Self Integration?

Yesterday I wrote a brief description of a dream that I had Monday night.  The dream left me with a very intense feeling of what I can only describe as maternal love.  Now I have not had any children yet although me and my (now) fiance were trying for about 17 months prior to getting engaged.  Now the wedding is booked we are putting that on hold until after the wedding, partly for practicalities but partly because I/we need the break from the emotions that trying unsuccessfully brought us.

Anyway, to the point – I have never felt a feeling like that before. It was like love on steroids and yet clearly it was only a dream.. yet it felt so important somehow.

A lovely blogger helped me to think about the dream in more detail earlier, we spoke about how the baby could symbolise the child/baby part of myself.. I agreed and then I went into my session and spoke to T about it a bit more.  Here is the dream again with a bit I left out the other day:

I had a baby girl. Her name was Kia. She was wrapped tightly in a blanket and I was either holding her over my shoulder or pushing her in her pram. At one point in the dream I stepped off of a bus and when I looked into her pram, it was empty and I panicked and turned around to see my mother holding her – I took her off of my mother and then my mother pushed the empty pram instead.  Later in the dream I gently rubbed the side of her face and she laughed and “spoke” to me in her baby language. I laughed and spoke back to her in baby language but the feeling it gave me (as I explained above) was just phenomenal.

I find it so weird that a dream can leave me with such a strong feeling when I’ve never felt that in real life – how is that even possible?

T said she also thought the dream was hugely symbolic. She agreed that the baby was probably symbolic of my child/baby self. I said that I felt it important that I “took the baby back from my mother” and that my mother was then “pushing an empty pram”.  T said that my mother may as well have been pushing an empty pram, I agreed.  I said that it didn’t feel like grief processing because there was no element of sadness whatsoever. T said that she felt it was actually a very transitional dream – a sign that perhaps I have fully accepted my child part into myself.

I can’t find the right words right now to really express what I want you to feel as you read this, I’m not sure that is possible but it just feels SO IMPORTANT. So, so important. Madness from a dream!!

Anyway, I read up about self-integration which made its way into my brain because I was re-reading an old blog of mine earlier (Winnicott’s fear of breakdown) and in the paper I referred to by Clare Winnicott, she speaks about how her client had a dream where she picked up her child self and Clare Winnicott thought this was hugely symbolic of her patient integrating – growing and healing and I can’t help but think my dream is a very similar thing. It FEELS like something in my body, my being… there has been some sort of shift or something.

I’m sure I sound a bit weird ha! But there we go.

I think I’ve changed a lot lately, I’ve had to go against everything I know with my ex friend at work (I really need to find a better name for her). Setting such firm boundaries, ending a friendship, not letting the fear, guilt, panic take over – putting myself first and standing strong despite perhaps not feeling it!! Surviving everything that came as a side effect to me doing this, such as the preoccupation with predicting what she would do and say when I saw her, dreaming about her, doubting myself, crying from the fear of it all… and so on and so on…  I am still here and I am okay. It is hard, its tough and I am currently witnessing her in the middle of a smear campaign trying to make herself look like a victim and me look like an evil bitch – its okay. It will be okay. I am okay. And that is huge.

As well as that I had a run in with my younger sister a few weeks ago because I wouldn’t cancel a therapy session which she wanted me to do. Because I wouldn’t do that, she decided I was selfish and her and my mother clearly had a lovely little bitch session about me which wound me up. But I didn’t bite. I WAS angry and yet again, I did doubt myself a lot .. perhaps I was being selfish? T helped me to see that my feelings were justified but not to be acted out.  Yet again, I just had to hold firm. I sat on Pintrest for hours looking at quotes of “boundaries” and reassured myself that I was doing the right thing. She was very angry with me and my mother even made a point of telling me how upset my sister was with me… I told her what I wish I could have told the pair of them really, that it doesn’t make me a bitch because I won’t do EXACTLY as she wants me to. I told her that my counselling (swear word to my mother – physically makes her wince!) was a very important commitment to me and one that I stuck to whatever else was happening. I told her I only get to miss two sessions a year otherwise I have to pay the entire £40 which I couldn’t afford to do and told her that I had offered all sorts of alternatives such as joining for a drink afterwards etc etc…. the very clear message was “I am not being selfish and I don’t care whether you or she thinks I am”.

I held my own. I owned it. And for that I am proud. [Side note: I put a picture of a quote about boundaries on FB today and my sister quoted sarcastically so clearly it hit a nerve].

Aside from all of that, there is the stuff I’ve written about lately regarding my soon to be stepdaughter and some of the struggles we have both been having. There is a hell of a lot of different things at play with this. There is clearly fear of being left behind, forgotten about or replaced by me from her side of things and from mine there is clearly some jealousy which probably comes from daddy issues of mine. I am very aware of all these different triggers and am speaking to T about them all a lot at the moment, I feel very proud of myself for being able to be objective and be able to self-reflect on the whole situation no matter how difficult it might be.

Its funny really, since the engagement I had worried that the excitement of getting married might overshadow my therapy and stall any progress… now it feels the opposite is true.

Sorry if this blog reads as really up myself, I very rarely big myself up but this does feel monumental and I want to document it to be able to look back on.

boundaries quote 2boundaries quoteselfish

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Random Thoughts: Sense of Self

I hate Mondays. Doesn’t everyone hate Mondays?

They are made even worse at the moment due to the fact that I have no work to do – at work and so my days consist of sitting at a desk trying to keep myself occupied whilst not making it too obvious that I have nothing to do! Clock-watching is painful. The days feel like they will never end.

On the bright side, I feel happy today – contented I guess. Not hyper. I am still quite shocked by yesterday’s revelation and keep replaying the whole conversation over and over in my head to try to set it there in stone. I woke up this morning with a sense of contentedness – a feeling that I usually wake up with on therapy days. As I had only been awake for a second or two I thought that was what it was so that was a shame, but then I realised what that happy feeling was (the revelation) and felt it was a decent trade-off.

The Break So Far

Today is day 4 of not seeing T, although it seems unfair to be counting already because my first session wouldn’t usually take place until tomorrow and as it is Monday, perhaps it should be day 1… but for me, I’m 4 days into a 12 day break. I’m doing alright which is nice, although I have questioned whether I really am doing alright or whether I’m in “self-sufficient repressing all my feelings mode” – that does happen.

But no, I think I am okay actually. How do you really know?

 

Books/Films

I’ve been getting a lot of enjoyment from reading, writing on here, watching film adaptations after reading novels, watching my new fur baby run around and of course seeing Frank sitting on my bed reminding me of T.

This weekend I watched Wuthering Heights, Sense & Sensibility and Emma and I enjoyed them all (although Gwyneth Paltrow was quite irritating in Emma it I have to say). I’ve been reading a book by Nick Hornby and called High Fidelity which is very funny and I only have about 40 pages left so I will finish that tonight and start the next book I’ve brought which is called Hotel Du Lac.

I have this new passion for things like this and I’m not sure where its come from. I read my first classic novel only a year ago, Jane Eyre and I loved it. Since then I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and a book called I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith which isn’t quite so well-known, they have got me a bit addicted I guess. Today I’ve decided to order Shakespeare in Love, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream – all stories that I should know, but don’t. I’m playing catch up which leads me to my next thought…

jane eyre quote

 

Intelligence

T has been really trying lately to make me believe that I am clever. I don’t believe this and I never have and actually if the truth be known, I don’t really like her doing it. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t like to sit there disagreeing with her because it just looks like I am fishing for compliments and she just tells me I am wrong, yet I can’t agree with her because that doesn’t sit well with me.

I told my boyfriend this last night and he said, very diplomatically, that I might not know as much “general knowledge” as you might expect, but that he puts this down to the fact that I didn’t have parents around to teach me. He said that the things I don’t know tend to be things that parents teach their kids rather than things you learn at school. I am not sure I agree with him, although obviously I don’t doubt the benefit people have if they have intelligent parents trying to encourage their child’s learning.

This weekend at my mother’s house, we were playing some games and she said “TT won’t get this you may as well take it”.  Well I did get it.  I wasn’t the first to get it, but I wasn’t the last either and my step-brother didn’t get it at all and he genuinely IS very bright. I felt rather smug. We then went on to do answer some riddles and I managed to answer about 6 in a row correctly and she said “blimey, what’s got into you?” so it doesn’t take a genius to work out where that lack of intelligence or that belief has come from.

T means well, obviously – but I don’t want smoke blown up my arse. I don’t want to be lied to, but I DO want to improve my intelligence and so I think that in a way reading these classic novels, watching these film adaptations – the Bronte’s and the Jane Austen’s and now dipping my toe into some Shakespeare I am trying to improve my knowledge(?).  I can’t say I’m ever going to be very good at maths, history or geography or perhaps the things that are more useful in life, but hey – every little helps, right?

On the build up to the most recent election I did study the manifestos to get a basic understanding of who I wanted to vote for rather than just going with the majority or voting for whoever my boyfriend voted for (I actually went against most people’s preference in the end!). These things weren’t encouraged when I was growing up (mainly because my mother isn’t intelligent either and has no understanding of politics at all) and so I hadn’t even voted until 2015. I did however thoroughly enjoy sitting at my mother’s house a few months back reeling off all my new knowledge where I felt smug and as though I was passively saying to her “Haha, I know things and you don’t!”. I know, I am very mature. I have to get my kicks where I can as far as she is concerned.

My mother is a chameleon and tries to fake interest in everything and anything. Whatever people are currently discussing. For example during the world cup she became a sudden fan of football and she basically copies whatever she’s heard other people say and tries to make out she is knowledgeable on the subject and it is rather cringe worthy.  Anyway, less about her, how did she make it here? Go away mother.

 

Sense of Self

I think what I am doing is trying to find a sense of who I am. The real me and not the person that I thought I was, or the person I was told I was. It is quite exciting really. I feel like the world is suddenly offering lots of things which I could have a go at, get involved in.. try….I’ve not felt that before.  I even tried badminton recently on holiday and assumed I would be terrible at it but I was actually okay! Not great, but not bad either and more importantly I guess, I enjoyed it. I’ve never been one to try things for fear of failure I guess.

I’ve just been sitting on Amazon (not literally) and found a “Listography”. Google it, there are loads of different types and as the name suggests, you make lists about whatever subject it is.  There are listography’s for music, films, books etc. I’ve just ordered one called “My Inner Self In Lists” – what better way to get to know myself and watch the transformation as it happens?

listography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Inner-strength

It’s Monday morning, about 11am as I start to write and I’m at work reflecting on the weekend. I am feeling quite good really. I still have this new feeling of strength. It is quite hard to explain but it’s like I have this new lease of life, a new inner strength and feeling that I will survive and I will grow and that I will not be defeated.  It isn’t a feeling I’ve ever had before but I like it.

I have therapy tomorrow night and I am looking forward to going and sharing this with my T. I nearly emailed her at the weekend to let her know how I was feeling. I thought to myself that she might like to know that I was feeling determined and not in a bad way, then I questioned whether it was really for her, or for myself. Perhaps I just wanted to share my feelings with someone and who better than T? But I didn’t… I talked myself out of it because it felt a bit self-obsessed to think that T would benefit from me telling her before my next session.

I feel like for the first time in my life I really believe that my parents’ shortcomings weren’t about me. Such a simple statement to write, yet such a huge piece of knowledge to feel.

It still feels as though me saying out loud at my last session that neither of them can deal with my feelings somehow slotted together loads of pieces of a puzzle and I finally saw the full picture.

I’ve been reading a book over the weekend called “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” and it is very enlightening. I wish I could read the entire thing in one go because I am kinda obsessed at the moment and keen to understand as much as I can – I always get like this with new feelings/knowledge.

Anyway, over the weekend I saw both parents.

I went to the party (the one I only got invited to on Tuesday evening via my uncle). I obviously saw my dad and his entire side of the family. I was nervous on the way there and felt quite sick about it. I had promised myself that I was going there as a strong, independent woman and not a child that was fighting for her daddy’s love. I wanted to go there with my head held high, I wanted to prove to them as much as myself that I don’t need to be the victim, I don’t need to get drunk and cry, I don’t need to try and get through to him and I did exactly that. It felt as though I had gone with fresh eyes. I saw my dad, watched how he interacted with me, with others.  I noticed quite how awkward he is around me. I really saw and felt the emotional disconnect but for some reason, it didn’t hurt. It is sad for sure, but I just saw the situation for what it is.  For whatever reason he can’t emotionally connect with me.  I watched everyone going into a photo booth for pictures and a few hours into the evening asked my Dad if he fancied having a photo with me, he said yes (I imagine he didn’t feel he could say no but whatevs), we both put on silly props and pulled silly faces for the pictures.  I have kept the print out and it’s a nice memory.  In the past I wouldn’t have asked my Dad to go and have a photo with me, I would have watched him in there with my brothers and felt left out and jealous, but the new me decided if I want something from him, I am going to have to ask because he just isn’t capable of thinking about these things.

Towards the end of the night the subject came up of my future wedding (reason being that my separated aunty and uncle were both at the party and my dad was saying how awkward that must have been). I told my Dad that me and my boyfriend probably wouldn’t have a huge wedding day and had been discussing having a small registry office ceremony with closest family only and then a party in a hall. I told him that way we avoided awkward table plans, meals, speeches etc etc.  I said he could avoid my mum and stand at the other side of the hall if he wanted to! He said that he worried about my wedding day because of my mother. I said my mother was two-faced and would be nice to him on the day so he didn’t need to worry about her.  He said that he did worry because if anyone kicked off, it wouldn’t be him, it would  be her. I told him he didn’t need to worry about that.  He said that he knew she wouldn’t want him there and he worried about what that would mean for me.  I said if he didn’t feel comfortable walking me down the aisle or giving a speech then he didn’t need to. I told him if he didn’t even want to come then he didn’t have to, I wouldn’t force him.  He said that he would walk me down the aisle if I wanted him to (well, durr?) but that he did not want to do a speech. He said he hates speeches.  I felt disappointed but told him that was fine.

Clearly most father’s would want to do a speech at their only daughter’s wedding day, but you know what? What would he say anyway? So it’s a shame but not a surprise. It seemed quite symbolic to me really. I kept my strength and my smile and we all shortly left the party at the same time. I text him after to say that I had enjoyed seeing him and that I loved him.  He said the same thing back. I have thought since that perhaps I shouldn’t have text to say I love him but it’s done now and I’m not trying to be punishing so ….

On the way home I dropped in to my mother’s because she is the only parent I know in the world that is always up drinking with friends at gone midnight on any given weekend. She was there with her husband, a friend and my sister and her boyfriend.  We stayed about 2 hours I think.  It was okay, there wasn’t any drama it feels a bit like groundhog day when I’m there – all the nights there are the same. Alcohol fuelled surface level chat.  I only went there to shut her up.

I felt very on my guard which I often do, but more so because of the things she’s been saying about my boyfriend. I secretly willed her to say something to me so I could defend him/us but I knew she wouldn’t because she wouldn’t dare say anything in front of him. She did her usual fake niceness to him and that made me angry. So fickle and fake. Then we left and went home (we usually stay but didn’t because of everything that’s been said behind our backs).

She seemed angry with me, I just got that vibe from her and since then I put a status on facebook last night about how it was mine and my boyfriend’s 3rd year anniversary and it’s got a lot of “likes” from friends and family – but not from her which has amused me.  It’s a very different tactic from her because as I say, she is usually so fake and puts on the display that everything in her life is hunky dory so I am surprised by this yet I actually prefer it.

I’ve thought since that I wish she would just stop being so passive aggressive and backstabbing and just confront me. How hard would it be for her to say to me that she misses me and that she feels it is down to my boyfriend? At least I would have the chance to tell her she is wrong. Even if understand now that she doesn’t really miss ME, she just misses the enmeshment of having the previously very dependent and emotionally weak me “need” her. I don’t need her anymore and it’s killing her.  I would like to say I feel sad about that but at the moment I don’t. It is her own doing.

I am unsure why I feel so much more anger and aggression towards my mother than I do my father – they are both shit in different ways and both have made me feel very lonely and unlovable growing up… might need to think on that.

My boyfriend seemed very quiet and unhappy yesterday morning. I asked what was up a few times but he said nothing was wrong (it clearly was). I left him a while then went to give him a cuddle and tried to speak to him again but he maintained that nothing was wrong so I told him to stop being passive aggressive then – either tell me what’s wrong or stop being stroppy.  Eventually he opened up and said that he just struggled being at my mother’s the previous night. He said he feels very “trapped” there and obviously it is hard for him to go there knowing she’s been slagging him off.  Equally I guess he wants to go there with me because he wants to protect me and he knows that if I go alone, she will attack me.  I told him I totally understood.  He said it’s just such a horrible place to be. He said the conversations are “f*cked” up and that she is just awful. I agreed.  He said that it was so hard for him because I seemed “to be having a great time!”.  He said that I was laughing and drinking and he couldn’t understand it.  I told him that is only because I was just going through the motions. I knew we wouldn’t be there long so I just nodded along with whatever tripe she was talking.  I said that at the end of the day, she is never going to change – there is nothing I/we can do about it, it is just the way she is and so I guess I just know what to expect. I don’t have any expectations or hopes for her at the moment, I feel so little towards her, even the guilt has melted away and so I guess I just took it on the chin more than I used to.  He said he guessed so. He said he felt as though he had a “emotional hangover” from having to go there. I understood that.  I feel bad for him, it is asking a lot to take him there knowing what she is saying about him.  I did say to him that if he finds it really tough, perhaps he should confront her himself? He didn’t really answer that. I don’t know how to make this better for him really…

So it all went okay. I am glad I got through it feeling the way I do. I hope this feeling lasts. It feels so much better than the previous feeling I’ve had of being downtrodden, depressed and hurt.   I’ve felt like that for long enough now. I never even thought this feeling would be possible, it hadn’t even crossed my mind previously to try something new.

I know that it is sounds aggressive, but I feel like this is my chance to “win” to take some control back. I want to recover and heal and I want to feel my true feelings. The anger, the hate, the pain all of it and then I want to be released from the old feelings. They’ve taken all of that away from me for long enough.   The pair of them are nothing but emotionally crippled fucktards.  Thank god I went into therapy

Ooh ps, read this link: it is very helpful if you have emotionally immature parents like me  –

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/new-harbinger-publications-inc/parents-who-drive-you-cra_b_7511242.html

 

 

Gratitude

[I previously typed a disclaimer here to warn you that this post is full of soppiness and apologising for how irritating it might be.  However, I’ve decided to delete that and enjoy the positivity while it lasts.  I want to embrace this feeling, not apologise for it.]

I am feeling a little emotional today. Emotional in a good way.  I think there must be a better word to explain what I mean, maybe… moved.

Yes, I think moved will do.

I don’t know why, or where this feeling has come from, but yesterday and today I have been hit with these sentimental feeling of being blessed I guess. Not in a religious way but of feeling lucky.

I have found a great T. I trust her. She is kind, supportive, attuned, understanding and everything else you would want from your T.  I have been able to let myself become dependant on her which is a huge deal for someone with my past. It took time (over 2 years in fact) but I have got there.

Understanding the process as I do, I understand that I am being “re-parented” so to speak. I am getting the unconditional regard and attunement that I didn’t get before. I am attaching securely to my T and she won’t let me down. I will take this with me for the rest of my life.

When I have my own baby, I will understand on an innate level, the importance of a secure attachment. Of positive regard. Of attunement. Of affection, mirroring and all the other things that I will learn during this journey with T. My child will grow up feeling loved, seen and heard. It will grow up and know it is a good person. It will take chances, take risks, explore the world – all the while knowing it has parents that will always be there for them. It will feel secure, hopeful, confident and most of all, safe.

I won’t pass this dysfunction down to the next generation. It WILL stop at me. I will work my arse off to ensure it stops with me.

I know that it was me that decided to go into therapy and me that picked up the phone, but I just feel like I’ve been given a second chance. Like all of the pain really will loosen its grip on me, it really will become a part of my story rather than my only narrative. Something I guess I never felt possible.

I don’t feel like I am a bad person today.

I could cry at how much genuine gratitude I feel today on such a deep level.  I don’t know what is going on or where this has come from. I think it will be something I talk to T about tonight.

I’m not usually this soppy, honest!!

 

Gratitude

 

 

Self-Actualization & my journey so far

self-actualization

noun
noun: self-actualisation
  1. the realization or fulfilment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.

What does the end of therapy look like? What will I look like? Feel like?

It is hard at the moment to imagine living a life without therapy in it. Without T in it. I live in a constant state of self-reflection and I am constantly reading and learning new things therapy related. I guess in a weird way, therapy gives me a sense of purpose. A lot of my energy goes into thinking about my therapeutic journey.

I have already learnt so much on my journey. It has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It has been the most scary, painful but life-changing thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. In fact, I’ve turned into one of those annoying preacher types who wants to try to encourage everyone to give it a go – I want to share the joy it can bring in finally being seen and heard. It is hard to put into words the gratitude I have for this journey of mine (see preaching again!).

On this journey you don’t really see how far you have come until you stop and look back. My blog yesterday made me realise how far I have come in terms of my own emotional awareness – the discovery of my feelings and emotions and the ways I try to drown them out or cover them up. Learning to recognise them and not be scared of them. Learning to “Tolerate” them as T would say. But what else? I have been validated and for me I think that is one of the most healing things of all.

I started therapy feeling like life just happened to me. I just seemed to be in this world  as a spectator, watching life happen to everyone else.  Life was tough. It was hard and unsatisfying. I felt kind of deadened. I always had a very clear sense that I was broken or faulty somehow and lots of things seemed to back that feeling up.  My mum didn’t seem to love me, my dad was absent from my life, friends would come and go, boyfriends would betray me – relationships were hard work. There was always a lot of drama and a lot of tears. That feeling of not understanding was painful.

I understood that I was very insecure. I didn’t understand why – it was just another one of my faults, I thought. I wanted so badly to be confident, to be secure and laid back. I wanted so much to be loved and understood. I kept ruining relationships and every time another one ended, I felt more and more shame.

I finally took myself to see T in early 2013. I remember very clearly sitting in her office and telling her about my family. I spoke non-stop (nothing new there) for the majority of the hour and told her in very minimal detail about all the big life events – house moves, step parents, abuse to me, domestic abuse to my mum.  I didn’t have any emotion to the story I told, but I didn’t recognise that then.  I remember coming away and thinking “corr, that was a lot of stuff to have happened actually” but that was it and I got on with my day.  I couldn’t really believe that I was in therapy.  Therapy was for people who were really mentally unwell wasn’t it? (judgmental, I know).

Fast-forward about 5 months and I quit therapy because I got a new boyfriend and I decided that I didn’t need therapy anymore. I told myself that it was just my ex-boyfriend that had made me insecure and the new one promised he wouldn’t make me feel like that. So I quit and I am ashamed to say, that I didn’t do it very nicely. I sent a few texts to tell her I wasn’t coming back and then I hid. I ignored her phone calls and messages trying to encourage me to stay, or to at least see her once more. I didn’t want to go and I think partly that was because I knew I needed to be there and was running away and partly because I was embarrassed at how immature I was in leaving this way.  That was that.

About another 5 or 6 months later, a friend was killed in a case of mistaken identity. It affected me a lot and I was crying for weeks so I emailed to see if T would see me again. I was worried what she would think of me but I went anyway.  Weirdly we didn’t seem to talk that much about my friend.  She didn’t seem as warm as I remembered.  I thought she was probably annoyed with me.  I told her that I didn’t need to start therapy again, I just wanted a couple of sessions to talk about my friend, but she didn’t seem to be happy with that.  She told me that therapy was a commitment and I was either invested in this process for the long-haul, or I wasn’t.  I said that I wasn’t sure and she told me to think about it. We scheduled a session for the day after Boxing Day and she told me to let her know if I wanted to keep that appointment or not.  On Christmas Day or thereabouts, I decided I didn’t need it and so text her to say thank you but that I was okay.  That was that (again!).

In May 2015 I started (another) new relationship with my current partner and things were looking up. He seemed to be more genuine and more committed than previous boyfriends had.   He was slightly older and had children and I felt much safer in this relationship which was lovely. However it wasn’t drama-free (obviously) because he came with an angry ex-wife and children and that never makes for smooth running. Add to that, the fact that I had broken it off with the last boyfriend for this guy (I know, not a classy move and not one that I am proud of).  With all this drama came yet more insecurity that he would leave me to go back to his ex-wife, jealousy of their shared past, jealousy and feeling left out when he saw his children at weekends (before I met them a year later),being kept a secret… it was hard.  One day we went for lunch and I was feeling particularly upset because he had told me that he missed his children. I had taken that to mean that he missed his previous life (not just his children) and he sat me down and told me that he loved me, that he wasn’t going anywhere BUT.. (always a but!) BUT that he couldn’t handle this constant insecurity and doubt that I had.  I decided right then and there that I really did need to go to therapy and stick it out.  I emailed her the next day and made an appointment to see her.  From then, to now, I haven’t ran away again and it has now been 2.5 years of consistent work.

When I went back to her she gave me a pretty stern talking to about how this wasn’t something she could keep doing with me coming and going and that I really needed to knuckle down and do this. I knew she was right. I felt like I had been told off by a teacher and felt embarrassed, but I knew I couldn’t keep running. I wanted to feel better once and for all.  I think I knew it was my last chance with her.

Only a few sessions in she asked me if I knew what narcissism was. I said no. She told me that she thought my mother was extremely narcissistic and that she could even have NPD.  She told me to go home and read about it.  That was another life-changing moments that I will never forget. I went home and typed into Google about narcissism and saw pages and pages of articles written about my mum (or so it seemed). It was rather shocking.  Following this revelation I was ecstatic.  I know that sounds weird, but I felt a huge weight lift off of me. It really was her. It wasn’t me! I wasn’t inherently broken and faulty after all!!

The joy didn’t last long however and I was soon crying constantly for the best part of a week. I then began to experience panic attacks.  One during the middle of the night when I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack. One the following day on the train home from work and another a week or so after that at home.  I had never had a panic attack before so it was a very scary thing to happen. T didn’t seem particularly worried or surprised. I suddenly had so many feelings, thoughts, emotions and I didn’t know what to do with them.  That was the start of a very long (on-going journey) into learning all about narcissism and from there, gradually, very gradually, I have been able to start to talk about things my mother did or said to me growing up with the intellectual understanding that it really wasn’t my fault.  Again the feelings took a very long time to integrate to these stories.

During my time in therapy to date, I have written many letters. I have written a letter to my own inner child. I have written to my father (3 or 4 versions of that have been typed over a few years, and one has now been given to him !).  Many letters to my mother – none of which have been sent, or ever will be sent to her. They are extremely painful to write, but are very healing. Writing really gets me in touch with the feelings.The words seem to just fly out like they’ve been sitting there waiting to escape.

I have my father back in my life now after many years apart.  We don’t see each other very often, but there is contact and we see each other every month or so, which is a huge change.

I have gone LC (low contact) with my mother.  I’ve emotionally distanced myself from her in a huge way and have managed to loosen myself from her tight, deadly grip which has brought with it it’s own challenges. She now feels as though I have betrayed her and I am still struggling with carrying a lot of guilt which doesn’t really belong to me – I am working on that.  I am still scared of putting my own healthy boundaries in as though I will be severely punished.  I need to really believe that I am safe now.

I have yet to deal with my sexual abuse in any real way… it has been brought up a few times over the years in therapy but T seems to think that I use him/it as a bit of a scapegoat for my unclaimed anger towards my mother. We have spoken about how my mother should have protected me more and how and why I didn’t tell her at the time. I went into therapy thinking this was the main cause of my “issues” but it feels as though T disagrees. I do too, now.

I’ve spoken about the domestic abuse I’ve witnessed towards my mother and how that has impacted on me, on my feelings about anger and authority and men.

I have learnt about narcissism, attachment patterns, golden child/scapegoats, object constancy, C-PTSD, “triggers” and regression, the conscious and unconscious mind, repression, denial, projection, relationship triangles, repetition compulsion.  The therapeutic relationship and transference.. about dissociation.  About vulnerability and dependency and much more.

Most importantly, I have finally been able to experience a secure attachment (well, nearly) to my T.  I accept now that I need her to be okay. I miss her when she is gone.  I hang on to her every word. I can allow myself to be pre-occupied with her at times. I use her to steady myself, to mirror me. I need her attunement.  I internalize her words to carry with me when she is not there.  I am learning how to keep that connection alive when she is not – slowly but surely. I am being re-parented by her at nearly 30 years old because it wasn’t done properly when I was a child. I am understanding the losses, grieving them so they lose their hold over me.

I can see the improvement in me even if others can’t.  Although close friends and my boyfriend have told me various ways they have seen improvements.  I am safe in the knowledge that it helps me, that it is continuing to help me every day.

Right now, I never want it to end.  But one day it will and that will only happen when I am 100% ready.  I am curious as to how life will feel when I am “self-actualized” and whole.  I am so excited that one day I might get a chance to be who I could have been if I hadn’t been through all the sh*t I went through.  I won’t have to live just getting by each day. I won’t have to live feeling broken or faulty or ashamed. My past will not define me.

What better payback is there to your abusers than to not just survive, but to thrive on your own ? I am going to become the person they tried to keep me from becoming. The person they very nearly managed to kill off inside of me. I will become my truest, realist, strongest and happiest self. My best self!

Won’t that day be bloody beautiful? 

 

more-than-you-thought-possible

 

** I would just like to thank the lady who wrote this bog today for inspiring me to feel this way today.  Thank you.

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