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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Thought Fuel and Irritation

It has been 25 days today since the big argument between me and my mother. So about 3 and a half weeks.  I’ve blogged quite a bit during this time and so anyone that has taken the time to read my posts will have seen the emotions I’ve gone through in this time.  There has been empowerment, anger, sadness, more anger and then lots of intellectual processing of dysfunctional family dynamics, namely with my Nan and more recently, my little sister.

I haven’t heard from my mother at all since the text messages that we exchanged a few days after the fall out. I did not reply to her last message, the one which said that I did not have a bad childhood because I had a roof over my head because I was too angry and because I was so emotionally exhausted from trying and failing repeatedly to get her to see how I felt.  It was pointless.

Since then, I put her on a restricted profile on Facebook and totally blocked her on Twitter and Instagram.  I know this sounds a bit childish, but for me this was a pretty big step. It is probably the biggest boundary I have ever implemented with her and honestly, it was quite scary as well as empowering.  Now, I have her on a restricted profile which means that she cannot see any of my status updates but I can still see her page as usual.  So, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went on her page over the weekend and saw a load of “check in’s”.  For anyone unfamiliar with Facebook, you can “check in” at places basically to show people where you are. That could be a restaurant or a pub or a nature reserve etc.  Well, she “checked in” at 2 very nice and expensive venues … that I had brought her a voucher for recently for her birthday.  The gift was for 2 people to visit a famous landmark and then a paid meal for 2 in a famous restaurant.  She could use this voucher whenever she wanted to within a year.

Now, when we fell out 25 days ago, she had not booked this which makes me think that since we fell out, she has decided to phone up and book the two places in.  The statuses on Facebook over the weekend were many, about what fabulous places they were and how she was “drinking champagne with hubby”.  Obviously there was no thanks to me or mention of the fact it was a present purchased by me.

It felt weird seeing those statuses and check-ins. I spoke to my fiance’ about it at the time and he said that he thinks she has done it on purpose to get at me or to annoy me.  He said he thought it was a weird time to use that gift when we hadn’t been speaking for the last nearly month. I agree.

Seeing that and feeling the feelings that made me feel has had me wondering things the last few days. Now I find myself thinking “what is SHE doing?”.  I knew I wanted and needed space from her and I know why…. but from her perspective, what is she doing? What is her aim here?

I spoke to T about this last night and said to her it isn’t that I want to hear from her, because I really do not but equally I guess it is strange to me that she is carrying on her business as though life is still wonderful when she has had such a huge fall out with her daughter. Booking and going on that present has clearly had the desired effect (if there was an intention behind doing so).. I have been thinking about this ever-since.

I have found myself sitting on Google a lot (as usual) and I’ve been reading about narcissists and the silent treatment. Does this apply to me? I mean, is it the silent treatment when I haven’t contacted her? I’m not sure.  T said that even if I don’t want to hear from her, I probably assumed that I would have so the fact I haven’t is making me feel like this. I find myself giving her lots of thought and that is annoying because 1) it is totally the opposite of what I wanted to achieve by having time and space away from her and 2) is giving her what she wants isn’t it? I am back in some sort of control, whether she knows it or not, where I am spending my time questioning what she is doing, thinking etc.

I read the term “Thought Fuel” earlier and then I found this:

“Thought Fuel is especially useful when we engage in our manipulations through silent treatment, or denigrating you and then going out somewhere. We are able to conjure up the image of you distraught at home and fearing our return and this Thought Fuel invigorates us. It is evident when we have discarded you in particular as we think of how you will be reacting once you realise that you have been discarded and that we want no more to do with you. When we hoover you through technology, even though we may not receive a response to our first flurry of texts we will still draw Thought Fuel from it because we know how you will be responding to our communication. It may be excitement, it may be apprehension or it may be hatred, but whatever it is, it will be fuelling us nevertheless and that is all that matters to us.”

Mehhh.

I feel annoyed and anxious about the whole thing today. I wonder what she is doing and why, I wonder what will be next and I hate that I am spending so much energy on these thoughts and feelings. I hate that she can make me feel like that – that I am allowing myself to feel and think these things. I wish I could just turn it off. In my mind, she is carrying on with her life trying to prove to me that she isn’t at all bothered by my actions.  She is possibly genuinely not bothered or she is trying to get a reaction out of me, whether good or bad. But what is next? It could be another attempt at “moving on”, it could be guilt tripping me, it could be anger, it could be messages delivered to me via other people… and it is quite exhausting not knowing what is next.

Lastly, it is a very close family friend’s birthday party this coming Saturday.  The whole family are invited.  I have obviously decided that I shouldn’t go – because my mother, stepdad and sister will all be there. I am disappointed that I won’t  be going and I also feel guilty that I will have to tell her I won’t be there. I know she will be dissapointed.  BUT the worst bit about this is, this family friend was one of the people who told me what my mother had been saying about me and my fiance’ (how I had changed because he was controlling and manipulative) and in the heat of the moment with my mother, I dropped her as one of the names.  My mother very clearly hasn’t confronted her which is no surprise (because my mother lied) but considering she is so utterly furious with me for believing her over “my own mother“, you would think she may have said something to her wouldn’t you?

So this weekend, I can be sure to see Facebook covered in selfies of this family friend, my mother and my sister too (along with the family friend’s adult kids who are like cousins to me).  I know it will happen and yet I already know it will upset and annoy me.  Will that stop me looking? Probably not. Why do I do that to myself?  T has told me to delete my Facebook and make a new one with only a few selected friends, or to come off Facebook for a few days long enough that the photos won’t be all over the news feed… there are options I know, but I doubt I will be able to stop myself.

It is so infuriatingly unfair. I dread to think what she (and my stepdad and sister) will say to this family friend. How I am nasty and aggressive and how awful I was that night and how they don’t know who I am anymore blah blah blah….  the smear campaign beginning I guess?

So do I tell her that I can’t make her party because of the truth or because of a fake illness… will it make any difference what I say? I think probably not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 

No Contact to heal?

Sorry for how much I am writing at the moment. I imagine that my posts will be hard to keep up with because I am feeing so many different things so quikcly. I am writing them all down to help me process and understand them and also to document the whole thing.

 

I can’t heal whilst seeing or speaking to her.  I need to not think about her, be guilt-tripped by her, be sucked back in and hoovered by her, worry about how to respond to her etc…. Equally, I have no energy to be fake and sit and smile as she says things that offend, upset or irritate me.  It isn’t fair on her that I randomly rage at her and she gets a lifetime of anger and pain thrown at her in a few minutes.  [note that I feel a lot of guilt and shame as I type that sentence].

It isn’t right for me to do that. It isn’t a safe and healthy way of expressing my anger BUT neither is denying or repressing it for her benefit when that just means hurting myself.

So therefore, the best situation for both of us at the moment seems to point towards time and space without her to try to heal myself.  Will time apart actually enable me to do that? I don’t really know.  What I do know is that I am too emotionally reactive around her (especially when alcohol is involved) and the only way I see that being any different is to see if I can heal the pain I have enough that being around her doesn’t trigger me so much.  Who knows if that is possible or not.

She can’t, or doesn’t want, to see that I have any reason to have childhood wounds.  She doesn’t think she made any mistakes and therefore she can’t validate me.  She can’t acknowledge anything for me and she can’t apologise.  I used to think an apology was the only way I would be able to heal and feel better about anything.

Now I think I don’t need her to apologise to heal BUT I can’t try to heal myself and do all of the work involved with that whilst trying to maintain some sort of contact with her. Especially when the contact really only exists because of my sense of obligation and guilt.  I am convinced that trying to keep some form of contact with her at the moment is just slowing me down or keeping me stuck.  We stopped speaking just over 2 weeks ago and the amount I’ve processed and the amount of different feelings I’ve had in that time is amazing.

The only thing playing on my mind at the moment is when she will contact me.  My thoughts and feelings are changing daily – sometimes hourly at the moment and I feel a real sense of urgency to make a decision and come to some conclusion in case she contacts me and I don’t know what to do.  I keep telling myself that even if she does contact me, if I’m not ready, I don’t have to reply or I could tell her I need more time/space etc.  I am so aware of the child response in me that is screaming “Wooooahhh.. No! She would KILL me if I did that!“.  I am having to remind myself I am a 29-year-old woman with her own house, job, money, family – I CAN do whatever I want. She can’t DO anything to me anymore.  It’s shocking realising how young she keeps me in that way. I think to myself, what age would it be okay to do then? 40? 50? 60? I guess the answer would be never.

How well I’ve been programmed.

Is it an option that rather than deciding on contact OR non-contact forever, I could decide that I do need no contact FOR NOW? Is it an option to say that at least until after Christmas I don’t want any contact, or even just to say that until I contact you, I need to be left alone? I don’t know who that question is to, or exactly whose permission I am wishing I had…  I know I’m the only one that can make these decisions but it feels too big for me to do alone.

If I did EXACTLY what I wanted right this very moment the outcome would be that I had AT LEAST until after Christmas and New Year before I had to think about contacting her/or being contacted by her.  That contact would only be made when I decided I wanted it, if I decided I wanted it.  That this whole decision-making process and worry of hearing from her was totally removed and that Christmas involved being with my fiance’ and his family for Christmas without having to tell my Mother that I had changed my mind and wasn’t spending it with her after all – without feeling the fear or the guilt about that. Oh and all of this would have absolutely no impact on my Grandparents, in fact, they don’t know about it at all.

In my heart I want to go NC…

Today’s thought is this: In my heart I want to go NC.  In my head I am too scared to deal with the consequences of that, mainly, upsetting my grandparents.

This realisation came to me after talking to my fiancé last night about our wedding and the reality of that day without my mother and stepdad in it. I know that it wouldn’t only be them two that no longer came, it would also include my sister and her boyfriend, possibly my step-siblings and their partners, aunts and uncles, possibly cousins and, the hardest of all, my grandparents.

There is a chance that my grandparents would come, although I am not entirely sure about that BUT what I think would happen is that my Nan would make me feel such intense guilt and sadness at how upset SHE was on behalf of my mother (feeling sadness for her daughter). I don’t want to make my nan feel like that, I really don’t and what’s more, I don’t want to have to hear all the shame-inducing and guilt-tripping things she would no doubt say in attempt at getting us back together.  She would mean well, but all that would happen is that she would get upset and I would end up defending myself or feeling invalidated and getting angry. I really, really, REALLY want to avoid that situation.

Equally however, I don’t want to live my life in FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) and possibly more importantly, I no longer want to dance to her tune. I am done with acting the good girl, faking it out to please her or even just smiling and not biting until I get home where I then spend hours crying and going over all the shit things she has said or done, or even just feeling the emptiness of the relationship and lack of connection. I don’t want that anymore.

So where does that leave me?

In my dysfunctional family, you can have a HUGE argument, say awful things and then at some stage, my mother would decide to act like nothing had happened at all. The event would not be acknowledged and I would be expected to just play along. I did that 3 years ago after our first huge argument (where I confronted her with childhood stuff for the first time – I had just started counselling and found out she is narcissistic). This time, I am not willing to do that but equally I have realised that talking won’t get us anywhere because we see things far too differently for there to be any kind of middle-ground or compromise.  My mother would have me believe that acting like nothing had happened and carrying on was some kind of forgiveness – that if you didn’t do that, YOU had the problem and were harbouring bad feelings unnecessary (and cruelly) but now I see it as denial and a refusal to take any ownership for her part in things.  (I am SO glad I have got to this point at last!).

I read an article this morning on the way to work which said that the daughter of the narc mother felt she was in “Low or No Contact Purgatory” where she wasn’t prepared to make a decision to go no contact so she just did nothing. I can so relate to that feeling at the moment! She wrote “I just did nothing, I didn’t call her and she didn’t call me” – oh hi! How similar are our stories right now?!

My sister and I aren’t speaking still and the sad fact is that my sister has been “promoted” to golden child in the years since I made a conscious effort to limit my contact with my mother and to emotionally distance myself. She has changed so much and it is so sad to see her exhibiting narcissistic tendencies.  We argued the night I fell out with my mother, in fact it is what started the arguing off in the first place, she is now very much “on my mother’s side” so I know that if I go totally no contact, that I won’t have her in my life either. I never imagined my sister wouldn’t be in my life.. she is meant to be one of my bridesmaids (not that she has shown the slightest bit of interest in the wedding)… it is very sad.  I also know that at some stage when she feels depressed next, she may possibly come to me and my fiancé and she will want to discuss my mother and slag her off to us…. I do worry about that and I worry about how a relationship between us would realistically work when she would tell my mother everything about me and my life – even if I asked her not to. That is just the dynamic with my mother and she will want to keep her elevated place with her in-between the depression phases.  I don’t like that one bit, but I sadly understand it. My sister is unable to remain neutral or not to involve herself, she just will.

My mother triangulates with me and my sister and always has. My mother taught me and my sister not to have a healthy relationship. She taught us to slag each other off to her to gain some perverse approval… she has told me so many times that HER mother hates her getting along with my aunty (her sister)….she has told me so many times how she LOVES it when me and my sister get along. That is a giant head-fuck because it is a lie.  Maybe my Nan does dislike it, but she also hates it.  Dysfunction repeating itself…

It is sad but the longer there is no contact, the less I want to return. It’s why I have some weird hope that she doesn’t contact me (maybe ever?) so that I don’t have to do the dirty work and that I don’t have to be the bad guy. Maybe I wouldn’t lose my sister or my grandparents if it were my mother that made the cut.  It’s some kind of fucked-up shame that won’t happen (what a strange sentence to type!).

Just like the article I read this morning says, my mother doesn’t want me to talk about my childhood. She wants me to “move on” – basically she wants me to shut up and not upset her or what people think of her. I can’t do that anymore. In that article there was an image of a letter and it read:

“Thank you for your voicemail Sunday night. I’m sorry I haven’t had chance to call you back. I am working on some personal issues regarding my emotional health and I am requesting time away from our relationship while I work on improving myself. When I am finished I will let you know.  During my time of reflection and work, I do not want to receive any calls from you. Of course if there is any kind of emergency I will let you know and ask that you do the same. 

Please understand this is about my emotional health and well-being. During this time I will be working on letting go of some of my unrealistic expectations. It is important to me that I give myself the opportunity to repair my self-esteem so that I can continue to work on being less emotionally reactive during our encounters. I also am working on eradicating negative internalized messages into positive ones. This is what I am choosing for myself right now because I have come to an understanding that I need time to heal.”

I thought this letter was wonderful. The only concerns I have is that it makes it sound as though I am owning/accepting 100% of the “blame” or “fault” and that doesn’t sit comfortably with me. But I guess it is the least controversial way out.  Is it telling her too much to say that I would be working on my self-esteem or my unrealistic expectations? I mean, it is the truth but….?

That’s where I am with it all today (so far!).

 

Article referred to and quoted from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/fridaynightheretics/2015/09/breaking-up-with-mom-part-1/ Part 1 and Part 2

 

Dream triggers & painful memories 

****Some possible triggers about sex and abuse.***
I woke up this morning from a night full of dreams. I know I had lots because I kept waking up and I would acknowledge to myself that “she” was in them, and then I would fall back to sleep again – and repeat. When I woke up and it was morning I felt groggy and had head-cloud. I had a headache. The main bit of the dream that I can still visualise clearly is that I had slid down an inflatable slide with someone and at the end, a man put his hand inside my skirt. He slid his hand from the waistband. I didn’t do anything but I knew it was wrong. The next thing the man was taking photos of me and my mum was jumping in the photos and posing seductively. 

Writing about this dream makes me feel weird. I feel like something is building up inside me. Maybe anger? The dream makes me feel sick because when I was a teenager one of her boyfriend’s put his hand inside my skirt (from the waistband) and into my knickers. I didn’t move at all, or say anything. I froze. I was petrified and confused. 

I really liked and trusted that man. I told him everything! Too much as I can now see from adult eyes. The man groomed me. He used to give me money and top up vouchers for my phone so that we could always speak and he would ask me to send him photos of myself, he brought me a camera phone and they weren’t cheap back then! 

He spoke to me about everything. He asked me inappropriate questions about boys and my sexual experiences. I was innocently naive and thought he was just treating me like an adult! BUT I didn’t want that. Him touching me didn’t last long luckily because my mother came down the stairs and sent me to bed. I went into the kitchen and froze. My heart was thumping and I was in shock at what had just happened. My mum shouted again and I went to bed. 

I wrapped my blanket under and over me like a sausage roll in the hope that he would struggle to get to me. I cried and shook – then I heard him coming up the stairs and he went into the bathroom where he sent me some vulgar text messages. 

I didn’t tell my mum for 9 years. The point is, the dream triggered this memory and some horrible feelings. It’s effected me all day. I cried a while after I woke up. Not for long, but real from the heart grief type tears.  Later I felt angry. I found myself thinking things about my mother like how I can’t believe she used to have sex with men when me and my sister were in the same room. 

2 examples came to mind immediately. Both were in hotel rooms and so her bed was like a metre away from me and my little sister. I guess I would have been about 9 and 11. It also reminded me of being literally about 5 or 6 years old and waking up to what I now know are sex noises, loud banging and her screaming. I was so bloody scared. I thought she was being hurt and was dieing!! I sat on the toilet and she eventually came in and was shocked to see me there. She asked me what I was doing and I told her I was scared of the noises. She told me they were playing a game where they pushed each other off the bed and that’s why she was screaming out. 

I know sex doesn’t stop when you have kids, but there are limits and things which are morally right and wrong aren’t there? She ramped the sex stuff up another level as I got older and took to having sex with men on the sofa, the stairs and with her bedroom door wide open. It was always pornstar loud and she would leave her clothes and underwear strewn across the hall or stairs. 

I confronted her about her loud sex and she told me to move out if I didn’t like it. The last time, a few months after I told her what her ex boyfriend done to me as a teen, she told me I was jealous of her and that she didn’t believe that even happened to me. I was utterly heartbroken. 

Fuck you. 

Now I think to myself “baggy fanny slut”. 

I told T the other day that my stepdad (aka: lapdog) knew for years before my mum did about that event, he had told me not to tell my mum as it would upset her too much. When I did tell her, she told him in front of me and he acted like he didn’t know. I’ve often fantasised of telling her that he knew, but I’ve now learnt that she needs him to worship her and agree with everything and anything she does and says – which he does well. She would see this as evidence of his love and NOT how shit it was for me that another, apparently trustworthy, adult had let me down. 

Interestingly, when I told my mum she said, and I quote, “don’t tell Nan as she would have a heart attack and die”. I now see that she was scared what my Nan may say about her parenting skills. It is after all, all about her. 

I tragically held onto the hope that when she found out what happened, she would become who I needed her to but that obviously didn’t happen. 

A while after I told her, I said in anger and sadness that she had never mentioned it again and she said in anger “do we all have to talk about it all day every day and feel sorry for you?!” OUCH. 

If only I understood then what I do now, that what he did was sick and wrong, but what she did was so much worse. But hey! We had “a nice house”! 

Angry 😠 

I am angry today. Really angry. I just woke up like it. I am due on my period today, so perhaps it’s entirely hormonal… but also my fiancé and his ex wife are going to my eldest’s stepson’s opening evening together tonight for the first time. 

In the 4 years we’ve been together, he’s not been allowed to go to any school events whatsoever, yet all he go WITH her, but because of the situation at the moment, my stepson apparently said he wanted his dad there as he was worried his mum would get upset and cry, and his Mum is refusing to just let my fiancé go instead of her. 

The rational, adult in me understands this entirely. The child in me is screaming and throwing things at this sudden co-parenting, his ex-wife is back in our lives thing. I know this makes me sound very selfish. I know… 

I booked me and my fiancé a few nights away for when I leave my job yesterday. He said, it depends on when the funeral is because he said he would go with her (the ex wife). Again: rational adult understands this. Child me is NOT happy that our holiday may not happen because of something to do with her. 

Having said this, I WAS feeling okay about this stuff on Monday. Me and my fiancé had a good chat over lunch, I told him I was feeling uncomfortable with all of the texts and calls and stuff and he told me he was too and we spoke about some boundaries he would put in, if necessary. So that makes me wonder if I’m just using this stuff as an excuse to be angry. Am I projecting? 

As I sit on the train writing this, I can feel a need to cry. It’s strong, yet the anger is equally as strong. I’m on my way to T’s so hopefully that helps. I really want to be able to go in and say “I feel very angry” but o doubt I will. It’s like this fake “well behaved” adult takes over when I see her. I’m not sure I have the energy for that today though. 

I know I have a lot to feel angry about regarding my Mum and the situation I’m currently dealing with with her. The impossible decision and choice I have to make. The decision sucks either way however you look at it. Maybe it’s that. 

Huff. 

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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreboding Joy & Self-Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brown says

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

She also says:

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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vulnerable

soul mate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paranoid-Schizoid and Depressive Positions And Recovery from BPD

Last week in my session with T, she said something about “paranoid-schizoid and the depressive position“. At the time, all I heard was the word “schizoid” and I momentarily freaked out that she was trying to tell me I had a personality disorder (which I probably do, but she has never actually told me that), then last night I was Googling Borderline Personality Disorder and it lead me to this page which I now realise was what she was referring to!

I found this VERY interesting and enlightening and what’s more, it has really helped me to understand the process of rupture and repair.  I am hoping it may also help some of you too.  I was planning to summarise these notes and make some comments on them but I think it is a bit too complex for me to do that accurately, so whilst I am tempted to sit here and make comments on everything, I will just attach a few links and if you have time/are interested, please do read them and let me know what you think, I would love to talk to someone about this!

A very brief summary is as follows:

The paranoid-schizoid position

Anxiety is experienced by the early infant’s ego both through the internal, innate conflict between the opposing life and death drives (manifested as destructive envy) and by interactions in external reality.

A child seeks to retain good feelings and introjects good objects, whilst expelling bad objects and projecting bad feelings onto an external object. The expulsion is motivated by a paranoid fear of annihilation by the bad object.

Klein describes this as splitting, in the way that it seeks to prevent the bad object from contaminating the good object by separating them via the inside-outside barrier.

The schizoid response to the paranoia is then to excessively project or introject those parts, seeking to keep the good and bad controlled and separated. Aggression is common in splitting as fear of the bad object causes a destructive stance.

The child’s ego does not yet have the ability to tolerate or integrate these two different aspects, and thus uses ‘magical’ omnipotent denial in order to remove the power and reality from the persecuting bad object.

This splitting, projection and introjection has a frighteningly disintegrative effect, pulling apart the fragile ego.

Projective identification is commonly used to separate bad objects whilst also keeping them close, which can lead to confused aggression.

 

The initial depressive position

The initial depressive position is a significant step in integrative development which occurs when the infant discovers that the hated bad breast and the loved good breast are one and the same.

The mother begins to be recognized as a whole object who can be good and bad, rather than two part-objects, one good and one bad. Love and hate, along with external reality and internal phantasy, can now also begin to co-exist.

As ambivalence is accepted, the mother can be seen as fallible and capable of both good and bad. The infant begins to acknowledge its own helplessness, dependency and jealousy towards the mother. It consequently becomes anxious that the aggressive impulses might have hurt or even destroyed the mother, who they now recognize as needed and loved. This results in ‘depressive anxiety’ replacing destructive urges with guilt.

The general depressive position

In the more general depressive position, projective identification is used to empathize with others, moving parts of the self into the other person in order to understand them.

To some extent, this is facilitated when the other person is receptive to this act. The experience that the projecting person through their identification is related to the actions and reactions of the other person.

When the thoughts and feelings are taken back inside the projecting person from the other person, they may be better able to handle them as they also bring back something of the other person and the way they appeared to cope. It can also be comforting just to know that another person has experienced a troublesome part of the self.

The depressive position is thus a gentler and more cooperative counterpoint to the paranoid-schizoid position and acts to heal its wounds.

 

My understanding of this is that children (or adults if they have been emotionally neglected and wounded and didn’t have a “good-enough” caregiver to help them develop through these phases successfully), tend to see people as all good or all bad due to using splitting as a defence mechanism.  In the therapy setting, this happens because a child is desperate for a good enough parent substitute (this is 100% true for me as I have written many times on here).

As therapy continues, the aim is that the therapist helps us to move through this phase as we should have done as children and in turn, we are more able to view the therapist as a whole person made up of good bits and bad bits and not one or the other.

I guess that when my T referred to me having “moved out of the paranoid-schizoid and into the depressive position” on Thursday she meant that I have moved out of the entirely “bad” projecting place and was then in a place where I was feeling guilt and worry about HER feelings and the damage that I may have caused to HER and our relationship. I think this is evident if you read my latest blog post.

Klein says “If the confluence of loved and hated figures can be borne, anxiety begins to centre on the welfare and survival of the other as a whole object, eventually giving rise to remorseful guilt and poignant sadness, linked to the deepening of love.”. I think I speak of this poignant sadness in my post “Drunk Thoughts“.

I guess when I went to my session Thursday and told T I couldn’t relax, was crying a lot and didn’t really know why and was feeling utterly helpless it was because I was feeling the guilt and grief of my projection onto T, the worry that I had damaged her/us.

 

AANNNDDDDD……

On top of this wonderful new information, I then came across the following blog:

https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/four-phases-of-bpd-treatment-and-recovery/

which explained the 4 phases of therapy when recovering from BDP – being

(1) The Out-of-Contact Phase

(2) Ambivalent Symbiosis

3)  Therapeutic Symbiosis

4)  Resolution of the Symbiosis (Individuation)

The blogger explains these amazingly well and so I won’t copy her blog but please read it if you are interested.  I wonder now if this is what my T meant when she told me last week that we were now entering into the phase of my therapy where rupture and repair was common.  (Phase 2 perhaps? The ambivalent phase?).

I then read this:

“…. the dominance of the all-negative images during ambivalent symbiosis result in the patient distrusting the therapist and using projective identification to reject them. The patient distorts the therapist, turning him “all bad” in their mind in order to block the development of a positive relationship. In other words, the patient sabotages himself by actively attacking his potential positive relationship to the therapist“.

Oh dear.. well that feels worryingly familiar doesn’t it? Our entire rupture was formed on me asking to go from 2 sessions to 1 and her reaction being that I was sabotaging my therapy……… GULP!!  What followed? a huge rupture where I turned her “all bad”………….