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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The Dysfunction Is Hereditory

Tuesday was such a crap day. So many small things went wrong and by the end of it I felt completely and utterly done in. It started in the morning. I was at work and looked down at my Pandora bracelet.

Background – About 3 years ago when I started therapy and T taught me about NPD and said she thought it described my mother, I was upset, shocked and angry (and relieved) and I decided to take off a ring that my mother had brought me for my 21st birthday. It felt weirdly empowering to me even though nobody else would know I’d stopped wearing it. About a year ago, I decided to buy myself a new piece of jewellery which I could look at and know I had brought with my own money and I decided to get myself a Pandora charm bracelet. I brought one charm, a cupcake which was symbolic to me as I had recently learnt to bake! (who knew I could be good at something?).

Last Christmas Day morning at my mother’s house, I opened a present and it was a Pandora charm. A heart that said “daughter” on it. I felt very weird about this instantly because I didn’t want something seemingly nice and sentimental like that when I was dealing with all this therapy stuff…. It made me angry that now I would be wearing a charm that said “daughter” on it. At the same time, I weirdly (and secretly – probably even denied to myself) loved it as it was the closest thing to acknowledging me in a motherly/daughterly way I had ever had from her. I remember telling T at the time that I didn’t really want to wear it and her telling me I didn’t have to. But I felt I did.
Tuesday morning I took the bracelet off and tried to take the charm off, but it got stuck and now I’ve broken my bracelet. Symbolic or what? Lol you have to laugh.
After that numerous stupid things went wrong. I left my phone at work when I left for the evening, my car broke down and the boiler stopped working. I ended up in tears which seems ridiculous but I think I had just reached my limit.

Luckily I still managed to go to T’s because my fiancé dropped me off and waited for me. I did get there late because the traffic was horrendous (another stupid thing adding to my stress!) but at least I got there. It would have been the worst timing ever if I hadn’t of been able to go. I told T briefly about my dream Friday night and how I felt when I woke up on Saturday. I told her about my feelings over the weekend and about all the “sex stuff” as I refer to it. All of a sudden I felt this scary and weird feeling in my body… I don’t really know how to articulate it. It was like a sudden wave of pressure or something and it got stuck in my throat, I cried so suddenly and so hard. I told T I felt like I was going to choke. T said it is where the feelings have been repressed for so long and are now coming out all at once, she kept reminding me to breathe and not to swallow it down. To let them out. That she was there with me. I can almost cry again now remembering the feeling. So much sadness and anger and confusion. So many emotions.

I read T some diary notes I had written over the previous 4 days. I wanted her to see my thought processes and how much I have been thinking and feeling. I didn’t give her much opportunity to speak in the entire hour session. I apologised for reading so many notes back-to-back but she told me to “get it all off my chest”.

Afterwards we spoke about my mum and my nan. I told T that I genuinely think now that perhaps my nan did treat my mother the same way she treated me. I said that when I confronted my mother about her never having cuddled me or sat with me on the sofa, tucked me into bed etc, her response was “Neither did my mother”. I told her that I find it hard to imagine my nan who was so good to me as a child being like that, but I seriously think that was the case now. I said that I do not think that condones the way she treated me. I am not “there” yet. The fact is, I grew up feeling no love and I’m not repeating that dysfunctional behaviour. I am working so hard to make sure that I heal myself enough to be a good and loving mum one day (hopefully) and she could have done the same. T agreed with me that it is not an excuse.

I said to T that when I was young, I spent all my weekends with my Grandparents and I loved being there. I told her I FELT loved by them. T said that the feeling is the only thing that really matters to a child. She said that if a child, for instance, felt as though he or she had been sexually abused, but actually hadn’t physically, that the feeling of being abused was what did the damage. I got what she meant. I said it’s sad to think now that it wasn’t quite as clear-cut as I had always thought. I now think that my nan was unloving and potentially narcissistic towards my mother when she was growing up, but then when I was born my nan was loving towards me and that made my mother extremely jealous. It explains why I would dread leaving my nan’s house and be in tears within minutes of being home again and my mum was so cold towards me. It explains why she used to scream and shout at me and said “you will never come between me and my mum, NEVER!!”. I was so confused by that when I was a child, I had no idea what she meant. Why would I want to come between my nan and my mum? How would I even do that? They used to have HUGE rows over me when I was little. I remember some clearly. My nan would complain to my mother that she wasn’t looking after me. That I hadn’t eaten, that she put her friends before me.. she would question why I was allowed out late at night, to walk home alone in the dark etc. My mother used to get furious about this, they would argue and I would bare the brunt of it. I don’t doubt my nan meant well, she was advocating for me! But it made things worse.

Putting myself in my mother’s shoes, I can understand (again, not condone) that seeing my nan give me love and affection that she never got would have been painful for her. I suppose she took that jealousy out on me. My nan told me so often how my mother was jealous of me. I never understood that at the time. Weirdly, my aunty disliked how much attention I received from my nan and would pop over some weekends and say “oh, she’s here again, what a surprise”. My nan would tell me that my aunty was jealous of me too. Again, that confused me. Why did nobody like me?

I am not saying that I think my nan purposely and consciously showed me love and affection just to make my mother jealous (or my aunty), but that is what happened. I can also see that if I hadn’t done this work on myself the same thing could have happened with my future chid and my mother. I imagine seeing my mother love my child when she didn’t love me would have been very triggering. I also think that my child possibly enjoying his or her nan’s company more than mine, loving her more than me, could have set me up for another repeat. Blaming the child.

This is all very sad. And very dysfunctional.

I told T the other night that whenever I was naughty as a child my mother would phone my nan and tell her. My nan would be so disappointed with me and I would be heartbroken. I guess looking back, it was done to shame me, but what happened was that it didn’t only shame me, it made me panic that I would lose the love and approval of the only person in my life that was capable of giving that to me. I was petrified my only source of love would disappear. When my mother caught me smoking she phoned my nan. If I had been rude, she would phone my nan. She even made scenarios up in front of me, silly things but my nan and I were/are both very tidy people. My nan would remark on how tidy my bedroom was and my mother would lie and say it was full of wet towels dumped on the floor and full of cups and glasses and plates (untrue). Yet again my nan would be disappointed but I would also argue this and say she was lying and then my mum would say “see, this is what she is really like”. 

 My nan would send me home with pints of pure orange juice (“for the vitamins”) and my mother would drink it with her vodka.

These days due to my grandparents’ ill-health and age, they are pretty dependant upon my mother. They see her at least once a week and she takes them to their various appointments etc. My mother spends a lot of money on them, takes them on holiday with her and buys them wonderful gifts. Because of this, my nan is now very much in my mum’s pocket. Which is why I think that if I cut my mum off, if she doesn’t come to our wedding etc, that I will lose my grandparents. 

How things have changed. I said to T through tears on Tuesday that if I lost my nan it would feel like my mother had taken yet another important thing away from me. It made me cry. T said that nobody could ever take away what we had together or the memories which I know is true, but the memories kinda feel distorted a bit right now.
I told T that I could see similarities between my nan and my mum now that I couldn’t see before and that it was sad. For example, when I told my nan I had met my now fiancé, and that he had children, she went on for ages about how I didn’t need to get myself involved with a man that had children. She told me that I would never come first and that there is no way we could have the children EVERY weekend because no marriage could survive that. My nan then told me that when she met my granddad, she told him there was no way his children could come every weekend – and so they didn’t. 

My nan still gets jealous of my grandad’s ex-wives now (and she hates his daughters) and they’ve been married for nearly all my life! My nan is pretty nasty to my granddad these days. She denies that she is and she gets very angry if confronted about that, or if I or anyone else sticks up for my poor granddad. She is also extremely paranoid and thinks everyone is talking about her. My mother claims she hates it when her and my aunty get along. I can’t work out if that is true and my mother has copied that from her regarding me and my sister, OR if that is a projection. Maybe it’s both. My mother certainly seems to get some weird enjoyment out of the fact that my nan hates it. Like she likes she can make my nan jealous or something….. possibly like my nan did when she made my mother jealous when I was small.

I have just remembered something strange that happened last Christmas Day. My nan brought my sister a collector’s teddy bear. When my sister opened it, she cried. When she cried, me, my mother and my nan all cried and none of us really knew what we were crying for. Now I think that unconsciously we were all crying for the same thing. That teddy bear represented love, approval and being seen – something which I’m starting to think none of us have ever had or felt. And coincidentally, it was a teddy that I asked T to buy me & I think that teddy (Frank) represents those things to me from someone that can and does give me those things. #TotesEmoshe 

How To Kill A Narcissist (Article) and inner ramblings ….

I have just read an article which has really, really helped me understand how this whole healing from a narcissistic mother thing works – how therapy works etc.  I found it so helpful that I want to share it with you in case it helps anyone else.  Here is a link: http://www.howtokillanarcissist.com/narcissistic-mother

The article explains that the attachment we feel is not with the narcissist mother but the archetype, the IDEA of the mother.  It goes on to explain the Good Mother and the Bad Mother and explains that in a healthy relationship, the child experiences the good mother on their terms. Their needs and wants are catered for by the mother.  A narcissist mother only becomes the good mother when the child behaves in the way she expects.  The child learns if they want the good mother, they need to behave in a certain, acceptable way.  Towards the end of the article, it explains that eventually the adult child realises that their mother will never be what they want them to be. The adult child comes to realise they have to either deal with what they have and be silent or deal with the consequences of deep and overwhelming shame and guilt.

It ends by saying that the only way of escape is to embrace the idea of the good mother and surrender to it but through someone else – the therapist.  It explains that the adult child must allow themselves to be infantilised by the therapist and says that they will begin to re-experience the trauma in a safe environment and begin their healing. The adult child will truly experience the good mother and grieve the fact they will never find her in their own narcissistic mother. Eventually the adult child will grieve the good mother and see their own narcissistic mother clearly.  The article ends by saying that the child inside will, in the end, “come to life and the adult will experience peace and joy they did not know existed“.

Amazing. It has really helped me right now as I am struggling to understand all the many conflicting and scary feelings I am experiencing with regards to my own mother. As I’ve said many times before, I know some of this stuff but sometimes it just sinks in a little deeper or I understand it in a different way.  I guess this was one of those times.

This is where I am at right now regarding my own mother.

After the children left last night and I finished writing my blog, my fiance returned home.  He walked straight to the sofa I was sat on and said in a very serious voice “Thank you. Thank you so, so much”.  He went on to say how well I had dealt with the children and this awful time and just kept saying how lucky he was and then he hugged me really tight. I cried. I cried sooooooooooooo much. Proper snotty crying you know the stuff.  Obviously he wasn’t expecting me to break down like that and so he asked what I was crying for. I told him that I wasn’t really sure, it was a real mixture of things.  There were tears just for the children’s pain.  There were tears because the children had gone home and I didn’t want them to – I wanted to keep them here and safe with us and there were many tears for the grief I guess I got in touch with over the fact that I love those kids so deeply and I want more than anything to make them feel, even a tiny bit, better.  I want to try my hardest to make them feel loved, safe and secure.  All of a sudden the grief that I never had a parent do that for hit me and boy did it hurt.

I felt angry that I can feel so deeply for the kids and offer them so much love and care when they aren’t even my own children and yet my very own parents couldn’t do that for me – their actual child. Something about that just made me feel so upset and so angry.  Why didn’t I get that?? WHY?? Its bloody natural isn’t it?? The things I’ve done and felt for the kids don’t make me some sort of superwoman, it’s just human instinct surely? Young, helpless, defenceless, scared children come to you and you just naturally want to wrap them in love and make sure that they know, no matter what else is going on in their world, that they have people – their parents and me, here for them and that they will ALWAYS, always be loved and be safe.

Once I had sobbed my eyeballs out for a few minutes, I felt better and I’ve felt fine since, but obviously my own mother has been on my mind all week following our argument and our text exchanges last week.  I have been hoping that the decision I have to make will suddenly become clear and easy but that hasn’t happened.  I still feel very caught in a no-win situation.

Whilst reading the article, I could identify what stage I am at.  Clearly I have truly realised that my narcissistic mother will NEVER be able to be what I need her to.  I have been able to allow myself to be infantalised by my T and to attach to her as the good mother.  I am EXPERIENCING the good mother that I’ve spent my life craving, with her, which is what has caused me so much joy and pain simultaneously recently.  Feeling that motherly love and attunement from T and then feeling the grief of what I didn’t get from the person I should have got it from.  I am clearly grieving the stuff my own mother did not give me.  I guess last night’s tears evidence that.

I wondered to myself after reading that, perhaps the reason it all kicked off with my mother last weekend is exactly because of this. Because I have finally given up the hope that she will be what I want and need. It’s like now that there is no need to make/keep my mother “The Good Mother”, I am projecting all of my anger and rage and hatred at her instead. As if, she can’t possibly hurt me anymore than she already has……. so take it all back – have it.

Perhaps now that T is giving me the good stuff that I’ve always wanted and needed and I’ve given up on my mother, my mother has become solely “The Bad Mother” and so I just found it intolerable to feel these painful things, to be grieving so hard AND sit there acting happy and being “the good girl”. It was like I just couldn’t do it anymore.

But what now?

I understand that therapy will help me to experience that Good Mother without “sudden disruption of the Bad Mother” and that eventually I will learn to view my T as a normal, imperfect person and let her go… I get that bit… but where does that leave me with my actual narcissistic mother?

Right now it feels there are two very shit options for me and I know I’ve already written this but I am going to write it again in the hope that something suddenly clicks.  Okay, Option 1) Continue seeing my mother in the same way I have been for the last 3 years which is basically me being emotionally detached, seeing her once a month or so and keeping the peace.  Seeing her only at her house where there is alcohol involved and usually feeling pretty shit the following day.. but surviving the evening (thanks to the alcohol).  Option 2) Not seeing her anymore.

Now, I had a long chat with my fiance about this today and obviously I could “tweak” my contact with her. I could decide only to have what he calls “safe contact” with her, meaning not going to her house on the rare Saturday evening and drinking with her, but seeing her in the daytime for lunch or for shopping or something where there is less likely to be any drama.  I appreciate that this is a viable option BUT.. but the problem with this is, that I find seeing her without any alcohol, pretty excruciating.  I know that isn’t a good thing to write.

When I see her and we aren’t drinking, there is no hiding the fact that our relationship is hollow.  I feel awkward, I struggle for conversation, I feel awkward.. I have nothing to say to her and I feel like her eyes see into my soul somehow.  Its pretty awful.  Last time this happened, I cried A LOT when I got home.

My fiance pointed out today that drinking is not the answer to this and that just because it hurts and it feels horrific, doesn’t mean I should avoid it.  In fact he says I should purposely do this again and again and feel that pain until its gone.  He also pointed out that when we drink with them, I only delay the painful feelings anyway. I know that.  Then he said something I wasn’t expecting.  He said that he doesn’t really like the person I become when I am there.  WHAAATTTT? He said that when I am there, I become aggressive and argumentative and that he is on egg-shells waiting to see what is going to happen.  I was really shocked at this.  He said that he loves me and that he loves the person I actually am 99% of the time but when I am there, I am not the real me.  Eugh, that hurt to hear!

I asked him why he thought I changed like that? I said I guess it’s because I am trying to project some image that I am not going to be hurt, that I am ready to protect myself or something? He said he thinks it’s because I adapt to what she is and what she would want and expect me to be.

The sad thing is, the mother that I want to pop in to my house at weekends now and again, the mother I want to have over for Sunday roasts occasionally, to go shopping with, get a manicure with, involve in my stepkids’ lives etc ISN’T my mum.  As the article says, it’s the image – the idea – the archetype.  So I don’t see the point in laying down the law and saying my new terms are x, y and z because, frankly, that won’t make me feel any better anyway.

So if I don’t want that, and I can’t/don’t want to continue as we were visiting her at her house and drinking alcohol…. it doesn’t actually leave much, if anything.

I think about the relationship that I have and have had with my dad. In short, we’ve had a rather on/off relationship.  There has been periods of years where we haven’t had ANY contact at all.  We now have a rather limited and non-emotional relationship where we check in with each other via text every month or so and we visit him (always) when I ask if we can (always).  In that respect my mother and father are EXACTLY the same – not that they would see it that way.  Over the years I have battled many times with whether its worth it and whether it’s actually better to have nothing at all than a little bit of something.  When we’ve had nothing at all, I’ve still found myself in tears occasionally. Hence the situation is what it is.

It feels that perhaps a very similar relationship will have to commence with my mother from now on if I can’t completely cut contact.  It feels different imagining that with her because I guess I’ve had my entire life to adjust to limited and irregular contact with him – with her it’s still relatively new.  Until 3 years ago when I started therapy, I had no idea at all this would happen.  I thought she was wonderful! I guess the mother wound is deeper than the father wound.

In fact I think perhaps my upset with my father was less about him as a person and more a bit of a scapegoat for the rejection, anger and sadness of the pair of them – collectively.  I guess he was just the safer option.

Anyway, I’m rambling again.  If anyone has the perfect answer for me, please let me know!

Answers on a postcard!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Damages 

So last night was the night I had been dreading since Thursday. It was the night that had put me on a real downer Thursday and Friday. I had to go to my mum’s house last night. 

Well, what do you make of this … 

She gave us an envelope and then walked inside. We opened the envelope to see a card with a cute kitten on the front. Inside was a handwritten poem which said that they (mum and stepdad) had put a “small amount” in our bank account.  

I wasn’t expecting this AT ALL and instantly my eyes filled up with tears. I felt SO awfully guilty. We went inside and thanked them both and my mum seemed very pleased with herself and said how she couldn’t believe she had written the poem herself and that it had almost made her cry too! 

Guess how much the small amount was? £5,000. Five thousand actual pounds. Fuck!! 

I felt awful for the things I’ve thought, said, dreamt about and I felt guilty for so many things. 

But I also thought to myself it is just money. It is just money. (Admittedly a bloody huge amount of it). 

Well, I found myself then thinking “I should tell her about the redundancy situation. I should tell her about my new job“.

I actually caught that thought and had to tell myself not to do that. I had to tell myself that her giving us money didn’t mean she got to know stuff that I had clearly chosen not to tell her right now. That her reaction wouldn’t be better just because she had given us money. 

The rest of the night was fine, mainly because family friends were there. I didn’t tell her anything. 

We left and I’ve felt fine since. I will confess that I went out earlier and spent £170 on new work clothes and a new work bag. I laughed and told my fiancé I was spending “my damages”… clearly that was a bad tasting joke with a small element of truth to it. 

Half of me is feeling the very clear pull the money has had on me… the other half is thinking the money repairs nothing. It changes nothing. 

Isn’t money powerful? Or am I just easily bought? 

It’s not about the therapy break!!!!

I was pretty desperate for last night’s session to come. I had stomach issues all day Monday and Tuesday and after spending all day Monday crying in the toilets at work, by last night I was really in need of some T time.

I walked in, sat down and brought Frank out of my bag. I sat him on the sofa and T commented on the fact I had him with me. I told her that as it was our last week before her 2 week holiday, I wanted to bring him with me to keep her “fresh” on him somehow. T used the subject of her holiday to tell me that she thought my email to her on Friday may have actually been an attempt to “keep her good for the break”.  I didn’t write about that email, but for background I had emailed her Friday morning to tell her I felt some sort of shift in my recovery and said that I felt very strong, optimistic and thanked her for making it all possible.

I kind of internally rolled my eyes when she said this and thought to myself “why can’t I just have been happy? Why does there have to be an unconscious ulterior motive?” but I didn’t say anything. T said she thought that perhaps if I let her know I was feeling good and was thankful to her – then the break would be easier and I wouldn’t worry about her going away and potentially not coming back if I was angry with her.  I told her that I didn’t think so, no. I genuinely felt very happy at the time. She said she didn’t doubt that possibly I did in that moment, but that similar to a bipolar episode when you are that “up” you can’t feel anything low at all – it keeps anything sad, hard, tough etc well and truly away and that it is often short-lived. She said she thought that when she read my email but thought to herself “let’s see if it holds”.

I jumped in here and said “and then you got my email on Monday” (the one where I said I was extremely sad post mother stuff). She laughed.

T said a few more things and then said she thought that potentially my mother got me in touch with my anger and that perhaps it was aimed at her for going away. I told her no, it wasn’t. I told her again that I felt okay about the break and that right now I was just preoccupied with the mother/narc stuff that was going on.

She said something else about the break/how I was probably angry with her… and I could feel myself getting a bit wound up. I looked away and thought to myself just grin and bear it, she will move on soon… I clearly can’t persuade her its nothing to do with the break. With that she said “what’s going on right now?”.

As soon as she said that I felt something in my body, it was quick and I’m not too sure what it was although on reflection today I think it was frustration. She said “are you angry?”… I paused and then said, I’m just upset and then began to cry a little.  I think looking back I was getting angrier and angrier because I felt like she wasn’t listening to me. I had said it wasn’t about the break over and over again and yet she seemed determined it was. I am always open-minded when she makes suggestions and she may even be right somewhere unconsciously but what am I meant to say if I can’t feel it??? It was irritating me because I felt like I was holding in sooooooooo much stuff from the weekend and needed a release so badly that this was wasting precious session time.  I think that perhaps I also felt like the blog I sent her Monday about how utterly sad I felt, how disappointed and how much grief I was feeling wasn’t being respected or acknowledged or something..

I can’t really remember what I said or what she said and the order of things but we discussed what happened with my mum Saturday night and I told her how the evening played out. Thankfully we moved on from the bloody break-anger at last. A while later I found myself really crying my eyes out with T encouraging me to get it all out and feel the release.  I cried a lot, I felt totally exhausted and wiped out.  I told  T that I just “hate it. I hate her sometimes so much” in a small, childish voice.  She said “of course you do, that is normal, that is okay”.

We went over lots of mother stuff and she told me that I would never win with her or with a narc in general and that the only way to stop this happening was to not engage. She acknowledged that it was understandable that I got sucked back in and suggested that next time I go to give a boundary away (like when I changed my mind about her birthday weekend which I am now regretting) I listen to the other voice in my head that says to hold off and wait and see for a while longer. I told her that I actually did have this voice in my head at the time and that I purposely went against it. I told it to be quiet. She looked sad for me and said that perhaps next time I would listen to it more, that it would be stronger.

She told me to keep myself safe during her break meaning don’t see my mum. I told her that I won’t and that the next time I will see her is the dreaded birthday weekend away. We spoke about that for a while and she suggested some ways that I could make it more manageable. She also told me that I did not have to go but clearly I feel like I do have to.  We spoke about that for a while and T said “you are so scared of her” (not in a mocking way) and I thought to myself how I hate it when she says that because I want to tell her she is wrong, but that I knew she wasn’t.  See, I can be objective!

I told T that I was worried whilst away on her birthday weekend she would invite people to our wedding in front of me again and that I had very nearly sent her a text yesterday to say I did not like what she did at the party (inviting people in front of me). I told her I didn’t send it but that I had wanted to.  T said perhaps wait and see if she does it again or that perhaps it should be done face-to-face.  T also suggested if she did it again, I should aim my response to her and say something like “Mum, the guest list is up to me and fiancé, thank you” but I said that would make me look bad and embarrass whoever the other person was.  I said it would also show her up and she would hate that. Hate that I wasn’t complying with her and hate that I would show her up and looking “rude”.  T suggested I spoke to her before that weekend and said to her ahead of time please do not do that so that if she did, she already knew what my response would be.

Conversation moved on to work and I told T that I had found out that redundancies were going to be announced this week for my job role and that I had found out they were considering accepting voluntary applications. I told her I suspected the announcement would be Friday afternoon as that seems to be the way they do things that might cause a reaction, they tell you and then send you home so that you don’t cause too much disruption to the firm. She asked me how I was feeling about it and I said I was anxious and couldn’t decide whether I wanted to apply for voluntary redundancy or not.  I told her my reasons for and against it and said that obviously a huge pull factor was escaping Tina.  It really would sever the contact between us for good. No need to see each other anymore at all and that was very attractive to me.

When I drove home I had some tears in my eyes as I thought to myself how kind, soothing and maternal I found her. How I wish when I looked in my mother’s eyes I had that same warmth instead of such an evil, coldness.  Her eyes pierce my soul sometimes. I thought to myself how much I love it when T laughs – like really laughs, sometimes she laughs loudly and throws her head back and it makes me warm inside.

So, I now have one final session with her, tomorrow afternoon and I have no idea what I want the focus of that session to be but I am not looking forward to it if she talks about the fecking break. I keep questioning myself is it that? Am I in denial? But its infuriating when you aren’t in touch with something that she so clearly thinks I am feeling – what am I meant to say to that?

I worry she is right and that it will all hit me as I leave tomorrow’s session. I know it sounds rather dramatic, but right now I am not at my strongest emotionally and I feel drained and I need tomorrow to be good, to be connecting and I absolutely can’t handle that pain of leaving her that sometimes kicks in on top of everything else. Perhaps I am compartmentalising I don’t know.

Oh and on a totally different note, I wondered to myself today if I sometimes self-sabotage. I was thinking that on Saturday when I decided I quite fancied some drinks that evening (with mother), I did have a voice in my head that said “you are really strong right now, you’ve just had a big shift in your therapy and the day with the kids has been great – why potentially ruin all of that?” and I just ignored it and said back to it that it would be fine (because I am so strong ….) Gah.  I also thought to myself that this has happened several times. I get to a good place and then I make contact to see her and it ends in tears – this is half the reason I was so annoyed with myself for falling into her trap again..  I have the knowledge there, I have that voice there trying to make me question my motives and I sometimes go against it.  I wonder why I do that.

Narcissistic hoovering 

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

So far this is where I am at.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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. 

Empaths & Narcissists: Wising up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

removing toxic ppl

this is the part wherecant change ppl

stage 4 boundaries

Some links that I found helpful:

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

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

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

 

 

 

Post 2: Sister struggles

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

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

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

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

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

She is now not talking to me.

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

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

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

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

Still climbing the mountain

Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I plan to send:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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