Six or so years ago, my therapist attempted to get me to talk about my mother. He was implying, not so subtly I might add, that my mother was not a very good mother to me. I was defensive and protective of her at every turn. Any questioning or her, any judgement, any challenge, would result in me explaining her behavior, rationalizing it (see this post as proof), and in general trying to make it “okay”. He was unrelenting. I became annoyed. Finally he pointed out to me that every time I explained away my mothers poor behavior I disregarded my own feelings. Essentially, I was saying “it is okay she hurt me, she was hurt first, she was never taught love so how could she love me, my feelings dont matter, etc. ” Never in those statements or sessions did I admit, express, my pain, my very valid feelings. Every session was a game of attack and defend (or so I thought). Therapist finally got me to realize that admitting my mother did something that hurt me did not mean she was a bad person or even that she did it intentionally. It was admitting my feelings, my own reactions to her behavior, it was getting me more in touch with my feelings and less in touch with my mothers.
I still struggle with this.
Ask my husband. I can, and regularly do, explain away the piss poor behavior of everyone. (Recall this guy?) Just yesterday my husband made a remark about a male friend of mine husband feels is being disrepectful to me. Male friend was flippant, okay, crass about aspects of his own life. I shared the conversation with husband. Husband later told me he found the conversation offensive and does not like that person speaking to me, his wife, that way. I was befuddled. I defended friends state of mind, his personality, our friendship, told him it did not bother me, told him I could handle it. I even went so far as to tell hubby he was offending ME by questioning my handling of friends crass behavior.
Yet it bothered him, greatly, and that sort of juxtaposition always makes me think. Should it have bothered me? Was I once again squashing my own feelings and self-respect to preserve someone elses?
The past few weeks, maybe even months, I have noticed a general malaise taking root inside me. I find it difficult to leave the house, struggle to get out of bed to go to work, find myself constantly fighting the need to cry, yet completely unaware of what I want to cry over. My energy level has been down, sleep has been restless and nightmares have been increasing. (Most recent ones starring a former boss and another reunion dream of my daughter, which always makes me wake up crying). I noticed this. I have been stewing on it for weeks, quietly, trying to conduct my own emotional root cause analysis. I have attributed it to illness, change of seasons, lack of vitamins, even peri-menopause.
Late last week, my husband gave me the usual kiss goodbye before I went to work and hugged me hard, a little harder than usual. I walked away a bit curious about the hug and whilst getting in my car, I am reminded of my malaise. I wonder to myself if he senses it. He is quite intuitive. I decide not to talk to him about it. He is a worrier, far more than me. There are times when his worrying nature makes my life more challenging. It is more “noise” for me to deal with so at times I keep things to myself, till I have sorted them out on my own. Only after I have come to some resting place inside me, do I find the strength to discuss with him. This had been my plan for this recent malaise.
What is that saying about the best laid plans? No surprise, really, my intuitive husband finally approached me and said he was concerned with a noticeable change in my attitude. Nothing super serious, just a bit of a saddness. He wondered if he was correct in this assumption and asked to talk to me about it.
And so we talked.
Back to That Therapist
Yesterday I emailed my therapist (same guy I have been seeing for over six years, he is pretty much on a retainer for me. LOL). My feeling is I need to once again participate in some talk therapy. This growing uneasiness that I cannot identify, cannot sort out, would surely benefit from one on one with my old friend who has served me so well through the years. We made plans to get together in a week or so once he is back from a trip out West. I have two topics to start with and they go back to that long ago conversation of admitting my feelings.
I have known since May that I am angry at my daughter. I am angry at two separate things but they relate to each other. The most recent incident being the acccusation of harassment. I am annoyed that I get no contact, no consideration, except when some asshat on the internet decides to harass her. I am annoyed that while she does not care about our feelings (“our” being me, my children, my family) we are expected to care about hers. I am further annoyed again that she can contact me (after telling me not to ever contact her) and accuse me of this yet she cannot (and did not) respond to me when I told her my father, her grandfather had died. Strangers offered me condolences, strangers said “oh, so sad, sorry to hear. peace be with you” and other such things. My own daughter? Nothing.
Yes, I could go into my normal habit here. I could defend her, I can quote all that adoptee trauma (that she says she has none of), I can say it is okay, its understandable, I dont mind, no really, I am good. I can quote Verrier, Lifton and any other number of experts. Every time I defend her feelings, I flick mine to the curb and squash them as if snubbing out a lit cigarette. I twist my toe back and forth on those feelings while I explain very calmly why she might be the way she is. The emotional cigarette smolders.
It has now gotten hot beneath my feet. I am done with this behavior of mine. I need to find a way to let out the anger, the sadness, the tears and stop explaining it away. These two most recent incidents, combined with many others, shall be my starting point, or perhaps better said, my flashpoint.