The Grazed Knee Analogy

On Thursday I told T that when I left her on Tuesday night I was very upset.  She asked me how I knew I was upset and I said “well, because I was crying”.  She repeated back at me “you cried” and I noted that I felt a bit uncomfortable with her saying those words.

I’ve noticed lately that I said I felt “miserable” when I actually meant I felt angry and now I said I felt “upset” rather than just saying I cried. I wonder why?

T didn’t seem particularly surprised by this.  She said that at the moment I am really dipping in and out of “it“. What does she mean by “it“?  I don’t know but I imagine she meant “the work” as she calls it.  She said I go in “it” a bit, then back out again.  She said “you need to go at your own pace, you can’t rush it” and I thought – are you implying I am trying to rush or are you saying you understand why I am being slow? What was the comment meant to mean…nothing like over thinking things hey? Welcome to my brain.

I told T that I was really struggling at the moment with not being able to pinpoint a reason for my tears.  I said I wasn’t sure what exactly I was crying about.  T looked quite surprised and said almost sarcastically “you don’t think you have a reason to be crying?” and I quickly said that I didn’t mean I didn’t have anything to cause me to cry, just that usually you know exactly the reason. For example you might cry because you had an argument with a friend or because your boyfriend was an idiot… but when you are just crying after therapy with no proper “reason”.. that feels different and for me, hard and scary. T said that just in the last session alone there was “enough to cry about for weeks”….. was there?

She said that she thought perhaps when I was a child and I grazed my knee or cut myself as children do, that perhaps my mother could deal with the tears about those sort of upsets.  She quickly added that she didn’t mean to imply that she was particularly caring and warm, but that the tears were not punished because she could physically see the cause of the upset.  BUT if I were to cry about something emotional, something without a physical and obvious bruise – no actual blood so to speak, that is when she demanded a reason why and would get angry and blame, shame and embarrass me.

I had never thought about this before but it rang true immediately. I thought for a moment and told T that sounded very possibly true.  I did agree that there certainly wasn’t ever any kindness even with grazed knees, but perhaps there wasn’t the shaming and anger.  I can’t remember any particular instance which would have been helpful and that the two more major physical hurts I had as a kid she couldn’t handle because of the blood.

I told T that when I was a young child I was very small and very skinny and my legs were always covered in bruises. I said that my mother used to make me wear knee-length socks to cover them and T said that I even had to hide my physical bruises and that I was taught they were something to be ashamed of. I said yes I guess so. She said that my mother couldn’t tolerate any imperfections of any sort and so the bruises had to be hidden and I had to be perfect.  I agreed but said she allowed my teeth to be awful which didn’t fit the perfect image.  I said that as a baby and child she gave me Ribena in a bottle instead of milk and that it rotted all of my teeth.  I said they looked horrendous and that when I was about 11, I had 6 teeth taken out at once under GA and then another 4 taken out at 13 before my brace was fitted. I said that they were perfectly straight after wearing the brace for over 3 years but then my dog chewed my retainer and she wouldn’t replace it because she said it was too expensive.  I told T that my mother’s teeth were not very nice – they weren’t straight or white and so perhaps that is why she didn’t care about mine (nobody can be different to a narcissist).

Somehow this conversation made its way to me talking about what her ex-boyfriend did to me. I won’t go into detail here but basically he groomed me and then was physically “inappropriate” with me (T’s words) and it scared me. A LOT.  I was only 14 at the time and he was someone I trusted, my mother’s boyfriend and about 45 years old.  I was petrified and didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t tell any adults – only my two best friends and I swore them both to secrecy.

I told T that for some reason, I had this strange fantasy that one day I would tell my mother what he had done to me and that something would be magically fixed.  That it would make things better.  I think now I understand that I was hoping she would see the damage that had been done to me (“physically” as in, he physically touched me) which perhaps she would accept a bit more than the emotional damage that she couldn’t see that I had been feeling for years (the grazed-knee analogy).

Unfortunately that did not happen. What happened was the opposite. She eventually (not initially) accused me of making it all up. I was not validated in any way. She made the whole thing about her – how upset she was, how she couldn’t eat, how she couldn’t sleep.  I was told not to tell anyone else, especially my grandparents as they would “have heart attacks and die”… you get the point.

I said to T that I wish I had never told her because it didn’t make anything better, it just made it all much worse.  T said that there is the pain of the event and what he did and then there is the pain of knowing you can’t turn to your caregiver for safety and comfort because they can’t help you and then eventually (10 years later) you tell her in the hope that it is going to fix something and … it doesn’t, it makes it worse.

I said to T that the whole thing was totally fucked up anyway because when I broke the news to my mother she went to wake her sleeping husband up to tell him.  But the thing is, he already knew. I had confided in him one drunk night and he had told me never to tell my mother because she wouldn’t be able to handle it.  Yep….. it was about her. So when she “told him” he acted shocked and horrified and then came downstairs to where I was sitting in floods of tears and acted his arse off like a soap star that this was new information.  He even sat there asking me questions that he already knew the answer to……. wtf? I see now he was scared of my mother like I always have been.

As usual I did the good girl thing and kept my mouth shut.  I really, really wanted to tell my mother over the coming weeks and months that he knew. The only thing that stopped me was that she never believed me about anything else and I had my entire life history of her taking her latest bloke’s side, so would this time really be any different? Clearly not.. I fought against that dilemma for a long time.

T was listening attentively and seemed to agree with my feeling that it was all very fucked up.  She seemed sympathetic despite knowing this stuff already.

Then……

I told T something that sounds very strange.

I told T that when I was younger I used to imagine telling my mother about this sexual abuse on my wedding day.  I know, I know.. please don’t ask me why my wedding day because I have absolutely no idea.  T seemed confused and seemed to be trying to find some sort of link – as did I but without any luck.  I said perhaps it was because I was then going to be “off her hands” and grown up or something? I said that the nearest thing I could compare it to was this – you know when you are watching a film and a couple are about to get married but right at the very last-minute one of them tells the other at the back of the church that they’ve had an affair at some point…..that they had to come clean, that the other person had to know the total truth before they committed to the other person? I said it was just like that.

T said that would suggest that I had done something wrong. I said yes, it does sound that way saying it out loud. T said it almost sounded as though in the fantasy, I was marrying my mother.

We discussed this for a while and I felt embarrassed because I know it sounds very odd and I wish I could tell you that I’ve somehow worked it out and understand the deeper meaning but unfortunately I can’t.  I still do not know. It’s very messed up.

T asked whether my mother had any beliefs about not having sex before marriage or anything like that? If I had been drinking I would have literally spat my drink out at that suggestion. I said absolutely not and laughed – my mother was the complete opposite of that. Sex was something that she did A LOT of and sex was encouraged on me at a young age.  It certainly wasn’t that.  T said she knew it wasn’t in line with her characteristics but said that sometimes people have these sorts of beliefs despite the way they act themselves.

I’ve thought about it a lot today. Saying it out loud felt weird.  Writing it here for you to read feels uncomfortable but I am hoping that going over it will help me to figure it out somehow. I am actually still surprised I told her this knowing how odd it sounds.. it just slipped out.

Why would you imagine as a child that the day you would tell your mother that her (then) boyfriend had sexually abused you would be your wedding day, at the back of the church?

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17 thoughts on “The Grazed Knee Analogy

  1. I don’t have any insight at all into your relationship with your mother, but that’s the kind of thing I can imagine myself doing as a FUCK YOU I WIN. All this terrible shit happened to me, you did nothing about it and I’m still here about to marry the man of my dreams and THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN TRY TO TAKE CREDIT FOR ANY OF MY HEALING AND FOR ME BEING WHERE I AM NOW BECAUSE YOU LITERALLY JUST FOUND OUT. And now I’m going to walk off down the aisle and leave you shocked and alone with your emotions just like you did to me and you’re just going to have to suck it up and put on a happy face because it’s my wedding day and nobody cares about your emotions.

    I’m hesitant to post this because I really am just describing a thought process that I would have, and I don’t at all want you to think that I’m accusing you of being an awful person or anything like that. I think what I’m really trying to say is not to feel embarrassed about sharing the fantasy and whatever it could mean – I can absolutely relate to the idea of doing that in real life, and I’m sure other people can too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow thank you! I didn’t expect to read a comment like this so I feel very lucky!

      My relationship with her is pretty much as you have gathered. She’s a full on narcissist who never protected me from things growing up. She treated me badly and emotionally abandoned me.

      I like your thought process and it makes sense completely……

      Maybe you are onto something??

      Like

  2. Yup. I agree with Rea. Because iuf your mother is a narcissist, your wedding will be all about her…even though to the rest of the world, it’s pretty obvious that your wedding is about you and your spouse. By telling her that information, she won’t be able to maintain her inflated egocentric sense of importance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmmm you’d be surprised. I said to my Therapist that if I had of done that, she would have been more able to make it about her because she would have been crying and saying how awful she feels blah blah blah…. perhaps it was just a fantasy I had that hadn’t been thoroughly thought through x

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  3. Maybe because that would be the day you would feel safe enough since you were about to be united with a mature love and then that would involve breaking the inappropriate bond with the mother who was never there for you and would not believe you in the first place. That’s the only sense I can make of it but it sounds like others are helping you to understand. Its a shit load to be angry and sad about, no wonder you have been feeling so down

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with T that you have weeks of crying material, not only has that sort of emotional upset not been OK to let out, but on the surface you’re also used to it. It’s seems a bit like the emotional soul side of you is experiencing all the pain but not knowing how to process and make sense of it, because the practical logical side just gets on with it and is still going through the process of deeply accepting how badly you were treated and that none of it was deserved. Sorta like head and heart but the other way around, I’d say it’s your heart that knows how wrong it was, and whilst your head understands the logic, it’s still not fully connecting with the heart because it’s not sure if that’s right?

    I totally agree with the guys as well. The wedding day bomb drop sounds very much like a ‘fuck you’. I can imagine a scene where you say your piece, looking normal and smiling at anyone else who may catch your eye, but the news would be intended to devastate, which you would safely be able to do because you’d be walking into the safety and commitment of marriage, and no longer need her as a weird kind of safety net in the background. I say weird because she’s obviously not a safe place for you, but I wonder if she does still hold that in some way, if you were to split with your boyfriend, as she would play the part and rally round you, but only because she’d enjoy being right and having you in a low state?

    Oh and the comment from T about don’t rush it…. It sounded to me like a response to frustration that you don’t know all the answers and it’s not a task you can just bash through quicker if you work harder and faster. Same as you can’t force a flower to bloom or a fruit to ripen, it happens when it’s ready, with the right environment, nurturing and protection.

    Id say thats my two pence worth, but that’s a few quid at least haha 😁

    Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to start paying you along with my T!! Haha!!

      Totally agree about the side of me that’s so used to stuff you just have to crack on and now things are being pulled around and questioned and changed, it’s all feeling very foreign. I agree too that my heart seems to be ahead now and not the other way around as it used to be.

      Basically passive (or not so passive) aggression isn’t it? Could be…

      Oh 1000000% my mother would love me to break up with my boyfriend. She would lap up my devastation and rally around me to get me “back” whatever the fuck that means. She’s always enjoyed anything bad happening to me.

      True: I wish I could work harder and get through it quicker.

      The flower analogy is lovely I will remember that.

      Thank you darling xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to dream of telling my mother about awful things on my wedding day. Or a big birthday celebration, or my graduation… always big days.

    I always put it down to knowing that it would be a shock on such a lovely day which would give it contrast and maybe i was hoping that contrast would make her react more? My mum always ignored and under reacted and I wondered whether the contrast made it seem more likely thst she would have to react.

    There was also always a big crowd which seemed to be a factor too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg did you really???? I’m amazed I genuinely thought nobody else would have thought these things.

      I totally understand your point here – the total shock, the contrast…. yes that makes sense!

      My mother also ignored, belittled and never validated me so sounds similar to yours. perhaps it was is saying “are you paying attention now??”

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      1. Yes. I think probably it was to do with knowing that my mother only ever properly, emotionally ‘showed up’ for happy, positive events. So forcing her to understand something unhappy seemed like Karma. Idk.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. maybe your imagining it as a child because you were thinking she’d save you then? and make everything normal again? go back in time, perhaps? I think you were so brave to tell t and brave to write it here. xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the harsh truth is that I’ve wanted to be saved and rescued my entire life. I then found T and thought she was going to rescue me – and she has to a degree but not to the extent that the child in me so desperately wants and needs. I literally have tears writing this… wow. What deep stuff. Thank you for what you said and for the thought provoking comments and for the hugs!! 🤗 Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well like you I have had similar experiences and I have thought my therapist was going to rescue me and to a degree she has but she will never be the mum I desperately need, I will never have the relationship with my mum but I crave, it’s sad and I feel sad writing it too XXX

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sorry I vanished for a while, I went and wrote in my diary following what we were talking about… it was a hard write. I might type it up on here later.

        I’m so sorry you are feeling that sadness and that hole. I completely empathise with you and am here with you if you need to talk. We sadly have mother shaped holes in our hearts that we need to try and fill in ourselves and it’s bloody unfair xx

        Liked by 1 person

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