Repetition compulsion?

Okay so her words are running through my head today over and over again. Sometimes she says something and it’s like she is shouting it at me really trying very hard to make me pay attention, to sit up and understand what she is saying (not literally).  I don’t know whether it is that she really does say it in a different way, or perhaps that she repeats it enough times that I finally listen or whether sometimes something in me realises somewhere along the line, this is important, Twink, listen up.

Yesterday’s words that are having this effect on me were “your needs and feelings are not too much.  You just attract people who cannot handle feelings.  It isn’t your feelings – it feels like it is, because everyone around you is the same so you blame yourself, but it isn’t you”. Or words to that affect anyway, I can’t remember the exact words but I remember playing it back to myself at the time thinking “she is saying that it feels like EVERYONE in the world thinks my feelings are too much, only because I’ve attracted those people around me…. so that’s all I know”…

Repetition compulsion at play again I guess.

So, do I believe her? I guess the adult part of me has sat up and thought about this and understood that she is a very clever, knowledgeable lady and what’s more, she is a therapist.  It is her job to point things out to me, make me understand and believe them and not lie to me. Yet I guess there is a part of me that still thinks she is just trying to be nice to me and say nice things, whether they are actually true or not.

When I’ve sent her an email in a dark place, I send it off to her and I don’t hold back. It could be full of desperation, loneliness, sadness, anger, fear – any of those things.  All I care about is getting it out of me, making some sense of it and sending it to her “to hold” because she is the only person in the world who could possibly understand what I mean.  Sometimes I worry that my emails have little emotional effect on her and that she reads them like reading a story about a stranger in a magazine, skimming to the important bits just enough to be able to tell me that she has read it and the other half of me thinks that is entirely unfair because she is clearly invested in me and has known me for nearly 3 years, enough to care about me when I’m in pain.. surely?  Anyway, I send her the email, I eventually calm down and return to a bit more of an adult way of feeling and then I’m whacked by this great big shame storm for having been so needy, so desperate, so pathetic. I hate that I’ve sent it to her and I hate that she has read it and worry she will think “Jesus Christ, will you stop!!”.  Obviously she hasn’t ever given me any reason for feeling this, although when I emailed her last Tuesday to tell her that I was not looking forward to coming because I really felt so ashamed for having sent such a desperate email a few days before, she didn’t reply and that really didn’t help contain me when I was already feeling extremely anxious.

She said that she thinks I get this shame attack because I’ve had it drummed into me that my needs are bad and that my feelings can’t be handled. My mum couldn’t handle my needs or feelings and made that very clear to me over the years. She said that is why I find it so hard to really bring the feelings into therapy and why I’ve found it so hard to cry with her because I am so worried I will be too much. Makes sense….

Another thing we spoke about was that when you are a child, you have to keep your parent good – you can’t allow yourself to “see” the bad stuff about them.  So you push away anything that doesn’t fit with the image you hold of them, the one you want to hold for them.  You idealise them. She also explained to me that in a relationship, at the beginning stages, you idealise your partner and you both project onto each other what you want the other person to be – a while later, maybe years, that projected image starts to fall and you are left with the real person.  She said that it is this stage that effectively makes or breaks a couple. Do you really/still like what you are left with or not?  She said that couples who get through this period are normally pretty set for life.

I told her that I’ve been crying so much lately and she asked what the main feeling/fear was. I said I wasn’t entirely sure and that it was hard to make any sense of. I thought a while and then I said that I think it’s that feeling that “we” weren’t really real. That what we’ve had wasn’t as good as I thought it was and that I don’t really know him at all.  It made me cry quiet, slow tears again.  She nodded and seemed to understand.  She told me that she thinks although I am starting to use her as the mother figure for transference issues, she thinks I’ve done a lot of it with My boyfriend.  She said that obviously she can’t be there with me at home every day and that he is so she thinks I’ve maybe done a bit of this with him…

So today I’m trying to digest this… I’m only just now, 3 years in, realising that he isn’t able to be emotionally open with me and he can’t discuss his feelings, fears etc because of his own things… and I guess that is proving so unbearable for me because I have to “keep him good” like a child has to keep their mum good.  Now that I’ve had my eyes opened to the truth, that he isn’t emotionally available to me, it is killing me because I NEED for him to be what I NEED him to be.. I don’t know if this makes any sense but the words seem to be flying out as I process it.

I told her that after our last session, I had sent him an email telling him our theory about why he finds it so hard to be emotionally vulnerable with me and about our theory of why concerning his upbringing and his mum and dad’s relationship etc – I told her his reaction which was mainly defensive although he agreed to one small point in it.  She said “you can’t be his therapist, don’t even try”.  I said oh no, I’m not, I just want to help him so that it helps us! But she said “you can’t change him”.  I didn’t like her saying that because I don’t want to be someone who is accused of wanting to change someone they love.  I guess I was feeling instantly defensive.  Am I trying to change him? I guess I am, but not because I don’t think he is lovely as he is, and not because I don’t love him – just because I want so much for our relationship to blossom into a healthy, authentic and equal one and that him being more in touch with his emotions is something that we need to happen… still, I guess the words have stayed with me because she is right. It isn’t for me to try and get him to do that – I just want to encourage him to because I guess I worry what the alternative is… if he doesn’t ever open up to me and learn to confide in me, will our love stagnate because I will change due to all this therapy and I will one day realise we are incompatible because of it?

I have been so busy playing my part of this relationship triangle business and enjoying the “benefits” of being the victim – getting all the comfort, support, love, advice etc that I hadn’t sat up and looked at things in a clear light.  Now I can see that I’ve attracted a (wonderfully) imperfect man, its scared me.  All I want to be able to do is accept that he is imperfect as we all are, and be able to still feel the love I feel for him.  I hope that is possible more than I can write.  All my previous relationships have been with emotionally unavailable men, and I’ve spent the last 3 years telling her that he is so different – which is is don’t get me wrong!!!! But on this level, they were somewhat the same. That is a hard thing to discover. I had totally idealised him as my perfect saviour – my hero.

As I write this, I feel totally consumed with my love for him. I can picture his face smiling at me and it makes me feel so happy inside. I truly love him, I hope whatever is next in my therapy teaches me to be able to tolerate any pain I feel which is really aimed at my mother and my loss of what she couldn’t give me so that I can keep me and him safe whatever issues we may have to confront together.

Perhaps one day he will agree to some couples counselling – but I can’t see it right now.   :wave:

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3 thoughts on “Repetition compulsion?

  1. This is such a wonderful post! I think I could talk to you all day long about this issue. It’s a very complicated issue. For me, I think it all goes back to the childhood rejection. Since my parents couldn’t love me the way I needed to be loved, that idea was set in stone in my mind and heart. My identity was a person who didn’t matter, didn’t deserve protection and safety. And that identity sticks. I have always had a hard time making friends… I think in the back of my mind I always felt that I would somehow screw it up (and since, at that time, I didn’t know what I did wrong to not deserve the love I needed from my parents), I didn’t know what to do right in order to be a good friend or partner. That meant that every lost friendship was something I did wrong. So I can of created my own repetition compulsion, because it fit, it made sense. I am only just now beginning to understand that if it is my fault, then it is just that, nothing more… no lacking of likability, it just is. And, that if it isn’t my fault, I can recognize that and let it sit on the other person’s shoulders, not mine. I did end up marrying (my first husband) a narcissist and that is a whole other story, but fits in with this issue.

    And in terms of romantic relationships, my 2nd husband sounds very similar to your boyfriend. He doesn’t talk about emotions. I tried to change him, tried to get him to therapy to address his childhood issues, but it’s not going to happen. I think, like your therapist said, we are one of the couples that has been to the make it or break it stage and we’ve made it! He isn’t what I had idealized when our relationship began, but I love him for who he is and accept that. He will let me dump my emotions on him and he knows (because I have told him) exactly what to do, exactly how to handle it.

    Wow! Big conversations for one day. Thank you so much. I appreciate our similarities and enjoy talking with you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, I am so sorry for some reason it didn’t notify me of your comment!! I thought you might relate to some of it, I also feel like we could talk all day!! It seems we have a lot in common regarding attachment and attracting narcissists etc!! I really appreciate and enjoyed talking to you too!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

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