Final session before Easter Break

Firstly, I want to start this post off by saying that I’m sure therapists (mine anyway) have more “breaks” than anyone else I know. That or I’ve got this whole work/play thing really wrong. I mean my T takes 2 weeks at Easter, 2 weeks in the summer, 2 at Christmas and every weekend (obviously) she also doesn’t work all 5 days of the week…. actually that doesn’t sound quite as bad as it feels in my brain… but still. I’m lucky if I have a two week holiday from work, ever.

Anyway. Today was my final session before her Easter break and that means I now have 19 sleeps until I am back there. That feels like absolutely forrrrreevvvvverrrrrrr.

Christ.

On the plus side at the very end of the session T asked me “would you like to take some eggs?” – she keeps chickens and we’ve often spoken about how my husband wants some eggs from them (don’t ask she read into that like only a shrink can do!! Associating his want for an egg to a “little womb” and wanting some mothering and nurturance from her). She went off and came back with a big box of freshly laid eggs, and I know they are only eggs but it feels so lovely. So, so lovely. Like… can eggs be a transitional object lol?

Going back to the start. Sorry – jumping all over the place here.

So when I woke up this morning my first thought before I had even opened my eyes was “last session today”. I didn’t have any real feeling attached to that thought, it kind of just was. I was then really busy at work until I left for my session so didn’t have any real conscious feelings … that is until I got home to pick up my car. I went inside my house and felt it instantly… I knew I was going to cry and boy did I cry. I sobbed for a good 20 minutes as I changed the beds and put away washing and picked things up from the floor etc. I was cleaning in a frenzied way which is always a sure sign that I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed or something.

I cried hard and then I looked at the time and realised I had to go. I chucked some foundation over my bright red face and left.

Naturally T’s first question after asking how I was, was “how does the break feel?”. Eugh. I hate that question so much. There’s no right answer to it is there? You say you’re cool about the break and feeling strong – you’re in denial, you’re not in touch with the feelings… what about the child part etc etc. You say you are worried about it and then you cry and feel embarrassed and that’s really not much fun either, is it.

For me one of the things I find hard with this conversation is that I don’t *want* to feel like this. It’s embarrassing to me to feel so needy and dependent upon her. I often think to myself I’m nearly 31 for God’s sake. I mean, say I had a nice relationship with a good enough mum, surely I wouldn’t cry and panic when she was going away – would I? I don’t think so.

I don’t know about anyone else but it’s hard because you don’t tend to have any contact with them whilst they are away and so unlike friends or family going away you don’t get sent photos of their hotel or their sea view etc. It’s hard not being able to visualise her anywhere other than in that room.. and you know that she won’t be there. At least consciously anyway.

I decided to take the plunge and tell T that actually I was feeling okay about it but now it…. “well, it’s not great”. Eloquent as ever me!

I told T that we hadn’t discussed it yet (because I decided to cause a mini-rupture instead) but Mother’s Day…. she nodded and said she knew and we looked at each other as if to acknowledge the reason why we had not discussed that lol. I went on to tell her that after I saw my mum the day before Mother’s Day I had come away and cried a lot that afternoon. I explained that I felt really stupid but… and she interrupted me and told me off for “doing that” to myself. I said it again without meaning to and she jumped on it again which totally made me lose track of what I was trying to say.

Eventually I managed to explain that despite all the knowledge I have gained, I felt the huge distance between me and my mum and that it felt overwhelmingly sad. I said it had made me wish she had just wanted to spend a bit more time with me, that she always seems in such a rush to leave and that hurt that day. I said that I had come away feeling such a yearning and craving for my mum… perhaps a mum.

I realised that I hadn’t told T any of this and I know deep down that is because I didn’t want to. Because I feel ashamed and stupid for having these thoughts despite it all. T was really kind and understanding and reassured me that it was the child in me who felt these things and also said that it is programmed in us to want to attach to our mothers. I knew that but weirdly didn’t apply that to myself so it was helpful to hear her say that.

I told T that my mum and sister spoke about things they had done together recently and were laughing about things and that I felt left out. I also said that as all 3 of us had our cars there, I got in my car and the two of them were standing outside still talking and my fantasy was that they were waiting for me to leave and then they were going somewhere else together, or perhaps my sister was going to my mother’s house for a while.

T was really good about this and said how I felt excluded. She then said I probably felt excluded all of my childhood because my mother didn’t involve me in anything. I didn’t get to go places with her or she didn’t bring me to see her friends or work colleagues or say she couldn’t do something because of “my little daughter”. I nodded and agreed. She then likened this feeling of exclusion to the break and asked if I felt excluded?

I said that the word “excluded” didn’t really ring true, no. I meant that honestly though I’m not sure she really believed me. However I said that when I was crying earlier I realised that the feelings I had after that Mother’s Day lunch and today were very similar. She nodded and said it’s the same thing really. Being abandoned.

Yup.

I didn’t say this and I don’t think I really needed to, but it does hurt in those moments and it feels like my mum didn’t want to spend time with me (still doesn’t) and now T is buggering off without me and won’t contact me or think of me because she’s on a break. A break from work and work, sadly, is me.

I know it’s not that cut and dry. I know it’s not that simple. T said that she will be thinking of me and that I will be “very much held in mind” and I want to believe her, I really want to believe her. But I don’t think I do. I’ve told her that in the past and she laughs kindly and asks me “do you really think I just forget about you?” And I’ve cried and nodded… yes, I do.

Gulp.

Weirdly I’m typing this without any tears right now (it seems the eggs have helped a lot!) but I’m sure there will be times over the next 18 days that I don’t feel so good.

T spoke a lot about how it’s okay for me to be angry with her. She told me (again) that it might actually help me to get some of the anger out and aim it at her. She said it was okay to think badly about her and want to call her names. We both smiled and laughed. I think that’s very unlikely. It’s never happened before. T said that even if I’m not in touch with it I may wake up one morning and just be triggered really easily and be angry at silly things. She used the example that I could stub my toe and want to murder someone. Lol she knows me so well.

We spoke a lot today about my sister but I’m going to write about that in a separate post because it’s long and will totally sidetrack me from this post.

T asked me how I felt I was going to feel after the session and I told her that after my sessions on a Thursday I tend to feel really happy and calm and content but that could make it worse today because I’ll then think how I won’t have that for the next 18 days. T likened the feeling to that of having been fed (as a baby). I liked that analogy because that is exactly how it feels for me.

I don’t like the thought that I won’t feel this inner calm and sort of happy/secure feeling for the next 18 days. I know it fades and it faded way faster than I would like it to, way faster than I would like to admit to.

The adult me knows I don’t need another adult to feel alright for a couple of weeks. But the child and needy part of me feels like it’s an impossible ask to cope alone. Adult me resents this part.

Anyway. This is long and my fingers are aching so I’m going to leave this here. I may write some more tomorrow.

Euphoric

So, I did it.

I logged into Facebook this afternoon (my account has been deactivated since November after me and my mother fell out (“fell out? Ha! Maybe the word should be separated??)), anyway… and I went onto my mother’s page, had a look at her latest crap and then blocked her.

I surprised myself with how I felt after pressing that button.

I felt pure and utter relief.

Yep! Relief. I am surprised, I genuinely thought I’d fight sadness and guilt for sure but alas! I just felt relief. I felt as though a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It was almost euphoric!!!

With that feeling of euphoria I then went a step further and blocked my mother’s phone number in my phone and then on WhatsApp. I then deleted her number out of my phone (I’ve checked and it still blocks the number amazingly).

I then blocked her husband’s phone number and deleted him too.

And I can genuinely say, I feel VERY pleased. I’m proud and happy I’ve done it.

I have some small reservations that I still have plenty of “family” on Facebook so I don’t know if I’ll actually go back to using it or not… we’ll see… I worry that they will tell her what I’m up to, what I put on there – send her screen shots even.

Ooh on that note, I also deleted my “aunt” and her husband and my mother’s best friend.

Ha I wonder why pressing that button feels so good?? If only it was as simple as that in real life!

I move house Saturday and I’m very excited about it, but I wish in a way I would never be found. I wish nobody ever had to find out where I live so I could keep this feeling of safety.

Anyway, I’m pleased that I’ve done this and I’ve done this for my own sake.

For once I’ve put MY needs before her’s.

I hope that this continues, that I get braver each day, each week… I hope soon I don’t have to even fight against worrying about how she feels or what she might say or do. I think maybe I will get there one day.

Longing for the mother

I woke up this morning with a thumping headache, a bad mood and a bad back ache. The back ache has got gradually worse the last few days but today it hurt a lot.

As we are staying with my fiancé’s family at the moment and his kids also stay with us at weekends, it was all a bit too much for me this morning. My mood was getting worse and holding it all in was getting harder and harder.

I found myself thinking about my T. I have thought about her a lot the last few days since my session on Tuesday. The closest feeling I could relate my feeling to would be “missing”. It was like I was missing her but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.

I touched on this briefly the other day, but the words I come up with are words such as “longing” and “missing”. As one of my fellow bloggers pointed out, it’s the grieving of the mother wound. I’m in touch with feelings of loneliness and sadness. It’s feelings I experienced when I was young and stuck with an emotionally unavailable mother. Isolation and sadness, emptiness. I feel those things again today and it’s very hard.

I wrote a list of words that just felt relevant to me today, they included the following words:

Missing

Longing

Sadness

Flat

Attachment

Connection

Emotional

Closeness

Attachment pain?

Mother wound?

Grief

Loneliness

Aching

Needing

Nurturance

So I think perhaps the feelings of sadness, aloneness, missing and longing are old feelings and in the here and now, they make me want to seek comfort and nurturance, connection and warmth. I want the familiar and genuine connection T offers me. I guess what I’m craving is “a mother”. MY mother but not my actual mother – it’s back to that fantasy mother I guess.

T provides me with some of the things I feel I need today and so I guess it makes sense for me to long for her in some ways – even if it’s not really her I need, but MY mother. The hole where my good enough mother should have been/be, but isn’t.

Days like this, times like this, being around lots of people makes me go stir crazy. I really struggle with that. I need time alone, I crave space and quiet. I need to cry or read or write or drink tea in a blanket. I struggle being “stepmum” and looking after the kids because I guess I’m triggered to a child like place myself and if I’m totally honest I think I struggle to be affectionate or enjoy them because it taps into the lack I had/have. I know that’s not what I should say or how I should feel but the words just came out so I’m sure they must be true.

It makes me angry. Perhaps my anger is hiding my sadness? Either way I couldn’t cope this morning and so guess where I am as I type this on my phone? I’m in my car. My lovely new car. I decided to grab a flask of tea, my psychologies magazine, my “Dear Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother” book, my make up bag(?) and off I went. I have only driven to the local park where I’ve parked up with the heating on and I’ve put my make up on, I’m listening to the radio and the snow is gently falling. I feel so calm now. Nothing like 45 minutes ago where I could have exploded from all the various emotions I wrote about above.

There’s some guilt that I shouldn’t be hiding in my car on my own and that I should be with my fiancé and the kids but I need to look after myself too, right? And what good am I to any of them in the state I was in earlier?

I feel so mean saying this but this is my happy place right now. I’m so at peace right now. I’m warm, I have my tea, I’ve kicked off my Ugg boots and am sitting cross legged (I’m small!), sipping my tea and typing out all these feelings which gives me such a release. I could stay here for hours if I didn’t feel like I should be with them.

I’ve read many articles which say in order to heal you need to internalise the good enough mother (so T) and that you learn to mother yourself and you learn to soothe yourself. I wonder in times like this whether the longing for comfort and closeness will ever go – right now it feels unlikely. I know I’ve been able to calm myself a bit, I’ve been able to give myself a little bit of space and I do understand that is progress… but I would still just like to be looked after if I’m honest. What I would like is for a really tight hug from a caring and kind mother. I would like to be a little girl for the day and not the adult. I hate that I’ve missed that chance and that I’ll never get that again.

I’m grieving that chance I suppose and I’m craving closeness and connection to make that pain more bearable when perhaps I just need to learn to tolerate it and let it pass?

The dream that knocked me for six

Ugh.

Last night I had the most horrendous dream. I remember there was arguing between my mother and I, and that my sister was very upset and begging me to make up with her. I refused to because she still hadn’t validated me at all and was still trying to act like nothing had happened.

Next, she had wrapped a rope around her neck and jumped into a hole of water in the ground (a bit like a small circular pond), she had tried to kill herself. Somehow, and I can’t remember how now, I ran and pulled the rope and my sister out and she was just about alive, I untied the rope from her neck and she collapsed onto me. She was sobbing and so was I, although I was so scared that I was shouting at her in anger, that I couldn’t believe she would do that. She was totally broken and now so was I.

I felt horrendous grief and fear and sadness but also so much guilt. If I had made up with my mother, she wouldn’t be feeling so desperate. I could have saved her from nearly killing herself and yet I was nearly the cause of her suicide!

I woke up from this dream in the night and was sweating and frightened but fell back to sleep somehow.

Today though…. well today has been so, so tough. I have felt such a sadness all day. I feel very low and lethargic. I feel like I could burst into tears at any moment. I’ve thought about my sister constantly as you might imagine.

I know it’s only a dream but god it’s had such a horrible impact on me.

So what does it mean? Is it symbolic of my fear that my sister really will do something to herself? I mean I wouldn’t say that was impossible as she has always suffered with depression (even though she currently claims she’s managed to put it all behind her…. cough!).

Is it symbolic that she wants or needs me to save her?

Is it symbolic of my guilt? My worry for her?

When she came over last week with her Dad and my fiancé asked her if she would still want a relationship with me even if I never spoke to our mother again she said something quietly like “oh god”. She cried a lot, several times. She clearly wants my mother to stop crying and she clearly wants all the drama and fighting to stop. She’s not alone.

Today I feel utterly defeated, low, fed up, depressed (not properly but you know). I feel so exhausted from everything.

I don’t have the energy for all of this. It’s messages that trigger me, cause me to feel such huge anxiety, play on my mind, make me feel scared and nervous. There’s seeing people who are intimidating and of course invalidating, there’s the guilt I feel towards the people I leave behind like my sister… there’s the guilt I feel (rightly or wrongly) towards my mother who, despite her abuse is so personality disordered that she has no idea what’s going on or what she has done – who, in her own way, in her own head, is grieving for me somehow…

and then there’s me grieving the loss of being able to “get” at my mother in the way I’ve always needed and wanted to. My grief that half of my so called family are so invalidating and turning on me for having feelings…

The fear every time the doorbell rings.

The fear that someone will die whilst this is going on and I’ll hate myself. Perhaps I feel it would be my fault… just like the dream.

It’s all just a bit too much for me today. Today it is just overwhelming me. Today I don’t feel like I can cope or that I have the strength to carry on.

And annoyingly, this weekend I had felt quite pleased that I had managed to proactively make plans. I saw friends, walked in nature, celebrated one of my brother’s birthdays, started packing my house, felt proud of my weight loss etc – my fiancé even said how well I was doing despite it all.

Today I’m not doing well at all.

She doesn’t want me to thrive

The fact is, she doesn’t want me to thrive. She doesn’t want me to be independent, confident or authentic. She doesn’t want me to have a happy relationship or marriage. She is jealous of those things because she isn’t them/doesn’t have them.

She’s never liked any of my boyfriends because they threaten her. They threaten her because she always knew if I met someone dependable and reliable, I would move away from her and she couldn’t tolerate that.

She now tells herself and everyone else that will listen that my fiancé is controlling and manipulating me because she can’t bear that I’m “gone”. I’ve grown up and I have my own life. I have my own house, family, relationship and it has no drama. I therefore don’t go to her house every weekend crying into my wine whilst she tells me what to do and say.

She always planted seeds of doubt in my head when I saw her. She used to tell me that he didn’t love me, that if he did, he would have proposed by now. She said he would never divorce his (now) ex-wife, that he would always go back to her, that he would always put me last – behind his kids and that I would hate being a stepmother. She told me often he wouldn’t want any more kids and that he was lying to me to keep me. She even said he has probably had a vasectomy that he hasn’t told me about and would tell me when it was too late. She said this again when we were struggling to conceive last year. She said there was nothing wrong with me – it had to be him. She said this even after he had his sperm tested and had a good and healthy result.

She doesn’t like me being a good stepmum because she hated being a mother. Why should I be able to enjoy it when she couldn’t? Why should I be good at it when she failed so terribly?

She doesn’t like my best friend – she says she doesn’t have tome for me anymore and that now she is a mother, she is only interested in her mummy friends. This is not true. She doesn’t like me having a reliable friendship because she has (lots of) fake and artificial friends. People that flock around her for parties and drinking, but nobody that is genuinely by her side throughout thick and thin because she uses people only when it suits her and people sooner or later get fed up.

She doesn’t like me having a relationship with my father because she claims he was a terrible father who didn’t care about me one iota when I was younger. He tells me a very different story that she told him I didn’t want to see him. I also believe that she needed me to keep her good and turn him bad because you can’t love both her and someone else. She had to have full control.

Also, she didn’t have a relationship with her own father (possibly because her Mum used the same tactics, who knows?) and so I couldn’t have a good relationship with mine because that wouldn’t be fair to her.

She let me stay home from school all the time in exchange for doing housework. I wonder whether that is because she didn’t want me getting a good education, becoming more intelligent than her and potentially getting a good and well paid job? Maybe that would threaten her.

She hates me having counselling – obviously. She tells everyone my fiancé and my therapist brainwash me. I don’t have my own mind and these can’t possibly be my decisions. Is that to protect herself or because she knows how easily manipulated and brainwashed SHE made me?!

Christ even when I passed my driving test she said the examiner only passed me as I wouldn’t be on the road often. I couldn’t have earned that pass. I couldn’t have that independence, that achievement.

All of these things I’ve known before…. but now it’s like I’m slitting them together and can see the bigger, clearer picture.

So on my wedding day when I’m standing there making my vows to the one that makes me happy and who truly encourages me to be the real me, she will not be welcome. And neither will her flying monkey lapdog who tries to intimidate me and do her dirty work for her – allowing her to play the poor, innocent victim.

What kind of mother wants to hold their child back?

The kind that feels inadequate and less than herself – despite the fake self cover up that’s taken her over. The narcissistic defence trying to fool herself and everyone else.

If only she could dig deep and feel her own pain and get some help this may be a different story.

She doesn’t want me to thrive.

Sliding Doors

Has anyone seen the film Sliding Doors? I watched it when I was about 11 years old for the first time, I remember this clearly because there was a sex scene in it and I was watching it with my Nan and remember feeling extremely awkward!

The general concept of the film is about how life can go in different directions.  It begins with a story line of what happens when a character DOES make the train, and another storyline where the character DOES NOT catch the train.  From that point, their life goes in two different directions.

I have been thinking about this film today because I find myself wondering a lot these last few days how my life could have gone.  Not so much in general terms but specifically around the events with my mother and her NPD.  What would have happened if I had stayed the Golden Child and remained enmeshed with her – what would my life look like right now?

I’ve been reflecting on my life a lot since writing the Goodbye Mother letter and today I was thinking how the first 18 years or so my mother fell into the category of “Ignoring Narcissistic Mother” but when I became 18 and old enough to drink and smoke and go to clubs and date men and share clothes with her, idolise her… she fitted better in the category of “Engulfing Narcissistic Mother” – this is the stage where the control and enmeshment began.

Now what would have happened if I hadn’t met my current fiancé and started therapy? Would I still be enmeshed with her? Would I be a narcissist myself by now? Maybe I would have met another man but not started therapy and therefore never realised the dynamic I was in! Perhaps I would have met a narcissistic man or more of the same type I used to meet, emotionally unavailable.  Perhaps I would have spent my entire life trying to fix them and have the happy ending I never got with my mother.  It’s a sad thought.

The “storyline” I find myself in now is one where I am playing the starring role of “Narcissistic Mother’s Scapegoat”. I am not only her scapegoat mind, but also my sister’s who is playing the lead role of “Golden Child” and, not only that but I think potentially “Narcissistic Golden Child”.

scape

There are basically two roles you can play when you have a mother as narcissistic as mine.  The Scapegoat or the Golden Child (you could also be a lost child but there is only two of us).  The perks of being the Golden Child are that you have the narcissistic mother’s protection.  She will agree with you (in public at least), she will tell you that you are “just like her” and if she is anything like my own mother, tell you that you are in fact a “mini me”. Now considering how much she thinks of herself, this is meant as the highest type of compliment. The downside to being the GC is that you are not allowed to be your true, authentic self, have your own (differing) opinions on things or allowed to say no or argue with her.  You are no longer a different person, a person with differing interests, hobbies, thoughts etc – you are enmeshed and an extension of the narcissist.  Also just because you are picked as GC doesn’t mean you are no longer abused in any way, you still are, it is just much more subtle and hard to detect.  In my case when I was GC my mother would regularly tell me how I needed to lose weight or change my hair, do my make up differently, shop in different shops and become more fashionable – but she would tell you that she loved you and this was all for your benefit! She just wanted you to make the best of yourself!

The downsides to being the Scapegoat are many: The narcissist and whoever her enablers are, perhaps siblings or step-parents project anything and everything negative onto you.  YOU are the sole cause of anything bad in the family or in life generally.  You are trouble, evil, mentally unstable.  It is VERY hard to have a strong enough sense of self/self-esteem to not start to feel guilty about all this crap that you are told repeatedly is your fault.  There is the gaslighting, the narcissistic family will make you doubt yourself and your memories and version of events.  At some stage you do think to yourself, “shit, they can’t all be wrong can they?”.  You start to think that if ALL of them have one story and you have a different story… well, maybe it is you after all? That is tough.  The gaslighting is the stage I’m at right now.  Apparently this is really stereotypical for a narcissist when confronted but my mother (and sister) are telling me that I “have gone fucking crazy”, am “brainwashed” and that they are not sure “what is going on in my head right now”.  Gaslighting at it’s finest.   This causes cognitive dissonance.. BIG TIME.

There is inevitably the fear element as well.  I struggled with this BIG TIME.  The fear and the guilt were definitely my biggest struggles.  There is also something really hard about admitting that you, adult you, is scared of your parent.  I DID NOT want to admit that I was scared of her, of what she would say, what she would do, of upsetting her.  What would the consequences me? How would she punish me? It was all very illogical but the fear was real.

And lastly, the worst one for me at present – you are isolated and ostracised from anyone that enables the narcissist or is scared of them or perhaps equally as abusive as them.  I currently find myself watching to see which member of my family is next to be “disappointed” with me or cut me off. Narcissists cannot and do not accept people disagreeing with them. That truly is the ultimate betrayal to them.  You are on their side (yes pathetic) or you are against them and that is that.  You will be shocked at the amount of people who “side” with the narcissist, even ones that know stories or have seen evidence of their abuse in the past.  It is shockingly shit and nothing can prepare you for it.  My sister was my mother’s scapegoat for years until we swapped places and she used to suffer with depression because of it – yet she is very happy abusing me right now and ganging up with my narcissistic mother against me.

That is a long and bleak list of downsides to being a scapegoat I know but what about the perks?

Anyone who finds themselves in the role of the scapegoat will be naturally empathetic and sensitive.  The fact that they find themselves in that role shows that they are a truth-seeker and more importantly, I think, they have somehow held on to their authentic true self and believe me that is not an easy thing to do against a narcissist and her army.  But the clear winner here has to be the pure fact that the scapegoat escapes the dysfunctional family – they ESCAPE!! They get away from playing roles and being gaslighted or projected onto.  They escape the FOG – the fear, obligation and guilt.  They no longer have to be on guard or put on a mask, a fake self to try to stay safe around the narcissistic/dysfunctional family.  They can heal and finally be validated for all of their struggles and pain.  They can have a kind and empathic witness emotionally hold them as they navigate their way through all the grief and pain and begin to heal from the years of abuse.

I saw a meme today which said it should be called the “Escape Goat” rather than the “Scapegoat” which I think is perfect.

Anyway, I feel at peace today for all of the reasons above and other reasons which I find harder to articulate that I would never wish to swap roles and be the GC again. Never.  Being the Scapegoat is emotionally very difficult, it can be extremely lonely and draining but I honestly felt like something was missing from my life until quite recently – I spent my life unconsciously desperate for approval, for affection and to be told that I was good enough.  I was always trying to fill the painful mother hole/wound that was still raw as hell and now, all of a sudden, I am seeing things differently.  Now I am truly seeing and believing fully that it wasn’t ever me or my fault.  She has a personality disorder.  I was not too sensitive, too needy, pathetic, boring, stupid, fat, brainwashed or evil.

This sounds a bit egotistical but I feel like I must have more strength than I’ve ever given myself credit for or was even aware of myself.  I have (thanks to T) been able to fight against her abuse, lies and punishment.

I feel lucky in a strange way, not lucky that I had to go through any of it of course and I do still grieve for the fantasy mother and probably will for a long time, but my life could have gone the other way, like in Sliding Doors – I could have never got away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mother… Smearing

So I haven’t got time to write a proper blog but needed to write this quickly…

I went to see my Aunty tonight, the one I’ve written about a lot recently, the one my mother is not longer speaking to because she was “being disloyal” to her by continuing to speak to me…. anyway, we obviously discussed everything and this is what I’ve just found out:

1) my mother has told everyone that I am obsessed with my counsellor and go to therapy 4 times a week.

2) that I think (and I quote) I am “so hard done by and had a terrible childhood” – sense the mocking tone of that: and lastly

3) My mother has told my Grandparents that I’m no longer speaking to her because I had such a terrible childhood and my grandparents are allegedly horrified, shocked and disappointed in me….

I have a lot to say about this and I’m having a lot of thoughts about it all. I can’t make much sense out of it at the moment but I’m starting to think that perhaps she genuinely doesn’t think she’s guilty of treating me badly when I was a child. Until now I thought she knew she was a shit mum but was just incapable of apologising, now I wonder if she truly doesn’t think she has anything to apologise for. (I know: wake up and smell the coffee).

At least I have some insight to her I suppose.

Safe enough to “act out”

I’ve been thinking of my phone session with T ever since we got off the phone yesterday. I’m pretty sure I was processing it overnight and it was the second thing on my mind when I woke up this morning (second only to the fact we have to find a new house to live in!).

One of the things that I remembered since writing last night was T saying that it was actually a sign of feeling safe that I was able to cancel my session the other week.

Don’t get me wrong, she very quickly tried to encourage me to always go to my sessions no matter how hard it was or how angry or upset I was feeling, in fact she said “even if you have to get here crawling on your hands and knees!!” So I just want to make it clear that she wasn’t rewarding me for it so to speak.

She said that I must have felt some sense of safety that I could be angry and cancel a session knowing it could, possibly, hopefully be repaired and made to feel better again… eventually.

She asked me whether I was scared she would retaliate or attack back or punish me for my anger and I told her that actually, I had been able to hold on to the fact that in the past she has never done that and that I did know she would allow me to have and tell her my feelings without embarrassing me. I did manage to hold that fact (this is progress, right?).

I’ve thought about this a few times since and it may sound a bit weird but I think it does show a sense of safety doesn’t it?

I used to always strive to be TWBTC (the worlds best therapy client) and obviously perfect therapy clients do not cancel sessions and do not experience any anger towards their T’s do they? Yet alone TELL them about it! So yes, I do think it shows some kind of ability to hold on that all will not be lost, all will not be ruined and destroyed forever.

This made me think about what would happen with my birth mother (note the negative tone). I genuinely don’t remember a single time that I’ve sat my mother down, told her that she has upset me or annoyed me somehow and had her say she understands how I feel and apologise OR say she understands how I feel even if she has her reasons. Isn’t that saying something? I have NEVER had that experience with her. Not once.

What I have had is her belittle me, tell me I am pathetic and childish or need to grow up or attack me back with things I have done that upset or hurt her somehow. She had often told me how ungrateful I am and remind me of “all the things she’s done for me” but the difference in the two experiences is huge.

T reminded me yesterday that my mother’s inability to show me love and affection and the fact I didn’t FEEL loved, was about her and not me. She said quite strongly that I AM loveable, that it was her issue and not mine. She also said that mothers who absolutely smother their babies and are draped all over them is about their needs (the mother’s) and not the baby’s. She said it’s similar in therapy, the baby shows it’s mother what it needs and so does the client. There is no need for a mother or for a therapist to smother. It doesn’t allow the baby/client to breathe and think for itself.

Anyway, the point of this blog was meant to be that although not advisable or encouraged, it may well be progress that I’ve been able to get angry and “act out” probably safe in the knowledge somewhere deep down that she will still be there.

Trying to recover from the rupture

As 4pm drew closer today I began to feel more and more nervous. At ten to 4 I had to rush to the toilet where I got stuck for the entire 10 minutes (sorry for TMI)!. I watched my phone hit 4pm exactly and felt sick… I found T in my call list and pressed dial.

The phone rang just once or twice and then T picked up. I didn’t know what to say to her.  We said hello and then she asked me how I was currently feeling  had felt since I had sent her my email the other day.  In all honestly I wasn’t sure how I felt so I actually had to think about the answer to that question. I told her that her reply to my email had helped to lift a lot of the anger and pain and that knowing I would be talking to her today had also helped although I admitted that I was nervous and scared that it may end up making me feel more pain.

T told me that she had done some writing that she wanted to read to me to try to explain why she spoke differently to me and to other people. I was quite shocked at this, I’m not sure why but I think it’s something about the fact she had been thinking about it a lot and had clearly put a lot of thought in prior to this call.  Writing that now sounds obvious really doesn’t it? I guess of course she did.  Anyway, she begun to read to me and I can’t quite remember what she said but I do remember that I started to cry pretty quickly because what I “heard” at first was something that meant “some people need more love than others – than you do” and I cried because I thought my worst fears had come true. There really wasn’t anything she was going to say that was going to fix this rupture and there really was nothing she could say that was going to make me feel better, to enable me to trust her enough to be vulnerable with her again – to do the work with her anymore.

She said something about how she didn’t want to force herself and her love on me (as I heard this I thought to myself “it isn’t forcing when I want it”.) She said something about how my mother was an overbearing narcissist, that she didn’t want to repeat that for me and that she trusted me to show her what I needed.  She also said some things about how she worked using her intuition and that she truly believed that she was a good enough mother figure to me, and to all of her clients.  Now I got what she meant about my mother being an overbearing narcissist in one sense, but in another I was confused because my mother DIDN’T show me any love or affection so surely that isn’t the same? Surely that IS exactly what I need? There was so much being said and so many thoughts and feelings going on at once that it is hard to remember it all now.

She then explained how everyone she sees has different needs and said to me to think about my 3 stepchildren and how I would treat them all differently, but love them all the same amount.  She said you could have two children and one need a lot of reassurance and the other not need that so much. She said she worked using her intuition and was guided by me.  At this stage I was feeling pretty confused because, as I’ve already said, I understood what she was getting at, but I just kept thinking… yes, but I NEED you to show me love and affection so why won’t you do that??? If we all have different needs and I’m yelling at you because I want something (for my needs) then why aren’t you doing it?

I cried pretty constantly the whole time she was saying these things and then she asked me if I understood what she had said.  I told her I kind of did but kind of didn’t and she said it was okay if I didn’t fully get it at this moment in time, that perhaps I would in the future and that perhaps it would take more than just this one hour (someone had said this to me in a comment the other day and I am thankful they did as otherwise my expectations would have been too high – thank you).  I still felt rather disappointed and a bit deflated at this stage.  I could hear she was trying to make me feel better but it just felt a bit like what she was saying to me and what she was expecting me to feel weren’t tallying up somehow.  Like, was I missing something here?

She said that there was no denying it “was a monumental way to cock up“.  She actually admitted to me that when she realised what had happened, she had to phone a therapist friend of hers to cry to them! I felt instantly very guilty and sorry for her when she said this and said “oh nooo did you?” and before I could finish saying it she snapped quite abruptly “No! You do not feel guilty for that, I am not telling you that for you to feel bad about, but simply so that you understand that I did and do care very much“.  She said she knew instantly how deep this would have hit me and then said that the only reason she didn’t pry into how it had made me feel instantly and by text was because I was meant to be in session with her only a few hours later – until I cancelled.  She also added that being a therapist was a vocation to her and not just a job.  She said she really does get it and does deeply care, it wasn’t somethign she did simply to pay the bills.

I eventually said to her outright “I get that everyone has different needs and that you treat us all differently, just as I do my stepchildren, I get that.. but, I feel like I am always fighting to get someone to show me love and they never do and that IS what I want!” T said that it might feel to me like what I need is for her to show me lots of “gushing love” but that often what we think we need, isn’t actually that helpful for us.  She said that if she is working with someone who has had no love and affection from a mother and who has suffered childhood trauma and cruelty, that gushing them with love would be extremely damaging and painful for them.  My ears pricked up…  I questioned why and she said in the most extreme case, showering someone who has been loved deprived with affection COULD lead them to commit suicide. At this point I was listening intently but still confused and then she said this:

“Imagine a baby that is starving, literally starving and nearing death, extremely malnourished and very sick.  What you might think you need to do is to take the baby and feed it and feed it and feed it to make it better, to save it? But actually that would kill the baby!  What the baby would need is to be drip fed tiny bit by tiny bit until it built up a tolerance and could slowly adjust to having more food”…

Something about this image clicked in my head and really made sense… okay… okay, this was helpful – I told T this image was very helpful. She continued explaining and said that in my head I think I know what I need but that a lot of that was fantasy and built up using the fantasy that she is the perfect mother and that the perfect mother would and could never hurt me.  But that the fantasy was wrong.

I told T that it was so painful for me because so many times over the years I have got upset and complained to my mother that she never hugged me or told me she loved me or showed me any affection and my mother would shame me and tell me to grow up and tell me that I wasn’t a child and that I was pathetic.  I said it felt like the same thing was happening all over again – not the shaming so to speak, but like T was saying that she wouldn’t show me any affection even though she could have.  I told T that my mother was always very gushing with her men – just not me and the feelings were triggered by the text she sent me.

She said something again about being led by me and I said something like “but I have told you before that I sometimes find your emails lacking warmth and a bit cold and clinical!” and she said it was quite a while ago and said “lets not get too carried away, it is only an email sign-off, you do FEEL my love in many other ways – I know you do and I know that you have the capacity and capability to feel that love. Some people cannot feel it and need me to speak to them in different ways, in ways that might help it to get through to them. You feel my love here”.

Hmm…something about what she said made me feel ashamed. It felt as though she was saying “Jesus Christ, it’s a bloody sign off on an email!” and so I said that I understood that it was stupid and I was being irrational but she butted in and said she doesn’t think that for a single second, she said how much she understood the pain was very deep. She said every therapist’s favourite line… twice “This IS the work” with extra emphasis on the IS. I had to try not to chuckle.  She then spoke about “the frame” which I took to be a reference to the therapeutic frame, as in the guidelines or something? She said that it is expected and normal for me to want to bash the frame about and hit it and try to change it and it is her job to hold steady whilst I did that.  This gave me an image of a toddler who wants things it can’t have and kick and screams for them all the while the mother is calmly saying “no” but not shaming the child and, perhaps, validating the child’s pain? I don’t know, I could have this entirely wrong. I need to do some reading about the frame to fully grasp this I think.

[What I need to write next may offend/upset/annoy or possibly trigger those who have D.I.D or parts – I am not sure but I want to be cautious so consider this a warning if you want to continue reading].

T said that the person who the text was actually for was much more dissociated than I am and she said that sometimes she “doesn’t even bloody know I am here at all! I have to fight to get through to her to know I am there for her!”.  She then said I wasn’t that split and dissociative and that I did know she was there – that she only had to say something gently and I knew it, but that the other girl didn’t.  She said that working with parts was an entirely different way of working but that I wasn’t that split-off. She said that I was integrated.  (I questioned how true that was as she said it..).  She later said that the work I was doing was entirely different and that we were “nowhere near each other” whatever that meant.

I told T that I always secretly hoped I was her youngest client and that it made me special to her somehow.  She told me that it didn’t matter whether I was the youngest, oldest, prettiest or whatever.. that I was special to her just for being me.  She said that I didn’t need to “jump through hoops” for her.  I cried as she said this even though it felt a bit of a cliché you know like “you are special just the way you are”… but I think I believe her….. I think.  She said that I was working “beautifully” and was doing very well and that she admired me said I had plenty of courage even if I didn’t feel I did at times.  She said something along the lines of how the other client was in a very difficult place and that therapy was very difficult and unpredictable for her but for me, I may be struggling but i am progressing along very well.  I have mixed thoughts about this.

She told me that there was a space inside her that was just mine and that nobody else could ever take or come near because it was just for me and then said that she wondered if it felt a bit like finding out you were going to have a sibling when you were a child – others – someone else to share mum’s love and being really angry about it.  She said she wondered if it reminded me of when my sister was born?  I admitted when my sister was born I was terribly upset and jealous, having been an only child for 7 years, I was used to that and when I already had no love or affection another child surely meant I would have even less?! I’m not sure how accurate that fear was because it made not difference to the lack of love I got but it did result in lots of other feelings of insecurity and being forgotten or left-out.  It set me (and my sister) up for years of competing for her attention. The ultimate power-trip I guess. MEH.

She told me she had a lot of love and care for me and she said if I wanted her to sign her emails off “with love” from now on, that she would. I felt immature but thought to myself that it really isn’t the same when you ask someone is it? LOL and then she said …. I try to match your style in your emails to me… and I interrupted her and said, I had thought this only today.. when I re-read my emails to her, I always signed them off “Thanks, TT” and admitted that was rather formal, especially for me! I said I had done that because I was copying her style and she said she was following my lead!!! I did laugh at this.

I guess the main things I took from the call were that she thinks lots of affectionate words and gushing love is NOT what I need, even if I think I do… that she thinks I have the capacity to feel her love in many other ways and that some clients do not and that because I am in a constant state of hypervigilance, looking for perceived proof of being rejected or abandoned, that is why this hurt so much.  It did tap in to some very deep wounds of mine, mainly being unloved/unloveable and not special.  She said once or twice that I did not get to experience the good enough mother and that I was not taught that was allowed to feel angry and resolve something with her and that her love did not change for me if I did have those angry feelings.

Right now I have lots of words and thoughts and reactions to sit with and work through but I do already feel heaps better.  She reminded me that each rupture we get through is helpful and will build a deeper level of trust.  She said with each rupture that we successfully repair, I will gradually remember that things can be survived no matter how hard they get between us. I understood what she meant as she said this because the other day it seemed insurmountable and now it doesn’t.

Right now, believe it or not… whether she signs an email “with love” or just her name feels wholly insignificant… isn’t that funny? Or perhaps makes me a little crazy! Perhaps her reassurance has helped me to come out of my triggered place and back into a more rational and adult place? I’m not sure.  I feel hopeful but yet the remains of some sadness lurk below the surface, a bit like when you’ve got back together with an old boyfriend and you are glad but you feel a little fragile and kinda nervous and careful? on guard perhaps?? I dunno, it’s hard to explain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft letter to T

I’m sure you already know what’s going on for me, you probably guessed pretty instantly but that actually made it worse because if you did guess, why didn’t you do what you usually do and ask if it upset me or ask if it hurt or angered me? It felt as though you skirted over the issue and that made it worse.

When I read the text you sent me by mistake it felt like a kick to the stomach. I was already having a particularly bad few days and that day was horrible, reading your text just felt like the last straw. I couldn’t take anything else that day.

I have a lot of probably childish and irrational and dramatic feelings about that text. I’ve struggled with the feelings for the past 8 days and honestly all it makes me want to do is never come back to therapy,

You know by now that I’ve never missed a therapy session in 3 years, but last week I never wanted to come back again and unfortunately I still feel like that.

Reading a message from you to someone else, clearly another client, was just horrible. Obviously logically I understand you see many people, not just me… but I don’t have to face up to that reality because I don’t have to see it.

Reading that text changed that for me. There are two reasons it hurt me:

1) Some of the words are the same as you use with me – the words I refer to as “therapisty” like “bring it here” etc…. and that made me feel like I just get the same crap as a million other people. And then the complete opposite that

2) SHE got soooo much more warmth than I get. You called her “dearest”. Ouch. You later said “much love”… honestly I don’t have the words to explain how this made me feel but without sounding like a petulant child, you don’t use words like that with me do you? I don’t get that level of warmth and affection and I’ve told you before that I feel your replies can be cold and clinical and sometimes have made me angry as I’ve felt like I mean nothing. Sometimes I’ve poured my heart out to you and received a reply like “we will talk about it. Kind thoughts” and it’s like the equivalent of telling someone you love them for them to reply “thanks”. It’s painful.

So I’ve told myself that it’s the way you speak to all of your clients! That it’s some therapy rule or some code of ethics or something: keeping professional or something I don’t know….. but clearly that’s not true because SHE gets warmth and affection and terms of endearment that I don’t get and that makes me feel utterly rejected I guess. I feel unimportant, less liked, not loved… it makes me feel like I’m a chore and just “a job” and that clearly triggers me for very obvious reasons.

It makes me question everything. It makes me want to leave and stay away. Why is that? I guess it’s because without feeling like I am really important to you or liked or loved by you, that I am somehow special, what’s the point? I wish I could be more mature and accept that I am in counselling and I’m an adult paying another adult, a professional, for a service and that be that…. but clearly I don’t work that way. It goes way deeper than that for me and I feel it’s now one-sided and feel embarrassed for that.

I don’t see what you can say that would make me feel any better about this. There is nothing you can say about why you are so much more affectionate with her than with me that would make me feel any better.

So yes, you’re right, I AM running away but I’m running away because I just don’t see a way of repairing this rupture in a way that doesn’t mean everything from here will be different. Ruined. I don’t see how I can trust you the same way or be as open and vulnerable now. So what’s the point?

For Christmas I chose a special present and card for you. It really was chosen with a lot of thought and love, it wasn’t about money or anything. It felt special to me, I was giving you something symbolic of my love and it feels like perhaps you were laughing at me because you felt so very differently. Maybe you felt just like she did when I gave her special presents for Christmas that ended up in the bin.

I feel so unloved and so insignificant and like a chore and a job. I feel “less than”. Rejected in comparison and stupid for ever feeling anything else. Foolish.

I don’t need to tell you why those feelings are raw for me, having to feel those things AGAIN but because of you is hideous.

Perhaps the more time that passes the less hurt I will feel, but for now, I don’t know what else to do or say. I know you sent the text by accident and that if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t even know these things but that just adds to me feeling foolish.