Trying to recover from the rupture

As 4pm drew closer today I began to feel more and more nervous. At ten to 4 I had to rush to the toilet where I got stuck for the entire 10 minutes (sorry for TMI)!. I watched my phone hit 4pm exactly and felt sick… I found T in my call list and pressed dial.

The phone rang just once or twice and then T picked up. I didn’t know what to say to her.  We said hello and then she asked me how I was currently feeling  had felt since I had sent her my email the other day.  In all honestly I wasn’t sure how I felt so I actually had to think about the answer to that question. I told her that her reply to my email had helped to lift a lot of the anger and pain and that knowing I would be talking to her today had also helped although I admitted that I was nervous and scared that it may end up making me feel more pain.

T told me that she had done some writing that she wanted to read to me to try to explain why she spoke differently to me and to other people. I was quite shocked at this, I’m not sure why but I think it’s something about the fact she had been thinking about it a lot and had clearly put a lot of thought in prior to this call.  Writing that now sounds obvious really doesn’t it? I guess of course she did.  Anyway, she begun to read to me and I can’t quite remember what she said but I do remember that I started to cry pretty quickly because what I “heard” at first was something that meant “some people need more love than others – than you do” and I cried because I thought my worst fears had come true. There really wasn’t anything she was going to say that was going to fix this rupture and there really was nothing she could say that was going to make me feel better, to enable me to trust her enough to be vulnerable with her again – to do the work with her anymore.

She said something about how she didn’t want to force herself and her love on me (as I heard this I thought to myself “it isn’t forcing when I want it”.) She said something about how my mother was an overbearing narcissist, that she didn’t want to repeat that for me and that she trusted me to show her what I needed.  She also said some things about how she worked using her intuition and that she truly believed that she was a good enough mother figure to me, and to all of her clients.  Now I got what she meant about my mother being an overbearing narcissist in one sense, but in another I was confused because my mother DIDN’T show me any love or affection so surely that isn’t the same? Surely that IS exactly what I need? There was so much being said and so many thoughts and feelings going on at once that it is hard to remember it all now.

She then explained how everyone she sees has different needs and said to me to think about my 3 stepchildren and how I would treat them all differently, but love them all the same amount.  She said you could have two children and one need a lot of reassurance and the other not need that so much. She said she worked using her intuition and was guided by me.  At this stage I was feeling pretty confused because, as I’ve already said, I understood what she was getting at, but I just kept thinking… yes, but I NEED you to show me love and affection so why won’t you do that??? If we all have different needs and I’m yelling at you because I want something (for my needs) then why aren’t you doing it?

I cried pretty constantly the whole time she was saying these things and then she asked me if I understood what she had said.  I told her I kind of did but kind of didn’t and she said it was okay if I didn’t fully get it at this moment in time, that perhaps I would in the future and that perhaps it would take more than just this one hour (someone had said this to me in a comment the other day and I am thankful they did as otherwise my expectations would have been too high – thank you).  I still felt rather disappointed and a bit deflated at this stage.  I could hear she was trying to make me feel better but it just felt a bit like what she was saying to me and what she was expecting me to feel weren’t tallying up somehow.  Like, was I missing something here?

She said that there was no denying it “was a monumental way to cock up“.  She actually admitted to me that when she realised what had happened, she had to phone a therapist friend of hers to cry to them! I felt instantly very guilty and sorry for her when she said this and said “oh nooo did you?” and before I could finish saying it she snapped quite abruptly “No! You do not feel guilty for that, I am not telling you that for you to feel bad about, but simply so that you understand that I did and do care very much“.  She said she knew instantly how deep this would have hit me and then said that the only reason she didn’t pry into how it had made me feel instantly and by text was because I was meant to be in session with her only a few hours later – until I cancelled.  She also added that being a therapist was a vocation to her and not just a job.  She said she really does get it and does deeply care, it wasn’t somethign she did simply to pay the bills.

I eventually said to her outright “I get that everyone has different needs and that you treat us all differently, just as I do my stepchildren, I get that.. but, I feel like I am always fighting to get someone to show me love and they never do and that IS what I want!” T said that it might feel to me like what I need is for her to show me lots of “gushing love” but that often what we think we need, isn’t actually that helpful for us.  She said that if she is working with someone who has had no love and affection from a mother and who has suffered childhood trauma and cruelty, that gushing them with love would be extremely damaging and painful for them.  My ears pricked up…  I questioned why and she said in the most extreme case, showering someone who has been loved deprived with affection COULD lead them to commit suicide. At this point I was listening intently but still confused and then she said this:

“Imagine a baby that is starving, literally starving and nearing death, extremely malnourished and very sick.  What you might think you need to do is to take the baby and feed it and feed it and feed it to make it better, to save it? But actually that would kill the baby!  What the baby would need is to be drip fed tiny bit by tiny bit until it built up a tolerance and could slowly adjust to having more food”…

Something about this image clicked in my head and really made sense… okay… okay, this was helpful – I told T this image was very helpful. She continued explaining and said that in my head I think I know what I need but that a lot of that was fantasy and built up using the fantasy that she is the perfect mother and that the perfect mother would and could never hurt me.  But that the fantasy was wrong.

I told T that it was so painful for me because so many times over the years I have got upset and complained to my mother that she never hugged me or told me she loved me or showed me any affection and my mother would shame me and tell me to grow up and tell me that I wasn’t a child and that I was pathetic.  I said it felt like the same thing was happening all over again – not the shaming so to speak, but like T was saying that she wouldn’t show me any affection even though she could have.  I told T that my mother was always very gushing with her men – just not me and the feelings were triggered by the text she sent me.

She said something again about being led by me and I said something like “but I have told you before that I sometimes find your emails lacking warmth and a bit cold and clinical!” and she said it was quite a while ago and said “lets not get too carried away, it is only an email sign-off, you do FEEL my love in many other ways – I know you do and I know that you have the capacity and capability to feel that love. Some people cannot feel it and need me to speak to them in different ways, in ways that might help it to get through to them. You feel my love here”.

Hmm…something about what she said made me feel ashamed. It felt as though she was saying “Jesus Christ, it’s a bloody sign off on an email!” and so I said that I understood that it was stupid and I was being irrational but she butted in and said she doesn’t think that for a single second, she said how much she understood the pain was very deep. She said every therapist’s favourite line… twice “This IS the work” with extra emphasis on the IS. I had to try not to chuckle.  She then spoke about “the frame” which I took to be a reference to the therapeutic frame, as in the guidelines or something? She said that it is expected and normal for me to want to bash the frame about and hit it and try to change it and it is her job to hold steady whilst I did that.  This gave me an image of a toddler who wants things it can’t have and kick and screams for them all the while the mother is calmly saying “no” but not shaming the child and, perhaps, validating the child’s pain? I don’t know, I could have this entirely wrong. I need to do some reading about the frame to fully grasp this I think.

[What I need to write next may offend/upset/annoy or possibly trigger those who have D.I.D or parts – I am not sure but I want to be cautious so consider this a warning if you want to continue reading].

T said that the person who the text was actually for was much more dissociated than I am and she said that sometimes she “doesn’t even bloody know I am here at all! I have to fight to get through to her to know I am there for her!”.  She then said I wasn’t that split and dissociative and that I did know she was there – that she only had to say something gently and I knew it, but that the other girl didn’t.  She said that working with parts was an entirely different way of working but that I wasn’t that split-off. She said that I was integrated.  (I questioned how true that was as she said it..).  She later said that the work I was doing was entirely different and that we were “nowhere near each other” whatever that meant.

I told T that I always secretly hoped I was her youngest client and that it made me special to her somehow.  She told me that it didn’t matter whether I was the youngest, oldest, prettiest or whatever.. that I was special to her just for being me.  She said that I didn’t need to “jump through hoops” for her.  I cried as she said this even though it felt a bit of a cliché you know like “you are special just the way you are”… but I think I believe her….. I think.  She said that I was working “beautifully” and was doing very well and that she admired me said I had plenty of courage even if I didn’t feel I did at times.  She said something along the lines of how the other client was in a very difficult place and that therapy was very difficult and unpredictable for her but for me, I may be struggling but i am progressing along very well.  I have mixed thoughts about this.

She told me that there was a space inside her that was just mine and that nobody else could ever take or come near because it was just for me and then said that she wondered if it felt a bit like finding out you were going to have a sibling when you were a child – others – someone else to share mum’s love and being really angry about it.  She said she wondered if it reminded me of when my sister was born?  I admitted when my sister was born I was terribly upset and jealous, having been an only child for 7 years, I was used to that and when I already had no love or affection another child surely meant I would have even less?! I’m not sure how accurate that fear was because it made not difference to the lack of love I got but it did result in lots of other feelings of insecurity and being forgotten or left-out.  It set me (and my sister) up for years of competing for her attention. The ultimate power-trip I guess. MEH.

She told me she had a lot of love and care for me and she said if I wanted her to sign her emails off “with love” from now on, that she would. I felt immature but thought to myself that it really isn’t the same when you ask someone is it? LOL and then she said …. I try to match your style in your emails to me… and I interrupted her and said, I had thought this only today.. when I re-read my emails to her, I always signed them off “Thanks, TT” and admitted that was rather formal, especially for me! I said I had done that because I was copying her style and she said she was following my lead!!! I did laugh at this.

I guess the main things I took from the call were that she thinks lots of affectionate words and gushing love is NOT what I need, even if I think I do… that she thinks I have the capacity to feel her love in many other ways and that some clients do not and that because I am in a constant state of hypervigilance, looking for perceived proof of being rejected or abandoned, that is why this hurt so much.  It did tap in to some very deep wounds of mine, mainly being unloved/unloveable and not special.  She said once or twice that I did not get to experience the good enough mother and that I was not taught that was allowed to feel angry and resolve something with her and that her love did not change for me if I did have those angry feelings.

Right now I have lots of words and thoughts and reactions to sit with and work through but I do already feel heaps better.  She reminded me that each rupture we get through is helpful and will build a deeper level of trust.  She said with each rupture that we successfully repair, I will gradually remember that things can be survived no matter how hard they get between us. I understood what she meant as she said this because the other day it seemed insurmountable and now it doesn’t.

Right now, believe it or not… whether she signs an email “with love” or just her name feels wholly insignificant… isn’t that funny? Or perhaps makes me a little crazy! Perhaps her reassurance has helped me to come out of my triggered place and back into a more rational and adult place? I’m not sure.  I feel hopeful but yet the remains of some sadness lurk below the surface, a bit like when you’ve got back together with an old boyfriend and you are glad but you feel a little fragile and kinda nervous and careful? on guard perhaps?? I dunno, it’s hard to explain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A hair, a flood and a haunting

Last night I had another weird dream. It really annoys me that even when I go to sleep I can have dreams that keep me so anxious.  In last night’s dream my mother had emailed me to say she loved me (like she did in real life Friday night) and I had ignored it (like I have in real life).  What followed a few days later was another email which said something along the lines of “However….” and then went on to say that she needed me to sort out a hotel booking that I had made on their behalf because it was currently I my name. The “whatever” was meant to mean, I do love you BUT…..

I went to the hotel to try to sort out whatever the problem was but whilst I was there I had a sandwich and found a clump of hair in it, I tried to sleep in a bed whilst the room was haunted and the ghost threw toilet roll around it and I was petrified AND the sea had flooded a room and there was a leak from the ceiling.

Later in the dream I went to wake my fiancé up but he was sleeping at the bottom of a bed that my mother and her husband were asleep in so I had to be really quiet not to wake them.

I looked up the dream meaning for finding hair in your food, food and haunted room and found this:

To dream that there is hair in your food means that you are entangled in some emotional matter which you are not sure about how to get out of

To dream about being haunted indicates early unpleasant experiences and feelings that still haunt you.

If you dream about a flood, more likely than not you have recently felt overwhelmed in your life by something (or someone) that seemed like an uncontrollable force – one which left you feeling somewhat helpless, at their mercy, and victimized.

I guess that makes sense really.  I am clearly entangled in an emotional matter that I am not sure how to get out of, early experiences and feelings DO still haunt me and I guess the whole situation has made me feel a bit overwhelmed – although not at their mercy.  Perhaps that is why it was only one room that was being flooded and not the whole hotel. I think the dream shows my unconscious worries about having not responded to her text.  Perhaps I unconsciously think that not replying will lead to some disasters.

I feel pretty much the same as yesterday today, despite the dream but I did wake up feeling something.. I’m not sure what.  I had a few tears this morning, I just felt I needed to release them, I didn’t really have many conscious thoughts to accompany them. Just felt a bit sad I guess.  It snowed all day today so we went out for a walk in the snow, threw snowballs and made snow people (political correctness at its finest)! When we got home I felt the need to cry again, just a tiny bit, not a lot but I didn’t really have the space at the time so I didn’t.

I was scrolling through Instagram earlier though and my sister had put a photo on of her, my mother and stepdad all wearing scarfs and hats clearly in the snow.  The three of them were smiling.  The photo did have an effect on me, but I’m not sure what exactly. It wasn’t jealousy, I didn’t wish I was there with them, but it was odd. I guess because it is the first photo of my mum I’ve had to see in a while since I deleted my Facebook account.

A few hours ago my fiancé sat down next to me on the sofa and said “So, shall we talk about it?” I had been waiting and hoping we would but didn’t want to bring it up because I feel it is all I talk about lately! I told him as much.  He asked me how I was feeling about it all and I told him pretty much what I wrote here yesterday.  I said that I had some guilt about not replying – whether or  not I should.  That I still hadn’t let go of the need for her to take accountability and apologise – even though I knew that won’t happen.  I said that my reality is still that nothing has changed.  That 6 weeks passing didn’t make anything better or hurt less.  I still need an apology.

I explained to him that until she takes some responsibility for her mistakes and apologises to me, I am stuck in this angry place and I can’t have a healthy or enjoyable relationship with her whilst I feel that way.  It really is as simple as that.  Nothing really that I haven’t written here already.

He said that the fact is, before I started therapy 3 years ago, I was enmeshed with my mother which is why I told her absolutely everything, why I asked her what to do about everything and why I couldn’t imagine surviving life without her.  He said that starting therapy 3 years ago enabled me to separate from my mother in the way that children separate from their parents as a normal childhood development stage and that it was normal and natural the way I separated from her but because of the way she is, because of her narcissism it was a narcissistic wounding for her and she had to find reasons that I had done that (which obviously couldn’t be her) and so she blamed my fiancé.  He must be controlling and manipulative.  Fast-forward to now and it’s my therapist’s fault for brainwashing me.

He said that despite this, I was only 29 years old, that we were getting married next year, that we had built a lovely family together with his children and we had our house and our love etc. He said to me that if I hadn’t got myself to therapy, I may not have been released from the unhealthy enmeshment with my mother until the day she died, which could have been when I was in my 60s! I agreed and said I had thought this many times. I’ve read so many forums where people in their 50s or 60s had just realised they had a narcissistic mother (or father) and how grateful it made me that I had found this out whilst I was young enough not to let it take over my entire adult life. Thank God. We both agree that we wouldn’t have worked out if I hadn’t got this help, I would have been too triggered, insecure and jealous over things with his ex-wife and his children and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the security of a happy relationship the way that I am (thankfully) able to now. He basically said, “I know it is hard now, but it is so worth it for the rest of your life”.  Boy is he right.

I admitted that when the guilt comes it is normally because I imagine my mother upset and think that because of the narcissism, because she has a personality disorder, I feel sorry for her not understanding what she has done wrong, what she needs to apologise for… for feeling confused and upset that she’s “lost me” (obviously she might not feel any of those things!).  He couldn’t really understand that, he just said I had nothing to feel sorry for her about.

I said that I didn’t miss her – not her, her as a person but I was sad of course that I’ve lost my mother. As in, the archetype, the figure, the role.  That is so sad.  It just helps that the word mother, and my mother’s face in my mind are beginning to be separate and different things now.  No longer is that child’s craving for a mother about HER.  Does that make sense to anyone?

I told him what I said here yesterday, normally I am dying for a way to fix it all, to make it all go away and be better but I am not this time. I guess that is because I can’t un-know what I now know.  It can’t ever be “fixed” or “better”.

I don’t like not knowing what will happen next, that makes me fearful I think.. or something like that. I think that is what the dreams are about. What happens next? Will she start telling people her version of events? Will the flying monkeys contact me soon and start to pass on messages about her and what she is thinking and feeling? Will she directly contact my fiancé or something? I just don’t know and I don’t like that….. I’ve had it easy so far really I guess as she didn’t tell anyone and she didn’t contact me until Friday for 6 weeks. Ignoring her declaration of love may possibly change that.

I think Christmas will be hard for me.. I wouldn’t rather be there at her house, but being with my fiancé’s kids and parents for the entirety will hammer home that I don’t have that. There’s something about Christmas that makes that harder but having said that, I felt the same the last few Christmases’ and she was in my life.. I saw her… so really what difference does it make? It’s just that whole belief that the day itself is all about love and family when in reality, is that day any different from any other? really? Probably not.

On the note of actual Christmas, I haven’t bought her or my stepdad a Christmas present or card and that makes me uneasy.  Isn’t that crazy? Why would I have done? In the back of my head I keep thinking “I should get something just in case…”  how ridiculous is that? It just goes to show more fear in me doesn’t it? More fear that if somehow, by some miracle I saw them and had no material present to give, that she would be angry and I would feel awful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I smell a rat

I’m not sure what I am thinking or feeling right now. I am hoping that just sitting down to write will help me tap into my unconscious and help me to figure it out.

As per my post last night, written in a hurried and frenzied state, my mother finally broke the silence and sent me a message. She sent it at twenty to eleven on a Friday night which would mean she would have been drinking for several hours by that point. I know this because my mother spends EVERY Friday and Saturday night drinking. Before I wised up, I used to go there every Friday and drink with her as she verbally tore me apart or told me what to do about my latest life drama. I was totally enmeshed and felt I needed her for my very survival. Probably still stuck in the child feelings I guess? I wasn’t being my true self, I wasn’t being ME, I was using a fake persona, I had tried to be more like her. I didn’t realise at the time that is what I was doing, but hey, hindsight and all.

I read her message by accident. I was already talking on WhatsApp to someone else when her message came through and I clicked on it without even realising until I read the words and then my heart fell. I panicked. I freaked out big time. I burst into tears, my head hurt, I felt a surge of sadness, anger and guilt all at once and felt like my head could explode. I’m not even exaggerating. The tears oddly stopped rather quickly and I felt numb. I tried to work out how I was feeling and numb was all I could tap into.

The thoughts and observations that ran through my mind were things like – She said she loves me! She said she misses me! Then, still no accountability or apology… She’s probably drunk and playing the victim crying to her enabling husband… If I don’t reply now she’s seen I’ve read it, I’ll look bad and give her more to play on. Eugh. Why now? I don’t want to deal with this.

Something else I couldn’t help but think about was that I finally made the decision to spend Xmas Day with my fiancé’s parents – a decision I’ve written about recently that I’ve been putting off and off for the entire 6 weeks me and my mother didn’t speak. I had to fight a lot of guilt and fear to get to that stage and the very day I make the choice, she texts. Total coincidence I know, but feels like she has a camera on me or something. That isn’t the first time I’ve said, felt or written that either.  It’s scary. It’s like they can sense when we move a bit further away or something and they know when their contact will make the most significant impact.

I put my phone on the floor, on some clothes so it didn’t vibrate and wake me up should she text again and fell asleep.  I had a dream and I can only remember the main thing in it was a rat. I seem to remember I was sat on a bench with my youngest stepson and I could hear a noise but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I looked down and there was a rat nibbling away at something and I freaked out!! Later in the dream I was somewhere else and paranoid and looking out for possible rats. I am a big believer in hidden messages in dreams, I do think if you pay attention to them, you can see what your less conscious thoughts are, so I looked up the meaning of dreaming about rats and the general consensus is about a person’s character being sneaky or betraying you somehow.

The first thing to think about is whether you or someone you know is behaving unethically in a situation in your life,” suggests O’Connor. “You often hear the expression that someone is a ‘rat,’ meaning he is untrustworthy or has betrayed someone.

What do rats represent to me? Well, I am scared of them – just like my mother.

I was paranoid there would be rats around me – Possibly a symbol of my fear of seeing my mother around.

I wasn’t aware of the rat being there until I heard it and spotted it – a bit like how I felt last night when that text came through totally unexpectedly.

Anyway, moving on from my dream. How do I feel about it today? I genuinely don’t know. I haven’t had much time to think about it all as the kids are here but I feel better than I thought I would. I feel better than I think I would have done a few weeks ago. The instant reaction was that I was triggered instantly into wanting to believe her words.  Her saying she loved and missed me being things I’ve spent forever wanting to hear, feel and believe. The other instant trigger was guilt. Guilt that she was upset, guilt that she would know I had read her message and ignored it… guilt knowing that would upset her further.

Then more rational thinking kicked in where I was annoyed that the message only spoke about her. “I” miss you and “I” love you.  I wished there had been some accountability and an apology but I do know logically that is never going to happen.  I guess there is still a part of me that can’t quite let that go.

There was a bit of anger that this is what she does. No matter how big the row, or how severe the topic, it is always swept under the rug and never dealt with. Okay, so the love you, miss you thing is a new tactic, but it doesn’t deal with the reason we aren’t speaking does it. It doesn’t offer some kind of resolution or attempt at apologising… it feels to me like it’s undertone is “Just so you know, it is you that is creating the silence and distance, I am still here for you and still love and miss you”…… I don’t know if she realises that or whether it is unconscious but that is how it feels. It’s clever because I did instantly think to myself “So she wasn’t not talking to me…. it was just me not speaking to her was it?” but I know that isn’t true.

I’ve questioned why has it taken 6 weeks for her to send that? I have believed for a while now that she didn’t think I would be able to stick to it for long and that I would “come running back”.  Maybe she thought it would be eating me alive not speaking to her and I would either apologise or try to sweep it all under the rug like she does – and I’ve done neither thing.  Perhaps it is in attempt at resolving things (ignoring things) as Xmas is closing in on us.

I guess that for her she doesn’t think she has done anything wrong, doesn’t think she needs to apologise for anything and so saying she loves and misses me is all she can do.  Perhaps it helps her to sleep at night thinking that it is ME that is choosing to ignore and hurt her. Choosing to reject her love.  I am being the bad, grudge-baring daughter who has been brainwashed my her fiancé and her therapist.. who has “so much bad feeling” towards her for no reason that there is nothing more she can do other than to send the occasional message of love so that I know she’s still there for me, when I’ve stopped this ridiculousness and woken up to the reality that she is in fact, perfect and a great mother.

I’ll admit that there is a bit of me today that is thinking, if I ignore this message, that will really upset her, yes, but it will shock her. I’ve NEVER been able to ignore a sign of love or affection from her. If I shock her enough, perhaps it will force her to look at herself harder or make her realise that I really am going to need an apology and that I really am not going to come running back apologising.  I hate myself for thinking like that because I know that narcissists cannot empathise and that they are unable to be accountable or genuinely apologise.  I mean, surely a normal mother would be able to look back and say, I should have done better, I have regrets and I am willing to do whatever I need to in order to make it up to my child? Or is that me living in a fantasy land? I never really know.

Imagining ignoring a message of love from my mother would have sent me spiralling a while ago. There is definite improvement in that I don’t feel full of fear today…. but I am not entirely comfortable with the fact I haven’t replied.

So, what happens next?

What do I want to do about it? As a few people said last night, I need to take my time with this and let things percolate a bit. I know that. My fiancé told me to do whatever I really want to do.  He said “I know it isn’t as simple as this, but if you want to text her, then text her and if you don’t? then don’t!”.  He then asked me outright, do you want to? and I said no.  So for now, not responding is my choice of action.  Who knows how I might feel in hours, days or weeks.

I’ve written it a million times already, but the only way I see the possibility of having a relationship with her is her admitting she fucked up and her apologising genuinely.  Being truly remorseful. So without that, there really isn’t any relationship left. Her not taking accountability or apologising and validating my lifetime of grief, pain and rejection leaves me stuck in anger with her. Anger that I can sometimes hide and sometimes attack her with.  It wouldn’t be an enjoyable or healthy relationship for either one of us.

This happened 3 years ago. It happened again 6 weeks ago. Next time I fear it would happen much, much quicker, days or weeks perhaps.  I am much less able to tolerate it than I was then. I’ve done a lot more healing than I had then.  I was stuck in a deeper level of fear then. Saying that, visualising being sat at her house with her and her twat of a husband makes me feel sick – so there’s a long way to go.

The thing I find confusing and surprising is that normally a resolution would fill me with joy and hope and I don’t feel either of those things with her. It sounds utterly selfish but if I got that validation, acceptance and apology, it wouldn’t make me happy that I could now rebuild a relationship with her, it would be for the child inside me. It feels like it would enable my healing process to speed up – I know that isn’t necessarily true – but since when were feelings ever logical hey?

If you’ve made it this far without wanting to shout and scream at me “You stupid girl! She will never do thatttttt!!” then I take my metaphorical hat off to you because I am sure I would have lost patience by now.  Thank you for reading and supporting me through this, it’s a relief to be able to write here and not be judged.

TT x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approval and Boundaries

I dreamt last night that my stepdad was chasing me through a house or a building of some kind and was going to physically beat me up if he caught me.  I remember being face to face with him with my back to a wire fence and him screaming at me that I always play the victim.  The next thing that happened was me consciously thinking to myself:

“Why do I care if I have her approval or her love? I can approve of and love myself.  I don’t need her to do that”. 

I remember thinking this clearly but can’t work out if I was asleep or coming to consciousness.  Either way, it has stayed with me.

I keep thinking about it because it seems so obvious and so simple.  Why does this feel like a revelation of some kind? a new idea, a new realisation? It surely can’t be because I’m pretty sure I have read nearly ever book published about healing from parental/maternal narcissism and surely that must be a theme throughout, right? Speaking of books, only yesterday I purchased “Children of the self-absorbed” by Nina W.Brown – from the amount of books, blogs, articles and so on that I read, I am clearly still hoping for something I haven’t already read to sink in at a newer, deeper level or something. The books pretty much say the same thing I suppose, but I read them (and sometimes re-read them) for validation and encouragement I guess?

Only last night I found myself on Google for hours reading about ‘Cutting out toxic parents’, ‘Going No Contact’ and even, ‘My daughter has cut me out her life’.  Yep, I was even reading the things my mother might be reading. (I’m not actually sure who I am trying to kid thinking my mother would be reading anything like that, but there we go)… it’s like I wanted to be prepared for the types of things she might say but all I read was a lot of poor you’s aimed at the mother’s whose awful children had rejected them – nothing, obviously, about self-reflection or anything like that.

Anyway the point is why do I need her approval? Why has this been such a huge thing for me? Perhaps something has shifted for me which is making it hard to understand but today I seem unable to feel the pain not getting her approval has always given me. That is odd isn’t it? Where has it gone? Perhaps because of all of the work I’ve done in and out of therapy I have strengthened my ‘self’ enough that I am starting to feel the benefit of having some approval towards my self – something I clearly didn’t used to experience at all… is that what is meant to happen?  Perhaps it is because I feel as though I have T’s approval, my fiance’s approval, his kids’ and his parents’ approval? Maybe its a mixture of all of those things.  Perhaps it is from the type of re-mothering T gives me.

It has been a month now that we have not spoken and (as I have already written) I came off of Facebook about 3 days ago and as cheesy as it sounds, I feel better for having done that already.

I haven’t had to see my mother’s stupid check-in’s, photos or statuses and my aunty’s party was last night so I haven’t had to see all the fake smiles of her and my stepdad.  Saying that, yesterday I text my aunty to tell her I couldn’t make it.  I told her that me and my mother were not speaking and that we hadn’t done for a month.  She had no idea which I admit annoyed me a bit because if my mother really cared that my aunty had told me the things my mother had been saying about me and my fiance, then surely she would have confronted her? At least spoken to her about it in some way? But no, obviously she hadn’t and she was attending her party as if everything was normal.  Can she not see that would annoy me? I guess it comes back to the same thing that she doesn’t think about how I would feel – she cannot empathise with someone else.

Deleting Facebook is the best thing for me right now. There is so much envy and anger inducing crap on there sometimes.  I feel kind of empowered at having removed that link from her.  Now she truly can’t see what I am doing in any way. Not herself, or via her friends or other family members.  I like that.  That feels much better.It feels almost like I’ve taken some power back.  I just hope it doesn’t encourage the direct contact.

I think I can feel a bit of anger in me as I think about this approval stuff. Why the hell do I need approval from someone like her? We are such different people. In fact, if she DID approve of me, then I would probably be doing something very wrong!! I don’t live my life like her. In fact, it is hard to believe we are related at all, yet alone mother and daughter.  I need to focus on the fact that I know I am a good person. I am kind and thoughtful and loving.  I try to show my fiance and stepchildren love. I try to show them that I care about them.  I am not perfect – I am flawed like we all are and yes, I have times where I am selfish, greedy or stroppy, but on the whole I know I am a decent person.

I can understand why the child in me has always craved approval from her mother – I can see that, I can understand that so I don’t want to make it sound like I am belittling that in any way and perhaps it is with hindsight from therapy that I am able to release the need for the approval? Either way, maybe this need for approval has lessened because we aren’t speaking or seeing each other. Perhaps that is what having no contact can do for me? Maybe if I found myself back in her house that need would come flooding back. Who knows.

In other news my sister replied to my messages Friday night when I was at my leaving party.  24 hours later. Her messages didn’t go down well. They effectively said that she doesn’t like the language I was using (as in the phrases/terminology – not swearing) and that we shouldn’t need ‘ground rules’ and that she didn’t think there was an issue at all between me, her or my mother and so she was confused where this had come from. As I was at my work party I just ignored them and last night I knew she would be at the party with my mother and co and so I didn’t reply yesterday either as I imagined them all discussing me and my messages.

If I am totally honest I kind of feel a bit like I am fighting a losing battle. I feel like I made the contact with her when clearly she wasn’t going to. I have heard her out, apologised for anything I did that upset her and then made some new suggestions for how we can have a healthier relationship going forwards.  All she has done is bring problem after problem and now is complaining at my language and basically saying she doesn’t agree or understand why we might need boundaries regarding my mother.  She claims she “has always done that anyway so I don’t understand why that issue has come up now“…. I mean that really is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.  Excuse me whilst I sound like a child but where is my apology? Where is the warmth or the gladness that I made contact and that she also would like to have a healthy relationship with ME too? Where is the meeting me halfway?

Eugh. I dunno, I feel really annoyed by her and having just spoken this through with my fiance, he is trying to encourage me to just text her in a few days or whenever and ask how her weekend was or send her a text as I usually would. I told him, she doesn’t work like that. She is still clearly being aggressive and standoff-ish and that I feel like I’ve reached my limit of being the one trying to do the work here.  Where is her effort? Why not just say ‘Hi, thanks for reaching out to me first. I really am glad you did. I appreciate your apology and I am also sorry for the hurtful things I said to you. I think the new suggestions are a good idea and I agree they will enable us to get along much better from now on’.  Done. Simple. Why drag out the drama needlessly?

I will also admit that her comment about my use of language/words has really pissed me off and the reason for that is that in my mind, that has been said between my mother and her. That feels like my mother’s words and it feels like another dig about my therapy because they are not used to me wanting to put in boundaries.  I didn’t use the word boundaries for that exact reason, but the effect has been the same.  I guess this makes me angry because my mother said I had changed and that therapy had made me worse and that I had been brainwashed and I feel like my sister agrees with her and me trying to put in some boundaries is making her question why I am doing that – basically the undertone being ‘this is therapy stuff – you don’t do this, this isn’t you – you have changed.. therapy is brainwashing you’.  Of course that is my fantasy and I could be totally wrong so maybe this is just my insecurity. For some reason I feel real strong irritation and anger about this point.

Sometimes I want to scream at them both “Yes I’ve fucking changed! That tends to happen after 3 years of therapy, reading hundreds of books, thousands of articles and blogs.  I have got healthier. Now I won’t accept all the shit I used to – now you have to treat me in a way that makes me happy otherwise I will not participate at all.  Yes I have changed and you say that as a bad thing but its the best thing I’ve ever done.  Yes I have changed and you don’t like it but that is YOUR problem – not mine.”

you've changed.jpg

Oh wow, super aggressive me, not sure where that came from! I know that the ways I have changed are for the best. I know that the changes I am making are healthy and so my mother, stepdad or sister thinking otherwise really shouldn’t bother me, should it? But it really bloody does.  It’s that ugly duckling feeling again that often rears its head.    I have read today that it is quite common for people to react with anger if they are not used to you setting boundaries. I’ve also read that anyone that doesn’t respect your boundaries is the one with the problem.  But if she genuinely believes she has always done that, or even if she doesn’t believe that but is willing to change it, why not just agree so we can move on?

Why does everything have to be such a battle? Is it really as simple as people being threatened?

boundaries.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I snapping at him?

Wednesday night/yesterday I was beginning to feel a bit irritable or stressed or something. Wednesday late afternoon, about 4pm, my fiancé sent me a message at work to say that his parents had invited us over for dinner that evening to see his sister and her 3 children. I feel mean but it was so not what I wanted to do that night. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it and so I asked him if he would mind going on his own. In the 3.5 years we’ve been together I have NEVER done that before. I felt instantly very guilty. Anyway, I finally got home about 7.30pm, got into my onesie, read my book for a while and then put one of my favourite programmes on. I felt so pleased that I had made this decision for myself because I just didn’t have the energy to put on my happy face a moment longer. It’s hard enough at work all day.

Unfortunately that feeling didn’t last long as the doorbell went and there stood my fiancé, his dad and his sister. They had run him home and then decided to come in and have a cup of tea with me.  I wasn’t expecting them and so I guess it felt like a bit of an invasion.  They had “ruined” my relaxation and my time alone and I wasn’t mentally prepared for visitors (or dressed for them!). Whilst they were there, his sister told me that WE were all going for a meal the following evening (last night – Thursday evening). I feel like a bad person for admitting this but my heart sank.  I was in (am still in) need of some time alone, some time to feel how I really feel, some space.  This now meant that Wednesday night was ruined, Thursday night was now ruined AND on top of that, we have my fiancé’s children every Friday and Saturday so I knew that meant that until Sunday, I had to have my game face on.  I guess also, seeing his perfect family is very hard for me when I am feeling triggered from the lack of having had one myself. I know that sounds selfish.

What struck me at this point was that I used to have “my game face on” every day of my life! Now that therapy has got me in touch with my feelings, I am finding it increasingly difficult to not have the time and space I need to process and feel my feelings. That was quite a huge realisation.  How the hell did I get through life like that? Repression I guess.

Back to the story.. I woke up yesterday feeling just annoyed. I felt resentful that is the best word I have for it. I noticed that this was leaking out of me by me being snappy and miserable towards my fiancé and then instantly feeling guilty.  I also noticed that when I wasn’t with him, I craved him, I thought about how much I loved him, I smiled at lovely memories etc but when I was actually with him.. he irritated me. I snapped at him. I felt angry.  WHY??????

I realised that I was in real danger of projecting my bad feelings onto him and that wasn’t fair and so I composed a very long text to him which basically told him that I was struggling with some feelings post therapy this week and craving some time to not have to paint on a smile. I told him that with the plans with his family two nights in a row this week (at the last-minute) and then having his kids at the weekend, I could feel some resentment. I told him that I wasn’t blaming him at all and that he had done nothing wrong at all. I just wanted him to know how I was feeling so that he didn’t take it personally. I also told him that I wanted his love and wanted to have a proper chat about it all, that I wanted a cuddle but that when I was with him, I seemed to be irritable and said it was probably my whole push/pull thing.  NEEDING to get close and yet being too scared too.

I told T about this in yesterday’s session and she said that it was good I was more able to own what was mine and not take it out on him. I guess she is right.  She asked what I thought the guilt was about when I decided not to go to his parents on Wednesday and I said well, I guess I felt that I should be putting myself out more for him.  T said she wondered whether I was worried whether he was okay with that, whether he would “store it up” and use it against me another time or something?  I said that I believed he was okay with it but that I guess perhaps I worried he would do the same back to me one time and with my mum, that would  be pretty hard going.  T asked whether I told him that and I said I hadn’t.  She said perhaps you could?

So we had the meal with all of his family last night. The meal went well, it was fine and my fiancé’s kids came along too which is not something that would usually be allowed as it isn’t our time to have them.  I then “put myself out” by driving from where we live to the restaurant which took me an hour and was nerve-wracking for me as it was a long drive on a-roads in the dark and in the rain. I only passed my test a year ago and so driving places I do not know is still scary to me.  I did it so that we could drop his children home afterwards which was one of the terms that they could come.  I feel better now that I have evened the scales a bit more in my mind.

But then something weird happened again.  My fiancé drove my car home and on the way home I felt my happy me mask start to come off. My fiancé was being silly and beeping my horn randomly and it just irritated me.  Then he started doing other stupid things (that were harmless and fun) and I just got more and more annoyed.  By the time we got home and it was just us again, I felt pretty down but yet again, it is only him that seems to be on the receiving end of this irritable-ness.  This makes me feel bad. Really bad.  The moment he stops playing and is probably hurt or being quiet, I feel bad. When he leaves the house/the room – I feel awful and cry.

WHY?

So here we are. It is now midday on Friday. The kids are back tonight and we have a busy weekend with them. I feel less resentful today but I am looking forward to my gym class in the morning to work off a bit of tension. Interestingly I have a very upset stomach and a headache today which could be due to eating too much at the meal last night, or related to my (unconscious?) emotions. I am not sure.  We are seeing  my mum tomorrow night and I think there may be some unconscious nerves about that too. Am I angry and trying not to be? What am I angry about?

Feelings are so messy!

 

(Ps, T leant me a new book yesterday. When she was looking on her bookshelf for it however I noticed that the book she had leant me a while ago which I had covered with sticky tabs had gone…. where has it gone? Has she leant it to someone else? Has she taken off the sticky-tabs? Why does this bother me?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heinz Kohut – Self-Psychology

Last night I was reading and came across some information about a psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut and his theory of “self-psychology”. I hadn’t heard of him/this theory before and I found it really interesting.

In very basic terms, Kohut believed that for a child d to develop healthily and therefore in order that a child gains a healthy sense of “self”, his or her parents need to meet 3 main needs:

  1. Mirroring
  2. Idealizing
  3. Twinship

Mirroring – This is where the parent (usually the mother) would reflect back at the child a sense that he or she is worthy, loved and special.

Idealiizing – Kohut believed that children need to idealize their caregiver and see them as powerful and knowledgeable. The child needs to feel as though they can turn to their caregiver to meet their needs and to help them make sense of their world. Their caregiver needed to be able to calm and reassure them.

Twinship – Kohut believed that children need to feel they fit in with others. They have a need to be similar to their parents – not too different that they felt “wrong”.  Children mimic behaviours or characteristics from their caregiver and gradually as the child matures, would be able to feel more comfortable with any differences.

I found this really interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, knowing that every single child needs to have these 3 basic needs met in order to gain a healthy sense of self reassures me a little more about my “neediness”.  What I mean by that is that my own neediness in life, and more relevantly, in therapy includes some of these needs. Mirroring is very clearly important to me and the idealizing is something that I am very aware of with my T. I do look at her as a special being in my life – as someone who is more powerful and more knowledgeable – more able to help me with my own anxieties than any other.  I guess the twinship plays out when clients wish they were the only client or the most liked client of their therapist.  Secondly I found this very interesting because it helps me to clearly see the areas my own mother didn’t successfully met my needs.  It helps me to understand what it was I needed, what I didn’t get and why I now feel insecure and crave certain things that perhaps others around me do not (making me feel “weird” or “different”) which obviously causes anxiety.

What happens if all goes well during this early stage is that the child’s needs are consistently and repeatedly met over a period of time and the child is able to internalise the caregiver (known as selfobjects) enough that on the odd occasion the caregiver fails to meet the child’s needs, the child has internalised this enough that it can actually step in and soothe itself. This can only happen if the misattunement is not often and not severe. This helps me to understand what my therapist really means when she says “you are only as needy as your unmet needs”. So, it really isn’t YOU! It really isn’t that you are doing something wrong, that you are fault or weak or whatever else you may think you are – it is very clearly that some of, or perhaps all of, these needs were unmet and so you haven’t been able to internalise that consistent caregiver that your friends have.  Bye bye now shame!!

In psychotherapy, transference is helpful because we relate to our therapist with all our unconscious thoughts, feelings and desires and we see and relate to the therapist through our own lense – not necessarily an accurate one. The therapist’s job is to provide us with an “corrective emotive experience” by providing us with enough empathy, understanding and attunement. The basic idea is that the therapist comes in as the good enough caregiver (selfobject) and provides us with a good enough experience of all those 3 major needs.  They mirror us adequately, we idealise them and our twinship needs are met also.  After this is done consistently enough, we internalise THE THERAPIST (as our caregiver failed) and therefore a healthy sense of self is borne – as it should have been all those years ago when for whatever reason, our caregiver failed us.

Mirroring transference – The therapist helps us by mirroring us – validating our feelings and empathising/understanding our feelings and helping us to understand and work through them to prevent them from being too scary for us to handle (as a child wouldn’t be able to handle their environment on their own). The therapist would praise our achievements and make us feel good enough – possibly for the first time.

Idealising transference – In therapy we often idealise our therapist as being strong and powerful and confident.  We NEED them to be this person because we need to know we are in safe hands.  Eventually in the therapy process, we come to develop a more realistic view of the therapist warts and all (like any human being). This causes ruptures in the therapeutic alliance which is then repaired repeatedly.  We learn we are safe.

Twinship transference – In therapy sometimes we will find similarities between us and our therapist and we will enjoy that feeling. I know for me personally, my T once told me that she also watched some of the same programmes as me and I really enjoyed that. I find myself wondering as I type this, if that is why I have such a keen interest in psychology and read so much into these theories? Am I trying to me like T? For others, perhaps you may enjoy a similar taste in clothes, politics, history etc. As our therapists disclose more of themselves, we find the similarities and feel more “normal” and accepted.  I assume this is why it can be so painful to find out things about our therapist that do NOT match us. It’s why our therapists don’t give too much away about themselves (although Kohut did not believe in the whole blank-screen thing as it wasn’t humane enough).

 

 

Anyway, there is more to say but this is about as far as I have read. I will continue to post my findings in the hope they help even one other person who is struggling in therapy right now with needs and vulnerability.

Any comments would be welcomed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neediness, Lack of Warmth, Fear of Annihilation & Re-experiencing pain

I got to last night’s session not really sure of how it would go, feeling a bit nervous about the fact that the last communication T had from me was me saying I was crying and experiencing a really odd mixture of pain and pleasure at the connection I had felt with her.

I sat down and she smiled at me but didn’t say anything. I smiled back.. anxiously waiting for her to start talking but she didn’t, she just looked at me and I felt really uncomfortable. Why do they do that sometimes? I can’t help but feel its done on purpose to make us feel awkward as fuck!

I told T that I had done a lot of thinking, reading and writing over the weekend and that I felt like I had some realisations. I said that although they were not necessarily new realisations, I felt them differently. T said it was like peeling an onion and said that we have to revisit certain things over and over again, each time we understand or feel a little deeper and that this can only be done as and when we are ready.

I didn’t really know where to start so I started with asking her if she was familiar with Brene Brown’s theory of foreboding joy. She said she wasn’t and so I explained to her in very vague terms that I had learnt it was what happens to some of us when we feel a real sense of joy and vulnerability and explained Brene’s theory that we then dress-rehearse tragedy, waiting for it all to go wrong. T nodded and said she understood what I meant. I told T that I had sat down to write a blog on Sunday evening about this, and had found myself writing something that hit me as I typed the words out and kinda took my breath away. I told her what I had written on Sunday about the link I had made of the feelings of happiness/sadness leaving her office on Sunday and the feelings growing up of having those very random, short-lived moments of connection with my mother and how painful it was when those moments abruptly ended.  Saying those words made me cry again, I found myself suddenly gasping for breath. It felt very deep. I suppose it was the enormity of what I had just said? I don’t know.

T looked at me with empathy and seemed to understand what I had said. I told her that the feelings I had last week were horrible. I told her that I felt physical pain in my chest and said it hurt so much. This made me teary again.  T said it feels like life and death and that when you are in touch with that pain, it is absolutely excruciating. I agreed.  I told her that it is the same pain I felt a few years ago when I had planned to leave therapy and then found myself on the bathroom floor sobbing for hours with this god-awful pain of not being able to survive. Of loss and grief and all manner of other horrible things.

I told T that it confused me that getting what I have always wanted caused me such a lot of pain (and joy, admittedly) and T explained that having deep, childhood, unmet needs – met was VERY painful.  She said getting what you’ve always wanted can cause awful sadness and pain.  I didn’t understand that.  T said that this was one of the reasons that therapists had to be so careful not to “overdo it”.  She said that them overdoing it could cause us more pain! T said “this is why although I understand you want more reassurance and warmth in my emails, it is important that I am very careful”…

(I haven’t written about this yet so this is a good time – I told T last week that I sometimes find her email replies to be “lacking in warmth”. As I said it, she repeated it back to me and I agreed.  Yes. I told her that I knew that the content was fine and that if someone else read them, they wouldn’t see the issue, but for me, they sometimes felt “therapisty” (yeah, I know) and “cold”.  I’ve thought about this many times since saying it and I can very clearly see that the lacking in warmth thing is probably a bit of transference – it probably sums up how I feel about my communications/relationship with my mother – or more specifically, about my mother herself. Lacking in warmth.)

T said that the sadness when I left of not having had enough was completely understandable and expected. I told her, it isn’t quite that I haven’t “had enough” like I had written about once before, because that makes it sound like I didn’t get enough warmth or enough connection or attunement which I DID. She said, she thinks “not having had enough” was less about my session and more about my childhood. That I didn’t get enough.  That went in at a deep level and I agreed with her. I understand that therapy is starting to trigger some things in me which I perhaps didn’t understand or feel consciously before.

I told her that actually FEELING that pain when I left last week was just awful. I just closed my eyes as I typed that because honestly my words do not do that feeling justice. T once again reminded me that a lot of my pain was pre-verbal and may not have words.

I said that FEELING that pain really drove it home to me how very sad that was and I said that whilst I immediately think about my mother when I write these things, the same applied to my Dad of course because well, where the fuck was he? He didn’t try either and although my Dad is a “nicer person”, he hurt me too. T said that just because he is a “nice guy” doesn’t mean he didn’t cause me pain. I agreed.  I said that I had been thinking recently that I would see my Dad every now and again, we would have a nice time and then he would take me home and I wouldn’t know if I would see him again in a week, two weeks or months.  I told T that I still sometimes cry when I leave him as an adult now (only since my therapy got me in touch though!).  I told T that I also used to cry when my Nan and Grandad dropped me home on a Sunday night after having stayed at their house, which I did every weekend. I now understand this – I was crying because I knew that connection was over. I was crying because I knew I wouldn’t have that connection at home with my mother and crying because I never knew how long it would be until I felt that again.

T said that it is as if it felt better for me to feel nothing at all than to feel the mixture of the good against the bad. I agreed whole-heartedly.

I said to T that when I learnt about this foreboding joy thing, I had sat down and thought about how this played out in other aspects of my life. I told her what I had written about my relationships, with job interviews and many other things. T nodded and said how hard I had been working. I agreed that I had. I said I was worried that people seemed to think the amount I thought about these things was a bad thing but said that understanding why I am feeling a certain way actually helped me to have some compassion for myself. T said perhaps it took the guilt, shame and blame away from me.  She then said (not for the first time) “You were capable of feeling that loving connection the whole of your life. It really wasn’t you – it wasn’t any fault of yours that you didn’t get that. It was your mum and dad’s”.  She said how it was only natural that as a child experiencing that lack of connection (ha, of warmth) I would understandably blame myself. It is how I survived because I had to keep them good.  I said that I understood this now and that understanding that was bittersweet. I am glad it wasn’t me, of course. But understanding, truly, how incapable they both were of emotional connection and closeness, of that parental bond is so tragically sad to me.

I then spoke to T about my blog yesterday about neediness. I told her that I had wanted to send my blog from Sunday and told her what I wrote yesterday about the conversations that played out in my head. T said “did you think you would be too much?” and I said yes. I told her how I had these visions of smothering her, suffocating her and – killing her. T told me this was the “Fear of Annihilation”. I heard her say that but had no real idea what she was talking about. I’ve since Googled this and it is very interesting. I attach a link for anyone that is interested. Once I have digested this a bit more, I will write about this as I think it will be very helpful to me, and possibly others. https://healthysenseofself.com/meet-us/terminology-for-a-healthy-sense-of-self/fear-of-annihilation/

Following this “fear of annihilation” conversation I told T that it confuses me that when I am in those moments, I NEED to contact her and only her. I said nobody else would help and that felt uncomfortable for me. T said something along the lines of:

“Of course. Like a child only wants its mummy”.

And with those simple words, it suddenly made sense to me. T said that I am using T as I need to, which is as a mother figure and so when I need containing and attunement or whatever I need, of course it is only her that I want to turn to. She told me that is why I shouldn’t really go against myself when I feel that way, that I need to let myself be steadied by her and that it was okay to do that. T said this fear of annihilation meant that I was convinced either I was going to kill her off with my needs or that she would kill me off. She said that I can’t trust that she could handle her own feelings/needs.

I told T that sometimes just pressing send on an email to her was enough. I said I never understood that either. T said:

Yes, because sending the email into my inbox is like putting something (the feelings) into mum to deal with”.

She spoke about how as a baby or a child, the mum would try to figure out what it was the baby or child needed. She would speak softly to the baby and try and see was the baby hungry? Tired? Did the baby need a nappy change etc – she said that the child was steadied just by knowing the mother was there and trying her hardest to help.  She said that me sending the email to her had the same effect.  I said but I don’t know if you are even reading it for hours yet and she said no, but you know that it is no longer just you trying to deal with it all on your own. You know that I will, at least, try to help you with it and that knowledge helps you to settle.

Isn’t that interesting? I know I haven’t expressed that very well, but hopefully the general gist is there.

 

Neediness

Morning all,

So its Tuesday 24th October and its 9.40am.  I am at work but my team are in a meeting and so I have a few moments to myself to write.

I feel pretty good today. No particular reason that I can think of apart from the fact its therapy day and those days always feel good.  I made more of an effort with my hair, make up and picked a nicer outfit than I sometimes do (although I admit that is mainly because it was at the top of the ironing basket and didn’t actually need ironing – Win!).

I’m looking forward to seeing T tonight although acknowledge some nerves about talking to her face to face about my feelings after my last session.  The fact I was crying and feeling as though I missed her, which later turned into more of a grieving over what I had “missed” out on in my childhood. Feeling such polarities in the lovely warmth of the connection I felt with T mixed with the grief that I didn’t get that growing up and my “foreboding joy” habit kicking in as explained in Sunday night’s post.

I know that T will be kind and gentle, I know she will understand and I know she won’t mock or tease me, yet the nervous feelings are there and I think it is important that I acknowledge those feelings rather than trying to pretend they are not there.  This is growth, right?

I thought to myself last night (whist on the loo of all places!) that I hadn’t sent T my blog from Sunday night although a large part of me wanted to. I questioned why that was and the answer was that I had already emailed her on Friday and it felt too soon to be sending another email. This is something that has come up many, many times for me in therapy.  T always says that I put these rules in, not her and that she has never said that I can’t send emails or that I have a limit or anything like that. I know this is true but I am fighting against the internal fear that I will hit that invisible “limit” and be rejected and/or punished.  Just the image in my head of how that scenario would play out makes me feel sick.  The humiliation and rejection is just too much to bear and so I would rather not risk coming too close to that imagined boundary – just in case.

Neediness
So what is neediness? According to Psychology Today neediness is:

“The feeling and behavior that corresponds with the frustration of having unmet needs.  It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach that says that something is wrong in your life and you need someone or something to fix it”.

I relate to that feeling of needing someone to fix it. That is how I feel when I am having feelings or a struggle and I want to email T. I know realistically I could cope without emailing her, but the urge to contact her is too huge.  I feel in those moments that only she can help me reduce those intolerable feelings.  Sometimes just hitting send on my email takes the anguish away. That has always baffled me.

This lead me to think that if I did everything and anything I wanted to with regards to reaching out for T, having contact in-between sessions as much as I wanted etc, that I would become too much. Again, this is a familiar fear of mine and one I’ve written about before and also a fear that many other bloggers have written about so I know I am not alone here. I realised that the fear I have is of suffocating her and being far too clingy that she wouldn’t be able to cope. I thought to myself, if I contacted her whenever I wanted to, if I really, really had no limit whatsoever, I genuinely worry that I would push her away and that my needs would kill her or something. It would all get too much and she would combust.

Seeing those thoughts written down I can see that the fear goes back to growing up with my mother.

Being told you are “too needy” when you are a child would have that effect wouldn’t it?  And I think that witnessing my mother not being able to tolerate my “neediness” or my dependency on her has resulted in me assuming that nobody else could tolerate that either. That wasn’t helped when I reinforced this belief in my choice of men to date! My more open mind is questioning this belief and thinking:

What if T doesn’t react like your mum did? What if she CAN tolerate your dependency on her?”. 

This thought makes me laugh at the irony that only a couple of weeks ago I was freaking out at the thought that T was purposely trying to keep me weak and trying to keep me down so that I had to rely on her whilst she controlled and manipulated me to do what SHE wanted me to do….

So lets just summarise those thoughts:

I feel if I show my true neediness/dependency on T I would kill her off….. [My fear that I am too much and that it will lead to abandonment like it did when I was young].

Yet I also feared (no longer) that she was trying to keep me dependant so that she could control and manipulate me into doing things for her gain… [My fear that she is dangerous and trying to control me – is this a defence? Feeling anger instead of fear?]

How very confusing.

T regularly tells me it is okay to have needs. I hear her, I know she is right but there is still a part of me that just will not let go and relax completely into those feelings. They are still so scary to me. I think it comes back to allowing yourself to be vulnerable and relax into things, people, moments despite the fears that arise inside. I know that for me, the fear with T is so huge because it is as close as it can be to that mother/daughter relationship and so its like trying again isn’t it? I have learnt what pushed my mum further away and I don’t want to repeat that. So logic tells me T isn’t my mum and that she encourages me to reach out to her when I need to but emotionally that is just too frightening.

Separation Anxiety: A Letter To T

Dear T,

Yesterday afternoon I found myself re-reading an old blog called “An Hour Is Never Enough“. I sent that blog to you back in June and we spent an entire session talking about it. Whilst reading it again,  I found myself crying and feeling the same (clearly that is why I went looking for it).

I wish that I could find the words to help you to understand how I am feeling but I can’t, it is really confusing. At first I wanted to write and say that I felt like I was just missing you, but something doesn’t quite feel right with that word. I can’t miss you because I had only been gone for a few hours.

I thought that perhaps it was because I just didn’t want to leave my session. I was enjoying my session and I felt very warm inside.

When I let myself cry at home, I got such a pang in my chest. I’ve written that before, it is a feeling I can never articulate very well but it always comes back when I am crying about loss somehow. When I nearly quit therapy when I lived in [    ], I remember vividly crying on the bathroom floor and having that same pain.  I keep thinking about losing my Thursday sessions and wondering how the hell I will cope without them if I was crying having seen you twice this week already.

I wrote a blog yesterday about how it must be because I hadn’t “had enough” yet which is another thing I’ve written about and told you about before, but since then I have come to realise that it is actually a bit more complicated than that. It’s almost as if the fact I felt so connected to you yesterday/recently is what is hurting me.  That is the only way I can explain it.

I wrote about the feelings I got when I was first dating [   ] and he would leave my flat to go home or to spend the weekend with the children. I would be in bits within seconds or minutes of him leaving. I would cry so much. I would yearn for him to be back and I hated it. I would be preoccupied with him and the only thing that helped in that time apart was that we had constant text messages and he would tell me that he missed me or that he loved me.  The pain feels very similar to that but obviously the attachment with you is different – the pain is the same though.  Does that make any sense at all?

A lady whose blog I follow wrote this (Life In A Bind):

“I wish I could email my therapist. Sometimes you just want to reach out to the person your heart feels safe with. Not even for a reply or an acknowledgment, but to be received and wrapped in thought.  You know that it will pass. That you will talk about it tomorrow. But right now she is the only person you feel intimately connected to. And you miss her, very much.  I wish that I could say: “I’m crying, and you make me feel safe ; I just wanted you to know”.

And that summed it up for me so well. I also know “it will pass” and that I can talk to you about it next week, but that doesn’t seem to help much. I acknowledge the huge amounts of shame that I am feeling about all of this. I try to tell myself its the child feelings and not the adult which makes me feel a little less pathetic (I can hear you saying “don’t do that to yourself” as I type that)!

I understand why I might be feeling sad and as though I am missing being there with you, I can understand that to a point.. but I can’t understand why getting what I’ve always wanted and needed can hurt so much at the same time. That doesn’t make sense and that feels so cruel and unfair.

If I have always wished I had someone (a mother) who was warm, attuned, who cared about me, who tried to “get me”, who I could talk to, laugh with etc.. then why, when I get those needs met do I leave feeling such heartache?

Borderline Personality Disorder?

I had a dream last night that I was in a different house, I think in the dream it was meant to be my aunt’s house but she was away and I was house-sitting or something.  I was having my therapy sessions there but T was changing the times of my sessions and at one point I sat outside the room waiting for her for over an hour past my session time.  I didn’t know what was going on but I acted as though it was fine and I didn’t ask why she was late but inside I was stressing out.  Later in the dream I went for a ride on a motorbike or in a car or something, I can’t quite work it out, with my fiancé and then realised I only had 20 minutes until my session time and I knew I wouldn’t make it back in time. My fiancé was non-phased by this and was relaxing on the grass wherever we were but I was very anxious and stressed by it all. I remember feeling extremely stressed and upset.

I woke up feeling a bit….. groggy perhaps? I feel a bit irritated and a bit low in spirits I guess and I don’t really know why but usually feelings from my dreams seep into my waking life and so perhaps the dream stirred up some feelings for me.

I had spent my evening on Google reading about Borderline Personality Disorder , the whole push/pull thing, the fear of intimacy and engulfment and also some development phase that I clearly didn’t work through properly which is why all of this happens in the first place (I have forgotten what that was so I will try to find it again).  I read A LOT and it all fitted me so well.

It was one of those weird times that you are glad to read yourself in something and know that there is a reason for things and, obviously, that it means there is hope that things will get better. It also really grounds me when I can read stuff (intellectualise perhaps) because it becomes less scary somehow.. but given how I feel today, perhaps it has stirred up some other feelings or maybe its something else.. maybe it’s because it is T day and I have some unconscious fears about that? I don’t know.. maybe it is the dream.

The things that the dream and the stuff I was reading have in common is the fear of abandonment.  I can see that. In the dream T wasn’t being reliable was she? She wasn’t showing up when she was meant to and I didn’t know where I stood with her. Will she come, won’t she come? In the stuff I was reading I understand that the reason for the push/pull in relationships comes from a desperate need for intimacy and affection but at the same time, having a deep fear of abandonment and engulfment and so hence the push part of the push/pull situation. Leave before being left etc….  so the common theme therefore being abandonment right?

I don’t know, maybe I’m feeling the old body memories or emotional flashbacks of the abandonment fear. I feel irritable and moody.

I then flicked through some of my old blog posts to see if I could find any evidence of my new knowledge of the BPD traits.. and I did, but what stuck out more for me than anything else was quite how many “bad days” I have had.  I wrote a list down and there are at least 30 bad days.. not including today and others that I may not have written about at the time. These 30 days are between today and February this year.  So in 9 months, I’ve had 30 bad days.  An average of 3.3 per month. That is a lot, isn’t it?

I read that one of the “symptoms” of BPD is Emotional Instability and experiencing a range of emotions such as rage, sorrow, shame, panic, terror, emptiness and loneliness.  I then read

“You may have severe mood swings over a short space of time.

It’s common for people with BPD to feel suicidal with despair, and then feel reasonably positive a few hours later. Some people feel better in the morning and some in the evening. The pattern varies, but the key sign is that your moods swing in unpredictable ways.”

That is true for me.  I do feel a range of emotions including ALL of those things above… I don’t feel suicidal with despair but I do sometimes feel fine at one part of the day and then horrific at another; or visa versa.  I don’t feel “suicidal” but I have had images of harming haven’t I? I’ve written about that as recently as last Monday.

The next bit I read about impulsive behaviour. It talks about self-harm, feeling intensely sad and depressed but also impulsive activities like binge drinking or spending or gambling etc.  I have always described myself as impulsive. Often when it comes to shopping and buying clothes that I don’t have the money to buy (even when I have no money and I use credit cards or an overdraft). If I want to buy something, I will buy it and then later feel silly or guilty for it. The high doesn’t last long.

Next..

Unstable relationships

If you have BPD, you may feel that other people abandon you when you most need them, or that they get too close and smother you.

When people fear abandonment, it can lead to feelings of intense anxiety and anger. You may make frantic efforts to prevent being left alone, such as:

  • constantly texting or phoning a person
  • suddenly calling that person in the middle of the night
  • physically clinging on to that person and refusing to let go
  • making threats to harm or kill yourself if that person ever leaves you

Alternatively, you may feel others are smothering, controlling or crowding you, which also provokes intense fear and anger. You may then respond by acting in ways to make people go away, such as emotionally withdrawing, rejecting them or using verbal abuse.”

Okay so I have a fear of abandonment, that is undeniable. I suffer from feelings of intense anxiety and anger (which I usually turn towards myself but T perhaps found herself on the receiving end of last week).  I don’t constantly text or phone anyone and I wouldn’t physically cling or threaten to harm or kill myself but in all honestly that is more about saving face. I have often wanted to constantly text or call someone but I wouldn’t do it. However I can’t handle the feelings associated to that feeling of being abandoned or forgotten or left or not important… I could pull my hair out of my head.

It says that people with BPD have “love-hate relationships” and that they have a very black and white view of people. That they make people either all good or all bad with no real in-between.  Splitting/fragmenting.. I know I do that. T has said that to me many times.  Look at my latest rupture for evidence. T was all bad for a few days… and then it was over and she is now all good again and the only person who is “all bad” is me.  Look what I did?

For many people with BPD, emotional relationships (including relationships with professional carers) involve “go away/please don’t go” states of mind, which is confusing for them and their partners. Sadly, this can often lead to break-ups.”

I then found this website https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm which had a list of statements that would describe feelings associated with people who have BPD.

  • I often feel empty
  • My emotions shift very quickly and I often experience extreme sadness, anger and anxiety
  • I’m constantly afraid that the people I care about will abandon me or leave me.
  • I would describe most of my romantic relationships as intense, but unstable.
  • The way I feel about the people in my life can dramatically change from one moment to the next—and I don’t always understand why.
  • I often do things I know are dangerous or bad for me, such as driving recklessly, having unsafe sex, binge drinking, doing drugs, or going on spending sprees.
  • I’ve attempted to hurt myself, engaged in self-harm behaviours such as cutting, or threatened suicide.
  • When I’m feeling insecure in a relationship, I tend to lash out or make frantic gestures to keep the other person close.

I relate to many of them, particularly feeling empty, having emotions that shift quickly, the impulsive things as previously discussed and feeling very insecure in a relationship.

And this…. the 9 signs of BPD

  1. Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Even something as innocuous as a loved one getting home late from work or going away for the weekend can trigger intense fear. This leads to frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, jealously track your loved one’s movements, or even physically block the other person from leaving. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to have the opposite effect—driving others away.
  2. Unstable relationships. People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense and short-lived. You may fall in love quickly, believing each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be quickly disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, with nothing in between. Your lovers, friends, or family members may feel like they have emotional whiplash from your rapid swings between idealization and devaluation, anger, and hate.
  3. Unclear or unstable self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself, or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity.
  4. Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful, sensation-seeking behaviors, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, or overdo it with drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you over the long-term.
  5. Self-harm. Suicidal behavior and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Suicidal behavior includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm includes all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.
  6. Extreme emotional swings. Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the hole with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.
  8. Explosive anger. If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself.
  9. Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.

Again, I can relate to many of them.  My anger is mainly directed towards myself and my body image or me being “ugly” or “stupid”… I guess occasionally my fiancé may be on the receiving end of it.. and perhaps T was last week, but usually its directed towards myself.  Perhaps this is what causes my depressive days or days like today where I feel irritated and angry with no real reason… things trigger me easily to lash out like a busy day at work where I feel I can’t stay level-headed.  Friday for example, I was busy at work, not feeling great and I CRIED at my desk because I was stressed.

This morning my fiancé said he woke up and thought to himself “how do I feel today” because he wasn’t feeling too good yesterday. He laughed and said how silly is that? I told him that is my first thought EVERY DAY.  He asked “in a mental capacity you mean?” and I said yes.  He said that was very sad.  I guess it is, isn’t it? I can go to bed happy and wake up feeling very sad or vice versa.. it is my very first thought of every day. Yesterday I felt excitable and hyperactive and today I feel rubbish.

I know that lots of people don’t agree with needing a “label” and I can’t be bothered to get into a debate on that right now, my brain is too fried, but for me, this is helpful. I will speak to my T about it tonight and see what she says.

If I am right and I do have BPD at least it explains a few things, particularly the mood swings and the extent at which I go from happy to utterly depressed and back because that really does worry me sometimes.  It explains the push/pull to me more and helps me to understand and it means I can read up about it so that I feel less scared by everything.

I think that T triggered something in me that session which made me freak out and pull away from her. I split her off as all bad and projected onto her until the next session where we started to repair things and I came back down a bit (the depressive position I spoke about yesterday).  The sadness and grief that followed on Thursday and all the tears I cried that day which were the result of my panic at her leaving me due to my anger… my fear of abandonment kicking in and my need to pull her back to me again. Is this what I do in all of my relationships?

Did I decide to drop a session whilst T was on holiday because I was freaking out about her leaving me? Because I was unconsciously fighting against my own abandonment fears? Was I trying to pull away from her because I was hurting?……… and the tears and fear I felt on Thursday about the fact I would only see T once a week instead of twice soon, is that me panicking because I have brought on an abaondment (kind of) all by myself…. a self fulfilling prophecy?

So many thoughts in my head right now whirling around!