I’ve just got on the train, it’s 7.30am and a very cold morning here in England. I have a coat, scarf and gloves on today and it’s still cold. It’s also still quite dark out as I leave for work now so it feels like winter.
I’ve posted my email to T yesterday and now her reply. I’m still processing this whole thing, it’s a weird one and I didn’t see it coming.
I spoke to my husband about it last night and he helped to validate my feelings by saying that I created my “fantasy” of her having had a similar background to me in order to allow myself to feel safe enough to attach to her and to be able to relax with her and trust her with my story and my feelings. I asked him “but what now? Now it’s all fucked” and he said “now it’s too late, you’ve already attached”.
Interesting theory… is that how it works? Is it like when you are in a relationship with someone and you start to learn things about them and your image of them alters slightly but you still love them, you remain with them? Is it like that? The alternative I guess is that I suddenly withdraw my love and trust from her and run away but even I can see it’s not that simple. I can see that I need her so running away is no longer an option like it once was.
One thing that is bothering me about this whole thing is that narcissists and my mother particularly need everyone to be just like them – else they see them as wrong. My mother needs me to be an extension of her and so my hobbies and likes and dislikes have to be the same as her’s. She can’t allow room for our differences and I assume the reason for that is that the differences feel dangerous to her. If that’s the case, then how I am feeling about mine and T’s mothers/childhoods being different is actually really narcissistic and I obviously HATE that. I don’t want to feel like that. And yet I look around at my colleagues, friends, other family members and see that I have many relationships with people who have had entirely different life experiences to me and I’m fine with that – and I can appreciate the many differences between us. Take my friend Jo for example, she loves her two cats, is fiercely independent and strong, she never exercises and she loves macaroni cheese. I don’t have cats, I exercise a lot and I’m not fiercely independent and strong. Silly examples but you get my point right?
My husband said that he thinks one of the reasons me and a good friend who I met on here get along so well is because we understand each other – because we both had narcissistic mothers and some similar life experiences. He said that he thinks I feel very lonely in my feelings and my history BECAUSE I am surrounded by people who had very different upbringings.
He’s right, it does feel lonely. Sometimes painfully so. It’s probably one of the reasons I write on here so much, knowing many people that will read it can understand some elements of it at least. I don’t tell any of these thoughts or feelings to my friends or colleagues or even my family members apart from my husband.
Rationally I can see that T is a professional. That she’s trained to help all sorts of people with all sorts of problems. I know she helps people with bereavement and addictions and things because I’ve looked on her website but it’s like I’ve painted this picture that she only sees me and she specialises in narcissistic mothers and attachment trauma because she experienced it herself. I imagine I am her only client and the youngest and the one she relates to most. I imagine her mother is just like mine and that she has had to grieve the same things as me about the fantasy mother and about changing her mother, about one day things being better. I imagined that she has also sat on the floor hysterical as the old feelings made their way up and made her feel like she couldn’t breathe. I imagined she needed her therapist in the way I need her – for my very survival sometimes.
And now…. well, now I don’t and that sucks.
She said in her email that she hasn’t changed – but the safe fantasy has and that’s true but in my head… that’s the same thing.
It feels impossible now that I feel she doesn’t understand.
I really feel that unless you’ve had a narcissistic mother and suffered attachment trauma and felt rejected and bad and then been engulfed your whole life, you cannot even begin to understand how I feel. Suddenly T’s empathy feels … empty and fake. Anyone can sit there and say “that must be hard” but I thought she KNEW. I thought she felt it herself once and could remember.
T said to me on Tuesday before this happened that she didn’t think I had accepted “the gravity” of my story yet. I told her the gravity of it hits me randomly and then goes again and the “gravity” of it makes me feel like I will die. As I said that, my entire body prickled and went hot and tears formed in my eyes. She noticed instantly and said “it’s okay…try not to be scared” and I was scared. I’m always scared by how quickly I can go from feeling one emotion to another. It freaks me the fuck out.
I just think there’s only so far you can go to understanding someone else’s pain when you can’t relate. We can all sympathise with someone but to really get it we surely need some experience ourselves don’t we?
I know the key to empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining how they feel ….and I know empathy is a huge part of what our therapists do, so I guess that’s why they don’t need to have “been there” personally in order to help us …. but that’s the logic and the younger feeling part of me doesn’t care about that. She wants her special T to *really* get it.
Sometimes it feels (and I know this isn’t true, obviously) but sometimes it FEELS like I’m the only one in the entire world who has grown up feeling how I do. Like I’m the only one in the entire world to feel such a deep loss and sadness, such a deep longing for a mum i never had. Just sometimes it feels like nobody will ever, ever, ever understand that and that is what this has triggered: that I’m alone in it and always will be. That nobody will ever be able to truly relate to me, that nobody will ever be able to hold my hand and sit with me and help me to get better and fix it all.
And lastly, in all of this is the fact that as a child my mother treated me as the adult and exposed me to things way beyond my years. She told me things that a parent shouldn’t and used me as an agony aunt and a shoulder to cry on. She told me about her boyfriends and her sex life and money troubles, she once cried to me saying she was going to be “left on the shelf” and alone forever…. I never felt at the time that it was inappropriate or too much – but clearly it was. I enjoyed being treated like a grown up. And now I feel similar feelings with T, I want to feel like the grown up – I want her to tell me things and yet here I am having this huge reaction to the fact that my T has a mother.
Therapy really is confusing.