Anger Turned Inwards

anger

In last night’s session I told T that I had noticed from reading through some of my old blogs that when I have my “bad days”, I tend to be extremely harsh about my weight and my looks. I told her that I always feel “hideous”. I told her that reading through the posts written on days where I was in that dark place, there was a very familiar theme where I pulled myself apart and called myself lots of horrible names.

T said she could tell I was really quite taken aback about this and I told her that I have NEVER been someone who has liked her appearance, particularly my weight but other things too, but that this was shocking because of how extreme the self-hatred was in some of those blogs.

I told her that last Monday’s post (written in the rupture) was particularly awful. I told her that it was the most severe I have felt with regards to the self-hatred. I was trying to get her to understand that it was the closest I have ever come to self-harm. I have never self-harmed in the conventional sense of the word but that day last week I guess the image I had was VERY vivid and the thought did cross my mind. I know I shouldn’t really admit that but I feel it is important at the moment.

I didn’t actually tell T this and I’m not sure that she quite understood what I was trying to say (why would she when I wasn’t actually saying the words).. I was too embarrassed to tell her and thought perhaps I would send her that blog after the session so she could see for herself (but I didn’t/haven’t).

I said to T “I am wondering if on the days where I am really down and crying a lot that I am actually angry?” and she kind of nodded and said “you mean the anger comes out as tears?”. I said to her perhaps yes, but I was thinking more that the anger is turned onto myself in a “I hate my body, I am thick, I am useless” kind of way.

I have thought about this a lot since my session and this is what I’ve come up with.

Many people say that depression is anger turned inwards. My T said this to me years ago and I remember always finding that immensely interesting. I didn’t think it applied to me (I wasn’t depressed OR angry apparently) but here we are. Now, why would you turn your anger onto yourself? For me the reasons are clear: Trying to save others from being on the receiving end of my anger.  Preventing myself from pushing people away and causing them to abandon me.  Being the good girl. Having been taught that I am not allowed to show my anger else I will be punished.. there are probably more reasons than that even.

If I have been too scared of my own anger for all of the reasons above, it makes sense that any angry feelings I had wouldn’t have just miraculously disappeared, so where did it go? Onto myself.

Forms of turning anger inwards for me include the self-hatred as discussed above, reckless spending or perhaps drinking too much, different food habits perhaps not eating enough (starving myself and punishing myself for being “fat) or perhaps eating too much to try to feel better. Withdrawing socially, sleeping too much or not enough and various other things.. which lead me to my next thought:-

On my “bad days” I stay home because I can’t face the world/work/people. I stay home, I draw the curtains and lock the doors, I cry on and off all day, I might sleep a lot or I might not.. it depends but the thing I am focussing on here is that I lock myself away.  Now, when I was young, about 4 probably, my mother and her friend locked me in a room because I was being “a little brat” I was locked in there for a long time, at least a few hours and the memory of it still makes me feel weird.  I banged the door in with a hairbrush over and over again until I fell into a heap on the floor from exhaustion. Nobody came, nobody helped me and it was horrible.  It is a memory I talk about a lot and clearly a memory which has had an impact on me because a few years ago me and my fiancé were having an argument and he left the bedroom in a huff, slamming the door behind him. I FREAKED out at that. I couldn’t bare that door being closed and me being left in it like that. Clearly I now see it was a trigger for me of that horrible memory.

Today I feel I may have joined some dots up..

When I am depressed (read ANGRY), I lock myself away in my room (house). I punish myself for having angry feelings. JUST LIKE SHE DID.

I could be onto something here or I could be way off and being a bit dramatic, but it feels like I might have really understood something that I unconsciously do.

The problem with locking myself away like that is that I become stuck in my depressed, crying state. I am left to almost marinate in my own sadness. The feelings are usually hopelessness, powerlessness and other similar things which would make sense if you think about it because if you are angry with someone else (let’s say my mother in my case) but I am too scared to feel that anger towards her, I decide that I will blame myself for my disappointments and frustrations. I decide that it is all because of me, my shortcomings, my failures, my inabilities…. Because unconsciously I’ve decided, or perhaps learnt, that the alternative is to express my anger outwardly and to lose the love, care and affection of those I depend on. I guess the primitive fear goes back to the fact that without my mother, I would have literally died and so I couldn’t possibly feel the amount of anger I must have had in me to her.

So moving on now that I’ve had this idea, I guess the next step is to try to be honest with myself when I get those feelings and figure out what I am truly angry about. I imagine that won’t be easy giving that I’ve been able to block that out for my entire life to date. If I can pinpoint the real source of that anger and find a way of expressing it more appropriately (not in hurtful ways), perhaps I will disperse the anger quicker and in the process perhaps I won’t hate myself quite as much.

Doing my usual Google search, the suggestions for getting in touch with repressed anger/anger turned inwards are figuring out the following:

  • How often do you feel that way?
  • What type of feelings do you get?
  • What are the warning signs?
  • What triggers it? (i.e. is it a lack of self-control, self-discipline, forgetting something or being selfish or not having the ability to do something you wish you could).

Now I don’t know what to do with my anger, clearly so I need to make it my job to find out how to appropriately do that. Time for more Googling and to buy lots of new books I think!

“The first image that comes up is stripping my clothes off and then slicing the fat off my body.”

“I’ve noticed that my fiancé is the one triggering my angry feelings. Whenever he comes close to me to try and touch me or make a joke it makes me mad. Why?” 

“I feel so stupid.” 

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Borderline Personality Disorder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next..

Unstable relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this…. the 9 signs of BPD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many thoughts in my head right now whirling around!

The Floodgates Have Opened (Trigger Warning) ⚠️ 

Last night when the kids went home and I wrote my blog, I felt a familiar feeling of being low, being down or sad or something. I put a lot of it down to this current situation with T, but thought it could also be standard Sunday blues and perhaps some secret resentment of having had the kids all weekend and having no time to myself or my fiancé mixed with some (immature) irritations at things mainly triggered between my fiancé and my Stepdaughter. Also that memory is playing on my mind. 

I went to bed feeling down and thought to myself, why are you so sad? I told myself to pull myself together and that I don’t have much longer at this company so I just had to suck it up. 

I dreamt a lot last night. The dream seems to be all over the place, I will note it below in case writing it helps me make sense of a feeling or message somehow. 

Anyway, I got dressed this morning and felt huge. Really fat. I grabbed onto the fat on my hips and stomach and felt hideous. I’ve really let myself go. I stepped on the scales and thought again, wow, you fat cow. 

My hair looks shit. It’s all over the place and the top looks greasy despite being washed yesterday. Why am I so ugly and fat? 

I walked to work and regretted the trousers I am wearing. They make me look even fatter. What was I thinking? I can’t pull these off. 

I got to work, I felt headachy, sweaty and miserable. I changed my shoes and took my bag to the toilets to do my hair again. I went into a cubicle, sat down on the toilet and BOOM! I burst into hysterical tears. I cried so hard, so loudly and so many tears. I felt awful. I also didn’t give two shits that colleagues may hear me. I just kept crying and crying… 

I realised this wasn’t going to pass and I grabbed my phone and text my boss. I told him I wasn’t in a state to work and that I needed to take the day as sick or work from home. I knew I couldn’t really work from home and regretted suggesting that. luckily he replied and told me to take it as sick. 

I’m now on my way back home. I’m trying to picture what I want or need to do when I get in. The first image that comes up is stripping my clothes off and then slicing the fat off my body. I won’t actually do that, don’t worry, but that’s the image. 

I wonder if I need sleep? Do I need exercise? Nothing is hitting the spot. I have slept loads this weekend and when I sleep, I dream and I don’t want to dream and wake up worse. 

I’ve thought about contacting T to say I need to see her and sort this mess out today , perhaps it’s this making me so upset? But what is stopping me is that given how I am feeling, the very last thing I want to do is show her my weakness. I can’t show her I am weak and impressionable and easily shut up. I can’t afford to be vulnerable with her at the moment. She is too dangerous. 

My eyes are filling up as I type this on my phone on the train home. 

I think to myself, what is wrong with you?? Seriously?! 

The dream:

Walking around the area my Nan used to live in looking for the school I worked in. Couldn’t find it or remember the name of it. 

Got picked up along the main road Nan lived on but left my saucepans on. Someone took them in and I wanted to get them but was too embarrassed to admit they were mine and I had left them on. 

Two dead babies. I held one. I stood up and the dead baby was heavy and my shoe heel sunk into the grass – I asked someone to hold the baby until I had come back but said I wasn’t avoiding the dead babies which is what they were implying. 

Another teacher had loads and loads of lovely clothes. I didn’t have any. I found her room and all her clothes were hanging up. She had such lovely stuff. I looked at the labels and thought I would try and shop there but doubted anything would look as nice on me. 

My boss said I could go home early – it was about 4pm but I hadn’t done someone else’s typing. I asked if he needed me to stay and do it, he said it needed to be done by 10am tomorrow. I thought I would send it to his PA, but was nervous she wouldn’t pick it up in time and wasn’t sure whether I should stay or not. 

Days like this are HARD. Hard isn’t a strong enough word. Days like this make me feel like I have a real fault. Nobody else seems to get this way at work, none of my friends do either. Why am I so miserable? I feel so awful for my fiancé, he’s always so happy and content. He’s so steady. He’s just had what he classes as “a great weekend” and has gone to work feeling rested – then there’s me?! How does that happen? How did someone like him get stuck with someone like me? 

Still down 

Here we are again… still… I’m sat on the bathroom floor pretending to still be in the bath just to get some time alone. Work today was horrible, I was manic busy and it was stressful. I went to work still feeling down, sad and angry. Like I had last night. 

I seemed to be able to put these feelings aside at work but they came flooding back instantly the very second I walked out of the office tonight. I walked home slowly and felt so deflated. I even stopped off to buy a chocolate bar which I ate immediately and that really isn’t something I do or have ever done. 

The feeling is so heavy. It’s taking over and I don’t have the energy to try and fake being okay. I’m not okay but my reason seems so small. 

The kids are here now and so I have to snap into happy stepmother role and I seriously feel the opposite. 

I’ve noticed that my fiancé is the one triggering my angry feelings. Whenever he comes close to me to try and touch me or make a joke it makes me mad. Why? 

The only thing I want to do is sleep. Oh and eat. I fancied wine too but realised that was just to make me feel better and I’ve stopped myself because well, that’s not healthy is it. 

I played my audiobook all the way home but none of it really went in so I’m going to have to rewind it and play it again. 

I hope this feeling has passed when I wake up. It’s really got its claws into me. 

What goes up…. 

I feel really down today. I’m sad, really sad. I have fought the temptation of not going to work the whole journey so far because I can feel in my entire body, in my bones, a really intense need to cry. To sob. 

I’m slightly surprised because I felt very strong on Friday, I even emailed my T to tell her that I felt a huge shift in my recovery. I meant every word. Now I feel like some sort of crazy person for being such a yoyo of emotion. Up one day and down the next, such extremes. 

It feels as though it’s been a while since I felt this sadness. It’s heavy. It’s in my body and in my brain. I feel like I’m so weak and so tired yet physically I’m standing and trying to keep going. It’s so tough. 

The reason for the sadness is this. Last night my fiancé told me that the reason he was quiet/down all day was due to how difficult he found Saturday evening (gathering at my aunt’s house with my mother). He said it’s just all so toxic and dysfunctional and that he always feels so on edge. He also said he finds it so twisted that everyone is so clearly slagging each other off and so and so hates x and x hates y…. he said that me and my mother were clearly trying to wind each other up and he found it very tough as he was constantly waiting for it to all kick off. He also added that it’s always a high-pressured environment to drink as much as you can and he doesn’t like that. 

Now, today I can honestly say that everything he said is right. It’s all true but what happened when he said this to me last night was that I felt attacked and I became very defensive and emotional. 

I felt like he was saying my whole family were fucked up. That everyone is toxic and that the environment is always drunk-fuelled and dysfunctional. I felt like that said something about me. That was a dig about ME. The thing is, all of those statements are sadly true. But why did I feel it was a reflection of me? I don’t know. 

His statement about how me and my mother were clearly winding one another up angered me because I felt he wasn’t “On my side”. I felt as though he was saying I was a bad as her. I also felt defensive because although yes I admit I probably did become a little passive aggressive, it was only in retaliation and deep down, inside me, I was so hurt and disappointed that situation was happening. Again. 

I see today that I was beginning to be sucked back in to her. I rather foolishly started to think things had maybe begun to change! I had seen her a few times recently, more than I have for a very long time and she had behaved well! I thought that it was my new boundaries and her finally not being able to push me around that was making our time together much more tolerable….. I was wrong. 

I feel so stupid. 

On Saturday night she did various things that upset or angered me and as I wrote yesterday, I had tears as I went to sleep and I wasn’t sure what the tears were for. I do now. 

I hate to admit that there is still a part of me that needs her mother. I hate to admit that she has left me feeling so grieved again. I hate myself for falling into the trap again and I hate her for not being who I want her to be. 

More objectively I can also see that it’s understandable for me to occasionally slip back into thought processes and that of course the child in me still yearns for her mother. I can also see that she is who she is and that I shouldn’t hate her for that because it’s only using up my energy. I need to learn to accept her for who she is and I thought I had. But I haven’t. 

Friday I felt as though I was at the top of a mountain and today I feel like I’ve fallen and I’m completely covered in rocks and I’m struggling to get out. 

I did become passive aggressive with her and I did do/say things to wind her up – I should have. The reason I did that was because she had (yet again) hurt me so deeply and disappointed me so much. She triggered my hurt and angry inner child and my inner child reacted from that place rather than from an adult place. 

I told my fiancé that he sounded righteous and obnoxious and that he made it sound like my entire circle were all distorted and fucked up and even said to him that I can’t spend my entire life only being around him, his parents and his kids! I realise today that I said that because I’m so jealous. I want so badly to have some “normal” family, some normal gatherings and I won’t ever have that. 

It isn’t righteous when it’s true is it. 

And today all of this and more things that I don’t have the words for are pulling me down and making me feel so much sadness and so much anger and so much disappointment. 

Where am I in healing from my mother wound? 

How am I feeling about her at the moment? 

Where am I in this journey to heal from the mother wound – of being an unloved daughter of a narcissist? 

I don’t know. 

This is the thing, everything is so confusing in this recovery. It all seems to overlap and intertwine, nothing seems clear cut and obvious, nothing is easy to articulate or process. I think that’s what makes it harder. You make progress in one aspect and then you fall back in another. 

I often wish someone would give me some sort of map of recovery, so I could see what stages there were, which stages I had “completed” and which stages were yet to come. I question myself why? Why do I want that? and I think the answer is that I want to know I’m getting somewhere and I need to know there’s an end in sight somewhere – the feeling that this pain and confusion is never-ending is too much to take. 

It’s like peeling a very large onion. You learn something (that she’s a narc for example) a layer comes off as you take that in and you learn what that means. That takes years and then your understanding and awareness deepens a bit and you learn something else, maybe that you feel guilty for thinking badly about her – you explore that, where that comes from and why and another layer comes off. This goes on and on. 

I have no idea how many layers I’ve peeled off this onion now, but it feels like a hell of a lot and it feels as though its scarily never-ending. It’s the fear of what’s to come and how much more pain is yet to make its way into my heart. 

My latest realisation this week is how scared I am of her. I knew I was scared of certain things, but this week I’ve seen and felt the true strength of this fear in a way that I’ve never “seen” before. It’s shaken me up a bit to be honest. 

Was that small child as scared as this? I mean, if I’m this scared with my adult knowledge, life experience and safety, how the hell did a helpless child feel who had to live with her night and day? The answer is that the child made it her fault. Mummy was good – she was bad. And that’s stuck. I don’t know what’s worse. 

She couldn’t get away. It makes me feel sick. 

So I’ve been asking myself, what exactly am I scared of? 

I just don’t know the answer. I guess it’s just the way my inner child has been programmed. It’s not a conscious thought process. The way I reacted and how easily I was triggered Wednesday was excessive – she was dangerous. The way I felt and the way my body reacted Saturday evening before going to her house tells me I was very scared. 

I know logically there is nothing to be scared of. I’m an adult now – I no longer need her for survival. I don’t need her approval now. I have my own life, house and family and I don’t even have any warm feelings towards her – I dislike her and I HATE the lack of connection between us and how raw that feels to me. 

Avoiding her for as long as possible seems the best and safest option. 

Yet I now have the option to cut her out completely and yet I choose against it? Why? The truth is (and it’s hard to even admit this), that it’s for her sake. 

I see her for her sake. To keep her happy. How fucked up is that? I don’t see her because I miss her or because I enjoy her company. I subject myself to the anxiety before visiting her, the false-self during my visits and then the pain and sadness that follow the day after when I inevitably cry and mourn a little more the difference between what I want and what I have. 

It’s like self-punishment. I punish myself for her gain over and over again. 

I know that T, my boyfriend and probably my readers will be thinking that I don’t need to do those things, that I don’t owe her anything and that it’s probably infuriating to read – yet the idea that I could live without her seems impossible. Which again makes no sense because she does nothing for me!!! What would I miss other than the apprehension, anxiety and fear? 

I think perhaps I’m scared of her ability to manipulate me and how easily she can do it. 

I’m scared she will suck me back in without me realising. 

I’m scared she will turn me bad – make me do and say things that are not really me as I morph into the people-pleasing me I used to be with her. 

I’m scared she will ruin my life. She will damage my relationship with my boyfriend, with my other family members, with friends or my boyfriend’ family…. and why? Because she can and because she has done before. The risk is real. 

I’m scared of what could happen if we got into an argument. Of what I would do or say. Yet there’s a part of me wishing for an excuse to let rip and have an excuse to break ties. 

I’m scared of having to feel the depths of my feelings about her. 

I’m still scared I’ve got it all wrong even though logically I know i haven’t. 

I’m still scared that everything else in my life is borrowed and that I may find myself alone one day and need her. That ultimately she’s the only thing I’m guaranteed to “keep”. 
I don’t like her and I don’t like who I am around her. It’s all too fake. I feel I loose touch with myself when I am there and it’s scary how naturally that happens, how quickly and how effortlessly. 

I don’t feel love for her as a daughter “should” and I can’t handle the disconnect that’s recently become so obvious. That hurts me deeply. 

The denial has left (for the most part) and the harsh reality that’s left is frankly sickening. 

I find myself caught in cycles of self-pity, mourning and grief, anger then depression. 

I wish I could go back in time with this new knowledge and grow myself up properly, differently. I wish I could save my inner child from the feelings I had to endure. I wish someone could save me from enduring them now too.

So much damage has already been done, what more am I scared of? Family relationships have been ruined. Family members think things about me that aren’t true because of her and I’m dealing with that – though it’s a struggle because it’s unfair – I’m learning to accept that’s how this is going to go, I’ve given up the fight. 

I don’t need anyone’s approval anymore. I don’t want her’s and if I can’t get my Nan’s or my sister’s or whoever else’s then so be it. 

But I do want to get to a place where I fully support myself. Where I have less doubt and far less fear. When will I feel strong on my own?

I’m only uncovering the truth, my truth and yet I feel like I’m being deceitful in doing so. I’m sick of the blame being on my shoulders. I keep telling myself, if she wanted me to speak nicer about her, she should have given me nicer things to tell.. 

It all comes down to the fact that I am hurt so very deeply by her. My heart physically breaks when I’m in touch with these feelings. It feels like it will be eternal. I can’t intellectualise this away. It’s not possible. My mother is too self absorbed and selfish and narcissistic to love me how I needed and still need to be loved. I didn’t have the mum I needed – or deserved and I never will. 

How do you heal that hole in your heart? 

Why didn’t I get that? I’m learning it wasn’t my fault, I’m believing this, slowly… yet I need explanations. I need logic to help me accept it and there isn’t any. I have to feel this to loosen its hold. 

I know it’s not true, but it feels like I’m the only daughter who wasn’t loved by her mum and dad in the world. It feels so acutely personal. 
There’s grief, sadness, anger, hate, disbelief and it’s all muddled up and confused. 

People talk about me setting boundaries with her that would enable a more beneficial relationship between us and there is nothing I can think of that would enable this to happen because as awful as it sounds, it’s not boundaries I need, it’s an entirely different mother. 

Sure I could suggest we meet at a different location, a restaurant for example so it’s less on her territory. I could lay down the law and ban certain subjects of conversation etc but none of this seems appealing to me because none of those adjustments would give me what I need. It doesn’t feel as though a middle ground is achievable or even wanted. 

So what, I would rather put myself through this self punishment than even try and apply helpful boundaries? Yep. How distorted is that?! 

In an ideal world, she would do something so undeniably awful to me that I could evidence and then I’d cut her off forever. Nobody could think badly of me because “look what she did!!” They wouldn’t be able to take her side, they wouldn’t pity her and I would be guilt-free. I could finally cut the ties and walk away with my head held high. Some readers may be thinking that she’s already done that in so many ways and you’d be right, but none of it is easy to prove and even she isn’t able to admit any wrongdoing yet alone apologise to me. So there’s still that doubt that I have it wrong. That I would be making a huge mistake. 

Then there’s all the people that tell me I should try to emphasise with my mum and understand that she loved me the only way she knew how, that clearly she has wounds herself that affected her parenting ability and then the guilt is back in my hands – it’s me in the wrong again. 

Tell me this gets easier please? I feel like I could drown in the confusion and pain this brings. 

Winnicott: Fear of Breakdown

Have you ever read about Winnicott’s fear of breakdown? If you haven’t, I highly recommend that you Google it and have a read. I just found a paper written by Claire Winnicott (psychoanalyst and wife of Donald Winnicott called, “Fear of breakdown: A clinical example” and I found it utterly fascinating and extremely comforting.

Below I have picked out a few of the most relevant quotes for me personally within that paper and I think that some of my fellow bloggers may find this as interesting as I have.

According to D. Winnicott, the fear of breakdown is described as “a previous early breakdown occurred at a time when the ego cannot organize against environmental failure, when dependence is a living fact. At the dependence stage environmental failure disrupts the ego defence organization and exposes the individual again to the primitive anxieties which he had, with the help of the facilitating environment, organised himself to deal with. This leads to an unthinkable state of affairs”.

 

Clare Winnicott says in her paper “In fact the word anxieties is not a strong enough word, and Winnicott lists what he calls the primitive agonies against which new defences must be constructed. This early trauma will continue to be a threat until and unless the patient is able to experience the original event now with the help of the ego supporting analyst (mother)”.  Winnicott concludes “there is no end [to the analysis] unless the bottom of the trough has been reached, unless the thing feared has been experienced”.

Clare Winnicott discusses one of her patient’s story which, in my opinion, is well worth the read. In that story she talks about the patient working through her “negative feelings with regard to dependence” – something that I struggle with in my therapy and something that I know fellow bloggers also struggle with.  I am hoping this may normalise it for you as it has for me.  She also talks about the “broken-down child” and how that part of her patient was “split off and defended against”.  Claire Winnicott says “In other words, she developed a successful false-self to deal with the situation”.  This is one of the “primitive agonies” that Winnicott described in his theory.  My thoughts as I read this section were that this explains why my T used to press me to not only consider the “self-sufficient adult” and to think about the non-logical, non-rational parts of me.  When she used to ask me where my feelings were. My false-self was certainly centre-stage.

She explains that her patient began to see her as “a mother therapist who could feed her” albeit via the power of a dream. Claire suggested to the patient that the patient saw her as having “special powers”.  I know this is something that I can relate to. My T has been placed on a pedestal and I certainly view her as being some sort of “golden healer”.  Irrationally thinking that if only I could get more access to her, that I would be healed when deep down I know that is untrue. At least it appears to be a normal part of the process.

The example discusses the patient’s use of a transitional object which is something that a lot of us going through trauma therapy have spoken about before. Another reassuring thing to read.

The patient later has a dream where she literally picks up her child self. Clare Winnicott suggested that this represented the fact that the patient “felt strong enough with my help to go back and pick up and carry that distressed child part of herself from which she had been cut off for so long. I also said it seemed that the child was now no longer frozen, but was ready to move and come alive and to be part of her grown up self”.   This was of particular interest to me at the moment because I was telling T on Tuesday that all of a sudden the “voice” of my inner child is clear, that suddenly it is very obvious that I have an adult voice and a child voice and that although they are in constant conflict, it is very much there and it didn’t used to be.  Reading this has reassured me that perhaps this is a sign I am getting stronger and am more able to “move and come alive” as Clare describes about her patient.

 

In summary of her patient Claire says “as the transference became established the patient was able to reveal to the analyst in a concrete way the nature of the early trauma which had caused the original breakdown at a time when the patient’s immature ego was not strong enough to encompass the experience. The traumatized child part of herself therefore became split off and defended against. The work of the analysis has been concerned with the gradual experiencing for the first time, with the support of the analyst, the pain and terror of the early breakdown. Over a period of years this has led to the re-discovery and reintegration of the lost child in to the patient’s present ego organization”.

 

Perhaps this may offer some explanation to anyone who is feeling frustration and anger at not being able to cry in therapy yet? Maybe the tears only follow once the psyche starts to acknowledge that lost child and lets it speak out. Some lost children will take longer than others to come out of hiding due to their own personal trauma. For me, this took over 2 years. I guess it depends on quite how long and how strong that defence was, how strong the “false-self” has become and how safe it feels now. I relate this to all of us who have longings that we are too scared to act on: I hope that we learn to push past each of our uncomfortable limits a little bit more each time our therapists respond in a caring, understanding, attuned and non-punishing or judgmental way.

The therapeutic journey seems to be more clear-cut to me having read these papers. Obviously as with any theory you will have your own opinion on it, but for me this is encouraging. It has helped to explain away and normalise the fears I have with dependency, the depth and strength of the feelings of grief and sadness (the primitive agonies), the need for a strong mother like attachment with my therapist, the use of transitional objects, the need to “hear” the child within, or the “lost child” as it is described here.  It explains that gradually over a period of potentially more years, I will re-experience the initial breakdown in small more manageable chunks and that is how I will heal.  I have even read that “This fear is characterized by feelings of falling forever” and that sums up very well the feelings I get when I am in what I call an emotional flashback, where I am triggered and regressed. Those times I have written about where I feel utterly desperate and unable to function as an adult, unable to go to work and just want to stay in bed and hide from life.

I hope this helps others the way it has helped me.

 

 

 

 

Am I being nosy?

Last night’s session

I was as desperate to see T last night as I was nervous.  I had emailed her on Monday evening to tell her what had happened with work and the doctors etc.  She had said we would talk about it when I saw her and so hence the nerves. Saying that, I was glad that T already knew what was going on and that I didn’t have to walk in there and tell her.

She asked me how I was feeling and I said I was feeling okay… I don’t think I was actually looking at her though.. it all felt very awkward.  T said “I don’t think you are okay actually” and then we spoke in detail about what work had said and what the doctor had said.  She said that I didn’t need antidepressants because I wasn’t depressed.  She said I was in fact “coming out of depression and beginning to feel” probably for the first time.

I liked those words. Those words felt far more promising and hopeful than being told I was in fact, depressed.

T went on to say that antidepressants would block me from feeling the things that I very clearly need to feel. I told her that was my worry also but the doctor had said it wouldn’t interfere.  She asked me if I had got the pills and I said no, I hadn’t bothered because I didn’t want to take them.

We spoke at length about work and how they have handled this. I told her that I felt like a fraud yesterday because although on Monday I was in a mess, yesterday I got up early and went to the gym, went food shopping etc and felt fine.  I said that now I am signed off work for a week and it felt wrong and insincere.  T said I didn’t need to be signed off work but that everyone just wanted a quick fix. Work expects me to be “better”, the doctor gives pills that essentially fake that feeling – she said how very frustrating it is that nobody has a real understanding about these things.  She told me that I wasn’t depressed nor mentally unwell, I was just struggling a bit with processing the trauma and I was becoming quite regressed at times like that. I agreed.

I told T that my team coordinator had suggested my T wrote a letter to them to tell them what they should expect from me, what I was dealing with etc. T said she wouldn’t write a letter but she would speak to someone on the phone if I wanted her to. She said she wouldn’t discuss specifics about my therapy but would explain that sometimes I just need a bit of space to be able to cry and that working from home every now and again was helping with that because I was still able to do my job but didn’t have to spend the day crying on the train or in the office. I told her that is exactly how I felt but now they had taken that away from me.  T started to say a few of the things she would say on the phone to my HR department and she sounded FIESTYYYYYYY!!! I liked it. She clearly would not be taking any shit.  She sounded fiercely protective of me, I liked it. I also thought I would not want to get on the wrong side of her LOL! She said she would tell them that the way there were treating me was absolutely disgusting (amongst other things).

I told T that I liked being able to send her the hard stuff before seeing her because I always worry that she will react and I will see the reaction on her face.  T said she thought a lot of this came down to feeling ashamed which is part of the reason she thought I locked myself away.  I admitted that I felt embarrassed that I wasn’t handling things well and that I felt I should be able to deal with it better. T told me that I couldn’t because I was never taught how.  She said I was never given the tools to self-soothe and said that anyone with a childhood like mine would feel exactly the same way.

Moving on we spoke about my actual feelings during the crying.

I hate this bit because I still can’t express myself. T asked me what it was I needed when I was feeling like this and I told her I didn’t know.  I told her I had no conscious thoughts and that was very frustrating.  She asked me whether I felt that I needed her? I felt mean saying no, but said I genuinely, seriously did not have the answer.  I didn’t know. It all just felt very hopeless and huge and as I had said in my email to her the day before, as though the sadness and pain would never end.

She said that she had been a little worried that my crying wasn’t providing any relief.  I said I wasn’t really sure.

She said that it was okay to feel I needed her in those moments and that she wanted to know what my fantasies were.  I said again, I just didn’t know.  T said that perhaps it was an idea for us to check in by phone to see if she could help to ground me a little.. this wasn’t something I had ever thought about. It wasn’t something I had even fantasied could be an option. I don’t know if she meant a quick few minutes to ground me or a proper paid for session and I didn’t ask.  I said that perhaps it would hep but that during these times, I can’t even speak because I am crying so much.

T said that what she worried about was that during these episodes I was kind of experiencing a repeat.  I wasn’t really sure what she meant at the time but we later discussed this a bit more and basically when I was a child, I spent 99% of my time in my bedroom. I guess it was my safe place (that and the fact that I wasn’t actually allowed in the lounge because of “adult time” pfftt!!).  Anyway, I used to have extreme OCD and even eat my dinner in my bedroom.  T was concerned that I was repeating this by locking myself at home on my own on days I felt that low and suffering alone rather than trying with someone who could help me a little. I guess that was what I was used to.

I said that this was true, I did like to lock myself away. I liked to draw the curtains and hide under a blanket. I rarely shower and I never put on make up. She said that this was what she worried about. That I wasn’t able to ground myself or be comforted by anyone and that if I wasn’t sure I was getting any relief from these crying episodes, perhaps I was almost re traumatising myself.

T said that she had been thinking about me and I admitted that when she says that, I guess I still struggled to really believe it.  She said she had been questioning whether to send me a text to tell me she was thinking of me but she wasn’t sure what to do because she said then the one time she doesn’t text, it could feel as though she isn’t understanding my pain. I agreed with her because I know myself well enough to know I would feel very hurt if she text at certain times and not others, especially if I perceived them as equally painful.  I do like that she even thought about this though. I also thought that the check-in calls were a nice suggestion because I felt I already took up enough of her time.

At some point in the session T asked me whether there was anything else perhaps that I had written about on my blog and not shared with her. I said no. I said honestly there is nothing else. I then questioned myself.. was that true? I think so.  The problem with that question however was that it made my inner critic say “see, even T doesn’t know what you are making such a fuss about!”.  It also said that clearly this isn’t “normal” for other people and has made me feel like I am exaggerating or doing something wrong.

I then told her that I had a dream about her the other day where she was Jewish. I said that there really wasn’t much to the dream at all but that she was Jewish and had a large photograph of her mother behind a desk who was also Jewish.  T asked me what being Jewish meant to me and I said not a lot really.. I said I had been asking myself the same question but hadn’t been able to come up with much.  I said I had Googled it and couldn’t find anything that rang any bell.  I added that the reason I knew she was Jewish was because in the dream she had this hugely exaggerated Jewish nose (I know this reads very as hugely stereotypical and isn’t meant as offensive!) I said I had looked up the word nose and the only thing I could come up with was “being nosy”.  T asked her being nosy or me and I said me.  At this stage I kinda figured out that the nosy dream could have been about the blog post I wrote the other day called “What I was really saying was” … shit. I have since debated sending it to her/reading it to her tomorrow but I feel too nervous.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning I remembered that last night I had dreamt I had a new therapist and this therapist was saying the exact same things as T – the same words and the same phrases.  In the dream I was really hurt and shocked because it meant that nothing had been authentic with T –  it had all just been textbook stuff. I don’t think this consciously about T but I can only assume that subconsciously I am worried about that somehow.. I haven’t thought too much about this yet but I will give it a bit more thought. I might share that with her tomorrow.

Lastly T asked me how I was feeling about not having therapy next week (I am going to be on holiday).  I told T that stupidly, I hadn’t really figured that out until a couple of hours ago. I had been thinking of her next break as mid July and it had only just occurred to me.  She said whether it was me or her going away, the break may still be just as difficult.

I think I am going to re-read that blog about what I was really asking her and see if I can somehow muster up the courage to let her see it… agh I’m just not sure I am ready yet.  We will see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling like a fraud

Yesterday I was working from home because I felt so down. I couldn’t stop crying and was just generally a bit depressed.  As the day went on I thought that I needed to take a few days out and so I emailed my team coordinator and asked if it was an option to take a few days unpaid leave or to work from home a few more days.

About 3 hours went by without an answer. Eventually the phone rang and it was work.  In a nutshell they said that if my mental health was that bad, I shouldn’t be working from home at all and that going forwards, the agreement we had that I could do this now and again when I couldn’t face being at work – was no longer an option.

She then said that I had been using my annual leave for days like this too and that I would not be allowed to do this either… apparently annual leave should be used for fun and not for depression…

I’m not sure when exactly but I ended up crying so much that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk at all and was more or less hyperventilating! It was pretty embarassing because she kept saying “hello?” “are you there?”… aghgh cringe.

She told me that I should go to the doctors, get signed off work for a while and get antidepressants if I wanted to take them. I said I didn’t.

I went to the doctors, I got signed off work for 2 weeks, was given a prescription for antidepressants, sleeping pills and a form to get a blood test.  Apparently the blood test was for lots of things but one of them was to check my thyroid… he said depression can be a sign of thyroid problems.

Then my actual line manager called… he didn’t have much to say. I told him what the doctor had said and he was pretty quiet the other end of the phone… he didn’t feel particularly supportive.

I then sent T an email telling her what was going on and I said that it felt as though this pain and the tears would never stop. That it felt never-ending.  She replied and we said we would talk tonight at my session…

Turning to today, the feelings have vanished. I feel like it all happened to someone else. I am aware that this probably means I have dissociated and I know there is a high chance it will all come flooding back at T’s tonight… maybe? but it’s left me feeling like a fraud. I feel like I’ve made some big song and dance … like I’ve made a load of drama …. I thought to myself maybe I am just a lazy (insert word of choice) who will do anything for a few days off work…… T says not to attack myself which I guess I am doing when I think those thoughts.

Oh meh. I don’t know where this blog is going or what the point is exactly in me writing it. I was hoping I was going to uncover something unconscious but that doesn’t feel as though it’s happening.

The problem is that no two days are the same in my head at the moment. I am glad for some time off but I don’t want to feel like a fraud. I am worried about all the drama I have caused and I’m not sure whether any of this was really necessary or not… the doctor said I was mild to moderately depressed but not severely because I hadn’t thought about ending my life. I know that many people have it much worse.