I felt unwell yesterday morning, coldy, headachey and sick. I left work at midday as usual to travel to T’s and noticed when I was sitting outside in the car that I felt better than I had all day. I am quite interested in somatic symptoms these days and I do believe that we can experience physical symptoms from emotional feelings. The fact that I now felt better made me question whether it was due to being back “with” T.
I went into T’s and told her the above. She seemed to agree with me. She asked me where I tend to feel my feelings on my body and I said my stomach. I told T that I used to really suffer when I was younger with IBS and that I had a camera in my intestines to see but that the doctors didn’t find anything wrong. I told her that now I can understand it was probably stress and fear and everything else – but that I didn’t realise that then. I said every now and again I might get a flare up but it is the exception rather than the norm these days.
T asked how I was feeling compared to how I was on Tuesday. She said how painful the work is for me right now and I agreed. I told her that I had been thinking that basically it’s obvious that the reason I struggle so much is because of the message I received as a child. That although I “knew” this is one way, it feels like a shock today. I said it was hard to explain.
T said that she understood what I meant and said I am going back over things in a feeling way now and it feels like it’s new information, it feels like a shock because it’s really being understood on an emotional level. I agreed.
I told T that I wrote on here the other day that it didn’t seem possible that anyone could really understand this feeling because on paper it seems pretty minimal, trivial even but that for me, the reality is that it is huge. T said that by that I probably meant I was worried that SHE didn’t understand and that she wanted to reassure me that she absolutely did.
She said it had stayed with her that I had said if she told me I couldn’t email any longer, that I would really struggle to come and that she thinks it is humiliation that would make me feel like that. She said she felt humiliation was certainly something I struggled with. I said that I was glad she had brought that up because when I had left the other night, I thought to myself that what I said may have come across in a threatening/blackmail way like “if you stop me emailing, I won’t come anymore” and that I certainly didn’t mean it like that. She said she didn’t think that at all and that she knew exactly what I meant. She said it just made her realise quite how awful that would be for me and how much damage it would do. I was relieved that she understood what I meant.
I said that it was hard to argue with the facts. In that place last weekend, it felt so awful. I said it felt completely consuming and just so devastating. I said contacting her felt so desperate and I was so full of absolute fear. T said that it was extremely primitive and was the baby experiencing the literal life or death feelings of needing to connect. I got a bit teary and said I understood that now. I asked T if I was feeling now what I used to feel then, or if I was feeling it now because I didn’t feel it then? T said that I would have split the feelings off back then in order to survive. That I would have fragmented it away.
I said to her life or death genuinely was how it felt but that nothing I say seems to be “big enough” to explain it. It was completely overwhelming. I said that she says my emotions hit me like tidal waves and that is how it felt. It was so scary. T said she really did understand and how painful it was. How scary. She said her favourite line “this IS the work” and that I was “deep in the work now”.
T said that a child when upset needed to hop onto mum’s lap, talk, listen, cuddle, be assured, be looked at lovingly etc and that the child could then go off and play on its own and carry that love with them for quite a while. She said that the child that didn’t get to do those things, that need for that affection and understanding etc would build up and up. She said that the reason my mother called me needy was because she was completely unable to deal with any needs that I had because she was too wrapped up in herself but also that she made me needier because if she had given me those things, sat me on her lap, looked at me with love and kindness, I wouldn’t have been “so needy”. As T said the words about being looked in the eye with love, I started to cry. T said “that’s really touched on something hasn’t it” and I said yes. It hurt.
I said I just find it all so shocking and I can’t imagine how she didn’t give me such basic things as a child. I said how can you not give a child those things? Those simple, natural things? I said that I just couldn’t imagine not doing that with my youngest stepson, his little face, if he was upset or something it’s just automatic to want to pull him close to you, cuddle him, chat to him, make him laugh, cheer him up – and he isn’t even my child! T agreed.
I said to think I ever felt any guilt towards my mother seemed amazing right now. T asked where my guilt was today and I said it was miles away right now… I said I feel so far away from guilty.
I told T that when I received her email last week I “scanned” it for any signs of frustration or annoyance. T nodded and seemed like she probably already knew I might do that. I told her that I did that a lot, with everything and everyone. She said that I may “scan” her one day and notice a shift in her and think it’s about me which may throw me into a panic. She said I may well pick up correctly on a mood in her but incorrectly assume it is about me when it might not be. I said I thought that was likely and said that I did that a lot at the beginning of relationships. Constantly checking to see if they still like me, if they have “gone off” of me, if they are as committed and dedicated as me, if they are as happy as me…. she nodded.
I told T what I wrote here the other day about how it felt like she took longer than normal to open the door on Tuesday evening and that in those few seconds, so many things went through my head such as if I had the wrong day, if she was on holiday, if she had cancelled… I said I know it sounded ridiculous for such a quick period of time. T said she knows what happened: she had forgotten to put her phone on silent when I knocked. I thought “Ah” So I was right, she DID take longer!!”… I am pretty sure 99% of people wouldn’t have even noticed it was so quick.
T said that we will deal with whatever comes up and we will work it through. She said she thought that my bad feeling towards her may well be sparked by an email. I may read something differently to how she meant it or something like that. She said that it’s very likely to be emails for me but that she still will not take them away from me (phew!!). T said that the psyche is very clever at taking us where we need to go and so no matter what happens, it will happen in order that we “do that work” and it will be beneficial in the long-run. I understood this.
I told T that I had written how amazing I find it that her greeting to me is always the same. Her voice, her eye-contact, her smile etc. I said it was a “real skill”. T said “skill” back to me as though it was a question, I wasn’t sure why really but I think she thought along the lines that it was natural and not something she had to try to do.. I’m not sure I quite believe that though… I’m not sure.
T asked how it felt that she was always the same and I told her that it was nice. Comforting and reassuring. She smiled.
I told T that I remember once turning up and she had written down the wrong day for my appointment (right back at the very beginning) and she hadn’t answered the door. She remembered the time I meant. I said that it hadn’t bothered me at all back then, although she seemed insistent that it did deep down, it really hadn’t but that at the same time, the fact I still remember it nearly 3 years on says something. T asked what would happen if that happened now and I said I would freak out ha.
Somehow we got onto the subject of clothing. T asked me if I worried about what I wore when I was coming to see her. I said no and told her that I had actually written about that the other day on here. I said that I had realised however that I had brought a new outfit every time I had seen my dad in the last year or two and that I couldn’t believe it. T said she understood that.. how important it was for me to get his approval. I said it was sad really. I told T that I was very aware of what to wear when I saw my mother too but that she would say something about what I was wearing regardless of whether it was nice or not – there would be some criticism. I said I was worried I would bump into her after the session as I was going to the hairdressers and that if she saw what I was wearing she would call me a tramp. T seemed horrified and said, “ would she actually call you that?” and I said yes, 100%. T said that was disgusting.
I told T that I don’t worry at all anymore about what I wear to see her and that in fact, I don’t worry about my hair either. I said it was nice because I don’t even feel like that with my mum or my dad and so it’s a relief. T said that was good and that I should be able to just bring myself (or my self!).
I said that even at work people comment on your clothes and hair and that only yesterday someone at work said to me “aw you look so cute in those trousers” and that I absolutely HATE being called cute. T said it probably has something to do with always having to look like a little doll, like a perfect child who didn’t have any needs or feelings or have any anger or make any mess – I said yes, I think so too. I said that sometimes my boyfriend will say “I know you hate this, but you look so cute” and I said to her (in a jokey way) “I am not cute. I am an angry woman!!” and we both laughed and she nodded and said, yes you are!
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, particularly since my session Tuesday night and since my last blog, the comments that you lovely lot have been leaving me and today’s thoughts are:
Question: If I had a different childhood and therefore a different attachment (perhaps secure rather than insecure/disorganised) would this be different? Do “normal” children/adults not experience this fear?
I think I know that the answer to that is that no, they don’t… that this fear of mine is uncommon (although clearly not unheard of according to things you guys have said in support) but I think I am just trying to get my head around this properly.
Not to sound like a child “blaming” someone but… so it’s her fault that I feel this way? It’s because she didn’t consistently meet my needs that I learnt to be scared of needing someone to rely on? Is that really right? If so, I feel so sick and angry about that today. How bloody unfair. How cruel. How can you punish a child and scare them for having needs?
For me to feel scared of relying on someone – particularly someone like T who is clearly there to help me, I have clearly learnt that depending on someone and being vulnerable is potentially risky. Risky how? A risk of rejection or risk of abandonment or punishment I guess… and how would I have learnt that lesson? I assume by being abandoned physically and/or emotionally or by being made to feel rejected or ashamed. I guess my mother’s whole “you are so needy” is an example of that……………….. sorry if this is blatantly obvious to you guys, clearly it is taking me some time to understand this on a deep level.
Next question: this desperation of contacting T, of needing her there, of needing her to help me hold my stuff – is this how a child feels towards her parent when she is young or something? Or is this just something that I am personally experiencing with T right now?
I ask that because I am aware of the “re-parenting” that is done in this type of therapy and that T has said to me so many times before that I “need to do with her what I wasn’t able to do as a child”…. Is that what she means?? I wonder if that is why it feels so primal/infantile? Regression that kind of thing?
I am seeking answers today and I’ve woken up feeling unwell. Sick, blocked nose and headache-y. I don’t know if I am feeling sick because of this stuff – if it’s emotional or whether I am just genuinely getting unwell and that’s making me feel shit. Either way… I need to understand this stuff a little more.
So, as you might have noticed, I wasn’t in the best of moods yesterday. I was very down and very miserable, that lasted all day long. I took myself off to see T as usual and was feeling a bit anxious about going in. As it turned 7.30pm exactly I got out of the car and knocked on her door. It felt as though it took her longer than normal to open the door, I had a very quick panic that perhaps she wasn’t there – I had the wrong day – she was on holiday… totally irrational for what could have only been about 3 seconds.
T opened the door with her usual smile and “Hello Twink” – she never ever seems any different. I thought to myself then and again today, how hard that must be. How she can keep the same eye contact and smile, the same tone of voice day after day, week after week… that must be hard. I sure as hell do not keep the same voice, smile etc at work every day that’s for sure!
I walked in.. sat down and T asked “how does it feel coming tonight?” I said.. “usual” and kinda looked at her awkwardly and said “I feel nervous/awkward”. T seemed disappointed/sad that I felt this way. We started to discuss this but within literally seconds of me trying to explain how I felt, the lump in my throat appeared and I began crying. I am still shocked at how quickly the tears seem to come sometimes. I had barely been in the room a minute! I got a bit embarrassed and T said not to feel embarrassed, that it was good I could bring it to her and said it must have been really tough “holding it all weekend”. I said to her I hadn’t done very well “holding” it at all because I had cried a lot over the weekend. She said exactly, you’ve held it on your own – without me. You needed to bring it here. I agreed.
I got upset telling T how I felt which is basically what I said yesterday. I get hit by this tidal wave of feeling/emotion – depression or grief or whatever it might be… I then feel as though I absolutely NEED to email T, like it isn’t a want but a real need and then I send an email to her and at some point afterwards, I am hit by the shame of being so needy and then the fear and panic that I will be punished or pushed away or told off by T. I was very upset telling her this.
T said (for probably the millionth time) that she would not be punitive, that she would not punish me. I said I knew that logically but that what worried me was that she thought that I didn’t know what was “too much” and then would feel she had to (reasonably) tell me and that I didn’t think I would handle the rejection well – the boundary. T said she did not think that at all.
I told T I worried she would say I could only email say, once and no more – that she needed to tell me what was okay and what was too much. That she would say X is okay, but Y is not. T said she absolutely wasn’t going to do that, she wasn’t going to put a limit on me like that. That felt so reassuring although I still think she might regret saying that lol…
She said it was like I had created rules in my head what was okay and what wasn’t – she said I really didn’t know were the boundaries were did I… I agreed. I said that last week I had seen her twice as usual but I had then emailed her TWICE before the dream thing and that the dream thing felt stupid because at the end of the day, it was only a dream!!!
T said that it wasn’t “only a dream” and said that the dream had clearly stirred up some very deep and painful feelings in me. I agreed. We then spoke through the dreams and T asked me what I thought they were about. I said I thought it was obvious and she said she wanted to hear my words/my view of them. I said that the shower one I felt was about the fact that when I was young and my mother was (rarely if ever) single, she would be much nicer to me but that then as soon as she got a new bloke, I was dumped again and in the way. I said that I guess the fear was that if there was a man around T, that I would lose her in the same way (despite how unrealistic that really is). T agreed. She said she felt both dreams were of a very similar nature but the second was much worse.
We spoke about the relevance of my stomach being split open – of my guts all falling out. T said how scary that must have been and that she felt the fact I was in so much pain and the guy on the phone wasn’t taking me seriously, wasn’t helping me was very symbolic of the pain I was in during my childhood and how nobody “saw” it and nobody helped me or took me seriously. I agreed completely.
We spoke about her “daughters” and her “son” the photos etc. T said, “you say you felt insanely jealous” that is a very painful feeling. I said yes. I said that the way she looked at her son with such fondness upset me so deeply because I knew nobody looked at me in that way and that hurt my chest.
T said how it all comes back to not feeling “held in mind” and that when other people are around I think I disappear. Me and T have been having this conversation for some years now so this isn’t new. I agreed. She said that I think when others are around, partners, kids (referring to the dreams), that rather than the love being replenished, it is taken away. I agreed. We said how this is due to the fact that is how it was for me as a child, I really was forgotten when my mother’s latest love interest came along – or her new best friends who were often only a year or two older than me. I hate her for that.
I told T that I was really struggling at the moment and that I felt so up and down. One day I was happy and the next I was furious or depressed. I said it was tough and it made me worry about how my boyfriend felt. I said it made me feel as though I was less stable than I used to be which can’t be true… T said it may well be true but only for now. She said you have years and years of held in feelings and now they finally have a way out it is hard work. She said to try and hold on to the fact that in the end, I will be so much more stable on a permanent basis. I agreed.
I told T that I don’t understand this absolute dire need to reach out to her when I feel like that – I told her again that it really didn’t feel like I just might like to, it was like I absolutely HAD to – like I couldn’t cope on my own. T said that was okay, that is what I needed right now and that was fine. I told her I worried she might feel like I treated her like a dumping ground for my bad stuff. T said she did not feel like that at all. She said that it won’t always be like this, that you have to be flexible depending on what the client needs and what the client is going through. She said that she does have her own boundaries and will only read/reply to emails when she can and that is HER boundary. She said she won’t “bleed all over the client” because of her own stuff. I said I worried that she saw my name ping in her inbox again and again and would roll her eyes and think “god, her again!”. T said that right now, during those moments, I was regressed to a child state and I did NEED T and that was okay. T said I was really scared of being vulnerable and I agreed yes I was. Very.
I wonder to myself today whether T or anyone really can truly understand the depth of that feeling – I don’t think they can because it is so hard to explain. I told T that it was weird I was suddenly so aware of this because it’s got harder/worse than it ever has been before, I didn’t even used to know I felt scared (even if she did). T said I was “right in the depths of the work now”. She told me to just say to my boyfriend to hang on in there with me for now because it was a hard time. I did say that to him when I got home and he said he knew already. I said “why, because I’ve been a miserable cow?” and he said “no, not miserable but…. up and down”. I agreed. He said he felt I was picking fights with him when I needed to cry. I disagreed with that but said perhaps I was being easily triggered by things.
I also told T that I had noticed the last week or so that when I returned home from anywhere, being home was making me miserable. T said “when you are alone?” and I said, whenever – alone or with others. I told her that Friday night I actually excused myself off to bed early because I felt so miserable and low that I just didn’t have the energy to be around everyone and try and act happier than I felt. I told T my grandmother had shown me photos of me as a child that day and that I wondered if that had brought on a lot of feelings. Seeing “little me” in front of me like that.. kinda makes it hard to deny what she (I) went through. I also told T that when I was younger, coming home from my nan’s was always horrible and I would be in tears very quickly. I said perhaps that is part of the reason I felt the same when I came home Friday from my nan’s. T said it almost definitely would be.
T asked me how I thought I would feel when I left and I said I thought I would feel relieved because she hadn’t told me off for emailing or asked me to stop. I told her that I knew it sounded very extreme but I truly felt if she told me I couldn’t email her anymore, that I wouldn’t want to continue therapy, that is how scary it felt. I also told T that I felt very fat, ugly, spotty and just generally wrank. I said I hadn’t even done my hair for work today and I always did my hair.
I left feeling much lighter (as always) and I woke up today feeling happy. I spent some time when I got home last night preparing a healthy salad and fruit salad for work today, I got up and did my hair and I walked to the station instead of driving or getting the bus. I also went out for a walk at lunch time to get my steps up.
Isn’t amazing what a difference seeing your T can make on not only your mood, but your clothes, your hair, your exercise.. everything. Is that just me? I was thinking this earlier and it triggered off a weird thought – every time I see my Dad (not often), I have brought a new outfit to wear………… that says a lot doesn’t it? Yet I will go to T’s in an old baggy top with my hair tied on the top of my head with black eyes from crying….. I really must be starting to feel more comfortable showing T who I “really am”. Clearly more so than my own parents. That is amazing isn’t’ it?
I feel weird today. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I feel down… sad… miserable.. something. I am writing this in the hope that I might figure it out.
Yesterday me and my boyfriend had a day off work together and went to the beach. The weather was beautiful and we had a lovely time. We had a long walk, took our shoes and socks off and walked in the sand.. threw stones into the sea, generally just relaxed and spent some quality time together. It was lovely.
Then we got home and my boyfriend was moaning about the amount of food we had to throw away as it had gone bad/out of date… this annoyed me. He kept on and on and I told him he sounded like my mother. Later on, he suggested we went out to eat dinner and I told him no, we couldn’t afford it. He asked why and I said you’ve just been moaning we have thrown away £30 worth of food and now you want to go and eat out? He said he wasn’t moaning, just saying. That conversation ended and he fell asleep on the sofa.
I went upstairs and watched something on my phone, and he came upstairs to see where I was when he woke up. He immediately said something about going out for dinner and I said the same thing – you’ve moaned at me over the food in the fridge! How can you now go on about going out to spend money on food?! Somehow this escalated and within seconds he had stormed off downstairs.
With that, I burst into tears and locked myself in the toilet (as I always do when crying – no idea why).
I was crying because I HATE arguing with him. I HATE him storming off and walking away from me (particularly when it’s leaving me upstairs) and I was crying because it felt the day had been ruined. I cried a lot, probably way more than is proportionate to the argument. I went downstairs after I composed myself and it got brought up again… I ended up crying badly again and my boyfriend came and sat next to me and cuddled me. He didn’t say anything though… he didn’t seem to think it was about him. He didn’t apologise.
When I eventually stopped crying, cue bright red, blotchy face… he said something like “is that better now?” and I told him that he had upset me, he said he didn’t think he had… anyway less of the he said/she said the point is, I don’t really know what I was crying about but I think it was probably some sort of trigger/emotional flashback. I’m not entirely sure.
I woke up today feeling pretty low again which I really hate. My mood is SO inconsistent at the moment and its draining. It worries me. I also worry what my boyfriend must be thinking and feeling because I used to be so happy and so steady (well that can’t be true, but it seems it looking back). It made me mad for a moment when I thought this that therapy is shit and is causing this.
I see T tonight and I am nervous. I am nervous because I feel I have been too much. I feel I’ve contacted her too much, lent on her too much… I feel like I am being too vulnerable, too needy, too weak.. and it is scaring me.
Writing that last sentence has made my eyes water. I am scared. I think I am scared she is going to tell me off…. “tell me off” sounds young doesn’t it. I think I am shit scared she is going to lay down some boundaries about contact or something and I will feel so rejected that I won’t be able to handle it… the other half of me doesn’t think she will because she’s always been pretty good – very good in fact.
I had another dream about her last night. In my notes I wrote “I told her I felt stupid for emailing so much – she didn’t say much but she looked as though she was agreeing”.
I know tonight we will read and discuss the dreams. The shower dream (cringe) and the other one which is actually equally cringe… I know she will ask me awkward questions about why I think I am dreaming of her children and why I felt jealous in the dreams…. the whole thing makes me feel pretty sick.
On top of the dream shit, I just feel really pissed off. I am not entirely sure what I am pissed off with but if I were to write totally uncensored I would say..
I am pissed off that I am becoming so in touch with the hurt and the pain and that it is as painful as it is. That it makes me feel I could drown. I could die. I am pissed off that I suddenly turn into a completely incapable child who can’t “hold” her own feelings/pain and I turn so needy and HAVE to contact T. Like it isn’t a choice, like it is life or death when it clearly isn’t and that makes me feel fucking stupid. WHY CAN’T I JUST NOT EMAIL HER??????????????????? IT ISN’T BLOODY HARD.
I feel pissed off that I keep dreaming about T and that I will have to figure out why, what the dreams are about and that I will have to feel so stupid and awkward having those conversations…. it all makes me feel so …. just fucking stupid really. I hate that I wake up miserable when I have.
I am pissed off that my moods are fluctuating so often right now, that I keep crying so hard and never really understanding what I am crying about. I am pissed off that I have any of these feelings and I am pissed off that I ever started therapy because it is shit.
I am feeling very sorry for myself right now I know… I feel so down. I am trying not to cry as I write this because I am at work. Why does everything feel so hard right now?
Me and my boyfriend were staying in a hotel by the sea. The view was beautiful. My boyfriend was in the shower and I was getting dressed by the mirror. I took my clothes off and looked in he mirror and my bum was weird, it was very big and “high”. I looked deformed. I then saw that my stomach had a huge slit across it and my insides were all spilling out, intestines etc. I freaked out, panicked, my legs went weak and I felt very sick. I grabbed the telephone and called 999 but the guy on the other end was very slow and casual and said there would be a half an hour wait. I started to scream and cry and shout and he started laughing hysterically, that got me even madder. I thought I was going to die.
The next part of the dream I was at my T’s house (it wasn’t her actual house though). She also had a wonderful view of the beaches and the sea. The sun was out, we were sitting on a large balcony area at a table talking causally. T was very calm and peaceful and I felt at ease too. Then one at a time, two girls roughly my age came out, in the dream they were her daughters. She introduced me to them calling me my full name (only my mother used to call me my full name as a kid). I smiled at them and said hello. They were both absolutely beautiful.
The girls left and T said to me “try to remember a time when you were young, perhaps playing with one of your bothers when you were completely care-free, totally relaxed, happy, excited”. I couldn’t and that made me very upset.
Next we were sitting in T’s kitchen at her breakfast bar and her son walked in. He sat with us and was very funny, he had me and T laughing so much we had tears running down our faces. I paused for a moment and watched T watching her son, laughing and smiling, I felt incredibly sad that she loved her children so much and that I didn’t have that.
Next thing, me and T were standing at her front door saying goodbye to loads of guests, the walls by the front door and stairs were covered top to bottom in photos of her family, I was looking at the photos scanning who was in them, where they were, what they were doing. I was insanely jealous and sad but I didn’t let that show.
T told me that she has a boat and that her family often go sailing. I realised that was probably where she went when on her breaks. I had never imagined T sailing boats.
Lastly, myself and my boyfriend were at my mother’s house. My mother made a sarcastic comment along the lines of “well, what DO you want to talk about?” she was implying that my boyfriend wouldn’t let her invade his boundaries and was implying that made him difficult and boring. I snapped and shouted at her to fuck off. Her husband stood up and started to shout at me but I just left. I remember thinking to myself that it was a relief to have a reason to shout at her and to be able to walk away from her for a while.
What a lot to a dream!! I woke up with a pounding headache. I think if I hadn’t of made myself get up, I would still be asleep. I wrote the dream out quickly so that I didn’t forget it and tried to analyse it a bit. I went to the toilet still in a bit of a haze. I felt that familiar sense of “head cloud” that I sometimes get. I knew I felt low, sad again. All of a sudden I burst into tears, I cried very hard for a few minutes. I cried like a baby might, wailing noises escaped my mouth which isn’t something I normally do. It hurt a lot.
I then had a shower and tidied the house. I am writing this in the hope it eases my head a little. So much going on in there. This dream and the shower dream have so much in them I think.
I had a dream on Wednesday night that I was taking a shower at T’s house.
I don’t know how I know it was her house but I just do if that makes sense, dreams are funny things!
In the dream, I was happily showering away, I think she was walking in and out of the bathroom but she couldn’t see me, I was happy and she had left me a clean towel. A window or door was open so there was a refreshing breeze and I was feeling good.
Then I thought I saw a bottle of men’s shower gel and I paused for a second feeling gutted… I reached down to check and it wasn’t a man’s on, phew! Thank god! I was relieved. No man after all.
Isn’t that weird? Why would I care that my T had a man?
I can only think that during my childhood my mother was completely wrapped up in her men and not me or my sister so I want to imagine T as single so that I don’t lose her attention/affection. I don’t know….
Dream aside; yesterday T’s daughter arrived in her car whilst I was waiting to go in. I finally got a proper look at her. She is tall and skinny, she wore nice clothes, she has a tiny dog with her. She went to T’s front door and T opened it – I looked away…. so weird!!
Following on from my “Rainbow” post last night, I woke up feeling lifted today. Thinking about T and how grateful I feel to have her alongside this journey. I had to email her and tell her despite the fact that I will see her tomorrow – it felt like it couldn’t wait (plus also I am hiding behind the email hah!!).
For the purpose of full and frank disclosure as always, here is what I said:
I sent you an email this morning on my way into work but then my phone crashed due to having no memory and it doesn’t appear to have sent so I am sending it again just in case.
When I left you last night, I felt better. Lighter I guess. I played a song called “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes which I wanted to share with you – it really spoke to me. On the drive home I saw the most beautiful pink and orange sunset and then a rainbow!! It made me feel strangely emotional and grateful. It felt very symbolic.
Today I feel like I wanted to tell you that I feel really seen, heard and held by you. Something that I have never felt before and how lovely that feeling is. Feeling that you are really “on my side” is so powerful and I wanted to thank you for that.
The painful feelings are still there, but they are not overwhelming today. I know that I am going to be okay in the end and that is a wonderful feeling to finally have found.”
I am all gushy I know but I meant every single word of it. How important is this relationship? It’s bloody HUGE isn’t it! There truly is nothing like it.
I have just read this: http://liveboldandbloom.com/?s=10+signs+of+a+narcissistic+mother
It was incredibly accurate and scarily relevant for me. It never fails to shock, even all this time later. It’s also incredibly validating. These are the things that stuck out for me:
She won’t share the spotlight
They are so desperate for attention, that they are unwilling to share it with anyone, not even their own child. This presents a challenge because children – especially when young – often become default focal points when groups of family or friends meet.
To counter this threat, she will try to dominate all discussions involving her child, speaking for them or about them rather than to and with them. She will boast about their achievements while making it very clear of the vital role she played in them.
She will dress them up and show them off, but only so as to take credit for their appearance.
She will take it upon herself to answer any questions that are posed to the child, just so that she can ensure the right answer is given (the right answer being the one that sheds the best light on her). Even in situations that don’t involve external cast members, she will seek to extract as much attention as she can from her child.
This becomes all the more apparent when the child grows up and flies the nest; at this point, she will find or fabricate reasons for the adult child to return to her on a staggeringly regular basis.
If they refuse, she bemoans how little they care and love for her in order to get attention that way.
[Example: 3 years ago she offered to let me have a birthday party at her house. I was excited. SHE wanted a bouncy castle there and so I agreed (why not?) then she kept inviting people to “her” party in front of me and when I corrected her, she would say it was a joint party… for both of us. It couldn’t be just about me.
I am pretty convinced this is also why she never came to watch me in any of my school dance or drama shows/exams. She couldn’t bear the spotlight to be on me and not her.
Another example – I used to participate in the “Race For Life” cancer runs. One year my grandparents were going to take me but shortly before the day, she told me that they no longer could and she told them that I no longer needed them to take me/come. I was very upset about this but she told me I was being extremely selfish expecting them at their age to come and stand around for hours. I also began learning to run and at one point was running 5k a few times a week, this was a huge achievement for me. One weekend when we were at her house, she told me she could do that “tomorrow” with absolutely no training, having not exercised at all, yet alone ran in years and years. I argued with her for about an hour on this point and she would not cave so I challenged her, okay, tomorrow we will head out then. She agreed. The next day this wasn’t mentioned – obviously. Always in competition wtih me. Even when I was a kid at school she would set me “competitions” on who was loved the most on valentine’s day, who would get the most flowers and cards… she always won, obviously.
A few years ago I had a smear test and the results were severely abnormal. I went to her house in a state, crying and shaking convinced that meant I would die of cancer. She did not even put her arm around me. I went and had the bad cells removed but shortly before that day, she told me that she wasn’t sure she would be able to come anymore because she really needed to go to River Island and buy some new shoes. I kicked off on this occasion and she flew into a rage about how not everything is about me, how I am selfish etc. I stormed out of her house on this occasion and went home. I kept getting phone calls from her and her husband and eventually I answered the phone to her husband who told me that my poor mother was crying hysterically because she was in fact, so, so scared of what would happen to me but that she didn’t want to scare me….]
She Always Takes Priority Over The Child
A narcissist is most concerned with themselves and this holds true when one becomes a mother. Unless she sees it in her own best interests, she will refuse to attend to the needs of her children if they interfere with her own plans.
Unless a favoured child is involved, don’t expect to see her making sacrifices in terms of her time, energy, and attention. She will always make sure she gets what she wants even if it leaves a child unhappy.
She might treat them to a meal out for their birthday, but they won’t get to choose the restaurant. She might even buy them a present, but little thought or effort will go into it; after all, she is so busy with her own affairs that she won’t know what her child really wants.
Example: My mother never made any sacrifices for me. This includes being left at home alone on Xmas Day evening as she wanted to go and stay at her boyfriend’s house. My sister was at her dad’s. I told her I would be okay (I knew how to please her I guess) and so she went. As for presents, last Christmas she got me a play-suit that is something she would wear (not me) and a fake designer handbag (one she has too) which isn’t my thing. I can honestly say that she has never got me a present which has had ANY sentimental value at all. I felt very ungrateful at Christmas when I told T that nothing she got me was “me” but I just wish she knew me – the real me, which she clearly doesn’t.]
She Is Always Right
Another manifestation of her inflated self-image is that she is unable to accept she might be wrong about something. This is particularly true when her child gets a bit older and is able to argue their point; she will deny them any ground and insist they are mistaken.
One of the primary points of conflict is the recalling of events from each party’s perspective. The mother, suffering from the delusions of narcissism, will often remember something in quite a different way to the child.
As hard as the child might make their case, and as much evidence as they can produce to support it, the mother will flatly deny such a recollection.
This pattern is not restricted to past events, but also the opinions and beliefs each of them hold. The child may express their views on something, but unless they match those of the mother, they will be rebuffed with a measure of disdain designed to force them onto the back foot.
[Example: God, my mother has NEVER, ever apologised to me or my sister. Not once, not even when she has been very obviously and clearly been proven wrong. She would just laugh and pull faces showing that her mood had now lifted and she was being “playful” but she would NEVER say the word “sorry”. Obviously this was a word that me and my sister were forced to say all the time. Last year on my birthday, my mother brought up a conversation about politics and asked everyone at the table who they were voting for. I was the only person at the table voting differently and she went to town on me about how wrong I was, how I clearly didn’t understand. She even said to my boyfriend “have a word will you?”. I am not allowed an opinion that differs to her’s].
She Rarely Offers A Kind Word To Her Child
Favourite children aside, narcissistic mothers are extremely stingy with regards to the nice things they say. Compliments, genuine encouragement, and declarations of affection are rarities because the mother chooses to focus her energies on the things her child has done wrong.
She will often criticize them whether they deserve it or not, and even if a softer approach is what’s needed to help. She will demean and degrade their own sense of self-worth by flinging regular insults at them, often covertly disguised as neutral comments.
She might talk openly with (or in front of) the child about how much she enjoys the company of other people, but never of the child itself. She doesn’t want them to believe in themselves as fun individuals, but rather as troublesome, unsuccessful people who are nothing but a thorn in her side.
She’ll make general statements about people who contain not-so-subtle messages for her child. She’ll say “nobody loves me” and “people are so selfish” to indirectly accuse her child of these things, while retaining her ability to deflect the statements onto others if the child protests.
[Example: I think I touched on this yesterday. My mother has never given me compliments. Quite the opposite. I grew up knowing my faults. I was too sensitive, too needy, selfish, impatient, greedy, thought the world “revolved around” myself (I could go on), but I did not know what I did well, what my good traits were. She couldn’t do that.
I used to visit my mother most Friday evenings for years (until I met my current boyfriend) and often she would have me in floods of tears telling me how my hair looked a mess, how my coat and shoes were disgusting, how I didn’t make “the best” of myself.. she would then get her husband to agree with her. I believed them (why wouldn’t you?) and then they would give me advice on how to improve myself and I would do as they said and they would then compliment me on how much better I looked. Knock me down to build me up to keep me dependant. My mother would regularly give me or lend me her clothes and insist they suited me way better than my own did. I used to believe this. Now I see she just saw me as an extension of herself. I wasn’t allowed my own sense of style. I once wore trainers to her house and she asked me if I had run there (clearly I hadn’t – but she made her point).]
She Will Grow Envious Of The Child In Later Life
As her child grows up and begins to live an independent life of their own, the narcissistic mother will become envious of the new people, experiences, and things she sees.
Believing herself to be superior to her child, she suffers greatly to see them become happy, content individuals. In a bid to prevent them from outshining her, she will seek to sabotage things in whatever way she can.
She will start demanding more time and attention from the child in order to stifle their new-found life, and she may even ask for money in an attempt to put a strain on their finances.
Any new relationships – particularly romantic ones, but also friendships – will be seen as a challenge to her dominant place in the child’s life. She will do everything in her power to drive a wedge between them and their new friends and lovers.
She will fabricate stories to humiliate her child, she will make snide remarks about their new acquaintances, and she might even outright declare her disdain for them in a bid to make her child choose between them.
She will not be content to sit back and watch her child find happiness without her.
[Example: well I think this is exactly what is happening to me now. My mother is furious with me and secretly hates my boyfriend. She acts as though she likes him to my face and to his, but slags him off to my sister, stepdad, grandparents and friends. If she had time alone with me, she would admit her “worries” to me but I purposely don’t see her alone these days and so she doesn’t get the opportunity anymore. When I saw her last week, she told me that she thought my best friend was a “user” and had no time for me anymore.
My mother is furious that she doesn’t see me as often as she used to and not because she misses me but because she is no longer the one who is able to control me. I don’t ask for her opinion or advice, she doesn’t get to mould me into what she wants me to be. She doesn’t get to put on a front that we are “really close” and I do not “need” her anymore. In other words I am not dependant on her – she isn’t getting her fix from me.] On top of this, I would usually crumble immediately at the first signs of guilt and I am stronger now. I see through it now and so it isn’t working. She HATES that and she blames it on my boyfriend.
Right now, today, this has sunk in a little deeper and the gulit is slowly going – right now I feel like rubbing it her stupid face that she hasn’t achieved what she wanted. She will not keep me down. I WILL have a good life and she cannot stop me. If she asked me to pick between her and my boyfriend, he would win every day. I would love to say that to her.]
She Will Manipulate Her Child
The ability and will to manipulate others is another thing that is present in every single narcissist out there. The means of manipulation are many and varied; they could fill many books in their own right when explored in detail. Suffice to say that much of what has already been discussed constitutes manipulation, and the general theme is one of control and obedience.
A narcissistic mother will seek to silence their child’s own voice, dictate their every move, and smother any shoots of individualism.
She will abuse her position and exploit her child for her own satisfaction and profit.
Mind games, lies, and trickery are just some of the tools designed to confuse the child and weaken their self-belief to a point where they can be mentally and emotionally enslaved.
[Example: my entire life – see above!]
This isn’t really a blog that will interest anyone I don’t think, but I am writing a lot at the moment as I am processing this stuff… it is hitting me hard right now and I can’t stop these memories popping into my head. It is all-consuming again.. these notes are partly responses to things I am reading and partly the random memories and me makign sense of them.
Lack of affection:
No hugs or words of love. Never saying things like “I love you” or “you are pretty” or “you are kind” or anything like that.
Didn’t help with emotional hurts. When I confided in her about arguments with people at school or things like that (which I stopped doing at some stage) she always, always took the side of the other person. She never one said she understood my feelings. I have absolutely no memories whatsoever of affection from her. I have no memories of even laying on the sofa with her, or of her tucking me into bed and reading me a story. Nothing. I can’t imagine how that would have felt as a child. I cuddle my stepchildren (particularly the youngest) all of the time. I always tell him that I love him, that me and his daddy are proud of him, that he is handsome and kind etc .. that we miss him. How could a parent not do this? Isn’t it natural?
Placed unreasonable demands on me as a child such as having to listen to her adult problems about relationships and finances. Having to raise my younger sister.
When we moved into the pubs, she worked as landlady and so would be working downstairs in the pub until the early hours of every morning (and all weekend). I used to have to come home from school and look after my sister. This would include feeding, bathing and putting her to bed. I was in primary school myself and shouldn’t have had to do this. When she split with this husband, we moved into a place just the 3 of us which I thought would be better but I still had to look after my sister all of the time as she took a job where she did lots of “late shifts” which meant she got home about 10.30pm at night. This meant I would have my sister after school as before and so nothing improved. At some stage during these years, I started to go to my sister’s dad’s house with her when she went (twice a week) which I enjoyed. I suffered from terrible migraines during this time which her dad always told me was stress and worry. He was always very kind to me but my mother made me feel terrible about this and told me one day that he wasn’t as nice as I thought he was and then told me in graphic detail how he had physically hurt her and beat her up numerous times. I felt very sorry for her and very scared for myself. Shortly after she told me this, he got angry and shouted at me, I then locked myself in his bathroom convinced he was going to hurt me and she had to come and pick me up. She was angry that she had to do this. It is only now that I see how messed up that is!! If she genuinely thought the guy was dangerous then why did she allow me and my sister to go there twice a week? And if she didn’t think he was dangerous, then why did she tell me!
When my sister’s dad brought us home on a Thursday morning or a weekend, there would be people in our house. Friends of my mother and men they had brought home from clubs. There would always be someone asleep in my bed and I was never allowed to go in my bedroom when there was. They used to make my bed-sheets stink and the whole room would smell of stale alcohol. I hated it. We were also made to whisper in order that we did not wake anyone up and we were not allowed to go into our bedroom to get things unless it was our school uniform and we were made to creep and if we woke them up, all hell would break loose. It is only now that I realise how wrong this was. I cannot imagine EVER doing this to my stepchildren. It is disgusting.
One time a man came downstairs who looked so young, he was a good-looking young man, probably not much older than I was! My mum’s friend made a joke to me about how my mother had managed to pull someone who was young enough to be her son…. Again, it is only now I see how revolting that is. Who she sleeps with is up to her, but I shouldn’t have ever had to be around this or see it so obviously – why wasn’t I sheltered from this type of behaviour?
Did not let me play as a care-free child.
Made to feel that I wasn’t important as a was not a grown up. Regularly sent away/to bed/out of the room because it was “adult conversations”. Felt a nuisance. I was always in the way and a chore. I have recently started to feel a grief over the fact I never felt care-free. I watch my stepchildren run around at home, playing games, using their imaginations, being silly, being young and I can’t even imagine how that feels. That hurts really badly today.
Emotional abandonment is the core issue. I was not left physically, but I was left alone emotionally. Left to get on with life on my own. No attention, affection or time from my mother.
Can cause you to rapidly form attachments – you reach out to the first person that comes along because of an intense desire to connect.
Emotionally absent mother lavished attention on someone else. The feelings of jealousy may have been intense. Children tend to bury these feelings and only return to them when they are in a different relationship as an adult.
This has clearly been VERY relevant for me. I have always ended up in relationships where the ex was on the scene. I have always been VERY jealous and insecure in my relationships – this is the reason I phoned my T up the very first time. I hated myself for being like this and for ruining so many relationships.
I have thought to myself today that even my lovely boyfriend now who is the only securely attached man I think I’ve ever been with, came with an ex wife and kids (3!!). There was always a battle for feeling like I had space – I think I’ve unconsciously attracted myself to people where this pattern plays out.
I would never leave my current boyfriend as I am very happy with him really but it did make me wonder how it would have felt to have met a single man with no ex-wife and no children. How would it feel to just be the two of you.. to have your weekends to yourself, to not have to talk about the past to have it regularly throw in your face? To only have yourselves to think about financially… so much could have been different.
Fear of rejection so strong that you feel the need to leave a relationship first, so you aren’t the one who is rejected.
This is definitely true for me. I left a 5 year relationship and absolutely devastated myself for years afterwards. I just knew he didn’t “love me enough” and he never put me first. I have never been “dumped” but yet I’ve been heartbroken.
Since your mother rejected you by emotionally abandoning you, your self-esteem plummets when you feel alone or afraid. You may feel you caused the entire situation by not being good enough and take it out on yourself by isolating yourself – withdrawing from normal activities.
I think I have started to do this regularly since therapy has got difficult. I think I am doing it today. I just crave being on my own. I crave closing the curtains, being in my safe environment, my house, alone. I find it hard to do day-to-day things and get very emotional and teary.
Mother didn’t pay attention to your joys or sorrows. You may have started ignoring yourself thinking that those feelings were not important or not real. You may find it hard now to feel happiness or sadness. Feelings become numbed – or shut off.
It has taken me over 2 years to even begin to cry in therapy. I am only now just starting to come to terms with having angry feelings. I would have never thought of myself as someone who was emotionally numb, I cried often but at silly things like adverts or tv shows. Now I understand that I was very emotionally numb. It made me feel “faulty” for a long while and now that I am feeling things, they seem to come in tidal waves. They hit so hard and then they ease back off.. then they come back and floor me again, a bit like now.
Reason for my mother’s emotional absence:
She put all of her focus on her romantic relationships: at the expense of her children. Women spend all their time trying to avoid a breakup. Men were and always have been more important to her than anything or anyone else. She would admit this. In fact, her and her current husband (number 4) have told me regularly that if either of them were to die, the other one will kill themselves because they cannot live without one another. She would then make a joke that he would kill himself because she can’t allow him to be happy without her but that if he died, she would probably not actually do it….. go figure.
Her men were the reason she lived and her children got in the way of her freedom. When I was about 13/14, I had a friend stay over. Me and my friend were hanging around the street with our friends near an off-licence. My mother had been on a date that evening and pulled up in a man’s car. She got out and came over to me saying she was stopping off to get a bottle of wine and that we were not to come home for a few hours. This was 10pm at night.. on a school night. I told her that my friend’s mother would be phoning to check on her/say goodnight and she said she would say we had gone to bed. We were really happy about this initially but soon the novelty wore off as we got bored and cold and all our other friends went home…. I cannot believe looking back at this that a parent would do this. Let her child and her child’s friend stay out until midnight on a school night on the street just so she could go home and sleep with another man and the fact she actually made this so obvious just makes it worse. Having said that, it didn’t usually stop her when I was home with or without a friend so I don’t think it was for our benefit that we wouldn’t have to hear her.. but so the fact she had a young daughter(s) would put him off.
She told me once she was going to move away with a new bloke. I told her I didn’t want to, I had my school and my friends (I was 14) and she told me that she would pay a few months’ rent and maybe I could look to move into a rented place with my friend. … I was 14!!!! Anything to get rid of me.
Or maybe “She was raised that way”: her parents may have been emotionally absent and she knew no different… but she could have chosen to break the cycle like I have. This makes me furious.
Other random memories that I have to write out:
Education – she didn’t make me go to school. She would regularly offer me the day off if I did her ironing/hoovering/cleaned the house. I always wanted to do this. Some days she would tell me I had to be quiet and not talk to her and just get on with the jobs and I would agree happily. Some days I would say I was sick and she would let me stay home, other days I would say I was sick or ask if I could stay home to do jobs and she would go absolutely mental. This continued even when I lived at home in my very early twenties. I would say I wasn’t going to work because I felt unwell and she would go ballistic and tell me that I was going. This was confusing. I now realise how bad it was that she let me miss so much of my education, why my attendance was so poor and why ultimately I am not very clever. I wish I could go back and do school again.
I left school and went to college and a few months later I had to drop out. My mother needed me to stay at home with her because she was the victim of domestic abuse. She was regularly beaten and I had to go to the hospital with her. I was scared to leave her alone. I got myself a job locally and we left this new guy and went into a new flat just the 3 of us again. Again, hoping it would be the start of a better time… obviously it wasn’t. I met a boy who persuaded me to go back to college and train as I wanted to before I had to drop out. I got a place and came home and told my mother. She went absolutely mental. I got called all sorts of names, mainly selfish. She said that she would lose my income and she depended on it. She went so mad that I ended up going to stay with my boyfriend for a few weeks. During that time I received calls from my nan and granddad telling me I couldn’t do this, that I had to go back to my job and not start this college course. I was so confused, I thought everyone would have been proud. I stuck it nonetheless and nowadays she likes to tell everyone that will listen what I good job I have and what a good salary I earn……………. Go figure. I can only think now that she just didn’t want me to be more intelligent than her?? I don’t know.
My mother made friends with someone at work who was only a year older than me. This girl would come over during the week and all weekend regularly. They became best friends. They would drink and smoke together all evening, and invite other people over. They would all go clubbing together. Eventually I started to go with them, I used to use her ID because she didn’t need it and I was underage. Eventually this girl moved in and I began to hate her. I felt very jealous of their relationship. My mother would send me away, out of the room for certain conversations or send me to bed and make me feel and look very immature compared to her new friend – our new lodger. I hated this. A long time later, maybe 4/5 years, this girl fell pregnant and my mother dropped her like a sack of shit. They’ve never spoken since.
When I was young, maybe 5 or 6 my mother got two kittens. I loved them, they were tabby and so cute. The kittens were naughty though and climbed all over things, knocked things over, typical kitten like traits I guess. Now I can’t remember this story clearly enough to say with any certainty, but either I pulled my mother’s curtains down in the living room, or the kittens did but either way when my mother came in and went mad, I said it was them. This resulted in her taking the kittens back to the cattery. I begged and begged her not to – I told her it was me but she didn’t believe me or didn’t care. I went with her and cried so much in the back of the car as she took them in.
I also had a dog, I loved him dearly. When she moved into the pub with husband number 3, she gave the dog away because her new husband already had two dogs. I was devastated by this.