My analogy for when I am regressed

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.

 

 

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The feels

I’ve wanted to write about the feelings I’ve been having regarding my mother over the last week or two but I’ve not really known how to explain the way I’ve been feeling or what I’ve been thinking and then on top of that, I’ve moved out of my house and into my in-laws and so I really don’t have much time (or space!) to be able to do so.

The problem with this is however, that I now feel a bit stressed and a bit …Ahhhh where it’s all inside and needs to be written out a little.

It’s also hard to write about feelings that change so quickly. Last Sunday I was crying and feeling SO much sadness and grief and was very much in my child state – last Tuesday’s session was the same but today as I say, being in someone else’s house, surrounded by lots of people and noise and mess… the feelings aren’t really “here” and so it all feels a little disjointed.

Basically last Sunday as I say I was feeling like a vulnerable child. The upcoming move was stressing me out and I had seen my mother a week previous which is when she cried and told me how much she missed me and wished she could see me more. I posted about that at the time so there’s a separate post for details. Her tears seem to have really made an impact on me, it was very hard for me seeing her cry. Seeing her tears and seeing her vulnerable possibly for the first time ever was horrible. Seeing her upset made me feel hopeful I think. I think it really ignited something in me and as I was feeling vulnerable and stressed about the move, it all got too much and by Sunday last week, I was crying and feeling like I really needed my mum.

When I went to my session on Tuesday I was so desperate to tell T all about it but I was also anxious and I was nervous that she would make comments about how my mother was playing games or wasn’t genuine and that I would feel angry or defensive etc. What actually happened is that I told T I had “apparently lost my mind and gone totally crazy” and I told her what had happened and how I felt.

T was kind, she seemed understanding and empathetic but she did make it clear that I was feeling vulnerable and child-like and that I really needed to try not to react and to try to just “stay still” and not do anything at the moment. In that session I cried. I really, really cried. I sobbed into my hands in a way that I’ve not for a very long time in therapy. I felt exhausted and I felt completely lost. I said things along the lines of “it doesn’t feel natural to have to to stay away from your mum” and I said that I hated myself for forgetting everything I had learnt but that the knowledge and facts felt so far removed from my feelings.

T said that she hoped I would take some comfort just from having spoken out the feelings and sharing them with T – from crying even. I thought to myself that was very unlikely. It was a really weird and shit feeling actually….. I was effectively being told to NOT do the thing I felt I wanted and needed to do in order to feel better. It felt unfair and it felt strange and cruel. I’m a way I guess it felt like punishment or something.

The next day unfortunately was moving day and so I didn’t have any time to process the feelings and I was stressed and overwhelmed.

By Thursday’s session I wasn’t really sure what I was thinking or feeling so when T asked me “where I was” with it all, I didn’t know. I said I wasn’t sure and that I guess I felt a bit numb to it all. I had kind of blocked it out. I told T that my mum had text me on move day and again the day after (that day) to ask how it went. T asked how that felt and I said it was weird really because it was more contact/effort than she had made for such a long time BUT it felt a little bit like she was doing it in order to get some sort of pay-off (mainly me going to her house to stay one evening)…..

I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone else, it’s hard to explain but luckily T seemed to understand what I was saying.

Anyway Friday was my wedding anniversary and my husband and I went away for a night which was very much needed and was lovely. Today is strange as we are living at his parents’ house and his sister is here with her 3 kids and we don’t have a bedroom or anything and it’s hard today…. I don’t know what to do with myself and I’m feeling down about the baby stuff I posted about yesterday and ruminating about being here and missing my own house as well as the above…. I’m feeling just a bit stuck and frustrated and me and my husband have been bickering because of it which is such a shame after such a wonderful couple of days away. Bit of a crash landing.

I’m trying not to think about my mum too much because I am scared I’ll dive bomb back into those horribly painful feelings of last week. The neediness and grief like feelings – they were so horrible, honestly I didn’t know what to do with myself. T said it may feel like life an death and that’s so true. I felt like I could die if I didn’t go to her. Apparently that’s attachment and that’s what keeps babies bonded and attached to their parents/caregiver – she explained that is how children can desperately want to stay with their parent even if they are abused by them. We are programmed to attach to them for our survival and so I guess that goes some way to explaining why I felt as bad as I did.

I know that being realistic, going to my mum’s would mean pretending everything was fine and sweeping everything that has happened the last few years under the rug and I don’t want to do that. The alternative would be to hash it out and I really can’t even stomach the thought of that. My mum still doesn’t think she’s ever done anything wrong so where would that conversation end?

It feels like a waste. She’s there – I’m here. She seems to want a relationship and obviously so do I…. but it just isn’t that simple.

One thing I have just remembered is that when I was crying on Tuesday, T said “what do you hope to achieve?” (about me going to my mum’s house). I thought for a second and laughed and cried at the same time as I said I had no idea. T said the feelings had taken over and that I needed to try to bring the thinking/logic back a little to keep me safe.

So that’s that really….. I still feel a bit numb about it all. I’m worried that she will text me and ask me when I’m going because I’m still caught between half wanting to go and half knowing it’s not a good idea. I don’t want to hurt her and I know she’s got her hopes up. I also haven’t told my husband any of this…. he doesn’t have a clue how I’ve been feeling or about what I’ve said to my mum or about how badly I cried at T’s last week…..

I hate that any of this is real you know. I know that sounds like a stupid thing to say and maybe it sounds like a poor me but I do hate it. I wish so badly that it could be different.

What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About: Rug-Sweeping by Twinkletoes

I have recently started listening to the audiobook of “What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break The Silence”.  I haven’t got very far yet but the few stories I have listened to are extremely moving.  Some of these stories are about things that caused a complete breakdown between mother and (adult) child and some are about the wonderful close bond between them.

It got me thinking, like most things I see or read about the relationship between mother and adult children.  I could relate to a lot of things in one of the stories in particular and so the last few days I’ve been thinking.  What would my “essay” say in this book?  What would my story be about me and my mother?  What “theme” would I go with?  What particular element of “our story” would I focus on?  I mean, for everyone who’s essay appears in this book, they have had to focus in on one element haven’t they.  In every family and every relationship there are many, many things which either make or break it – not just one thing.

Would I focus on how I felt as a young child with a mother who was so disinterested and neglectful?  Or would I focus on her narcissism and enmeshment of me as an 18 plus year old?  Perhaps I would focus on her reaction to finding out I had been sexually abused by one of her boyfriends?

The thing is, SO many things have led to where we are now.  Where are we now? That is what I ask myself, where are we now?  I don’t really know the answer to that either.  Trying not to say where I am, with it all but where WE are is difficult and one of the reasons it is so difficult is, as the book says, we don’t talk about it!!

My mother’s speciality is to sweep things under the rug.  Anything uncomfortable, anything that is in any way difficult or might result in feeling anything is a no-go area.  I never even realised this until a few years into therapy.  She is a rug-sweeper and so she does not want to talk about anything.

One of the writers in this book says something similar about her mother and said that her family were so good at sweeping everything under the rug… until they wasn’t and they fell over it and I can relate to that in so many ways.

Somehow (probably due to all the therapy) I don’t like doing this and I want, need even, to talk about things.  If I look back to about 2 years ago I was still seeing my mother and drinking with her (bad idea) despite also really realising and feeling(!) a lot in therapy to do with her and my childhood and I was trying desperately to hold both at the same time.  A recipe for disaster.

I admit that I went through a phase of going to her house and trying to prove to someone – possibly myself – that I was above it all.  Above her perhaps.  That somehow I could learn all of the things I was learning about all of the ways she hurt me and still sit and drink with her.  I found myself starting to question things she said, starting to correct her or ask her to repeat herself or to answer a question she was clearly avoiding.  It was like I could suddenly see some of the dysfunction and I wasn’t going to let her get away with it anymore.  Looking back, I was being hugely passive aggressive.  I sat there smiling sweetly but I was ready for a fight. I was almost secretly willing her to say something abusive, something nasty, just so I could respond in a way I had never responded before. Just so I could scream in her face that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. That I was DONE.

At the time, I told myself I was being mature by being able to handle her in a different way. I didn’t realise how angry I was.  I think I was trying to show myself, my husband and my therapist that I was strong now.  Perhaps I was kidding myself because deep down I knew that the alternative was to not see her or to continue being treated badly.  I didn’t want either of those things.  Maybe this was a bit of the bargaining phase at play.

Anyway one day I got my chance and I took it.  An argument erupted which ended horribly.  She said some unforgivable things to me that night which I will never be able to forget.  One of them being that I was mentally unstable and needed to be sectioned.  I called her “an evil bitch”.  Then she phoned her husband who was upstairs asleep and he came downstairs ready to fight me, got all up in my face and started to shout and swear at me and then kicked me out of their house.

As I left their house I was shaking like a leaf.  I was crying uncontrollably in fits and starts. I felt so empowered and yet so devastated in equal measure.  What had I done? What had I said?  But also, I felt so proud of myself.  I had finally spoken a lifetime of pain.  I had stood up to her in a way that neither of us thought I ever could.  It was a night that I’m sure neither of us will ever forget.

In my mother’s true form I didn’t hear anything from her for about a week.  Then she sent a text to say she was “so upset” and wanted us to make it up.  The problem is that my mother’s idea of “making up” or “sorting things out” is for me to apologise TO HER, or for us to pretend nothing ever happened and that nothing was ever said.  We do not TALK about it.

I refused to go along with this for the first time in my life and that resulted in 6 months of no contact.  In those 6 months she sent 2 or 3 text messages, 2 of them being sent on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.  Her messages said that she loved and missed me.  Her messages made me feel awful.  They tapped into the child in me who desperately missed her mother and wished her mother did love and miss her.  But I held firm because I just couldn’t do any more of this rug-sweeping.  I mean, I had told her that I grew up feeling completely unloved; a burden (amongst many other things) – those were not things I could just put back in a box and lock up forever more.  They were out now.  I had said them out loud.

A year ago I made contact with her in order for her to attend my wedding.  That took a LOT of debating.  For all the reasons I wanted her there; I didn’t.  I worried what it would mean for us going forwards? Would it be seen as yet more rug-sweeping?  At the same time I felt too guilty to exclude her from the biggest day of my life and I worried I would live to regret it and so she came to my wedding.

Whether I regret inviting her or not I can’t really decide.  My wedding was 9 months ago now and I still can’t decide.  Her presence didn’t add anything good to my special day, in fact I tried (and mostly succeeded) to block her and her husband out because they were both so disinterested and angry-looking all day, BUT perhaps her absence would have been harder and perhaps her absence would have allowed all sorts of perfect fantasy scenarios to fill my head which may have taken up more room than her presence did.

The morning after my wedding everyone was meeting for breakfast at 9am. I woke up as a newlywed and stared at my new husband and our wedding rings and felt the happiest and safest I had EVER felt in my life.  I felt like I had a home now. Something I had never felt.  We reminisced about our Big Day and got ready in our bridal-suite, stopping to smile and kiss each other.  Everything was heaven.  And then I got a text message from her, it was early, maybe 7am and it said that they had left my wedding venue and had gone home…….to pick up their dog.

I blocked the feelings in that moment and didn’t really care.  My husband reacted to it more than I did.  He was pissed.  I didn’t really care and even felt glad because I didn’t want the awkwardness of seeing her and her husband after seeing their miserable faces all day the day before and I had been anxious about having them in a small room with my Dad’s family.  I focussed on that relief and I focused on all the good, loving and kind people around me.

About 2 days later I was sat at home as my husband napped on the sofa, I was looking on social media at all the lovely comments and “likes” on our wedding snaps and I noticed a distinct and obvious lack of anything from her.  Not one. Nada.  She had however put up a post about her new car (and a photo of her posing with it).  She had also commented and “liked” other people’s photos taken at my wedding; for example one of my sister and her boyfriend and another family member.  She commented “beautiful!” on one photo. But not on a single one of my wedding photos.

I snuck out into the garden so my husband didn’t wake and I cried so much. I was so hurt.  Not just, as it might seem on the surface, because of the photos on social media, but because of the whole thing.  It had finally caught up with me and it hurt so much. So bloody much.  It’s also a hard time to feel like your heart is breaking because you’ve just got your happy-ever-after and you want to focus on THAT feeling, not this one and obviously well-meaning friends and family tell you not to worry about the ONE person who isn’t happy for you when so many others are.  That is easier said than done when that ONE person is your mother.

I saw my mother about 6 weeks after my wedding day which was about the soonest I could tolerate seeing her after it all and she did not mention my wedding AT ALL.  Nothing. No mention of how I looked or my dress, no mention of the venue or the flowers or the bridesmaid’s dresses, the speeches.. nothing.  I still remember however I took real pleasure in booking the table under my new married name and telling the waiter loudly as she looked confused for a nano-second.  It was my little “fuck you” moment.

As I write this, it has been about 9 months since my wedding day and just over a year and a half since “that” night where it all came out and I told her what I really felt.  She still tries to rug-sweep even now.  Every now and again she will send me a text message as though everything is just lovey between us.  Sometimes she will invite me to something which I think we both know I won’t be accepting; for example a few months ago she invited me and my husband to her house to have drinks with her and her husband.  I declined and told her the truth why.  It is too late for that.  We cannot just sweep everything under the rug and pretend nothing has ever happened.  I dared to say it – again.  Her response?  Okay – sad face emoji.

She may as well have typed “how dare you refuse to rug-sweep!!”.

It has taken a lot of therapy, a lot of time and a LOT of confusion and tears to get to this stage but now I have given up the hope that anything will ever be different.  It used to hurt me so deeply that she didn’t love me enough to want to talk about it properly – to try to sort it out.  To apologise and to move on.  Slowly I am coming to the realisation that it isn’t really about me at all, she just cannot tolerate feelings and she cannot believe or admit to herself that she has ever done anything wrong or caused any pain.

The relationship between my mother and I now is pretty empty. It is superficial.  Sometimes this brings great pain, but mostly I accept it and time is a great healer.  The more time passes, the more I am adjusting to this.  It has been one hell of a process going from neglected, unloved child to enmeshed young adult to this – whatever “this” is, but I am doing fine.

The message I would want to get across in my “essay” if I could, would be this: sweeping everything under the rug does not work.  It might be uncomfortable talking about things, but is it any less uncomfortable than losing someone you love completely? I don’t think so. But also, you cannot force someone to talk – or to listen – who does not want to and sometimes you have to let them go – if only emotionally. And that you will be okay in the end.

 

 

Then. And Now.

THEN

Growing up, you were everything.

When I was a little girl I thought you were the most beautiful person in the entire world.

You always smelt of perfume and hairspray.  I would watch you admire yourself in the mirror.  I used to wish that you would admire me the way you admired your reflection.

I used to like watching you get ready to go out because it seemed to make you happy.  But I never wanted you to go.

One time I begged you to let me come with you but you played a cruel trick on me letting me ‘go out’ to the garden after letting me use your lipstick and perfume.  I never forgot how I felt in that moment.

Little did I know then, as a 5 or 6 year old, that that feeling would become more and more familiar to me.  More familiar even than your face.

 

You were at your happiest when you were away from me.  That was clear.  I wanted to make you happy so badly that I would go wherever you told me to go without argument.  But I never wanted to leave you.

You wanted to leave me though.

It was almost worth going for – seeing the happiness spread from your eyes to your mouth if someone offered to take me with them for a day, a weekend or a week.  It didn’t matter who it was.  The pleasure I saw on your face was everything.. until I realised that the pleasure was coming from escaping from me.

My heart would hurt as I left my home. My mum.  My world. It was so confusing seeing you smile so sweetly, so happily as I left you.  How does a child so young handle such feelings?

I was so small and thin.  I had bright green eyes like cats and long, knotty hair which ran down my back.  My “little pony” nightie and soft textured Barbie doll came everywhere with me.

I learnt that your happiness was more important than mine.

I suppose that it shows how pure a child’s love is.  So unconditional.  At an age where I should have been naturally selfish, I learnt that I would rather be heartbroken, hurt or scared than you be angry or unhappy.

 

I don’t have many memories of us together when I was a child.  I have no memories of picnics or parks.  No memories of cuddles or games.  I wish I did.  I wish we had baked cakes together.  I wish that you read to me.  Most of all, I wish you wanted me.

 

A year or so later you went to hospital and came home with another little girl.  A sister for me you said.  I cried and cried at the fear this little girl would take you away from me.  I cried even more when everyone else came over and walked right past me to see you and the new little girl.  I felt invisible.  I was scared.

Me, you, the new little girl and your boyfriend moved into a new house together.  The house felt big. It had stairs.  I got a swing and for my tenth birthday you said I could have a bike AND a bouncy castle party with friends from my class.  I was so excited.

A week or so later you told me I had to keep your secret like a big girl.  The secret was that man you were kissing.  The man who kept telling me we would go swimming and to theme parks.

When we went home that night it was dark and I got into bed.  I remember my quilt cover had 102 Dalmatians on it. It was blue and it felt new from the pack.

The shouting began.  Then plates and glasses were being thrown and smashed. I was scared.  I hid under my blanket and then you came upstairs and told me to get in the car NOW!! I asked if I could bring my blanket.

So much happened.  He was gone and a new man replaced him – just like that.  He wasn’t kind the new man.  He was angry.  He never did take me swimming.  He was scary.  He breathed so loud.  He shouted so much. I cried but I looked after my baby sister.

I moved schools again.  We moved house again and again and again… and then he was gone and a new man replaced him and repeat and repeat and repeat.

 

The thing that never changed was the fact that you were happiest when you were without me. I so rarely saw you but when I did, you were cold and angry.  I still loved you so much. I would do anything to make you happy.

One time I had an accident and my head was bleeding really badly. I wondered if I might die.  You said you couldn’t handle blood so someone else had to sort my head out.  I wondered if I died you might love me more.

 

Life continued to change, never the same for long.  New men, new houses, new schools, new people.  I got older. I saw you less.  You never seemed happy to see me – unless I was leaving.  That is a very painful memory to have.

 

NOW 

Now I am older than you were then.  I could have a 5 or 6 year old child;  but I don’t yet.  Maybe one day my baby will sit and watch me get ready in the mirror like I used to do with you, but I will always admire my child more then my reflection in the mirror.  I will not send her away.

My happiness and my smile; the glint in my eye will come from lifting her from her cot,, from picking her up for a cuddle or watching her play happily.  NOT from watching her leave.

The funny thing is that these days, now, you think it is ME who is cruel because I don’t like to see you as much as you would like me to.

Make no mistake, it isn’t that you want to see me.  That you love or miss me.  You just want me to want you like I used to.

Now you want me to put your happiness before my own like I used to do.  Like you taught me to.  Now I put myself first.  Good girl gone bad.

Now I fight back for that 5 year old child who lives inside me.  Now I smile when I look in the mirror too, not at my reflection like you did, but at her because now she feels loved.

 

You abused your power and now you have none.

Now I leave you – the thing that you always wanted and yet, now you cry.

It is too late.

I don’t see you as everything anymore.

I don’t think you are the most beautiful person in the entire world now.

 

But you still smell of perfume and hairspray;
and you still admire yourself in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

There has been a shift (anger)

Today I am going to write about anger.  Anyone who has followed my posts for a while will know that anger is something I’ve just not felt in relation to my healing process or in therapy at all really.  I mean sure, I’ve got angry; I’m not a saint! but in terms of processing anger in regards to the abuse and the trauma I’ve experienced I had none.  Zilch.  Over the years T has tried to encourage me to find my anger, telling me that I would feel better once I had.  Telling me I was safe to express my anger to or even at her, but I still couldn’t find it.  However I have a feeling that might be about to change.

I have briefly mentioned this already but in  order to make total sense of things for my own sake, I may repeat myself slightly.  A few weeks ago my Dad got pissy with me for saying that I couldn’t attend a family event that is taking place later in the year.  His reaction really pissed me off – an unusual reaction for me.   I thought I was just laughing it off really until I went to my session a couple of days after and spoke to T about it and then the longer we spoke about it, the more pissed off I became! I even said to her, jokingly(?) “God I feel angry about it now – thanks for that!” but in hindsight it was less about my Dad’s actions so much as the fact that his actions triggered me – he had inadvertently triggered me to feel something I have very seldom felt before which I now believe to be anger.

The anger I felt was about more than his actions, although it is true to say that it was his actions that pissed me off initially once I started to dig down a bit I realised there was more to it than that. I was angry with him and his passive aggression.  I was angry with him for sulking, for being what I considered selfish and I was angry with him for making me feel something I had felt so many times before.  That’s when the penny dropped I suppose.

The thing I had felt so many times before was manipulated.  Consciously or unconsciously I have been manipulated A LOT and have been taught to give in to other people’s demands.  It was so automatic that I didn’t even realise I did it.

My mother taught me that I had to please her at all times otherwise she would reject me, humiliate me, ignore me or rage at me which could include verbal and/or physical punishment.

My father spent many years absent from my life when I was growing up because of numerous things, but partly as I can now see, due to the fact he struggles with rejection and disappointment himself and seems to act out passively and give people the silent treatment/take himself and his love away.

So called “friends” whom I am no longer acquainted with used to give me shit if I didn’t say “yes” to their requests.  You may remember one who I used to write about “Tina” who used to really act out if I didn’t have lunch with her every single day at work.  If I was to go to the gym or see my (now) husband, I would be made to feel VERY guilty and she would sulk by huffing and puffing, shouting things at me when I walked past her desk, sending me emails saying she spent the hour crying on her own about this or that etc etc…

I grew up so used to this sort of behaviour that I had absolutely no idea it was happening and no idea that I gave into it constantly regardless of what I wanted.  I didn’t even know what I did or didn’t want.  This does also go as deep as the sexual abuse I experienced – I didn’t, couldn’t, say no.  I just froze.  I had learnt to let people do, say and take whatever they wanted.  I had no rights.  Or so I thought.

This last week or so I have started to feel the rumblings of some anger under the surface.  I told T that this stuff with my Dad had made me realise that actually, I DO have some anger.  I am fed up of people acting like this when they don’t get their own way or when I say I can’t or don’t want to do something.  Suddenly I felt kinda righteous and like “NO!! I SAID NO!!”.  I haven’t actually done that, but that is the feeling.

To repeat myself a little again, Friday morning I woke up for work and I felt perfectly normal.  I got up, showered, put on my make up and then remembered it was dress-down at work so went to the wardrobe to find something to wear.  It all went downhill rather rapidly at that point and as I have already written, I then began to get angrier and angrier and more and more stressed and irritated and wound up until BOOM!!! I exploded and burst into floods of tears and cried and cried for about ten minutes.  I’ve already written about this so I won’t go into it more but it was horrible.  One of the worst things about the thoughts I was having is that they feel so REAL.  In the moment it really does feel like it is about the fact I am feeling ugly and fat and that I have no fashion sense and I look shit compared to everyone else etc… but I have done enough therapy now to know that is not really what it is about.  The clothing/appearance anger is just an excuse, just a little way out for all of that pent-up anger inside me to leak out… it was as though the anger started to slowly leak out through a little hypothetical pipe and then realised it was onto a good thing and so the pressure built up and up and up until I exploded and the pipe burst!!!

It wasn’t until I was sat on the train finally on my way to work (20 minutes late) that I recalled T’s words the afternoon before about not taking my anger out on anyone else OR MYSELF!! Strangely I felt a tiny bit of relief instantly as I remembered that.  I also thought to myself that the critical voice I spent an hour listening to that morning hadn’t been around for a long while and that the critical voice which tore apart my weight, clothes, hair etc was in fact an internalised voice – my mother’s.  She felt the need to constantly comment on how I looked and needless to say, I never looked good enough.  Get your hair dyed, buy some better clothes, get a nose job, lose some weight, put some make up on and… get a boob job.  Not to mention the insults such as how my type of legs (fat) were inherited by my “father’s side of the family“.  Grrrrr even typing this pisses me off at the moment.

I felt delicate and sad and tired all day on Friday after that and work felt like it would never end.  Luckily it did eventually end and in the evening I rushed home to get ready to go out with my sister.  I didn’t really want to go in all honestly, not because of anything to do with her though, just that I felt down and sad and I cried again when I finally got home – just releasing the tears that had been leftover and held inside all day.  However we went and we had a fun night and when I got home I felt glad I had gone and actually thought to myself that going out and doing something which took my mind off of what was in my head entirely was exactly what I needed AND what I should do more often.  I realised as I thought that, that I often want to be alone or at home when I feel down but that perhaps this was a better way. I thought then, and think now, it is a hard balance isn’t it? Giving yourself space to feel and think without wallowing in it, you know?

I headed off to bed Friday feeling much better. I had enjoyed my time with my sister and been able to see the kids when I got home.  I had a night full of dreams again but I couldn’t remember any detail when I woke up, that isn’t unusual for me, particularly after a day like that.

Yesterday I got up and had a normal morning with my husband and the kids.  The plan was that he was going to head off with the kids about 1pm as they had various things and places to go and I was going to spend the afternoon at home on my own.  That had sounded like bliss to  be honest and I was looking forward to some alone time. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, as they would have my car but I thought I might have a bath, write on here, do some exercise, watch some crap tele…. however when it came to it, I felt a bit lonely at the idea of being here on my own and felt like I would miss them all.  I surprised myself by this!! Giving up the chance of some alone time was so not me.  I thought to myself that last night I hadn’t really wanted to go out and it had done me good and that perhaps I should listen to the part of me that was wanting to go TOWARDS company rather than run away from it and give it a go.  I also thought that I do have a few hours to myself every week after my second therapy session so all was not lost.  So I went, and  I was glad I did as we did have a good time.

On the way back from taking the kids home I asked my husband if we could go to my Dad’s house as we had “wasted the day“.  He was pretty annoyed by this and we began to argue a bit.  He was offended that he had paid for us all to have lunch out that day which wasn’t cheap and that we all kept saying the day had been a waste and were ungrateful.  I had snapped back that I only came along for his sake (which actually wasn’t true was it).  We drove the rest of the way not talking and then he said he was so tired he could barely drive and so we got home and he slumped on the sofa and I stropped around upstairs putting my pjs on.  I thought to myself at the time, why do you want to go out again? You’ve barely been home all weekend! The voice in my head kept telling me that I was wasting the weekend.

This morning I woke up feeling wide awake and went downstairs to make a cup of tea. I felt like we had to do something today, that we couldn’t “waste” another day.  I took hubby a cup of tea up and persuaded him that we should get up and ready and then I would drive us to the seaside where we could go for a long walk and stop for breakfast.  He said we couldn’t afford breakfast (usual argument!) and so I said okay, a cup of tea then which he agreed on.  We did that and it was lovely.. BUT..

Buuuttttt… we went into this lovely café and it was very busy.  I stood at the bar for literally about 20 minutes waiting to order 2 cups of tea and still wasn’t served. In the end I felt irritated and walked back to the table where I told hubby we should go somewhere else. I moaned that it was ridiculous in there. I felt peed and hubby was smiling at me with a “you’re stroppy” look on his face. I hate that look lol.

We started to walk a bit further and then he said there was nothing else for miles and that we would be better to head back the way we had come.  Suddenly and out of nowhere I felt SO ANGRY again.  In my head everything was ruined.  The walk was shit. I was cold. There was no tea (I know, get the violins!).  He said we were having a lovely walk and it was exactly what I had wanted to do and I said nothing, feeling just anger inside my chest.  We walked for about 10 minutes in silence, every now and again hubby pointed something out like the coastguard or a type of car or bike and I raised my eyebrows – totally uninterested.   Anyway, a while later after getting the car and driving to a place that did sell tea, we were sat on the beach and I felt such a wave of something…. kinda anger and sadness and just irritation.  I said to hubby that I really wanted to book a break away and he said we had only just had one. I told him going away with his entire family and all the kids wasn’t quite what I had in mind and that I was craving a few days away just the two of us.  He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was pissed off.  Pissed off that I wanted a break or pissed off because we are meant to be saving money or just pissed off because I was irritable – I don’t know, maybe all of the above.  I then said something else (I can’t remember what now) and he exhaled deeply with irritation.  A moment later he said “what’s wrong?” and I said that nothing was wrong.  He said “you can’t tell me you are perfectly happy right now, can you?” and with that tears started falling down my face.  I said no.  Unusually for him, he didn’t hug me.  He just carried on looking down the beach and at the sea.  I stopped crying pretty much as soon as I had started but I acknowledged there was stuff stirring inside me.  It was there and it was still coming out at random moments.  The clothes thing Friday, the wanting to go out last night, the tea in the café….

A toddler walked by with his parents who was having an almighty strop.  He was red-faced and angry.  Shouting and crying and dragging his feet and I looked at him and thought “you lucky thing being able to express yourself like that! – Go on, give em’ hell!” LOL what a weird thing to think?

Weirdly it passed after that, like almost immediately and I drove us home feeling alright again.  When we got home we cleaned our house which always makes me feel better and then we popped to the shops for food and then had a nap on the sofa.

Writing this out I am thinking that perhaps my need to keep busy this weekend was to avoid the feelings, avoid the thoughts.  Perhaps it is my unconscious fear of anger – even my own.  Especially my own perhaps?

I am writing this out to acknowledge to myself that something is shifting inside. I am feeling anger for maybe the first time.  I am feeling resentful and angry and bitter about the ways certain people treated me. I am feeling those feelings and I think I am entitled to feel that way really.  It is a new feeling for me but it is about feeling I am allowed to have boundaries and opinions.  That it is NOT fair or okay for people to act their aggression and disappointment out on me when they don’t get their own way.  That I can say no, and I should not have to deal with the consequences.

I have spent some time on Google this weekend reading about anger and particularly anger in therapy and anger as part of healing from trauma and it seems that it is exactly what needs to be felt. I particularly liked this quote:

Anger that is associated with trauma is an indication of melting or thawing. It is a positive sign that the energy trapped during the traumatic experience is trying to find a way to be expressed, ultimately resolving itself.  It is also a positive sign that one’s sense of self that was damaged during the trauma is growing back.

It talks about how it is a “healthy need to heal the fight energy inside us“.  That it is a “desire to move upwards on the scale of ones ability to defend their rights“.  “An indication of self-esteem“.  I will add this link as I found it so helpful.

So at least that is all positive, right?  It seems that T was right these last 5 years and that feeling the anger really WILL help me.  Who would have known huh? LOL.

Now I just need to try to find ways that I can feel the anger, release it but without hurting myself or anyone else in any way.  It is unpredictable at the moment but I guess it is new to me so hopefully I will find ways to learn to deal with it and learn it is okay to feel it.

In a strange way I quite like the fact that I can even feel this way. I quite like the fact that I want to have a good sense of self and know that my needs and wants are just as important as everyone else’s.  I like that I have grown this much in therapy that I can feel angry if people overstep my boundaries or do not respect me or treat me properly.  That’s what “normal” people feel like, right?

Ha.  Welcome the shift.

angeremergingweb

anger

We shouldn’t feel guilty for pulling away

I have just been reading some stuff about childhood emotional neglect and about the long-term effects of a lack of attachment with a caregiver etc and came across this sentence:

Estranging yourself from (or neglecting) your children rarely goes unpunished.  They sometimes kick back and make their parents pay!

Now, I’m not advocating acting out anger in a destructive way – NOR am I saying that we should do things in order to “punish” our parents, in fact I am a firm believer that when we have healed (at least party) our reactions should be about protecting ourselves rather than punishing our parents, BUTTTTTTT I just wanted to relay this sentence here for anyone struggling to deal with guilt.

I am a sucker for the guilt attacks and often fall into a horrible shame cycle for how I am treating my “poor mother” – and this sentence really helped me to put it into perspective.  No act goes unpunished.  If we were neglected or abused then honestly what do they expect? Loyalty and love despite them not having given us any? We were innocent children who genuinely NEEDED things from them for our survival and they are adults who can look after themselves.

The only person/people we deserve to honour, love and respect are ourselves.

YAAASSSS!!

Longing for the mother

I woke up this morning with a thumping headache, a bad mood and a bad back ache. The back ache has got gradually worse the last few days but today it hurt a lot.

As we are staying with my fiancé’s family at the moment and his kids also stay with us at weekends, it was all a bit too much for me this morning. My mood was getting worse and holding it all in was getting harder and harder.

I found myself thinking about my T. I have thought about her a lot the last few days since my session on Tuesday. The closest feeling I could relate my feeling to would be “missing”. It was like I was missing her but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.

I touched on this briefly the other day, but the words I come up with are words such as “longing” and “missing”. As one of my fellow bloggers pointed out, it’s the grieving of the mother wound. I’m in touch with feelings of loneliness and sadness. It’s feelings I experienced when I was young and stuck with an emotionally unavailable mother. Isolation and sadness, emptiness. I feel those things again today and it’s very hard.

I wrote a list of words that just felt relevant to me today, they included the following words:

Missing

Longing

Sadness

Flat

Attachment

Connection

Emotional

Closeness

Attachment pain?

Mother wound?

Grief

Loneliness

Aching

Needing

Nurturance

So I think perhaps the feelings of sadness, aloneness, missing and longing are old feelings and in the here and now, they make me want to seek comfort and nurturance, connection and warmth. I want the familiar and genuine connection T offers me. I guess what I’m craving is “a mother”. MY mother but not my actual mother – it’s back to that fantasy mother I guess.

T provides me with some of the things I feel I need today and so I guess it makes sense for me to long for her in some ways – even if it’s not really her I need, but MY mother. The hole where my good enough mother should have been/be, but isn’t.

Days like this, times like this, being around lots of people makes me go stir crazy. I really struggle with that. I need time alone, I crave space and quiet. I need to cry or read or write or drink tea in a blanket. I struggle being “stepmum” and looking after the kids because I guess I’m triggered to a child like place myself and if I’m totally honest I think I struggle to be affectionate or enjoy them because it taps into the lack I had/have. I know that’s not what I should say or how I should feel but the words just came out so I’m sure they must be true.

It makes me angry. Perhaps my anger is hiding my sadness? Either way I couldn’t cope this morning and so guess where I am as I type this on my phone? I’m in my car. My lovely new car. I decided to grab a flask of tea, my psychologies magazine, my “Dear Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother” book, my make up bag(?) and off I went. I have only driven to the local park where I’ve parked up with the heating on and I’ve put my make up on, I’m listening to the radio and the snow is gently falling. I feel so calm now. Nothing like 45 minutes ago where I could have exploded from all the various emotions I wrote about above.

There’s some guilt that I shouldn’t be hiding in my car on my own and that I should be with my fiancé and the kids but I need to look after myself too, right? And what good am I to any of them in the state I was in earlier?

I feel so mean saying this but this is my happy place right now. I’m so at peace right now. I’m warm, I have my tea, I’ve kicked off my Ugg boots and am sitting cross legged (I’m small!), sipping my tea and typing out all these feelings which gives me such a release. I could stay here for hours if I didn’t feel like I should be with them.

I’ve read many articles which say in order to heal you need to internalise the good enough mother (so T) and that you learn to mother yourself and you learn to soothe yourself. I wonder in times like this whether the longing for comfort and closeness will ever go – right now it feels unlikely. I know I’ve been able to calm myself a bit, I’ve been able to give myself a little bit of space and I do understand that is progress… but I would still just like to be looked after if I’m honest. What I would like is for a really tight hug from a caring and kind mother. I would like to be a little girl for the day and not the adult. I hate that I’ve missed that chance and that I’ll never get that again.

I’m grieving that chance I suppose and I’m craving closeness and connection to make that pain more bearable when perhaps I just need to learn to tolerate it and let it pass?

Safe enough to “act out”

I’ve been thinking of my phone session with T ever since we got off the phone yesterday. I’m pretty sure I was processing it overnight and it was the second thing on my mind when I woke up this morning (second only to the fact we have to find a new house to live in!).

One of the things that I remembered since writing last night was T saying that it was actually a sign of feeling safe that I was able to cancel my session the other week.

Don’t get me wrong, she very quickly tried to encourage me to always go to my sessions no matter how hard it was or how angry or upset I was feeling, in fact she said “even if you have to get here crawling on your hands and knees!!” So I just want to make it clear that she wasn’t rewarding me for it so to speak.

She said that I must have felt some sense of safety that I could be angry and cancel a session knowing it could, possibly, hopefully be repaired and made to feel better again… eventually.

She asked me whether I was scared she would retaliate or attack back or punish me for my anger and I told her that actually, I had been able to hold on to the fact that in the past she has never done that and that I did know she would allow me to have and tell her my feelings without embarrassing me. I did manage to hold that fact (this is progress, right?).

I’ve thought about this a few times since and it may sound a bit weird but I think it does show a sense of safety doesn’t it?

I used to always strive to be TWBTC (the worlds best therapy client) and obviously perfect therapy clients do not cancel sessions and do not experience any anger towards their T’s do they? Yet alone TELL them about it! So yes, I do think it shows some kind of ability to hold on that all will not be lost, all will not be ruined and destroyed forever.

This made me think about what would happen with my birth mother (note the negative tone). I genuinely don’t remember a single time that I’ve sat my mother down, told her that she has upset me or annoyed me somehow and had her say she understands how I feel and apologise OR say she understands how I feel even if she has her reasons. Isn’t that saying something? I have NEVER had that experience with her. Not once.

What I have had is her belittle me, tell me I am pathetic and childish or need to grow up or attack me back with things I have done that upset or hurt her somehow. She had often told me how ungrateful I am and remind me of “all the things she’s done for me” but the difference in the two experiences is huge.

T reminded me yesterday that my mother’s inability to show me love and affection and the fact I didn’t FEEL loved, was about her and not me. She said quite strongly that I AM loveable, that it was her issue and not mine. She also said that mothers who absolutely smother their babies and are draped all over them is about their needs (the mother’s) and not the baby’s. She said it’s similar in therapy, the baby shows it’s mother what it needs and so does the client. There is no need for a mother or for a therapist to smother. It doesn’t allow the baby/client to breathe and think for itself.

Anyway, the point of this blog was meant to be that although not advisable or encouraged, it may well be progress that I’ve been able to get angry and “act out” probably safe in the knowledge somewhere deep down that she will still be there.