I came up with a very random analogy the other night to explain to my husband how I feel in the times that I suddenly “miss” my mother and I thought I would write it here so that in the harder times to come, I can read this and remind myself of what is happening.
I used a smoking analogy because my husband has recently quit smoking and so I hoped he would be able to relate a little more, this is what I said:
I explained that it is like when you’ve quit something (smoking, drinking, drugs – whatever) and you know that you are doing the right thing. You have all the facts, you know smoking is killing you, you know its costing a lot of money, you know it makes your clothes smell and ruins your taste buds etc and you are really, genuinely very glad that you have quit. You are proud of yourself for quitting. All is good.
Until all of a sudden, you are hit with this extreme craving for a cigarette. Suddenly the need for a cigarette is urgent and although you know all of the logical stuff about health and finances and how disappointed you would be with yourself for caving, you can decide in a second to either disregard all of that stuff and just satisfy the craving with a cigarette… OR fight the craving. Distract yourself by drinking some water or by brushing your teeth – whatever it is that you need to do. You have a moment when it is so easy to go either way.
But gradually, over time, the cravings come less and less often (or maybe eventually stop altogether). The fight was worth it! You are no longer addicted. YAY!!!
I explained that it feels much the same way to me in relation with my mum at times. I can be happy with the very limited contact we have. I can know that I am better off this way, know that it is better for me and for my peace of mind and yet randomly, every now and again I find myself in this regressed child-like place where suddenly all the logic goes out of the window and all that seems to matter is that I get my needs met (the needs often being this fantasy of having the perfect, loving mother stroking my hair and bringing me tea and stuff).
I can feel this really strong pull to go to her – to run to her and I have to decide which way I will go. I can either, give in to this really strong craving to see her OR I can try to sit through the pain and wait for it to pass (which it will, it always does).
In those moments the choices are so hard. The attachment pull can feel stronger than anything I’ve never known and I am sure it isn’t QUITE that deep for a smoker giving up their fags, but hopefully the analogy makes sense anyway. In those moments you have a choice and all anyone wants to do when they have an addiction is make themselves feel better – back to “normal” and often we convince ourselves that the best and easiest way to do that is to just give in and deal with the consequences afterwards (or just put that out of your mind).
I am relieved that I am able to resist my “cravings” these days and I am able to just sit through the pain but I admit the pain hasn’t really got much easier. When I am regressed like that, the pain is still horrendous BUT it doesn’t last as long as it used to and I am pleased to say that I do bounce back quicker then I used to.
However I do know that it is easy for me to sit and write this now as I am clearly in my adult head but when I am regressed and in my child state, none of this seems to really get through to me. I write this anyway with the hope that it will… you never know.
I told my husband, T and myself to be quite honest(!) that until now it has felt like torture sometimes not doing what it felt like I wanted to. There have been times when I have really wanted to just turn up at my mum’s house and see her face as she opens the door to me. I’ve had visions of all sorts of lovely, fantasy visits and I have stopped myself contacting her or going to her house or whatever just because of what T and my husband would say and think. I have had the intellectual knowledge that it isn’t a good idea and that she wouldn’t be able to really give me what I wanted but it wasn’t quite there in terms of my feelings – it still felt like torture and like I was not doing what I wanted to do. That was a tough feeling to feel and in my regressed states I often used to think to myself “fuck what everyone else thinks I should do – this is my life and my mum!”.
And so that is why when I realised this week that it is MY choice and really and truly is what I want to do (or not do), that has made everything feel so much easier. It no longer feels like torture because it is my choice.
I explained the above to T yesterday on the phone and she said that although it felt like torture and although I was only doing it because of her and my husband, that their voices kept me safe. She likened it to a child being told not to do something, for example not to touch the iron because it will burn them – it is only their mother’s voice that stops them doing that thing and even then, they might test it out and once they have really learnt it, they don’t do that thing/touch that iron anymore on their own accord. Does that make sense? It did to me.
She thinks that the last visit with my mother a few weeks ago pushed me over the edge. Seeing her being so clearly angry and hearing her comment on me having put on weight etc was not nice. It really made me realise that she hasn’t changed and she really won’t ever change. I said to T that obviously it wasn’t nice, but it did me a favour in the long run.