Today a very kind reader commented on last night’s “The Fear” blog and kindly explained that my responses to my mother (the overthinking, gut-wrenching anxiety, stress, worry, tears, fear) were not actually me being stupid – but were a form of PTSD.
Reading that really, really helped me so thank you to that kind reader for taking the time to say what may have seemed simple and obvious to you, but was far from it to me.
Those words have been going around my mind all afternoon. PTSD. That makes so much sense. That removes so much shame!
I didn’t write much in my post last night, I was very sad at the time and very emotionally exhausted. I slept so deeply last night after that session and all of that crying but today I still have a therapy hangover, I’m hardly surprised.
I think, looking back over last night’s session, that the feeling that wasgetting me down so much was powelessness. It felt to me that there really was no way out – no winning scenario and I guess that is the case really. The way I saw/see it, is that I literally have two choices –
1) Go back to no contact and not have to spend time being this anxious about every encounter or;
2) Find a way to implement my boundaries and stay strong.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
The thing is, in my powerless state all I can find is all the negatives for both situations and then it makes me feel so angry. This isn’t f-ing fair is it?! Why do I have to be in this crappy situation in the first place?
I hate her for how much she effects me still, for how much of my time is spent thinking about her, worrying about her, reading or writing about my feelings because of her etc etc… it is SO DRAINING.
When I was speedily spitting out all of the numerous worries about my next encounter with my mother to T last night filled with constant “what if she says…”, “what if I say and then she…” etc… I was in full-on panic mode. I reckon my T could probably FEEL the fear oozing off of me, I could feel it in my veins! When she said, nicely, “So what if she does? What is the worst that can happen?” I felt so pathetic. I remember visibly shaking my head and in anger (towards mysef) telling T I knew how ridiculous I was and how I felt so stupid! Lovely T was kind in her response to me, she said “I understand, we just need to keep on questioning your fears” (or something to that effect anyway).
I have to try and remind myself that if I am deciding to go for option 2 (implementing and maintaining strong boundaries) then that is my choice. It doesn’t feel like it to be honest, but it is, isn’t it? Just like if I decided to go no contact again, that would also be my choice. It doesn’t feel like much of a choice because obviously it isn’t what I actually WANT. Nobody WANTS to have an arm’s, legs and body length “relationship” (if you can call it that) with their mother. Nobody wants to try and maintain an empty, pointless, meaningless whatever with the person who they are meant to go to for comfort, warmth and reassurance. But, as someone else commented earlier – it is what it is.
The thing that upsets me the most at the moment is how she refuses to acknowledge my husband and stepkids. She only says negative things about my father and stepmother (always has) and ignored my in-law’s existence too… it leaves me with literally nothing to talk about.
I don’t mean to imply that I’m nobody without my husband and the kids, but they are my life now. I literally work and spend time with them! I don’t go out to pubs and clubs anymore, I don’t drink and get stupidly drunk every weekend like she does anymore – I’ve grown up and she hates that she isn’t controlling me so she decided to just block these facts out.
I nearly wrote that you have to make the best of a bad situation but that’s just taking the micky really because it is far more than a bad situation and I am certainly not making the best of anything.
My reasons right now (which I may change) for opting for option 2 is, if I am brutally honest, that I am still petrified.
There, I said it.
Clearly I am too scared of her to cut the contact again. Last time was easier because it was on the back of a VERY explosive argument where she said so many horrible things and where she so clearly demonstrated a total lack of empathy and care and refused to hear me out or apoologise. For 6 months that did not change and I felt justified in my decision.
However, those 6 months were bloody hard due to all of her flying monkeys and enablers and perhaps some innocent family members that just don’t understand this ridiculous dynamic. I won’t repeat all of the stupid things that happened as there are plenty of blogs about it at the time (see most of my blogs from November).
Going old-school for a moment and making a list of pro’s and con’s of staying in touch with her in this very empty and limited way:
- I can keep a relationship with my sister where as she couldn’t handle it when I went NC
- I don’t upset my grandparents
- I don’t have to receive long, name-calling, aggressive texts, letters or emails
- I don’t have to fear I will bump into her or her husband all the time and not know how to act or what they will say or do
- I don’t live with the constant crippiling guilt of being NC
- I hate the emptiness of it
- I hate dreading her messages and feeling the heart-sinking feeling I get when she does text
- I hate how sick I feel when she asks to “meet up”
- I hate how sick I feel in the lead up to these encoutners and how anxious I get
- I hate how I cry about it before and after
- I hate how she upsets me with things she either does, or doesn’t say
- I hate the fear I feel about what she might say to me
- I hate that I have to constantly remind myself to stay “grey rock” – reminding myself constantly not to give ANY kind of emotional response.
- I hate that I cannot be my true self – I cannot be authentic
- I hate that I can feel sorry for her when she is sat in front of me knowing how damaged she is
- I hate that I still worry that she will “get inside my head”
- I hate that I can’t relax around her
- I hate that she is always trying to find something to pull apart – my husband, my stepkids – always hoping it is going bad
- I hate knowing that what would make her happiest would make me utterly devastated (mainly the ending of my relationship)
I could go on but I think the gist is there already.
Clearly I am just not ready right now to cut that contact despite the fact that maintaining it is hurting me just as much (probably).. possibly more? It’s hard to say.
One thing I really need to work on is learning to say exactly what I WANT and not the best thing to pacify HER. That sounds a hell of a lot easier than it actually is. For example, one of the things that has been worrying me the most is that it is her birthday next month and she will soon mention that and possibly invite me to a meal or a party or whatever she decides to do. Clearly I won’t be going for two reasons
1) Me and her and partying is not a good mix and
2) I absolutely do not want to see her husband.
I’ve been tieing myself up in knots about how to say no without WW3 kicking off and then someone commented on my blog the other day saying that in some ways, WW3 NEEDS to erupt so that I can basically prove I am not going to be manipulated into doing what she wants. Such a true comment (see, this is why you lot are so amazing).
I find myself more able to implement boundaries if I feel I can justify myself to other people – doesn’t that sound ridiculous? I know, but that’s a realisation I had last night.
For example, I was able to stay firm when I told her that her husband would not be sitting at our top table at our wedding because I knew I had a right to say that. I stayed firm despite her kicking off because there wasn’t physically any way that could be changed and what’s more, I did not want it to change AT ALL so I stayed firm.
Her birthday on the other hand… I don’t feel quite so justified in saying “I won’t be coming to your birthday because I do not want to be around your husband” – I imagine her forwarding my message to her friends and to our family and everyone saying how awful I am because he is sooo nice…. Bleugh! Yet, why do I care? I don’t know.
Xmas is another one I’m dreading. I am spending it with my Dad this year – I have a right to do that I know and yet, her asking me what I am doing will result in such obvious dissaproval and rage that I dread answering it. Why do I care? I guess I feel ashamed that I will upset her at a special time of the year (again).
I even make myself laugh as I read some of this back. After all of the things she (and her husband) have done to me I still find myself worrying about upsetting them. I know.
I told T last night I am dreading her saying to me “I don’t know why you got back into contact with me, you never want to see me, you never text me or ask to meet up, you don’t want to attend any events with your family” (etc etc) because what the hell is the right thing to say to those things?? She is right after all. I DON’T want to see her, I DON’T ask how she is, I DON’T text her first or ask to see her and I DON’T want to attend any family events………….
What is the right thing to say to that?
A lie – of course I do mum, I’m so sorry I’ve upset you and made you feel like that… (erm no); or
The truth – no, neither do I.
The bluntness of the truth is just too harsh. There is no nice way to respond. There is no way of being a “nice person” is there – perhaps I need to make my peace with being the bad girl.
I often think being discarded by her would be the easiest way out of this mess. If she could just stop bothering with me that would be great. If she stopped texting or asking to meet …. That would be ideal but it is unlikely to happen I think and, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m sure I would experience a whole different type of pain and grief it it was her doing.
I had hoped I would bore her so much she wouldn’t bother anymore but so far, she hasn’t stopped. In fact, T thinks that now my wedding is over and done with and she doesn’t need to feel so utterly envious and angry, she might even believe me and her can “get back to normal” (or something). I said to T she is utterly deluded if she belives that to which T said .. well, she is. True.
I know this is a hideous thing to say but I said to T last night through my sobs that it feels as though she has died, that I am grieving her and yet somehow, she is still here and it is so utterly confusing. T said that it would have been easier for me if she was actually dead (I know… I know) but in a way I agree. I would never wish anyone dead, but I know what she means. For my own peace of mind, that would be easier to grieve and accept than this is. The constant attemps to manipulate, always staying on guard, always having to think about every interaction so that I don’t do the wrong thing… it is exhausting.
I also said it felt a bit like you wanting to break up with someone, knowing you don’t love them but also feeling copious amounts of guilt and also slight worry that you’re doing the wrong thing.
Anyway, I am rambling again. I just needed to write something. Thank you to everyonoe that’s commented because honestly your comments help so much.