Processing this thing…

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.

15 thoughts on “Processing this thing…

  1. You are not alone. You are NOT alone. The best thing about this blog world is that it helped me to realise that there is a group of people here who lived through the same things I did (or similar). I don’t know anyone in my ‘real’ life and sometimes I can feel horribly alone with it but then I come on here and read that someone else has had a therapy session just like mine and I am reminded that this is not just me. We are a tribe of motherless daughters, on here, and it is so shit but so brilliant too – because we are together on here and we don’t have to be alone.

    You will work through this with T. This is part of the work and it feels like it can never feel okay again right now because our brains are programmed to constantly assess for the risk that we are unsafe or we might be left… but you are safe and this will feel okay again.

    Keep processing. Keep talking. Do what you need to do. But please remember you are never alone. We are here – I am here. Message if you need to x

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    1. Thank you. You are so right! WP is a place where I feel like I’m not lonely in all the pain. I know it’s not only me of course, just sometimes it feels like that you know? I also don’t know anyone in my real life apart from people from here!

      I have faith that me and T will get through it and that she will make me feel safe again, she has done twice or three times before – it is horribly awkward though isn’t it? Gahhhh.

      I like what you said about assessing for the risk of being unsafe or abandoned. That’s clearly what I’ve done here… although it still makes no logical sense that just because she has a mum she can’t help me lol….

      Thank you so much, how are you? S

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  2. i think it would be unfair for you to write your T off just because she doesnt know first hand what it is like to experience a narcissistic mother. i had a conversation with my daughters school psychologist yesterday, and she said that being in her profession and getting to know the impacts certain parental behaviors have on children is profound, and that now more than ever she feels that her scope of abilities has been improved because she has witnessed and done damage control on situations children never should have been subjected to. i think they do understand, if not first hand then by the general fucked upness that they witness and sort out with other people. And some people have high levels of empathy, which allows them to really consider what you are going thru. It probably does feel confusing, but i would also urge you to use your empathy to be happy that less people experience narcissistic abuse- it allows them to be more self assured, and generally well balanced and happy. i wouldn’t wish what happened to me on my worst enemy. Anyway, i hope you keep seeing your T. You have done so much work and made so much progress with her. Hugs.

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    1. Just to be really clear here, I wasn’t considering not seeing my T anymore and as I’ve written previously, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, particularly my T and of course I am glad she hasn’t had to go through what I have.

      I do have empathy and I am happy about the fact less people experience it.

      However if you have ever had to work through any kind of transference with a therapist you’ll appreciate it isn’t logical and it doesn’t always make sense. It’s messy and complicated.

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  3. Sorry for these transference feelings. I have been there though not same scenario. Actually, for me it was opposite even though my T had probably been through a similar type of rejection i am going through I NEVER allowed myself to believe that she could have possibly had the same experience. I think you believing it perhaps really allowed you to have a stronger attachment. Forgive me if I am wrong but I get the feeling that maybe you are upset by feeling as though you were tricked or manipulated? These were triggers for me in therapy and I couldn’t stand the idea of being tricked or manipulated in any shape or form. Is that maybe what made you frustrated? Did other people in your life i.e. Your mom ever trick or mainopulateb you? And then you felt dumb for ever trusting them? I remember one small scenario when you said your mom would let you stay home and do the chores as though she was doing you a favor but was in the long run just a way to manipulate you and your real needs.

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    1. Omg wow! what a very clever idea Vera. You could very well be on to something there – I will have to give this a think……… my mum basically manipulated me for my entire life into thinking I was bad and stupid and fat and ugly and not worthy etc etc…. she also manipulated me to believe that she was amazing and that she was just trying to help me…. yaaacccckkk!!

      Did you manage to deal with the feeling that nobody could possibly have had the same experience? That kind of taps into what I’m feeling at the moment.

      Thank you so so much for taking the time to write this and for being so kind and validating! X

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      1. No I wasn’t able to deal with that feeling in the end. I had to end therapy unfortunately (my therapist changed jobs).
        So now I try to roam through the blogs trying to learn and also remind myself of my own feelings and issues. It’s my pleasure to read you blog and I can perhaps not always relate, but there’s some posts where I am like wow that sounds so much like me. The feelings tricked and manipulated feelings is now of them. When you were made to doubt your truth it can be hard I think to then come to realize that in another scenario things aren’t what you thought they were… then you don’t know what to believe anymore..and the inclination is not trust and withdraw instead…

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      2. It 100000000% is – exactly that. I feel like I’ve had enough experience of things not being what I thought they were.!

        Would you not consider therapy again one day? It sounds as though maybe you miss it a little? X

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      3. I miss it a LOT! but it’s just not a real choice at the moment. I am trying some online therapy but I haven’t been able to find some who doesn’t want to do just worksheets all the time 😀 I am moving in few months, maybe I would consider then depending on the finances too. Why is therapy so damn expensive!! lol. Anyway have a good weekend and try to take some time for your self and not get too overwhelmed by the kids 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ahhh Vera I hope you can go again once you’re moved and settled. I imagine it’s hard to stop once you’ve seen the benefits. I know right?! Why is it so expensive?? It’s becoming a weird hobby for me even though it’s so hard sometimes.

        Thank you. You have a lovely weekend too xx

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  4. I grew up with a narcissistic and abusive father (all types of abuse) and step-mother. I had to be an “adult” from a very young age (besides everything else he done to me I also had to be the parent when my stepmom left and saved him from 4 suicide attempts). I also experienced this with my own mother telling me often how she just wanted to die and end her life because it wasn’t worth living (I saw her twice a month- and my abusive step-father). So our experiences are different, but there are elements that were the same. Even if your own therapist experienced everything exactly the way you had, people’s brains and minds work differently, we have different thresholds for example, so no one can every truly understand how it was like FOR US. So I don’t think that just because your T didn’t experience what you did, that that means her understanding and care is now void. Does this make sense?

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    1. Firstly I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. You had an awful time, I’m so pleased you’ve been able to keep fighting and become so strong!

      Second, I absolutely understand and agree – as I said in my posts and in an easier comment, these aren’t my rational or logical thoughts. I can see all of that very clearly. Likewise I would never wish my t or anyone would have been through such pain and I know it’s not true that you have to have been through the same thing as someone else to be able to help them and be there to support them etc etc…. it’s just transferencial feelings. It’s triggered something and I’m just allowing all the uncensored thoughts to pour out onto the page whilst I try and process this.

      There was just something about hearing her say “my mum” that made me feel weird, then cry…. I’m not sure why. I’m sure I’ll figure it out at some point and I absolutely don’t intend to leave therapy or anything over it. I can still hold on to both these transferencial feelings and know that T is wonderful.

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  5. What you’re experiencing is completely understandable. I should have said that in my first comment but I got carried away lol. There have been so many things in my own therapy that I reacted to like this, so i get where you’re coming from. It’s not always logical and can be soooo confusing. I hope you start to gain some more insight into this and feel better soon. 🙂🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rayne. It’s hard putting this stuff out there and being so open and vulnerable and sensitive to the fact that I can see it’s silly!!! But it is what it is and I’ve had enough shaming for a lifetime ha!!

      Thank you, I’m sure once I see T and we talk I’ll feel much better xx

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