• Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

Wobbegong

Wobbegong's Complain Cave

Recommended Posts

THIS IS A THERAPY JOURNAL. 

So heads up and don't say I didn't warn you. 

 

I like to work on exercise and nutrition goals over in the 4WCs; this battle log is just for chronicling my journey to a healthier, happier, emotionally stable Wobbegong. All complaints about Mother will be kept here, along with notes on what I'm doing in therapy, what I'm stressed about, and any successes I may have on the way. I have been instructed also to record feelings coming to the surface such that I might review them later to check on my progress, so that will happen here as well. 

 

Things I am currently working on:

  • Repercussions of being raised by a narcissist
  • Repercussions of being raised by an alcoholic
  • Developing a sense of self
  • Learning to experience and manage feelings like an adult
    • Special focus on grief, anger, and success/failure
  • Deprogramming my own narcissistic traits

 

I don't expect anyone to follow this Battle Log or interact with me here, but you are absolutely welcome to do so if you choose, and of course I always appreciate encouragement and advice. If anything in this Battle Log helps you with your own feelings or situation, so much the better. 

 

**There will be no trigger or content warnings beyond this point.** If you feel uncomfortable here, you are free to leave. At this stage in my recovery, however, one of my primary goals is to feel as uncomfortable as I can stand, as part of practicing feeling, identifying, and dealing with unpleasant emotions. 

 

**I will never tag anyone in this battle log.** If people chose to come here, that's great, but I will not summon anyone. If you post here, I will quote you so you know I have replied. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a bunch of stuff to post and work through but right now I just want to go to sleep so I'll leave the rest for tomorrow. But the idea of this battle log is to post something every day and I missed yesterday, so... never two in a row. 

 

Lately I've been working on a therapeutic thought experiment wherein I imagine my young self, make myself open to her, and ask what she needs. Then theoretically I offer it to her. It is recommended that this experiment be performed in a quiet space, where I am alone, and with my eyes closed, so I've been doing it before bed the past couple of nights. 

 

Spoiler

The first time I tried it, my young self wouldn't look at me. I imagined myself at age six or seven: chubby little Wobbegong, bob cut and bangs, in clothes that fit awkwardly (because I hated shopping and most of my stuff was hand-me-downs anyway), curled up on my bed around some book or game or something. I called out to little me, but was mostly ignored... although I thought I saw little me's shoulders hunch up, just the way I always tense when mom pokes her head in while I'm doing something I enjoy. (I tense because she always tells me to stop wasting time and do something useful, like clean my room or do the dishes or go outside and exercise.) I was really sad that little me didn't trust me any more than I trust my mother. I felt lonely, and for the first time in awhile was really keenly aware of how little love and care I show myself. Even reflecting on this experience a few days later is painful. 

 

I tried again, though. I want to develop a relationship with the child inside me, and help her grow. The second time I reached out, little me set down her game. (I could clearly see my old turquoise Gameboy color; at that age, I would've been playing Pokemon the Trading Card Game for GBC.) She asked, very timidly, as though she thought I would refuse, just for a hug. I wanted to imagine myself gathering her up into my lap for a hug, but I'm nervous around children and doubted I would really do that. Maybe we'll work up to it. We stood for a hug instead, and I hoped it would be like when I hug my dad -- a long, tight squeeze, cuddling into his warmth -- but it was short. Little me pulled away quickly, and returned to her gameboy. Writing that word out is making me remember the condescending way my mother always says it. That's interesting. 

 

Last night as I was falling asleep was my most recent attempt to reach out, and I ended up getting distracted and reflecting on the way I used to create expansive imaginary games governed by bizarre rules and including a variety of characters, all of whom I generally acted out myself. Occasionally, though, someone (a friend once or twice, but more commonly a particular aunt) would attempt to join me in the game, only to be thwarted by the complicated and unclear rule system. My aunt often reflects on how impressed she was with my creativity as a child, but looking back, I'm struck by how entrenched my assumption that I would be playing by myself was. Even when faced with playmates, I was unable to include them in a meaningful way, instead opting to direct them as though they were actors in a play. 

 

I know I was left on my own a lot as a kid, and spent a lot of time keeping myself entertained. I know that I had no trouble meeting or getting along with other kids, but I didn't tend to keep close friends for more than a year when I was young. I remember I preferred the company of adults, but was rarely indulged for long. 

 

I don't really know what any of this means, and I guess that means I'll have to explore it more on my own and with my therapist. But it does make me wonder how I'll get through to little me. If she's not looking for a playmate, will I be an indulgent adult? As my current self, am I supposed to be standing in for the mother little me should've had in this exercise? If so, how can I do that when I don't know what a mother should be to her child, or what exactly I missed out on? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So much for never two in a row. I guess I can cut myself some slack as I get started, because I do want to get rolling with this but I also feel sort of uncomfortable whenever I come to this thread. I used to always post complaining stuff in my 4WCs, but there were times when I felt it was just dragging everyone else down. Lately when I want to write something along those lines in my 4WC I think "that belongs in your battle log now" but then I don't want to come here just to complain. 

 

Complaining is literally the purpose of this battle log, so I should work on getting over that. 

 

I want to keep notes of some of the things my mom says and does. Generally, when I experience them, it feels like a shitshow, but when I write them down I think, "eh, that's not really that bad." Tbh I have no idea if it really is "that bad" or not, but I have trouble remembering specific instances of things she's done that've bothered me if I don't write them down, so I will. 

 

Last night I was trying to pack up leftovers from dinner to put in the fridge. I reached for a glass tupperware container, but my mom interrupted to insist on plastic. Obediently (tiredly, not really caring,) I grabbed plastic instead. 
Mom: It's too hot to put in plastic now, though. It could leech. 
Me: That's why I was trying to grab glass. We can leave it uncovered in the fridge to cool. 
Mom: Or we could just wait. 
Me: It's eleven pm. I got up at six this morning, and I'm doing that again tomorrow. If you want to stand here waiting for this chili to cool off before you put it away, be my guest. 
Mom: Or we could just stand here eating it! *laughs and picks pieces out with her fingers* 
Me: (I can't deal with this ur super drunk.) Goodnight. 

I turned to go, and Mother reached out to hug me. I was really done with dealing with her so I walked away instead of standing there to let her drape herself all over me (she's a terrible hugger it's awful). I'm not sure why this interaction bothers me so much: I was tired and trying to tidy up so I could go to bed, and she was drunk and wanted to play. It happens all the goddamn time. I guess it just makes me feel like she has no awareness of other people's (my) needs, and prioritizes herself over everything else (which is something I'm coming to terms with as true), but it's still surprising how frustrating this behavior is. In this case, it was especially annoying because she never deals with putting food away; usually my dad does it, and I regularly help or do it for him, but it's not her thing. When she changes her behavior suddenly, it's very confusing. Grump grump grump. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With learning to view my mother's behavior through the lens of narcissism, many of my interactions with her are easier to understand. All I have to do is think about how her actions tie into self-interest and shame, and suddenly it all makes sense. 

 

But sometimes, an interaction makes me question my own egotism. I'm aware that being raised by her will have instilled some narcissistic traits in me, but I haven't started working on identifying them, let alone addressing and reprogramming them. 

 

Last night I was painting on the dining room table (which we rarely use for dining) and listening to music as I worked. My mom came out to look at the painting, and commented, "This music is so unusual for you!" I have no idea if that meant she approved or if she wanted information about what I was listening to or if she was just making conversation. I answered, "What music is usual for me? Oh, Disney songs?" Is that a natural response, or a self-involved one? Would a less egotistical person have asked if she liked it, instead, or volunteered information? I don't know. 

 

She told me she expected me to be listening to Japanese "screamo pop" which afaik is not a genre but she probably means visual kei. Which made me wonder, "oh, so I can only listen to the music I liked in high school for the rest of my life?" I didn't say that, of course, but this is the latest in a long line of conversations with my mother that indicate she froze her perception of me when I was around 15, and I haven't changed at all in her eyes since then. This makes me angrily think she pays no attention to me, and then guiltily think everything isn't about me, and then wistfully wonder what it would be like to have a mother who actually takes an interest in her child's pursuits. Ugh. (Identifying emotions yay! Still feeling feelings very fleetingly, but progress!) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my 4WCs all of the things I'm not allowed to do for risk of bothering my mother by invading her space keep coming up, so I thought it would be useful for me to write out a list of them. 

  • I cannot store my food, be it snacks, ingredients, or leftovers, in the family refrigerator, unless the leftovers come from a family restaurant outing or the ingredients are consumed within a day or so. 
  • I cannot use the washing machine or dryer while my mother is home. Extra emphasis on using these machines on weekday evenings or anytime on the weekends. 
  • I cannot use the shower when my mother is home, unless I have requested and received permission in advance. Permission comes in the form of a dispensation that she was not intending to use the bathroom, and will not be granted on weekday mornings. 
  • I cannot exist visibly in the house on weekday mornings; that is to say, I would be "underfoot" if I were anywhere except my bedroom or the unwanted/showerless bathroom. "Weekday mornings" is the period of time between my mother waking up and my mother leaving for work. 
  • I am not permitted to leave my bedroom door open if I am in my bedroom or if my windows are open. If I am not in my bedroom, the door must be open to indicate my absence, unless the windows are open, in which case I am In Trouble for wasting heat. (Never mind that I keep my room's heater vent closed.) If I am not in my room and the door is open and the windows are closed, I am In Trouble if there is any amount of mess. 

 

There is a part of me that wants to defend this list and say "it's just five measly rules! It's not so bad." There is another part of me that thinks this list is absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical, and is slightly flabbergasted that I even know these rules so well as to be able to write them out. 

 

I was a little surprised at first as I was typing out the room door rule, as it seems odd I would be required to keep the door closed if I was in the room, as surely that would be the time Mother most needs to keep an eye on me. On the contrary, with me in the room and the door closed, it is as though I cease to exist entirely; and should Mother need me, she will knock on the door and then proceed to enter immediately, without waiting for an answer or invitation. So the lack of boundaries is well maintained. Sigh. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanksgiving was a messsssss

 

Actually the Thanksgiving party was lovely, it was great to see some of my extended family and catch up with people and socialize. It was tiring, but I had fun. It was basically five hours of hanging out with people I actually like and using them as a buffer between me and my mother. Hooray! 

 

But Jesus Christ my mom started drinking at eleven AM so by four when it was time to go to the party she was done. And it just got worse and worse throughout the night. I never understand why she's not embarrassed to behave like that in front of other people. Does she think it's ok because it's family? Does she just not care? Does she think it's not that noticeable? 

 

I think it must disturb her on some level because the car ride home was especially rough. She flip-floped between shouting at my dad for taking a wrong turn and commenting in wonder on how beautiful the leaves were everywhere. When she gets like that, I can never tell if she's genuinely enraptured at the natural beauty around her, or if she's just trying to deflect attention away from herself, and it always saddens me because every now and again I'd like to enjoy the natural beauty around me but every time I do I just think of my drunken mother insisting everyone stop what they're doing to look at the sunset or whatever. :rolleyes:

 

I haven't really been working on any of my therapy goals, which is sort of shit because I have a therapy appointment on Tuesday and I feel like I haven't prepared for class lol, but on the other hand digging into this is just making me really aware of a lot of things I dislike about her and it's tough to sort through it all at once. I feel like I've been hoarding feelings in my head the way some people hoard junk in their houses, and now everything is just a big jumbled up mess and everything you pull out of the pile is like, "Oh yeah, I remember that, it's crap. Wonder why I kept it?" 

 

I went on a run Thursday morning and midway through I almost burst into tears. I thought, "Great, this is wonderful, I should stop and have this emotion, whatever it may be" but I didn't want to deal with it right there on the trail, so I tried to make it to a boulder a ways off the path that's good for sitting. By the time I got there, though, the emotion was gone. :( I sat on that rock for a long time. I'm not sure if i was meditating or just spacing out, but I felt extraordinarily calm. Except it was Thanksgiving so there were huge crowds of people everywhere, and I sort of felt like they were interrupting a private moment. (It would've been fine if they ignored me but apparently hiking etiquette is to say "good morning," to everyone you pass on the trail. So ok.) 
 

It seems like there should be more to report after three days absence, but that's all the emotional high points. I hung out with some friends Friday afternoon and it was... kind of a relief to see them I guess? That sounds like maybe the wrong emotion to have on seeing a friend you've been away from for a while: shouldn't it be joy, or a sense that you've missed them, happiness in being reunited, all that? I think relief is more accurate. One of the friends I saw is a woman my age who I've known since I was three years old. We're terrible at keeping in touch when we're apart, but when we see each other everything just picks up right where it left off. Maybe it's that aspect in particular that I like: I tend to withdraw from friends who miss me too much, who cling on being reunited, so the fact that this girl and I just act like it's not extraordinary to see each other once a year is somewhat refreshing. I don't have to worry about managing her feelings for me, or acting like I feel more attached to her than I do. She's just a person I like and have shared history with. 

 

Writing these posts always makes me really tired. I'm not sure if it's because I keep writing them right before bed or if writing them is helpful in processing, but I do feel like I am able to phrase what I'm thinking and feeling better in writing than if I just sat and thought about it, or talked to someone. So I'll keep on. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

So I'll keep on. 

Thank you for your honesty and your courage. Know you have thoughts and prayers backing you up as you keep on keeping on.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Mahalak said:

Thank you for your honesty and your courage. Know you have thoughts and prayers backing you up as you keep on keeping on.

Thank you. <3 It means a lot to have someone stop by and cheer me on. :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/22/2017 at 9:36 PM, Wobbegong said:

This makes me angrily think she pays no attention to me, and then guiltily think everything isn't about me, and then wistfully wonder what it would be like to have a mother who actually takes an interest in her child's pursuits. Ugh. 

That made me want to give you a big hug. I randomly ended up here because your thread title is actually a bit funny, but stayed to read because a friend of mine is going through similar therapy and I think it's all very very brave. It's really no wonder you're tired after writing here, it's intense! Anyway, I'll drop by occasionally to cheer you on. 

Oh and ehm.. none of these things you've been writing sound so self-centred to me.

 

Hope you have a good therapy session tomorrow. 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, KB Girl said:

That made me want to give you a big hug. I randomly ended up here because your thread title is actually a bit funny, but stayed to read because a friend of mine is going through similar therapy and I think it's all very very brave. It's really no wonder you're tired after writing here, it's intense! Anyway, I'll drop by occasionally to cheer you on. 

Oh and ehm.. none of these things you've been writing sound so self-centred to me.

 

Hope you have a good therapy session tomorrow. 

Thank you. It's encouraging to have people stop by and offer an outside perspective. I can get... kind of wrapped up in my own head. (If that wasn't already obvious.) 

 

The thread title is kind of funny lol. I wanted something catchy but short and fairly accurate. At the time, I was thinking I should start a battle log to host all of the complaining about my mother I usually do in my 4WC... but instead mostly I just fret. Whatever, it's a good outlet. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was helping my dad move some stuff around in the basement and noticed my old college mini-fridge. I mentioned I'd like to move it back into my room (once some of this other furniture I'm letting go of gets removed) because Mom is so against me keeping any of my own food in the main fridge. My dad said, "Well that's no way to live!" I agree Dad, I agree. 

 

Then he started defending Mom saying he was sure she wasn't really against me cooking and I recounted a number of moments when she had very clearly indicated she did not want any of my stuff in her way. He seemed displeased but fell back on "I'm not against you having the mini fridge in your room if you want it." 

 

My dad is a good guy but a master at avoiding getting in the middle of conflict. If he perceives Mom and I are in disagreement about anything, he will not take sides and will not voice his approval even privately for one party or the other. If we sort out our differences on our own, so much the better; if we cannot resolve on our own, he will offer sympathy to both parties, but will not intercede. 

 

AKA I need to get that mini fridge into my room ASAP before Mom gets wind of it and complains (and she will, because the aesthetic of a mini fridge in a bedroom is Not On). She is absolutely bound to insist that she "didn't mean it" and "is good at sharing," all in an effort to make her feel less ashamed of being called out about treating her daughter this way. But her resolution would be for me to get access to the main fridge and her to suffer in silence, so that she can complain about me to others. 

 

I feel so crazy saying that but the number of disparaging comments I overheard her making about me living with them at Thanksgiving was truly phenomenal, and throughout my life she has proven over and over again that her preferred method of dealing with things she doesn't like is to tolerate them publicly and display her resentment only in private. She never ever addresses issues with the person they concern unless she is assured that she is in a position of power over them (higher rank at work, parent vs child, etc.) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first met my current therapist two weeks ago, I left the session feeling confused, exhausted, and like all of my insides had been scooped out. I was not sure if I was emotional or just overwhelmed. I had asked a friend to meet me in advance, explaining that I didn't want to return home immediately after my first therapy session in case I was out of sorts. 

 

Today I went back home after therapy -- it's a weeknight, so I wanted to make sure I was home before my mom so she didn't ask any questions about where I'd been. It's much easier to say "out with friends" on a Friday than a Tuesday. I felt tired, but not exhausted. But I also wondered if I was using my emotion-suppressant shell to avoid thinking too much in case I gave myself away. 

 

I have a lot to think about. My therapist started off the session by asking for feedback from last time, since it was our first time, and I said I had expected more direction, but understood she needed to get to know me. She made a note of it and then gave me more direction. Like, specific instructions. I'm still kind of reeling from how easy she made it for me to ask, and how easily she responded. I'm also wrestling with figuring out why that's so surprising, because generally my wishes are granted if I actually make a request. But thinking about it as I write, it seems like I tend not to ask for things if I've accepted them as being the way they are. So if I accept something and then get an opportunity to bring it up and it changes as a result, that's really surprising. Is that all it is? 

Last time my therapist asked if I thought I was depressed and I said I didn't know for sure but suspected I probably was. Today she asked again, and brought up dysthymia, which I hadn't heard of before. (She told me to research it on my own and it turns out it was changed to PDD, persistent depressive disorder, in the DSM-5, which combines chronic major depressive disorder and dysthymia.) She said it's a low-grade chronic depression that often starts in early childhood, especially in situations where most of a child's needs are met but "something is not right." She mentioned big vs little trauma, where big trauma is a single traumatic event, but little trauma is more like a series of little disconnects that reoccur every day. The kind of thing a child looking for love from a narcissistic, alcoholic mother might experience. 

 

The internet tells me dysthymia is often overlooked by patients, because it lasts so long and often starts so young they simply believe it's part of their personality, and never even mention it to a doctor. It's usually diagnosed when the patient goes to therapy for some other stressor. It also often goes hand-in-hand with other mental and personality disorders, making it harder to spot.  

Learning about dysthymia is one of those things that feels like a lightbulb going off and also is really angering me, because I went to my campus clinic when I was in college and told them I had chronic depression (at the time I was very distressed because I had spent a month sleeping for 16-20 hours a day and basically only got out of bed to feed my fish and go to class if I could manage it) and they brushed me off and told me I was just really, really anemic. Which I was. But also depressed. Grr. It's just frustrating because I tried to tell someone years ago and nothing was done. 

I've officially written enough to make myself tired, so I'm going to stop here. I'll be posting some therapy notes tomorrow, if I can manage it without going off on a tangent about some other random nonsense. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know I said I was going to post therapy notes today but they'll have to wait. One of the things my therapist asked me to do was record incidents with my mother that trigger a strong response in me, and I always forget them if I don't write them down. 

 

A challenge or two ago I complained about an interaction I had with my mother wherein she first complimented my patience and then immediately walked back her statement, saying instead, "well, you're not actually patient. You've learned to manufacture patience. You're much better at managing yourself now." or something to that effect. That was right around the time I was figuring out her narcissism, or perhaps just before, and I didn't really make the connection that she was probably projecting on me. 

 

It's hard to make that connection when she's been projecting this particular concept onto me my whole life. She acts as though I just turned a corner one day and magically became tremendously patient, but it isn't a skill I've learned so much as a gift I picked up out of the street and managed to make use of. The way she talks, it's as though the only parts of my childhood she remembers are the ones where I'm screaming in the mall after being dragged shopping for seven hours on a Saturday. (I'm not exaggerating. We used to do tons of family errands, mostly grocery and clothing shopping, all in one go: we'd leave the house at ten and get home somewhere between two and four, usually with a short break for a Costco lunch tossed in there somewhere.) From my perspective, as an extremely introverted child, lasting that long at a pursuit I hated before giving in to my childish impulse to drag my feet and complain and cry must have taken tremendous patience. It was also a lot of walking and I remember my feet would get swollen and painful. I was not, as we say in my family, a happy camper. 

 

Oops. I just thought of someone reading that and responding "making a kid shop for hours until they're literally in pain is child abuse," and started to tear up, but without thinking short-circuited the emotional response. :rolleyes: At least I noticed myself doing it, even if it was too late to welcome the emotion in. 

 

Anyway, lately I've been working on a paint-by-numbers project. I purchased it for myself and am very excited to finish it, and very much enjoying putting in a few hours of work on it every evening after work. Obviously, my mother has noticed me doing this. Mostly she doesn't comment, which is fine by me: she doesn't have many creative outlets herself and tends to view them in me as fanciful but ultimately useless wastes of time and energy. (She would approve if I made money off of my art, but that's not why I do it, so I don't.) Since I know she doesn't approve, I told her I found the project in my room while cleaning, and presented the suggestion that it must have been a gift from someone. (Well, it was a gift from me. So there.) 

Tonight she came and watched me paint for a moment, and when I engaged her she said, "oh, I was just thinking... whenever I see you working on this project I just think, who on earth got this for Little Wobbegong? Who would have thought child you would have enjoyed this project? You wouldn't have had the patience for it." Tonight, this comment made me think, there she goes, complaining about my childhood lack of patience again, projecting her own impatient asshatishness onto memories of me, but I also wonder what she's remembering. I wonder if I really was an impatient child, or if she's just been telling me I am/was all my life. I remember being easily frustrated by things that didn't work well for me; but I also remember being allowed to quit if I disliked something on such grounds. There was never any structure or emphasis put on learning how to learn; on discipline, stamina, or, indeed, patience. 

 

A time came when I determined to learn these things for myself. I remember vividly thinking, I get too easily frustrated; when I am frustrated I cry; I don't like crying, so I should practice doing frustrating things so I can get better at being frustrated and not cry. And that is the story of how I learned to knit. (I'm a terrible knitter. It's still frustrating and I quit, lol.) As it turned out, I actually learned quite a lot of skills using that general premise. I learned the skills, but I never learned not to cry from frustration. And yet somehow now, my mother thinks of me as having become unfathomably patient. 

 

.........She's probably jealous. She can't handle someone being good and bad at the same time, and she hates her own impatience and can't deal with it, so she projects it onto my younger self to tear down the achievements of my current self and make them less threatening to her. 

 

Sometimes these narcissism lightbulbs are really fucking stupid. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Wobbegong said:

From my perspective, as an extremely introverted child, lasting that long at a pursuit I hated before giving in to my childish impulse to drag my feet and complain and cry must have taken tremendous patience.

Writing this made me think of how dumb it was that I was even in this position. Literally as a child thinking it would be childish to complain about bad treatment. 1) it's bad treatment, complain 2) you're a child, be childish

 

I still haven't given myself permission to be childish. I'm not really sure what to do: I've never been fond of making messes, since you just have to clean them up later; running around screaming is awkward when you're by yourself and tiring to boot, and I have nothing to scream about anyway; throwing tantrums is all well and good except there's nothing I really want enough to throw a tantrum over that I can't just have without all the fuss; I already watch cartoons and kids movies, but it seems like so do a lot of people my age; same with reading young adult fiction and playing video games; and I don't like binging on candy and going crazy because I worked really hard to stop eating so much crap and now I find it gross and I want to keep it that way. 

 

I apparently have a lot of negative perceptions about children, maybe I should talk to my therapist about that. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, uh, I am here following along. I don't have anything to add other than your observations are fascinating. I was starting to feel like a stalker, though, so delurking for a second to announce my presence :)

 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

So, uh, I am here following along. I don't have anything to add other than your observations are fascinating. I was starting to feel like a stalker, though, so delurking for a second to announce my presence :)

I noticed you were following a while ago, but it's good to hear you're actually following and didn't just click the follow button and peace or something. Feel free to lurk! Although I said in my intro post I don't expect people to interact with me here, it's very reassuring to know people are actually hanging around and I'm not just ranting into the abyss, but even without that I'll keep writing. 

 

This battle log is too helpful to stop. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been (re)watching this BBC show Call the Midwife and tonight was the episode of Sister Evangelina's Jubilee. Sister Evangelina is a tough nut and kind of a hardass but she's got a good heart and tries her best. She didn't want to be celebrated at a Jubilee for a variety of reasons, but in the end it happens anyway and it all turns out to be for the best. It's a very loving and emotional affair, but in a really happy way; a celebration of fifty years of serving the community as nurse and midwife. 

 

Lately I've been tearing up a lot (although usually not spilling tears, just that prickly eye feeling) and of course it happened again tonight at this scene. It made me think of my first meeting with my therapist, where I told her I have trouble experiencing and recognizing my emotions and she pointed out I was clearly having no trouble emoting in therapy (because I was sobbing openly for nearly the entire hour). I told her I was good at crying but had no idea what the tears were for, exactly; loneliness, sadness, anger, hurt, shame, guilt. Yesterday she checked in with me once when I was crying to ask what my tears were for, and made me use my words. I identified three probable emotions. Progress! 

 

Anyway, of course I teared up at the Jubilee, because Sister Evangelina works hard and deserves to be recognized and appreciated, and it was such a joyous scene. And in that moment, the thought occurred to me that literally the only way I express emotion is through tears. Every emotion. All the time. I fake emotional responses regularly without the use of tears: anger and happiness, usually. But I don't feel those emotions strongly even when I "present" them; when I do feel them strongly, I burst into tears. 

 

That's interesting to know. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somehow Flea and Bean and I have all been thinking about the fact that none of us were taught to value our achievements as children unless they met some external standard or proved useful to someone else; and when our achievements did meet those standards, that was simply "meeting minimum expectations" and not "worthy of recognition." We all also have terrible self-esteem, funny enough. 

 

Flea and Bean are both high achievers who don't offer themselves any grace for managing the amount they manage (which is a lot, in both cases, although they'll deny it vehemently and say they're "just doing what they have to" -- aka meeting those minimum expectations); I'm more of a self-saboteur. I learned young that there was no recognition for doing well, but also no consequences for doing poorly. My older sister performed well in all of her endeavors, and was the straight-A student with a balanced repertoire of art and sciences in high school, who moved on to study in a useful STEM field in college. 

 

I was more the type to barely scrape through the day-to-day aspects of "learning" -- the homework, the readings, the self-study -- and instead simply paid attention in class, was well-liked by my teachers, and aced tests easily. I didn't apply myself to anything, and yet still sailed through AP courses (in my school most teachers determined it was only your grade on the AP exam that mattered for the whole year; it was assumed that doing the coursework was necessary for passing the tests) and received a scholarship at my school of choice, where I proceeded to float through with a half-hearted major, no thesis, and an overall B average. (I'm still surprised I managed that considering I nearly flunked out one semester. That was the semester when I spent a month sleeping 16-20 hours a day, though, so it's sort of to be expected.) 

 

Anyway, I was just thinking about all of this because despite Flea, Bean, and I all not having much of any sense of self-worth, we all clearly see each other as worthy. There have been times when both of them have scolded me for being too hard on myself, and I've seen it going in every other direction as well. Earlier today Flea posted in her battle log about how she was taught at some point that she doesn't deserve rewards; but when Bean posted in her 4WC that she (Bean) feels no one will like her if she isn't useful, Flea responded, "Someone dropped the ball with you, and it wasn't fair." 

 

The saddest thing is, all of us know we do this. We all know we would never treat anyone else as poorly as we treat ourselves, and we all know our standards for ourselves are ridiculous, and we live by them anyway. We were all so thoroughly trained that nothing we did matters, that we now believe it with all our hearts: everyone else in the world is better, more useful, more qualified, and does more with less than us. And even though this is something we all share, there is nothing we can do to fix it for each other, except to point out inconsistencies and hope our friends can begin to heal. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I said I was going to post therapy notes and I don't want to get too far behind, so here they are. Spoilers are my thoughts and reflections as I write; they're not secret, just distinct from the notes themselves. 

 

I wanted to work on developing a sense of self. My therapist (can I just call her MM? Can people remember that? Those are her initials) told me a good place to start was with answers to these questions: 

  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you dislike about yourself? 
  • What would you like to change? 
Spoiler

I haven't done the exercise yet (that is, tried to answer these questions) so it seems like there will be some overlap between 2 and 3?? Theoretically?? But maybe not, we'll see. Having her ask me these questions made me think, "ah, sense of self means knowing who you are!" That sounds really dumb when I write it out and -- yes -- tears are prickling at my eyes in shame for saying something stupid. This is me telling myself I'm not stupid, I'm learning, and it's ok if my starting point is having so little sense of self I don't even know what "sense of self" means. Annnnd now I'm actually crying because when people are nice to me when I think I've done something wrong it freaks me out and apparently that applies to when I am nice to myself too. Surprise!

 

I mentioned this one before, but I want to learn how to survive living in close proximity to my mother, given both her narcissism and her alcoholism. My focus questions are:

  • What are you reacting to? Record specific instances of things she does that hurt or upset you.
  • In the future, we can work together to create a step-by-step guide for how to respond to protect yourself without hurting her. 

We talked about depression and MM brought up dysthymia, which I wrote about already, but here's a recap:

  • Low grade chronic depression
  • Often starts in early childhood
  • Especially common in children for whom things aren't terrible but something is not right
    • Big vs little trauma: big is a single traumatic event, little is a several little disconnects that happen every day
  • Since it lasts so long and starts so early, many patients feel the depressed state is just part of their personality

For next time, she wants me to prepare some notes on instances of interactions with mom that trigger my distress, and she wants to talk more about my other relationships, such as with my dad and my sister. 

Spoiler

I'm sort of nervous about this? I can talk about my mom for ever but I have much less to say about my dad and my sister.

I was terrified of my sister when we were growing up, since she argued loudly with my mom and also somehow got the work ethic memo and seemed perfect, and she has always been thinner and fitter and "better" than me. We also had almost no interests in common. I basically did my best to avoid her for the last ten years we lived together; we never fought, but mostly because we rarely saw each other and when we did I submitted unconditionally. When she moved away to go to college, everyone kept asking if I missed her and when I said "no" they said "you will" but I never did. Ever since we stopped living together, though, I like her a lot better and am always eager to see her again (although I still don't really mind when she leaves). Recently (literally last week) we talked about wanting to improve our relationship with each other, and resolved to text more often. Our old standard was once or twice a year and we didn't discuss specifics but hopefully "more" means "a lot more." That's everything.

It's still much more than I can say about my dad. I'm desperately protective of him and have no opportunity to help him with things that matter, and he doesn't seem to have much interest in helping himself. We get along really well and take good care of each other as much as we can, and try to shield each other from Mom. Lately with all the research I've been doing into narcissism it's felt like I should be mad at him for not protecting me better from her, for putting up with her and letting things get so bad; but I'm not. Whenever I try to be angry, I just feel overwhelmingly sad instead. Oh, I'm crying a lot again! I felt my instinct to shove that sadness away and instead I let it wash over me (but not too much because if I sob loudly parents will hear and investigate, and wouldn't that be fun). 

I'm sure MM will have lots of questions about why Dad makes me sad, but the cliffnotes version is I've never doubted that he loves me, and he's the only person I can think of when anyone asks me if I've ever loved anyone. (Not sexually. That would be really weird. For many reasons.) But he loves my mom more, and she can't love him back the same, and that hurts. Deep breaths. 

 

I just reread the stuff about my dad and I feel a lot better. That's surprising, bizarre, unexpected, and interesting. I'll have to pursue it later. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Examples of things that my mom does that really bother me. The categories go in descending order of difficulty to deal with for me, so her jealousy is super confusing and hard but her drunken crying is pretty much old hat (although it's still really irritating).  This got really long really quickly, wow. 

  • Be jealous of me
    • It's absurd for me to think of anyone as being jealous of me, especially someone as socially superior to me as my mother. (Wealthy, good job, respectable, assets, husband, kids, the whole package.) But when I am able to wrap my head around it, it does explain the behavior. 
    • The combination of projecting the undesirable flip-side of the aspect and loathing the desirable part is particularly difficult for me to assess and respond to in the moment. 
    • Specifically see: patience, laziness
  •  Be passive-aggressive, especially at Dad 
    • After dinner/tv: M: "Are you and dad going to watch something else?" W: "I wasn't planning on it but dad might want to watch something." D: "I might." M: "Or maybe you want to leave." This is mom-code for "I want to fall asleep in front of the tv so everybody fuck off." 
    • See also: Those rules I mentioned before? Those also apply to Dad. They are slightly different for him (he can have snacks, but not in the fridge and she has a right to belittle them and him for eating them; he doesn't touch the washing machine and dryer at all except for maintenance; they share a bedroom and the door must always be open unless I am home and they are having sex) 
    • Whenever she's wrong, she reacts by getting really sullen and shooing everyone away, even if it's not our fault. (Not especially if. Basically regardless. She always blames whomever is closest.) 
      • However, except through sullen passive-aggression and then only at her own husband and children, she will never EVER tell anyone if she's upset with them or feels inconvenienced by their behavior. She just puts up with it and complains at us later once they've gone. This creates an undue emotional burden on those closest to her (aka me)
  • Be obnoxious on purpose
    • "You have to cut things the same size so they cook evenly!!!!!!! I told you four million times!!!!!!!" "What did I cut unevenly?" "THIS zucchini and THIS zucchini piece are not the same!" "They look identical. Which is bigger?" "This one!!" "That's not one of the original two." "Nooooo!" (At which point the subject was dropped.) 
    • *smile* "It's fodder for your memoirs." 
    • *eye roll* "Complain about it to your therapist." (NOTE: If she knew I actually have a therapist she would be furious and hurt. This statement is made with the assumption that I'm not seeing a therapist, and that what she did therefore wasn't bad enough to send me to one??? It's convoluted logic.) 
  • Get drunk every night and cry
    • Pretty self-explanatory... like me, mom also expresses her emotions almost never and when she does it's through tears. Except she mostly only cries when she's drunk, and mostly always cries when she's drunk. Usually about things that aren't her problem, since she refuses to acknowledge that she has problems; but when it's about things she could do something about, she is extremely resistant to doing anything. 
    • Example: She likes to get drunk and cry about black suffering and white privilege. However, she usually starts such episodes by either making a racist joke or comment, or telling a story about a black coworker who is under performing and insisting that it must be an issue of race when it isn't. (Some people just have no work ethic, and it has nothing to do with the color of their skin. But it's a racist behavior since she complains about white coworkers that under perform too, but never says "idk I just don't get it maybe it's just a white people thing" about them.) However, if I suggest she research privilege, she insists that there are no trustworthy sources available to help, because everyone has an agenda. (Yes, drunk mommy. Their agenda is freedom.) 
    • Also, she insists her alcoholism is a "personal problem" and "none of [my] business" and "her choice to deal with or not." That last bit is true but bitch fucked me up so sorry but it is my problem and it is my business. 
  • The following things bother me a lot but I don't know why. Some of them may have to do with my own, as yet unexplored, narcissistic personality traits, but I don't know yet. 
    • She sleeps with a night light or a bedside lamp on
    • She abruptly changes the subject in conversations to shine a light on how great she is, but really only manages to show off her own mediocrity
      • "So! Who's the superest trend-spotter who went out and bought an insta-pot a whole year before it was featured in the Crate & Barrel catalog?!" You are, mom. You invented the pressure cooker trend. Way to go.  
      • However I do have to say my dad's reactions are hilarious because when she makes these kinds of statements she clearly means them rhetorically, as in, the obvious answer is it's all about her. But my dad will have only been half-listening and he'll look up and say, "Who?" all innocent and the wind will be knocked right out of her sails. She rallies quickly, but it's still funny. 
    • Red wine stain on her lips. She usually drinks white but when it's red and that tint turns up there's something about it that just really freaks me out. 
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I AM SO EXCITED!!!! WHAAAAAT!!!

 

I was chatting with a friend about taking transdermal magnesium supplements. I was taking them for a little while last year, and it seemed good, but I stopped before getting any tremendous benefit because of family ridicule. My friend asked why on earth my family would make fun of a magnesium deficiency and I was expecting that when I told her I would be upset, because usually recounting instances where my family has indicated they think I'm being stupid make me tear up a little. 

 

BUT I DIDN'T GET UPSET AT ALL!!! There was no prickly-tears feeling, no actual tears, no freakout major or minor! I recounted the incident totally calmly. I was so impressed!!!! Small victory yaaaaaay!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like after my last therapy appointment I did a bunch of work and then I just chilled out. I mean, to be fair, I've kind of been laying low for the past several days since I was a bit under the weather, but I didn't do a whole lot of self-examination this week. Am I going to be prepared for therapy tomorrow?! 

 

I guess in terms of what she actually told me to prepare, I'm doing pretty well. I've reflected on my relationships with my dad and my sister and am ready to discuss them, and as far as specific instances with my mom, I've done a bit better at writing things down and keeping track, so I won't be going in with a vague hand-wave and a "basically every time we interact it's a mess..." So I'm ok on that front. 

 

I haven't reflected on the sense of self questions very much. I know it will be painful and I'm prepared for that, but I think I've been avoiding it because more than painful I'm anticipating it will be really draining. I've been super low-energy the past couple of days and I just don't feel like I'm up for more intense emotional bullshit. But at the same time, if I don't work through it now, when? If I'm too tired today, after five days of rest, how do I expect to feel after therapy tomorrow? Still... I'm gonna give myself a pass on this one. I'll get to it very soon, but for now, I have to hope I'm doing ok. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

But at the same time, if I don't work through it now, when? If I'm too tired today, after five days of rest, how do I expect to feel after therapy tomorrow? Still... I'm gonna give myself a pass on this one. I'll get to it very soon, but for now, I have to hope I'm doing ok. 

You'll work through it when you're ready. It doesn't have to be now.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, zeroh13 said:

You'll work through it when you're ready. It doesn't have to be now.

As you can see I'm kind of struggling to strike the right balance between "go all in, get it done, heal and be better" and "slow and steady, just do what you can, you'll never be finished but you can improve." I don't want to rely too heavily on the concept that healing takes time and end up giving myself free passes to not deal with things indefinitely, but I also know that if I do too much at once I'll get overwhelmed and stop doing anything (just like with exercise). 

 

With exercise I can give myself a framework like "do exactly this much and no more" but with therapy it's kind of hard to stop thinking about something once you've started. Does anyone have any tips? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now