“…our biggest trigger while I was growing up, was me asking questions about my past. Any questions about the Cult we grew up in, or anything regarding my father, or even anything regarding my father’s side of the family, were absolutely forbidden. Any conversation about either was predetermined to end up with my mother yelling at me.”
–‘Bonding Part Two: The Punishments She Did And Didn’t Hand Out.’
“Well, if I had my way
I had a, a wicked mind
If I had a, oh Lord, I’d tear this building down!”
–“If I Had My Way I’d Tear The Building Down” (1927); Blind Willie Johnson, ‘Dark Was The Night’
In addition to regular appointments with my psychiatrist, I also see a psychotherapist every two to four weeks. I’ve been seeing her for almost a year now. Which means our time together is winding down as the Government only pays for 26-sessions. I’m really not sure what I’ve learned over the past year.
When we first started out, she asked a bunch of questions about me and my life — she already had the gist of it from notes she received from my psychiatrist so I just had to fill in the holes… basically she wanted to know my Depression Triggers. Specifically what my relationship with my mother was like.
I told her about the Cult I grew up in, how I was raised by a Collective where the children were not allowed to have a connection to any one individual over another, so I didn’t know my mother until she escaped with my brother and myself when I was eight-years old. Then there were the years of her working odd jobs, at weird hours, which meant my brother and I were left on our own with babysitters in the beginning, and then just on our own as we got older. So my mother and I never had a chance to know each other, which means we’ve spent most of our time together arguing and misunderstanding each other.
So that’s what we’ve been talking about… for a year. It has gotten very, very tedious. For the first twelve sessions, we used ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, or EMDR, to work out my Mother issues. And, for some of them, the EMDR seems to have worked. But overall I don’t think I’ve learned more than I already knew…
…she was raised by an absentee father, and an abusive sociopath for a mother. In an attempt to escape from her home situation, she ran into the arms of my Father, who turned out to be an even worse, even more abusive sociopath. When she finally escaped my Father, she had the option of going back to living with her original abuser, but getting free rent and school, or going off on her own with two kids who barely knew her.
It was an impossible choice… and I resent my grandfather for forcing her to make it. But she made her choice, and it was to be on her own. She decided being alone would be better for us than being with her parents. She was escaping abuse, and didn’t want to be abused again.
I think one of the points my psychotherapist has been trying to make for the past year is that it’s easy for me to say that, in hindsight, she could have dealt with it for another few years, to make a better future. But, having lived with her choice for the past few decades, it’s just hard for me to look at her choice and say she made the right one.
Like, instead of a ‘Sophie’s Choice’, there should have been some negotiation or something. Dammit. There was no ‘right choice’, so why not pick the one with the potential for a better future?
And back and forth it goes… if there were sides, I believe my psychotherapist would definitely be on the side of my mother. At least that’s how it seems. She has spent entire sessions recently going over what an incredibly hard decision it was for my mother to make. When I try to explain that I know that, that I’m aware of what a Choice it was, I just get talked over. I think we’re stuck on the wrong issue… yes, this Choice is the Root of our misunderstandings and arguments, but there are several branches that need to be dealt with.
It’s not like we have a lot of time left… my mother is 72-years old now, our relationship is one where we don’t talk to each other about day-to-day stuff, because we’ve conditioned each other to expect an attack of some kind. My psychotherapist wants me to bring up positive things then, instead of shutting down if and when my mother makes a negative or passive aggressive comment, to try and push through. Keep it positive. Put a positive spin on the topic.
…of course one of the problems is trying to find something positive, or negative for that matter, in my life to share. It’s not as though I do a whole lot, or have a lot to report. Her point is to share more with my mother, in an attempt to break the conditioning of the past thirty-five years.
The thing about conditioning though, is that it’s almost impossible to get the dog to stop salivating at the sound of the bell.
I’ve noticed that things in therapy are hit or miss. I feel like therapists are either really engaging and encourage me to speak my truth, or there’s some others I’ve had that stick to session topics and there’s no breathing room. I know there are more than two categories, but those are the two I run into the most.
You never know though, maybe something that was talked about in a session will make more sense further down the road.
Or maybe it was a wash. A constructive wash. ✨
Hi Keren, and thanks for the comment. I feel like my psychiatrist is the former, while my psychotherapist is the latter. I prefer my psychiatrist’s way of doing things. I’m hoping that during these last few appointments with my psychotherapist I can steer the conversation towards some of the issues preventing my mother and I from engaging in a healthy way.
I would sure try to! It’s your appointment. They may have a specific way of doing things, but the focus should be on your needs, not theirs. You can do it, I believe in you! ✨
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least you’ve been working on it. And who knows, the next session may be The One.
Unless you “retrained the dog”. Sounds like both you and your mom are damaged products from a past that has been creeping along in the present for so long that the future for a positive relationship seems impossible. Thats why you have to try retrain, even if ringing the bell softly at first. 🤔
I agree, I think that’s what I’m trying to do on my own, but it might be time to get my mother involved in some way. As always, thanks for the comment.
I pray that it works out. Have a nice weekend. And you’re welcome. 🙂
I hope you are able to sort things out with your Mother and you have a positive Christmas together.
Regards some of the other points you raised, and massive respect to you for sharing your story, I hope you don’t mind me saying that I have read a book by Alan Watts called The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are which I highly recommend you check out if you haven’t already. One quote from it is;
“Many of our thoughts, habits and behaviours are passed down from our family, society and culture. Before we take ownership of certain traits and thoughts, let’s be mindful of what is really ‘ours’.”
Hi! Welcome, and thanks for the comment. I’ve just done a shallow dive into Alan Watts and his work — Wiki and Goodreads, and he sounds like a really interesting and, in the end, a somewhat tragic human. I like and agree with the quote you left, I think that’s what I’ve been doing with my blog over the past… well, at least the past few months since I started it back up again anyway — trying to separate Myself from the behaviours set out by both my family, and the Disease.
…thanks again for the comment, and thanks for the best wishes, I really appreciate it.
You’re very welcome. I’ve been using his works to help describe how things are with me. As sometimes you find there aren’t any words in your language that describe how you feel. I find I can relate to his words to help me explain myself from a different perspective. We’re all learning, every day. Everything that is in our past has got us to where we are. It’s crazy if you try to analyse it too much. Looking forward to seeing your future blogs and all the best. Have a good weekend buddy 👌
It seems like you are deeply affected by your mother’s negativity and passive-aggressive nature, which makes it difficult for the two of you to communicate. There should be a way to have a “relationship with boundaries” in a safe environment where the referee could throw a flag when someone says something out of bounds! You both would have to want to see someone who could help your relationship. That would be difficult and time-consuming of course. It is a complex and trying situation, and I hope you both can make progress soon.