The Ambush and The Text

I have wanted to sit and write for days, particularly today but I have felt way too tired to actually do it.  It is ten to 7 now and I still feel like I could fall asleep as I type this but I also really need to get some thoughts and feelings out of me and onto the page in the hope it helps me to feel a bit less stressed out.

On Sunday my sister text me asking if she could come over to my house, to talk to me and my fiancé because she felt “shit” about our falling out.  I was shocked but pleased that she asked this and told her I was very glad and that yes, of course she could. We made plans for her to come over Wednesday evening.  An hour or so later she text saying that she had seen her dad (for info, not my dad) and that he had a Christmas gift for me and my fiancé and so could he come along.  Instantly I worked out that he must be the person behind her asking to come over, as clearly my mother wouldn’t encourage us to get along – she would hate that.  I responded kindly but said we should sort our issues out alone first, and that we could make plans to see him the following week.  She replied saying OK.

Wednesday night came around and I was feeling a bit apprehensive about my sister’s visit.  The doorbell rang just as I was dishing up our dinner and so my fiancé went to let her in, however the next voice I heard was her dad’s “I hope you don’t mind me coming along” and then my sister’s voice saying “I’m staying at Dad’s”.  I was not impressed by this at all and I was (probably naively) totally unprepared for him being there and so felt a bit nervous and on the back-foot.  I felt annoyed with her for going against what I had said and inviting her dad anyway.

They came in, made small talk whilst we finished our dinner and then we made them each a cup of tea.  My fiancé then went outside to have a cigarette.  The second he went outside, her dad said to me “Right, look here, I have come over because I need to have a word with you. I am very concerned by your behaviour recently. I respect that this is your house and so you have every right to tell me you don’t want me to carry on”.  I think I probably rolled my eyes at this because I knew instantly the tone of the conversation was going to be “look here, pack it in’ and I wasn’t wrong.

He then started to say, “I do understand that counselling helps some people to deal with demons and their feelings about certain things but…” and I showed my frustration by rolling my eyes and a deep sigh. I was angry already.  He then said “counselling is like a cancer, it will eat away at you from the inside”.  He said it was “a scar that I was picking at needlessly and needed to leave alone”.

ANGER.

I then stopped him and said, I think we will stop this conversation here and wait for my fiancé to come back into the house because I think it is rather unfair that you’ve come over to my house, against my wishes and then waited for him to leave the room so you and my sister could gang up on me and start attacking my very private business, MY counselling which was none of his business.  I guess I was a bit rude at this point because I had reached new levels of frustration and I was so unprepared and shocked that I guess my anger was coming in as self-protection, rightly or wrongly.

My fiancé walked back inside and he spoke directly to him and said I was just saying that I need to have a talk with Twink about her behaviour and actions recently and that I am very concerned for her – is that okay with you? My fiancé said he was happy for us to have a conversation but would absolutely not tolerate any arguments.  He agreed. He then carried on his rant about counselling, I repeated it was none of his business – he then looked me up and down raising his eyebrows and said “What is wrong with you? I have never seen so much anger in you! You are so defensive!”.  I snapped back at him, yes I was angry and defensive because he had come into my home and started to insult and attack my private things that he “knew nothing about!”.

It went from bad to worse after this point. He said he had been speaking to my mother (well, durr) and how she had told him what I had done and said recently – that we hadn’t spoken since October and that I was so brainwashed and angry and defensive blah bah blah.. he started to tell me  how I needed to “draw a line under it and move on”.  He went on to say all the usual crap about how he knew I “didn’t have the best childhood” but that I was now an adult with my own family so it was time to stop this nonsense.

He said I had to have my mother at my wedding. That even if I invited her to my wedding and then never spoke to her again, then that is what I should do. I asked him why? Why should I? For whose benefit? I then told him, in a pointless attempt at justifying myself, that my mother had been badmouthing my fiancé for months behind our backs saying that he was controlling and manipulative and that I wasn’t the real me, that I wasn’t happy.   He said well she may or may not have said that and I said well my sister and my aunt had told me and I know she said it because since we have fallen out, she’s implied it herself in messages! I also said when I used to go to her house, she would wait until my fiancé was out of the room and would look at me and say “so how are things really? implying that I was putting on a happy front for his sake.  She would tell me that he didn’t love me, that if he did we would be married by now, have had children by now. She said he would always end up going back to his ex and that his children would always come before me (which is totally wrong in her view – as demonstrated by my childhood!).

His response? “Well your nan said some nasty things about me when I was married to your mum, just ignore it” – Errrrr how about no? He also then said to my fiance something about “his wife” and I angrily corrected him by saying “EX wife!”.  How rude.

He then said to my fiancé “How do you feel about having her mother and stepfather at the wedding?”.  My fiancé answered very sarcastically “Oh well yes I would LOVE to have people like that at my wedding!”.  Her dad, visibly annoyed said “be serious” and he said that no, he absolutely did not want them there.  My sister’s dad’s response to this was…. “Well the day is about Twink anyway, not you!”.  How fucking rude. I corrected him but he spoke over me and disagreed.

My sister then piped up and said to me “Mum has been crying every day for months now, you’re not the one having to deal with that. It’s okay for you, you don’t live there but I do!” (so effectively: make up with her for my sake).  She went on to say that our nan was ill and our aunty having radiotherapy and that poor mum couldn’t take it.  She then said “Mum spoke to me about the abuse stuff (this is a reference to the sexual abuse I suffered at the hand’s of her then boyfriend that does not get mentioned – EVER), she continued “and it’s not that she doesn’t believe you, BUT…” I widened my eyes and thought I may well smack her in the face depending on her next sentence.  My fiancé jumped in and said very firmly “Be very careful what you say next!” and she then burst into tears and covered her face.

Her dad interjected and said that sometimes people are in denial and that my mother may know it happened, and believe me but not want to face it and that I just needed to accept and understand that. I shouted back at him, why do I have to just accept that?? I burst into tears and said you have no idea how it feels to tell a parent that you’ve been abused for them to say they don’t believe you.  You have NO fucking idea.  He shouted back at me that actually, he did know how I felt and that I knew nothing about his childhood and he was actually abused in many ways.  I cried hard and said why is everything about me letting it go, me accepting it, me getting over it – why is nobody at my mother’s house shouting at her to deal with it, to apologise??!!

He said I know you want an apology from your mother but.. and I interrupted him and said you told me on the phone Xmas Eve that you fully understood why I needed and wanted an apology from her AND what’s more, you told me you haven’t spoken to your own mother for 20 years for the same reason!!! I called him a hypocrite and he said it was… “different”.  I sarcastically laughed and said of course it was.

I  told him he was unbelievable considering he has slagged my mother off for my entire life and yet here he was, fighting her battles for her. I can’t understand it. He said he wasn’t that he was trying to help. PAH!!! He also denied ever slagging her off – gaslighting?

At some point in all of this I said firmly that I was no longer willing to discuss my therapy or my relationship with my mother.  He seemed totally miffed by this.  My fiancé then said to my sister, okay so Twink’s rules are that she wants to have a relationship with you and that she wants you two to not discuss your mother or her counselling.  Can you do that? My sister said she doesn’t believe sisters should have “rules”.  I said well very clearly WE did because look at the mess we are in!!! My fiancé said to her, what are your rules for Twink?? She just cried again and said it was weird and that it was all shit.

My fiancé then said to both of them, IF Twink never speaks to her mother again, IF that is what she decides to do, and that is none of our business, will you still be able to have a relationship with her? He asked my sister first who said yes instantly.  He then asked her dad who hesitated and said “well, I’m not sure.. I” and I sneered, unbelievable.  This sudden loyalty to his ex-wife who left him for another man, took away every single possession he had, stopped him seeing his daughter (and me) and told us both how he physically beat her repeatedly – causing us to be petrified of him was now saying he wasn’t sure he could have a relationship with ME because of my private row with her. WTF???

After a bit more invalidating he stood up and said “come on, we are going” to my sister and off they went.  I’ve not heard from them since.

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When they left, I broke down into tears but I was angry not sad. I was furious in fact. My entire body was tingling and my legs were weak. I was hot. It is the angriest I think I have ever felt in my life. How dare he?! I felt utterly attacked, ganged up on and invalidated.  The invalidation (now that I even know what that is) is the hardest thing I am up against at the moment. I am being invalidated from every angle and it is awful. You spend your life blaming yourself for being unlovable or faulty somehow, get yourself to therapy and dig deep, do some hellishly painful work – you fight against the defences that you’ve put up and finally realise it wasn’t you – that there was a lot of dysfunction and narcissim for example… and then everyone tells you to shut up and that you are wrong again. It’s mind-fucking.

There is such an obvious lack of empathy and care for my feelings about the way I have felt growing up – and now as an adult.

I was furious with my sister for going against me saying not to bring him and bringing him anyway. That is so unfair.  Ignoring me saying no and bringing him anyway because she wanted back-up. I’d understand that if she was a child herself or even if it was my idea to invite her over where she may feel ganged up on, but it was her suggetion and I took it at face value that it would be the 3 of us and that she would resepct my wishes. What a boundary invasion. I have some compassion for her, I know she just wants everything cleared up and she clearly thought her dad would help but boy was she wrong, he just made everything much worse.  I give her credit however for saying she would still have a realationship with me even if I didn’t ever speak to my mother again  but although I belive her, I doubt how possible my mother would make that.

I told my fiancé that I was so very disappointed. He had been good to me when I was younger, I have nice memories of normal days out and beds made up on the sofa for us to eat sweets and watch films.  He was my bit of normal.. I mean Christ, the guy applied through the Courts for custody of me!! He knew my mother was shit.  I once ran away from home and hid out at his house and he let me stay there telling me I never had to go home again if I was that unhappy there.  He always referred to me as his daughter – he tells everyone he has two daughters and I am not even his daughter.  What happened to all of that? Disappointed doesn’t do justice to my feelings but it’s the only word I can come up with.

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So, after all of this, as if that wasn’t enough whilst I was out with my old work friends last night I checked my phone which had been in my bag for hours and there was a message on the screen from my mother.

Oh God.

I opened it and read what she said and I felt so weird. I don’t know the feeling exactly. I guess I felt some kind of relief that she had finally acknowledged I had hurt and pain but frustration that she still wasn’t relating any of that hurt or pain to herself.  I found the message weird, it wasn’t like her at all. She spoke of wrapping me in her arms and hugging me – the thing I have wanted my ENTIRE LIFE.  A mother’s warm embrace. A protective and loving cuddle.  Protection, safety, love, nurturing.  She even signed the text off with how she loved me billions and included the word “Mum”.  Again, not something she has ever done before. It was like a different person had written it.  Confusion.

So I did what any normal, healthy person would do and drank myself into oblivion resulting in me being sick on the way home and again when I got into bed and getting 3 hours sleep.  Yeah, not a good move and one I feel pretty ashamed about today.  I know better than that.  I did what she does and tried to drink my feelings away and ignore it all.  I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, we all make mistakes, I won’t do it again that’s for sure.

I’ve been trying to work out what the text is about.  It has confused me. I kind of know in my head that it is just another, a different, tactic to try to get me back.  She’s tried ignoring me, sending aggressive and nasty messages, telling me she is walking away now and to effectively have a nice life.. and now this. This is probably the worst of them all because it’s like it is dangling a carrot of empathy and validation and affection in front of me saying “come back and I will be affectionate and I will give you everything you’ve ever wanted and needed” and yet, it isn’t genuine because I can’t help but feel that 1) she’s gone from attacking me for being brainwashed to this and also although she acknowledges my hurt and pain, she makes no attempt to make that better in any meaningful way – like telling me she is sorry for example.  So where/who does she think this hurt and pain has come from? I wonder if it’s a dig at my mental health? Is she trying to say she knows I am in a bad place mentally and wants to make me better? Therefore telling me again that I am crazy and wrong and brainwashed????

I can see that the use of the word mum in the text was just for effect. Like she is reminding me of her status in my life. MUM.  She who should be obeyed.  Your MUM, the one that loves you most etc etc….

Clearly the fact the message came the day after the pathetic ambush/intervention thing is no coincidence. I mean, my sister’s Dad admitted he had been speaking with my mother and so he was being a flying monkey – doing her bidding for her.  Like everyone does.  But what did he say??  I imagine that he said I am clearly not right, that I was extremely aggressive and defensive and she will be saying “see, I told you, she is unwell”.  What happened to the nice girl?

AARRRGGHHH God that makes me so angry. It’s the injustice of it. Somehow I have become the villain and she the victim.  It feels as though someone says they were abused in some way or hurt somehow and the response is, we need proof or she didn’t mean it but the real villain simply says “it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it” and everyone goes “okay, we believe you”.

It really hurts. It is VERY confusing and as I said to T today, it is seriously exhausting. I feel so done in from it all. I just want to be left alone and there is constant shit coming from all angles.

The only thing I am pleased about is that I must have got stronger because I was able to stick up for myself, able to set my boundaries regardless of people’s reactions to them and what’s more important I think is that I have not wanted to give in to keep these people happy.  If anything, it’s just made me more angry and more determined.  The dysfunction is so clear and it’s awful.  I know it is a very childlike statement but it is all so unfair and all I keep thinking is that nobody is genuinely looking out for me in this – it is all about keeping up appearances, keeping my mother happy, giving people an easy life and basically that I am upsetting the balance and so need to shut up complaining.  How does that happen? Proper victim blaming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mother… Smearing

So I haven’t got time to write a proper blog but needed to write this quickly…

I went to see my Aunty tonight, the one I’ve written about a lot recently, the one my mother is not longer speaking to because she was “being disloyal” to her by continuing to speak to me…. anyway, we obviously discussed everything and this is what I’ve just found out:

1) my mother has told everyone that I am obsessed with my counsellor and go to therapy 4 times a week.

2) that I think (and I quote) I am “so hard done by and had a terrible childhood” – sense the mocking tone of that: and lastly

3) My mother has told my Grandparents that I’m no longer speaking to her because I had such a terrible childhood and my grandparents are allegedly horrified, shocked and disappointed in me….

I have a lot to say about this and I’m having a lot of thoughts about it all. I can’t make much sense out of it at the moment but I’m starting to think that perhaps she genuinely doesn’t think she’s guilty of treating me badly when I was a child. Until now I thought she knew she was a shit mum but was just incapable of apologising, now I wonder if she truly doesn’t think she has anything to apologise for. (I know: wake up and smell the coffee).

At least I have some insight to her I suppose.

Mirroring Feelings of Disappointment and Sadness.

Happy Boxing Day everyone. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas Day and enjoy today whatever it brings for you.

This is the first time I’ve been able to sit down with my laptop and write and I feel like I need the release so much. I feel like I have so many different thoughts and feelings floating around in me and that once I’ve managed to write them out, I will feel a bit lighter for it. Here’s hoping.

So the things on my mind are: My mother and her Christmas Day text – the confusion and conflict that brought me, my decision and the end result.  My Dad and his texts over the last few days and the feelings that has brought up in me and my T and my feelings over her and the general feeling of Christmas having not seen anyone in “my family” (meaning my family of origin rather than my family of choice).  I apologise that some of this will be duplication from yesterday’s short typed-on-my-phone posts and some of it may already be written in comments but I am going to write it all out in full here for my own benefit really.

My Mother & Christmas so far

My mother sent me that I love you text about 3/4 weeks ago and I ignored that.  The guilty feelings over that passed pretty quickly, much quicker than I thought they would actually.  Then came the Christmas card last week.  That triggered yet more guilty feelings in me but I did ignore it because .. well, what was the point of it? Perhaps if she had written something other than our names and theirs… but she didn’t and so it made me feel as though it was more about keeping up appearances or being able to tell people she had sent us a card which would make her look like the good mother. Moving on, Xmas Eve I said to my fiancé that I knew she would text me and I knew it would be early in the morning. She has always got up very early Christmas Day to cook so I made the decision to turn my phone off when I went to bed. That is unheard of for me, my phone normally just goes on silent but I didn’t want to look at my phone when I woke up (which I always do) and for that to be the first thing I saw. So off it went and I waited until me and my fiancé had got up, had a cup of tea and opened our presents before turning it on. Sure enough there was a text, sent early which read “Have a lovely Christmas. Love you lots xx”.

From then and for the majority of the rest of the day, I was distracted with thoughts about that text. I didn’t know whether to reply or not. I toyed with what would happen if I ignored it and what would happen if I replied.  Neither option felt good to me, both felt like a no-win situation.  I tried leaving it to just percolate in my head as I showered and things but could feel my mood plummeting. I didn’t want to feel that sadness on Christmas Day and so I guess in hindsight what I wanted to do was whatever stopped me feeling shit, sad, guilty and ease my conscience a bit.  Equally I kept asking myself “what do you WANT to do?”.  I tried hard to distinguish between what I wanted to do and what I felt I SHOULD do and that was trickier then you might think.  What I WANTED to do was to open a text full of sorry’s and messages asking for my forgiveness but clearly that wasn’t going to happen and obviously I had no control over her actions anyway, so what did I WANT to do myself? I still don’t really know the answer to that.  I acknowledged I had heaps of guilty feelings going on in my body, guilt that she would be sitting there sad on Christmas Day because I hadn’t messaged her back and that I wouldn’t be seeing her. Those fantasies (however inaccurate) made me feel terrible.  I told my fiancé that was what my imagination was drawing up and he asked me whether I thought my mother felt wracked with guilt when she left me home alone on Christmas Day when I was younger or if she was full of guilt now at the ways she has treated me etc.  Obviously the answer was no. I could tell from his tone that he was a bit agitated at my guilt. I can understand that from his point of view to be honest, it must be hard when he loves me and he sees and hears about all the hurt she has caused me and then sees me beating myself up for being guilty.

We then arrived at my fiancé’s parents’ house and so from that point onwards I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk about it again. I was now on my own with it. We had a lovely day with them, they are such lovely and kind people. We had a lovely dinner, some drinks, a toast, some photos and played board games – all the normal things families do that I always craved growing up. It gave me the warm fuzzies in one sense, because it was what I had always wanted but it also made me feel something else…. some kind of missing. Missing having my own family to do that with – missing “them” even though “them” are dysfunctional and toxic and even though I would never have been doing those same things with “them”.  It’s hard to put in words what I mean, but it’s something about not having my own blood to feel those things with/for/about. I don’t know if anyone will understand that feeling?

Anyway, I’m not sure what happened but all of a sudden I went onto my WhatsApp and actually opened her message, before I had only previewed it.  When I did, it said she was online and something about seeing her online did something to me and instantly I typed a reply “You Too x” and I hit send before I thought about it any further. I then stupidly watched until the message got two blue ticks which took about 4 or 5 minutes and then she disappeared offline again.

The effect that had on me was that in one sense the guilt eased up immensely and in another, I felt weirdly disappointed that she read my response and then went offline. Gone again. Just like that.

I know that sounds completely ridiculous. I said myself that one of the reasons I was worried to reply at all was that I didn’t want messages back and forth… so I got what I wanted didn’t I? You’d think so.. but for some reason, it felt strangely sad to me that nothing further was said. I totally appreciate that there isn’t much you can say to “You Too”, it is hardly a conversation starter is it? What exactly was I hoping for? I guess if I am totally honest I was hoping for something along the lines of “I miss you not being here today” or perhaps “Christmas isn’t the same without you”… I don’t know. Having said that, I DIDN’T want to have to reply to tell her that our argument was still unresolved so what did I want? Total contradictions and complete conflict. I know none of that makes sense. Feelings don’t always make sense I guess.

Nothing has happened since then. I told my fiancé when we went to bed at his parents’ house last night. He thought I was joking until I told him I really wasn’t. He seemed disappointed and shocked that I had sent a reply. I know he doesn’t want me to know he really would rather I didn’t speak to her again because he doesn’t want to control how I feel or think, but it is clear to see. He hates her for the things she has done to me and the way she has made/makes me feel.  He said the other day he just wishes she would fight for me – show a bit of effort for once. I am sure I would feel the same if I were in his shoes.   Today I am just left feeling a bit….. a little bit empty I guess.  I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I do. I just feel Christmas isn’t quite right. I feel a bit lacking of something. Some familiar family time or something.. I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s that. Moving on, my Dad.

My Dad

Things have improved with my Dad recently. We have spoken via text more than we ever have before. I am not sure if that is because we are both making a conscious effort, whether it has something to do with me not speaking to my mother (from both of our point’s of view) or whether it is something else but it is good.  On Xmas Eve he sent me a text which said “Happy Christmas Eve my darling xx” and it nearly made me cry. It touched my heart instantly. I was actually mopping the bathroom floor at the time and I felt so much warmth come into my body when I read that. I replied a few minutes later and said what a lovely message it was and said the same back. It was lovely.

Christmas Day he sent another message this time he said “Happy Christmas my daughter” and again, it felt lovely. Really lovely. Such simple things that meant so much. We then had numerous texts over the course of the day, some in the morning and some in the evening.  Then today he sent another!!! Happy Boxing Day and “two more sleeps” meaning until we saw each other. Later in some messages I told him it is my last Christmas with our surname as I will take my fiancé’s name next year and he said he wasn’t sure he liked that and that he hadn’t thought of that. It felt strangely nice that he felt he didn’t want me to lose our surname – our bit of connection I guess? The messages made me feel young I suppose.

I later told my fiancé about these messages and he said how he was really glad and that he wasn’t a total write-off after all (as we had both said many times over the years). I was shocked but I said to him “It just makes me feel a bit sad…” my voice cracked and my eyes welled up instantly. I had to try really hard to choke back the tears. As that happened his car alarm went off and he had to go and sort it out and that conversation never continued but I realised that the messages were and are nice.. and his effort is wonderful but the thing that makes me sad is that I am nearly 30 now.  I needed this so badly before now…. I don’t say that in an ungrateful way. I’m not saying it is too late, clearly it isn’t, but it taps me into some more loss. Loss of being a child that received messages like that from her daddy. I needed that so much then.  It also taps me into some sadness over how my mother (unconsciously I am sure) ruined any chance of that for me and him.  For whatever reasons, her narcissism, her jealousy, her insecurity, control? whatever, she put a big wedge between us. She made me doubt him a lot, she told me lies about him and constantly told me how he didn’t care about me and I was a child who naturally believed her mother.  When the whole false-self thing kicked in and I morphed into her when I was a late teen, he had no hope. WE had no hope.  And so, it is better late than never of course, it truly is… but it makes me feel another sense of loss and missing.

T

And lastly, T.

I am very aware at the moment that I have such a strong desire to stay away from T.  I am very glad that there is no therapy tonight and I am still very glad that I didn’t go to my session last week either.  I don’t feel in touch with any real sadness of not feeling a happy and warm connection with her although I guess it must be in me somewhere.  I just feel a real need to stay the hell away from her. That stupid message hurt so much and I feel so childish and immature and pathetic for feeling that way. It’s based entirely on jealousy and insecurity isn’t it, I can see that… and I can see that I am doing the whole black and white splitting thing again which isn’t healthy or very adult and I don’t WANT to feel how I do.. but .. I do.

I feel silly for writing this but it’s like it has ruined everything. It feels it has taken away something so big. It has changed how I see her entirely.  The fantasy has been ruined and what is left is the truth that T feels differently about me than she does about that other person.  That other person whose name I will never forget. Why do I have to feel so extreme about this? I can see it shouldn’t make me feel this way. It shouldn’t change anything and yet it does. It has.

It sounds ludicrous I know, but all I want to do is run away and never have to see her again. I don’t want to talk to her about this. 1 because – well, CRINGE and 2 because – what is the point??? She can’t say anything that will make this feel any better for me. Perhaps she will empathise and say she can imagine how painful it is and that makes it worse. I don’t want her pity.

The other thing about that bloody text is that the therapisty bit in there was so generic. It is the same words and phrases that she uses with me. Of course it is! But seeing it for yourself in black and white makes you feel so… so insignificant and so…. just so nothing.

I can see that the facts haven’t changed. That she has been sending other people messages like that for the entire time I have known her, I just didn’t know.  I can see that it doesn’t change the fact that we have done lots of good work together and that I have benefited hugely from our sessions but I can’t get the reality and the mature outlook to tally up right now. All I am left with is this feeling that everything has changed and will never be the same. Some kind of disappointment and sadness.  Much like I am left feeling right now about my mother and my Dad.

I’m sorry to anyone that has read this far that this is such a negative and bleak blog for Christmas, for Boxing Day. I just needed to write this out and try to get it off of my mind a bit.  In a few hours the children will be back with us and I have to get myself back into adult me.. until then I plan to snuggle under my new super soft blanket and hide away from the world.

Twink x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approval and Boundaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trauma Bonding: Growing up with a narcissistic mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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My Sister Heartache

This post is about me and my sister.

In my session last night, I read my blog about the dysfunctional relationship with my sister and what I had figured out at the weekend.  I read the blog easily until the end where I read about the nice memories I have with her when we were younger and then I felt a lump in my throat.

I told T “it is such a shame” and then began to cry a little. T agreed that it was a huge shame and that my mother had caused this dynamic, not me. I said I knew that but that I felt so sorry for my sister. In my head when I said those words, my sister was no longer 22, but about 6.  God the pain I felt in that moment. The shame, the guilt, the sadness. It was horrible.

I said to T “I should have helped her, I was so horrible to her, she must have felt so alone” and then I just broke down in floods of tears. I cried from the bottom of my heart in that moment. I felt ashamed of myself and felt such a loss of what cannot be repaired.

T, rather passionately, said to me that none of this was my fault. She said that I couldn’t have known, that I was caught up in this dysfunction and that I had no way of understanding any of this myself.  She spoke rather urgently so I gather she understood how much shame and sorrow I was feeling. Nothing she said really took the pain away.

I said to T “She hates me. She has always really hated me and I didn’t even realise!!”.  T said it wasn’t that she hated me but that it was misdirected anger towards my mother.

T said she imagined I just wanted to read that blog to my sister and to make her understand. I said I absolutely did but that it was pointless because my sister wouldn’t believe it or understand some of it.  T said that she wouldn’t be able to yet.  T suggested that one day my sister may realise the dysfunctional dynamic just like I had done, but I told her I wasn’t hopeful.  I said that my sister had finally gained what she thinks is my mother’s love and that she wouldn’t be wanting anything else.  T said she may realise when she starts to feel how toxic and fake it is, that she doesn’t get fulfilled in the way she may think she will. I appreciate what T was saying, but I don’t agree. I told T “I wish I was as optimistic as you“.

I said to T that it all felt so hopeless. It feels too late for me and my sister. I said that I have always felt so protective over her but that she won’t feel that at all and that hurts.  It is so sad that my mother has taught us that the three of us can’t all be getting along at the same time. Someone is always the bad guy. Drama/Relationship Triangle stuff.  There are 3 positions in the triangle, Victim, Rescuer and Prosecutor and my God, how true that is for my family.

Right now my mother is the Victim, my sister the Rescuer and me – the horrible persecutor and its painful because all I can do, all I have the power to do, is to remove myself from the triangle.  And that means leaving my sister there to play out her role(s).

I told T that I have felt such resistance and anger at my sister the last year or so but that now, I felt so much pain for her and pain for my own loss of having a healthy relationship with my sister.  As I said to T, things could have been so different. Something I find myself writing and saying more and more these days.

“I can’t save her”.
“No, you can’t”

I said to T that I had seen a photo of me and my sister a few days ago taken on Christmas Day in about 2013.  The photo is of me and my sister stroking the family dog wearing matching onesies. I said to her that you can’t even see our faces in the photo, but that I loved the photo.  I told her I would love nothing more than to have a healthy relationship with her. We could be close. We could be best friends.. but the reality right now is that we can’t – that isn’t possible.

T suggested I text my sister and said something like “I hope you had a nice holiday. I have been thinking of you”.  I was surprised she suggested that and was slightly taken aback.  I said I could, but that my sister is so argumentative and aggressive nowadays (since she’s become Golden Child) that it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I said I knew that my sister would reply to say “Well you upset me when you said X, Y, Z and you were so horrible to mum and mum is so upset” etc… and that would just annoy me.  T said I could do without that drama right now on top of everything else. I agreed.

T said that if I was able to speak to my sister, I would need to tell her that our relationship was separate to the relationship with our mother.  That we should be able to have a relationship regardless of whether I am speaking to my mother or not and vice-versa. She said I would need to put in some strong boundaries that we did not discuss things my mother has been saying – that she didn’t tell me anything at all.  I agreed but said to T that as ridiculous as it is, there is a part of me that wondered what we would speak about if it wasn’t our childhood or our mother. That is all we’ve ever really done!

T said we could still talk about our childhood but that we just don’t talk about things my mother is doing or saying now.  That I would have to tell my sister not to repeat anything we spoke about, anything I am doing etc. I said I doubted my sister would want to do that because she wouldn’t want to risk her newly promoted place as Golden Child.

T suggested that I sat on this for a while and thought about it. She said I would figure out what I needed to do when the time was right.

I said to T that when I got engaged in August, I was so disappointed with her reaction (or lack of more accurately).  T said that she was too envious to be happy for me.  I said I got that now but why? T said that there may be an element that I have escaped whilst my sister is still there, still stuck in the dynamic.  I said but he doesn’t need to be! She could escape it herself.  I said to T, I had imagined when I was planning my wedding that my sister would be really involved.  That she would be helping with the plans, planning the hen do and coming shopping for bridesmaid dresses! I wanted her to be the chief bridesmaid and I guess now, upon reflection, this was me saying “look how much I love you!“.  Stupidly I thought she knew that, but since discovering the childhood dynamic stuff, I guess she had too much displaced anger for me to feel that love plus the additional anger that I could have “saved her” and chose not to.  If only it were that easy.

I said to T that despite all of this, and that I felt stupid for even admitting this, there was a part of me that would feel really guilty if I reached out and contacted my sister whist I wasn’t speaking to my mother.  I said I knew that was insane.  T said I needed to feel and speak about those feelings and that we could keep talking about them.  That I didn’t need to act on them. I nodded.

I told T, my sister is totally unable to move forward with me and that she keeps on going on about how out-of-order I was for not missing a counselling session when she wanted me to.  T said it isn’t really about that, that is just my sister’s excuse. It is much, much deeper than that. I said I knew that now, but that my sister didn’t and so how do we get past that?

Eugh. What a mess.

 

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Another family dynamic identified

I spent some time reading about siblings from narcissistic mothers today.  I have figured out some more stuff about my family dynamic.  More eye-opening and rather painful/sad stuff.

I read about how in a family with a narcissistic mother, one child will be picked as the Golden Child and one will be the Scapegoat.  The Golden Child is picked as the most reliable source of narcissistic supply and tends to be the most similar to the narcissistic mother.  The Scapegoat therefore, is the outcast and gets far less attention.  They feel rejected.

In my case, this created sisterly rivalry between me and my sister.  2 sisters competing for the mother’s attention and love and only 1 of us getting it… or so it would have seemed at least.  This leaves the Scapegoat feeling intense jealousy towards The Golden Child.  To the Scapegoat, it is as though she is forgotten and the Golden Child gets a different mother.

For me and my sister, I was the Golden Child.  At least that is what my false-self had led us all to believe.  I morphed into what my mother needed me to be: her.  I would sit and drink and smoke with her.  I would dress how she told me to, God, I wore her clothes! I would do my make-up how she told me to, say what she told me to. I would go to clubs with her, talk about friends and family with her and agree with her always.  I even used to do her dirty work for her and dump her boyfriends for her!

To my sister, the Scapegoat, this would have looked like I was so similar to my mother – that therefore, she was so different.  Alone.  Because of the age difference between me and my sister, she couldn’t join in on a lot of this.  I wish she could know what a good thing that was. She felt left out and not as favoured.  When she voiced this, my mother would say that it wasn’t her fault my sister was too young to drink or go to clubs.  My sister never smoked, never drank.  She was different to her… to me.

The morphed me then went a step further.  My mother got a boob job and told me how I needed to have one like her.  So I did.  My mother loved this and I guess my sister probably hated this so much.  The supply that must have given my mother!

My sister decided she didn’t want a boyfriend for a few years, something which was totally foreign to my mother. My mother would tease her and say she was gay.  My mum always had a string of men, one after the other; sometimes more than one at a time.  And so I always had a boyfriend too! Another thing that my mum couldn’t relate to my sister about.  I provided endless drama with my ridiculous and disastrous relationships.  I told my mum WAY too much and would be at her house every single weekend crying over my latest failed relationship, drinking and smoking with her whilst she counselled me.  Naturally I was thankful and she got her well-needed supply.

You would think then that I would have been happy? But I wasn’t.  None of this was my real self. It was the false self that I had created in order to get some sort of approval from my mum after years of having nothing from her.  Also, just to create more of a headfuck, she would randomly befriend someone my age and they would become the best thing since sliced bread. One of these girls even moved in with us.  I hated her. I got so jealous – but I guess that is what taught me what I needed to become to get to her.

My sister would sometimes get upset and tell my mum how she felt.  Obviously my sister didn’t want me around.  I guess she probably hated me. I feel stupid that I’ve never realised this! My sister became pretty individual. She got lots of tattoos, piercings, she dyed her hair bright colours, pink and blue.  She developed a very funky sense of style.  Come to think of it, my sister calls herself a Wildflower on her social media bios.  I guess I understand why.  That must be how she felt.

Come to think of it, she pretty much did the opposite of my mother – and me.

Sometimes she would complain to my mum that she craved a normal family. She would say how she wanted a family night in with board games or a film with a chinese or a trip to the cinema with my mother.  My mother would say that she was pathetic and immature. That she needed to grow up.  My sister would go away angry and upset. My mother would slag her off to me and I learnt not to say the same things.  I would (shamefully) agree with my mother that our family just wasn’t like that.  How I wished it was.

My sister sometimes shouted at my mother that she didn’t know her at all. That she didn’t know her favourite colour, food or song.  My mother used to look completely flabbergasted at those comments.  My sister was right. She was clearly voicing that my mother couldn’t see her.  She didn’t.

My sister has suffered from depression since she was a young teenager.  I guess from growing up feeling rejected, unloved and unseen. Luckily she has a good and present dad in her life and she moved in with him for some years which would have helped a little at least.

What my sister will never understand, or perhaps believe, is that I have grown up feeling the same was as her.  It wasn’t until 18 or maybe 20 that my morphing into her took off. Until then, I had many years of being constantly told I was boring, dull, a boffin.  I was called Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous and humiliated.  She made it clear to me that I was a nuisance, in the way and not liked or loved.  I was in the way. I got in the way of her men, her social life and her sex.  Although that didn’t actually stop her!

So often when I was young I would be asleep in bed at home – alone and she would come home with loads of people to have a party. The music would suddenly come on very loud, and the house would fill up with strange men, drugs, drink, smoke and sex.  I hated it.  On the occasions when I would ask her to turn it down or tell her to be quiet, that they had woken me up, she would humiliate me for being so boring and tell me to go and read a book (God, it sounds like a scene from Matilda doesn’t it?!).  She would ignore me and carry on regardless. I hated it so much.  She always said the same thing – my house, my rules.  Whilst you are under my roof.. blah, blah, blah.

My sister probably won’t remember this, but I looked after my sister EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I looked after her when I was a kid myself. I fed her, bathed her, put her to bed. It was me that read her stories or tucked her in when she cried at night from nightmares.  We did help each other.  I have some nice memories with her actually.  We always shared a room and would play like kids did occasionally.  We used to make food from paper and pretend to run a cafe, we would play with dolls, make up dances.  Her dad used to take us both on holiday and we would have a nice time with him.

It is so sad that this all became so twisted. Yet again, things could have been so very different.

And now it has all changed again. Now my sister is the Golden Child and I am the Scapegoat.  Because of the work I am doing in therapy and the fact I have detached from my mother, my sister now has what she thinks she has wanted her entire life – my mother.  If only she knew.

I guess the only difference now is that I don’t want that place like my sister always did.  I feel so sad for her.  The anger I felt for her has subsided as I write this tonight. I know I can’t save her.