Guilt, Acceptance, Denial?

When I wrote yesterday’s blog I didn’t consciously know I felt that way until I had the words in front of me in black and white – one of the many reasons that I love to write. Sometimes I shock myself, yesterday was one of those times.

I’ve been thinking a lot since then about the guilt that I feel towards my narcissistic mother and yet at the same time, the pain I feel because of her. I find it really strange that I can be feeling two different emotions so intensely.  This morning I read a few articles on Google about guilt and it seems to be a very common theme with people raised by narcissists so I am not massively surprised but what has surprised me is that I suddenly feel a bit sorry for her.

Reading back my sentence about how I suddenly looked at my mother’s interactions with my nan on Sunday and realised that perhaps she herself is seeking love, acceptance and approval from her own mother – realising that is probably how/why she has become so narcissistic herself – has blown my mind.

The question howver is, is this just my way of making the pain she has caused more tolerable or is this a level of acceptance and understanding that I “should” be feeling? Are these feelings right or wrong?

I know that feelings really can’t be right or wrong – they just are, I say that sentence enough myself but what I mean is, is this part of the process and part of the journey that is normal for people like me or am I teetering off the cliff edge about to land in a deep river of denial?

Did she cause me all sorts of psychological harm? Yes. Was my childhood horrible? Yes.  Did she love me unconditionally? No.  Did he hurt me? Yes… BUT………… Did she set out in life to be a narcissist – No.  That’s where I am at today.

I’ve learnt first hand that you internalize all sorts of crap from your caregivers – you don’t know it to be right or wrong when you are that young and it just gets in and you don’t even really notice it.  Then one day you (hopefully) end up in therapy and you say things which are mirrored back at you and its like you “hear” them for the first time and realise they are wrong.

I’ve also learnt first-hand that had I not have taken myself to therapy, I have no doubt I would have become more and more like my mother until perhaps I ended up fully narcissistic too – after all, I was on a constant search for love and approval from her that I just couldn’t ever get and so I kept trying harder, bigger, faster…. perhaps eventually that hurt would have been so much that I covered it all up with a big NPD cloak.

With that in mind, it’s made me think that she had the same experience with her mother. She hasn’t had the benefit of therapy and she doesn’t know this stuff. She doesn’t understand anything is “wrong” or not normal or unhealthy… she hasn’t had the big “aha” moments that I have had.. she hasn’t read the books, the articles, the blogs, she hasn’t felt the power of being truly seen and heard by someone – hasn’t had someone “sit” with her whilst she cries and acknowledges some really deep, painful hurts.  She hasn’t had these things pointed out to her and been able to understand them, feel them, SEE them and so is it really her fault?

I don’t mean that it is someone else’s fault – like say, my nan’s, because if my nan was like that then chances are so was her mother and so the cycle continues and “blame” can’t ever really be given to anyone particular. I just mean it could have so easily been me.  One day, it could have been my child writing a blog like this.  One day my child could have found themselves in therapy having to dig through the mountains of pain and hurt trying to figure out that they aren’t to blame – all because I parented them like my mum parented me – like her mum parented her and so on…..

I am baffled.

Is blame even important?

Sometimes when I am really in touch with some of the pain my mum has caused me I hate her for it.  Sometimes when I am really in the midst of it, the pain of the sadness, the grief, the helplessness, the powerlessness, the unfairness, the crying, the headaches, the days where I can’t even bear to go to work and have to “adult”. The days where my attachment to my T becomes so childlike, all because of my upbringing and my experiences with her these thoughts would never cross my mind.  Days like that I am all about boundaries, giving the guilt back, I dislike her, I HATE her and it IS all her fault and yes, fault IS important…

Yet today, I just feel bad for her. I feel sad FOR her…. Am I in the bargaining phase of my recovery or what?

It doesn’t mean she isn’t accountable for the consequences of her actions. It doesn’t mean it is all okay. It certainly doesn’t mean I am healed and it doesn’t make it my fault again (like it was before I seeked help)… but it does help her to not seem such a monster. It does help to “rationalize” the perhaps, un-rationalizable (pretty sure that’s not a word but hopefully you catch my drift)…. Is this just self-protection stuff?

It does help me to realise that she really won’t ever change. It also helps me to realise that the way she is, the ways she acts all come from a place of hurt. That makes me hurt for her, I know the hurt very well. I guess it is only a coincidence that I turned out more on the codependant side of things and she turned out more narcissistic – it could have  easily gone either way for both of us.

Surely it is healthier for me to feel empathy for her (yet keep my boundaries) than it is for me to be consumed in hate and anger forever isn’t it? Surely if I stay angry and hateful towards her forever then she still has a great hold over me? Today, right now, I feel like I have gained a stronger sense of self, I feel like I know it wasn’t me or my fault that she never loved me how I wanted to be loved.  I understand that nothing I could have done would have ever made that different – nothing at all and that really helps.  That releases so much of the shame. I can be kind to myself now, I try to stay supportive and kind to myself and my inner child rather than copy the negative and hurtful words that I heard growing up. I feel like I am slowly becoming more confident and more able. I am working so hard to right the wrongs.

As you can probably tell from reading the above, I am not completely sure whether how I am feeling today is a permanent state of mind and I am open to the fact that perhaps this is some sort of denial or repression or something invented by me to make things easier to tolerate but I am writing it out anyway because regardless, it IS how I feel today and so in the end, it is still part of the journey towards recovery one way or another.

All comments and thoughts welcomed!!

 

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19 thoughts on “Guilt, Acceptance, Denial?

  1. This doesn’t sound like denial at all, this sounds very much like the evolution to emotional maturity. You are seeing the shades of grey, that your mother isn’t all bad or all good. You are seeing the bigger picture, and in seeing her very real flaws you are finding compassion for her and you. You are of course entitled to feel hate and hurt and fury and pain, because she caused those things, and as a Mother she had a responsibility not to hurt you, she didn’t do her job properly.
    You will still need to grieve and rage at all that you lost, but you will be able to sit with that and also feel compassion for what your mum is hurting over. People who act out from an unconscious place hurt others in the pursuit of getting their needs met. And if they’re not reflective people, then it’ll never occur to them to seek therapy. We’re the lucky ones I think, we are the ones that get help, we are the ones who put a stop to that hereditary cycle of trauma.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi lovely! Do you think? I hope you are right. I feel a little unsure because I am pretty sure that I haven’t felt half of the pain and anger that I need to yet, I guess I’m worried that I am being a little premature in my acceptance?!

      Seeing shades of grey however would be a huge step in the right direction koz T has always told me I’m a black or white thinker – that I split things/people good or bad so that could be a sign of improvement….

      Is it possible to feel anger and be compassionate towards the person who brought that stuff to you? I don’t know?

      I know that me being passive aggressive and feeling “hate” towards her isn’t me and it isn’t comfortable to have that feeling for the rest of my life.

      I think we are the lucky ones too. Knowing I can stop the cycle of trauma is the thing that keeps me going xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely! You will go back and forth between the pain and anger and acceptance and compassion for years, maybe even the rest of your life, who knows. And that’s okay.
        My experience has been that I started out with rage and hurt and devastation. My mum was selfish and terrible. But now a few years on, I don’t feel it to the same extent anymore and I sit with both compassionate understanding for her and also the hurt and grief and anger. I can contain both at the same time.
        Maybe you could talk to your mum one day about her relationship with her mum and see what she says? My mum has been talking about lot lately about her relationship with her mother and it was pretty horrendous, my Gran is a fruitloop lol

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Did you/do you know your gran? Did you see any familiar patterns that your mum learnt from her?

        See what makes this harder is that I totally idealised my nan growing up. My nan was my only safe place. I stayed with her every weekend and she spoilt me with making me lovely dinners, tucking me up on the sofa with blankets, watching tele with me, taking me places etc – I truly loved her (still do) and often wonder how I would have got through life without her. She was a tiny bit of normal in my life….. the problem was that this relationship made my mother insanely jealous and so I paid the price for “trying to split them up” whenever I got home. Going home was never nice and that made it worse. I would usually be in tears within half an hour of being home.

        So trying to imagine my amazing nan had any part to play in my mum being how she is, is hard to accept….

        But there are similarities that I can see now. My mum says that my nan was never there when she was a kid, that she had lots of boyfriends and that she was alone a lot (same as her/me)… my mum cannot cuddle me – she can’t say she loves me and she reckons that’s because it was the way she was brought up too…. I could go on, but I won’t bore you – my point is, I guess there are similarities but when I’ve asked her about growing up she is very much of the viewpoint of not “harping on about the past” and says that nobody “had this perfect life I think exists”…… I think this is denial but who knows… x

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, I know and see my Gran, I haven’t seen the tantrums that she allegedly had… well I’ve seen one recently. But she was full on Borderline/Narcissit mother from the sounds of things. And she’s manipulative and quite cold. My mother has some of her traits but not many and in light of her upbringing, despite doing a fuckng terrible job as a mother… she did better than my Gran in some ways, she tried to be different.
        It sounds like your Nan was making up for her mistakes as a mother by being a really good grandmother to you. Plus it’s easier to be a good Nan to children you don’t have full time like you do your own children. It’s pretty common for Grandparents to be more loving with Grandkids than they were as parents, I think a combination of age/maturity and regrets plays a big part.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with you and if I hadn’t of wound up in therapy myself, I think my mum would be “world’s best Nan” too and I think that may have provoked all of the same jealousy and insecurity that it did in my mother (seeing your mother suddenly able to love your child and not you) – so thank heavens I am finding this stuff out now!!! x

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I read this post thinking about my relationship with my mother. I have gone through similar thoughts and feelings. One I got stuck on was, since I can feel some compassion and empathy for my mom, does that mean what she did was okay? My T said it’s good to see that she was traumatized and abused growing up and in her marriages but that does not excuse her own personal behavior. It’s okay for me to have all the different emotions even when they seem to contradict each other. I really like what Sirena said, so I’ll leave my thoughts there. I think you do awesome work! And you write well, too! -Lora

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you are on to something – being able to have conflicting thoughts and feelings and that being okay. Thank you for saying that. My T says that I struggle with “messy feelings” and I like everything to have a box so this could be a bit of that.

      Thank you for your comment and your lovely compliment! I do worry it’s verbal diarrhoea! X

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow Twink! You’re really working through everything at a rapid pace now, aren’t you? I think that the understanding you have gained can be soooooo freeing- as you said, it’s not about letting her off the hook, her behaviour towards you is down right unacceptable, but when you can come from a place of understanding, I think it helps you to be easier on yourself and I definitely think it helps to rid yourself of the guilt and blame that you have felt all of these years. I just think that seeing all the information helps to put it all into perspective a little more, meaning you can begin to move on from it. Sure, it still hurts, but with that knowledge of where it all came from you can become freer. I can’t wait to read today’s post xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve got a new book to suggest 🤣🤣 I’ve only read a little bit of it so far but OMG it makes so much sense to me… It’s called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks (or something like that!!)

        In what I’ve read so far, he talks about how we all have our naturally programmed upper limits, and when we surpass that limit of joy or positive emotions/actions etc, we will naturally (subconsciously) end up doing something to bring us back down in to our comfort zone- back to the old familiar place. I can’t wait to read the rest of it- but it might be an idea to keep in mind for now, that maybe your psyche is trying to keep you protected by keeping you in your comfort zone? Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh I will check that out now, than you so much. You know how I like a book. I am currently reading one on emotional blackmail which is very interesting!! I’ve just posted today’s blog- good luck if you plan to read it lol!! x

        Liked by 1 person

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