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.”

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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?

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