Sliding Doors

Has anyone seen the film Sliding Doors? I watched it when I was about 11 years old for the first time, I remember this clearly because there was a sex scene in it and I was watching it with my Nan and remember feeling extremely awkward!

The general concept of the film is about how life can go in different directions.  It begins with a story line of what happens when a character DOES make the train, and another storyline where the character DOES NOT catch the train.  From that point, their life goes in two different directions.

I have been thinking about this film today because I find myself wondering a lot these last few days how my life could have gone.  Not so much in general terms but specifically around the events with my mother and her NPD.  What would have happened if I had stayed the Golden Child and remained enmeshed with her – what would my life look like right now?

I’ve been reflecting on my life a lot since writing the Goodbye Mother letter and today I was thinking how the first 18 years or so my mother fell into the category of “Ignoring Narcissistic Mother” but when I became 18 and old enough to drink and smoke and go to clubs and date men and share clothes with her, idolise her… she fitted better in the category of “Engulfing Narcissistic Mother” – this is the stage where the control and enmeshment began.

Now what would have happened if I hadn’t met my current fiancé and started therapy? Would I still be enmeshed with her? Would I be a narcissist myself by now? Maybe I would have met another man but not started therapy and therefore never realised the dynamic I was in! Perhaps I would have met a narcissistic man or more of the same type I used to meet, emotionally unavailable.  Perhaps I would have spent my entire life trying to fix them and have the happy ending I never got with my mother.  It’s a sad thought.

The “storyline” I find myself in now is one where I am playing the starring role of “Narcissistic Mother’s Scapegoat”. I am not only her scapegoat mind, but also my sister’s who is playing the lead role of “Golden Child” and, not only that but I think potentially “Narcissistic Golden Child”.

scape

There are basically two roles you can play when you have a mother as narcissistic as mine.  The Scapegoat or the Golden Child (you could also be a lost child but there is only two of us).  The perks of being the Golden Child are that you have the narcissistic mother’s protection.  She will agree with you (in public at least), she will tell you that you are “just like her” and if she is anything like my own mother, tell you that you are in fact a “mini me”. Now considering how much she thinks of herself, this is meant as the highest type of compliment. The downside to being the GC is that you are not allowed to be your true, authentic self, have your own (differing) opinions on things or allowed to say no or argue with her.  You are no longer a different person, a person with differing interests, hobbies, thoughts etc – you are enmeshed and an extension of the narcissist.  Also just because you are picked as GC doesn’t mean you are no longer abused in any way, you still are, it is just much more subtle and hard to detect.  In my case when I was GC my mother would regularly tell me how I needed to lose weight or change my hair, do my make up differently, shop in different shops and become more fashionable – but she would tell you that she loved you and this was all for your benefit! She just wanted you to make the best of yourself!

The downsides to being the Scapegoat are many: The narcissist and whoever her enablers are, perhaps siblings or step-parents project anything and everything negative onto you.  YOU are the sole cause of anything bad in the family or in life generally.  You are trouble, evil, mentally unstable.  It is VERY hard to have a strong enough sense of self/self-esteem to not start to feel guilty about all this crap that you are told repeatedly is your fault.  There is the gaslighting, the narcissistic family will make you doubt yourself and your memories and version of events.  At some stage you do think to yourself, “shit, they can’t all be wrong can they?”.  You start to think that if ALL of them have one story and you have a different story… well, maybe it is you after all? That is tough.  The gaslighting is the stage I’m at right now.  Apparently this is really stereotypical for a narcissist when confronted but my mother (and sister) are telling me that I “have gone fucking crazy”, am “brainwashed” and that they are not sure “what is going on in my head right now”.  Gaslighting at it’s finest.   This causes cognitive dissonance.. BIG TIME.

There is inevitably the fear element as well.  I struggled with this BIG TIME.  The fear and the guilt were definitely my biggest struggles.  There is also something really hard about admitting that you, adult you, is scared of your parent.  I DID NOT want to admit that I was scared of her, of what she would say, what she would do, of upsetting her.  What would the consequences me? How would she punish me? It was all very illogical but the fear was real.

And lastly, the worst one for me at present – you are isolated and ostracised from anyone that enables the narcissist or is scared of them or perhaps equally as abusive as them.  I currently find myself watching to see which member of my family is next to be “disappointed” with me or cut me off. Narcissists cannot and do not accept people disagreeing with them. That truly is the ultimate betrayal to them.  You are on their side (yes pathetic) or you are against them and that is that.  You will be shocked at the amount of people who “side” with the narcissist, even ones that know stories or have seen evidence of their abuse in the past.  It is shockingly shit and nothing can prepare you for it.  My sister was my mother’s scapegoat for years until we swapped places and she used to suffer with depression because of it – yet she is very happy abusing me right now and ganging up with my narcissistic mother against me.

That is a long and bleak list of downsides to being a scapegoat I know but what about the perks?

Anyone who finds themselves in the role of the scapegoat will be naturally empathetic and sensitive.  The fact that they find themselves in that role shows that they are a truth-seeker and more importantly, I think, they have somehow held on to their authentic true self and believe me that is not an easy thing to do against a narcissist and her army.  But the clear winner here has to be the pure fact that the scapegoat escapes the dysfunctional family – they ESCAPE!! They get away from playing roles and being gaslighted or projected onto.  They escape the FOG – the fear, obligation and guilt.  They no longer have to be on guard or put on a mask, a fake self to try to stay safe around the narcissistic/dysfunctional family.  They can heal and finally be validated for all of their struggles and pain.  They can have a kind and empathic witness emotionally hold them as they navigate their way through all the grief and pain and begin to heal from the years of abuse.

I saw a meme today which said it should be called the “Escape Goat” rather than the “Scapegoat” which I think is perfect.

Anyway, I feel at peace today for all of the reasons above and other reasons which I find harder to articulate that I would never wish to swap roles and be the GC again. Never.  Being the Scapegoat is emotionally very difficult, it can be extremely lonely and draining but I honestly felt like something was missing from my life until quite recently – I spent my life unconsciously desperate for approval, for affection and to be told that I was good enough.  I was always trying to fill the painful mother hole/wound that was still raw as hell and now, all of a sudden, I am seeing things differently.  Now I am truly seeing and believing fully that it wasn’t ever me or my fault.  She has a personality disorder.  I was not too sensitive, too needy, pathetic, boring, stupid, fat, brainwashed or evil.

This sounds a bit egotistical but I feel like I must have more strength than I’ve ever given myself credit for or was even aware of myself.  I have (thanks to T) been able to fight against her abuse, lies and punishment.

I feel lucky in a strange way, not lucky that I had to go through any of it of course and I do still grieve for the fantasy mother and probably will for a long time, but my life could have gone the other way, like in Sliding Doors – I could have never got away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Golden Child In Therapy

How did I, an ex Golden Child end up in therapy… and how did I end up a Scapegoat?

I guess the answer to that is in the question itself isn’t it?  I ended up a scapegoat BECAUSE I ended up in therapy.  What I am actually thinking about is the fact that it is much more common for the scapegoated child of a narcissist to end up leaving the dysfunction and toxic mother than the golden child and yet I was the GC so how did it happen?

I guess it mainly came about because my romantic relationships were dreadful.  I was constantly in relationships. One after the other, literally.  Right from a child on the playground I was on the look-out for a boyfriend.  I guess I copied my mother like all kids do.

I picked the wrong men.  As in, for me.  Looking back I can see that I was picking the commitment phobic men, the avoidantly attached ones which for someone like me who has an anxious attachment style is a match made in hell, not heaven.  Those men kept me constantly triggered and anxious. I never felt secure and relaxed because even when things were going well, it was just a matter of time before it all fell apart. I was constantly fearing abandonment and in many cases, I was right to.  Or perhaps I pushed them away with my “neediness” I don’t know.

Because of my insecurity, anxiety and neediness in these relationships, I thought that there was clearly something very wrong with me and that I needed help.  I wanted to be fixed so that I wasn’t such a nightmare girlfriend and I wanted to feel like everybody else seemed to feel, calm and relaxed in their relationships and not a ball of nerves and so I took myself off to therapy.

I won’t go into what happened with me leaving and coming back and quitting and starting again here as that is for another post but I soon found out that T thought my mother suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and all of a sudden my cares about being insecure in relationships took a back seat.  I had no idea then what attachment styles were, what mine was or what relevance that all had on me and my life.

SO that is how this ex-Golden Child came into therapy whilst my sister, the ex-scapegoat didn’t despite hating her family life and being very often seriously depressed.  And now, because of what I have learnt about the dysfunction of my enmeshment with my controlling mother, I began to pull away emotionally at first, and then physically and as you know, we are now not speaking at all.  My sister is now Golden Child, she is living my old role becoming more and more enmeshed with my mother and I am the scapegoat watching from a distance.

Mental.  I almost want to say thanks to all of the avoidantly attached men that I dated, for our disastrous relationships and for getting me to therapy, else I would have never got away from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have no more fight left today

This is a warning that I am having some kind of melt down right now and this post is likely to be full of anger and rage and sadness and Christ knows what else. Maybe stop reading now if you are feeling delicate yourself.

I don’t know what’s happening but I am having a really horrible body reaction to how overwhelmed with anxiety, stress and anger I am feeling. I’ve never felt anything like it. My heart is beating out of my chest, my body is tingling and feels weak, I feel sick, my stomach is going crazy and I feel kind of dizzy and spaced out.  A minute ago I felt like if I took a sip of the very large glass of wine I have poured, I might be sick.  My entire body is triggered or something. It feels AWFUL.

If you have been reading lately, you will know the background around the shit storm that is happening at work.  Yesterday I was offered a new position within the company and I felt such intense relief that I could get out of that department and away from those two girls making me feel so shit. At 8pm last night, I got a call from a woman in HR to tell me that she couldn’t agree to me leaving until a replacement had been found and that it would take at least a month.  I totally broke down on the phone to her. I sobbed. I was unable to speak. I totally lost it.  She obviously needed me to tell her what has been going on and so I did, I didn’t have much choice by that stage and so I was honest. I told her how those two girls had been making me feel and that I couldn’t do that for another month and that actually, I seriously would have to leave the firm if that was the case. That wasn’t meant as blackmail – I really would have left.

Luckily once she witnessed the state I was in on the phone, she agreed I could leave my current team this Friday for the Xmas break and start my new department on 2 January.  I came off of that call utterly broken, but relieved.

Today I went into work, which believe me is not easy at the moment.  The 2 girls didn’t speak to me, nothing new there, but I felt more awkward than ever because I knew they probably knew. Later I was called into the head of the department’s office. He is a cold man at the best of times and he wasn’t very supportive. He asked me what was going on, I told him in brief detail that the department wasn’t for me and that it wasn’t working out.  He said “you seemed happy enough at the xmas meal last week” which REALLY pissed me off. What was he implying? That I am lying? Making the whole thing up? I snapped back at him “That was two weeks ago and last week was awful”.  He was blank-faced and even when tears began to fall down my face and I couldn’t get my words out, he just glared at me.  I felt like dying.

When the “meeting” was over, I left his office and the 2 girls were directly outside the room (which by the way is glass so they would have seen me and probably heard me which is just great..).  I walked to the bathroom where I, yet again, collapsed into tears.  I didn’t ever want to come out.

I then got a text message from my ‘aunty’.  She isn’t my blood aunty, but has been in my life since literally the day I was born. She was like a second mother to be growing up. I used to stay at her house all the time with her two boys who I refer to as my cousins.  My mother used to go off gallivanting with her latest bloke and I would stay there for weeks at a time. She was always so loving to me, I’ve always, always loved her.  Anyway, she said she needed to speak to me.  I knew instantly this had to be about my mother because she doesn’t often text me and she never says she “needs” to speak to me. Initially I thought she was going to be a flying monkey and was going to tell me my mum was upset or something and my back was up.  I was wrong.

I spoke to her on the phone at lunch time and what she had to tell me was that she has fallen out with my mother on a HUGE scale because my mother told her she is not to speak to me anymore. I can’t even believe I am typing this.

My aunt was very honest, she admitted that initially when this happened, which was apparently about 6 weeks ago, she said she rarely spoke to me and my mother said to her “If you speak to TT, please tell me” and she admitted that she agreed with that.  Well, you may remember it was this aunt’s birthday party a few weeks after me and my mother fell out and I knew I couldn’t go unless I wanted to see my mother, so I text her to say I couldn’t make it because of what had happened to the kids, and because I had fallen out with my mother and that we weren’t speaking.  She replied at the time to say she was shocked to hear we weren’t speaking and that she was sorry I couldn’t make it.  Well, she also admitted, she sent those messages to my mother when she next requested evidence of our communications.

Apparently my mother then rang her Friday night just gone to ask her if she had spoken to me and she told her that she had text me recently to say she was sick with the flu, but would send me some dates that we could get together as soon as she was better (this was because I asked when I could see her as I couldn’t make her party).  Apparently with this, my mother went APE SHIT at her and they ended up having a really horrible argument on the phone where my mother told her she should be loyal to her and not to me and that she does not expect her to speak to me at all.  I don’t know exactly what else was said but my aunty said that she told my mother she had done nothing wrong and that my mother wasn’t having any of it.

My aunt said she slept on this argument and then Sunday sent my mother a very long message which said………. wait for this…. that she thinks she needs to learn about sexual abuse and the implications it can have because she thinks this is where all the issues started.  That the fact my mother couldn’t and didn’t handle me telling her what happened to me is the start of our problems and said to my mum, that the same thing happened with her and her mother when she spoke out about her own sexual abuse. GOBSMACKED.

She said the message wasn’t aggressive or nasty or blaming, but that she said in it, she thinks if my mum were able to help me deal with it in a better way, we would be closer and that she thinks my mum’s reaction to me telling her what had happened has caused the anger and resentment in me which has led to this huge fall out between us.  I interjected here and said that our problems go way further back than that abuse.  I was 14 when that happened, she had been hurting me since the day I was born.

She then told me she doesn’t know why exactly we fell out. I laughed – literally. Funny that! So I told her the truth. The argument began by me confronting her about what she has been saying to my aunt and to my sister about me and my fiancé, which my mother furiously denied and called my aunt a liar.  She told me if I believed her over my own mother, I could get out of her house. I told her she then went on to tell me I was brainwashed and needed sectioning and all of the rest of it.  My aunt, understandably was gobsmacked.

Anyway, the very long story short is that we realised (well, she did) that my mother wanted to keep us apart so that aunt didn’t find out that the row was about the fact my mother had been caught out.

Apparently my mother never replied to my aunt’s text on Sunday. I’m genuinely very surprised at that because my mother ALWAYS has to have the last word. She told me she doesn’t think they will ever speak again now. I told her I think she might be right.  That’s two people in the last few months that have called my mother out on being a fuck up of a mother. Me and now my aunt. She will be steaming angry.

My aunt said that she does believe my mother is extremely upset that we aren’t speaking and that she will miss my wedding. I told her, well, if she would rather not speak to me again or come to my wedding than take a look in the mirror and admit her mistakes and apologise for them – then whose fault is that? She agreed.

My aunt also told me that a mutual friend of hers and my mother’s had been to see her since this and also said she should stop seeing me for my mother’s sake and that she had said to her she absolutely wouldn’t do that. This mutual friend apparently said to her, “She was a really terrible mother though, I know”.  She apparently said that repeatedly in front of my aunt, and her husband. Shame she doesn’t tell my mother that too.

I told my aunt that my mother was acting like a fucking dictator. Who does she think she is telling her who she can and can’t talk to? EUGH. Thank God she didn’t just comply with my mother. No wonder my mother hasn’t replied to her, she will have cut her off now as she is no longer compliant and enabling.

It’s a shame that not everyone stands up to my mother. My sister won’t see me now either and I know why.  She’s been promoted to golden child and is loving the attention she is getting. Little does she know she’s just been recruited as another rescuer. Someone to give my mother all the narcissistic fix she needs. To tell her how nothing is her fault and that me (and my aunt now) are horrible abusers who she is best off without.  It is only a matter of time before I get a message to tell me she wants nothing more to do with me “because of the way I am treating mum”.  I will link to this page when that happens.

I feel bad for my aunt. She will be feeling so shit right now. She won’t want to lose my mother’s friendship. She has been discarded now she is no use to my mother. It’s actually a GREAT thing but she won’t feel like it is right now, of course.  She’s put up with so much from my mother over the years, I did ask her why she is still in her life anyway. She then told me she would have to “return the lovely bracelet”…. what bracelet? Apparently a few weeks ago my mother gave my aunt an engraved bracelet which said “friends forever”….. clearly it should have said “friends forever.. as long as you do what I say”.

I brought my sister a present this morning. A necklace with an elephant on that symbolises love and a special gift box and gift bag which had stars on it which reminded me of our favourite bedding we had as kids at her dad’s house.  Now I’m not sure whether to send it to her or not, I mean… she clearly doesn’t want to be in my life now anyway. Will it be seen as emotional blackmail? Will it be sent back to me? Ignored? I don’t know what to do.

And then there’s the absolute fuck up with T.

After that wonderful phone call I went back to work and saw T had sent me a text. The text wasn’t for me. It was for Sonia. WHO THE FUCK IS SONIA? Now, accidents happen, mistakes happen – especially when using technology but the problem is, that the way T speaks to Sonia is NOT how she speaks to me.

Firstly “Dearest Sonia”….. then normal therapist shit and then… “Much Love”. OUCH OUCH OWWWW OWWW OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Two tiny and simple words that somehow sliced through my heart.

Well this triggered me instantly of course. Why does she like, sorry LOVE, Sonia and not me? Why is she so warm to her and not to me? Why doesn’t she say things like that to me? How old is she? Why does that even matter? I don’t know.

I know this is totally illogical and irrational and totally immature, but I always hoped it was ME that she liked best. Maybe loved… I always hoped it was ME she had a soft spot for and that I was the only client. For some reason I want to be the only young client – mother/daughter fantasy I guess?

Anyway it fucking hurt and I text her to tell her she had sent it to me by mistake and she replied so casually saying oh yes it did, sorry, see you tonight.. and I thought PFFTTT no you won’t.

And so I cancelled my session.

I have NEVER cancelled a session. Ever. Not once in 3 years, not even for genuine illness.

In fact, my session should start in exactly 5 minutes and I have absolutely no fucks spare to give.

On top of the shit with work, the stuff with my mother and aunty, my sister and everything else, this really was the final nail in the coffin. I just can’t take any more today.  I know that sounds very victim like and poor me and I hate that but… that’s the absolute truth. I feel like if I let myself, I would have some sort of breakdown. I’m not sure I would be able to pick myself up from it very quickly.

I know T sent the text by accident. I know that. (Please God if you comment, don’t say that, I know it I promise) but it has made me feel like she is fake and she doesn’t like or love me in the way I had tricked myself into believing she did. Certainly not like she loves Sonia.

Maybe my attachment system has been activated and I’ve gone into flight mode by not having my session, I can see that at some point in the future, days or weeks, I will be over this enough to talk to her about calmly, but today is not that day and today’s session shouldn’t have been about that and it would have had to be. Not going isn’t about punishing her, it’s about trying to protect ME.

I’ve had enough of fighting this week. I feel mentally exhausted.

On that note, it’s dead on my session time. I bet she thinks I will still be there. I bet she doesn’t believe I won’t go. I pray she doesn’t phone me because I just can’t speak to her. There is no more fight in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another letter to Mum

(Not sent. Spontaneously typed on the train home).

Mum,

I’m writing this letter to you in response to your text on Friday.

I thought I should explain my feelings so that you understand why I am keeping the distance that I am.

You already know how I feel so I won’t go into detail about it again. I told you 3 years ago, I told you 6 weeks ago and again in the texts we exchanged a few days after that night.

I am not keeping distance because I am angry and hate you. However I do have some anger towards you.

The reason I am keeping my distance is as simple as this: whilst you are unable or unwilling to accept my pain, take some responsibility for it and apologise for that pain, I am stuck in that anger and can’t see a way for us to have a happy and healthy relationship.

Until I am no longer so hurt and angry, arguments like 3 years ago and 6 weeks ago will repeat themselves. And what’s more, the more you fail to respond in the way I need you to, the angrier I get and the probability is, the more regular those arguments will happen.

That isn’t fair on either of us.

So for me, until I feel differently I am trying to see how I can get rid of some of that pain and anger on my own. Without you doing that.

I haven’t yet given up the hope that you will have some sudden epiphany and see my pain for what it is: genuine sadness and not anything else like, baring a grudge or aggressiveness which is how I feel you see it. I don’t think you hurt me intentionally, but you did hurt me.

You can’t help the way you feel and you are completely entitled to your feelings of course: as am I. At the moment our feelings are too far apart.

I cannot push this under the rug any more. Mum, I have done that my whole life and I refuse to do so any longer.

I am sorry if you are sad or hurt, but so am I. This isn’t revenge just me being, once again, 100% honest.

So now you know how I feel.

Please do not respond unless you can offer me what I need because It will be pointless. I have thought long and hard about this letter and I mean what I say in it.

I do hope you have a nice Christmas.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trauma Bonding: Growing up with a narcissistic mother

Last night I sat up until 1am writing my draft letter to my mother about going no contact. Somehow I ended up reading about Stockholm Syndrome and how that relates to growing up with a narcissistic parent.

I already had an understanding of what Stockholm Syndrome was but had never really applied it to myself in any way. I then started reading about trauma bonding and realised that it was something T was trying to explain to me just the other day.

I had said to T the other day that I sometimes feel guilty that I am not in contact with my mother, that I haven’t tried to fix things with her and that I am planning to send a proper no contact letter soon. I told T that I didn’t know why I was feeling guilty because I knew that my reasons were very valid, but that I couldn’t help it.  T told me that years ago, she worked in a job where she would have to remove abused children from their mothers/parents and that the children although black and blue, or starved and malnourished or neglected, would kick and scream to stay with that abusive parent.  I was shocked as she told me this.  She explained to me that babies and children were automatically programmed to bond with the caregiver – it was natural and was in fact a case of life and death. I guess she explained trauma bonding to me but just didn’t us that exact phrase.

Reading about both trauma bonding and Stockholm Syndrome really helped me last night. It has played on my mind a lot since and has really helped me to understand the reasons why I find it hard to detach completely from my narcissistic mother.  It helps me to understand where the guilt, shame and panic come from.

When a baby is born they bond automatically with their caregiver.  They bond for safety and for survival.  I read today that it is basically a defense mechanism to prevent the baby being annihilated. They attach to stay alive.

These are the 4 conditions that need to be in play for a victim to experience Stockholm Syndrome:

1. That there is a perceived threat to the captive’s existence, and they fervently believe that the captor will carry out that threat.
2. That the captor experiences small kindnesses from their captor within a context of terror.
3. That the captor is isolated from any other perspectives other than those of their captor.
4. That the captive perceives they have an inability to escape.

Obviously these conditions can relate to many victims of many different types of abuse, but I refer to my experience and that of growing up a daughter of a narcissistic mother.  You will be able to see how all 4 conditions were active.

A child bonds with their abusive caregiver in order to survive. Literally. They do not know any different.  They get good bits every now and again, that eternal dangling carrot – which makes the child just try harder and harder to get the love and approval it so needs and desires.  A child clearly cannot escape.  The child learns to blame its mother’s shortcomings on itself.  If only it was smarter, better behaved, prettier, more fun. It teaches itself that it is not mother’s fault. Mother after all is a strong, competent and all-poweful protector.  The child therefore is faulty.

For a child, even when things appear to be going along nicely, the child is in no doubt that this will be short-lived and that at any moment, the narcissistic mother will snap back to her aggressive, cold, unhappy and angry ways.  The child therefore tries its hardest to keep her happy. It becomes hypervigilent to the highest degree. Keeping mum happy is the safest thing for it and so it complies in whatever way is necessary.  You see then that the child is living in constant fear. It has a constantly activated fight or flight system.

Imagine then, if the struggle is that hard for a child when things appear to be going nicely, how awful it is when things are NOT going nicely.  I can’t talk on behalf of other children of narcissists, but for me, it was an extremely scary time. You have the emotional pain of the cold, distant and unloving mother but you also have the raging mother, the mother who is pulling apart your character, taking away anything that you love or enjoy – including, for me, people I loved like stopping me from going to my nan’s.  Basically if mum wasn’t feeling good – nobody was. Those times were hellish.

Eventually the child learns to be grateful for any small mercies.  To try hard to keep mum happy. To protect mum from anything that may set her rage off.  For me this was entertaining my sister, feeding her, bathing her, helping her with her homework (to lessen poor mum’s load), cleaning the house and doing the washing (again, poor mum had enough on her plate), trying to predict anything and everything that she could need. Then, when the narcissistic mother showed some kind of remorse or kindness (if you can call it that) the child feels indebted to the mother and relates this feeling to both loving and being loved.  This feeling of being in love is what makes the child (perhaps an adult by now) viciously defend the mother from anyone that may question her.  You can see then, why children that grew up with such a distorted view of “love” can find themselves in abusive and dangerous relationships as adults. You can see how these children become codependant.  Their template for healthy relationships was unhealthy to say the least.

The same dynamic applies in physically violent relationships.  The same conditions apply and the same trauma bonding patterns play out.  The victim is triggered back to their childhood way of relating and the fear of annihilation is again, very real just as it was when the victim was a baby and needed to protect itself by bonding with its mother.  Again, this is where people-pleasing and hypervigilence come in.

I have been very lucky not to end up in a violent relationship, but I watched my mother being the victim of domestic abuse several times. I could never understand why she stayed, why anyone would stay, her reason that she loved him always infuriated me – I guess now I understand it a little better. After all, she grew up feeling the same way herself . Thank God I didn’t follow in her footsteps.

My T has told me this is also the reason I never found myself attracted to the “nice guys”.  I confused normal for boring and dysfunction and possibly abuse, for love.  Now when I hear young girls saying they fancy the “bad guys” it makes me shudder.

 

trauma bonding.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Foreboding Joy & Self-Reflections

Warning – this is deep for a Sunday night post ha!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have realised recently that when I feel something deeply joyful, when I feel a real connection or deep happiness, I seem to withdraw from that joyful feeling somehow and lessen the happiness somehow. That feeling of something being too good to be true. Waiting for it to go wrong, predicting it ending badly somehow.  Freaking out even.  It turns out, Brene’ Brown has written about this and refers to it as “foreboding joy”.

“Our actual experiences of joy—those intense feelings of deep spiritual connection and pleasure—seize us in a very vulnerable way,”

“When something good happens, our immediate thought is that we’d better not let ourselves truly feel it, because if we really love something we could lose it. So we shut down our ability to completely enjoy so that we can also shut down our capacity for feeling loss.”

The words Brown writes sum my experience up exactly. My main thought as I read and write about this today being the feelings I was left with after my last session with T.  On Thursday I felt so deeply heard and understood by T, I felt such a wonderful connection with her. The connection warmed my heart somehow, it felt as if I had been hugged tightly – emotionally speaking.  When I got home, I could feel this strange sadness setting in. It became more than just a sadness, it became a deep longing.

At first I thought I was missing T but something about that didn’t feel quite right because I hadn’t left her long ago.  I later realised thanks to one of my very intelligent and insightful fellow bloggers Blue Sky, that she had also experienced what I was writing about and wrote her blog “When Love Equals Loss” which is where I found this reference to “foreboding joy”.  Since then, I have read lots about it and it has helped me so much (Thank you again Blue Sky!).

Brown says

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.  If you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is start dress rehearsing tragedy”.

She also says:

“We’ve learned that giving into joy is, at best, setting ourselves up for disappointment and, at worst, inviting disaster”

and

“We’re afraid that the feeling of joy won’t last, or that there won’t be enough, or that the transition to disappointment (or whatever is in store next) will be too difficult.”

There are so many other brilliant snippets I am tempted to insert here, but I won’t keep on. If you are interested I am sure you can google it yourself or buy one of her books.  The point is, this has really spoken to me. Her words have resonated so deeply and I have been reflecting on this all weekend.

I think this is what happened after that session Thursday.  I felt a wonderfully deep connection with my T. A connection that I have craved for my whole life from my mother. Clearly T isn’t m mother, but in my psychotherapy process right now, I guess due to transference and all my unconscious desires, T is the new fantasy mother figure and so in a way, I finally got something I’ve always really, really wanted. Needed.

What followed that was panic. Panic it wouldn’t last. Grief because logic told me she isn’t my mum and won’t ever be my mum. Grief and longing that I should have had that from my actual mother, but never did and never would….. and I now think, dress rehearsing tragedy as Brown writes about.

Thinking about the fact that T could leave. Stop seeing me. Give up her practice, decide she no longer wants to treat me etc etc…. Perhaps not logical but that doesn’t make any difference to the unconscious fears.  It is interesting because at the time I thought perhaps I was crying about the loss of my second session a week (my decision, my choice etc but still a loss for me) and that may well be in there somewhere but I think its deeper than that.  The loss of the second session is a harsh reminder that I can’t have it all can I? I can’t have my new job AND continue to see T as much as I would like to, because, she isn’t my mum, she isn’t my family and unfortunately, I can only see her at times when she has appointments available that also fit in with my work commitments.  The “loss of T” then, triggers my abandonment fears and all sorts of other things and the joy I felt from the connection we had, is suffocated and replaced with sadness and panic.

When in my past was I left distraught from joy and vulnerability ending badly? My childhood of course. Connecting, even for a second or a minute once in a blue moon with my mother would have been a dream. It would have felt just incredible.  Connecting with my emotionally unavailable and distant mother would have given me the hope that things were finally going to change, to get better.. I was finally going to “get” to her….

… until that didn’t happen. The connection would be broken (by her) and she once again, moved out of my reach. Shit that is painful. And that is when my template was set I guess.  Connection equals heartbreak.  Connection equals disappointment and connection was not going to last.

I guess then, its no surprise I would immediately “dress rehearse” tragedy when feeling joy, is it?

 

I thought to myself earlier, I wonder if this is something I have always done. I am sure it is.  I am trying to think about how this may play out in my relationships.  It’s weird because I don’t think of myself as being guarded or defended or someone that moves away from commitment – I think of myself as the opposite because I CRAVE love and affection and commitment and forever-ness (not a word, I know) BUT…. looking back, my relationships with men were disastrous because I attracted avoidantly attached men, men that didn’t want closeness or forever-ness. This was bad for me because it totally reinforced my internalised opinion that I wasn’t worthy of love.

Every time I felt these men move away from me I felt abandoned all over again. Every time the relationships failed, I was left heartbroken.  I got nicknamed something at school which referenced how many boys I had dated. Friends used to tell me I was constantly in relationships.  Even as a young teen I knew that the amount I dated was more than most, but I didn’t understand why or see it as an issue. I was trying to find love – but in all of the wrong places.  Christ as I write this the phrase “you need to love yourself before you can love another” springs to mind. I’ve always thought that phrase was bollocks!

As I write this my eyebrows lift up and I realise the weight behind the words. The realisations I am having.  Writing this feels so revealing.

I was drawn to avoidantly attached men for a few reasons I think.

  1. Anxiously attached people attract avoidantly attached people due to confusing the mixed messages and the going hot and cold with passion.
  2. Anxiously attached people wish they were “less needy” and avoidantly attached people seem to have these admirable traits, independence and confidence. So we are drawn to them.

I question tonight whether I had a need to keep some emotional distance so that I wasn’t left distraught? I’m not sure.

Both of my parents are incapable of emotional closeness with me and I craved that so very much all of my life. It hurts me a lot to really realise that neither of my parents gave me the connection and emotional closeness that they should have – could have.  But understanding it wasn’t me, my fault, that helps to ease some shame.  It makes me so determined to never repeat that pattern with my own children. Also, it makes me determined to never waste time with anyone who isn’t able to tolerate emotional closeness again. I only hurt myself trying to change them. I guess I was trying to “right a wrong”.  Trying to finally “get” an emotionally distant guy.  To change the ending of that childhood story where I never did “get” either mum or dad.

Anyway, back to the point, I was drawn to these men and that was in some weird way, what I needed/wanted because unconsciously I knew that if they were incapable of real, intimate closeness, then I didn’t have to panic did I because I didn’t need to dress rehearse tragedy, the deep intimate connection was never there for the offering.  I think? Something like that, my head hurts a bit as I try to work this out. I think I need a bit more time with that bit.

Weirdly I dreamt last night that I was in Starbucks and I ordered something I didn’t want. That is making me laugh now as it suddenly feels relevant. I didn’t order what I really wanted.  HA! 

Applying this to my time in therapy, it makes sense that feeling that connection with T would have freaked me out so much.  It makes me think again about the fact that I decided to drop my second session a week whilst she was away on holiday.  Leave before being left maybe? Sabotage the closeness that was building in our relationship perhaps?

You know I have never been broken up with before. I’ve had a lot of relationships and I’ve done the leaving every.single.time. One of those times I was heartbroken for a few years afterwards which I could never understand. Why would you grieve a relationship that YOU ended? I can understand now that it was because I didn’t WANT it to end, our whole relationship was a battle of me wanting more closeness and commitment and him not being able to offer that.  I will admit, I cheated on him several times and I could never understand why when I loved him so much.  Finally after about 6 years I ended it but then tried to go back to him a month later to find out he had met someone else. That hurt me so much.

Even looking at my fiance now – okay so I finally met a more securely attached man. A man capable of closeness and intimacy (thank God) but he wasn’t truly “available” when I met him. He was married with children. He left his wife before we got together, but the first few years of our relationship was drama fuelled due to his ex-wife’s rage.  He also has 3 young children (strangely my father also went on to have 3 children) and so I was never able to be his total focus, his number 1 because there were “others”.  There has always been “others” in my life and understanding this has helped me to get a hold of pangs of jealousy where his children are involved.  As T says, I can now use those painful feelings to understand more about myself and my childhood.

In terms of my career, I started a psychology course once but then quit. I tried to learn to drive for 10 years on and off and on and off again. I applied for a promotion last year at work, only to pull my application when I was offered the interview! And now, currently, I’ve been freaking out about starting my new job in November. Why? Because I’m dress rehearsing it all going wrong of course!

But as Brown has taught me this weekend, predicting it going wrong won’t change anything. It won’t hurt any less if it does.  All it means is that I lose out on that wonderful feeling of joy that may not actually, ever be ruined at all. Being vulnerable then, is the way forward.

 

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vulnerable

soul mate