Where am I in healing from my mother wound? 

How am I feeling about her at the moment? 

Where am I in this journey to heal from the mother wound – of being an unloved daughter of a narcissist? 

I don’t know. 

This is the thing, everything is so confusing in this recovery. It all seems to overlap and intertwine, nothing seems clear cut and obvious, nothing is easy to articulate or process. I think that’s what makes it harder. You make progress in one aspect and then you fall back in another. 

I often wish someone would give me some sort of map of recovery, so I could see what stages there were, which stages I had “completed” and which stages were yet to come. I question myself why? Why do I want that? and I think the answer is that I want to know I’m getting somewhere and I need to know there’s an end in sight somewhere – the feeling that this pain and confusion is never-ending is too much to take. 

It’s like peeling a very large onion. You learn something (that she’s a narc for example) a layer comes off as you take that in and you learn what that means. That takes years and then your understanding and awareness deepens a bit and you learn something else, maybe that you feel guilty for thinking badly about her – you explore that, where that comes from and why and another layer comes off. This goes on and on. 

I have no idea how many layers I’ve peeled off this onion now, but it feels like a hell of a lot and it feels as though its scarily never-ending. It’s the fear of what’s to come and how much more pain is yet to make its way into my heart. 

My latest realisation this week is how scared I am of her. I knew I was scared of certain things, but this week I’ve seen and felt the true strength of this fear in a way that I’ve never “seen” before. It’s shaken me up a bit to be honest. 

Was that small child as scared as this? I mean, if I’m this scared with my adult knowledge, life experience and safety, how the hell did a helpless child feel who had to live with her night and day? The answer is that the child made it her fault. Mummy was good – she was bad. And that’s stuck. I don’t know what’s worse. 

She couldn’t get away. It makes me feel sick. 

So I’ve been asking myself, what exactly am I scared of? 

I just don’t know the answer. I guess it’s just the way my inner child has been programmed. It’s not a conscious thought process. The way I reacted and how easily I was triggered Wednesday was excessive – she was dangerous. The way I felt and the way my body reacted Saturday evening before going to her house tells me I was very scared. 

I know logically there is nothing to be scared of. I’m an adult now – I no longer need her for survival. I don’t need her approval now. I have my own life, house and family and I don’t even have any warm feelings towards her – I dislike her and I HATE the lack of connection between us and how raw that feels to me. 

Avoiding her for as long as possible seems the best and safest option. 

Yet I now have the option to cut her out completely and yet I choose against it? Why? The truth is (and it’s hard to even admit this), that it’s for her sake. 

I see her for her sake. To keep her happy. How fucked up is that? I don’t see her because I miss her or because I enjoy her company. I subject myself to the anxiety before visiting her, the false-self during my visits and then the pain and sadness that follow the day after when I inevitably cry and mourn a little more the difference between what I want and what I have. 

It’s like self-punishment. I punish myself for her gain over and over again. 

I know that T, my boyfriend and probably my readers will be thinking that I don’t need to do those things, that I don’t owe her anything and that it’s probably infuriating to read – yet the idea that I could live without her seems impossible. Which again makes no sense because she does nothing for me!!! What would I miss other than the apprehension, anxiety and fear? 

I think perhaps I’m scared of her ability to manipulate me and how easily she can do it. 

I’m scared she will suck me back in without me realising. 

I’m scared she will turn me bad – make me do and say things that are not really me as I morph into the people-pleasing me I used to be with her. 

I’m scared she will ruin my life. She will damage my relationship with my boyfriend, with my other family members, with friends or my boyfriend’ family…. and why? Because she can and because she has done before. The risk is real. 

I’m scared of what could happen if we got into an argument. Of what I would do or say. Yet there’s a part of me wishing for an excuse to let rip and have an excuse to break ties. 

I’m scared of having to feel the depths of my feelings about her. 

I’m still scared I’ve got it all wrong even though logically I know i haven’t. 

I’m still scared that everything else in my life is borrowed and that I may find myself alone one day and need her. That ultimately she’s the only thing I’m guaranteed to “keep”. 
I don’t like her and I don’t like who I am around her. It’s all too fake. I feel I loose touch with myself when I am there and it’s scary how naturally that happens, how quickly and how effortlessly. 

I don’t feel love for her as a daughter “should” and I can’t handle the disconnect that’s recently become so obvious. That hurts me deeply. 

The denial has left (for the most part) and the harsh reality that’s left is frankly sickening. 

I find myself caught in cycles of self-pity, mourning and grief, anger then depression. 

I wish I could go back in time with this new knowledge and grow myself up properly, differently. I wish I could save my inner child from the feelings I had to endure. I wish someone could save me from enduring them now too.

So much damage has already been done, what more am I scared of? Family relationships have been ruined. Family members think things about me that aren’t true because of her and I’m dealing with that – though it’s a struggle because it’s unfair – I’m learning to accept that’s how this is going to go, I’ve given up the fight. 

I don’t need anyone’s approval anymore. I don’t want her’s and if I can’t get my Nan’s or my sister’s or whoever else’s then so be it. 

But I do want to get to a place where I fully support myself. Where I have less doubt and far less fear. When will I feel strong on my own?

I’m only uncovering the truth, my truth and yet I feel like I’m being deceitful in doing so. I’m sick of the blame being on my shoulders. I keep telling myself, if she wanted me to speak nicer about her, she should have given me nicer things to tell.. 

It all comes down to the fact that I am hurt so very deeply by her. My heart physically breaks when I’m in touch with these feelings. It feels like it will be eternal. I can’t intellectualise this away. It’s not possible. My mother is too self absorbed and selfish and narcissistic to love me how I needed and still need to be loved. I didn’t have the mum I needed – or deserved and I never will. 

How do you heal that hole in your heart? 

Why didn’t I get that? I’m learning it wasn’t my fault, I’m believing this, slowly… yet I need explanations. I need logic to help me accept it and there isn’t any. I have to feel this to loosen its hold. 

I know it’s not true, but it feels like I’m the only daughter who wasn’t loved by her mum and dad in the world. It feels so acutely personal. 
There’s grief, sadness, anger, hate, disbelief and it’s all muddled up and confused. 

People talk about me setting boundaries with her that would enable a more beneficial relationship between us and there is nothing I can think of that would enable this to happen because as awful as it sounds, it’s not boundaries I need, it’s an entirely different mother. 

Sure I could suggest we meet at a different location, a restaurant for example so it’s less on her territory. I could lay down the law and ban certain subjects of conversation etc but none of this seems appealing to me because none of those adjustments would give me what I need. It doesn’t feel as though a middle ground is achievable or even wanted. 

So what, I would rather put myself through this self punishment than even try and apply helpful boundaries? Yep. How distorted is that?! 

In an ideal world, she would do something so undeniably awful to me that I could evidence and then I’d cut her off forever. Nobody could think badly of me because “look what she did!!” They wouldn’t be able to take her side, they wouldn’t pity her and I would be guilt-free. I could finally cut the ties and walk away with my head held high. Some readers may be thinking that she’s already done that in so many ways and you’d be right, but none of it is easy to prove and even she isn’t able to admit any wrongdoing yet alone apologise to me. So there’s still that doubt that I have it wrong. That I would be making a huge mistake. 

Then there’s all the people that tell me I should try to emphasise with my mum and understand that she loved me the only way she knew how, that clearly she has wounds herself that affected her parenting ability and then the guilt is back in my hands – it’s me in the wrong again. 

Tell me this gets easier please? I feel like I could drown in the confusion and pain this brings. 

Things have gone south: Emotional Flashback 

Things have gone south. 

I went to the quiz night last night with my boyfriend and his parents. The evening was pleasant until… 

3 women walk towards our table and as I look up, it’s my mother and two of her friends. 

Oh My God. 

I felt a weird panic. Shock, fear, awkwardness. I couldn’t believe she was here. This was my local and she knew I drank here sometimes and that we did this quiz with my boyfriends’s parents…. what was she doing here? And on a Wednesday night? She had never been here before my birthday. Childish I’m like “this is my place. Not your’s”. 

Everyone said hello to one another but the awkwardness was really obvious. My mother put her fake posh look and voice on and said “we came for supper”… supper??? Sorry who are you? Before I knew it, I was saying “Supper? Since when do you use that word?”. Looking back I guess that was a bit aggressive but the words had flown out of my mouth before I had processed them. She was trying to put on an act of some sort of poshness because she thinks my boyfriend’s parents are posh. 

The difference between my boyfriend’s parents and her (and her friends) was so obvious. I really wasn’t enjoying this one bit. I wasn’t prepared for it.

There were a few moments of small talk and then she and her friends left. Nothing more was said. I felt so weird… so uncomfortable…. and I’m not sure if everyone did, or if it was just me, but suddenly it felt as though there was an elephant in the room. Things weren’t being said that were being thought – I wonder if I’m wrong? 

I panicked because I’m scared (or the little me) is that she will tell them I’ve been bad – that I AM bad. Because that’s what she did to me when I was young. She always made stories up to my grandparents and told them in front of me so that they disapproved. She would phone them or my aunty or my sister’s dad or get her latest fling to tell me off. I think that young fear is still there. 

I’m a different person with her to with them. Please don’t ruin this for me…. please don’t tell them I’m bad!!  She always won the crowd – the audience, whoever was watching. How ashamed I was. 

Anyway we got on with our evening and she wasn’t mentioned again. Me and my boyfriend came home and I went straight to bed as it was late and as my head hit the pillows and I grabbed Frank, I cried. 

I didn’t know then what I was crying for and I’m not entirely sure now but I woke up for work this morning and (sorry for tmi) had a very upset tummy. I called in sick and am now in bed with a thumping headache. 

I know not everyone believes in the mind and body link, but I do and so I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this happened, that I cried and that I’m feeling crap. But I can’t put my finger on what upset me so much. 

I’ve had my mind and body book out and looked up my symptoms to see if that helped, diarrhoea mainly pointing towards not being able to hold on to something anymore, being scared shitless or feeling as though you’ve been hit in the guts. The headache points to too much time in the head and repressed feelings. 

The thing is I’ve been aware that I’ve been really overeating. I feel constantly hungry at the moment and I’ve not been caring what I’m eating or how much. And I haven’t been to the gym like I usually do. This is a huge change from previous months where I’ve been eating a certain amount of calories and exercising a lot. I put this down to the break but now I’m not so sure. It’s no surprise my stomach is chucking it all out, there’s too much!! It’s also made me think back to a time when I used to starve myself and hide my food in my bedroom bin and then get told off… no I’m doing the opposite. 

My boyfriend had to go to work and I really wanted him to stay and cuddle me. Problem is he’s scared of getting ill and so won’t come near me when I’m sick. 

I’m really in touch with this needy feeling of needing to be looked after. As I write this tears are dripping down my face. 

I wish I could expand on that a bit, but I don’t think I can. I just have this craving to be looked after and made better. I wish someone was here to give me a cuddle, let me cry on them, maybe cook me soup at lunch and make me feel loved. I need love.

I’m crying because I need love. I want love and affection and to feel looked after. Instead I’m eating food and that’s making me ill as my stomach tries to tell me “no, that’s not helping!”. Apparently the hole can’t be filled with food.

Maybe I’m a bit regressed and I’m feeling like a child that needs her mummy.

I had a dream earlier this morning that I had made my hamster a new cage up as he had wrecked his. His tube had broken and he was seconds away from escaping and his fur was matted. I bathed him, held him and fixed his cage and tubes. I mothered him. 

That’s why I’m crying isn’t it? This sucks so bad. I feel heartbroken. 

And today and I would normally see T but she’s gone and that makes it hurt even more. 

I need a mummy and she’s gone. Both in the sense that the mummy I wanted never was mine and my therapy mummy is away. I’m feeling alone and in need of being looked after like a child. That mother hole constantly getting bigger. 

I’ve just cried a whole river. Snotty, noisey crying. Wow that was horrible. 

Damn it. 

Letter to T during the break: Day 5

[This is a letter to my T as she is on a break right now. I don’t intend to send this to her although perhaps I will show her/read it to her when she is back. We will see. I’ve written it as a way of feeling some sort of connection with her.]

Hi T!

I have thought of you a bit today, I guess because it’s Tuesday and Tuesday is therapy day, it is “our day”. One of the two days that I get to see you.

But obviously you are on a break at the moment and I won’t be seeing you today so I thought I would write to you instead as a way of feeling as though somehow I’ve had some connection with you.

I hope you are having a nice break whatever you are doing. Are you on holiday or just taking a week off of your busy schedule? It’s so weird that I don’t know what you are doing. I often try to guess but obviously I have absolutely no way to know whether I am right or not. Probably not I imagine.

Where do I think you are now? Hmm…. I think you are at home this week maybe seeing friends and taking your dogs for long walks in the country.  I think this because you have 2 weeks off in September and I think that is when you will go away on holiday – maybe to Portugal or Italy.

I often wonder if I should ask you if you are going away or not, but I don’t know if I would prefer knowing or not knowing and it’s too late once I know isn’t it? Also I feel like I don’t really have the right to ask you… like I’m not really entitled to that information.

Anyway, I’m doing okay at the moment. I feel quite good really, rather relaxed and fairly content. I haven’t felt any real sadness or anger since I last saw you, although I have had some “revelations” over the weekend concerning my Dad thanks to a really helpful chat with [my boyfriend].

I saw my mum on Saturday night. It was the same as usual really… although my Dad was brought up and I fell into my old ways of giving her what she wants – telling her about the holiday, the birthday card and my brother’s texts (this happened Friday). Obviously she totally invalidated my feelings about him and said a few hurtful things along the lines of “aren’t you over this yet?”.  I held my own in the sense that I told her I can’t help how I feel and that I wished I could.

She told me that she cut her Dad out for being useless and has never cared about him since.. I thought of you as she said this and that you wold probably have a field day with that comment!!

She made a few comments aimed at my lack of intelligence – but I managed to prove her wrong which was quite enjoyable. Still, it is impossible to not notice that she does these things now which are obviously unnecessary and hurtful. I now understand that isn’t “normal” and see it isn’t something that you or [my boyfriend’s] parents would do to me. To anyone.

She told me some stories which I think you will find quite shocking about how she can now see dead people…………. No joke. She is apparently taking psychic classes and has a real gift. Apparently my sister got so scared by my mother saying that she sees dead people around the house that she couldn’t get to sleep and had to get my stepdad to check the house and sleep with her bedroom door wide open. My mother found this hugely insulting and that caused an argument between them.  I just pacified her really, there seems little point in anything else so she then invited me to attend the classes with her!! Hahaha. Needless to say, that won’t be happening.

I kept myself safe enough though, I took myself off to bed and left her up chatting to my step-brother’s girlfriend because it was late, I was bored and because the conversation (inevitably) made its way to my sister and how spiteful she is to my mother. She said that when I was around, my sister was nasty to her and how she keeps writing shitty comments on my mother’s Facebook statuses. I listened to her and suggested she blocked my sister so that it prevented them arguing and prevented my mother feeling hurt by my sister’s comments and my sister feeling embarassed of my mother’s facebook antics and then I went to bed. (I don’t think she was very pleased but hey!).

Mother/Father stuff aside, I’ve been enjoying myself by reading some new books and watching some old classics. Over the weekend I watched Wuthering Heights, Sense & Sensibility and Emma and enjoyed them all. Last night I finished a book by Nick Hornby called High Fidelity which was funny and thought-provoking too (an avoidantly attached man trying to stick out a relationship basically). Today I’ve started a new book called Hotel Du Lac which is about a novelist who has escaped on her own to Switzerland after some sort of relationship crisis to restore her senses.. however apparently that isn’t quite what happens. I think perhaps the break is givinig me the mental space to enjoy these things with few therapy-related thougths flying around.

Frank is doing well and me and [my boyfriend] have been having a giggle with him. We have decided that he has a look of confusion about him which amuses us and [my boyfriend] has been calling him “Frannnnn………K” just to annoy me haha! He is lovely to have around and not for soothing me when upset (as yet) but just as a reminder of you really. I think he keeps you more “alive” in my mind.

I think that’s pretty much it for now.. if I were seeing you tonight I would speak to you about the Dad revelation that I had on Sunday but it wouldn’t surprise you because it’s probably what you’ve told me/thought and said a hundred times.  Still, you have to be in the right place to truly hear and believe things I guess. I hope you would be pleased for me though – maybe even proud?

Anyway, I will think of you at our session time tonight. Bye for now X – (ooh I’ve never put a kiss before! Is that allowed?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation?

It’s Sunday afternoon. 4.11pm as I start to type this and I feel good. I feel good because I saw my mother last night and have got that out of the way. I survived it. I came home this morning feeling sick (which seems to be happening a lot at the moment when I am in touch with my feelings about her or/and my Dad). But my wonderful boyfriend gave me a hug, we had a huge chat and I cried a little and now I feel good.

My boyfriend said some amazing things and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I might just be believing some of the things he said.

We spoke about my Dad. I have written a lot about him recently and the whole holiday situation so I won’t go over it again here.  My mother brought him up last night as expected (she hates him, he hates her – it’s been 28 years, get over it). Anyway, I got sucked into talking about him which I shouldn’t have done because I had been drinking and it’s a very sore subject for me and because, and I hate to say it, for some reason I still fall into the trap of telling her what she wants to hear about him – which is that he’s still being shit.

She loves to hear he is still being shit despite the impact that obviously has on me and I fell for it and launched into a speech about the holiday, about my brother’s texts Friday night, about how he signed my birthday card with his name instead of Dad. Obviously she loved all of this because, I guess, it makes her feel less threatened and makes her feel less of a shitty mother (if only she knew).

But then she said “I don’t understand why you are still upset by this? Why do you still care? Aren’t you used to it by now? When are you going to get over it? I don’t know why you allow it to bother you? Why don’t you just stop begging for his love?”

OUCHHHH.

Ouch because it’s true, isn’t it?

Why aren’t I “over it” yet? I’ve had my entire life of being dissapointed, let down and rejected by him. He’s been vacant for huge amounts of it… he has never changed despite many promises to try… why does it still hurt me so much?

I told her that I didn’t know why but that I can’t help the way I feel. That if I could stop feeling like this then I would, but that I can’t.  She went on to say that he is only my father in terms of biology and that she doesn’t understand why I feel it so important to be loved by him just because his title is Dad.  She said she doesn’t get it and said how she told her Dad to f.off when she was my age and has never thought about him since.  [Obviously I have a VERY different idea about that – her lack of caring about her dad could very easily have contributed to her extreme narcissism, but she’s too defended against her feelings to feel that]. And because she is narcissistic, she wants me to have the same life experiences as her, not better and so me having a decent dad or me having a decent relationship with him is NOT what she wants for me. Oh so lovely.

Back to today, my boyfriend mentioned this and said she is wrong. That of course it still hurts and that he understands that completely. I told him that when my mother said that if I hadn’t contacted my dad 2 years ago (after 3 years of no contact) that we still wouldn’t be talking… I said that really hurt me because it was true. I knew it was and I HATED that fact.

My boyfriend said that I didn’t actually know for a fact that was true. I said I did. I said that I had asked my Dad at the time whether he had intended to contact me, whether he would have done at some stage and he didn’t literally say no, but he meant no. He said he would have left me to it.. so that’s pretty much evidence isn’t it?

He said that it truly is my Dad’s issue and that it isn’t a fault in me. Cue me breaking down in tears because I truly believe it is me that is the problem. My poor boyfriend must have the patience of a saint because we’ve had this conversation soooooooooo many times. But then my boyfriend said this…

“Okay, give me 2 examples of why you are such a bad person your Dad doesn’t want to love you?”

And I froze. I thought and thought and I thought to myself for the very first time ever “I’m a decent human. I am a NICE person. I truly am”. I thought about different character flaws that I have, I don’t think for a second I’m anywhere near perfect, but even they didn’t seem to be applicable in this situation because we all have flaws and besides, my dad wouldn’t even know those flaws because he doesn’t know me enough!!! I did offer one suggestion:

“I remind him of my mother” but my boyfriend said, quite rightly “is that your fault that you remind HIM of someone?” and no, of course it isn’t.

Bloody Nora. In the words of Jamie Lawson… I wasn’t expecting that.

My boyfriend was laughing at the fact that for the first time in my entire life, I really believed this. I AM a nice girl. I DO deserve to be loved and treated well. That I genuinely do not “make” my father unable to love me. That it ISN’T my fault. It isn’t about me.

Jesus… it isn’t about me. Wow.  This dude should be a therapist LOL.

I’ve replayed this conversation over and over in my head since he said it this morning. He is so right isn’t he?

We then spoke about this fantasy I have of him being a great dad to his 3 boys and my boyfriend said:

“What makes you think he is such a great Dad to the boys? Does he take them out? Does he go to football matches with them? Do they go down the pub for beers? Do they go out on Sundays together?”

You may have guessed that the answer to all of those things is No.  He asked me what it was that he does that made him such a great dad in my head.  I said

He’s there.

And my boyfriend said he is there yes, because he lives there – and so do they…. it isn’t that they’ve all moved out and he is regularly contacting them, popping to their houses or having dinner with them on Sundays. They share a house so they just happen to be together.  He also told me that my fantasy of them all chilling together every evening watching tele probably wasn’t accurate either. He pointed out that the boys are all in their early twenties and have girlfriends so probably weren’t at home much! And as I write this, I am thinking that they hadn’t been on a family holiday in 14 years before this one and that says a lot, doesn’t it? I’m sure they could have done if they had wanted family time enough, even camping if finances were tight. This holiday happened because my brothers suggested it and probably pushed my dad into booking it.

I said he was right. Of course he was/is. I’ve distorted it all so much in my head all of these years. It has always been me that made him a shit dad to me. This was backed up and evidenced by the fact he was such a wonderful dad to the boys when the truth is, he probably isn’t! My boyfriend said when the boys all move out, it will probably be them or their mother doing the contact and he is probably right. Admittedly there is still a voice in my head that is thinking “nah, he will be great” but even I can see that the history speaks for itself, how likely is it that he will be great at keeping in contact with them when he’s allowed literally years to pass between us?

I cried again after this conversation. I think out of relief? Some strange feeling of ease has been in me since this. I wish this was something I had felt all of my life. It could have saved me from so many sleepless nights, so many tears and so much pain!

I also cried a few tears about how if I had a decent mother she might have been able to have helped me internalise a solid sense of self, some self-esteem and she might have been able to make me feel lovable growing up (like my boyfriend makes me feel now as an adult). It strikes me as very sad that she didn’t do those things for me (whatever her reasons) and that I’ve never felt this way before and I did cry a bit for myself in that I will admit.

My boyfriend asked me how old my inner child was right now. I told him she was 6. She’s always 6 (just as my 25 year old teddy has always been 2! LOL).  He asked me what I would say to her if she were here in the room with us and I said I didn’t know and so he started to talk “to her” which I literally cannot handle so told him to stop. But he said that he would tell her she was amazing. That she was not only what he wanted in a girlfriend, but in any person in his life. That he loved me and that I was a fantastic, kind, loving person and that no decent Dad would have missed the chance to parent me. (More tears!!!).

I then said to him that I had got choked up during Cars 3 at the cinema yesterday because someone said “the best thing in his life wasn’t racing… it was you.  He saw things in you that you don’t even see yourself” and my inner child cried a little at how she has never had even one parent think that way about her. To be the best thing in a parent’s life. To be the apple of someone’s eye. That someone had so much faith in you, they “saw things” that you didn’t… wahhh.

I don’t mean to sound like I am feeling sorry for myself from every angle here, but the true force of all this shit is suddenly very obvious. The mum and dad wounds are very prominent right now and I am not going to repress it any longer. This shit has to come out.

Could today have been a breakthrough moment? I hope so. I hope it doesn’t fade into the background and get overtaken by my critical inner voice.  We will see.

It’s Not Fair

Today is a bad day
Today is a bad day. I knew this at 6.20am the second my alarm went off but it’s now 11am and I still feel the same. I have made it to work though which is an improvement, although I haven’t bothered to do my hair so I look pretty crap. I just don’t care enough, I don’t have the energy.

I posted yesterday about the photos of my mother and sister and how they had angered me. I still feel so pissed off about them which feels a bit drawn out really, I just can’t shake it off. On top of that today my Dad, stepmum, 3 brothers and their girlfriends have all gone on a family holiday –without me and I feel excluded. I’m not sure which one of these are causing me the most pain, but the two things together have really got under my skin.

The child part of me feels like screaming “THIS ISN’T FAIIIIRRRRRR!!!!”. No it isn’t bloody fair. Having one bad parent would be crap enough, but having two just seems like punishment. What did I do to deserve this?

How can they both be so thoroughly shit? How is that even possible? In such different ways too.

There they are both enjoying their lives, care-free. Happy. Meanwhile I’m struggling through all the stuff therapy throws up, constantly battling my way through it all. Feeling the pain of it. It is bloody hard work and it’s because of them. How is that fair?

“Dad”
My Dad signed my birthday card last month with his name (instead of Dad)…. Says a lot really doesn’t it. He didn’t even notice! It isn’t like he accidentally wrote his name and then crossed it out, he sealed the card and gave it to me without noticing. I know people make mistakes, but that felt symbolic of everything. Perhaps that makes me oversensitive but I don’t care. It’s how I feel.  He had written how glad he was that we are “back in each other’s lives” and that makes it feel like just words because surely if he meant those words, he would have his Dad head on, and sign the fucking card with Dad and not his name. Just to make matters worse, it was also Father’s Day and I had just given him a card with Dad on. Arsehole.

“Mother”
My mother blames my boyfriend for how I’ve “changed”. She tells all and sundry that my boyfriend is controlling and manipulative (which is a projection of the things she is). She feels sorry for herself and tells everyone how much she loves and misses me which seriously is a giant head-fuck because she’s never loved or missed me my entire life and although I understand intellectually that she doesn’t love or miss me really, not in the usual sense that a mother would love her child, she just misses her ability to control me – it makes me feel jealous. Left out. Excluded. Even though I don’t want to be close to her or enmeshed with her (obviously).  I just can’t shake that feeling of being constantly rejected, never good enough. I know deep down that it isn’t me, I know that.. but that is the adult bit and this is the child bit and the child is standing there saying “What is wrong with me? Why don’t you love me?!” and how sad is that? Nobody should ever make a child feel like that. Nobody. Ever. I don’t know how to make it better for her.

She just wants me to be dependent on her so she can then take the piss out of me, she loves it when things go badly for me. Seriously, it would make my mother’s YEAR if I were to go round there upset and tell her I was arguing with my boyfriend or that we were breaking up or something – she can’t even hide her excitement. What kind of mother gets happiness from her daughter’s unhappiness? How sick is that?

Sister
On top of that, my sister (who is 22) has struggled on and off throughout her life with depression and she goes through phases where she can’t stop crying and she feels desperate and says things like she doesn’t want to wake up in the mornings. Every time she comes to me and me and my boyfriend try to help her, we are there for her and I’ve spent years trying my hardest to convince her to start therapy but she doesn’t want to and it is infuriating because she just circles round and around in these depressive phases. 2 weeks ago whilst she was abroad with her boyfriend I received texts from my mother who said she was worried sick and crying because my sister had text her saying she felt depressed and was now not responding to her texts or answering the phone. For 2 hours I sat up worried, trying to contact my sister just for her to reply to us all hours later saying she lost signal.. I was furious.  Every time she gets this depression it seems to be triggered by my mother.  My mother will randomly turn on her and they will start to fight. My mother will throw my sister back into it – it’s so clear for me to see and yet she continues to refuse getting counselling, she continues to turn to my mother who is completely incapable of sympathising or anything remotely like that – she makes her worse and worse until she comes to me and I pick up the pieces just like I have done since she was a kid because I was the one who brought her up whilst my mother was off with blokes or getting drunk in clubs. And then I see their fucking selfies together at the festival… are you kidding me????

There is a hugely dysfunctional situation with the 3 of us (my mum, sister and me) in that someone always has to be the bad guy. My mother has taught us this dynamic since we were kids and now that I can see it and understand it, it makes me sick. It’s the whole golden child/scapegoat thing. Enmeshment. Jealousy making and it pains me to say it, but it works. It keeps someone constantly fighting for her affection. I am fighting it, but look – its pissed me off so it is still partly successful. Bitch.  Those two partying together makes me the “bad guy” and that shouldn’t phase me I know. But deep down it does or at least it does today.

I do feel sorry for my sister behind this anger. I get it, I’ve been there. She is just desperate for my mother’s love and affection and approval like I have always been – so I truly have no right to feel this annoyed but now I am in therapy and understand these things a little more, I want to shake her and make her see sense… but I can’t. Perhaps the anger is at myself and not her. Maybe it is both. I don’t know.

I’m The Bad Guy
Everyone in my family now think I’m the bad guy (because my poor mother misses me so much) and I know I shouldn’t care – I know that… BUT it’s so hard not to. It is so unjust. I have spent my entire life under her spell, feeling less than, feeling shit and now I am trying to heal and that feels shit too.  I just live in hope that every day and every tear is a little bit closer to feeling a little bit less shit. To finally feeling genuine happiness and ease and some days, most days even, I can do that. I can keep on keeping on.. but today, today I feel like screaming until my lungs burst. I shouldn’t even have to do this once yet alone twice. How is it fair that you have to experience all this childhood pain and trauma and then you have to relive it all in therapy to get over it – torturous. Truly it is torturous.

I am so angry and I am so hurt and I feel like the power of it all is so monumentally huge today. I feel like if I let it come properly, I would fall to the ground sobbing. But I can’t, I’m at work and having to be an adult and that is something I am so fed up of doing. I have been acting like an adult since I was a child and today I feel the anger about that too. Now I feel like I want to fix that, and obviously I can’t.

Therapy Break
At the back of my mind I know I only have 2 sessions this week before T goes on holiday. One is tomorrow so it’s coming quickly. I am dreading it. Admittedly it might be fine, I never know how I am going to feel until the time comes because one day I feel fine and the next like this… but regardless, it’s there in my head. Another thing that “isn’t fair”. None of it is fair. None of it.

“Normal” Family
I spent the weekend with my boyfriend’s kids and then his mum and dad all day yesterday who are all so normal. There is no dysfunction and I’m not saying they are perfect, of course no family is, but you know what I mean. Normal. I enjoy time with them all of course, I try to get from them the things I didn’t/don’t have but I think that by the time I got home last night I just felt like I’d had enough of having that rubbed in my face. They are wonderful but they are not mine. I had a lovely time, until I got home and had to face my reality again. Does that make sense?

WTF
My mother is sitting on my 65-year-old stepdad’s shoulders at a fucking festival pissed off her face as usual, smiling for selfies with my sister and my dad and his “family” are on their way to their holiday whilst my brother’s uploading photos of them all with the slogan “#MYFAMILYAREEVERYTHINGTOME #LOVETHEMALL” and I am at work, feeling the unfairness of it all and trying to stay adult enough to function and not lose my shit.

Seriously what the actual fuck is wrong with them? Why did I get so unlucky???

When will this stop? When will life stop feeling like this? I’m exhausted.

Only half the picture 

Shortly before I went to bed last night I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw some photos of my mother … at a festival… with my sister and all of her friends (22 years old). My mother was on my stepdad’s shoulders, waving her arms around looking very happy. 

Soon after I felt “moody” and went to bed feeling sick. I didn’t have any conscious thoughts about the reason. 

Then I woke up this mornin instantly aware of my mood. I couldn’t figure out why. I got ready for the day and then went back onto Facebook, screen-shotted the photos and sent them to my boyfriend who was downstairs. (Believe it or not, I was STILL not consciously aware of the photos being the cause of my mood!) 

I had several strops over what to wear, having no clothes, my hair being a mess – standard stuff and then went downstairs and my boyfriend came over and gave me a hug. I said I wasn’t sure what was making me so miserable. Then started talking about my mother and the photos and within seconds I was crying. 

I said how it had really pissed me off that she’s out there, acting like she hasn’t a care in the world and meanwhile I’m going through all of this shit (therapy) because of her. I suddenly felt the injustice of it all. How dare she? I went on to call her a bitter old hag and said she looked old in the photos. I said she was sad for gatecrashing festivals with my little sister and her friends, acting like she’s 21 when she’s 50. 

My boyfriend said he had a feeling this is what had caused me to feel so angry and said that he didn’t blame me. He said some really sweet things about how I would be the happy one and that she would always be full of bitterness and would never truly be happy despite her narcissistic cover up. He told me how strong I am for constantly dealing with all my therapy stuff, despite all of the pain. 

This is a rather new thing for me. Intellectually I have known my mother has issues (a lot of them) and that she’s caused me a lot of hurt in my life, but until recently I haven’t been in touch with the feelings behind this. 

So, hello anger. I think we should get acquainted because I have a feeling we’re going to become friends. 

Mother: fuck you. 

Winnicott: Fear of Breakdown

Have you ever read about Winnicott’s fear of breakdown? If you haven’t, I highly recommend that you Google it and have a read. I just found a paper written by Claire Winnicott (psychoanalyst and wife of Donald Winnicott called, “Fear of breakdown: A clinical example” and I found it utterly fascinating and extremely comforting.

Below I have picked out a few of the most relevant quotes for me personally within that paper and I think that some of my fellow bloggers may find this as interesting as I have.

According to D. Winnicott, the fear of breakdown is described as “a previous early breakdown occurred at a time when the ego cannot organize against environmental failure, when dependence is a living fact. At the dependence stage environmental failure disrupts the ego defence organization and exposes the individual again to the primitive anxieties which he had, with the help of the facilitating environment, organised himself to deal with. This leads to an unthinkable state of affairs”.

 

Clare Winnicott says in her paper “In fact the word anxieties is not a strong enough word, and Winnicott lists what he calls the primitive agonies against which new defences must be constructed. This early trauma will continue to be a threat until and unless the patient is able to experience the original event now with the help of the ego supporting analyst (mother)”.  Winnicott concludes “there is no end [to the analysis] unless the bottom of the trough has been reached, unless the thing feared has been experienced”.

Clare Winnicott discusses one of her patient’s story which, in my opinion, is well worth the read. In that story she talks about the patient working through her “negative feelings with regard to dependence” – something that I struggle with in my therapy and something that I know fellow bloggers also struggle with.  I am hoping this may normalise it for you as it has for me.  She also talks about the “broken-down child” and how that part of her patient was “split off and defended against”.  Claire Winnicott says “In other words, she developed a successful false-self to deal with the situation”.  This is one of the “primitive agonies” that Winnicott described in his theory.  My thoughts as I read this section were that this explains why my T used to press me to not only consider the “self-sufficient adult” and to think about the non-logical, non-rational parts of me.  When she used to ask me where my feelings were. My false-self was certainly centre-stage.

She explains that her patient began to see her as “a mother therapist who could feed her” albeit via the power of a dream. Claire suggested to the patient that the patient saw her as having “special powers”.  I know this is something that I can relate to. My T has been placed on a pedestal and I certainly view her as being some sort of “golden healer”.  Irrationally thinking that if only I could get more access to her, that I would be healed when deep down I know that is untrue. At least it appears to be a normal part of the process.

The example discusses the patient’s use of a transitional object which is something that a lot of us going through trauma therapy have spoken about before. Another reassuring thing to read.

The patient later has a dream where she literally picks up her child self. Clare Winnicott suggested that this represented the fact that the patient “felt strong enough with my help to go back and pick up and carry that distressed child part of herself from which she had been cut off for so long. I also said it seemed that the child was now no longer frozen, but was ready to move and come alive and to be part of her grown up self”.   This was of particular interest to me at the moment because I was telling T on Tuesday that all of a sudden the “voice” of my inner child is clear, that suddenly it is very obvious that I have an adult voice and a child voice and that although they are in constant conflict, it is very much there and it didn’t used to be.  Reading this has reassured me that perhaps this is a sign I am getting stronger and am more able to “move and come alive” as Clare describes about her patient.

 

In summary of her patient Claire says “as the transference became established the patient was able to reveal to the analyst in a concrete way the nature of the early trauma which had caused the original breakdown at a time when the patient’s immature ego was not strong enough to encompass the experience. The traumatized child part of herself therefore became split off and defended against. The work of the analysis has been concerned with the gradual experiencing for the first time, with the support of the analyst, the pain and terror of the early breakdown. Over a period of years this has led to the re-discovery and reintegration of the lost child in to the patient’s present ego organization”.

 

Perhaps this may offer some explanation to anyone who is feeling frustration and anger at not being able to cry in therapy yet? Maybe the tears only follow once the psyche starts to acknowledge that lost child and lets it speak out. Some lost children will take longer than others to come out of hiding due to their own personal trauma. For me, this took over 2 years. I guess it depends on quite how long and how strong that defence was, how strong the “false-self” has become and how safe it feels now. I relate this to all of us who have longings that we are too scared to act on: I hope that we learn to push past each of our uncomfortable limits a little bit more each time our therapists respond in a caring, understanding, attuned and non-punishing or judgmental way.

The therapeutic journey seems to be more clear-cut to me having read these papers. Obviously as with any theory you will have your own opinion on it, but for me this is encouraging. It has helped to explain away and normalise the fears I have with dependency, the depth and strength of the feelings of grief and sadness (the primitive agonies), the need for a strong mother like attachment with my therapist, the use of transitional objects, the need to “hear” the child within, or the “lost child” as it is described here.  It explains that gradually over a period of potentially more years, I will re-experience the initial breakdown in small more manageable chunks and that is how I will heal.  I have even read that “This fear is characterized by feelings of falling forever” and that sums up very well the feelings I get when I am in what I call an emotional flashback, where I am triggered and regressed. Those times I have written about where I feel utterly desperate and unable to function as an adult, unable to go to work and just want to stay in bed and hide from life.

I hope this helps others the way it has helped me.

 

 

 

 

The Golden Fantasy

Tuesday 27th June 2017

As I expected, I had to read my “Fairytale Ending” blog out loud to T Tuesday night and it was bloody tough.

I told T that I didn’t want to read it out loud but she encouraged me to give it a go. She told me to take my time and to remember to breathe. I felt so nervous about reading some of it to T, mainly the bits about her, but I also knew that I would cry my way through it as usual and I guess I was scared about that too.

Anyway, I did read it and it was very, very painful. I cried pretty much the whole time, sobbed actually, the full works: nose-blowing, make-up running, noise producing sobbing.

But, I DID do it and I am really glad I did.

I couldn’t look at T for pretty much the entire thing because I felt so vulnerable and scared. So exposed.  T was reassuring and comforting as always. She kept saying “it’s okay, I am here“.  She said some other things too but if I am honest, they just felt like words to make me feel better rather than the truth.  Things like “I can see how intelligent the child was – is, she is very clever. She works things out, she understands things” – I just brushed that comment off because I don’t feel that is true at all. I am not saying that to fish for compliments, I genuinely do not believe I am, or have ever been, intelligent.

The first sentence to make me cry was “Someone who would listen to all of the pain and have genuine compassion…” – that surprised me because I didn’t think that was a particularly weighty sentence, but when reading it to her it suddenly became rather poignant and was the first sentence to make my voice crack.

The second was reading ” I think I am scared sometimes by the depth of feelings I have for her and how painful the loss would be if she went away“.  I broke down in tears at this and T told me that the reason I was finding this so hard to say was that by telling her how strong my feelings are for her, I gave her the ability to hurt me.  I agree that is probably the fear.  Letting someone really know how much you need them, want them and love them does open you up to the possibility of a lot of pain doesn’t it. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who has been guarded with her heart or someone who takes a long time to open up, but with T it seems that is how I am and I can only assume it is because it is so important with her.

In relationships in the past I think I always subconsciously knew that I could find another boyfriend (talking younger years here, not serious relationships) whereas with T, it feels like a vital opportunity that I absolutely cannot fuck up.  T said that perhaps I was worried that not only would she abuse my love and trust in her but that she would enjoy the power she had like my mother did. That she might lord it over me.  I agreed with her.  My mother played on and enjoyed the control and power she had over me, particularly when I was vulnerable or crying and needy and so that was most definitely a fear here.

When I read the part about how I think the reason I write here, read and comment on other people’s blogs and read therapy-related books is to try to keep some sort of connection to T, she suggested that I was using them transitionally.  The same purpose that someone would use a transitional object.  She said that actually it was very clever.

[I reached the end of the first page at this point and T asked me if I wanted to stop or carry on. She told me I was doing really well and said “see, nothing bad has happened, you are still here, nothing has exploded or anything“.  She told me that it felt so unnatural and scary to me because I haven’t ever been allowed to have feelings and so I had to fight past that.  I wasn’t sure and didn’t say anything. I was thinking.. half of me wanted to maintain the courage and keep reading, to fight against everything telling me to stop – the other half was aware that T may be suggesting it for a reason. She has suggested before that I may “purge” a bit and almost punish myself and push myself too far.  I told her I would carry on for now.]

I read the part about having “verbal diarrhoea” and T said “awww” which sounded weird to me because I think I only really associate that word with sarcasm but she wasn’t being sarcastic. I cried as I read “I have so much to say, so much to share, so much to be soothed and so little time”.

We discussed what I said about the difference between Tuesday and Thursday sessions and how I feel so different in them. That it feels that on Tuesdays the child is there, whereas Thursdays it is the adult.  T said that the psyche is very clever and it is trying to protect me.  She said it is because the gap is longer and it knows I need to get through Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday before I can see her again and so it does what it can to keep me safe.  I told her that I understood that but that the child part of me feels it misses out on a Thursday and that it is frustrating.  T said she completely understood this but said I shouldn’t worry about it for now because she believes that in time I will be able to bring the child part into my Thursday sessions more and more.  She said she thinks starting the second session is what enabled me to bring her my child part in the first place and that without the second session I may not have been able to bring it to her (which makes total sense to me because I was not aware of the child part at all for the first two years when I only had one session a week).  She told me to trust in my process. That actually really helped.

When I read the part to T about wanting her to think of me as a competent “normal” adult just sometimes she said “you are worrying about my feelings” and said that this was because I had to look after my mother in all of her needs and feelings growing up and so naturally I was now worrying about her and how she felt and that I was probably worried I was being too much for her.  I told her that I did worry I was too much, but equally it wasn’t so much that I was worried about how T felt, but that I didn’t want her to think of me as pathetic. T told me that she did not think I was pathetic and that I really need to learn to trust that she can look after herself as well as me. I note that in my head I thought “but that’s too much for you to do!” and it is only really today that I realise how sad that thought is because I guess a parent should be able to do that for themselves and their child but my mother couldn’t/didn’t which is why it seems such a foreign idea to me. T said that she saw all sides/parts of me and that if I only brought her the competent adult, then we would be rather stuck. We laughed.

We spoke about therapy breaks.  I haven’t ever shown T any anger about the breaks. I have cried about them to her once I think, but this time I read her the words about how it feels so cruel and how it feels like I am almost tricked into trusting her not to leave – for her to then leave.  T told me that she agreed, that the breaks are bloody unfair.  She told me that she understood that right now it felt the breaks were purely for her benefit and not for mine, but that in time that will change.  She said that she really did understand and asked me if perhaps I felt angry with her?  I said no, I wasn’t angry at HER but just at the whole idea in therapy that you have to get so bloody needy and vulnerable and depend on someone so much for them to then disappear and leave you alone.  She said that perhaps the anger towards her was still too scary at the moment, but that in time it would come and that it would feel “liberating”. I thought to myself that seemed like a strong word and I assume that the reason it would feel liberating would be that it would be a transferencial (is that a word?) reaction perhaps – what I couldn’t do or say to my mother? I don’t know. She also said that her next break was now 2 weeks away and that may be why this was on my mind. Eugh 2 weeks… that isn’t long.

We discussed the adult/child conflict and I told her how I did understand it all in adult terms but that the child didn’t.

Moving on, I read “Adult me knows that I am an adult now and that I cannot now get all that I missed and long for. That it is too late”  and T interjected quickly and said “but all is NOT lost – you can still get something, there are things I can give you” I didn’t look at her when she said this and kind of carried on reading immediately, not pausing to talk to her about what she said. I continued “I have a hole in my heart that is exposed to the elements and it feels like no amount of plasters or stitches or even filler can make it better” I broke down again here.  T said “No, plasters and stitches won’t help, I know” and I said to her that I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful to her and what she does give me, she said I didn’t sound ungrateful at all…I said that it all feels a bit artificial. Like filler.  Like I have to accept that the hole in my heart will have to be stuffed with “stuff”, like cotton wool or something but it isn’t “stuff” that I want it to be filled with.  It felt like the cracks would still be there – I am not sure if this makes much sense?

void fill

Now for the cringiest bit…

I read T the section about how it hurts knowing she is a mum and that her children get her in a way that I don’t – and never will.  I read that when she said “my children” it hurts and how I tried to keep a poker-face. T told me that I absolutely didn’t need to hold it in or keep a poker-face, she said I didn’t need to do that to protect her from my feelings that it was okay for me to tell her and show her how it made me feel.  I kept my head down and ignored this too… I definitely did not want to look at her. I continued:

I can’t ask her things that I want to know and so it isn’t really the same is it? Because what I “love” is the feeling I get because you can’t love someone you don’t even know

T said it is interesting how I assume I can’t ask her the things that I want to know and that she has never told me that – that I have made this boundary myself.  I laughed this off and said “I knew you would say that” she said that of course I know her. She said that I knew where she lived, what car she drove, that “others lived here“, what her personality was like.. I nodded in agreement but it wasn’t what I meant. I think she probably knew that and was just trying to make me feel better.  She said that as much as I thought I wanted to know lots of other things about her, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it and that it would be too much for me. She said “me even saying “my children” is too much” and I thought to myself agghhh this is why I didn’t want to tell you – now you won’t tell me anything at all!! So I said to her “I don’t want to feel like that!!” and felt a bit angry with myself.  She said she knew that and that it wouldn’t always be that way. I kind of regret having told her that but she said it was very important for her to “protect me” in this.

I read her my dream and she said that her take on it was “sneaking up behind you” or “creeping up your behind”…  she said that she thought perhaps I was scared about what was yet to come and I said yes straight away. I most definitely was scared about what was yet to be felt, experienced, remembered… how could I not be.  She said “what you haven’t yet remembered perhaps?” and I agreed.  Bleugh what a horrible thought.

“My adult wants to make it all better for the child. To cuddle and love her better and yet the child is saying “No! not you!! – someone else!!””

T said that it was actually really good that the adult in me wanted to look after and protect the child because it would be really easy for me to be vicious and angry to the child part and shame it.  I told her that although there was that part, I was so angry about the fact that I should have to do that because I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be someone else that fills that for me, I don’t feel like I can do that, like I WANT to do it and so whilst I can be kind to the child part at times, I can’t and won’t be its mum. T said that I couldn’t do this yet, that this is why I needed her.  I needed to get some of my unmet needs met first by her, but that eventually I would be able to do this.  T said that it was awfully unfair that I should have to do this at all of course and that she understood my anger. That I was completely entitled to my anger. I feel angrier today than yesterday. Today I am very grumpy.

I had finally finished reading it. Thank God. I felt emotionally exhausted. I had cried so much and when I looked at the time (for the hundredth time), it was 8.20pm so I only had ten minutes left which felt scary because I had just read all of the painful stuff and I guess I was hoping we could sit and chat and I would get time to calm down for longer than that before leaving.

T asked me what bits I felt I would most like to re-visit or discuss.  I skimmed through it and said to her that none of it felt very important now….  we both laughed at the ridiculousness of that statement! I said that it felt it had lost its power and importance all of a sudden and she said that having read it out loud, having shared it with her, having been able to access the emotions and cry through it would have been cathartic and that is why it no longer felt so scary, but that there was a lot to it and it was all very big stuff.

I said the dream didn’t seem important and neither did the breaks right now.

She said that I was clearly very in touch with both the child and adult parts of me now and I asked her what exactly IS the child part? What does that even mean? I said that I’ve never been so aware of it before but that clearly it isn’t an actual child in me, so what is it? T said it is the feeling part. That the adult part of me is the rational part  and the child carries the feelings and all of the historic stuff, the pain, the fears, the worries etc.  It is more unfiltered.

I told T that I know it sounds weird but I have this image/memory of me about 6 years old in the place I lived in at the time, I am in my nightie and I am walking up the long corridor which went from the front door to the back of the house and I am all alone and scared.  T asked me why it was that I felt I was 6, she said I often say 6 years old and she wondered if there was a reason I thought this? I said no, it just feels that I am about 6 and I look about that age. I said that perhaps it isn’t even a memory, perhaps I’ve made it all up or something. T said she felt this stuff went right back to birth, to when I was a baby but perhaps the reason for “feeling 6” is that it is the rough age when you start to remember things and have explicit memories.

T said that she was certainly not the perfect mother but that is my fantasy because it is what I need right now.  I looked at her when she said this for probably only the second time in the entire hour. She looked quite serious and sincere when she said that, but I still don’t believe it ha!

T said “when we haven’t been given what we need from a good enough mother as little one’s, all we have to go by is our fantasy of what it would look like to have that. For it to feel safe it becomes an idealised “perfect” fantasy of a mother who can meet all of our needs in a perfectly attuned way.  A golden fantasy that feels safe because a perfect mother cannot hurt us.  So it’s perfectly normal and to be expected that you hold the fantasy of Miss Honey close to your heart – that is what she represents for you.”

She also told me to remember that I do still have a competent adult part and that is a good thing. She said in the breaks I need that adult. That I still need to be able to go to work, cook for myself, wash etc and that I shouldn’t forget that I have both the child AND the adult otherwise it can feel far too scary and overwhelming.

End of session

 

Tuesday night’s dream

I had been on a rollercoaster.  I sat on the ride facing someone else. I closed my eyes tight and thought to myself that I just had to survive it. That I wouldn’t die, but I might feel very sick and that I might hate every second of it. I did it and although it wasn’t pleasurable to me at all, I did survive and I even debated going on a second time and opening my eyes that time.

I think that is a very symbolic dream given the session.

 

 

 

The Fairytale Ending: Amended/Revised

For anyone that read the fairytale ending, this is pretty much the same post but I have expanded on it and sent it to T ahead of tomorrow’s session. Don’t ask me where I found the courage to do that……….. aghhhhghgh.

 

Matilda and Miss Honey

The child in me has been waiting for an adult to come and save her. She has been waiting to be rescued for approximately 29 years. She wants someone to come and take the pain away. Someone to fix everything bad that has happened – to magic it away forever.

Matilda got her happy ending with Miss Honey and she wants hers.

I used to hope that adults, mainly teachers, would see that I was a good girl and would adopt me. Friends’ parents would joke that I was their adopted daughter – it was a joke to them about how regularly I spent time at their houses, but to me it was the potential beginning of my fairytale ending.

Enter T

So I find T one day many years later. At this time I am an adult in age, and in physicality, but emotionally a child. Emotionally stunted at about 6 years old. Still unknowingly craving love, affection, understanding, acceptance and warmth.  Still so desperate for that bond.  That unconditional love. I had a yearning for something but I didn’t know what it was, or how to get it. I tried to get it by moving from boyfriend to boyfriend, even at a young age. I don’t like that about myself but I understand that I just copied what my mother did – that was all I was taught to do. Clearly it didn’t work. But I didn’t need a man, I needed a mother.

I guess I picked a female T for this reason. It wouldn’t have been so easy to find my new mum in a man would it? My fantasy about therapy wasn’t only to “fix myself” but I guess I had this feeling that I could potentially find a kind adult to care for me. Someone who would listen to all of the pain and have genuine compassion… someone who, like I used to hope my teachers would, would see I needed rescuing and would rescue me. I guess in a way it was hoping someone would take pity on me.

Looking back I felt (feel?) some similarities between T and my mum in that I saw them both as powerful, authoritive and strong. I guess therefore potentially dangerous. I felt a similar unconscious sense that I had to be good, well behaved, polite, well-mannered. The alternative? Punishment.  But of what kind? I am not really sure. Abandonment and rejection perhaps.

I liked and respected T for the first two years that I saw her, but now it is more than that in ways I am not sure I have the words to explain. Just thinking about it makes me well up with tears. I’m not entirely sure why, I think I am scared sometimes by the depth of feelings I have for her and how painful the loss would be if she went away. Is it worse to lose something wonderful or to have never had it?

T has shown me and given me things that I had never seen or felt before. Patience, understanding and non-judgment – but I think the thing that sticks out most for me is attunement. I don’t even think I knew what that word meant a while ago and now it is the word I use most regularly in all of my diary entries and blogs. Attunement is key. It is so important on such a deep level. I don’t think I ever felt my mother attuned to me and what’s more, you can’t fake attunement apparently so it truly is precious.

“being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being “at one” with another being”

I’ve written a lot about all of the ways T is amazing and how I love her – or what she gives me or represents. What I still childishly fantasise her being one day – effectively my Miss Honey.

But…. on the less lovely side of things. T’s attunement to me, her patience and everything else, have suddenly shone a beacon of light on the loss. The loss of my childhood, my innocence and my birth-right to have been loved by my “good enough” mother. A childhood that felt full instead of starved and warm instead of cold. Safe instead of dangerous,. Loved instead of hated.

All of a sudden I am feeling the stark contrast of what T offers me and what I have/had and it hurts. Like it hurts my entire being.  My soul. Everything. It hurts me in a way I don’t think can be explained.

As I write this I have this strange energy coursing through my body, like adrenaline. Maybe it’s anger. It’s mixed with sadness and prickly tears. But the tears aren’t flowing, they are forming a barrier behind my eyelids almost refusing to come out. Like they are trying to stand strong. Like a line of soldiers making a human fence.

Everything that I (very cleverly) defended myself from knowing, seeing and feeling suddenly staring me in the face with a (not so) welcome home banner. I’ve reached the truth, my truth and it makes me want to debate for a moment if I want to keep walking towards “truth” or run backwards to denial and just pretend none of it is real.  Although that isn’t possible now. I sometimes question what was harder: blaming myself for everything, for the things I didn’t have; or knowing it wasn’t my fault and knowing who’s “fault” it was… what is worse? Which is the lesser of the two evils?

Verbal Diarrhoea

The adult part of me knows this is necessary for my healing. That this “is the work” as T would say. I guess that is what enables me to stick it out and not run away. (That and the fantasy of Miss Honey of course) but child me is in pain and shock and so I guess that explains why now I am craving the fairytale more than ever. I feel so regressed so regularly in therapy and sometimes in-between sessions and the craving for T is more intense than ever before. I think that the reason I enjoy writing my blog about therapy, enjoy reading other people’s, reading therapy books, re-reading my old blogs and the comments on them, is all part of this – trying to “feel” the connection that I am craving when I am not physically there with her.. and then sometimes when I am there, the sessions go way too quickly and the loss is right there again sitting in my chest hard to ignore. So I talk fast. “Verbal diarrhoea” as my mother would say, because I have so much to say, so much to share, so much to be soothed and so little time.  And then I leave and feel so ashamed of how much I’ve talked. I should not be the centre of attention – that is for my mother and not for me. I do not deserve that. I will be punished for that – and so I punish myself.

Tuesdays/Thursday Sessions

Thursday sessions sometimes seem like they don’t give me the same feeling that Tuesday sessions do and that is annoying because it is my “ last chance” at connection until the following Tuesday and that feels like a lifetime.  I keep wondering why it is that Thursday sessions feel so different and it feels as though I go into that session more (too) adult. It feels as though I go to Tuesday night sessions way more in touch with the child me, the regressed me, the sensitive me that wants to bare her soul and be soothed – whereas Thursdays I am an adult who wants T to see how competent I am. How grown up I am and I am so bloody fed up with trying to be the grown up so why do I do that? Perhaps I don’t want T to think I am a complete lost-cause. I don’t want her to think I am pathetic and childish and immature. I want her to think to herself just sometimes when I leave that she can have a normal “adult” chat with me about normal life things and not have to feel as though she is babysitting me or teaching me how to be a normal person…. And yet even that is completely contradicted by having a childish need to be rescued so none of it makes sense. It’s like the child in me has a tantrum when I leave on Thursdays and is shouting

“Hello? What about me? Now I have ages to wait just so you could be all grown up”

I wonder whether T sees a difference between Tuesday me and Thursday me or whether this is purely internal?

 

Therapy Breaks

And then you have therapy breaks. I mean, the adult gets this – of course she does, but the child wants to shout:

“What about me? You can’t just leave me here on my own. I will die without you looking after me”

It thinks it very cruel that it is expected to fight against everything it knows to “let someone in” and to learn to trust, to learn to take down the barriers and try to stop the competent (fake) adult taking over. So it does, slowly, very slowly it does this and then it is left alone?!  WTF is that about.  You wouldn’t leave a 6 year old child at home on their own for an entire week because it would die. Unable to eat or wash or anything and it feels almost the same, but emotionally speaking. Mixed messages – confusing. “Trust me, I won’t leave you” – oh, I’ve gone away. Then there is inner-dialogue between adult and child

“T deserves a break, she needs a break to look after you properly. It is only a week [or two weeks], she will be back before you know it”

“She hates me. She wants to leave me. I’ve worn her out. She is fed up of me. She won’t think about me, she will forget me. She won’t ever come back! I don’t need her anyway. I am fine. I am grown up and mature. Watch me cope all by myself. I don’t even think I need therapy anymore”

To the people that created this therapy. Freud etc: you missed something here!

 

Adult vs Child

Adult me knows that I am an adult now and that I cannot now get all that I missed and long for. That it is too late. Adult me knows therapy will help me to accept this and move on. Adult me knows T isn’t going to become mum and make it all vanish – that she doesn’t have a magic wand and that she can’t wave it so that I am 6 again, but her daughter, and none of it would have happened. Adult me gets that in therapy T will help give me some of the things that I didn’t get that will help me. Things like a kinder internalised voice – she had already done that to an extent and she is helping me not to feel so ashamed for having needs, to feel loveable. But child me… she hasn’t quite given up the hope of being rescued yet.  I know the happy ending will still be far nicer than the story ever was…. That in comparison the ending will be nicer than it could have been…. but I have a way to go to be okay with this. Today I feel robbed and angry. Like I have a hole in my heart that is exposed to the elements and it feels like no amount of plasters or stitches or even filler can make it better. Horrible image, but it feels like it is left open and it is being chewed on by insects.

That poor little girl was and is so desperate to be loved by a mummy that she didn’t get. It makes me sick.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for what I do have – that I have found T, that I can get so much from her that I have never had – but I guess like a child it wants more of what it likes and it can’t really have much more and that seems so unfair. Knowing that T is a mum seems to make that harder because it makes me jealous that her children get her as a mum so when she has said the words “my children” I have to try hard to keep my face neutral in case she can see anything in me change. Poker face.  Luckily she can’t feel the movement inside my chest.  Plus anyway, it is obviously a one-way relationship where I can’t ask her things that I want to know and so it isn’t really the same is it? Because what I “love” is the feeling I get because you can’t love someone you don’t even know. The whole thing is so confusing.

Dream

I had a dream on Saturday night that two boys I had been intimate with in my life (not both physically) told me that I had an infection on my bottom – I looked in the mirror and it was disgusting, all scabby and disgusting. The word in the dream that jumped out was “bacterial”. I hadn’t seen it because it was behind me, on my bum and so out of my view and I felt hugely humiliated and dirty. I felt so ashamed that they had both seen it and knew it was there and that I didn’t.  I have thought about this dream a lot since and I think it is representative of the fact that people that knew me well enough “saw” I had issues, problems, gaps… but that I didn’t and how ashamed I am about that and now the “scars” of it all seem to be obvious – like the scabby rash thing in my dream.

“A hidden or invisible attack that may weaken or even destroy you” – “Feelings of inadequacy or a sense of uncleanness”

 

One thing that amazes me is quite how relentless my inner child is at not giving up that hope. I am not sure if that makes her determined or stupid but there we have it. She isn’t ready to drop that fantasy yet. Saying that, I do admire the fact that she has continued to fight and has never totally given up. I wouldn’t have blamed her.

My adult wants to make it all better for the child. To cuddle and love her better and yet the child is saying “No! not you!! – someone else!!

The thought that I can make this better for myself seems ridiculous because although half of me wants to be grown up, the other half wants to stay young because if I stay young then Miss Honey will come and if I don’t – she won’t.

 

I do not want to have to be my own mother. I don’t want to grow up (even though I already have).

Session re “An Hour Is Never Enough” Blog

Hi everyone,

Thank you to everyone that commented on my post last night ahead of going back to T’s, I really appreciated the thoughts, comments and birthday wishes. You are all lovely!

All went well last night. Obviously.  I mean I knew it would because it always does and because T is lovely but yet there is always that trepidation nonetheless.

T opened the door, smiley and kind faced as always.  I sat down and made small talk about the weather, how hot it is, she asked whether I had got my air-con re-gassed in my car yet and we laughed about the fact that I hadn’t (we’ve had this conversation SO many times). I told her about my holiday and we compared notes because T had been there in the past.

T asked me how I felt since our last session where I was very upset. She had my blog in front of her and asked if I was happy for us to go through it. I agreed.  I told her that I felt absolutely fine during the break and my holiday and that actually, I felt okay only a few hours after I wrote the blog which I sent to her.

T said it was very courageous of me that I sent my writing to her because it really helped her to understand.  She said that my writing was beautiful (eek!) and that the image I had chosen (from Google Images) was beautiful too. She pointed to a piece of artwork that she has on her wall and told me that it symbolised the same thing. I didn’t know that and so was surprised. I told her that I had often wondered what it was/represented but that I hadn’t known. She told me that perhaps my subconscious had known which was what had drawn me to the image I selected. .. maybe!

mother

She asked me how it felt that I sent it and whether her response had helped.  I told her that the one saving grace I have is that when I am “really in it” meaning really upset and feeling the feelings, that any embarrassment seems to go away for a short while and my neediness takes over. I needed to write that blog and get it all out and make some sense of things – and I needed her to read it too.  The embarrassment and shame that I always feel follow shortly after.

T told me that I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of. She told me how absolutely normal these feelings were and that I really didn’t need to be embarrassed.  She said that she hoped in time I would feel less embarrassment. I said that this had got better so hopefully it would continue to.  For example, in the past, knowing I was going back after a break to discuss that blog would have filled me with dread all day and probably made me feel rather unwell where I would have been very nervous – whereas yesterday it didn’t feel half that bad. There is definite improvement.

T read some of my words back to me, pausing at certain parts to either look at me or for me to comment on.  I told T at one part that when I was crying before I had written down any of my feelings, my stepdaughter came into my head – the fact that she had wanted a night at home with her mother before coming to us following a school trip.  I said to T that all of a sudden I understood that. I FELT that, in my heart like a physical pain. As I said this, my voice broke and I cried a little.  T looked at me as though she completely understood what I meant and she understood quite how painful that was. I said that the realisation had been very hard. T said that she needed a “top up of mum” before going back off to her Dad’s (and mine) for the weekend and I said that I understood that now, but I never had before. I said a little bit of me was angry with her for this (read: jealous) because she had something that I had never had.  Obviously I don’t really feel that way, it was just a fleeting jealous thought.

T read some more of my words and told me that everything I had described about my wishes for things I could do with her such as drinking tea, putting my feet up, having a blanket: some of them could be met.  She said I was welcome to put my feet up on the sofa, I was welcome to use the blanket which was on the back of the sofa, we could have a cup of tea if that was something I really wanted etc.  I told her that in a way I knew I could use the blanket but it wasn’t quite the same. It wasn’t really what I meant. She seemed to know that already anyway but said that some of the things I missed out on, the things that I crave, could be met now if I wanted.

I told her that I was a bit confused because I had read such conflicting things online about how therapy works. I told her that I had read the whole point of this type of therapy was to re-parent me, make me stronger and more emotionally mature, then I would detach and become more complete and adult. More whole. Yet I had also read that T could not be a replacement for my mother because I am now an adult and that was impossible and it was unhealthy if I was allowed to think of her that way.  T said that clearly she couldn’t say to me “I will be your mummy now” because that was not practical and was not fair. She said that would be harmful to me.  She said that as hard as it was for me to hear, she couldn’t be my mother but that she could help me to internalise the things that I missed out on that would help me.  For example, internalising her kind voice. Making me feel that I was special and important. Making me feel validated, feel that my feelings are important and okay – that anger and sadness were allowed and all of those very important things. She said that the therapy could help to re-parent me in some ways.  I said that I understood that I just wasn’t really sure what I could hope for from her and what I couldn’t.

I somehow plucked up the guts and told her that on my birthday I had hoped she would text me.  I said that my boyfriend had told me that she wouldn’t and that she was not “my friend” and that it felt weird to me that we couldn’t consider one another friends because I feel so close to her (even though I obviously understand I am a patient in therapy really).  T said that firstly if she had text me happy birthday that would not necessarily mean we were “friends” but that we did have a close connection and she understood why I would like to have had a birthday text.  She asked me if I wished she had of text me and I said that although I do in a way, yes, perhaps it would have brought up other things so maybe it was best she didn’t.  T said that it didn’t matter if it brought up anything – that we would talk about it and that I didn’t ever have to worry that things couldn’t be handled between us. That nothing would ruin anything and all thoughts and feelings were allowed here with her. That we would work with anything that came up.  She then explained that the reason she hadn’t text me was because I had previously told her that her texting me might be hard for me because she might text on some occasions and not others – that I might feel misunderstood.  Ultimately, that it could end up hurting me somehow.  I said that although I did feel that way, I felt that my birthday was different.  She said that she just had to be very careful not to hurt me in any way and that as we had previously agreed she would not contact me at any time, at least I knew where I stood – consistency. I said I understood that.

T said that much like my step-daughter needed “topping up” by her mother, I could “pop in” but just not in the physical sense. She said that is why she tries to encourage me to contact her if I need to. I guess that is why she has said to me before that I could “check in with her” if I needed to.  That made more sense to me now. I used to wonder how that was beneficial to me.

She said that although I might think I would like to be able to pop in and see her whenever I wanted to, as often as I liked and at whatever time, that the reality would actually be very messy and not be what I thought it would.  I am not sure I totally got this but I agreed anyhow.

She read the sentence about me only having her on “paid, restricted kinda borrowed time” and said that I really should try not to think of it this way because it was “horribly punitive”.  She said that I pay for her to be there with me, doing that job but that all of her care and affection is completely free. She said those things couldn’t be brought: that it does not work that way.  She said to try not to think of it like that but that she understood the pain of the restricted time – that sometimes it just doesn’t feel enough.

I got teary again at this point and told her (through tears and snot) that I think this feeling reminds me of the fact that my mother told me so often growing up that raising me was a chore, that she hated being a parent, that I was a horrible child, an even worse teenager, that she thought kids were disgusting – basically that she was only there because it was “her job” and that it is horrible to think at times like this, when regressed, that she is only there for me because it is her job too.  That I just wanted someone to be there for me because they wanted to – not because it was their job.  I had never said or written these words before, they just came out. They were really raw. Very deep feelings that hurt to say out loud. I was emotional and I really felt a need for her to properly “see” me and understand this in that moment.

T did seem to get what I was saying and repeated that her care was free and that she did truly care for me – that I was not a chore to her.  She said that she missed me (actual words) whilst I was away, particularly at my normal session times. That she did think of me on my birthday and wondered whether I had a nice holiday.  She looked at me and I half-smiled and she said “but you don’t believe that, do you?” and I laughed and said no.  I told her it isn’t that I don’t believe her as such, but that it just doesn’t really feel true.

She asked what my fantasy was about what happens to me when I am not around and I said that although the adult part of me knows I don’t stop existing to her – to others when I am not around, the other part of me, perhaps the more childish part DID feel that way. That I would be forgotten.  T explained that this was because unfortunately I did disappear to my mother when not around and that I wasn’t taught to feel that I was special.  T also said that she wasn’t in it for the money. She told me that if something happened and I could no longer pay her, that she wouldn’t just stop me coming. That she would never do that.

T read these parts to me “It’s probably also a bit of the inner child in me mourning the loss of the mother I would have loved to have”

and

“I guess it is the sadness of knowing I won’t see her for a while mixed with the sadness that I can only have her on paid, restricted kinda borrowed time.. mixed with the slap in the face blatant comparison of her and my mother.  Of what I could have… and what I do actually have.”

I told her that the comparison was just suddenly so obvious, so intense and painful.  That it felt so hugely unfair.  She seemed to get this immediately and said that she understood how painful this was.  I told her that the things I said I would have liked to do with her like drink tea and chat on unlimited time sounded silly but that they were small examples of the things I would like. T said they didn’t sound silly at all because it was more about what those things represented such as nurturing, warmth, understanding, comfort, home, safety.  I was teary and said yes.  She said that I wrote the words “emotionally fed” and she hoped she could help to offer me that feeling to a degree. I said she did, that I always left feeling happier and better. I said that although clearly I can’t remember being a baby and being held to my mother’s breast and fed – I just know it didn’t happen how it should have. That I can just FEEL it in my whole body. That wasn’t there, it was missing, the love and attachment was absent.  T seemed to know exactly what I meant and she said of course I did. She said you don’t have to remember a time and date of an event to remember something and that she knew exactly what I meant.

I said where I had written the words “It just hit me like a steam train” that it really did feel that way. Sudden and brutal.

T said that she wanted me to know that she truly really respected the attachment that I have towards her and that she would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. She said she knew how scary it was for me to feel this way – which it sure is.

I told T what I had written in my blog “Transference” and she agreed with me that it was some sort of repeat – that it had triggered off some old feelings and said well done for being able to see that.

T then read the last few sentences about my angry song and said she was very pleased there was a bit of anger there.  She asked how it would be possible for me to NOT feel angry. That there was so very much to be angry about. All of the things I should have had that I didn’t, the fact that I was now having to spend so much time, effort and money in therapy to fix something that shouldn’t have needed fixing.

I asked her if she had listened to the song and she said she had not because she thought we should listen to it together. I warned her the song wasn’t particularly “nice” and she said that “nice and angry don’t tend to go together”.  We played it – I felt a little awkward and didn’t know where to look as it played but at the end she said she could totally understand why I related to it so much and that she thought the song was powerful and the words very deep too.  I told her that I played it very loudly when driving and it always made me feel better.  I said the line “with her hand in my head” was very relevant to me because that is how it always felt with my mother – she controlled me so much. She may as well of had her hand in my head physically as well pulling at my thoughts.

We spoke a little about music and the power of expressing yourself with music. I told T that when I was young I spent all of my time in my room playing music and so I often felt very strongly for certain songs and could almost always link a song to a place or a time or a memory.  T asked me if I knew a particular song, I didn’t so she played it and we sat together and listened to it. The song was about someone accepting every part of you and not leaving. Someone who saw the “dark” side of you as well as the light and loved you just as much.  The song made me emotional and I did get teary. T said she thought I would like it and I liked it even more just knowing that she knew me enough to know what I may like.. does that make sense? If anyone is interested the song is “Everything” by Alanis Morissette –

I did mention the whole step-kids not mentioning my birthday thing to her and said that I had noted how it had annoyed me and that I did know that I probably shouldn’t feel that way: but that I did.  I said that perhaps it was because of the way my mother made me look after her feelings and the way I was always forced to make a big deal out of her and her boyfriends’ birthdays (the things I wrote in my blog yesterday basically) and she did agree.  She said that it wouldn’t have been personal. That yes, that could be encouraged along but that also the kids may have felt a little left out that they weren’t around for my birthday (or indeed for our holiday).

T said she was conscious that we only had a few minutes left and said that she wanted to see how I thought I was going to feel when I left. I told her that I thought I would feel fine, good, better but that sometimes I surprised myself.  I told her that knowing I couldn’t/wouldn’t see her for a week or something was somehow instantly hard for me but I knew I would be back on Thursday and that the time went by so quickly so I thought I would be okay.

And I am, Other than having a chest infection and cold today I feel okay.  No therapy hangover or left over sadness.  Perhaps I am just glad that I am back there with T and feeling as though someone completely “gets” me.