Breaking the habit

I was just thinking about my Mum, or rather I was just thinking about how little I’ve been thinking about my Mum.

That probably sounds weird.  What I mean is that my mother used to take up such a lot of my head space on a daily basis and it just occurred to me that I barely think about her at all these days.  I was about to type “for ages” but then I remembered that when I saw her last, the day before Mother’s Day, I was pretty upset afterwards and wishing things could be repaired so I guess it isn’t actually that long, but on a day-to-day basis, there is definitely less “Mum noise” going on.

It sounds sad.  It is sad I suppose, but I feel a bit like I’ve just got used to things being the way they are between us.  I feel so used to her not being in my life anymore that I barely give her a thought.  I so rarely see or speak to her that it has become normal.

I say this in a positive way in that I am not feeling the utter grief that her absence was causing me.  It reminds me a bit of how at the beginning I still really wanted to go and drink with her at weekends, despite everything I had been through with her and despite everything I had learnt in therapy.  Eventually the more I didn’t go – the less I thought about it.  I guess in a way it is like breaking any kind of habit.  You have to do something a certain number of times to make a habit and then you have to NOT do something a certain number of times to break a habit.  A bit like quitting smoking perhaps?  I appreciate this sounds really weird considering the subject is my mother. I am quitting my mother LOL.

Perhaps this is another example of me blocking things out and being in denial but I like to think (I hope) it is actually just me readjusting to life the way it is now.  The way it has been now for several years.

When I get upset about my mother these days it tends to be more out of the total inability to understand how she didn’t have certain feelings towards me when I was young.  For example, the things I wrote about in the post I wrote at Easter.  After I had spent time cooking a large roast dinner for everyone, decorating the table with little chicks, hiding Easter eggs in the garden and going to play with a frisbee in a field – it hit me that I missed out on so many simple things and it upset and frustrated me because I can’t understand how it isn’t automatically inbuilt in a mother to want to do those simple things.  The sad feelings seem to be more things like that now whereas they used to be a lot about the here and now: what she wasn’t doing now.

The invitation to this “family bbq” is still playing on my mind though.  Actually it is one of the things I was looking forward to speaking to T about tonight. I’ve had about 11 days to think about it and I still haven’t come to a decision.  If I am totally honest with myself I think deep down I know that I shouldn’t go.  I think I know that going is potentially setting myself up for a fall.  I think that my reason for wanting to go is based on the child’s hope that it will be this perfect family event which I have spent my life wanting but knowing deep down that it won’t be.  It will be a heavily drink fuelled excuse for a piss up.

Going without my husband will make me feel nervous and on-edge.  Seeing my mother’s husband after his behaviour before and at my wedding is not something that I want to do and I feel I would have to be civil.  Whilst I appreciate that I am able to be civil with someone, I just don’t want to have to be civil to him.  I don’t want to argue with him either; I would just rather not have to see him at all.

I feel a sense of guilt and obligation about going because it is being hosted at my grandparents’ house.  I already know that if it was being held at my mother’s house I wouldn’t go. Perhaps that was a clever tactic, or perhaps it is more about hosting it somewhere it is easier for my Grandad to be now that he struggles to walk.

I think if I am honest, I feel a sense of obligation that if I don’t go, everyone will think badly of me. I feel a sense of guilt that my Grandparents would be upset.  I also know that I shouldn’t do anything out of obligation or guilt, but mix this obligation together with the child part of me’s wishful thinking and it makes it very hard to say no to.

I can’t help but feel that going to this bbq would make me complicit in this big fabrication of playing happy families.  I feel that it would send out the message that people can treat each other terribly and hurt each other irreparably and yet we can sweep it all under the rug without any conversation or attempt to repair anything and pose for family photographs where everyone is smiling happily.  Despite knowing this, seeing the photographs plastered all over social media still have the ability to make me feel jealous.  It’s all very confusing.  I imagine T would say that the adult me doesn’t want to go but the child part of me (the ever-hopeful child) wants to go in the hope that something will be magically repaired.

I recently asked my father’s opinion on this (him and my mother have been divorced for 28 years and they hate each other) and he said he thought I should suck it up for my grandparents’ sake.  He asked “how would you feel if you didn’t go and your grandad died a few weeks later?”.

Ouuchhhhh.

Naturally I answered to say that I would feel guilty.  He then added that I would then attend his funeral and his wake where all the same people would be and then I would have missed the opportunity to see them all under good and happy circumstances.

The thing is though, this is the same person who makes me feel terrible for not attending things he wants me to come to, so I’m not sure how much of this to take to heart.  Though what he said has been playing on my mind.

A month or so ago there was an event to celebrate my aunt getting the all-clear after having cancer and I was not invited.  I thought to myself that whilst not being invited hurt a bit, I knew I would have said no if I had of received an invite.  The only real difference about this bbq is that my nan and grandad are being thrown in the mix (and like I said above, it is at their house). Funnily enough these are similar feelings to the ones I had about my wedding when I hadn’t invited my mother or her husband.

Despite all of the confusion above, I don’t really have any thoughts about seeing my mother there, other than to know she would like it if I went (obviously it makes her look better doesn’t it having both her daughters there).  But I don’t feel a pressing need/want to see her or dread it either.

I’m a bit tempted to plan a camping trip with my stepchildren and go away for the few days over this Bank Holiday weekend so that I am occupied and having fun with safe people.  But I worry I will end up being away and then feeling really sad and left out and then be stuck miles away and feeling resentful.

I was just about to finish there when it crossed my mind that as my pattern during therapy breaks seems to be that I detach when I know there is going to be a break.. perhaps that is what I do with my mother to.  When I last saw her I was desperately sad to “fix everything” and now I am writing about how unattached and unaffected by her I am.  I probably know that if I go I am likely to feel the full effect of all those feelings again and I don’t want that and yet it explains the complete confusion about whether or not go to if I am suppressing the horribly painful feelings that I feel after seeing her of wishing things were better.

Sick

Today should be my first session back with T after an 18 day break but I am unwell.  The timing really is impeccable.  I started to feel unwell on Sunday and recognised the very familiar pain: a chest infection.  I seem to get a chest infection at least once a year and I realised the other day that for the last 5 years, it has been in April or early May.  I don’t know why that is, perhaps it is to do with the weather or something.  What I do know is that it bloody hurts and I am writing this from my bed, where I have been since Sunday afternoon.  On my bedside cabinet I have lots of screwed up bits of tissue, half eaten packets of throat sweets, water and pain killers.

I decided I was going to have to face facts and email T earlier this morning to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to come.  I have been putting this off for a couple of reasons: 1) In case I felt better later and could go, but also 2) because I’ve read lots over the years about how lots of people cancel their session immediately before or after the break out of anger and punishment and I didn’t want T to think that was the case.  It really isn’t.

T and I have spoken by phone in the past so I knew that could be an option but talking hurts my throat and then makes me cough and the coughing really, really hurts.  Also as silly as it sounds, I genuinely feel too crap to get showered, dressed and drive to her house and back.  So I have cancelled my session.  This is the first ever time I have cancelled due to sickness in 5 years.  I am just glad that I have two sessions a week so hopefully I can go on Thursday.

T often puts physical illness down to emotions and has regularly told me in the past that colds for example are “uncried tears“.  Funnily enough T often has a tissue on her and is blowing her nose so perhaps she has lots of uncried tears herself…. or maybe she has allergies. Who knows.

Anyway just out of interest whilst I was waiting for my laptop to load, I did a Google search for the emotional causes of chest infections and it says that sadness affects lung function and the chest region. Some of the symptoms this website lists are “chest discomfort, weak voice, lack of desire to speak, low resistance to respiratory infections, pale bright face“….

Maybe the reason I get a chest infection every year is to do with emotions building up or grief that I have not expressed.  Who knows? I do remember that when I was signed off of work last September, T had been away for 2 weeks and I fell apart the day before her return.  Maybe unconsciously I hold it all in and then it gets too much and I just breakdown one way or another.  Maybe.

 

 

Nearly the end of the break

I have been thinking about writing for several days now.  Yesterday morning I told myself that I would write when I got home from work as it was my half-day and that I would use my usual therapy session time to write but instead I binged episodes of Line of Duty.  I have been really aware that recently I am either watching an episode of something addictive: Luther, then Cold Feet, then Killing Eve and now Call of Duty, or I am addicted to a book or audiobook.  Again in the last few weeks I have read Normal People by Sally Rooney, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and now, Conversations With Friends also by Sally Rooney.  I’ve been completely sucked inside this fantasy world every free waking moment.  That includes walking to and from the station and/or office, on the train journey to work and back, whilst cooking dinner, whilst showering etc.  I’m not sure that on the whole there is anything particularly unhealthy about this but I have a sneaking suspicion that it could be an attempt at blocking out thoughts and feelings; a need to escape reality.

Regardless of the above, as it is now Friday evening the therapy break is nearly over.  On Tuesday evening I will be back in therapy with T and as usual (guess what I’m going to say here?) I don’t really feel like I want to go back.

LOL

I have to laugh now because this is such a familiar feeling.  It is SO weird because as I start the break and I tell myself that soon enough I will be thinking this, I dismiss myself – it seems so unlikely. Stupid even.  But yet, here I am again.

It seems that I am not alone in these feelings and I recently read another blogger write so clearly what I feel.  During the breaks, I’m not sure how far in but I would guess approaching a week perhaps? I start to feel as though I am coping well and feeling good and then I start to question why on earth I put myself through the twice-weekly torture that is digging around in my emotions/my childhood trauma.  Why do I do that when I am sitting down to type this having not done so for near on 3 weeks and I feel fine (okay excluding the potentially unhealthy reality escaping above; but that could be a coincidence, right?).

It is really strange to me because I felt shitty about the break and the fact that T had given me some of her chicken’s eggs felt so wonderful. It was most certainly a transitional object of sorts and there I was in the kitchen with my husband and stepchildren a couple of days later snapping pictures of us making fried and scrambled eggs and omelettes and I sent them to T thanking her.  It felt comforting in a strange way that only other therapy-goers could possibly understand.

Then there was the dream that I wrote about recently. The one where T and my mother had the same curtains, wall pictures and wallpaper and I didn’t want to tell T in case she was offended.  I can clearly see the symbolism in that dream and do not deny it is probably trying to grab my attention and make me aware of what is going on deep in my subconscious mind. But yet.. here we are.

Being honest I have barely thought about T this week and I will go so far as to say that yesterday when I left work at lunch time, I was rather excited to have a whole afternoon off work to myself where I didn’t have to rush home, drive anywhere or poke around in old pains.  Nope, I could come home, eat lunch on the sofa and watch tele.  After a few hours of tele I decided I should do some exercise so I wasn’t a total couch potato.. only mostly.

Anyway perhaps I am feeling this way because my defences are up and I am unwilling to feel anything to the contrary.. maybe T is right and I have always learnt to become very self-sufficient but wouldn’t it be nice if actually it just meant I was a whole lot stronger and more able than I realise I am?

As I write this I ask myself “am I looking forward to seeing T?” and I can’t quite settle on an answer. Saying no feels horrible. I’m not NOT looking forward to seeing her and yet I don’t feel a real pressing need to or a craving to either.  “Did I miss her?” – again, my instant feeling is to write ‘no’ but again, that sounds nasty and I don’t mean it to.  Could I survive another week or so? Yes I feel I could, easily but perhaps that is only because I know the break is nearly over and so it is easy to sit here and think that.  Perhaps I would be writing something very different if I was only, say, half-way through a longer break.

I sometimes worry that I am a fickle and shallow person because I can see that in my life I sometimes have this disturbing ability to just cut people out as though they meant nothing to me.  I am aware how narcissistic that sounds and yes, it does worry me sometimes.  For example, my very narcissistic friend that I fell out with about 2 years ago now.  When me and her finally came to blows and our friendship ended I was upset and confused for a while but looking back I got over her very quickly in the scheme of things.  The second friend, my old narcissistic work colleague who I used to call “work mum” (shudder).  I fell out with her one day and never looked back.  Genuinely I never even got a craving to send her a single message. I felt nothing but relief and freedom when we went our separate ways.  After so many years of.. well.. friendship? that concerns me.  I would however like to point out here that in both of these situations I was being emotionally abused by narcissists and at the point of the breakdown of these friendships I was completely and utterly done in.  Exhausted.

But I can say the same about romantic relationships and even partly family. My mother and her husband (it pains me to call him my stepdad these days).  They were both, in their own ways, bullies and abusive yes, but I have literally removed myself from them and the life we all shared together – that ‘family’ unit.  How many people can do that I wonder?  I admit that is only a very small part of the very large picture and as anyone that reads these posts will know, I have also spent years of therapy and crying and writing to keep that distance and not run back towards the dysfunction.  BUT my point is, sometimes I worry that my ability to just flick a switch of “don’t need you/care for you/love you” is just a bit too easy.

The relevance of T and the above is that I feel like I left my last session feeling sad that I would miss T, mopping for her for a couple of days and then *flick switched* – no more sadness etc.  It’s weird!!

If I was reading another person saying the above I might secretly think to myself that said person just cannot tolerate feelings of loss or abandonment and I might be right, however, I clearly deal with the biggest loss of them all in therapy don’t I? The loss of a childhood.  The loss of a ‘good enough mother’.  The loss of growing up feeling safe and loved and precious and feeling like you are good enough and that you should expect to be treated fairly and with appropriate levels of respect.

Perhaps my capacity to feel any further loss is limited.  Who knows.

Another thing I find funny is that when I watch therapy on tele or I read about it in books, I can see how it is such a great opportunity to just say stuff – whatever you think of, whatever comes to mind, anything no matter how creepy for example when I was recently (binge) watching the series ‘You’ she told her male therapist that she fantasised about having sex with him.  She had no embarrassment about that whatsoever – just came right out and said it and when I’m watching that kind of thing I genuinely think that’s great! that is EXACTLY the point in therapy.  But what I notice is that is because I am not thinking about, or perhaps feeling the relationship between the therapist and client.  So in my mind I think wouldn’t it be great to go to my session on Tuesday evening and just be blunt and hit T with

“So I felt sad about the break at first and I loved the eggs but after several days you basically became non-existent and I didn’t give you a second thought.  I don’t NOT want to be here but I feel like I could take it or leave it.  Sorry”..

And I know that T would take that. She possibly (probably??) wouldn’t care one iota. BUT I absolutely couldn’t and wouldn’t do that because I care what she feels and thinks and I don’t want her to think that I don’t.  Also, if I am brutally honest with myself I think I worry that then she would think about me a certain way and then when my neediness, attachment and insecurity all kicks back in (inevitably) she might not understand or she might have forgotten since having ‘moved’ me from one box in her head – to another.  A less “needy” person box.  A box for clients she doesn’t have to care for as much. Love as much, perhaps?

I’m freewriting here so this may not make any sense at all.

But the question in my mind right now is: what is the healthy balance? What is the middle-ground? What is ‘right’?

I imagine that I should be able to feel the good attachment with T and miss her whilst also feeling strong and able and I do to some extent I suppose… I haven’t turned her bad but I guess I kind of lose the warmth and comfort of the good stuff in a way that is hard to explain.  It’s like for me I am either totally besotted with T and realise how crucial her existence is to my entire life OR I am just not bothered.  It doesn’t go so far as anger or hatred for me but I lose the lovely feelings of dependency too.

Interesting and confusing thoughts.

 

Easter

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you all have a lovely day whatever you are doing.

I’ve had a busy couple of days with the children and my in-laws and as my husband is currently taking the children back to their mum’s, I am sitting at my dressing table/desk with a cup of hot water and lemon taking a bit of time to unwind and relax.

It has been lovely though. I’ve been very much in my adult and playing the domestic wife/mother figure. I enjoyed cooking a big roast dinner for the 7 of us yesterday and it seemed to go down really well. I was so pleased as it is the first time I have cooked a roast dinner for that many people.  The meat was yummy and the potatoes spot on – yay!! Everyone enjoyed the trifle that me and my husband made together, in fact some people went in for seconds and thirds so it must have been good hah.  An hour or so later we went for a walk through a country park near us. It was a beautiful day, it was sunny and warm, the sky was bright blue and clear.  The fields were covered in dandelions and daisies and the 7 of us played with a couple of frisbees which is something I’ve never done.  It was fun!

In the evening we all slumped on the sofas and drank tea. I made sandwiches for everyone about 8pm and then we just watched tele until bedtime.  This morning I woke early and decided to drive to the shop for supplies and made everyone a rather naughty breakfast.

Basically I’ve spent the last 2 days cooking and feeding everyone and cleaning. LOTS and lots of cleaning.  Possibly too much cleaning but hey….

I wish that I had happy memories of Easter as a child but I don’t… although I do remember my Nan always buying me a small gift and giving me a little box of cream eggs and a little chick.  It was that memory that inspired me to buy some little chicks which I decorated the table with yesterday “for the kids” – lol.  But on the whole, I do not have any memories of Easter being a “thing”. I certainly never had an Easter-egg hunt or anything like that and other than being with my Nan, my mother never did a nice family dinner. I don’t even recall her buying me an Easter egg though I guess she probably must have done.

I find myself at occasions like this, Easter, Christmas etc, doing all of the things that I would have liked to have had done for me.  I guess in a way that is a bit selfish but it isn’t being done in that way.  I guess I’m doing it as much for the child in me as for the children that I love. Wanting to do these more “normal” family things.

It’s weird for me and yet it is so normal for them – my husband, his children and his parents.  For them there is nothing remotely special about having a roast dinner, hiding eggs in the garden or throwing a frisbee around a field and yet for me, it is SO different. It’s another example of something that is as healing as it is painful.  It is good for my soul in so many ways and yet makes it more obvious what I needed and wanted but didn’t get back then.  I do it as an adult and I get enjoyment from that in lots of ways but I suppose secretly, deep down, I still would rather be the child on the receiving end of it rather than the adult doing it all.  I am not resentful though… does that make sense?

I don’t really understand how a mother can have children and not enjoy them.  I don’t really understand how these “normal” things like Easter and Sunday dinners, Easter egg hunts, Christmas and birthday mornings.. Pancake day.. camping trips, making cakes, going for walks etc don’t come naturally to a mother when they are caring for a child/for children.  Or more to the point, I can’t understand why it didn’t to my mother when I was her young child.

I sit back and realise what I have typed above and it makes me sound so bitter and resentful and still so caught up in the past and I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to spend forever comparing things like this but it is still a bit sore. One day I hope this will no longer be the case.

Invitation

My mother text me today to say that a bbq is being arranged for the bank holiday in May at my grandparents’ house for all the family and that I was invited though she would understand if I was busy.

I am taking the “busy” to mean – if I don’t want to go because she seems to prefer that things aren’t actually said out loud.

Anyway, I’ve run this past my husband briefly and he’s said he won’t come and that he doesn’t want to see any of them at all. My immediate thought was that I would like to go but I would have liked to have him with me. We only got married last August and I don’t like the idea of turning up alone without him. It isn’t that I feel I *need* him there for support or anything but that I would like it.

That’s clearly not going to happen. I can’t say I blame him, I mean nothing’s changed and no apologies have been made to him so why should he want to come.

I feel like I would like to go but seeing my stepdad puts me off and as I said a moment ago, my mother (and him and the whole family actually) like to pretend things are hunky dorey and so just keeping distance from each other wouldn’t be an option. I imagine he would be overly nice to me and make it nearly impossible for me to be anything other than nice back without looking spiteful. I don’t want to be forced into some sort of compliance to be nice to him (I don’t want to be rude – I would just rather not see him). I also worry, what happens if I go to this alone? Does that then set a precedent that I go to all and any other family events alone? (Christmas and birthdays, Mother’s Day etc??).

I just feel that my grandparents aren’t going to be around forever – especially my grandad who is poorly and they would both really love to have us all there. All their children and their partners and (adult) children etc. I don’t want to look back on this as a missed opportunity and I know I’ll feel jealous when I see all the photos of literally ALL the family minus me…..

I have a while to decide so there’s no mad rush but I just can’t make my mind up. I can think of reasons to go and reasons not to go.

I feel like I can go there and see my mother actually… I feel strangely fine about that. I feel fine being there with one of my aunties and with my sister. It’s just my mum’s husband and one cousin (my mum and her are really close and enmeshed and it’s sickening). But again, being there without my husband will give them all a bit of a chance to say things to me that they wouldn’t if he was there – not my mother, she wouldn’t be so obvious, but other family members. I don’t want to go and fall back to old habits or patterns and I don’t think I would but I’ll be there without my husband when everyone else will be there with their’s and I would really miss him (is that sad?).

Any advice or opinions?

Tears

In the last hour or so I could feel myself getting more and more… unsettled. I could feel a sense of unease creeping over me and I didn’t like it.  My husband was having a nap on the sofa and I was attempting to read my book but I couldn’t shake this feeling and I couldn’t concentrate on the book fully because of it.  I looked over at my sleeping husband and felt this real need to be right there with him – like literally on the sofa right next to him, clinging to him.  It was like the (small) distance between our two sofas was too far and I genuinely decided I was going to wake him up so I could “be” with him again.  For the avoidance of any doubt, I absolutely realise how ridiculous this sounds coming from an adult.

I decided to go and put the washing in the dryer and have a wee before doing anything like that and when I came back, he had woken up anyway. I was a bit relieved to be honest, it saved me having to wake him up and him asking why.

I felt more and more “needy” and more and more clingy.  All the while I was aware that time was running out because at 5.40, he had to leave to go and pick up the children who would be with us until Sunday.  I clung to him when he said he had to go and honestly it took so much effort for me not to cry. He asked me why I was sad and I said I wasn’t but he knew I was lying.  He said it was okay for me not to know why I was sad (a line he’s learnt from time in therapy) and then he told me to wave him off.  I KNEW I shouldn’t do that – when I feel like this, waving someone off is such a bad idea. But I did it anyway because to be totally honest, by this point crying was absolutely inevitable so I really didn’t feel like I had anything to lose.

I waved him off and watched him drive down our road, happily as ever and then I closed the door and burst into tears.  I am now sat on my bed with my laptop typing this hoping it will give me some sort of release before he comes home with the 3 kids and I can no longer express these feelings (or cry).

I’m not sure what has caused this. It could be one of a few things, or perhaps a combination of them all.

Firstly, this morning my Dad and Stepmum paid us an unexpected visit which was nice. They only stayed about an hour but it was good to see them.  During their visit however my stepmum spoke about something sad, about her granddad who abused her in her childhood and I, in turn, mentioned something about the man who had sexually abused me (my mother’s now ex-boyfriend).  She said that she would never, ever tell her parents because she wouldn’t want it to hurt them and I said that it really pisses me off that the victim in these situations so often ends up carrying the guilt around with them for the rest of their lives, guilt that is not theirs.  She agreed.  She also said it was her biggest fear that her mother was also abused by the same man because that would mean that she knew he probably abused her and her sister too – she said she could never forgive her if so. I totally understood that. I told my Stepmum that in my personal experience, telling my mother was a total waste of time and that I often wish I either hadn’t bothered telling her OR had told her immediately when I had all the evidence (text messages etc).  I had waited ten years.  My stepmum has held this inside her for over 40 years.

After they left my husband received a text message and was so shocked he pulled a chair out from under the kitchen table and sat down whilst his eyes were wide in shock and his eyes were glued to his phone. Panic went through me within seconds.  After a moment he read the message out to me.  It was his sister telling him that she’s found out her husband has been having an affair for 6 months and that on top of that, she is 11 weeks pregnant and that he has said he does not want it, or her.  She is devastated.

Clearly there is a lot more to this but I won’t go into that now, however I was so shocked and upset for her and also admit that it has made me feel insecure. I am confident that my husband is happy and that we as a couple are very happy right now, but the realisation that your life can be turned upside-down at any moment has shaken me.

On top of that, and I know this makes me sound utterly evil, I also feel jealous that she is pregnant and I am still not. In fact I woke up to my period today and I am quite frankly, sick of the feeling I have to feel every time that happens.  She already has 3 children (as does my husband) and I just wasn’t remotely prepared for her to be pregnant so I am really shocked.  Yet at the same time, obviously she is going through a devastating time and I feel so bloody horrible for even thinking that.  I just had to write it here to be honest and get it out of my head.

Anyway, it is Easter and the kids will be here soon and will be here until Sunday. Tomorrow my in-laws are coming over for the day and we are doing an easter egg hunt for the kids, I am cooking a big roast dinner for the 7 of us and then we will probably go for a long walk somewhere and play some board games.  This was my idea and it will be the first time that I have cooked a roast dinner for that many people.  It will also be the first time that I’ve cooked any meat other than chicken (aggh).  The day I have planned tomorrow is essentially the day I wished I had when I was a child.  It is one of the sort of days I picture when I think about how my childhood could have been so different – as silly as it sounds.  It’s just that now I am the “mum” figure (though clearly not a mum- grr) and I am the one in the kitchen doing the cooking and cleaning and hosting etc.  My mother-in-law will no doubt help me and will complement me and thank me for the lovely food, regardless of how it all turns out and I will feel both exhausted and proud of myself by the end of it all.  I will also probably feel happy, loved, secure AND sad inside all at once which I know is hard to understand.

These occasions are bittersweet. They are different now; better which is good and yet it is sad because the child me gets jealous about that too. It is the lovely family stuff I always wanted but I wanted to be the child in the picture and not the adult.  Does that make sense?

Goodness I am the green-eyed monster today aren’t I?

The adult me can also see that I am incredibly lucky to have a safe, secure and loving home now. I know that I am very lucky to both love and be loved by my husband and by his children – and his parents.

It is weird how I am feeling right now.  Very strange.  Such a mixture of conflicting things.

I’m going to go and wash my hair and wash my tear-stained face away.

Happy Easter all x

Tears, Fat & a dream about T

Yesterday was a perfectly normal day for me. I felt normal when I woke up and got dressed for work, normal on the train journey and normal all day at work. I felt normal still on the train journey home from work and even as I showered once I got home… and then seemingly out of absolutely nowhere I didn’t feel “normal”.

I was in the kitchen stirring dinner at the time. My husband had been home for ten minutes or so and was talking away happily to me and I found myself only half listening. Suddenly I was aware that I felt weird. Angry? Stressed? Upset? I wasn’t sure. 5 or so minutes later I went into the lounge where my husband was and climbed next to him on the sofa. He knew instantly and made reference to how quickly that had “come on”. I cuddled into him and within seconds tears were falling down my face.

When asked what was wrong, I told my husband it was because I feel so fat and horrible at the moment. Because yet again my stomach has blown up like a balloon (happening A LOT lately). Because I just feel gross. Because this time last year I was on a diet and exercising a lot and had lost over a stone and here I was now, struggling to do my (larger) jeans up at all. Avoiding tight clothing because it made me want to cry. Because I felt gross.

My husband was surprised and remarked on how he loves me (blah blah) and how I don’t look any different to any other day… how yes I might have been slimmer last year but I was on a very restrictive diet and that it’s been a long time since I’ve cried over my weight or other body insecurities which used to happen more often.

All of the things I told him are absolutely true. I really do feel like this at the moment and I hate myself a bit because I have absolutely no willpower whatsoever at the moment. I’ve been letting myself eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want. Clearly that has consequences.

Yes I’ve put on weight. On my stomach, on my legs, my hips but also I have seen the cellulite spreading around higher and lower on my legs and it’s making me very sad. I know this sounds rather self-obsessed and I suppose it is. I also know there are many more important things that I should be putting this energy into and that our weight doesn’t reflect who we are blah blah… but look, it’s making me feel shit.

I’ve been thinking about this and I have acknowledged that I have patterns when it comes to eating and dieting. I’m either very obsessed with restricting myself to “healthy” foods OR i “treat myself” to everything and anything I want. Recently I’ve been in the phase of “treating myself” and it’s making me question why I do this. I wonder if there’s a link between my emotions and my eating habits – clearly neither stance is absolutely healthy.

When I was a child I was very, very thin: so much so my Nan used to tell my mother she thought I must have an eating disorder. My mum then hid the scales from me (that was so annoying). The truth is I’ve had body and weight issues my entire life. I remember vividly wanting to cut the extra fat off of my thighs when I was no older than 12. That’s a theme that has continued my whole life.

When I was younger still, say, 9 ish, I used to eat my dinner in my bedroom on my own and I would empty most of my dinner into my bedroom bin and cover it with toilet roll. I also had terrible OCD when it came to tidying my bedroom (I used to strip all the bedding completely if someone sat on my bed). T has often said she is not surprised that I did these things and has explained to me they are things people do to try and feel more in control of themselves or their life. I guess it follows suite really doesn’t it? Starving myself or binge-eating. Actually come to think of it, I still binge-clean and tidy sometimes and I’ve had issues with spending recklessly and impulsively too, though that’s under control now.

The point in all of this is, it’s about balance; and balance I clearly don’t have. I wonder why that is. I wonder if it’s something I do unconsciously at times of stress or perhaps when I am feeling certain things: longing or anger etc. Maybe I’m just overthinking it all. I don’t know.

Anyway: when I woke up this morning I remembered I had dreamt about T. I wrote some (largely illegible) notes on my phone but I can actually still remember the dream pretty clearly. I’m quite interested in it.

First of all I’m thinking is it a coincidence what I randomly burst into tears on Wednesday evening – the first week of my therapy break? Wednesday night meaning I had missed Tuesday’s session and would normally have one the following day (today) – which obviously I’m not going to have. The weight related feelings that have come back with such a vengeance, are they actually a cover up of something else? Misdirected anger perhaps? Or, as I write a moment ago am I eating to fill a void? Is T that void?

The fact that I dreamt of T last night may in fact be another coincidence but I suspect it’s not. It’s weird though because consciously I’m feeling okay about the break. I would like to see T, of course but I don’t feel desperate or anything. Anyway back to the dream….

For some reason I was in T’s living room. It was a large room and one that I would describe as a mature family lounge. I noticed there was sofas and armchairs and plants. There were rugs, lamps, books, side tables etc – it was a proper typical family lounge (more grown up than my own!). Something that struck me was that T’s wallpaper and curtains were the same as ones my mother had when I was a young child. I noticed them instantly. It threw me a little. I wanted to tell T but was worried in case she was offended and thought that I was suggesting her and my mothers were similar in some way. Then I saw 3 large picture frames on the wall – again the same as the ones my mother had (though in real life my mother had 2, not 3).

I also noticed a very large canvas portrait of one of T’s daughters’ face. I looked around at all of these things and took them all in all whilst simultaneously trying not to act like any of it mattered at all or was in any way giving me any feelings.

T went upstairs for something and I looked outside into the garden where I saw a very large garden but also an “abandoned” garage. I was surprised by this. It didn’t really tally in my head that T who was so good at looking after things and people and her house and pets, would have left this garage to decay and rot. It was right outside her back door…

Then her husband came into the house, he was in the porch area so hadn’t seen me yet. I bravely said hello to him and he said hello back – then T appeared looking a little concerned and showed me out.

There are various themes from this dream that I’m interested in. Firstly I think the “abandoned” building/garage must represent abandonment. They say buildings and houses in dreams represent us and our personalities, so perhaps it is symbolising me being (feeling?) abandoned by her?

Also, my being worried that T would think I was suggesting her and my mother are similar …. well, given we’re currently on a therapy break and my mother obviously used to go away and leave me a lot… used to abandon me…. perhaps it is me who IS suggesting they are similar.

Let’s face it the dream is so blatantly about the break and feeling abandoned so I think it’s highly likely the tears were too. I wonder why my psyche doesn’t allow conscious thoughts if so. Too scary? Too painful? I don’t know.

Imagine..

I finished the book I was reading today “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. I felt painfully sad at the end.  It was a weird sadness though… not crying sad like when someone dies or whatever but like a sense of… doom? LOL that doesn’t say much for the book does it? But in all honestly I really enjoyed the book, I just wasn’t prepared for an ending to leave me feeling like that. Anyway, since finishing it earlier today I’ve had the normal bug to write. This always happens when I finish a book, something about reading inspires me to write (and read more).  It makes me wish that I had realised when I was younger that reading and writing were “my thing” but I didn’t.  All I realised back then was that I loved English and I thought that was mostly because I liked my teacher – it could well have been, but also I liked it.

I know it sounds hugely cliché, but stories can be so powerful. You can learn so much from reading (even fiction I mean). I get so absorbed into the characters I read about, I get so emotionally invested in them.  I hurry my way through the book and to the end and then I feel a loss when I’ve finished the story because they are gone.  Attachment issues anyone? LOL.

Anyway, as I was saying it really does make me wish I had been a bit wiser back at school. I wish I had attended school more, tried harder and obviously I wish I didn’t have a fucked up childhood and mother so that I could have had some room left in my brain to actually learn.  Imagine……

I often do imagine. I imagine myself studious at school, then sitting my A-Levels… probably English Lit, Psychology and Law (I know, genius child – obvs).   I would have done well and worked hard and then I’d have gone off to university.  At uni I would have fitted in well, made some good friendships and enjoyed the social element as much as everything else and then one day I would be sitting at my laptop typing something wonderful that people read and enjoyed. I’d be like Marian Keyes or Sally Rooney or someone like that (I’ve recently developed a bit of a thing or Irish literary fiction – don’t ask why, I’ve no idea).

Writing is so powerful.  The only thing I write is this blog and sometimes in my paper journal – though not at all regularly.  I think I hold a pen too tightly so writing tends to give me wrist-ache really quickly (a sign of the modern world I guess).  I sometimes feel like I am full to the very brim with words, thoughts, feelings and everything is so confused.  Sometimes I feel like I might explode if I don’t get the chance to just sit and write, which is precisely what I am doing now. Sometimes I can sit and just start typing and before I know it, I’ve explained everything that I am feeling without even really realising it – its something about holding a pen or hovering my hands over a keyboard, it just taps into my unconscious and the words fly out of my confused head and onto the page.  It’s magic.

I have never learnt how to write properly you know like how to use the right words or how to structure sentences correctly. I don’t know the do’s and don’ts and I wouldn’t have a clue how to even begin making up characters or a plot!! All I’ve ever written is diaries – so about myself which is really self-absorbed but it really is all I’ve ever written.

There isn’t much of a risk in doing that because nobody can really comment on your own thoughts or feelings can they? People could I suppose comment on my blog and call me stupid but I can just delete their comment or block them and move on with my day knowing that my feelings and thoughts are my own and it really wouldn’t get to me too much.  Writing fiction on the other hand, well that would open me up to a whole world of opinions and criticism and I’m not sure I’ve ever been equipped to handle that.

Isn’t it a shame that by the time you are old enough to really know who you are and what you like and want, life’s become complicated and it’s near on impossible to make the necessary changes?  I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the whole “you’re never too old to follow your dreams” thing, but I mean literally for me in this case, I cannot afford to stop working full-time and go back to learn all the basics, then the more advanced stuff or even the uni stuff… and job prospects are slim to none. It would be a hobby and in real life, there just isn’t time.

I didn’t know who I was at 15, or even at 25. I don’t think I truly knew who I was until fairly recently – and maybe I am still learning.  I didn’t know who I was because I was whoever everyone else wanted me to be. I was a chameleon, changing to fit in with whoever I needed to please; and that is no exaggeration. It’s sadly very true and something I can see clearly now. I had no sense of self whatsoever.  I had no self-esteem at all.  I was so desperate to be liked – to be loved that I just used to do whatever I could to please.  It makes me sad to reflect back on this but I realised it properly the other night whilst talking to my husband about my younger sister.

I see things in her that make my heart hurt a bit. For both of us.  She is different to me in a lot of ways, particularly on the surface – for example she’s very fashionable and has tattoos and piercings and dyes her hair bright colours. She makes a lot of rude jokes and says inappropriate things to make people laugh.  She is close (cough) with my mother, she loves her job etc etc but deep down underneath it all, she is fragile as hell: just like I was.

Take her latest situation for example, she’s met these 3 guys who she has become friendly with and she told us that they’ve opened her eyes and made her happier than she’s been in a long time.  She said they’ve made her realise she is beautiful regardless of her weight or her skin complexion and so on.  They’ve also made her consider leaving her boyfriend of 3 years whom she lives with.

There is obviously a lot more detail to this story but as she spoke and I listened the other night, it was so clear to me that she is so desperate to be liked, loved and approved of, that nearly anyone is able to do that for her.  I was exactly the same. Having those traits can make a person seem very shallow and flaky and a bit of a tart I suppose, but now I can see that it’s actually really sad because the reason someone acts that way is because they are just chasing all these different possible leads to the happy ever after. However the happy ever after isn’t what you think it is.  It’s finding, accepting and loving yourself. It’s gaining that sense of self and self-esteem. It’s knowing that you are enough, that you are good enough in all ways. It’s not needing to seek approval from everyone you meet, not flexing your entire personality to fit in with someone else’s needs.

In just a few weeks of knowing these boys, my sister is considering breaking up with her boyfriend and moving back to her dad’s house and it worries me.  Not because I think she should stay with her boyfriend because I don’t actually think she should (not that it is any of my business) but it worries me that she is so easily swayed and as I say, it made me realise that I was the same.

I’ve beaten myself up a lot over the years for being a bit of a get around when I was younger. I always had so many boyfriends, one after the other after the other. Even then I knew it was strange for someone so young to have constant relationships but it didn’t stop me. I have much more compassion for my young self now. I was looking for love – not necessarily romantic.  I was empty and starving for love – anything was better than feeling that horrible void.  I honestly thank my lucky stars that I went to therapy because I am certain I wouldn’t have my husband and in turn, his children or family.  My life could be so, so different.

As I sit and write this, I have tears flying out of my eyes and yet what I am writing should be making me feel happy, shouldn’t it? Sometimes and more accurately, right now, life just feels so horribly complicated.  MY life, my past life anyway, feels horribly deep and complicated and full of so much I wish had been different.  Possibly everyone feels like that I don’t know? I feel deep sadness for my sister in her struggles, some of which are just normal adolescent struggles… some of which are literally side-effects of being raised by our mother and as I say, being raised not feeling you are basically a decent and loveable person.  That makes me so fucking angry sometimes.

I know right now that I am actually a good enough human being. I know that I am okay as I am and I know that I am loveable person because people like T and my husband and my stepchildren have taught me that.  What a gift to give a person?  I just wish that it hadn’t taken me nearly 31 years to get there.  I wish I could have been that girl I imagine who studied English and could write.  I wish that things could have been different for me and for my sister and in fact, even for my mother.  I wish that childhood had been a happy experience and I wish that at 31 I didn’t still cry from my heart about all of these things.

And yet wishing to change the past is hopeless and a waste of time – it is stupid and pointless. I need to focus more on the fact that now I am in a place I once never thought I would be and just enjoy it.  Why is that so hard for me? I have never felt so loved or so safe and yet I still cry and that makes me feel selfish and self-absorbed.

I think that is enough writing for now, my face is sore from the acidy tears!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Book (Therapy)

I’ve just seen there’s a new fiction book coming out soon called “maybe you should talk to someone” by Lori Gottlieb.

Here’s the synopsis on Amazon:

Ever wonder what your therapist is really thinking? Now you can find out

Meet Lori Gottlieb, an insightful and compassionate therapist whose clients present with all kinds of problems. There’s the struggling new parents; the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for; the self-destructive young alcoholic; and the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed. And there’s John, a narcissistic television producer, who frankly just seems to be a bit of a jerk. Over the course of a year, they all make progress.

But Gottlieb is not just a therapist ― she’s also a patient who’s on a journey of her own. Interspersed with the stories of her clients are her own therapy sessions, as Gottlieb goes in search of the hidden roots of a devastating and life-changing event.

Personal, revealing, funny, and wise, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone opens a rare window onto a world that is most often bound by secrecy, offering an illuminating tour of a profoundly private process.”

I just thought I would share that with you guys as it’s 100% something I’ll be reading, even if it is only for the giggles!

Transference/fear of annihilation

I think what stops me from experiencing the full effect of transference with T is that I don’t fully allow myself to just relate to her as though she was my mother. What I mean by that is that if I didn’t make such a conscious effort to tell myself that I am an adult now and that T is not my mother or even family, that my feelings/thoughts are actually inappropriate or silly then perhaps I would. Obviously there’s very little that I can actually do about that. I can’t stop myself from thinking those things (I mean, they are the truth after all)… but I do think if I didn’t make such a conscious effort to tell myself these things and just let myself relate to her as though she was then my experience in therapy and with transference would be very different. 

It’s not that I particularly want to rupture/repair with her constantly, Christ knows it is draining as hell when it does happen BUT T explained to me yesterday that doing the rupture/repair work with her is what I actually NEED to do. I have to find a way to let all of those buried feelings come out. Those feelings like anger of being abandoned and hatred towards my mother. All the “it’s unfairs” and “I hate yous”.

Yet again yesterday as T told me it was okay to feel angry with her for going on break I inwardly rolled my eyes and thought “if only”. I just don’t… I can’t or perhaps, I won’t. Being angry with T is a horrible experience for me. In yesterday’s session I brought up the recent mini rupture (that’s what I’m calling it) and said to her that what I find so scary in those times is that I am totally overcome with this feeling that I’ve been stupid and that she is not who I thought she was. That I have been tricked and she is actually nasty and evil and bad and all those things. That feeling is REAL, really, really real and it is horrible. 

T explained that, that is exactly how she would expect me to feel. I was shocked and lost for words as I really did not expect her to say that. I asked her why and she smiled kindly and said “it’s all about the fear of being annihilated”. She then added “you are doing therapy exactly as you should be”. 

Oh. Well…

I questioned this again.. “But why the whole being tricked thing? Why that?” and she explained to me that I had been tricked. By my mother. I was tricked into thinking she was one person when in fact I had been horribly manipulated and she was a whole different person. I guess it makes sense really I mean I’ve turned the anger about this on myself on occasions over the last few years and thought to myself how utterly STUPID I’ve been. That anger with myself has gone now (mostly) and I can see that I was a child desperate to be loved by her mother. I have compassion for that child. I have less compassion with the adult that I now am who still gets sucked in at times but hey…. I’m only human. 

I realise now that being tricked is one of my biggest triggers. As is feeling as though someone is trying to hold me back for their own gain. Feeling rejected. Feeling like a burden. Being guilt-tripped by someone (again for their own gain). 

I can see how a lot of these things can easily be triggered in therapy. I felt that T had “tricked me” when in my eyes she was “bad”. That made me scared shitless and angry with self-preservation. I felt she mocked my progress when I said I had felt good for a while and she said “for a couple of weeks”. To me she was mocking me. I felt humiliated and angry by that comment. I felt as though I couldn’t say anything because nothing that I said was being listened to. Nothing I said would ever be right anyway so what was the point? I decided not to cause a fight and so largely stayed silent (until the next session anyway). The burden thing.. well, therapy breaks. Need I say more? In my head I go “T needs a break from work – work is me – I am a chore/hard-work/a burden” and that triggers me too because I spent my entire life feeling like the worst possibly burden to my mother. The thing is, because I feel like a burden it doesn’t make me react to T or get angry with her, it makes me want to try NOT to be needy (another thing my mother always called me) and so I try to be self-sufficient and go the opposite way. 

I would quite like to be able to feel angry with her, but I just don’t think I can because I intellectualise it so much.

Anyway, I stumbled across this:https://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/annihilation-anxieties

I thought this was very interesting. The experience of helplessness in the face of danger which the person feels he can take no protective or constructive action… I mean, again, as an adult obviously I could take protective action of myself but as a child I couldn’t have done and that I guess is the feeling it taps into, right?

I’ve also read that annihilation anxieties include 1) fears of being overwhelmed, 2) being unable to cope and losing control, 3) fears of merger, entrapment or being devoured, 4) fear of disintegration of self or of identity, 5) fear of abandonment or need for support……

For me, I think fear of abandonment and fear of being unable to cope are key. Having said that, also fear of “merger” or as I call it enmeshment.

Lastly I have also read that one of the challenges of helping patients in therapy with annihilation anxieties is that “an especially challenging aspect of working with these patients is their strong, typically unconscious tendency to do to you what was done to them, to induce you to do to them what was done to them, and other variations…”

Which goes some way to explaining why T was putting up such a fight not to let me cut my sessions back (abandoning me?) and why she said in the session afterwards that she wanted to be really careful not to “collude with me”. 

It also explains that annihilation anxieties in a patient can be a real strong trigger for the therapist’s own issues leading to countertransference. An article I read explains that a patient with strong annihilation anxieties can make a therapist feel like they are “threatening her or his physic survival”.

VERY interesting…