Episode 84, here we go again…

Episode 84, here we go again…

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I saw Angela on Wednesday, which is my usual day, at my usual hour.  Preceding this, I wanted to talk about the fear that she will chuck me.  I did.  And I did not wait until there was 5 minutes left of the session either.  She asked if this fear of rejection or abandonment happens anywhere else.  I said no.  We talked about getting fired from my job, but we couldn’t really correlate the two.  It seems like it is just in the therapy/therapeutic relationship that I get attached and then my fear of being rejected seems to take over.   We talked about what it is — validation or complements.  And then we did some more EMDR, and we went with a Bobby-memory, and I got all tight on the one side, she says that I was injured on that side during one of the incidents, and that is what my body is remembering.  Ok.  

But I have been thinking about this since then.  I’ve been thinking that I get to a certain point in therapy, and then I shift my focus from me, from what I should be working on, and refocus onto the therapeutic relationship.  I am thinking maybe as I get closer to the core problem, I shift to avoid going further down into a place where I am afraid of what I might lose even more by continuing in that path, if that makes any sense at all.  I mean, if I continue to work through and uncover more of what happened to me, will I lose my family, and if I lose what support I do have there, then can I trust the therapeutic relationship to help me to feel that someone somewhere cares about me.  

I sound like such a weenie.  I am 51 years old, and I shouldn’t be so needy, so in need of other people to give me permission to breathe.  Right now, I have parents and my sisters and my little brother and I kind of fit here.  If what I am doing in therapy shakes this foundation, I am afraid that I will lose myself.  I think I may be protecting myself by avoiding the painful stuff that might take a toll on what relationships I do have.  And so I am flipping over to obsessing about the therapeutic relationship.  I am thinking that until I feel secure there, I can’t go further.  And I think I am testing it.  

And then I started thinking about what I might find if I continue that is so scary.  I mean already, I have solidified the feeling that my grandmother’s husband was a jerk by uncovering a repressed memory.  But I find it strange that I repressed that at all.  Maybe not so strange after all, though.  I remember one thing, but there are other things there too.  I mean, I am remembering more stuff.  But he’s a creep, was a creep, and I didn’t have to live with him or anything.  

And I start thinking about my Mom.  I love my mom.  But I think some of the stuff that she did harmed me, without her actually trying to harm me.  And maybe if I hadn’t already been sexually abused, maybe what she did wouldn’t have been as harmful.  My mom was sexually abused by her father terribly, and it continued until she was married when my mom was able to say, “I’m married.” Then he stopped.  She was 17 when she got married, and had Bobby when she had just turned 19, Brian before she turned 21, Lynn when she was 23, and then me when she was 25. 

She often said by the time she was 25 she had four kids age five and under.  Neither of my parents had high school at the time, and my dad couldn’t read, and was an alcoholic.  She was a victim of sexual and physical abuse as a child.  She never got any help.  She went through terrible depressions, 9 months when I was about 5 months old, where she couldn’t get out of bed.  Than when her brother was murdered, she was suicidal and I was the one that she kind of used — that did terrible damage.  My mom used to swear like a truck driver.  She spoke the way her dad did all the time, from little on up.   She called the boys bastards, mother fuckers, and pricks.  She called the girls, cock suckers, fucking bitches, and slutty pigs or filthy sluts.  “Nigger” was a term of endearment for her, we are white, but when we would outsmart her on something, or something like that, she would call us a nigger.  

I wouldn’t call my mom particularly racist or anything.  She grew up in the ghetto, where little black kids would walk around with bird droppings in their hair for days.  She told me this.  Later when she was pregnant with my little sister, coming home from work down town, she was attacked by a black man.  She fought him off.  She wouldn’t let us be bussed, so she got us all into the Lutheran School, and then moved us out of the city. 

She made sure we were within walking distance to good schools.  My mom wasn’t a bad person.  ln fact, she took $3 dollars each form my oldest brother and I to get piano lessons from the church organist, and our science teacher.  That may not sound like much, but she used food money for that.  We were that poor, but she did things for us that she had to sacrifice for.  

And on the other hand, she had no boundaries whatsoever.  She was never concerned about nudity, or walking in on us, having us wash her back when bathing, no privacy at all.  And she would tease and poke body parts to a little ditty that might have been ok for a 2 year old, Titty, Titty, Belly Button, Wiener! and laugh as she poked the corresponding parts, until I was probably 8 or 9 and just wouldn’t get close enough.  It’ so embarrassing.  I don’t think she intentionally tried to harm.  But a lot of the way she related to me was sexualized, I mean, the names, and the teasing like that. 

It kills me because it is so disloyal to even think this stuff, when this is the most important person in my life, who has done so much for me.  When I went back to college to get my BS, my student loan was held up, and I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to start, and she said, “you’ve been accepted, and you’re in, the rest is just money, and she let me put it on her visa until the loan came through, she went down there with me to register, she sold me her car.  When I was going to the first three years, she provided a car.  Ok, I was a kid then, I started when I was 16.  When I was just 17 I wrecked her car, and I had the sheriff take me to her work, and I told her, and she got the insurance on the line and had me out and driving a replacement vehicle that night.  The college I was going to was 40 miles away, so I had to drive.  I  wrecked another car when I was in my third year, and she took me off her insurance.  I was going to the branch that was only 12 miles away, so some days I car-pooled and some days I rode my bike.  But throughout the years, she has been very supportive.  In fact it was very hard to leave home and get on my own.  And still, I have her discover card in my pocket and have put my dog food and propane on it. 

I don’t want to do anything to hurt her or my dad.  I made them dinner tonight.  My dad helped me take the puppies to the vet today.  I am so afraid that working on what happened to me is going to change the relationship I have with my parents.  Maybe that is why I get to a point in therapy and then jump the tracks.  Maybe typing this here will make it easier to talk about this on Wednesday.  When I was in Jr High and High School, I used to imagine being the kid of one or other of the teachers, being able to go home and work on my homework and share what happened at school, and have them read the stuff I wrote.  And I got into that transference with my first therapist in my 20’s.  

My mom was tough.  I came home from school and was responsible for my little brother and sister, had to make the dinner so my folks could get home from work and eat and then go to college.   (They got their GEDs after Bob finished HS and they both started college.)  I then watched my brother and sister until they got home at 10:30pm Monday through Thursday.  If I got a babysitting job, I took Mark and Lisa with me.  And Mom took half of everything I made.  Half up to $40/week, for room and board.   I cooked, I washed the dishes too.  I would leave when my parents got home because I felt I should be able to go for walks and stuff.  Then I would come home and watch TV, until 2AM, then I would start homework.  If I did go to bed before cleaning the kitchen I would hear my mom’s bed springs, and jump up, run downstairs, get the coffee going clear the table and be wiping it when she made it downstairs.  She’d beat me out of bed if I didn’t.  

On the other hand, she didn’t care about me going to school.  She would keep me out if one of the kids was sick, so I could watch them.  She would call up the steps in the morning, “Are you going to school today?”  and I would say, “maybe later” and that was ok.  She didn’t care about my grades because they were good enough.  She wouldn’t even look at anything I did.  She was busy watching TV, or doing her own homework.  They were my grades, and they were my responsibility.  She never helped me with any homework, even as a little kid, she just said there was nothing the teacher could give me that I couldn’t do.  My brother taught me to tie my shoes so I could get into kindergarten, and he taught me division.  Other people’s parents were different. 

I mean, she was all about college.  She made it possible for me to go.  And she made sure we were near enough to good schools.  I suppose I got mixed signals about whether she cared or not about school.  Work, yeah.  That she was all about.  She even picked me up one day from work when I had a medical issue.  

I am sorry that this is all mixed up.  I am mixed up.  It just keeps coming full circle, and I feel terrible for even thinking some of the things.  


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11 comments

  1. jcas120 Volunteer

    Hello Solongago,

    It’s always great to see you return here to share your stories with us. You are very brave for doing this and this shows your strength.

    Therapy can be a tough process. It was great to see that you brought up your true feelings in therapy with Angela about abandonment. I’m proud that you brought up your true feelings in the beginning of the session too, I hope that brings forth some progress. Processing the memory with EMDR is a hard thing to do and this shows your strength. You are very mindful of the therapeutic relationship and it’s interesting to see how aware you are of the avoidance about therapy and I think that shows all the great work you have done. It can be a scary thought to think you will lose support and I hope you know that you will always have us here to support you.

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother, that sounds really tough. Trauma sometimes seems to be generational and it just keeps getting passed down. I am happy that you ended this generational trauma. Still, having a mother that is sometimes there and sometimes not is very tough. That sounds like a confusing relationship. You have every right to feel ‘mixed up’ as you mentioned. I sometimes find that accepting everything, both the good and bad, helps me instead of just choosing one or the other. I hope that can help you as well. It’s not ‘disloyal’ to work through the bad things even though there were good things. You have every right to feel this way.

    You have been through so much and you are doing great work. Your feelings are justified and I hope you know that we are here to support you through this. The work you are doing is hard but it’s not anything you can’t handle. I hope you have a good week and hope to hear back from you soon.

  2. tayestlack Volunteer

    hello love, thank you for returning to us. I am also glad you were upfront with Angela about how you were feeling and made it well known. I’m also glad she is helping you with remembering and connecting some reasons for your feelings of being rejected. I am so sorry about having a tough upbringing. I can relate to your mom taking half of your money, my mom did as well to pay for bills and pay for gas to drive me and my siblings places. It really is tough, but hey we pulled through. I’m glad you were able to attend college and that your mom helped put you though. I hope therapy continues to help you and your relationship with your parents doesn’t change in a bad way due to therapy. Keep your head up and stay strong.

  3. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey Solonago

    It has been incredible that you have figured out the connection between your focus on therpeutic relationship and your fears about what you may uncover. I think this be interesting topic to bring up Angela. If you dig deeper and you can choose what to do based on new information you have.

  4. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    It’s incredible that you figured out the connection between your focus on the therapeutic relationship and your fears about what you may uncover. That being said, having this fear is understandable. We’ve been raised to trust our caregivers, and it can be difficult to think about their flaws. It is possible for someone to do really well in certain areas of parenting and do worse in other areas. No one is perfect. Thinking about how your parents have affected you – positively and negatively – does not make you a bad person. It shows that you have self awareness.
    I think this would be an interesting topic to bring up with Angela. As Roxie said, if you do dig deeper, you can choose what to do based on the new information you have.
    Thank you for updating us. It’s okay to feel mixed up. We’re here to support you, and you’ve got this.

  5. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear Solongago,
    Again, I have to say thank you for the complete honesty and vulnerability you share with this community. The way that you dive in and work through everything here with us provides a safe place for others to do the same or to at least know that they aren’t alone in what they are experiencing.
    Honestly, being able to see my parents as doing the best that they knew how at the time really helped me when working though my own trauma. Seeing them as another person who has experienced trauma and is living life in survival mode helps us be more forgiving and compassionate towards them. You may be afraid to dig deeper because of what you may find out, but you also get to choose what you do with that afterwards. If you want to use that understand them better because you want to hold on to those relationships, that is wonderful. If you choose to set boundaries with them to help yourself heal, that is wonderful. If you decide you can no longer continue having those relationships, that is wonderful too. No one is dictating to you what you will have to do with what you discover. I think that Angela will be there for you to help you sort everything out. Also, what a connection to make when thinking about sabotaging your own progress by diversion!!! You are incredibly insightful and I bet Angela would be willing to explore that conversation with you.
    You’ve got this and we are right here cheering you on!!
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  6. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    Thank you for updating us. It’s good to get into how you feel right away so you can talk about everything and put everything on the table to get a full and better recovery. Repressed memories is hard to deal with but you have a lot of people to help you deal with them. Age doesn’t matter everyone goes through different things at different times. As long as you can get through the tough times that’s all that matters. Continue to stay strong.
    -Alyssa

  7. dzreid Volunteer

    Hello Solongago,
    I have to say that you are such an amazing person! Thanks for coming back with updates like you do. I still say it’s good that you keep sticking with therapy despite how hard it is. I understand the frustration of not being able to share with your therapist. All I can say in response to that is fear will keep us captive & cause chaos within ourselves, unless we take a step to loosen that grip. You have come so far in your healing journey, don’t allow fear to stop you from just going for it & sharing with your therapist! Yes, I’m sure it’s very scary. You can do this! Just remind yourself to breathe & take small breaks. You deserve to be free & not live in fear of loosing out. You have a support system in place. I believe that the only way your parents would find out is if you yourself told them. That may come in time, but for now, just keep taking small steps. I know for me, I worked on my abuse for years until my current therapist asked me if I processed the abuse (all the feelings & emotions). I think maybe just taking a deep breath before you share, then just jump into the conversation, may surprise you as to how strong you are. You may be surprised by talking about the details, just how much relief you’ll have. Sharing with a trust therapist, could be the beginning of something great & wonderful. Besides, this could give you the power that you so deserve! Wish you the best. you can do this! Be patient with yourself. When you’re ready, & when the timing is right, you will share.
    Dawn

  8. meg Volunteer

    Thank you for coming back to share more of your thoughts with us. Remembering repressed memories is scary and I think you’re handling it as best as you can. If you can, try and utilize deep breathing techniques or journaling when you find yourself thinking about these newly recovered memories.

    I am so sorry that you’re feeling so conflicted, particularly about your mother. It’s so horrible to feel that someone you love and trust has manipulated or taken advantage of you. I would suggest bringing up what you told us to Angela on Wednesday. It’s hard to put yourself out there when you find a stable relationship (therapeutic or otherwise) when history hasn’t been kind in that regard. You’re doing everything you can. Please let us know how you’re doing and be gentle with yourself.
    —Meg

  9. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    No matter what age we are, when people hurt us, it can still deeply affect us, and I don’t think you need to feel bad about that. That’s why you’re working through it and in therapy, and that’s good. Thanks for coming back to share with us.

    Erin

  10. Lizzi

    Hey Solongago,
    It’s understandable that you’re hesitant to explore more in therapy as it may change things in your life, including feelings about family members that you are close to right now. It’s scary to not know what you’re going to uncover, and what that may change for you. It sounds like by holding back, you’re trying to protect yourself from potentially rocking some fairly stable relationships. I’d see what Angela thinks about this, but it sounds like it may have to be a risk you decide if you want to take or not. I think it’s okay to love your mom but still recognize her flaws. I don’t think it’s being disloyal, especially when you’re in therapy working on your childhood and things that have happened in your family. No parent is perfect, and I think most of us reflecting on our parents would find some good and bad. It sounds like your mom always wanted the best for you, but maybe was a little rough in how she expressed it. I’m sorry that you’re having a hard time with these feelings and questions, and I hope you can get some clarity at your next session.

  11. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi Solongago,

    I’m sorry that these thoughts and feelings are troubling you right now. Continuing with therapy knowing that things could drastically change between yourself and your family members can be scary. Sometimes it is difficult to let go of those coping mechanisms and old thoughts or behaviors that served you well in times of trouble growing up. It’s okay to be feeling this way. Share these feelings with Angela if you’re comfortable and able to do so. I think they might help her steer your treatment in the right direction. Remember no thoughts or feelings are wrong. Your healing journey is your own and you are in control.

    Take care. All the best,
    Becca