Sitting with the grief

It feels like ages since I last blogged on here but I’ve just checked and actually it’s only 8 days.  I think it probably feels like longer because this is the first time in ages that I’ve got my laptop (craptop) out rather than just quickly posting something from my phone.  Today I’ve been reminded why that is, because the laptop has taken an absolute AGE to get to the point where I can type on here and even now it is so painfully slow that I’m surprised I’ve got this far.

Anyway.

I don’t have anything pressing to write about and nothing has “happened” with regards to my mother or anything.  In fact that is still the main thing on my mind – how nothing has happened with her for such a long time now.

I had my last session with T on Thursday afternoon until 9 July and that kinda snuck up on me as it often does.  In general I feel fine about the break, I feel emotionally stable and happy enough to “cope” as it were, but I just miss knowing she is there and that I will see her.  Annoyingly at our last session on Thursday I was hyperactive about a house I was viewing that evening and so blabbered on incessantly for the entire hour about moving and potential houses etc which felt good at the time but now feels like a waste.  T has told me before that nothing is ever a waste of a session, regardless of what we talk about because its what I need in the moment.  I do get that, but equally I feel like because I was so distracted about the house and I was feeling all happy and excited and hopeful, I took my time with her for granted a bit and now I feel I could do with seeing her to talk about proper stuff… does that make sense?

I’ve felt pretty good in general recently though. Yesterday I felt down, mainly because of house stuff and the pending panic that in 4 weeks time we have nowhere to live and there’s been absolutely no updates on our currently stalled chain in over 5 weeks now.  No exchange date agreed and obviously no talk of completion.  I’ve written this before but moving is a trigger for me and feeling unsettled is difficult for me nowadays after spending a lifetime feeing that way, and having had security for the last 5 years that I’ve been with my husband.  Anyway, it can’t be helped and T says I am tolerating the uncertainty well – which I am, mainly.

Today however I have opted to stay home whilst my husband runs the kids around for the afternoon and so I am sat now at home on my own and I guess the time and space is allowing some feelings to creep in and I feel like if I was to allow it, I could feel quite upset.  I can feel it trying to come to the surface even just since my husband and the kids drove off and again since I started typing this. On that note, as I waved them all off a while ago and then closed the door to come inside, I cried. I used to do that all the time but I’ve not done that in a very long time.  It sounds ridiculous I know, but every now and again, there’s something very triggering for me about waving them/him off. It shoots a pain across my chest and I cry instantly.  I don’t know why exactly, but I guess it must be something to do with feeling abandoned or something – even though it was  my choice to stay behind.

I am still finding it difficult that my mother has seemingly given up on me.  I guess the feelings about it come and go a bit and on the whole aren’t horrendous – especially compared to some of the grief I’ve felt over the past few years, but I admit it hurts and it is *there* even if a lot of the time I don’t give it much space to be felt.

There are two types of narcissistic mother: the engulfing mother and the ignoring mother.  Confusingly my mother was an ignoring mother until I got to about 17 years old, and then became the engulfing mother.  It is possible that now,  because I am not giving her what she wants and needs, she’s just reverted back to the ignoring mother.  Perhaps she’s dead angry with me and so she is trying to punish me by making me feel rejected and forgotten about knowing somewhere that it triggers my deepest insecurities.  Maybe she’s playing a game.  Maybe she just doesn’t give a fig.  I don’t know. I just do not know and really I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it?  But it does… unfortunately.

I automatically feel myself wanting to write/say to myself that I need to just accept it and move on but I also know that it is actually much better for me to let the feelings come and that they will pass quicker if I don’t try to fight them.  I need to let the wave of sadness and grief wash over me and I have to try to stay with the feelings but it is very painful when I do.  It isn’t the crushing grief I’ve felt before where I feel like I might die, and I’m not falling to my knees on the bathroom floor, but the pain is real and as ever with this thing, it isn’t the sort of thing you can talk to people about because the general population don’t have to grieve their living mother and don’t really understand narcissism.  It’s a lonely type of grief isn’t it?

It is also a really confusing type of grief because (and apologies for repeating myself) but I am the one who needed the separation from my engulfing mother.  It was me that pulled away and me who put in the distance for my own recovery and sanity, for my own protection BUT still, she’s gone from engulfing to nothing and what I wanted was something in the middle – something healthy.  Something “normal” or at least less painful and less damaging.  It seems there really is no choice.  Well, the choice is to be enmeshed with her or to be totally ignored.  I know that being ignored is the less of the two evils because being enmeshed is bad for me in so many ways; so I guess I am grieving the loss of the wish for normal.  Again.

Regardless of her motive, what she’s doing works.  I clearly still have work to do because it is still triggering me feeling so unimportant and feeling rejected and forgotten.  I feel like I don’t exist to her and that is still a very difficult feeling to handle even after all these years and all the work I have done.  Whether intentional or not, it’s clever because the automatic response to feeling these things is to “fix” it and get rid of that feeling by putting myself in her orbit! By basically begging for her love.  Maybe it would mean I would drop any set boundaries and decide that actually, I can go and drink with her at her house and let her abuse me and let her put ideas in my head about how my husband doesn’t love me and let her tell me I’ve let myself go physically or even just start slagging off my father and stepmother. Whatever it would be, that is the automatic place to go to rid myself of these triggered feelings of being unloved and forgotten and unimportant.

I don’t do that and I won’t do that of course.. which is progress but instead I just have to feel these horribly shit feelings and wait for them to pass.  That’s harder than it sounds sometimes.

I find myself wondering why it is that she suddenly decided to be like this (ignoring/non-contacting) because the last time I saw her I came home and cried all day because I wished she had wanted to stay with me for longer (there’s a post on that about mother’s day time (UK).  We even text later that evening about silly things and after a few drinks I had text her that evening asking that we went to a special bar soon for some drinks.  She had said yes and had suggested we did that for my birthday…. but for some reason from then onwards, she just dropped me.  Maybe she unconsciously or consciously got what she needed from me and she knew somewhere inside her that I was starting to come back and that was enough so she dropped me.  Maybe she knew I was starting to come back to her and so she thought that would be a good time to totally reject me in the hope it would make me beg more/try harder?  Maybe she didn’t feel anything at all and I just bored her so much at that lunch that she can’t be arsed to sit through another one? Knowing my mother she will also be thinking that I should be asking to see HER and not the other way around.  I sometimes wonder if I am being narcissist in saying that she hasn’t contacted me and that she hasn’t asked to see me when I am also doing those things… it worries me but then I think well it was me who initiated that mother’s day visit and so it is her turn if you like… though that makes me sound like I’m playing games, and it doesn’t feel like that to me.

I’ve also been off of social media for about 6 weeks or so now and she won’t like that.  That will really piss her off because it means she really has no idea what I am doing unless she asks and because she hates/has no interest in my life with my husband, my stepkids, my in-laws or my father & co, she won’t ask and so I’ve exhausted her free source of info.  It also takes away her stage for showing her disinterest/disapproval by purposely not “liking” my photos.  Hell, perhaps she even knows how much she was getting to me by ignoring my stuff and now she’s pissed I’ve effectively put up another boundary and stopped her getting to me that way too. Or maybe I am overthinking all of it.

But that’s the thing isn’t it, it makes you overthink it all. It makes you try to rationalise it. It makes you question their motives and their thoughts and feelings and it makes you spend countless minutes and hours or days even, playing all of these things through your mind until you end up stressed and upset and just feeling exhausted or overwhelmed or rejected…. like I do now!

My husband quite rightly tells me that I should try to take some freedom from the fact that I was just as exhausted and affected by her when she was constantly asking to see me or texting me and how I used to be anxious and panicky about what to say to her to say no and how I would upset her and then have to deal with all the guilt that followed it all. He said that at least she had stopped that and at least I had some relative peace.  He’s obviously absolutely right, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop the sadness that it basically shines a light on how little she actually loves me – because she has just gone.

I guess I find it hard to fathom how a mother would just stop bothering to see or contact her daughter.  Perhaps if she were to write out her feelings she would say she finds it hard to fathom how her daughter could stop bothering to see or contact her own mother(!) it feels like we are having some silent battle and that we both feel rejected and hurt and are both being defensive because of it.  It just all feels like such a bloody shame and such a waste! One day she will die (or maybe I will) and the other of us is going to be left having to work through such complicated grief.  Perhaps that person will wish they had more time and would decide to do things completely differently.  I dread that happening but I also know it really isn’t that simple. I can’t tolerate her engulfment, toxicity, negativity, bullying etc just because one day she might die but it seems that when people around us die, they turn into saints and all the bad is instantly forgotten and forgiven and then we are left with heaps of guilt.  I don’t want that either.

I guess this goes without saying really, but she lives ten minutes down the road. I wish we had a relationship where we spoke regularly and we popped over to see each other or we went shopping now and again or we met for dinner or lunch sometimes with our husbands. I wish we could talk about our feelings and I wish I could lean on her and talk to her about all the big things in my life – particularly about my struggle to conceive and about thoughts of adoption or house-buying. I wish I could have a mum to cuddle when I felt sad or who would celebrate my good news/achievements with.

But I don’t and today, that is very sad.

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Invalidation Hurts

I’ve thought a lot this weekend about invalidation and what it means to me.  Before going to therapy I hadn’t even heard the words “invalidation” or “validated”.  After a while I understood the meanings but to be totally honest, put them down to being airy-fairy therapy words and definitely not words that I would use myself.  Fast-forward 3 years or so and invalidation is a word that seems to be coming out of my mouth A LOT.

When I ended up having THAT row with my mother in October, what I wanted and needed from her was to be validated.  I was screaming (literally) for her to finally see and hear that I was hurt. That I had a lot of hurt and pain inside of me that I was desperate for her to see, acknowledge, apologise for causing and help me to heal from.  What I got instead was total invalidation.  She went on the attack and listed off my faults, invalidated me by making me feel overly sensitive and pathetic for having these feelings and then insulted me by saying I was crazy and needed sectioning as I was brainwashed (I guess this was gaslighting as it made me question my sanity).

A few days after THAT row, she text me to say how upset she was.  She sent a few long messages, all of which were totally invalidating.  One actually said “You say you had a bad childhood?” the tone of which instantly suggests it’s an opinion rather than a fact, and then a question mark like she’s questioning I could even SAY that!  She continued “but we always had a nice house and you didn’t go without much considering I was a single parent with no help from your dad“.  I should be grateful, after all I had a nice house (which is actually laughable as I moved at least 22 times before I was 16, doesn’t mention that I lived with 2 physically violent men AND a paedophile but hey, moving on…) she then goes on to blame my dad for not supporting her and the end result is that I should feel LUCKY rather than hurt.  As for the “didn’t go without much” well, that is questionable.  Personally I feel like I went without all of the most important things a child needs like love, protection and safety.

Next came the “Lets agree to disagree” text.  Because agreeing to disagree that I grew up feeling unloved, unlovable, faulty, wrong, broken, not good enough, ashamed etc are things you can just “agree to disagree” on aren’t they?  ABSURD.

Another few months later she sent an angry text and in it she listed all of the ways she “was always there for” me “unlike some” (this is another dig at my father). She went on to say that it couldn’t have been that bad as I didn’t move out when I was 16 and never go back. She then said in fact, I went home a few times and that they always let me return and helped me with most of the things I needed.  By that she will mean money, physically helping me move house and buying me things like an iron etc.

Then came her “goodbye” text which said she was no longer waiting to hear from me and would deal with that in her own way.  She told me to be happy and that she hoped I didn’t regret my decisions as time was precious.  She also made sure to get in a few shitty comments about how I could “believe what I like“.  This one very nearly worked, I did begin to seriously question if any of my pain and hurt was worth losing my own mother over.  Perhaps I really should be over it by now?

And most recently, a few days ago, she says she wishes she could “wrap her arms around me and hug away the pain and hurt” and that she will always be there for me, if and when I need her.

Every message stinks of invalidation.  The last one is clever though as on the surface, there’s some validation in it, right? She’s FINALLY, FINALLY seen that I even have hurt and pain?? I still find myself hopeful about that to an extent, but where is the acknowledgment of what that pain and hurt is about? Nowhere. So what is she actually acknowledging? That I have hurt and pain from somewhere/someone else? Or that I am mentally struggling at the moment? I don’t know but it’s not right I know that.

Then flying monkey who arrived Wednesday night – well, quite frankly that twat just invalidated my entire life.  He invalidated my experience of my childhood, my mother and my current adult feelings about it all. He told me to move on, draw a line under it, told me that I was an adult now (so I assume should grow up?).  It was horribly invalidating. He also told me that as he experienced a terrible childhood himself, he knew how I felt about certain aspects but that I should still “draw a line under it“.

My sister told me that my mother was very upset and crying all the time – so clearly her feelings were more important than mine. When I told her my boundaries for any future relationship between us, her response was that she didn’t understand the need for “rules” and got visibly annoyed and upset.  She said it was weird.  So now my boundaries were being ignored too.  Not to mention I told her NOT to bring her dad with her, yet she still did. How rude is that? Still gets my back up.

So there is the background to my recent experiences of being invalidated.  What I am struggling with at the moment is what I experience when this happens. I see red.  Like, a red mist. I become so very overcome with anger that I genuinely worry I won’t be able to control myself and this is SO unlike me. I have never been a particularly angry person, I would not describe myself as angry or aggressive and I am certainly not violent, ever.  But in these moments, I could totally lose my head.

I keep reading on forums, blogs and articles that the best thing to do is to not react. Particularly, not to react emotionally.  Keep calm, don’t “JADE” (Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain) yourself and to basically validate yourself so that it doesn’t get to you.

But I don’t seem to be able to do this yet.

Why has this become such a huge trigger for me? I mean, I guess looking back I’ve spent my entire life being invalidated so why now is that so completely unmanageable?

The other HUGE trigger for me at the moment is the comments on my therapy.  Flying Monkey Wednesday night compared my therapy to “a cancer eating away at you“.  My mother said I was “brainwashed with my therapist” my sister said “it’s gone to your head” and when on Wednesday, at the ambush, I implemented my boundary and said I would not discuss MY private counselling any more and neither would I allow it to be discussed or insulted again, I was met with such shock and confusion such as the wonderful “You are so angry, I’ve never seen you with so much anger and you are so defensive!”.

Who wouldn’t be????

So the two toughest things right now are the complete invalidation of my feelings but also the invalidation that 1) therapy is helping me and 2) that therapy is PRIVATE and not something I wish to hear their (negative) opinion on! oh and that it isn’t making me crazy.

I seriously need to try to find a way to handle this more effectively otherwise I’ll be in prison for murder.  One of the most annoying things about the reaction that it gives me is that I probably play right into their hands – “proving” that I am crazy and fiercely angry and aggressive.  UGH.

Invalidation for me means:

My feelings are wrong, bad, pathetic etc – causing me to feel ashamed
That I am “wrong” for “still” having these feelings – causing me to feel ashamed
Making me question my own sanity – am I crazy?
Feeling isolated – nobody else feels this way
Losing family – Mother, stepdad, sister, her dad, aunty.. who is next?

The only thing I am glad of is that all of this invalidating is making me angry and not doubt myself.  I guess that is a good thing? Hopefully this will be a work in progress and eventually their invalidation won’t matter to be at all.

Hopefully my own validation will be enough.

INVALIDATION