Anxiety

Happy Friday guys. I hope you’re all doing okay.

I’m feeling a bit anxious today. My mother text me last night asking when she was going to see me before my “big day”. To be completely honest, I don’t want to see her and I wasn’t prepared for her message because I’ve been annoyed with her blatant lack of acknowledgement for my wedding and her blatant silence and ignoring all my social media posts about said wedding etc… it’s so clearly passive aggressive and I know I should just laugh it off but it is soooooo annoying!! Gah.

Anyway, I suggested either tonight or next Sunday morning and she picked tonight. So I text my sister to invite her and she’s away this weekend so can’t come! Ahh! I don’t feel comfortable being on my own with her and immediately regretted not having checked with my sister before suggesting tonight. Damn!

Anyway, long story short, we are now going to a pub down the road to me. She is going there with her friend and I’ll meet them there an hour or so later once I’ve got home from work and changed etc.

The thing is, I don’t want to go. Like it’s making me feel a bit miserable and a lot anxious.

I worry I suppose that she will upset me. I worry that I’ll have to be firm and tell her “no” about something – like her giving her (negative) opinion about my fiancé, her made up fantasies over “all his family” or whatever else she might say. On the total flip side, as I said earlier and before, the total absence of mentioning my soon to be husband’s name – or my stepkids – is equally as hard! (I know that’s hypocritical).

It comes back to the same stuff I know, I just wish she was different. I wish our relationship was different but it isn’t. The illusion has vanished now and I’m seeing her and it (our relationship) for exactly what it is…. and that’s crap.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have the knowledge that I have and I’m glad I can see everything I saw in her before was just a projection…. I’m glad the illusion is no longer there tricking me and keeping me stuck, but… you know… ouch?

Before I suggested she brought her friend, when it was looking like it would be just me and her I genuinely felt sick. What would we talk about? I haven’t got anything to say to her? I feel so awkward!! So hence I suggested she brought her friend along so there’s an extra person for conversation purposes. Isn’t that terrible?

It’s hard to relax and enjoy an evening with her now. It’s hard trying to find the balance between keeping my boundaries, not allowing myself to be sucked in to giving her what she wants (be that total adoration, compliments or slagging someone off)… and also not being so defensive and angry that at any point I might stab her eyeballs out!!

It’s like the worry is in my body already this morning. Just from seeing my mother tonight. How sad is that?

The really ironic thing is that a few years back, the idea is going to the pub just me and my mum would have excited me so much!! The idea she might want to spend time with just me would have made my day (life!)… and now it fills me with utter dead. How things change.

It’s the empty questions (said with utter disinterest and hints of anger) such as

“All wedding plans done now then? That’s good.” …….

It’s the fact that it shines a light on her absolute lack of involvement in the wedding planning process (thank god I know), but you know – it could have been different. In another world.

It’s how obvious it is now that we have nothing whatsoever in common. It’s the horrible feeling I have when I see her now that I don’t actually feel much positive towards her.

It’s turned into a relationship based on a kind of appeasing, like me trying to keep things calm before the wedding. It’s a relationship based on my sense of “should”. My sense of duty in a way. I know that’s not true. I could have said no about seeing her – I didn’t need to suggest tonight but the idea of seeing her next Sunday worried me because it would be only a few days before my wedding and I didn’t want the risk of being triggered into anger or grief or anything else that close.

At least seeing her tonight means I have 12 days to recover from it. Even if nothing bad happens it’s still triggering for me these days.

I need to find a way of staying detached enough not to fly into rage…. find a way not to let her words penetrate me… find a way not to let her blatant lack of acknowledgement of my fiancé and kids upset me…. find a way not to let the emptiness of the “bond” (broken!!) upset me and yet say something to keep things smooth. Not to automatically turn into the person she wants me to be, who I used to be for her. Find a way to stay authentic and true to myself – but a detached me….

Christ!

Child psychology

Okay so I’ll write a proper blog about this soon, but for now I just wanted to write that I’ve officially signed myself up to do a child psychology course and I am SOOOOO excited!

It’s home learning/ online so I can do it in my own time and around work etc, but I decided I needed to do something for myself that I was interested in and they gave me some joy.

The syllabus is so interesting! It’s all about development stages of babies and children, then about attachment and the consequences if that goes wrong and then goes on to be about all sorts of other things like home, family, school, intelligence, nature/nurture, how children think and more.

In terms of career, it probably won’t open up any doors because it’s not a masters or anything remotely amazing but it’s just something I know I’ll enjoy and I need it right now as I’ve finally realised I hate my job LOL.

If nothing else I hope it will stand me in good stead for being a parent one day (hopefully).

So yeah. Yay!

Email exchange with T

So I broke down crying earlier this afternoon and decided to email T. This is what I said:

Dear T,

I hope you are having a nice break. I have put off sending this as I don’t want to disturb your break but it’s been tough as I need some steadying. 

I had a dream about you on Friday night and it affected my mood all day yesterday. I cried last night when I was finally on my own before bed and I’ve cried again this afternoon. I’ve also had a constant headache since Friday which is clearly related to my feelings. 

I’m not really sure what the main reason is, I was the same last Sunday afternoon. The dream stirred up some stuff but also I think I’m just processing the losses – which are so clear to me at the moment in the lead up to the wedding. 

It’s hard to explain this, but I keep thinking about how I used to hold my mother in my mind when she was away as “good” and loving and caring and warm – and then be so utterly disappointed and hurt when she came back and wasn’t any of those things. I think I’m worried that’s going to happen with you. I’m not sure why I feel that now after 4 years!

I’ve really *got* the reality of the enmeshment stuff lately, it’s now so clear that it’s total enmeshment or nothing. That’s painful to see and feel. 

In my dream I had to pick between seeing you longer, but you being distant, disinterested and cold OR seeing you for less time, but you being focussed and warm. It was a really painful choice. 

Anyway. I just needed to reach out because I feel so unsettled and anxious – I know you’re still there, but I’m feeling a bit up in the air with all of this. 

And her reply:

Dear Twink,

It feels the break has allowed you to access some painful memories and associated feelings and, perhaps, part of you is struggling to hold me as good, and having good feelings about you, in the absence. It’s hard to hold a safe middle ground when experiencing this and I hear it has been difficult to stay steady at times.

I am thinking about you and I ‘see and hear you. I am interested in you and want to hear how you are doing. We will talk some more on Tuesday.

In the meantime, I hope this helps a bit. 

Warm wishes

……………………………………………………………..,,,,,,,,,,

Okay so I know this is just me and where I am with this right now, but her reply was disappointing. It didn’t help AT ALL. The first thing I did was scan the email for length, it wasn’t as long as I would have liked it to be. Yet I read it to my fiancé who said it’s lovely. He says that the reason I’m disappointed is that, and I quote, “it doesn’t say “I love you””. Erm no. I don’t want it to say that. He says I do.

I don’t, honestly I don’t but yet, I think most people who read the above will probably think it was a great reply so why am I feeling like a petulant child who is sulking and what exactly did I want it to say?

I don’t know.

Anyway, there we go. That’s where we are for now.

Confused thoughts

Okay, it’s late and I’ve been drinking prosseco but this is a last ditch attempt at me trying to figure out what is in my head today.

Here are the facts: I woke up having dreamt of T all night long. The dream involved me being at her house (which was an amazingly decorated mansion). I had a session, or maybe a few sessions, but also saw other parts of her house, other rooms, walked through hallways etc. I saw people preparing for a party that I wasn’t invited to. I saw her son and daughter who were “studying and then planning to cook a stew and watch a film”. I saw T half asleep on the sofa, and I freely walked to a toilet in her house and back, taking my time, stopping to chat. T was half asleep when I got back and I didn’t mind at all – in fact it reminded me of my Nan sleeping on the sofa. T told me she was friends with an old teacher of mine and that teacher had asked her how I was. Apparently she asked if I was studying and said she was glad as she knew I had potential. T told me that when you’re a teacher, some of the kids you teach stay with you (emotionally) and that I was one of them. I was really moved by this and wondered if she had seen back then, that I was a sad and lonely child at home.

I was torn however between wanting to stay longer and see T for as long as possible – and knowing if I stayed, t would be different and that seeing her in her “real” life might be painful for me. Trying to decide which I wanted more: to see her more or to keep her the way I had her now was tough. It felt grossly unfair. It made me want to scream and cry. I want her both ways! I want to see her loads, all the time! I want to be there for the party, for the dinner and film! Yet I want her to keep her softness and her interest. I don’t want, I can’t bare, to experience her as busy, distracted, cold, uninterested, moody….

I woke up miserable. I felt angry all day – though I was, and am, still very aware it’s tears I need to cry rather than real anger. I can feel the knot in my stomach and the sting in my eyes even now. All from a dream 24 hours ago.

Anyway… I decided this morning to write as if I’m writing to T with no intention of sending it, just to clear the thoughts out. I do this a lot and what I find as i do this, is that I don’t like being that vulnerable with her. I don’t like it. I’m not sure when this started happening. It never used to be a problem.

I found myself thinking I shouldn’t let her know her power. It’s dangerous. I found myself thinking, if she knows how much you need her, how much you think of her, she will take advantage. She will get a big head. She will mock you. She will love it. Try and stay adult. Try and stay grown up. Don’t be young.

I then found myself thinking, it’s weird that I have so many thoughts and feelings about T, so many times I want to reach out, so many times I am desperate for a cuddle from her, or for her to do or say something that makes me feel she’s so soft and nice and warm…. just soft…. and yet, all of a sudden she switches in my head and she’s much more a “no nonsense” kind of woman. A woman that doesn’t “do” hugs. Someone who is likely to frown upon someone needing reassurance and someone being vulnerable. Not in a nasty way, just…. not someone you would want to cry to or ask for a cuddle from. Not someone you would feel talk about deep feelings with.

Why is this split happening? Where has this come from?

It’s like when I’m apart, she’s soft and open and warm and caring…. and then when I’m there, or nearly there, she changes again. I sit in front of her and try and be grown up. Even though I know so many times before I’ve been able to be open and vulnerable… and she’s never laughed.

It’s like the image I hold in mind is one person, and the person I sit in front of (or go to email) is a different person entirely. Why is this?

I have a feeling this is something to do with the whole good mother/bad mother thing. It feels like it must be. It must be transference mustn’t it? I spent a lot of time when I was younger thinking (hoping) my mum would be kind and soft and affectionate and then seeing her and seeing she wasn’t. Is it that? Why would I be experiencing t that way?

Now I’m confused because which is real? Both? Neither?

So I used to dream about my fantasy mother, hope and wish she would be soft and caring and love me etc….. and then she would come back and be detached and cold.

And now I find myself dreaming of/thinking of T all caring and loving and soft…. and then experiencing her as the opposite.

In my dream she was one way – but then she would be the other if I stayed too long.

So is this transference that she isn’t and won’t be what I want and need? I’m preparing myself to be shocked and let down? The dream gave me the insight that she was different when I wasn’t around…. that if I stayed longer, she would hurt me by being detached from me?

This clearly isn’t a coincidence that she’s on a break right now and so not here for me to check in with. I could email I guess, yet I don’t because I don’t want to annoy her. And I don’t want to get a reply that doesn’t give me what I need koz that’s actually worse.

I wonder is this why sometimes I feel I don’t want to go because she’s all good in my head and I don’t want to “feel” something different?

Don’t push it. Don’t ask for too much…. ?

I am aware these words and thoughts are rather tangled and confused, I’m still trying to figure this out properly.

Weird question: how I sense my T

This is a really random thought that I keep having and I’m just wondering if anyone knows what I mean, or can relate at all (or if I’m just weird!).

Sometimes when I am away from my T, whether that’s the normal week before and after my session or when she’s on a break like now, she feels kind of soft and warm and loving and affectionate…. it makes me want to write things and open up and be soft and vulnerable.

But then when I see her, when I’m in front of her I feel her as being strong and firm and sensible and clever and it makes me feel less able to be that vulnerable.

It’s mad because she has never given me reason to sense her that way. She isn’t hard or firm with me. It’s just the way I’ve realised I feel with her sometimes…. like she’s a “no nonsense” kind of woman and so I try and be stronger and sensible around her.

In my dreams, or when I have any distance, I feel her as the softer, more open T.

What is that about?

Enmeshment – against the odds

“If I’m not enmeshed then I am alone”

These are the harrowing words I’ve just read on a forum I’m on by someone who is currently shocked at how her enmeshed family have gone totally silent on her (giving her the silent treatment as a manipulation tactic). The words hit me because that is exactly it isn’t it?

With a narcissistic mother like mine, (perhaps any toxic personality disordered parent?) you are either a source of supply or you are literally of no use and so therefore, discarded. It sounds simple and obvious when I write it like that, but in reality trying to fully digest this stuff on a deeper and emotional level is so hard.

I’ve been reading loads the last few days about enmeshment and engulfment with a narcissistic mother. I haven’t really read anything that I didn’t already know, but sometimes just reading things over and over again helps to shake off any bits of doubt or denial that try and creep back in from time to time.

For me personally, my mother was an ignoring narcissistic mother until I was old enough to be of any use to her. That happened when I was a late teenager, maybe 17 or so and I now understand that this happened when I started to kill off/hide my true self and tried to be more like her. My mother applauses people like her – being like her, doing things she does, having the same opinion as her are all ways of seeking her approval and I learnt that early. Having lived without a proper mother for my entire life, I suppose looking back in hindsight, I thought I’d finally done it – I had finally got her love and approval. I learnt to shape myself to be as similar to her as I could be. I learnt to let her make my decisions about everything in my life – my job, my friends, boyfriends, clothes, plastic surgery(!!), anything and everything. She had total control over me to the point where, like all engulfing narcissists, I was an extension of her rather than my own separate self.

We were fused together. Add to this the fact that due to her narcissism, I had to parent her. I had to be her best friend and her confident about her man troubles, sex life, friendships and financial problems and I switched off having any of my own needs or feelings to always keep try and keep her good. I literally cloned myself into a “mini me” as she called me (something I now understand every engulfing narcissistic mother wants!).

I started drinking and smoking with her, I went to clubs with her, I let her dress me, tell me how to do my make up, tell me what boys (or men) to date. There were no boundaries whatsoever. I think the saddest thing about this is that I genuinely thought we were close. I really believed she was my best friend. That we had the best mother and daughter relationship ever – and after 17 odd years of feeling complete neglect, I couldn’t be happier.

I now understand my need for her love and approval is what cost me my entire being. I let her engulf me, smother me, control me – I fully submerged my self to her.

Unfortunately as I now understand, she was living vicariously through me and so the decisions she made for me, the directions she pushed me in etc weren’t for my own good. They were for her own good. Me and her were now the same person and so she has every right to take this control. I was a weak puppet who was completely unaware of this. Maybe that’s just as well?!

I leant the hard way that if I dared to do something or make a decision without her – on my own (god forbid) I would pay. Unless of course that decision benefitted her somehow. She would get so angry with me if I made the “wrong” decision and as punishment she would either rage, withdraw or give me the silent treatment. The withdrawal was the worst, she would literally cut me off and I would feel like I had for the 17 or so years she was neglectful of me. I would have another taster of what life would be like and that would scare me into compliance again. So I would make sure to seek her “advice” so as to not upset her. I became her finger puppet.

It shocks me writing this quite how bad this is. I have hundreds, maybe even thousands of stories I could write to evidence this but I’ll save that for another time.

When I met my now fiancé though, I was living on my own (down the road to her – obviously), but I spent every weekend at her house, drinking and smoking with her – listening to her problems, telling her mine. But when me and my fiancé got more serious, he started to see her bad behaviour and we started to discuss it. Over time I told him of the neglectful ways I had been treated as a child growing up. I cried to him about things that had happened, he saw the dynamic at play well before I did. Sadly due to my engulfment with her I had become extremely codependent and felt lost without someone telling me what to do and say. She tried her very best to get me to break up with him. She tried EVERYTHING!! She told me he would never love me as much as his ex wife, that he would always put his children before me and I wouldn’t be able to cope with that – she told me we would never have any money, that he didn’t love me or he would have proposed by now, she even looked up his medical records at the hospital she worked in as she was convinced he couldn’t have any more kids and was going to trap me and then leave me childless.

Because of this I was extremely insecure in the beginning of our relationship. I was constantly triggered by his ex wife and their history, worried sick about him not wanting kids with me one day, scared she was right that he would get back with his ex wife, scared he didn’t love me enough.

Thank god I then took myself to therapy.

So here I am, 4 years later. 4 years after meeting my now fiancé and 4 years into therapy and I’m still figuring all of this out. The engulfment/enmeshment was really severe huh? I didn’t even know. I wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t of got my therapy. What if I was still being manipulated by her? What if I was still her finger puppet? I would be so lonely I’m sure as she would have driven away any suitable and healthy boyfriends or friends.

Anyway, pulling away from her and separating myself from her is clearly causing all sorts of problems for her. I don’t think she can quite believe that the girl she engendered for so long is not reliant on her anymore.

She is FURIOUS that I am living my own, independent life, that I make my own choices. The fact I am getting married in 3 weeks time must be such a hard reality for her to bare. No wonder she didn’t come to my dress fitting – I think the reality of me standing there dressed in my gown, marrying someone that I’ve chosen myself, against her will, must be excruciatingly painful for her. She can’t bare it. Who do I think I am?

Writing this has helped me make sense of things once again. I know this stuff but putting it down into a coherent narrative helps to cement it in a bit better.

With my mum, it truly is enmeshment – total control or nothing. I think she’s just about given up on me now, and I guess what’s why I feel like there is nothing left – because there truly isn’t. Unless I am letting her control my life entirely, or telling her she’s so wonderful, there isn’t anything there at all. She isn’t interested in me as a separate person, she can’t even entertain that as a concept – and so I’m back in that neglectful position I was in growing up – but this time I’m a grown up. A 30 year old woman about to get married. I don’t give her anything, I am no longer supplying her ego in any way and so it’s literally as simple as that. I am no use to her (again). We are entirely different people now (again) – thank god. Our lives are completely different. She can’t celebrate my successes or enjoy my differences – in fact they are offensive to her.

Yet here I am. Nobody’s finger puppet. All bad ass and shit making a life for myself.

There’s not one decision in my life anymore that she has controlled. Not one. Not one decision I’ve needed her “advice” for. In the last year I’ve moved house, got a new job and planned my wedding. She wasn’t even there when I brought my wedding dress (I planned it that way).

So in 3 weeks today when I walk down the aisle with my dad on my arm towards my lovely fiancé, I know I’ve done this all by myself. Against the odds. And when I see her crying, I’ll know it’s through the disbelief she isn’t controlling me rather than any remorse. She is crying for herself, not for me.

I’m hoping this helps me to rid myself of the constant shame and guilt that I feel. Perhaps the guilt I feel is the last ties of our enmeshment – me still care-taking her. So I want to say goodbye to that.

It will fizzle out

So as I’ve already said numerous times recently it was my final wedding dress fitting yesterday and I went on my own.

I drove myself there which I enjoyed and the fitting went well and I popped into another shop then drove home all by 10.30. We had the kids as usual and so the rest of our day was very busy but last night, I looked on Facebook and saw that my mum had tagged herself in at a pub garden with a load of people, one of which is this girl in her early twenties who is her latest thing… I say thing because I don’t even know what to call it?

I’ve said before that over the years, my mum has befriended girls my age or younger and then they become best mates. It’s a real bug bare of mine, I won’t lie.

So anyway I saw this Facebook check in and I felt angry/jealous/pissed off…

I mentioned it to my fiancé and said it had really got to me. She was too busy to come to my final dress fitting… she didn’t come to the last one (because she would come to this one!) and yet there she is at the pub with this girl (and others) so clearly she’s not that bloody busy.

We spoke about this for a while, my fiancé was visibly angry on my behalf – it doesn’t help that he absolutely HATES my mum and so when I’ve been annoyed or upset by her I guess he’s already steaming. I could feel such a well of sadness in me as I spoke to him that I somehow kept in.

He said he truly believes that the reason she didn’t come to my dress fitting is seriously just that she doesn’t get anything from it. She can’t be bothered. He said that he really believes that her mind doesn’t work like our’s does – that she just thinks if she doesn’t get total adoration or thanks or get to put on a show, that she simply cannot be bothered and it’s that simple. I told him I just find it so hard to properly get that – like it is just incomprehensible to me.

I said most mothers would want to be there wouldn’t they? Most mothers wouldn’t miss it for he world and I questioned why, when she was crying so much at my hen, why doesn’t she want to do everything she can to be part of my life, part of my wedding… just part of me? He said again, she knows I won’t be falling all over her saying how funny, pretty etc etc she is and so why bother?

I said this is why I felt so stupid sometimes. I see her crying at my hen, it sends me spiralling with sadness, guilt, compassion… I feel so sorry for her that as a product of her own making, she’s pushed me away …. and then this. The not coming – the Facebook posts. I questioned whether she has any concern for my feelings? I guess no. She didn’t even take a second out of her day to “like” my Facebook status about being excited for my dress fitting…. nothing (or photos of my eldest stepson’s prom which was on Friday)…. I know this sounds childish and petty but it does hurt. Why can’t she like a bloody status or some photos? Just something? But no.

My fiancé said her tears and sadness at my hen were that she’s losing her supply – not me. Not me as a person, not me as her daughter, just that her supply had ran out. He told me she now has this new twenty year old who thinks she’s great and so of course she’s down the pub with her and NOT at my dress fitting. She couldn’t care less because SHE doesn’t get anything out of it.

Jeez that’s a tough thing to accept. It’s so bloody cold isn’t it? Again, it’s hard to truly believe because it’s hard to think like that.

I look at the hard facts, she hasn’t actually text me just to say hello or ask how I am… she hasn’t asked how my dress fitting went, she’s not sitting at the top table…. there’s a blatant show of not actually giving two shits and yet I chose to cling to her tears.. I feel like such a fool.

Anyway, me and my fiancé went out for the day today to some beautiful gardens. We stopped to eat a picnic and as I was eating I was looking around and saw a woman with what looked like her mother. They were sat on a bench talking and looking at the flowers. I felt a knot in my stomach – that will never be me, and what’s more, it never has been. I thought to myself that I can’t imagine anything weirder than being there with my mum. It is just the strangest thought. It would be so uncomfortable. So weird!! I said this to my fiancé and he said it’s a very normal concept and I said I knew that, that’s why it’s so weird – that it’s weird (lol does that make sense?).

I then saw a young girl pushing a doll’s pram. She made me smile as when she was distracted by something else, she just let go of the pram and the doll and pram went flying haha…. innocent little girl. Anyway, I smiled but god it hurt inside. That little girl was so free and innocent and happy (so she looked) and she was spending a hot and sunny Sunday with her mum and her dolly. It just churned me up inside and I felt my mood change.

We stopped for a cup of tea an hour or so later and spoke about how we only have 25 days until we get married and I told my fiancé I am feeling extremely broody now. He said that was good as we are going to try for a baby again after the wedding. I told him I have never felt so broody, not even last time we tried (unsuccessfully for 18 months). I said to him I didn’t want to jinx it but… and he said he knew what I was going to say and not to say it. I smiled at him. What I wanted to say was, I hoped the time was better now, that I’ve worked on myself more and done much more work on my boundaries etc and was older and soon to be married – we both hope this time I fall.

My fiancé said last night that he thinks once our wedding is over that things will “fizzle out” between me and my mum. I said that my T said the same. I think I agree with that but it’s a strange thing to think isn’t it. As I said to my fiancé at the time, “how can things just “fizzle” our between mother and daughter?” He said that she won’t have any real reason to keep up appearances.

I think he’s right you know.. and that such a strange thought. I suppose looking back over the past few months we’ve been back in touch, nothings really progressed. She isn’t putting herself out more than she has before. She hasn’t ever apologised. She doesn’t ask about my fiancé (or even say his name), she doesn’t mention my stepdad to me (and I don’t to her), she’s not asked me to go to her house, I’ve not asked her to mine… there’s been no real progress made at all…

I had dreams last night which I can’t remember now but I know I was arguing with her husband in one of them. I know she was in them and I woke up with a headache.

My heart is hurting a bit right now, I really need a cry so I think once I’ve published this I might go and let myself do that. The tears are prickling at my eyes.

I want to hold a little beautiful, innocent baby made from love between me and my fiancé, I want that baby to feel so much love. I want that child to grow up feeling all the things I didn’t, I want them to have an actual childhood – one where I try and meet their needs consistently – making mistakes but learning from them and apologising from them when they happen – I just worry having a baby is going to be the biggest trigger imaginable.

I have tears now at how much I want to hold and soothe a little baby, it’s like I have oceans of love with nowhere to go… it’s like it’s all building up and it’s overflowing. How can anyone not feel that way about a baby they’ve created?

Guilt… or compassion?

The word of the day is… guilt. As usual. Nothing new there!

I am thinking about the guilt I feel towards my mother a lot and really trying to figure something out. As I said yesterday. T doesn’t think this is actually guilt at all – but fear. I am not so sure but think perhaps it is both things together.

So here are the facts:

When my mother cried at my hen night I felt sorry for her. Sad for her and then I felt instantly guilty. Guilty that I hadn’t spent enough time with her that evening, guilty that she felt pushed out of my night (and my life nowadays), guilty that she felt so bad she cried that much. And.. as much as I hate to admit it, I suppose I felt a glimmer of hope that the tears were the beginning of the epiphany that I have hoped for for like.. ever.

I didn’t feel scared. I didn’t worry what she was going to do next.. what would happen if I didn’t soothe her – honestly I didn’t. I just felt a deep sadness for her. It made me hurt seeing how sad she was. Again, I suppose I (hoped?) that she was crying because she was realising I was gone now –grown up – grown away.

I told my fiancé and my T about the tears and both of them reacted in much the same way, they basically said “pfftt” and made references to her tears being crocodile tears or fake tears. I disagreed (still do) – the tears were real, I know they were real. What they were about however I suppose is anyone’s guess. T thinks her tears were due to her envy or her anger that she wasn’t the centre of attention that night and that she HAD to be on her best behaviour because people were watching her. She said “it is ALL she could do!”. I felt a bit of anger in me when T spoke about her tears as being fake and I found myself just nodding along agreeing so that, basically, we could change the subject and end the conversation. [This is why I didn’t explain to her what happened next].

What the tears did to me, other than make me feel sad for her, was to want to show her some kind of kindness. I suppose I wanted to offer her something to cling to – show her that all is not lost. I guess that means I wanted to make her feel a bit better. T thinks I wanted to make her feel better because I have spent my entire life being hypervigilent to her emotions and so naturally I would want to change that mood. I get that – I GET it but it just doesn’t FEEL like that was my motive. Actually I think that it just triggered me into the rescuer. I’ve read a lot about relationship triangles over the years I’ve been having therapy and so I think I can recognise this is what happened now. My mother cast herself in the role of the victim – her tears were probably genuine tears of sadness – but for herself. I guess perhaps she was crying that I would no longer be there with her in the way that I used to (enmeshed) and that made her genuinely sad). So, she was the victim and naturally, being empathetic, I took on her sadness and wanted to make her feel better.

I get that being a rescuer is not a good thing – I understand it is not where I should be AND I get the risks that come with that but at the same time, is there really that much wrong with seeing/feeling her pain and wanting her to hurt a bit less? Would it not make me a bit of a psychopath if I didn’t care or if I found it amusing somehow? I mean, just because she has hurt me so much doesn’t mean I should want to punish her or get my own back does it? If it does then that doesn’t really feel like healing to me.

Having said that, I DO understand that just the fact I was drawn back into the triangle is not a good thing. It means that I become the rescuer and then I (personally) drop my guard, forget my own boundaries and people-please. Perhaps it makes me vulnerable to be hurt again. I understand that the downside to being a rescuer is both that you prevent the other person (the self-diagnosed “victim) from helping themselves but also that you can end up feeling resentful and exhausted from carrying someone else’s load.

So what exactly is the middle ground then? I mean, no harm was done by me going to her house the next day and taking her some flowers. Yes, I broke my own boundary of not wanting to see her alone but I knew that I would not engage in certain conversations, I knew I would leave if things headed in a negative direction…. Once I had left I felt relieved. Relieved that I would have hopefully made her feel a bit better and relieved that I had made myself feel better in the process.

Anyway…

I have read a lot about the guilt that daughters of narcissistic mothers feel and it seems to stem from the fact that because we are not taught that we are a separate person in our own right, we learn that we are an extension of her – that we don’t have our own individuality, beliefs, likes and dislikes, opinions etc and because we are so desperate to get her love and approval, we do whatever we can do to keep her happy – in the hope she will eventually love us. I’ve done all sorts of things to try and get my mother’s love and affection over the years, ALL SORTS of things… I can safely say that none of them worked. In fact, the one thing that she REALLY wanted was for me to “meet a nice man and get married” and actually now that I am doing that, it is evident that is the very WORST thing I could have done.

And so I guess the guilt I am feeling now is not past guilt – it is present guilt. It is guilt that I have pulled away from her. Guilt that I have separated.. individuated (at last). It is guilt that she is damaged – after all, she has NPD, that IS a personality disorder. I feel sorrow for her that her life experiences made her this way. Sadness that she will never experience genuine happiness. I feel sorry for her that she will spend her entire life feeling the way she does, deep down – whether or not she is aware of that or not. That she will always, always be looking for more. More alcohol to numb the pain, more men to boost her ego, more clothes to boost her self-esteem.

I feel sadness for her as she probably struggles to understand what happened to the relationship between us that she viewed as “closeness” (as did I once). I feel deep compassion for the fact that once she was a child herself, once she felt so utterly emotionally neglected, so disapproved of – let’s face it, the reason she couldn’t mother me is because of the damage her own mother did to her. Perhaps it made me bitterly angry – triggered by seeing a tiny, innocent baby laying there needing her to love it and she was triggered in the same way I have been triggered before at seeing my stepdaughter and my fiancé together. I won’t ever know the answer to what really happened to her as a child, or how she really felt. I won’t ever know exactly why she couldn’t mother me how I needed to be mothered but I do understand she wasn’t born that way.

I also understand that none of that makes it okay that she made me feel how she did. I get what my fiancé and my T mean when they say “that woman has a lot to answer for” as I have cried to them over and over again for all the different hurts I am having to grieve. I get that just because she was hurt does not mean she gets to hurt me – I GET that, I really don’t mean this to sound like I am making excuses for her.

It’s just that I feel like I have been lucky enough to get help (that she didn’t get). I have been lucky enough to find a very important relationship with my T who has been helping to re-parent me, to help me attach to her more securely, to use her to develop in the ways I didn’t when I was younger. I mean Christ, there are so many ways that T has turned my life around.. but she didn’t get that.

I feel lucky that I met a genuine, kind and loving man like my fiancé (after having dated idiot after idiot like she did for many years) – although I do believe this could only happen because of the above! If I hadn’t got help I have no doubt whatsoever that our relationship would have never worked. For starters his ex-wife and children would have triggered me WAY too much. Therapy helped me to navigate the insecurities. My entire relationship pattern has changed thanks to therapy and so I do feel I would have continued to date all of the wrong kinds of men.

I feel lucky that I’ve (gradually) separated from her. That I have started to find my real, authentic self. That I have started to build my own identity – realise my own likes and dislikes, figure out all of the ways that I am different to her (which is basically every single way). That I now find myself at 30 years old separate from her in every possible way (despite all of the real grief this brings – that’s for another time).

So I guess maybe I shouldn’t feel the guilt that I do.. but maybe in a way it is a good sign that I am able to feel sadness for her? Perhaps the word isn’t guilt at all – maybe the word is actually compassion?

I shouldn’t put her first now and I like to think that I don’t but is it wrong to be able to feel these things as long as they aren’t hurting me?

What does it feel like

What does it feel like to be cherished and treasured by your mother?

That’s what I’m asking myself right now as I sit on the train home from work.

How does it feel? How does it sit inside a person? How does it change the way one feels about themselves, about others, about the world?

Is the world easier to navigate? Are hard times not quite as hard?

Are choices easier to make? Risks easier to take?

Are endings not so brutal? Do hugs mean as much when you can have as many as you want?

What does it feel like to lay your head on your mother’s lap as she plays with your hair? How does it feel to see your mother’s genuine happiness at your good fortune?

What is it like to know your mother feels pain when you are pained?

Does it make you more confident knowing someone is your biggest supporter?

Does it make you love yourself more?

What does it feel like to not have a giant hole inside your heart that you try to fill up with various things and people?

I just want to know how I would feel – how different I would be – how I would experience life if I had those things.

I just want to know what it would feel like to be the best thing that happened to someone. I’d love to know how it feels to find comfort and solace in my mother’s arms/eyes/house.

How does it feel to feel truly seen for who you are by her? How does it feel to love her back so deeply?

How does it feel to miss the actual person that is “mum” instead of the fantasy, the idea of or the archetype?

How would it be to not have to grieve and cry tears that are bone-deep from all the ways you missed out?

How would it feel to have never felt to blame?

How would it feel as a child to look up at a mother’s smiling face and eyes to see your own reflection rather than a cold, blank or angry stare.

What does it feel like to be cherished and treasured by your mother?