It has been four days since my big discussion with parents and one week until they leave for their summer vacation. I haven’t heard from them directly but my eldest daughter saw them when she visited my niece. She said my mother was very complimentary when she spoke about me. She also sent some things home with my daughter. She sent a card for my son. It is his birthday next week and she told my daughter that she had written a cheque so I could buy him a present. When I opened the card there was two cheques, one for his present and one made out to me for a much larger amount with no explanation. She also said she wouldn’t see us before she left. I feel confused. My mother will do a lot to avoid having to admit any wrongdoing or make an apology. This is more than she has done before. I’m still angry and I don’t want to be bought off. It would mean more to me if she would stop treating me the way she does.
I spent my session with M discussing my rage. We discussed how powerless I feel because I can’t talk to my mother about what she said and have her accept how I feel. M asked me why I can’t just stop seeing my parents, refuse to give them an opportunity to disrespect me. I said I didn’t want to deprive my children of a relationship with their grandparents even though I can see that they have started talking about my eldest daughter’s size, weight, clothing, appearance. They aren’t as unkind to her as they are to me but I don’t like to hear them say anything. I also don’t want to deprive them of all the aunts, uncles, and cousins that we see with my parents. I understand that it seems like I’m paying too high a price to maintain the relationships with my extended family but I’m not ready to do anything different. The immediate problem is that I’m supposed to spend the upcoming long weekend with my parents and my children and husband at the family cottage. I’m so angry I’m not sure I can do it. M suggested that maybe I need to have a conversation with my parents where I tell them I’m angry and ask that in order to not deprive my children of the weekend away that they not interact with me particularly about my sensitive subjects. I wasn’t sure if it would help but I decided to try it.
I phoned my parents from my work this evening (I was the only person working late so I was alone) and started with my planned statement. I was angry about my mother’s comments about my weight at the graduation and about the comments they had been making about my daughter and before I went away this weekend I wanted them to agree to stop talking about weight, body size, food etc. I didn’t even get through the sentence before my mother started laughing that I could be making such a big deal about what she said. My parents told me they wouldn’t come with my family this weekend because they didn’t want to upset me. I said I would like them to stop with their comments anywhere. Then my mother told me she has no idea why I am so sensitive, why I am so unreasonable, why I don’t address things when they happen and then make such a big deal out of them. Both my parents assured me that they have never said anything to suggest that my daughter is overweight, that I am the one that thinks she is and so I misinterpret what they say. Some of their comments are just jokes and why can’t I take a joke. I told them that I had spent about 15 years as an adult trying to communicate with them. What I had learned was that no matter what I said and how I said it they told me I misunderstood or was too sensitive or wasn’t remembering the facts correctly or wasn’t presenting my upset correctly (I waited too long and should have said something right away). I told my mother that she had never accepted any responsibility for what she said or did and I couldn’t remember her apologizing. My mother told me that I am her only child who could never apologize so there is no way she would ever apologize to me for anything. She also never tells me about the many things I do that hurt her feelings and instead she writes angry letters to me that she never sends and she doesn’t know why I don’t do the same thing. By the end of the call my mother was sobbing as she apologized profusely for anything she has ever said that might have hurt my feelings. She apologized for caring so much. She promised to never say anything ever again about my weight. She wants only the best for me and I should tell her the minute something upsets me. I guess so she explain why I shouldn’t be upset. She clearly feels like I have wounded her with what I said and therefore she went with the dramatic martyr-like behaviour.
After my mother went out my father called me to continue the conversation. He listened to me talk more than my mother did but he didn’t hear or accept much of what I said. He acknowledged that my mother has trouble thinking about anybody other than herself and loses her temper easily and lashes out at people. He asked me to cut my mother a lot of slack because she had a difficult childhood and he is worried about her health. I told him I had a difficult childhood and it was made difficult by my mother being unable to accept me having any feelings other than happiness. I said it was hard to be happy when I was being sexually abused by my older brother and I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest child while I dealt with that. I also told him that when I finally told him and my mother about the abuse as a teenager they did absolutely nothing but my mother did accuse me of making up stories and that was another time when I wasn’t the happiest person because I was left to deal with everything on my own. I was glad I got to say some things to my father but I’m not sure it makes a difference because he is really concerned about my mother and we ended by discussing how angry and upset my mother would be when she returned home and how she might respond to that.
I’m exhausted and I feel like I’m not sure how we could have such different stories. I guess I have changed because I didn’t completely believe my mother’s story and I didn’t end the conversation by apologizing for being a heartless daughter and hurting her feelings with my unreasonable pain which is how many conversations between my mother and I ended up until 5 years ago. I’m not sure I believe my story either though. Maybe I am misinterpreting what they say, maybe it is not as bad as I make it out to be, maybe therapy is just convincing me I was abused emotionally and I’m getting angry at them unfairly. Sometimes what they say just goes around and around in my head until I’m all confused about which way is up.
I’m exhausted. My head and neck aches. So does my jaw because I’ve spent so much of today gritting my teeth and tensing my muscles. I’ve cried off and on. I’ve written in my journal. I called my friend, my sister and eventually M to talk about my feelings and still they are overwhelming. I’m angry at my mother. I’m angry that she came to my daughter`s graduation and insulted me in the middle of a church where I was surrounded by other parents. I’m angry because I didn’t get angry then. To be clear my mother is always like this. She has always told me what I was doing wrong. She comments on my weight, my clothes, my makeup (or lack). She talks about how I don’t clean my house or parent my children properly. She has told me that she loves me so she can’t keep quiet about what she sees me doing wrong. I told her that I wish she didn’t love me.
My sister isn’t happy that I”m so angry at my mother. She listened to my story and then told me that she thinks my mother is angry at me for a conversation I had with her a week ago and so was attacking me. She also told me that there was nothing I could do and I should stop being angry because “that is just how she is”. My sister likes to complain about my parents and the things they do to us but she doesn’t like it when I get angry. It is like there is the right amount of frustration I should feel about my parents and when I go past it then my sister is uncomfortable and tries to shut down the conversation. Usually after a conversation like today my sister avoids talking to me for several days and then avoids the topic completely because she wants me to calm down.
I spent the day having imaginary conversations with my parents: conversations where I told my mother the effect it has had on me to spend my entire life being told what I do wrong; conversations where I told her I wasn’t listening to her talk like that anymore and I was leaving anytime or place she started in on me; conversations where I didn’t explain anything and just told them to f**k off. My imaginary conversations ended with my mother stabbing me in the back with a kitchen knife. It is a ridiculous to consider my mother attacking me physically because she is a frail senior citizen. Also she isn’t a violent person although she used to hit us suddenly as punishment when we were children. Once she broke a plate by smashing it onto the top of my head when she was angry with me at the dinner table. I can’t believe that even in my imaginary conversations my mother wins. No wonder I feel so powerless around my parents.
Around the middle of today I left M a message telling him how angry I felt and asked him to call me. When he eventually did call I realized that I was trying to manage my anger and hoping that he could talk me out of it or through it or something. He couldn’t but he did understand why I was so angry. He suggested I try to write out my anger and that I reserve my anger for my mother and turn it on myself but it is too late for that. Last night after the graduation I couldn’t stop eating. I ate until I felt sick and then I ate some more. Then for most of today eating anything made me nauseous. I have scratched at my skin until I bled and cried until my head ached and I’m still so angry.
Tonight I attended my eldest daughters elementary school graduation. It was another hot overcrowded event a lot like the one I posted about here I dressed for the heat in a nice sundress. Tonight when my mother arrived the first thing she asked me when I sat down beside her was whether I had recently gained a lot of weight or if I gained the weight awhile ago and she was only noticing now. I managed to sputter out that I was wearing the same dress I had worn last august and no I hadn’t gained a lot of weight but I was getting tired of her asking me that at regular intervals. She denied talking about my weight in years but then I reminded her of exactly what she said when she came back from her winter vacation in April. Then she told me we should stop talking about this unpleasant subject and she switched to telling me about something else that I am doing wrong. Can you tell how much she gets to me?
The best thing about the evening was my daughter. She was the valedictorian of her class and she gave a very good speech. I am so impressed by her poise and self-confidence. The graduates were called up in alphabetical order to receive their diplomas so her father and I each had our camera ready when they missed her name. I was surprised when they came to the end of the list and hadn`t called her up and I wasn`t sure what to do. My daughter stood up, turned to the audience laughing, and said we aren`t done yet, they have forgotten someone which led to a lot of laughter while the reader tried to figure out how he missed her name. I find it both amazing and inspiring watching my daughter stand up for herself and not react like I do when things don`t go as planned. I would have frozen in my seat, been unable to speak, and wished I could die of the embarrassment. It was a good night.
One of the things that keeps happening in my therapy with M is my feeling that he isn’t responding to me because he doesn’t care. I am using the word care to describe a huge constellation of feelings I have when I feel like M is ignoring me or my pain. They include my fears that he doesn`t like me, I am too much trouble, he is frustrated etc. Over the years I`ve been in therapy there have been very few times M has not responded to me after reading an email like he did on the weekend I emailed him about my fight with my daughter`s. Many times he hasn`t actually received the email when I thought he had because he wasn`t in his office or I haven`t received his reply. In the session I wrote about in this post I told M that I wondered if I would be able to be reassured by a different therapist or whether I would hit the same or a similar wall with any therapist. I decided to meet with B to discuss the same question so I called for an appointment
I`ve met with B about six times in the last eight months. Each time I`ve called or emailed her asking for an appointment she has called my within a few hours and made an appointment in the next 48 hours. It was different this time because I wasn`t upset but when she contacted me the next day she sent me an email saying she wouldn`t be able to call me for three days. It was even longer before she called and left a message saying she would try me later that night. Then it was a week before I heard from her. I was surprised but not very upset because she isn`t my therapist. Of course if she was my therapist I would have been well past upset at not hearing from her for a week. I told M that I thought it was ironic that I wanted to explore my feelings and reactions when M doesn’t respond to me and if that might be different with a different therapist and she hadn’t gotten back to me. I feel certain that no matter who I worked with there would be times where I felt abandoned and uncared for. Those feelings and my reactions to them are mine and get triggered by a lot of different circumstances. I feel like I’ve hit a wall that I don’t know how to get through which means that instead of thinking of changing therapists I’m thinking about stopping therapy or more correctly I’m thinking about the likelihood of me continuing therapy when I don’t feel like I can make progress on this topic and I can’t seem to leave it alone and work on something else.
M challenged me on my thinking this week and suggested that another therapist might work in a different way or with a different manner and that might make the inevitable disappointments easier for me to handle without triggering a cascade of negative self-talk. He actually referred specifically to touch in therapy which is something that B has employed and I had described to him and he doesn’t. That comment lead to an interesting and very painful discussion about safe touch and feeling damaged by my abuse history but I’ll leave that for another post. Almost immediately after the session where M talked about how another therapist might work differently with me which made me think he is trying to get me to quit therapy, B called me. Rather than make an appointment we spoke on the phone for almost 30 minutes. Most of the conversation consisted of B telling me that although she thinks M is a good therapist who clearly cares about me and is trying to work with me she feels that something isn’t working between us and she thinks it is time for me to recognize that and find a new therapist. I found it very odd because every time I’ve seen her I have been upset and told her I thought it wasn’t working with M and each time she told me she would advise me to go back to M and talk through things with him. I think seeing me triggered before my vacation in person as opposed to me talking about it in other sessions has affected her view of my therapy. She told me she thought I was letting a child part of me control my therapy and that M didn’t recognize the child part of me. It was an odd discussion in many ways because I’m not comfortable with any child part of myself or with a therapist telling me what to do. I haven’t told M what B said in that phone conversation yet but I put it on the list of things to discuss soon.
This week I feel like both M and B were telling me I should find a new therapist. B said it quite clearly. M told me that he didn’t think that but he was willing to explore the possibility with me. I still think that if I am quitting therapy with M I am not looking for a new therapist, at least not immediately.
After being so sad and hopeless after my session with M last week, I spent a day and a half obsessing over how things have gone downhill since my fight with my daughters and M not responding to an email. I realized that I haven’t told M that I’m upset about that because I am ashamed of being so needy and so unreasonable. I can’t seem to express any anger at M in person and usually I don’t even feel angry when I’m in session it explodes later. Friday I tried to arrange a short phone call to try to tell him how I felt. We couldn’t connect by phone which was disappointing but I think the act of trying helped me.
I started to feel better and I had a lot to do because my daughter was having a sleepover birthday party in my basement. I spent a lot of time cleaning the house, moving some of the toys out of the playroom so the girls could sleep down there, made cake pops. I also managed to throw some things away that have been sitting in my bedroom for years. My bedroom looks like a hoarders episode except the piles are much more efficient. The rest of the house isn’t so bad but my bedroom is where I put things I don’t know what to do with. Things are boxed and pushed into the corners and then more things are added and more until I can’t see the bottom layers and I’ve long since forgot what I put there. Since then I’ve cleaned out two or three boxes everyday. Today I sorted through boxes that had report cards and school work from 2008. I can’t bring myself to throw everything away so I’m looking at everything before deciding. I’m probably tossing or donating two-thirds of what I was keeping so that feels like progress.
***triggering*** talk of suicide****
I came home from my session with M tonight feeling so incredibly hopeless because I can’t do anything different. I keep thinking that I will and then I don’t. I came home and started looking at the Percocet my husband got from the doctor last weekend. There are 17 5mg pills left in the bottle and I can’t figure out if that is enough to kill me. I often have thoughts of killing myself but one of my biggest fears is that I will try something that doesn’t work and then I’ll have to deal with people knowing I tried to kill myself and failed. I’ll have to deal with strange doctors and then face my husband and my parents. I’ll have to try to explain myself and how I could be so selfish. I don’t want to fuck up dying as much as I fuck up living. So I won’t try. Instead I have a drink and write something here and wish for a sudden brain embolism or fatal car accident. I try to remind myself that I’ve felt this way before and the feeling passes.
ETA: I just found out this is my 125th post on the blog and probably one of my worst. To be clear I`m not going to do anything tonight. I even asked my husband to hide the Percocet in a place I wouldn`t find them. Now he`s decided not to go to sleep.