I brought up to T yesterday what happened the night of the argument between my mother and my boyfriend (see Mother, Partner & Me for details). The day after this all happened I did want to speak to T about it, but for some reason I felt resistance in doing so. I wasn’t sure why but I think I was worried I had done the wrong thing and that T would be disappointed in me or something. It has now been about 3 weeks and only yesterday did it somehow come up in my session (because we were talking about marriage and babies).
T said “when did this happen?” and looked quite quizzically.. I said “erm about 3 weeks ago?”. She seemed surprised and said “you didn’t tell me this?” and I kind of smiled awkwardly to say I know. She asked me why and I said it had slipped my mind because we were discussing other important things and she said “You were ashamed”. I agreed and said that I was I guess…. I told her that I feel stupid because I got caught up in things and she told me there is nothing to be ashamed of. She told me that the pull is extremely powerful and it isn’t at all surprising that sometimes I get sucked in and can’t see it. That made me feel better.
I spoke T through exactly what happened and said that it’s only really now on reflection that I can see what had happened – that my mum had managed to find something that me and my boyfriend weren’t totally united on and “climbed in” to cause drama.
I admitted that as pathetic as it sounds, my mum “defending” and “sticking up for me” had clearly had the desired effect. I obviously was enjoying her being caring or protective of me and that is how she got me on side… unfortunately this meant that I therefore didn’t help my boyfriend and sat back watching it all unfold. She had got me and she had “won”.
T said that it is very hard because it isn’t really about me at all and the whole act of her looking out for my best interests aren’t what they seem – she just likes to cause trouble and she likes to paint my boyfriend as the bad guy. I know that is true.
As awful (but true) as it sounds, there is a power struggle because she likes to be the one holding the power over me – she likes to have me “on her team” so to speak and my boyfriend who has been with me throughout this therapy journey from the beginning obviously has learnt a lot about NPD and because it isn’t his mother, sees things a bit (probably a lot) clearer than I do and it irritates him A LOT. He hates the things she does, he sees her for what she is and he can see what she is trying to do – and because of that, he can’t let it go. He doesn’t want to feed into her and he doesn’t want to let her “win”….. this is why when the conversation first came up, he said he didn’t want to discuss it.
Unfortunately this resulted in me being in the middle and kinda carrying both of their shit because they weren’t saying out loud what they wanted to – because that conversation would go like this:
Mother – I want to paint you in as bad a light as possible so that Twinkletoes comes back to me. I need to have control over her, I need to get my narcissistic fix from her and YOU are the cause of that having changed!! I need to turn you bad. I want you two to split up.
Boyfriend – I think you are a nasty, evil, manipulator and I will not let you pull the wool over Twinkletoes’ eyes. You will not get her back to damage. I love her and I will protect her. She will never be your narcissistic supply again. We will not split up no matter what you try to do.
So because those things aren’t being said out loud, I guess I sat there totally in the middle not sure what was going on or who was right or wrong and what I should or shouldn’t be feeling. I love them both in different ways and despite knowing and understanding a lot about NPD, the sad truth is that it still is very hard to believe sometimes and unfortunately she still does “win” with me a lot because I get sucked in before I’ve had a chance to understand what’s happening. At the end of the day, she is my mother and no matter how much I can hate her and dislike her I can’t switch it off completely. Maybe one day this will feel different, but right now there is still a natural thing in me to hope it’s different this time. Typical words of anyone that’s been abused in any way I guess.
T suggested a few ways to handle this conversation should it come up again in the future. She suggested things like saying to my mother that I/we didn’t want to discuss it… (my reaction was aggghh no I can’t do that!!). T asked why not and I said I just couldn’t… because… and then I realised I was about to say ….
“because my mother wouldn’t like it”………………………..
don’t you just hate these moments.
I said to T, “God, sometimes I say stuff to you and then when you say it back to me and I hear it, I can’t believe what I am saying. Sometimes it sounds ridiculous.”
She suggested that we just played dumb and acted as though there was no “plan”…. She suggested we said something along the lines of “you will see when it happens” and close the conversation down quickly – we spoke about all these different options and how they made me feel, that kind of thing.
Conversation moved on to our ideas and plans about getting married and by the end of the session one thing was clear. Every single suggestion T made, my first and very automatic thought was what my mum would think or how my mum would react to it… and that hit me for the first time quite how mental that is. I have never noticed that.
T said again that I have been programmed and conditioned my entire life to put her needs before my own so it is not surprising and it isn’t mental or silly or pathetic but wow, what a realisation. It really is “that bad”…. It’s really shocked me to the extent that I do this.
- Have a small wedding and only invite a few friends – Omg my mother would go mad
- Elope and get married just the two of you abroad – She would kill me
- Have a wedding ceremony with very immediate family and throw a big party in a hall another time – she won’t like that because she wants the big white dress and the speeches and the dancing and the cake etc….
This went on for a long time.
T said that I can say to her when these conversations happen “that is what I want mum – it may not be what YOU would want, and that might be hard for you, but we are not the same”…. Or words to that effect, I’m sure you get the point. I pulled a face that said “AGGHHH I CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT SHE WOULD DO!!” which again was just more proof of how scared I am of her and how much I think about HER feelings before my own. I decided at that moment that this was a good idea and is something I will think of using in the future.
I told T that I sometimes dreaded planning my future wedding because of my mum’s need to totally control everything and how the thought of it almost ruined the joy of the dream. I said that sometimes when I think about it, I think that I don’t want to stay at her house the night before the wedding like most daughters do, I don’t want her there when I am getting ready in the morning because she will upset me or stress me out – it isn’t how I imagine the morning at all. T said I didn’t have to do any of these things. I can do whatever I wanted to because it was my decision and my choice and my life. I nodded and thought to myself that I really am starting to believe this but now I need to find a way to fight against the automatic guilt that comes along with this.
T suggested that me and my boyfriend decide what WE want and book it all and tell her afterwards. Say to her, this is what we are doing and this is when – be there. That way she can’t ruin anything. I said to T she will say it all with her reaction though, I will see the disappointment and the disapproval on her face because she will say that this is all my boyfriend’s doing – that she will convince everyone he has made me give up my dream of a big white wedding. T said “Let her!! you know the truth, it really doesn’t matter what other people think does it?” to which I said unfortunately it still did to me. I wish it didn’t, but it does.
I told T that my mum has said to me before that I am “a robot” where my boyfriend is concerned and that I just do whatever he or his family want me to do. T said that’s because she just cannot see that I am my own person with my own mind and I have to be being a “robot” to someone – him or her and she is annoyed because it isn’t her. I understood this and agreed.
So, insightful session. Not really about what I thought it would be about but I am glad it wasn’t swept under the carpet forever like I thought it was going to be. Now that I am starting to notice quite how much my first thought is how my mum would react, I need to work on that and I need to start worrying more about me and how I feel and less about her and how she feels. She has to look after herself now.