’tis the damn season

Christmas was unexpectedly an absolute shit show. I was feeling completely okay about it this year, it being low-key and all, and somehow it descended into a total nightmare and brought up so much painful stuff for Nina and I. I ended up feeling so physically and mentally unwell on Boxing Day I could barely move off the sofa all day and have been in regular contact with R, who I’ve seen on and off for acupuncture since I was 21 and who has supported me through some of my darkest times, sending crazy texts full of shame and despair. He has been a lifeline and yet also not enough. I hadn’t realised till now that seeing K either side of Christmas has really helped me get through the last 5 Christmases. It’s been really hard not having a session to hold out for because it means there’s no end point where I can put down some of this shit.

My dad is just fucking awful – rigid, cold, cruel, abusive, sadistic, narcissistic. And I am flooded with shame and guilt when I think that about him. I wish I could just hate him. I wish I hadn’t been conditioned to automatically turn myself bad when I think and feel negative things about him, because as an infant and toddler I had to do that in order to preserve the attachment and survive. I’ve spent so much time in therapy unpicking the legacy of my relationship with my mum, and yet my dad is also so incredibly damaging and hurtful and so responsible for how I am, how I struggle, how I feel about myself and others. It breaks my heart that he was the safe one, the stable one, the one I turned to, and yet he broke me too. He isn’t safe at all. He never has been.

He is also horrible to Nina. I know I’ve written about this before but this year his behaviour has become so obviously unacceptable to both of us. He shames and belittles and criticises her constantly. He calls her stupid and lazy and tells her she won’t get a job and will end up homeless if she carries on how she is. He swore at her in TK Maxx after inviting her to go Christmas shopping with him and she spent the whole time she was with him a couple of weekends ago texting me to tell me how mean he was being. I hate how he speaks to her, how he mocks her and invalidates her. She has a huge allergic reaction every time she is at his house, which is ostensibly caused by the huge amounts of dust in his house (he cleans once a year at most) but is really her body just screaming “NO, this place is not good for me!”

When we got home on Christmas Day she was distraught, saying she thinks he hates her and that he doesn’t care about her at all. For Christmas he got her a tin of spaghetti hoops, an avocado, a bag of cheese puffs, some scissors and a set of coathangers. What.the.fuck.??? She is nearly 14 and there are a million things she would have liked. And it’s not even really about the gifts, because if she was met emotionally by him and we had a fun, warm time full of love and care when we were with him she wouldn’t care – it would just be an eccentric set of gifts from him. As things are though, the “gifts” symbolise how shut off and fucked up he is, and how he is totally unable to relate to anyone. They weren’t joke presents. He thought she would like them and she had to swallow her disappointment and pretend to be pleased.

I felt absolutely wrecked when we got home. Smashed into tiny pieces inside and drowning in shame. There is no love there, no warmth or joy or even niceness. It is flat and cold and distant. Any humour is mockery. And he just shows off and competes over everything. It is like being with a 6 year old boy. As Nina said, he didn’t really do anything wrong that day, but he is just not a nice person and he doesn’t know how to be with people, how to care, how to love. We spent 4 hours when we got home talking about him and how awful he is and how shit our family are and I let Nina cry and rage about it, but what a fucked up Christmas. I’d rather have been just the two of us a bit bored then have spent time with someone who makes us both feel so shit and let down and guilty.

It kills me to write bad things about him. We basically have no family without him, apart from my half sister who we are not really close to although we have chatted more this year than in previous years, but is no family better than this? If this was someone else in her life, her dad or my partner, who was nice and funny 10% of the time but abusive and cruel the rest of the time, people would be horrified that she still saw them when they were clearly wrecking her self-esteem and leaving her feeling worthless.

The triggers of Christmas will recede, but the need for action over this will not and so I am left with a sickening dilemma. Do I pull back further and leave myself unsupported and Nina with even less family? How do I pull back?I don’t get anything good from him but he does help practically sometimes, making food and helping when things at home break. But the way he complains and belittles me when he helps out, I just want to be free of needing his help. It’s hard though, as I can’t afford to pay for help with odd jobs and things. And I am still so scared of him that I never stand up to him. I am genuinely terrified of confronting him, disappointing him, enraging him, hurting him. It is clear I would rather Nina get lectured and sworn at and belittled than call him out on his behaviour and that is not something I am proud of. I am sure he is incapable of changing because he doesn’t act intentionally, he is just repeating patterns and behaviours he grew up with, but how do I pull away without telling him what the problem is?

I only know I can’t keep going like this. I hate that he thinks he is perfect and that everything mentally and physically wrong with me is caused by my mum. He kept coming up in therapy at the start of lockdown but I couldn’t go there, not properly there, with stupid remote therapy, so that trauma work is on hold till K and I can meet, which might not be till autumn. I need her to help me find a path through this that isn’t sacrificing mine and Nina’s well-being. She has never felt so far away. I feel so alone with this and it is even worse having had 5 Christmases of holding out for December 28th or 29th when I could take all the muddle to K that I am now on my own with it again. I talked to the friend I’m in a bubble with about it yesterday afternoon and she was lovely but she is not K and I couldn’t show just how fucked up this leaves me.

It is December 28th and I am done in despite having had 10 days off work. I think I’m coming down with a cold and I just need a break. A proper break. I have felt suicidal and anxious and in a constant state of dread since we got home on Christmas Day. 5 hours with my dad did this to me. I don’t want this anymore. And I can’t see a way out.

Attachment still hurts

Attachment pain is killing me. It’s not felt like this for months and months, since December last year in fact so nearly 9 months. I can’t even remember what to do with this pain and the gnawing, aching sensations in my chest and tummy. I feel so empty inside, so desperate for something I cannot even articulate. I want to curl up and die, preferably with K right next to me. It hurts so much. When it was time to end our phone call earlier I just wanted to scream and cry. It wasn’t enough time, it feels like it will never be enough time again, even though for all those months therapy hasn’t felt like this at all. It is like K and I are the same but the new house feels so strange and all wrong and we are both floating untethered in the new space. I need longer there, to learn what it is like there, to know I can trust it, to know K and I are the same and everything is still there. It still feels so far away and I can’t work out how our skies match up or where the moon should be.

K continues to be amazing and kind and validating. Monday’s session was not enough to settle this wave, I could feel the abandonment tidal wave threatening to erupt even before I left, as the time trickled away and the week apart stretched ahead. She took me outside before we left, to the special spot in her new garden, a shady space where you can sit under the trees and look across to the rolling hills and the edge of the moors and watch the sun go down. And as we sat there I wanted to beg her not to send me home yet, to let me stay until I’d soaked in enough of her to sustain me again and could feel deep inside that everything is the same and will be okay. I know she can feel my internal disturbances even when I don’t speak them out loud, and she said for now it is like it was when we met and to contact her when I needed to, to not hold back if I need her, to let her know how I am doing. She didn’t used to say those things, although we text most days at the start and often worked by phone, but I think before texting never used to help, and waiting for a reply was agonising, and we just couldn’t take in what she was saying and would end up more triggered, whereas now she knows this is temporary and that her presence helps me. She knows I can support and care for myself in the ordinary course of life now, that I have come so far, and that is why she is offering more, knowing she won’t have to pour this much into me again forever. It is good to remember things are different now, even though the storm feels the same.

Walking to the car I could hear the screaming inside, the pain was so intense, like part of me had been ripped away, like I was being left alone to die. The week ahead, even with phone contact, felt completely impossible to survive on my own. I nearly threw up before I got in the car. I wanted to scream and sob and wail, but feeling those feelings alone is intolerable so I swallowed the screams and I drove home, the pain in my head intensifying as I got nearer home and I pushed the feelings down more and more so I wouldn’t be a mess when I got back to Nina. We text K an hour after getting home. She said it is a big storm that will settle, to resource and rest, that we could work the next day (yesterday) by phone if it would be helpful. I tried to rest but young parts were so disturbed and the head pain was so intense and debilitating. Yesterday I had to work in my office and had meetings and a training and coffee with a friend and mostly I was adult but there was an undercurrent of disturbance all day and at Nina’s bedtime I yelled at her because she had the guinea pigs on her bed and one of them did a wee and so her sheets needed changing at 9.45pm. This was an annoyance, but the rage it triggered in me was clearly disproportionate. I did myself a reiki treatment and that soothed things a bit and I apologised for yelling before she fell asleep. K and I spoke this morning and it helped and hurt at the same time. I can’t even remember really what she said, but it was about attachment and trauma and not feeling safe in relationship, about how we are still working through the imprint of what happened to me as an infant and my attachment system, and that we were both working really hard to contain this wave and would continue to do so. I wish I could remember her words, but they’ve mostly dissolved already and I want to reach out by text but there is nothing she can do and ultimately this pain is not about her. It was so soothing to hear her voice and know how solid she is but it also hurt so much to have her there and to know I would then have to survive until Monday again without her. This feels so ridiculous to be writing, I’ve not struggled between sessions like this for so long.

I told her the huge and really intense dream I had last night about her and my Mum and all the pain I keep hidden. I was shouting a lot in the dream and just so completely broken. The content of the dream is pretty textbook, but as those of us who experience trauma dreams and nightmares will testify, their power and their residue is immense. I had intense knee pain, and other body pains, in the dream (which I have had a lot of lately, and could feel in the night every time I was semi-conscious) and had been carrying on for weeks as though my knee wasn’t hurting, but finally went to have X-Rays. My body was broken in multiple places and when the radiographer showed me my knee images my knee caps were cracked in two. I was told I would need to wear a cast for 3 months and my first thought was practicalities around getting Nina to and from swimming training and getting to work, shortly followed by ‘how will I get to K’s?’. Somehow I managed to get dropped off at the junction of the A-road I come off at to get to her new house, thinking that however much it hurt my knees I would walk the rest of the way, but then every time I went round a corner I was somewhere different than I expected to be and there were still miles to go. I was in so much pain and made it to a telephone box thinking if I called K she would come and get me (which she has said she will do in the landrover if there is ever flooding or snow I can’t get through to get to hers), but she wasn’t bothered and said she’d see me when I was healed and the cast was off. So I called my Mum to come and drive me to K’s and she did. I don’t remember seeing her in the dream though, and the next thing I was at her house, where I grew up, with my sister sitting across from me and when she found out how I’d got to K’s she went crazy at me about what I had done to my Mum and did I not realise the state she’d been in since I cut contact two years ago, and how this would destroy her (i.e. me reaching out to her when nothing has changed). I said it was fine, she knew nothing had changed and this was a one-off, but my sister continued to say angry things to me until I exploded and screamed at her ‘what about what Mum has done to ME?’ and how she broke me, how it is taking years and loads of money in therapy to recover, how for the first 18 months of therapy my plan was to kill Nina and I, so ‘what about ME?’ and if it wasn’t for what she had done I wouldn’t have needed to get to K’s in the first place.

This dream is so obviously about all my system is struggling to process at the moment, about climate breakdown and not being able to get to K’s, about attachment and damage and my dysfunctional family and the impact what I’ve had to do will have had on family members, and about the lengths I go to to conceal my pain, physical and emotional, consciously and unconsciously. And K says it shows us what big things have been coming up around her move and not being able to get to her, and things changing, and then not being able to see my sister at the weekend, for various reasons but in part because of the family mess and the emotions it would bring up. It has stayed with me all day.

I still feel as though I am dying, but I realise what is worse is knowing I won’t actually die between now and Monday, instead I will just have to live with these intolerable feelings and with no one to soothe it for all that time (obviously logically I can see actual death would be worse, but it doesn’t feel that way). I cannot escape this pain. I can’t remember what I did to soothe it, did anything work? I’ve been trying to think about ways this pain is different from before. I don’t feel K and I’s relationship is under threat, only our ability to see each other and work together. I don’t feel caught in the disorganised attachment dance, desperate to reach out to her yet terrified of pushing her away, I am just aware, from an adult space, that I can’t keep texting as there is not really anything she can do other than wait out the storm with me. And I also know now this pain is not about her, and this does leave me feeling like at least we are in this together; it is not about me needing more and her holding back from me, it is not making her angry that I feel this way, it is not making her want to give up on me, she is on my side and doing all she can to help make things better right now. If I text she would reply. She’s said we can work by phone again on Friday (except how much is all this phone time costing me, argh) and that she is solid in us and it doesn’t feel different for her.

I really, really hate feeling this way. I hate having young parts freaking out whilst at the same time I am trying to work. I want someone to hold me but I know if there was someone here it wouldn’t help. I asked K if she would go away if the baby part (Hope, she is called) really screamed with her and she said she thinks that baby did scream with her on Friday and I said “not as loudly as she screams when you’re not there” (because I was aware, even in that state, of holding back and not making too much noise) and she said if you become aware of that baby part coming out tell me and we will find ways to soothe her because it’s not good for babies to be allowed to just scream. And I said ‘but she doesn’t know what it’s like to scream and not be on her own’ and I think K understood this. I know she knows the level of distress, but to have it witnessed in all its intensity before it is soothed feels like something older parts need to witness happening if that makes sense.

This past week or two has been so hard. It is crazy thinking I felt so much worse than this for weeks and weeks on end for such a sustained period of my life. I don’t know how I coped, especially when it truly felt all about K and she couldn’t reach me in it. She thinks this will take a while to settle again, that it is a good reminder for us of how even though things are so much better now that it doesn’t take much to tip the balance again, that it shows why my body is so broken, but it is also really hard knowing these feelings still lurk and are still so life or death in their intensity.

Ripples

We just saw my brother as we were driving back from swimming training. He was walking with his head down, clearly sent on a late-night supermarket errand by my Mum, who he still lives with. My brother is 48, disabled, severely traumatised by our mum’s abuse and mental illness, and still experiencing abuse now, still trapped in that hell I grew up in. At least I am safe now even if I still live with the imprint of what she did to me, he is still stuck there going through what broke me so badly every single day. His life is fucking awful and I know being estranged from me and Nina, who he adored, has made it even worse. It’s now 2 years since we saw him because it’s impossible to see him without involving my Mum, and because she is likely to be so awful to him afterwards and cry so much that it’s not worth it for him. Seeing him breaks my heart. The way he walks hurts, a clear indication of how he feels about himself and his place in the world. I want to see him so much, but I also don’t. I can’t. It all hurts too much.

Today has been really hard. The pain over Zara, my student, rippling through me still and I kept crying at work. Yesterday we did a phone session with K and she validated it all, said what we needed to hear about not being dramatic or selfish or over-reacting. She said we could do a ritual or ceremony together for Zara, so I can tell her the things I wish I had said and find some kind of closure. I plan to go to the inquest as well – I had to write up all my dealings with her for the coroner on Tuesday and that was so hard, reading through her emails and also remembering how triggered and upset I was after her disclosures. I have so many questions about what happened and how she was this past year. And of course her death brings up so much about my own experiences – years of being suicidal, Jess, my maternal grandmother who committed suicide when my mum was 12, sexual abuse and rape and DID and not being believed. I told K how hard it is imagining Zara being in hospital with no one believing her about DID and repressed memories – I’ve experienced that lack of belief in a disorder I so clearly have, had parts yelling that no one thinks they are real but they are, but to be sectioned and experiencing that… I can’t even imagine. We’ve text K today as well and she was so kind and says she is here for us all through this shock, and it does at least feel as though that is true now. I want to text her now about my brother, because it just couldn’t have come at a worse time. I will wait until our Friday email tomorrow to tell her though, even though it is so hard not to reach out.

At bedtime Nina said she doesn’t miss my brother anymore, that it would be too hard to see him because of her grandma. I said I miss him but I don’t want to see him. She said you can’t miss someone and not want to see them. You can – she will learn this one day. You can miss someone every single day and still not want to see them because seeing them would hurt even more than not seeing them.

 

The sting of invalidation

Today a photo of my Mum came up on my twitter feed. She is involved in something in the local community and a public figure I follow had ‘liked’ it. It was a bit of a shock seeing her, and brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings that I am glad I will have the opportunity of sharing and processing with K tomorrow in my session. She is smiling. She looks happy. She looks ‘normal’. She looks like my Mum. I know that underneath it all she isn’t ‘fine’ and never has been, but she does look like a regular person. It makes me question why I don’t see her, how it can have been that bad, whether I made it all up. And it makes me feel sad that she is living and getting on with her life, even though she doesn’t see me or Nina anymore. I know this is illogical – I don’t want her to be hurting and hiding away from the world, I don’t want her to have not accepted my decision and to be hounding me to reconsider or trying to get at Nina in other ways, I don’t want her to be suffering. It still hurts, though, because she has let me go. I am her daughter and she has let me go. I know if she hadn’t, if she was trying to get in touch, it would have been completely horrific, and I know it’s so much more complex than being because she doesn’t care, but it still hurts that she let us both go. I guess part of her knows how bad it was for me and how awful and confusing her behaviour was for Nina, even as her denial weaves a tight and almost-impenetrable barrier around her.

It is sunny today. Spring-like. Aside from the uneasy knowledge that seems to sit with me nearly all the time now that we are heading for climate change apocalypse (we have 11 years to avoid the worst affects now), it is nice to have sunshine and warmth. It helped give me energy and avoid  falling into a hole. Or pulled me out of a hole I guess as the past 5 days have been really hard and energy has been in short supply. I went out on my bike – the first hilly ride of the year and it was beautiful. I felt strong and like I could have gone for miles (which is a change from how cycling usually is at this time of year because I’ve been going to cycling classes at the gym this winter and doing HIIT and virtual trips in front of the big screen) and it has shifted things definitely and given me some perspective. Cycling outside in the countryside when it is sunny always boosts me. I love it so much and if I could I would cycle all day every day.

The worst part was I stopped off to get my Dad to look at something that was rubbing on my bike. I stupidly told him about seeing the photo of my Mum (when will I learn not to turn to him when I am vulnerable?) and he actually said ‘ah, whatevs’. I mean, really!! How is that anything that a parent should be? It stings. It invalidates. It minimises. It makes me feel small and invisible and ashamed and not entitled to have feelings at all. His contempt pours down around me at moments like that. I will never stop seeing my Dad, but seeing clearly how he is now really enables me to see how the combination of both my parents well and truly fucked me up when it comes to being able to feel emotions without dissociating and feeling like a totally worthless person for feeling anything at all. Even excitement has always been met with contempt and ‘foreboding joy’ where he pours dampener over everything good and warns me things will probably go wrong. The combination of my Mum’s abuse instilling intolerable feelings in me which were then met with ridicule, silence or contempt by my Dad is a fucking toxic mixture.

As I said, I will always see my Dad, and I definitely share so much less with him now than I did when I started therapy, but I will be glad when he is less involved in my life because Nina is older, because I rarely leave any interaction with him feeling good about myself. It still baffles me that he would be completely unable to even see that it might be painful for me to see my Mum out of the blue and know she is just getting on with her life. He painted her as a monster decades ago now and has nothing but impatience and contempt for her, but the reality is so much more complicated than that. She is damaged and hurting and mentally ill. And even if she was a complete monster with no humanity at all – it would still hurt that she is my Mum. I get that he can’t understand, that he is limited as a human being because he has almost no cognitive or affective empathy, and so he doesn’t hurt me or invalidate me intentionally. It is just hard seeing how limited he is, how lacking in compassion he is – for me and her. My sister and I often say how if both of our Dad’s (we’re half sisters) had been a little kinder and more understanding of her she may have been able to get help before it was too late.

Anyway, I am glad I can write this out, that I can understand now what happens to me when he behaves like that and how it taps into all the old hurt. And I can understand how complex the thoughts and feelings are around my Mum now and I don’t need to act on them. The worst part is thinking I am crazy for not seeing her and having to go back to all the awful times over the first 34 years of my life to prove to myself I am not and that there was really no alternative but complete estrangement. Looking back hurts but sometimes it is the only way of validating myself and the future I have chosen for Nina and I.

Missing

I miss my mum this evening. It pulls heavily at me. I wanted to google her, although I know seeing her face on anything online would break me. Seeing her obvious insecurity and self-doubt in photographs fills me with dread and horror and guilt and shame. A toxic combination of emotions rooted deeply in my psyche from before I was even born. I still so badly want this to not be real, for her to not be my mum. It still hits me sometimes that it is real – I will probably never see her again. And I question if it was really that bad that I have to do this, even though I know no one would willingly choose to do what I have had to do.

It seems mad sometimes to be blocking her out of my life. What a crazy thing to do to your own mother! I could pick up the phone and she would come round, I know she would. And for a few minutes it would feel okay, but then everything would be the same and I would be trapped, unable to break away again because it would hurt her all over again. I still dream I am back in contact with her and I know it was a mistake but that I have to live with it because I can’t do that to her again. I wake up drenched in sweat, sobbing and shouting, feeling panicked and trapped and unable to escape. I know all this, know there is no other way, but it is still so hard. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of that horror that lives within me, barely made any headway with feeling what she is and how it was for me because of her mental illness.

In December I was crying with K “how can SHE be my mum? How can she be my mum and have done those things to me?” And K gently asked if it wasn’t time to change things round now, so that I start to say “she IS my mum, she DID those things” and I start to feel all that this really means and has meant to me. I agreed. But going there is scary. I prefer the disbelief than the resolute acceptance which I know must come, and the feelings that must be felt before I get there.

Sometimes I feel crazy to be missing someone who damaged me so much and wounded me so deeply, but I do miss her – she is the only mum I’ll ever have and she tried so hard. She wasn’t evil, she wanted to love me and give me what she never had, she just didn’t know how else to be. She couldn’t love me. How fucking awful for a mother to lose her daughter after losing her own parents so young. What a fucking awful existence she has had. If I could have sacrifiecd myself to save her I would have done, but I couldn’t make her happy and fill her up however much of myself I gave to her.

I miss her. I can’t go back, it has to be this way, but I miss her so much. Knowing she is out there, just 5 miles away, living her life as best she can without me and Nina, trying to get used to the hole we have left… It hurts. I hurt for her and I know I need to hurt for me but I can’t. Feeling her feelings is still safer for me. There is work to be done, but for now I am trying to just sit with the grief and remember that this wave will pass and there is light ahead of me.

missing

Boundary invasions

As if this week wasn’t hard enough with the anniversaries approaching and moments of all-consuming grief over the suicide of my friend Jess, last night there was a boundary breach in the estrangement from my Mum which has left me absolutely reeling and stunned. I collected Nina from a friend’s after school and in the car she told me ‘something bad happened today’ and proceeded to tell me that my sister’s friend’s son is in her tutor group at school. Having worked out who this boy is I was filled with horror and turmoil and panic. It’s not just the son of one of my sister’s oldest and closest friends, it’s someone my Mum taught during her A levels and who her and my brother spend quite a lot of time with still. Apparently the boy, Oscar I’ll call him, had got Nina as his secret santa person and his Mum had recognised her name. Oscar and Nina sometimes played together when they were little and his family have my brother over quite a lot because he is disabled (and abused) and doesn’t have much of a social life. Oscar was boasting to Nina that he sees her Uncle G more than she does, and said ‘you betrayed your Uncle G’. What the fuck? K and I did a phone session this afternoon and, as she pointed out, those are not the words of an 11 year old boy; they are my Mum’s words, clearly overheard in a hushed conversation between my Mum and his Mum.

Nina was mostly okay last night. She was worried what they must think of us, and I said that Auntie K would have told her friend how difficult things were for us all. Nina asked why Auntie K still sees our Mum and I said ‘because she feels too guilty not to’. She asked if I felt guilty and I admitted that I do. She said ‘I don’t!’ and I breathed a sigh of relief – she used to, she used to worry my Mum would kill herself if we didn’t see her as much as she wanted us to. The main reason I cut contact was to save Nina from the crippling guilt and obligation I grew up with, and to spare her from taking on responsibility for my Mum’s pain and unhappiness the way I did and the way she was starting to, so to hear her say this meant that I have at least succeeded in this. Nina also said that another boy then came over and said ‘I know your Uncle G too, from baking class’. I know nothing more about this though, and I don’t know if my Mum and brother know this boy knows Nina yet. I suspect if they do they will befriend this family too. It is so sick and dysfunctional and invasive. My Mum is impossible to fully escape from. She is everywhere. Her pain and emptiness is everywhere.

I was so shaken by both these pieces of news, knowing that as soon as my Mum found out she would worm her way into Oscar’s family even more, desperate for a connection to Nina. And it would be another route for us to hear about their pain, my Mum and brother’s, when we were least expecting it. I chose that school, in a village far from where we currently live, precisely because I wanted a clean start away from any connection to my Mum, and somewhere that means we can move to a little village and not worry about bumping into her anymore. I cried in the kitchen for a while and text my sister in a panic begging her to tell her friend not to tell our Mum Nina and Oscar are in the same tutor group. I told Nina my eyes were watering because of onions and my cold. And I reached out to K via text. We had already met yesterday for an extra session, and had talked a lot about Jess and I had cried a lot and expressed frustration that my Mum is so present this weekend because of her birthday, even though I wanted it to be all about Jess. K had said if I needed it we could do a phone session over the weekend. She said she thought I would be okay because I seemed to have my feet planted on the ground despite the pain, but that she wanted me to know I was being held this weekend. So I reached out to her and she replied to say we should talk it through by phone the next day.

This afternoon she text to say we could meet if I would prefer, but I have a horrible cold and didn’t want to infect her, so we arranged to work by phone. We spoke for an hour and I cried and cried. She was so reassuring and validating, and she really understood why this was such a big deal. She let me voice all my fears and worries and frustrations and she heard them all. We talked about how intolerable it was seeing my Mum, we talked about all the alternatives, we talked about why I want to stay here even though from the outside it must look crazy. I sobbed and wailed how it shouldn’t be like this, how I pretended family wasn’t a big deal, but how it is a big deal and for so many people family is just normal, there in the background, a source of support when needed and something that it just simple and taken for granted. “Why can’t I have that?” and “why do I always have to pretend it is okay when it isn’t?” I said how nuts it must look to others that I don’t just run away from this city, and we talked about what it would be like if I moved away, how this would be the flight response and not really a genuine and freely made move. We talked about how hard it would be for me to manage to move to a different area with no support when I have such a big career and huge emotional and physical health difficulties, and K mentioned also that I am making big progress in therapy lately and this does feel like another huge reason to stay.

As we were drawing to a close she asked me to write this evening. She said to journal about all the positive reasons I had named to stay here and not send Nina to the school around the corner and to email it to her. So I did, and I will post it in a minute, because it feels really important to keep in mind that although I feel stuck and trapped and unable to escape my Mum’s tentacles, being here is still a choice. I have a choice and I choose to stay here and heal. My head and jaw ache so badly this evening, and my chest is wrecked and tight and bruised from grief and crying and the cold, but I feel better having cried it all out to K and thank goodness it is only 2 days now until I see her again. She is so kind to me and it hurts that I can’t understand why she chooses to be there for me. Yesterday I was crying about Jess and it hit me that my Mum lives a 10 minute drive away and “she should be here!” She should be there to help me at this difficult time and she isn’t, even though she is so close and she could be. When Jess died she yelled at me that I was going to spoil Christmas. When I think of all the awful things she has done to me and Nina I know I have done the right thing cutting contact, but it still hurts, and it hurts knowing that people who don’t even know me think I have betrayed them. What about me? Why is my pain so invisible? Why is K the only one who really sees how hard this is for me?

 

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