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.

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Narcissistic hoovering 

I’m still wrapping my head around the events from Saturday night and the things that my fiancé said on Sunday about it.  I know I am a little preoccupied with it, but it had such a strong effect on me that I can’t help but try to make sense of it a bit more until it lessens its hold.

So far this is where I am at.

Ever since T told me that my mother suffered from NPD, I have made conscious efforts to keep her at arm’s length. I’ve distanced myself from her physically and emotionally. It has been hard because the only way I’ve really been able to do this, to keep that distance emotionally, has been to be on high-alert and I guess, feel angry – perhaps unconsciously.  For a long time when I saw her I felt highly defensive and have been known to be a bit passive with her.  I told T this once and said I was constantly on the look out for digs from her, insults and sometimes when she tripped herself up with lies I would make a point of questioning her.  T said it was anger then, she was right.

Then for a long while I totally switched off my feelings that I grieved for that relationship and felt “over it”.  I wrote a few months back that when T told me I still had hopes for things to be different with my mum, I got angry. It made me want to scream at her “NO I DO NOT!!!”. I reflected at the time that perhaps I was protesting too much.

Then I got engaged. I Facetimed her with my fiancé to tell her the news.  She reacted as predicted with screams etc. but it didn’t feel particularly genuine (although I don’t know if that’s me always assuming the worse or what)… the next day she sent balloons and flowers.  She didn’t tell the whole family, she let me do it – I was surprised. I was pleased.

I was allowed to tell everyone myself, she didn’t make it all about her or tell anyone at all – I thought this is good, she isn’t reacting as I predicted. This was part 1 to me being fooled.  The next thing to happen was that me and my fiancé met her, her husband, my Nan and Granddad for lunch one day.  When we walked towards them at the pub, I had hoped for a bit of a special greeting = maybe they would clap when they saw us or something but it was very normal. I was slightly disappointed secretly but not surprised. She didn’t really mention the engagement, she didn’t ask to see the ring or anything….. BUT she behaved herself well enough at the lunch and I left feeling like it had gone successfully.  Part 2.

I then secretly went to a wedding dress shop without her and found “the dress”.  I loved it and knew it was what I wanted but didn’t feel I could make any decision without her. The shop assistant suggested that I Facetimed her so she could see me in it. I did and she cried. My mother CRIED at me in my wedding dress. I felt so emotional that I cried too and I couldn’t believe she had reacted like that. The shop assistant and my sister-in-law told me how lovely my mum’s reaction had been – how I must have her all wrong (grrr) and I stupidly fell for the tears. I felt instant guilt that I hadn’t invited her to come along – after all, she reacted so well. No insults, digs, no comments that would upset me somehow…… she even PAID for my dress, in full!!!! Part 3.

The next day, she sent me a text to tell me she had transferred money (£2,000!) into my bank account. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked and we discussed it because I didn’t think she could afford it, told her she didn’t need to etc. – I then thanked her (as did my fiancé). I was chuffed. An hour later she asked me if I was inviting someone and I replied to say no. She replied “well, that is awkward” and I thought this could be the start of it all…  I thought to myself then that I shouldn’t spend that money yet as I may need to offer it back if the money comes with a price but she didn’t kick off like I thought she would and she didn’t refer to the fact she had sent me money…. I did feel obligated but I wanted to keep firm. Part 4.

I then made an appointment at the dress shop and we both took a day off work to go and show her my dress. She cried again (I didn’t because it didn’t feel very genuine to me) and then we went for lunch afterwards. She was fine, it wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of but she behaved herelf. She even brought me my veil and a necklace that I was going to buy myself. Part 5

Me and my fiancé saw her about a week later for dinner at her house, she was on good form – good behaviour and because it was a work night, she didn’t get drunk and we left by about 9pm – another successful night! Part 6.

That leads us to Saturday where it all fell to shit. As soon as I saw her I felt it. The change had happened. The closest thing I can relate the feeling to was that I picked up on her anger. She seemed angry or jealous or both. I’m not quite sure. I’ve already written about the specifics of that evening so I won’t go into that again here.. the point is, by Saturday I had been hoovered back in.  I had been fooled that things were finally different. I foolishly thought that because the last month had been “normal” that we had somehow turned a corner where we could maintain a healthier relationship! and then I was rather brutally proved wrong.

I’ve gone over the specific events again and again since then and I think I’ve put most of them down to a lack of attention towards her, too much attention towards me and my fiancé (engagement related), her anger that me and my boyfriend were paying my aunty and uncle attention and genuinely getting along well with them (because she HATES him and constantly slags my aunty off too) and the fact that I was having a better time than her.  But I could be wrong.

I obviously don’t know what was going on inside her mind. The fact that when we got in the car to leave, the first thing she said was “[Uncle] is still a total wanker isn’t he?” to which her husband agreed and me and my fiancé blanked.  She then went on to say how close she was with my other cousin (other side of the family who wasn’t there) and how that cousin wishes she were her mum. I am pretty sure that was said to either spark envy in me or to remind me that she was attractive and wonderful and that it was only me that couldn’t see that.  I didn’t bite.  Her inviting a couple to our wedding who we do not know (and would never invite) I think was her attempt at seeing if she could still have that power over me – testing to see if I would still allow her to do that – if I would let her do what she wanted or not and her complete lack of response at me telling her we had a wedding fare on Sunday I put down to either a lack of interest and an unwillingness to pretend she cared for my sake OR jealousy.

I get the distinct impression that she hates my happiness. My happiness makes her unhappy. That is a bitter pill to swallow and one that is hard to fully comprehend. Not just my happiness, but anyone’s.  She seemed irritated that me and my boyfriend liked my aunty’s new bathroom, that we said how cool their garden was (she even said “I don’t think so – it was better before”).  It made me question, were the tears when I was in my wedding dress about how proud she felt seeing her little girl grown up and happy OR envy related?

Anyway, I feel annoyed with myself that I let my guard down because I had boundaries in place with her that I removed when I (clearly) got sucked back in… I allowed myself to be hoovered back.  I did things/said things that would make her happy – I knew it as I did it but told myself that it was okay this time “because she really was behaving”.  For example, it is her 50th birthday in a few weeks and she has invited the whole word to a weekend away “clubbing”.  I told her we could only go for the Saturday day and overnight and not the entire weekend as she had wanted. I knew it had displeased her considerably but remained firm. I didn’t even want to go but was trying to remove any further drama.  When I got sucked back in recently, I told her me and my fiancé could now come Friday and Saturday – I knew she would be happy about that and she was.  Now I am regretting it hugely.  Lesson learnt.

She also told us thta she had got us tickets to a festival recently. We didn’t know anything about it and she said “didn’t I tell you?” – well it turns out to be on my aunty’s 50th birthday. As that came out that evening she said “Oh no, you are joking! We are all going to this festival!!!”.  I have no doubt it was done on purpose. But we had said we would go.. now what! ?

I feel as though the right thing to do now is to put the boundaries back in. Reinstate the physical and emotional distance and learn my lesson that just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck..  doesn’t in fact mean it is one. It’s a hard lesson to learn but I guess an important one.

So now I guess I keep my distance again…. I stay away from her again until I have to see her (at her birthday now) which I am dreading. I have to go, it will be all about her – which, let’s face it is nothing new! She will be drunk and she will have all her flying monkeys there – all the family and friends that think she is the bee’s knees and all those (especially the cousin I refer to earlier) telling her how beautiful, clever, funny she is.. buying her special 50th birthday presents.. she will be absolutely LOVING the spotlight and attention and maybe that will keep any anger or jealousy away from me.. BUT I am now back to feeling angry and dissapointed and hurt and stupid and all the other things from allowing myself to be fooled and so I feel like I’m back to square one of feeling defensive around her and probably becoming passive when she does and says things that are stupid or blatant lies. I will struggle again as she is so fake towards the people she regularly slags off (like uncle for example) and will not enjoy myself at all. It’s a potentially dangerous position for me to be in because the unfairness of it all mixed with alcohol and all these people who think she is great (add for extra annoyance the “your mum misses you so much”) and it makes me want to kill her.

Clearly I wouldn’t actually do anything like that – but it does make me so angry that I find it VERY hard to bite my tongue. VERY HARD and that is the worst thing that I could do because last time I reached my limit and exploded (3 years ago) all that happened was that I “proved” my mother right – apparently she had told everyone how jealous, angry, nasty I was .. and so my explosion confirmed to them all that my poor mother was, in fact, the victim.

 

 

 

 

Empaths & Narcissists: Wising up

Hi all, happy Sunday.  I’ve been having a lot of inner-dialogue today so thought I would take some time to sit and write and clear my brain out a bit.

I feel pretty good really although busy in my brain.  The main thing occupying my brain space at the moment are thoughts about empaths and narcissists.  I’ve been Googling a lot about the toxic and dysfunctional attachment they have with each other, or more accurately, myself as empath and the narcissists in my life.

I’ve been doing my usual Googling, looking at quotes on pintrest and reading books to help really cement things in my brain and I’ve learnt a lot of stuff.  I have never really read much about empaths and what they are but I now see that I fit that label very well.

As an empath I pick up on other people’s emotions VERY quickly and easily. I can feel their emotions and I have clearly internalised growing up that it is my job to make those people feel better. To be some sort of healer or something.  I am highly sensitive. I care what other people think about me to excess. I have some sort of antenna for mood changes, facial expressions and various other things that other people probably don’t notice.  I now understand that the purpose of being so aware of these moods/emotions is basically that I have lived constantly hypervigilant.  Always living in fight or flight mode – it was for my own protection! My unconscious plan was that if I stayed alert, I would be able to quickly eradicate any perceived danger from someone who was dangerous (someone who is angry or upset that could cause me harm) and that I could learn to “fix” whatever the problem was for them, I would then be safe again. Hence why I am such a people-pleaser.  It was actually a clever defense mechanism but one that I now need to stop using.

All throughout my life I’ve been called “sensitive” and “needy”. My mother and my ex work friend (hereafter to be named “Tina”) always told me I was overly sensitive and made it clear that was a character flaw, however…… from what I now understand, that is exactly how they liked and needed me to be! If I wasn’t such an empath, if I wasn’t so “sensitive” then I wouldn’t have been able to provide such a wonderful source of narcissistic supply for them. Isn’t that ironic?

Moving on to them, the narcissists in my life – they are attracted to empathetic, people- pleasers like me because we provide them with everything they need to feel good about themselves.  Narcissists are not empathetic people, they do not have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes, they are not kind and considerate and they need a lot of admiration. They crave everything that an empath happily provides. So unfortunately its a sick kind of win/win situation.  Everyone’s happy.. right? Unfortunately yes, until the empath wises up to whats going on and gets some boundaries OR the narcissist decides to discard of  the empath through boredom and moves on to a new source of supply.

Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes and the two I am writing about, my mother and Tina are very different types. My mother is your more stereotypical narcissist, she is loud, a know-it-all, she is always trying to be the centre of attention, she is fake, a chameleon, she thinks she is beautiful and cares VERY much about material possessions. She is selfish and bossy and she does not care what people think of her because in her eyes, she is the creme de la creme.  Add to that the fact that she is my mother and she had a lot of control over me, plus she had all of my life to train me to please her properly.

The way that my mother controlled me was mainly by her never giving me her approval or love. She was emotionally (and physically) absent and unloving. I never felt good enough for her and so I would do and try literally anything. Every now and again, I would get a very tiny snippet of approval as a reward and I would then know what I needed to do more of .. except it was like she dangled a carrot that I would never reach.  This “approval” made me invent a whole new “self” a fake personality that was much more like her. Luckily that didn’t last and the real self is still here and fighting to get back out. Unfortunately my sister is now at this stage and is clearly becomming more and more sucked in to narcissisim herself for the same reason… our mother’s approval. It’s sad.

Tina on the other hand is a more covert narcissist. She is not physically that interested in her appearance, in fact she is obese. Her narcissism comes from her ability to play the victim card very well. She makes you feel sorry for her. She makes you want to look after her or make her feel better about her miserable life but yet, confusingly at the same time, she makes it clear that she is above you, better than you somehow and much more knowledgeable and well put together than you are. She controlled me by playing on my people-pleasing need and used to guilt-trip me into keeping her happy.  If I did not keep her happy then I would pay the price of her guilt-tripping me (look how sad I am already, are you really going to leave me like this?), making me feel I was being extremely selfish (after everything I have done for you?) or by being more passively aggressive by not talking to me for hours/days and sulking very obviously by slamming and banging things and muttering barely audible things under her breath.  She did also outrightly tell me I was selfish and “rude”.  Tina kept me in a down position. She kept me weak and vulnerable and needy. She kept me small.

And so I spent the last 8 or so years trying to keep her happy at my own expense – as an empath I had no boundaries and I didn’t know where I ended and someone else began. I genuinely didn’t realise that it wasn’t my sole purpose in life to make everyone else feel better! I didn’t even consciously know that I did this.

Its sad actually that I ever attracted Tina in the first place because what drew me to her was how different to my mother she was!! Little did I know she was actually going to be the same (in a different but toxic way).  Tina was bundles more maternal than my mother was, she had children and she doted on them. She spoke about them all the time and she sold me this story of what a wonderful mother she was. It was everything I ever wanted and so I wanted in on that. She called me her “adopted daughter” and I called her “work mum”.  Now I realise how sadly sick that was.

So, here I am now 29 years old, nearly 3 years into some pretty intense therapy for “insecurity in relationships” which actually turned into therapy for attachment based issues, having a narcissistic mother, childhood trauma of various types and other things that I am only just learning about… but I feel genuinely relieved, pleased and, dare I say it? proud that I am understanding all of this for the first time. I am seeing it through clear eyes for the first time in all its distorted, murky, twisted, sick dysfunction and it feels weirdly empowering.

This is what I’m thinking today. I am an empath – I accept that 100% and that being an empath doesn’t make you this sweet, innocent, perfectly nice girl it actually makes you give away your power. It makes you weak and vulnerable. It means you have no self-esteem and you rely on everyone else to tell you who you are. That is not good. Being an empath is a weakness, not a strength.

My mother, and Tina (and my old friend who I’ve previously written about that I walked away from last August) are all narcissists which yes, does make them all selfish and abusive to varying degrees BUT I allowed them to be that way. It is ME that let them have that power over me and ME that encouraged their control to continue.  I accept that too, I own that. [I guess I have slightly more sympathy for myself where my mother is concerned because I was a baby and child who knew no different but hopefully you know what I mean.

So I now understand what part I play in all of this and in life generally I guess. I also understand what parts they play and that means I can change it. I’ve now ended two friendships with narcissists that were bad for me and bad to me. They are now out of my life and the guilt for friend 1 has totally and completely gone. The guilt for Tina is lessening every day, particularly this weekend since I’ve read and understood all of this stuff, it’s really helped to ground me. It is very hard to undo everything you’ve ever known, and it has clearly taken me nearly 3 years of therapy to get to this stage which sounds INCREDIBLY slow doesn’t it? but I think I needed that long to get my head around this, to fight through my defences and to really accept all of it enough to be able to look at it more objectively and change it.

My mother continues to be a hard case to crack, clearly she is never going to be as easy as friend 1 and Tina – there is a lot of deeper stuff involved with her, but one thing that is helping is to know it isn’t actually about me at all. It truly isn’t – I see that now and that takes the sting out of things so much.

On that note, I was with her last night at a gathering at my aunt’s house. I sensed as soon as I saw her some sort of aggression or anger or something. It’s very hard to describe, I can sense it on her. It may be in her eyes or something.. I can FEEL it (see, empath me!) and I acknowledged that to myself. During the course of the evening she got visibly worse, probably helped by alcohol.  By the time we had left the gathering she:

  1. Completely ignored me when I told her me and my fiance were heading to a wedding show today. She literally went “umm” which in my mother’s language means “I couldn’t give two fucks”.
  2. She later called me by another girl’s name who she is friends with. That girl wasn’t even there.
  3. She clearly got jealous that I was having a good time and dancing to the music that my uncle was playing and so turned his music off and replaced it with what “everyone else wanted”. She then told me “it isn’t all about you!” which irritated me beyond belief at the time because I had nothing to do with my uncle’s choice of musi, but today I more clearly see the blatant projection of how it is actually “all about HER”.
  4. She then invited two people to my wedding in front of me! People we had only met once, a year or so ago who absolutely would not be invited to our wedding. I couldn’t believe the front of her. I am not sure whether it was done to get a reaction from me and enjoy my night, because she was visibly irritated by my enjoyment – or – whether she just invited them because she thinks she has the right.
  5. And lastly, on the way home she told me how at a party recently her and my cousin (who I dislike BECAUSE of my mother – long story) were talking together for hours and hours and how she wished my mum was her mum. She literally said “she loves me and said she just wishes I was her mother because we are so close“.  It riled me up so much at the time but today it makes me laugh. What a pathetic attempt at making me jealous! That cousin gives her everything she needs. She showers her with admiration and affection and they are “close” yes, very.. I would go as far as to say dangerously enmeshed. Good luck to them, rather her than me!

So, watch this space. I am making changes and I am feeling good about them. A new me is in the making.

removing toxic ppl

this is the part wherecant change ppl

stage 4 boundaries

Some links that I found helpful:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201602/10-traits-empathic-people-share

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/the-toxic-attraction-between-an-empath-a-narcissist/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-orloff-md/are-you-an-emotional-empa_b_697483.html

 

 

 

Self Integration?

Yesterday I wrote a brief description of a dream that I had Monday night.  The dream left me with a very intense feeling of what I can only describe as maternal love.  Now I have not had any children yet although me and my (now) fiance were trying for about 17 months prior to getting engaged.  Now the wedding is booked we are putting that on hold until after the wedding, partly for practicalities but partly because I/we need the break from the emotions that trying unsuccessfully brought us.

Anyway, to the point – I have never felt a feeling like that before. It was like love on steroids and yet clearly it was only a dream.. yet it felt so important somehow.

A lovely blogger helped me to think about the dream in more detail earlier, we spoke about how the baby could symbolise the child/baby part of myself.. I agreed and then I went into my session and spoke to T about it a bit more.  Here is the dream again with a bit I left out the other day:

I had a baby girl. Her name was Kia. She was wrapped tightly in a blanket and I was either holding her over my shoulder or pushing her in her pram. At one point in the dream I stepped off of a bus and when I looked into her pram, it was empty and I panicked and turned around to see my mother holding her – I took her off of my mother and then my mother pushed the empty pram instead.  Later in the dream I gently rubbed the side of her face and she laughed and “spoke” to me in her baby language. I laughed and spoke back to her in baby language but the feeling it gave me (as I explained above) was just phenomenal.

I find it so weird that a dream can leave me with such a strong feeling when I’ve never felt that in real life – how is that even possible?

T said she also thought the dream was hugely symbolic. She agreed that the baby was probably symbolic of my child/baby self. I said that I felt it important that I “took the baby back from my mother” and that my mother was then “pushing an empty pram”.  T said that my mother may as well have been pushing an empty pram, I agreed.  I said that it didn’t feel like grief processing because there was no element of sadness whatsoever. T said that she felt it was actually a very transitional dream – a sign that perhaps I have fully accepted my child part into myself.

I can’t find the right words right now to really express what I want you to feel as you read this, I’m not sure that is possible but it just feels SO IMPORTANT. So, so important. Madness from a dream!!

Anyway, I read up about self-integration which made its way into my brain because I was re-reading an old blog of mine earlier (Winnicott’s fear of breakdown) and in the paper I referred to by Clare Winnicott, she speaks about how her client had a dream where she picked up her child self and Clare Winnicott thought this was hugely symbolic of her patient integrating – growing and healing and I can’t help but think my dream is a very similar thing. It FEELS like something in my body, my being… there has been some sort of shift or something.

I’m sure I sound a bit weird ha! But there we go.

I think I’ve changed a lot lately, I’ve had to go against everything I know with my ex friend at work (I really need to find a better name for her). Setting such firm boundaries, ending a friendship, not letting the fear, guilt, panic take over – putting myself first and standing strong despite perhaps not feeling it!! Surviving everything that came as a side effect to me doing this, such as the preoccupation with predicting what she would do and say when I saw her, dreaming about her, doubting myself, crying from the fear of it all… and so on and so on…  I am still here and I am okay. It is hard, its tough and I am currently witnessing her in the middle of a smear campaign trying to make herself look like a victim and me look like an evil bitch – its okay. It will be okay. I am okay. And that is huge.

As well as that I had a run in with my younger sister a few weeks ago because I wouldn’t cancel a therapy session which she wanted me to do. Because I wouldn’t do that, she decided I was selfish and her and my mother clearly had a lovely little bitch session about me which wound me up. But I didn’t bite. I WAS angry and yet again, I did doubt myself a lot .. perhaps I was being selfish? T helped me to see that my feelings were justified but not to be acted out.  Yet again, I just had to hold firm. I sat on Pintrest for hours looking at quotes of “boundaries” and reassured myself that I was doing the right thing. She was very angry with me and my mother even made a point of telling me how upset my sister was with me… I told her what I wish I could have told the pair of them really, that it doesn’t make me a bitch because I won’t do EXACTLY as she wants me to. I told her that my counselling (swear word to my mother – physically makes her wince!) was a very important commitment to me and one that I stuck to whatever else was happening. I told her I only get to miss two sessions a year otherwise I have to pay the entire £40 which I couldn’t afford to do and told her that I had offered all sorts of alternatives such as joining for a drink afterwards etc etc…. the very clear message was “I am not being selfish and I don’t care whether you or she thinks I am”.

I held my own. I owned it. And for that I am proud. [Side note: I put a picture of a quote about boundaries on FB today and my sister quoted sarcastically so clearly it hit a nerve].

Aside from all of that, there is the stuff I’ve written about lately regarding my soon to be stepdaughter and some of the struggles we have both been having. There is a hell of a lot of different things at play with this. There is clearly fear of being left behind, forgotten about or replaced by me from her side of things and from mine there is clearly some jealousy which probably comes from daddy issues of mine. I am very aware of all these different triggers and am speaking to T about them all a lot at the moment, I feel very proud of myself for being able to be objective and be able to self-reflect on the whole situation no matter how difficult it might be.

Its funny really, since the engagement I had worried that the excitement of getting married might overshadow my therapy and stall any progress… now it feels the opposite is true.

Sorry if this blog reads as really up myself, I very rarely big myself up but this does feel monumental and I want to document it to be able to look back on.

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Post 2: Sister struggles

Moving on to the struggle i am having with my sister..

My sister is a feisty character. She’s 22 and lives with my narc mother. She is very argumentative and is very easily provoked.  We do not see each other very often mainly because we are both busy with our own lives but also because the dysfunctional dynamic between my mother, my sister and I means that only 2 people are able to get along at once – so someone is always the scapegoat. Usually me because I do not live there and I have boundaries and obviously boundaries make me bad, wrong, selfish etc etc….

As I said earlier, 9 days ago I got engaged which was HUGE news for me. I really hoped my sister would celebrate and enjoy it with me but she has pretty much gone silent. She sent few whatsapps about it the following day and said she was about to phone some wedding dress shops to make an appointment for me but I asked her to hold off doing that because I would like to find places myself and I would like to make the calls myself too.  She didn’t like that. Perhaps that was childish of me or immature but I’ve waited for this day to come my entire life  and I want to enjoy all these little things. She will get her day.

Then, the other day she text me to tell me that it is her father’s (HER father’s not mine) 60th birthday next Tuesday and said she was planning a surprise meal for him. She asked me to come and I told her that I couldn’t as Tuesday evenings I have counselling (as she knows).  To fast-forward a long and boring story, she told me that I should cancel my session, in her eyes it is “only a session” and she doesn’t “see the big deal”.  I made lots of compromises, I suggested they ate dinner and I would join for a drink or afters.. I suggested they go and have starters and I would join them for the main course and I asked if she changed the day to the day before or after, I could be there at any time.  None of that was good enough.

In her usual style, she erupted and sent me some spiteful messages and said in one “are you actually ever going to stop going” and “you go twice a week – why can’t you just miss one”. I told her that I was only able to miss 2 a year and that I would be charged £40 if I didn’t go (this is probably not true because I NEVER miss sessions) but she didn’t see the issue.  Eventually I told her that my mental health is extremely important to me and said that I was no longer going to discuss this with her. I would be there after my session or they could go without me.

She is now not talking to me.

On top of this, and it probably sounds a bit childish (especially to all social media haters), but she hasn’t “liked” or commented on anything to do with my engagement whatsoever, hasn’t sent me a card – nothing. It’s like it isn’t happening. I added her to a whatsapp group called “bridesmaids” and her only comment so far has been that the group chat is annoying her and that she was going to have to silence it!

I am finding this really hard and particularly the stuff about my counselling. I do not WANT to miss a session, that is MY BOUNDARY and because I am sticking to my boundary and not giving her exactly what she wants, I am the bad guy. I mean for god’s sake, this is clearly a big pattern in my life huh?

I spoke to T about this yesterday and she said that it is very painful when we start to see the dysfunction playing out when we’ve been blind to it previously. I agreed.  She told me that I should say to my sister next time or another time, something like “I will not allow you to attack my therapy, please stop” and I will do that if I need to. What hurts is that I know her and my mother will be sitting there together slagging me and my therapy off because neither of them understand why I go or how it is useful. They see it as some weird addiction that I have and think I am throwing money away. They both tell me to “get over” the past and move on like they have (LOL!!)….

It just hurts. I’ve pretty much brought my sister up thanks to my mother’s behaviour and I really had hoped this would be a special time for us. If it were her getting married I would be so happy for her and so proud of her. It is such a shame.

Still climbing the mountain

Hi everyone!

I haven’t been on WP for a few weeks because I had something wonderful happen…… my boyfriend proposed to me on Wednesday 9th August and I’ve been in a bit of a bubble of happiness ever since and all things rings, engagement and wedding related have taken over my brain! I hope everyone is okay and will play catch-up with your posts as soon as I can.

In the meantime I wanted to write today about the struggles I am having despite this glorious news with (ex)work friend and with my younger sister (I’ll write about my sister in a separate post as this is long).

You know the background regarding ex work friend already but its been another couple of weeks so here is the latest: On the day I came into work following my engagement, lots of colleagues gathered around my desk lots of them screaming and hugging me with excitement (it was so lovely!), she walked over without me having seen her coming and said with a very neutral face “congratulations”.  She then immediately turned around and walked off cue awkward silence from the people at my desk!

It was a mature thing to do in the circumstances I guess, but awkward nonetheless. That was our only communication since the day we fell out until Tuesday lunch time when I received an email from her. I’ll paste it in here only removing any names:

“Okay, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re done and I’m okay with that, but I am quite curious to know what it is exactly that you’re pissed off with me about.  I understood that you were pissed off because of the email I forwarded to [colleague] – I understand that and apologise.  To be honest, I didn’t really read your email properly and it was a genuine mistake, which is why I didn’t understand what you meant when you emailed me saying “Why did you send that?”  I literally had to check what I had sent to understand what you meant.  Anyway, it was a genuine mistake and you know that I wouldn’t do something like that on purpose – not to you or anyone else for that matter.  I would’ve thought that you knew that, being my ‘friend’. 

Anyway, I knew you were pissed off with me by the fact that you’ve given me the cold shoulder, the silent treatment and have even taking to walking the long way round to go to the kitchen/loo/lift to avoid passing my desk.  There has been no communication from you whatsoever (apart from the odd work-based contact).  To top it all off, you’ve blocked me on Facebook but not only me but my daughter and [her best friend] as well (that hurt by the way –  why [daughter] and [her friend] have been brought into whatever this is I don’t know, but it didn’t go down too well, as I’m sure you can imagine).

To be honest I thought it would all blow over because you’ve done this before (the silent treatment/cold shoulder act because I’ve said or done something to piss you off) but as the days – and weeks –  have passed I’ve come to the conclusion that there may be more to this than an erroneously sent email because surely you can’t be that pissed off about an email to warrant this treatment?  So I’ve waited for you to let me know, to no avail. 

So, could you please show me the courtesy of telling me what it is I’ve supposed to have done (apart from the email)?   I would have thought that our ‘friendship’ would at least have meant that you would’ve approached me and told me why you were so pissed off, and maybe even go so far as to give me the benefit of the doubt.  Instead I’ve had nothing from you whatsoever – just avoidance. 

You don’t get to treat me like this and think it’s okay.  Because it’s not.  I deserve better.  At least have the balls to tell me why you’re behaving this way. I don’t want anything out of this – I just want to get things cleared up and to move on.  If it means we’re done, then that’s fine – I’m okay with that (in fact I’d prefer it), but we can still be civil and grown up.”  

I wasn’t expecting that email AT ALL and so it did throw me – the familiar body feelings came back instantly and with the same intensity as always. The feeling is like nerves, it makes my entire body tingle and my heart beat fast – its definitely fear. I hate that she can have that effect on me but I understand thanks to T that its got a lot of “mum stuff” in it – going against authority and not just doing what the other person wants immediately scares me. I try to have compassion with myself in these moments. I read her email several times and thought about my reply, I bashed a response out within minutes which was quite angry and defensive but I didn’t plan to send it. I then went out for a walk to get a sandwich and to try to calm myself down a bit.

Later I sent her email to T for her advice and when I spoke to T that night, she told me to take my time with a response. I was surprised that she thought I should respond at all but she said she felt not responding would give her more ammunition to make me out to be the BBITW (biggest bitch in the world)…. She gave me some pointers such as saying “I agree with you that”.. to a few things she said such as I agree with you that you deserve to hear my side of things…. I agree with you that our friendship has run its course and I agree with you that we should remain civil in work.

She told me to take my time and remember I had no urgency to send my response. This is something I’ve really come to notice, that when I get some sort of communication from someone, my mother, her, whoever I do feel like I HAVE to respond quickly.  T asked me why and I said I wasn’t sure but with her it is the worry of what she will do if I do not respond quickly enough.  T asked me “what is the worst that can happen” and I laughed and said that made me feel a bit pathetic – I know logically she can’t really “do” anything but that the feeling was in me.  T said of course it was, that I have been against this stuff all of my life. She said she didn’t say that to try to underplay how I felt, but that she hoped it would help to ground me a little when I felt scared or nervous.

T advised me not to bother defending myself too much but to simply give my reason and then set my boundaries being that the friendship was over and that I would not respond to any further emails. She said to put that in because although it wouldn’t stop her from sending anything, it gave her notice that whatever she sends will be ignored.  I liked this advice because I really do not want to have to send more replies – this one is hard enough!

Here is what I plan to send:

“Thanks for your email. I agree that you deserve to hear my side of things and so here it is:

My feelings are that when we became friends about 8 years ago I was a very different person. The dynamic of our friendship was in-keeping with who I was then – and I feel I have changed and grown and that I am no longer able to manage certain behaviours from you because of this.  The main areas of contention for me are what I view as your possessiveness over me (particularly regarding lunch times), your guilt-tripping if I do not do what you want me to do and being made to feel as though I owe you something for having been a friend to me.

This has been something that has, over time, become more and more difficult to manage and tolerate and I think that because of this, it began to grow as a resentment and I began to feel obligated to do things that you wanted, despite my own feelings, due to how you would react/respond if I did not. It began to feel like emotional blackmail if I am honest, and that isn’t something I wish to deal with any longer.

I feel if I do not keep you happy I am “punished” either by you not speaking to me, sulking, making comments that I am  rude or selfish or along those lines (sometimes disguised as “jokes”), leaving our chat conversations immediately, saying to other people that you would expect more from me “after all you have done for me” etc.  It has grated on me for a very long time until I have now reached the point where I just cannot take it anymore, it has taken the joy out of our friendship.

I feel that those things are not okay in a friendship between two adults and this is another problem – I do not feel you treat me as your equal, but as a child – and a child that deserves to be told off or punished for what you view as “bad behaviour” even down to me looking at my mobile phone during my lunch hour.  I think in hindsight, I used to allow all of this treatment because I knew no different and thought it was normal, but I no longer want to accept people making me feel bad – regardless of who they are.

I have no wish to become enthralled in tit-for-tat or exchanging cruel words. You have said your piece, and now I have said mine and so I am letting you know that I will not be responding to any other messages.

I agree with you that our friendship has run its course and I also agree with you that we should be civil and professional.”

T thinks that my reply is good in that it gives her the closure she has asked and that I take ownership by saying that it is ME that has changed – she said it is truthful but not cruel. I hope that is true because it feels nasty even though I am not saying anything that is not true – I try to remember that my feelings cannot be wrong, they just are.

I’ve decided to send it after work hours tonight, and from my personal email account to her personal email account to keep it away from work. I also hope that the weekend will give her time to digest what I say and try to prevent any instant (abusive) reaction in the workplace! T has also said that this will help me in future if things really get tricky with her and I end up having to get help from management at work – I can demonstrate that I’ve tried to keep this out of work as much as possible.

So… now I’ll have to wait and see how she responds. I am nervous I won’t lie. I worry she will respond very aggressively and I predict that she will be absolutely outraged at what I’ve said. She has a lot of information about me and knows my weak spots and I think she will say some very painful things. I imagine they will consist of how selfish I am, how I have changed – not for the better.. how I am cold and ruthless and various other things.

I told T that I am not very good at being able to separate my truth from an allegation and so people’s words do hurt me. She said that is because I’ve been hurt this way and said that growing up, I was always the scapegoat for people’s shit and that as a child I was unable to know what was and wasn’t true about me – that my mother projected stuff onto me and this stuff taps into that. Being selfish is always something I’ve found particularly painful and I am convinced that is what she will call me. She called me selfish and rude enough when we were friends!

I am trying to tell myself that setting boundaries and not doing 100% of what someone else wants DOES NOT make me selfish, but it is a fight still. I hope that one day I have the ability that so many other people seem to have of just letting these things roll off me.

T has also warned me that she may do a total 360 to what I expect and apologise and that I need to think about how I would deal with that. That totally threw me – I can’t imagine it, but it’s an easy way of getting me back on side isn’t it and an easy way of making me look bad because if I then don’t accept her apology, she can tell everyone that too…………. I just need to remember that it is possible to accept and thank someone for an apology without that meaning normal service has to resume.

I feel like I’m climbing a huge mountain and I’m right near the top but that the worst is yet to come.