assumed that's what my brother called about), my husband told me what the real story was.  And, side note:  gee, didn't  I feel like an ass, talking about Christmas gifts when my dad had been airlifted to intensive care.

Anyway, here's where the coping mechanism comes in.  It finally occurred to me last night that maybe I should consider going to Florida to see him (again, I was feeling like an ass, since this was a full 12 hours after I'd found out about it).  Nobody said so, but I think there was some time in there when the doctors/etc. weren't sure he was going to make it.  If he would have died that day, I would have felt horrible, but there's no way I could have gotten there in time. 

If now something happens now, however, and I don't go, will I ever be able to forgive myself?  I have a long and difficult history with my dad, but in recent years our relationship has been pretty stable.  I think we've both mellowed to a degree as we've gotten older, and things are pretty okay between us.  I think my brother would characterize his relationship with my dad the same way, though I don't want to put words in his mouth. 

Of course I don't want my dad to die; I want him to get better and live a much longer life (he's 64).  But if he did die, would I be able to forgive myself for not getting down there and visiting?  And, on a much less selfish note (yeah, yeah, I know how that last thought sounded), I'm sure he'd like to see us -- will I be okay with not going, even if something doesn't happen, knowing that I'm sure he'd like to have his family around him while he's sick?  Plus, I like his wife (they've been married about five years), and I'd like to support her.

I've been pricing airfare and kicking around the idea of going.  But I haven't been so well myself, lately, and I'm not sure I'm up to a trip to Florida from Ohio.  Plus, we've been calling in all our favors to get help for our kids while I've been ill the last few weeks, and I'm not sure my support system would be too thrilled with helping out on that kind of scale  for that reason. 

So do I put forth the effort, and avoid the guilt later?  Or do I put forth the effort, and just do the right damn thing and go see my dad?  Questions, questions.  I'm kind of stuck.  We'll see how it turns out.

1 comment:

  1. Go see your dad if you can. I had a similar relationship with my dad (strained). He died suddenly 3-1/2 years ago. I never got to say goodbye or tell him I loved him or anything.