Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Guilt and Obligation--The Tipping Point
I have mentioned the guilt before--guilt over who we are inviting and guilt over who we are not; feeling obligation to represent, include and share with all the various facets of our world. Like most grown-ups, we accepted long ago that we don't always get to do what we want, but when it comes to our lives as a couple and a family and especially as we are planning our ceremony and celebration--it has been an occasionally rocky road to balancing obligation with self preservation and care. To whom and to what do we have to feel obligated?
The other day, Teri and I were put under scrutiny and quizzed by an acquaintance who wanted to know who we had been socializing with, what we were doing with our time, and why we weren't doing the activities and events that she obviously thought we should be. While there is little in the world of human behavior that actually surprises me any more, we were both taken a little aback by the inquisition. After all, we'd just been enjoying our first leisurely weekend day together alone in our pajamas in weeks! An uninvited guest for whom we adjusted and welcomed, who then proceeded to let us know that she had definite opinions about what we were and were not doing and who we were or were not spending our social time with.
I generally want to be polite and inclusive and Teri is often much more sensitive about others than I am--I do tend to get crabby at having my boundaries over-run and push or pull back. Over five decades, we have both developed some skills in how to gently extricate ourselves from unwanted social situations. This only works, however, when the other party or parties get the hint. Several weeks ago while out dancing, I tried to politely decline some persistent invitations to dance. There was the attitude that I had an obligation to say "yes" simply because I'd been asked. Seriously? At this age? It made me all the more determined to hold my ground.
Wedding Planning Land had exacerbated this sense of obligation and a desire to be "nice" for me. I truly didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or exclude anyone. Recent developments, however, have pushed me over the tipping point to the other side. There are such things as compromise, compassion and consideration, but at some point, I DO get to choose how much of who and what I want up in my world. As it is, there will always be elements of obligation; I will always make adjustments and let manners and basic social skills guide how I conduct myself and I don't really want to hurt anyone's feelings ever. I don't get to truly control very much in this world and Teri and I are prepared for the inevitable "fall-out" from the fact that we not only have just so much room, but we also want our day to be about us and our closest family and friends (with some adjustments and allowances, of course.) We don't always get to control our environment, but it seems that on a wedding day and in our own home, we should have a sense of peace and comfort--without the guilt and obligation. Thank goodness I'm letting that go!