Transference

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung

My son hurt my feelings last weekend. Deeply.

It’s the first time he has.  During and following the event that lead up to it, I sat in my car, parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot and cried.I was due home but my emotions were running so high, the tears welling up at a furious pace, I felt it unwise to drive. And so I sat and cried and thought about my son, my own childhood, angsty teenage years and more.

I wont go into much detail about the event. I will say that it occurred after my son had spent a week away with his father and brother. He was due to return home to our house the evening this happened and was being difficult about coming home. He wanted to stay longer with his father and his father’s girlfriend. I refused. I missed him. I had dinner and evening plans for him and his brother and I wanted him home (never mind the fact it was technically my custody time).

Situations like this probably happen all the time with divorced and blended families. Transitions are hard for the children particularly a transition that comes at end of a fun vacation.  I was taught all about this in the state mandated parenting education class I attended prior to divorce.  My son was not expressing anything extraordinary.

And yet, for me, it was slaying, crippling really.

For something interfered on the phone line while we were talking. Some filter got placed in between my ears and his mouth. When he uttered he did not want to come home what I heard, again, LOUDLY, was another one of my children not wanting to be with me. I felt his fathers words and influence much like I felt that of my daughters adoptive parent who kept my letters to her hidden from her. Someone was keeping my child from me. My child wanted to be with someone else. My child did not want to come home

I wanted to make it about him, his actions. I wanted to understand his feelings and be supportive, understanding and yet still authoritative. And the entire time I was trying to calmly explain to him why he had to come home, something inside me was clawing at my heart. I felt as if some evil being had reached into my intestines, twisted, yanked and pulled them outside my body. Doubled over due to the pain in my stomach, I leaned my head on the steering wheel and cried.

The sound of his voice faded, my heart ached and I had trouble separating out the words and actions of my first-born child, my daughter, from my first parented child, my son.  The confusion, the soul noise, was deafening and all-consuming. My daughters father’s voice ran through my head from days gone by. “You are punishing me for another mans crimes”. In that moment, daughters father was suggesting that I was being difficult with hm when I really wanted to be difficult with my father.  Twenty four years later, the cycle is at risk of repeating itself. Will I punish one child for the crimes committed against my heart by another child? It was all too much to bear.

And all I could do was cry.

My daughter doesn’t want to know me and my son doesn’t want to come home. Vastly different circumstances yet for me, at that time, it FELT THE SAME.

And it emotionally crippled me.

I sat in the parking lot for almost a half an hour.  During that time it occurred to me (thank goodness) that I could very easily be doubly hurt by son and that was unfair to him. I was at risk, in my opinion, for transference.  I thought about the possibility that sons word triggered not only feelings for him, but feelings for his sister. I felt that his words towards me hurt me but also, in his words, riding in on a few of the consonants he uttered were his sisters words as well.

I could not separate the two.

Thankfully I realized this then, and now, for it is incredibly unfair to my son.  My son is entitled to be angry about his parents divorce, about the transitions, about having to leave  his father and come home to his mother. I get that.

What I don’t get? What I am struggling with?

How do I separate these two children? These circumstances, these similar, yet not, situations? How do I insure that my sons never have to pay for the “crimes” of their sister? How do I fortify myself so that I never feel the need and I am always able to separate my children and see each one as the unique individual he or she is – for both their good and their bad qualities?

This has shaken me. It has shed light onto another part of my wounded soul that I had never seen. I don’t like what I see.

I have since called my therapist.

4 Thoughts.

  1. So get this. Went through a similar thing when my son started giving me the gears. Became very sensitive to perceived rejection by my daughter. Got o er it though. Daughter also very kind and understanding young woman. ..a little older than your guys which makes a difference.

  2. It’s a fine line. They are similar situations. It’s very hard to separate between events and children, to not be ruled by personal pain and experience, fear or guilt when parenting. I don’t think it’s possible to “never feel the need”, to never feel jealous, slighted, unappreciated etc. I think it’s what we do with those feelings and from what I’ve just read, you’re doing ok. If you weren’t, you’d not even know nor cared why you felt the way you did, it would have all been about you and your need to have your son home, or maybe, your need to just not have him at his dad’s.

    You’ll be ok, and you’ll figure this out.

  3. You write about this so well! I’m so glad you can see this for what it is, though I’m sure that doesn’t make it easier on you in the moment. I’m glad you’ll be figuring things out. I hope you can spark some healing from this pain. And yet of course it sucks and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

  4. Oh, Suz, just know you are not alone in this. Things that are normal and should not threaten us bring back the worst fear of losing another child to “someone” else.

    I am so sorry you are going through this right now. Even knowing why the pain is there, I know it still hurts like hell and brings back a fear so many can never understand!

    I can remember, this summer, when I was going through a similiar situation with my youngest son, pacing blindly through my house in tears and my heart pounding and just feeling so lost and so terrified, even though I knew my feelings were so over-blown because of the loss of my oldest son.

    As you work your way through this, remember you are not alone!!

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