Got a great Question from a reader this week:
“My mother has been in and out of the hospital for the past month. I’ve offered to take my father to the hospital to visit (he doesn’t drive any more), and he always says “No, you don’t have to…” …and then later it turns out he has asked my sister to take him!
I feel rejected and hurt. I’ve asked my father why he tells me no all the time, but then asks my sister, and his answer is simply, “I don’t want to burden you. I know you’re busy.”
It just makes no sense to me. I’m going to the hospital to visit my mother, and I see my father and sister there, but I now feel like the “fifth wheel”…
How do I handle this going forward, since I know my mother will have a long recovery period and this issue will keep coming up?”
Your question is an excellent one, and one that touches on many issues that caregivers – and family members in general, all around the world – can relate to. It’s a great illustration of the universal principle that everyone wants to feel special and needed, particularly when it comes to showing up and helping out.
Growing up, we all want to feel loved and appreciated by our parents (or whoever was responsible for caring for us). This feeling – and the need to feel that we are “chosen” – gets carried into other areas of our lives. It shows up in the school yard, our friendships, dating, applying for jobs, etc. And it always remains particularly powerful when it involves our parents.
So your father seemingly rejecting your offer in favor of your sister’s (and the translation emotionally is literally “in favor your sister – herself”) touches off this deep-rooted feeling and belief that when you are not chosen, you are not loved. Certainly, at the very least, you’re likely to feel “not loved as much.”
The good news is this old belief need not rule your life any longer!
Fortunately, now that you’re an adult, you can step back and rationally realize that your dad not accepting your offer for a ride does not equal “Dad loves me less!” And think about it: Even if he did, would that really change your life as the adult you now are? No! You have whatever relationship you do with him, and you also have the ability to appreciate what you have and be happy with that – or assess what actions you could take to strengthen your bond, if you so choose.
You could just choose to believe that you are loved, needed and appreciated, and it is enough (what a radical idea!).
Stay tuned next week for a 5-step process for quickly getting past moments like this feeling more peaceful and empowered!
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In the meantime, if you are dealing with a similar challenge and would like support with letting go of the feelings it stirs up, pick up the phone and call me at (201) 489-6720 for a complimentary consultation. You don’t have to keep struggling alone – let me help you start to shift out of feeling stuck in hurt and resentment!