My Sister Heartache

This post is about me and my sister.

In my session last night, I read my blog about the dysfunctional relationship with my sister and what I had figured out at the weekend.  I read the blog easily until the end where I read about the nice memories I have with her when we were younger and then I felt a lump in my throat.

I told T “it is such a shame” and then began to cry a little. T agreed that it was a huge shame and that my mother had caused this dynamic, not me. I said I knew that but that I felt so sorry for my sister. In my head when I said those words, my sister was no longer 22, but about 6.  God the pain I felt in that moment. The shame, the guilt, the sadness. It was horrible.

I said to T “I should have helped her, I was so horrible to her, she must have felt so alone” and then I just broke down in floods of tears. I cried from the bottom of my heart in that moment. I felt ashamed of myself and felt such a loss of what cannot be repaired.

T, rather passionately, said to me that none of this was my fault. She said that I couldn’t have known, that I was caught up in this dysfunction and that I had no way of understanding any of this myself.  She spoke rather urgently so I gather she understood how much shame and sorrow I was feeling. Nothing she said really took the pain away.

I said to T “She hates me. She has always really hated me and I didn’t even realise!!”.  T said it wasn’t that she hated me but that it was misdirected anger towards my mother.

T said she imagined I just wanted to read that blog to my sister and to make her understand. I said I absolutely did but that it was pointless because my sister wouldn’t believe it or understand some of it.  T said that she wouldn’t be able to yet.  T suggested that one day my sister may realise the dysfunctional dynamic just like I had done, but I told her I wasn’t hopeful.  I said that my sister had finally gained what she thinks is my mother’s love and that she wouldn’t be wanting anything else.  T said she may realise when she starts to feel how toxic and fake it is, that she doesn’t get fulfilled in the way she may think she will. I appreciate what T was saying, but I don’t agree. I told T “I wish I was as optimistic as you“.

I said to T that it all felt so hopeless. It feels too late for me and my sister. I said that I have always felt so protective over her but that she won’t feel that at all and that hurts.  It is so sad that my mother has taught us that the three of us can’t all be getting along at the same time. Someone is always the bad guy. Drama/Relationship Triangle stuff.  There are 3 positions in the triangle, Victim, Rescuer and Prosecutor and my God, how true that is for my family.

Right now my mother is the Victim, my sister the Rescuer and me – the horrible persecutor and its painful because all I can do, all I have the power to do, is to remove myself from the triangle.  And that means leaving my sister there to play out her role(s).

I told T that I have felt such resistance and anger at my sister the last year or so but that now, I felt so much pain for her and pain for my own loss of having a healthy relationship with my sister.  As I said to T, things could have been so different. Something I find myself writing and saying more and more these days.

“I can’t save her”.
“No, you can’t”

I said to T that I had seen a photo of me and my sister a few days ago taken on Christmas Day in about 2013.  The photo is of me and my sister stroking the family dog wearing matching onesies. I said to her that you can’t even see our faces in the photo, but that I loved the photo.  I told her I would love nothing more than to have a healthy relationship with her. We could be close. We could be best friends.. but the reality right now is that we can’t – that isn’t possible.

T suggested I text my sister and said something like “I hope you had a nice holiday. I have been thinking of you”.  I was surprised she suggested that and was slightly taken aback.  I said I could, but that my sister is so argumentative and aggressive nowadays (since she’s become Golden Child) that it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I said I knew that my sister would reply to say “Well you upset me when you said X, Y, Z and you were so horrible to mum and mum is so upset” etc… and that would just annoy me.  T said I could do without that drama right now on top of everything else. I agreed.

T said that if I was able to speak to my sister, I would need to tell her that our relationship was separate to the relationship with our mother.  That we should be able to have a relationship regardless of whether I am speaking to my mother or not and vice-versa. She said I would need to put in some strong boundaries that we did not discuss things my mother has been saying – that she didn’t tell me anything at all.  I agreed but said to T that as ridiculous as it is, there is a part of me that wondered what we would speak about if it wasn’t our childhood or our mother. That is all we’ve ever really done!

T said we could still talk about our childhood but that we just don’t talk about things my mother is doing or saying now.  That I would have to tell my sister not to repeat anything we spoke about, anything I am doing etc. I said I doubted my sister would want to do that because she wouldn’t want to risk her newly promoted place as Golden Child.

T suggested that I sat on this for a while and thought about it. She said I would figure out what I needed to do when the time was right.

I said to T that when I got engaged in August, I was so disappointed with her reaction (or lack of more accurately).  T said that she was too envious to be happy for me.  I said I got that now but why? T said that there may be an element that I have escaped whilst my sister is still there, still stuck in the dynamic.  I said but he doesn’t need to be! She could escape it herself.  I said to T, I had imagined when I was planning my wedding that my sister would be really involved.  That she would be helping with the plans, planning the hen do and coming shopping for bridesmaid dresses! I wanted her to be the chief bridesmaid and I guess now, upon reflection, this was me saying “look how much I love you!“.  Stupidly I thought she knew that, but since discovering the childhood dynamic stuff, I guess she had too much displaced anger for me to feel that love plus the additional anger that I could have “saved her” and chose not to.  If only it were that easy.

I said to T that despite all of this, and that I felt stupid for even admitting this, there was a part of me that would feel really guilty if I reached out and contacted my sister whist I wasn’t speaking to my mother.  I said I knew that was insane.  T said I needed to feel and speak about those feelings and that we could keep talking about them.  That I didn’t need to act on them. I nodded.

I told T, my sister is totally unable to move forward with me and that she keeps on going on about how out-of-order I was for not missing a counselling session when she wanted me to.  T said it isn’t really about that, that is just my sister’s excuse. It is much, much deeper than that. I said I knew that now, but that my sister didn’t and so how do we get past that?

Eugh. What a mess.

 

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Thought Fuel and Irritation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mehhh.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dysfunction Is Hereditory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all very sad. And very dysfunctional.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Contact to heal?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How well I’ve been programmed.

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

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

In my heart I want to go NC…

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

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

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

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

So where does that leave me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Dream triggers & painful memories 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck you. 

Now I think to myself “baggy fanny slut”. 

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

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

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

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

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

Angry 😠 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huff. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers on a postcard!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heinz Kohut – Self-Psychology

Last night I was reading and came across some information about a psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut and his theory of “self-psychology”. I hadn’t heard of him/this theory before and I found it really interesting.

In very basic terms, Kohut believed that for a child d to develop healthily and therefore in order that a child gains a healthy sense of “self”, his or her parents need to meet 3 main needs:

  1. Mirroring
  2. Idealizing
  3. Twinship

Mirroring – This is where the parent (usually the mother) would reflect back at the child a sense that he or she is worthy, loved and special.

Idealiizing – Kohut believed that children need to idealize their caregiver and see them as powerful and knowledgeable. The child needs to feel as though they can turn to their caregiver to meet their needs and to help them make sense of their world. Their caregiver needed to be able to calm and reassure them.

Twinship – Kohut believed that children need to feel they fit in with others. They have a need to be similar to their parents – not too different that they felt “wrong”.  Children mimic behaviours or characteristics from their caregiver and gradually as the child matures, would be able to feel more comfortable with any differences.

I found this really interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, knowing that every single child needs to have these 3 basic needs met in order to gain a healthy sense of self reassures me a little more about my “neediness”.  What I mean by that is that my own neediness in life, and more relevantly, in therapy includes some of these needs. Mirroring is very clearly important to me and the idealizing is something that I am very aware of with my T. I do look at her as a special being in my life – as someone who is more powerful and more knowledgeable – more able to help me with my own anxieties than any other.  I guess the twinship plays out when clients wish they were the only client or the most liked client of their therapist.  Secondly I found this very interesting because it helps me to clearly see the areas my own mother didn’t successfully met my needs.  It helps me to understand what it was I needed, what I didn’t get and why I now feel insecure and crave certain things that perhaps others around me do not (making me feel “weird” or “different”) which obviously causes anxiety.

What happens if all goes well during this early stage is that the child’s needs are consistently and repeatedly met over a period of time and the child is able to internalise the caregiver (known as selfobjects) enough that on the odd occasion the caregiver fails to meet the child’s needs, the child has internalised this enough that it can actually step in and soothe itself. This can only happen if the misattunement is not often and not severe. This helps me to understand what my therapist really means when she says “you are only as needy as your unmet needs”. So, it really isn’t YOU! It really isn’t that you are doing something wrong, that you are fault or weak or whatever else you may think you are – it is very clearly that some of, or perhaps all of, these needs were unmet and so you haven’t been able to internalise that consistent caregiver that your friends have.  Bye bye now shame!!

In psychotherapy, transference is helpful because we relate to our therapist with all our unconscious thoughts, feelings and desires and we see and relate to the therapist through our own lense – not necessarily an accurate one. The therapist’s job is to provide us with an “corrective emotive experience” by providing us with enough empathy, understanding and attunement. The basic idea is that the therapist comes in as the good enough caregiver (selfobject) and provides us with a good enough experience of all those 3 major needs.  They mirror us adequately, we idealise them and our twinship needs are met also.  After this is done consistently enough, we internalise THE THERAPIST (as our caregiver failed) and therefore a healthy sense of self is borne – as it should have been all those years ago when for whatever reason, our caregiver failed us.

Mirroring transference – The therapist helps us by mirroring us – validating our feelings and empathising/understanding our feelings and helping us to understand and work through them to prevent them from being too scary for us to handle (as a child wouldn’t be able to handle their environment on their own). The therapist would praise our achievements and make us feel good enough – possibly for the first time.

Idealising transference – In therapy we often idealise our therapist as being strong and powerful and confident.  We NEED them to be this person because we need to know we are in safe hands.  Eventually in the therapy process, we come to develop a more realistic view of the therapist warts and all (like any human being). This causes ruptures in the therapeutic alliance which is then repaired repeatedly.  We learn we are safe.

Twinship transference – In therapy sometimes we will find similarities between us and our therapist and we will enjoy that feeling. I know for me personally, my T once told me that she also watched some of the same programmes as me and I really enjoyed that. I find myself wondering as I type this, if that is why I have such a keen interest in psychology and read so much into these theories? Am I trying to me like T? For others, perhaps you may enjoy a similar taste in clothes, politics, history etc. As our therapists disclose more of themselves, we find the similarities and feel more “normal” and accepted.  I assume this is why it can be so painful to find out things about our therapist that do NOT match us. It’s why our therapists don’t give too much away about themselves (although Kohut did not believe in the whole blank-screen thing as it wasn’t humane enough).

 

 

Anyway, there is more to say but this is about as far as I have read. I will continue to post my findings in the hope they help even one other person who is struggling in therapy right now with needs and vulnerability.

Any comments would be welcomed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neediness, Lack of Warmth, Fear of Annihilation & Re-experiencing pain

I got to last night’s session not really sure of how it would go, feeling a bit nervous about the fact that the last communication T had from me was me saying I was crying and experiencing a really odd mixture of pain and pleasure at the connection I had felt with her.

I sat down and she smiled at me but didn’t say anything. I smiled back.. anxiously waiting for her to start talking but she didn’t, she just looked at me and I felt really uncomfortable. Why do they do that sometimes? I can’t help but feel its done on purpose to make us feel awkward as fuck!

I told T that I had done a lot of thinking, reading and writing over the weekend and that I felt like I had some realisations. I said that although they were not necessarily new realisations, I felt them differently. T said it was like peeling an onion and said that we have to revisit certain things over and over again, each time we understand or feel a little deeper and that this can only be done as and when we are ready.

I didn’t really know where to start so I started with asking her if she was familiar with Brene Brown’s theory of foreboding joy. She said she wasn’t and so I explained to her in very vague terms that I had learnt it was what happens to some of us when we feel a real sense of joy and vulnerability and explained Brene’s theory that we then dress-rehearse tragedy, waiting for it all to go wrong. T nodded and said she understood what I meant. I told T that I had sat down to write a blog on Sunday evening about this, and had found myself writing something that hit me as I typed the words out and kinda took my breath away. I told her what I had written on Sunday about the link I had made of the feelings of happiness/sadness leaving her office on Sunday and the feelings growing up of having those very random, short-lived moments of connection with my mother and how painful it was when those moments abruptly ended.  Saying those words made me cry again, I found myself suddenly gasping for breath. It felt very deep. I suppose it was the enormity of what I had just said? I don’t know.

T looked at me with empathy and seemed to understand what I had said. I told her that the feelings I had last week were horrible. I told her that I felt physical pain in my chest and said it hurt so much. This made me teary again.  T said it feels like life and death and that when you are in touch with that pain, it is absolutely excruciating. I agreed.  I told her that it is the same pain I felt a few years ago when I had planned to leave therapy and then found myself on the bathroom floor sobbing for hours with this god-awful pain of not being able to survive. Of loss and grief and all manner of other horrible things.

I told T that it confused me that getting what I have always wanted caused me such a lot of pain (and joy, admittedly) and T explained that having deep, childhood, unmet needs – met was VERY painful.  She said getting what you’ve always wanted can cause awful sadness and pain.  I didn’t understand that.  T said that this was one of the reasons that therapists had to be so careful not to “overdo it”.  She said that them overdoing it could cause us more pain! T said “this is why although I understand you want more reassurance and warmth in my emails, it is important that I am very careful”…

(I haven’t written about this yet so this is a good time – I told T last week that I sometimes find her email replies to be “lacking in warmth”. As I said it, she repeated it back to me and I agreed.  Yes. I told her that I knew that the content was fine and that if someone else read them, they wouldn’t see the issue, but for me, they sometimes felt “therapisty” (yeah, I know) and “cold”.  I’ve thought about this many times since saying it and I can very clearly see that the lacking in warmth thing is probably a bit of transference – it probably sums up how I feel about my communications/relationship with my mother – or more specifically, about my mother herself. Lacking in warmth.)

T said that the sadness when I left of not having had enough was completely understandable and expected. I told her, it isn’t quite that I haven’t “had enough” like I had written about once before, because that makes it sound like I didn’t get enough warmth or enough connection or attunement which I DID. She said, she thinks “not having had enough” was less about my session and more about my childhood. That I didn’t get enough.  That went in at a deep level and I agreed with her. I understand that therapy is starting to trigger some things in me which I perhaps didn’t understand or feel consciously before.

I told her that actually FEELING that pain when I left last week was just awful. I just closed my eyes as I typed that because honestly my words do not do that feeling justice. T once again reminded me that a lot of my pain was pre-verbal and may not have words.

I said that FEELING that pain really drove it home to me how very sad that was and I said that whilst I immediately think about my mother when I write these things, the same applied to my Dad of course because well, where the fuck was he? He didn’t try either and although my Dad is a “nicer person”, he hurt me too. T said that just because he is a “nice guy” doesn’t mean he didn’t cause me pain. I agreed.  I said that I had been thinking recently that I would see my Dad every now and again, we would have a nice time and then he would take me home and I wouldn’t know if I would see him again in a week, two weeks or months.  I told T that I still sometimes cry when I leave him as an adult now (only since my therapy got me in touch though!).  I told T that I also used to cry when my Nan and Grandad dropped me home on a Sunday night after having stayed at their house, which I did every weekend. I now understand this – I was crying because I knew that connection was over. I was crying because I knew I wouldn’t have that connection at home with my mother and crying because I never knew how long it would be until I felt that again.

T said that it is as if it felt better for me to feel nothing at all than to feel the mixture of the good against the bad. I agreed whole-heartedly.

I said to T that when I learnt about this foreboding joy thing, I had sat down and thought about how this played out in other aspects of my life. I told her what I had written about my relationships, with job interviews and many other things. T nodded and said how hard I had been working. I agreed that I had. I said I was worried that people seemed to think the amount I thought about these things was a bad thing but said that understanding why I am feeling a certain way actually helped me to have some compassion for myself. T said perhaps it took the guilt, shame and blame away from me.  She then said (not for the first time) “You were capable of feeling that loving connection the whole of your life. It really wasn’t you – it wasn’t any fault of yours that you didn’t get that. It was your mum and dad’s”.  She said how it was only natural that as a child experiencing that lack of connection (ha, of warmth) I would understandably blame myself. It is how I survived because I had to keep them good.  I said that I understood this now and that understanding that was bittersweet. I am glad it wasn’t me, of course. But understanding, truly, how incapable they both were of emotional connection and closeness, of that parental bond is so tragically sad to me.

I then spoke to T about my blog yesterday about neediness. I told her that I had wanted to send my blog from Sunday and told her what I wrote yesterday about the conversations that played out in my head. T said “did you think you would be too much?” and I said yes. I told her how I had these visions of smothering her, suffocating her and – killing her. T told me this was the “Fear of Annihilation”. I heard her say that but had no real idea what she was talking about. I’ve since Googled this and it is very interesting. I attach a link for anyone that is interested. Once I have digested this a bit more, I will write about this as I think it will be very helpful to me, and possibly others. https://healthysenseofself.com/meet-us/terminology-for-a-healthy-sense-of-self/fear-of-annihilation/

Following this “fear of annihilation” conversation I told T that it confuses me that when I am in those moments, I NEED to contact her and only her. I said nobody else would help and that felt uncomfortable for me. T said something along the lines of:

“Of course. Like a child only wants its mummy”.

And with those simple words, it suddenly made sense to me. T said that I am using T as I need to, which is as a mother figure and so when I need containing and attunement or whatever I need, of course it is only her that I want to turn to. She told me that is why I shouldn’t really go against myself when I feel that way, that I need to let myself be steadied by her and that it was okay to do that. T said this fear of annihilation meant that I was convinced either I was going to kill her off with my needs or that she would kill me off. She said that I can’t trust that she could handle her own feelings/needs.

I told T that sometimes just pressing send on an email to her was enough. I said I never understood that either. T said:

Yes, because sending the email into my inbox is like putting something (the feelings) into mum to deal with”.

She spoke about how as a baby or a child, the mum would try to figure out what it was the baby or child needed. She would speak softly to the baby and try and see was the baby hungry? Tired? Did the baby need a nappy change etc – she said that the child was steadied just by knowing the mother was there and trying her hardest to help.  She said that me sending the email to her had the same effect.  I said but I don’t know if you are even reading it for hours yet and she said no, but you know that it is no longer just you trying to deal with it all on your own. You know that I will, at least, try to help you with it and that knowledge helps you to settle.

Isn’t that interesting? I know I haven’t expressed that very well, but hopefully the general gist is there.