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I am writing to you this morning because I want to share with you something. I have been entertaining the idea to tell you, but never found the right timing to do so. Today, after the previous messages we exchanged, it feels more right than it was before.
I found this forum (as a reader) in June 2020, because I was searching for people discussing the experience of loneliness (sometimes I just google up my thoughts and see if it leads me to people who feels the same, and see how they are processing that, how other people help them process that.) I was trying to find answers that would help me in my healing journey.
I found on this forum a lot of very emotional and personal experiences from strangers, some I could relate to. I was reading some of those forum threads during June and July 2020. Among them, I was exposed to a lot of your replies to the members of this forum, it got me curious about who was Anita, this kind person who was dedicating a lot of time talking with strangers. Your answers were intriguing, very thoughtful, not something I was used to experience or witness in actual conversations between people. I kept reading, wondering what I may find in these conversations, both because it helped me and because I tend to follow my curiosity.
At some point, I wondered “what does it feel like to talk with someone like Anita?” Reading your conversations with the members here was a nice experience for me, but it looked challenging for participants (which is understandable, there was a lot of struggle there), so I wondered how the members felt during these conversations. I couldn’t imagine since I wasn’t in touch with my emotions myself.
I wondered “how would it turn out if someone like me was to talk with someone like Anita?” I excluded this possibility quickly enough. I was very curious indeed, but I couldn’t entertain this thought. Something within me said I shouldn’t. You were attending to people a lot there, and while reading those threads was very nice, I felt like something was missing. That’s when I realized “Ah, she seems similar to me… She helps others, but it isn’t mutual.” I had my fair share of helping others without having reciprocation and without expecting it, being alright with it. But not entirely alright with it happening all the time. I wondered “Is it alright with her? Doesn’t she need someone to pay attention to her, too?” At that time, I knew already I needed someone to pay attention to me sometimes… Yet I wasn’t here, intending to post on this forum, where I could have got that. Why?
I realized it was because… It wouldn’t change anything for me. If I were to speak about my difficulties, I was probably going to be told to leave my family, and I wouldn’t do it because it isn’t so easy. I am not comfortable with people wanting to help me and burdening themselves with me, when they cannot actually help (only to an extent). I really wasn’t comfortable with it. I needed help, but I didn’t want someone to take care of me. I needed attention, but I didn’t want the emotional dependency and fear that goes with it.
I knew if I were to heal, it would come from myself and not anyone’s help. I didn’t want to involve anyone and risk to hurt or disappoint them. I needed to be in charge. And honestly, I wasn’t ready for this kind of conversation, I didn’t trust myself to talk with someone like you without making a mess. I needed to be stronger, I needed to be more mature. So I would just read some threads when I felt like it, and nothing more.
Then, I got busy with other things and I stopped reading here. I only came back reading a bit in October 2020, when the context was quite tough for me. I wondered, once more, if talking with you would teach me more than what I could learn by reading others’ threads. But I refused to fall for this temptation when I was feeling bad. It was too risky. I needed to find the information and help somewhere else, and keep coping/healing on my own. If I were to discuss with someone like you, it would be as a mature healed adult, out of curiosity, when being able to pay attention to you and be on equal grounds.
Though, honestly, even then I didn’t intend to start a thread there in the future. I thought that by the time I would be ready for this, this forum would be long gone, or maybe you wouldn’t be discussing with strangers there anymore. So I was mostly imagining getting myself worthy (healthy enough) and ready for something similar. For my idea of a satisfying discussion with someone like you, the way that felt right.
Fast forward, when I started this thread in July 2021… I figured it was worth the shot to face my fears and see if posting on this forum could provide information I wasn’t able to find on my own. I wasn’t entirely healed, but it could be a step in my healing, and I felt like I could act mature enough to make sure I didn’t burden anyone during the process.
I knew you might answer my thread, but I didn’t want to expect anything. I was just trying to focus on how I could take my healing further.
While I prepared myself to be emotionally responsible and not burdening anyone, I wasn’t prepared for the revelation you had a similar mother and similar trauma. When I noticed this discussion was likely to emotionally affect you, it was “uh-oh” situation, I was worried about how it would go. If I would have had know beforehand, probably I wouldn’t have felt ready for this… but once the talk was started it was clear to me I needed to face this fear, and I would only back off from this conversation if turned out more hurtful than beneficial. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the emotional turmoil, there were signs of… something good, for both of us.
I want you to know I will be patient. Even if you feel the need to postpone your answers to me. I understand this need very well, because… I guess I postponed this thread for an entire year. It is important for me to respect the pace you need to be comfortable and ready for our discussion.
“Yesterday, I wrote to you that I trust you, and I did feel trust at the time, and still, I do.. but the element of distrust, strong since childhood, is still there. So, I expect you, after having turned toward me with open arms, so to speak- I expect you to end all contact with me, or otherwise turn against me, just like my mother (to whom I felt very close as a young child) did to me.”
I feel similarly. The trust between us is rational, but the emotional part of us is still too wounded to trust without fear. I am not confused because I expected that much, since we have similar fears… So, I just wanted to say: I understand. For both that and the Win-Win situation. I understand how we’d both lose if care-taking came in the way.
“my mother/myself used to be one mental entity, in my mind. The me-part of this mental unit couldn’t imagine separating from the unit because it needed the mother-part to OKAY it first, to put the stamp of approval on the me-part. The me-part thought it had the power to make the mother-part change her Disapproval to an Approval, and it waited and tried (trying when I was no longer aware that I was trying) and failed again, and again.. and again. The mother-part did not change and the me-part did not change. As a result I was stuck, not moving, almost dead.”
I think this paragraph describes the younger me very well. I forgot at some point my inner death came from this. When I was a child though, at that time I was too dependant on my parents… I felt really strongly their inner-death and physical death was leading to my own death. I remember, when my mother told me she would die, I thought “me too”. When I told her to wait until my 18 years old, I was feeling at that time that I wouldn’t live to get this old anyway, or that if I did, I wouldn’t live long. It helped me deal with the fatality of it, I wouldn’t have to survive alone, helpless. Death was more reassuring than living without my family.
I killed myself mentally so many times in anticipation, and when I happened to survive physically, I was half-dead already anyway. And I thought I should be grateful for my body to be alive even though my inner death felt so real. So part of me must have been really strong to have my body survive so much stress.
“I need to be more tolerant to my mistakes and to others’ mistakes. And ask for clarification if I suspect that a certain mistake involves some negative emotion or intent. You are welcome to ask me for clarifications anytime you need such.”
Alright, I will. And I confirm you are welcome to ask for any clarification.
“Soon I will be going for my long walk outside and the image of you will keep me company on my walk.”
I am pleased, it feels nice we can keep each other company in such a way.
“And by the way, I haven’t been sleeping well lately either, waking up too early, interestingly I woke up at 4 am this morning and yesterday morning.”
I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this too, though the specific time is indeed interesting. Sleep deprivation can makes things more difficult. I notice it makes me more emotional and anxious after such nights. My brain is definitely not the same when I’m not well-rested.
Could it be because of the heat you mentioned? It is very hot around here too lately, how exhausting it can be! I’m looking forward to the colder days.
This isn’t a message written in urgence so you do not need to get out of your way to read or reply to this earlier than the other. Or at all, if you don’t feel like replying any of it.
At the moment I’m writing this it is 4am, and I’m having an an insomnia due to ingestion of alcohol. I knew it wasn’t a great idea and I didn’t really feel like it, but I let myself influenced and I now regret it. I hope writing it down will remind myself of being… less stupid, next time I have to make a decision about this.
I am though, tired of doing nothing of these hours of now unavoidable sleep deprivation. And I thought, since you like spontaneity, I might share with you that, as I am dealing with this insomnia and the stomach ache that goes with it… The ‘presence’ of our past and future conversations is helping me to cope, having something to think about and focus on is a nice distraction from pain.
Usually, I would have comforted myself with fictional characters, they make me less lonely during those times. But lately I am a bit cut off of my daydreaming with them, and your presence was more accessible to my brain, so… It went like that. I hope the idea I might think about our talks like this, in a comforting way isn’t something that would make you uncomfortable. If so, please tell me and I will make the necessary effort to have my fictional comfort more accessible for next times.
Keeping in mind I hope I’ll be strong enough for not having ‘that’ specific kind of next time.
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear Anita,</p>
“simple honesty like simple love is .. beautifully simple. Simple and rare.”
While I find fascination in complexity, I really enjoy the peacefulness and the beauty in simplicity. This world is so complex, simple and easy things are precious.
“But what we know, even if it’s pushed down, does not stay quiet: it creates a lot of noise that shows up in our dysfunction. We just can’t function well before we bring up to the surface the terrible truth that we placed under.”
There it is.. the haunting truth we must face. If only knowing about it, seeing it was sufficient to “stomach the idea“. But it so much more complex. Once it is surfacing, what to do… The classical guidance of accepting what can’t be change and learning to change what can be may be wise, but it is such a general advice, the actual journey is undescribable. Figuring how to make this advice praticable is quite something…
“recently I submit my posts to you without re-reading them so to check for grammatical mistakes and such. I write them quite spontaneously and then submit. I then read what I wrote, notice a mistake, or an opportunity to clarify.”
I did so to for some posts I think (and/or wanted to but the editing option isn’t always showing, so I let it go then). I didn’t worry much about the fact you would turn it against me, because I don’t consider that correcting mistakes/clarifying is a betrayal and made a bet on my hope you’d be able to understand. Spontaneity is good, but mistakes happens during it, it isn’t a lie to want to correct those mistakes (or add clarification) when having a different look at them later. It isn’t wrong, it isn’t lies or betrayal. Please do what would suits you the most, editing or no editing, both are fine with me. Both are you, with or without mistakes/clarification, I’m fine and won’t get bothered.
“I was scared that you will not like me anymore”
It would takes me so much more to stop liking someone (in this case, you). Those little mistakes, those little worries, they are part of your humanity. I have mine to. If I wasn’t able to love you and accept you just because of your little decisions, I wouldn’t be able to do the same for mine either (I have/had difficulties accepting mine, but moreso when I am with someone who would judge harshly. I chose to not be that person, both for you and for me, so the change can start somewhere.) I don’t want to suffer from this anymore, not with people who seem like they really could accept me with my “little things”, and benefit of being accepted with theirs.
I’m taking the risk of not worrying about editing and the risk of being surprised if you turn it against me. Even if you did so, I would discuss it with you and see how it turns out, if you’d be able to accept my (hopefully) unhurtful flaws once I clarified the details. And depending on the outcome of this discussion, if you decided to dislike me very much and shame me for that, I would feel a bit less safe of course. But I don’t think it is a likely outcome, because our previous discussions didn’t make me think you’d react so extremely over something like this. So I would be very confused… I hope I won’t cause you such confusion in the future. If I do, please tell me so we can discuss it.
I do hope at some point you’ll be able to be confident on the fact I will not stop liking you over small things like this. (No pressure, of course, I also do not dislike you for worrying, I just hope this for your own comfort.) And thus, you’d feel free to edit/not edit as much as you feel like. And it’d be indirectly a confirmation that you’re alright with me doing it and not doing it as I please.
“it gets worse than that. It was a shock to me when I realized that my mother felt a relief when she was hurting me, and sometimes she enjoyed it, sometimes it excited her seeing me in pain”
I think I remember similar feelings. I don’t remember anything visual, because I have a bad memory and I am not a visual person, but I remember thinking she must take pleasure in her acting, even the one that hurt me. (She was shameless when she was expressing joy of hurting others, like men. She didn’t directly express her joy of hurting me, but sometimes it felt like she hoped for me to be hurt and was unsatisfied when I wasn’t.) But I excused her because she was mentally ill. Now I don’t anymore. I shouldn’t have to bear with it and accept it just because she can’t change it.
You don’t have to worry about presenting me the concept of joy/satisfaction of hurting. Technically my mother presented it to me first when I experienced it with her. It isn’t.. bad to be able to talk about those things with you, without sugarcoating them like it goes with most people.
“if she loved you, your love for her would feel- to her- like a breath of fresh air. All you would have to do would be to smile at her, and she’d smile back, her smile saying: I like you, Linarra, I am so happy that you are my daughter! You don’t have to work to make me happy: you make me happy just because you are in my life!”
Oh, yeah… So it is what love actually looks like. It is so… simple. Unlike the twisted unrequited love I had for my mother (I still feel weird at the idea I loved my mother, but I acknowledge it). I am glad, I think I may have people in my life who love me.
These hints of love… When I first received them from someone outside I doubted them. They made me feel good, so I wouldn’t entirely reject them (and also to not hurt anyone’s feelings) but I kept a safe distance. It is really over time I was able to… understand some people would really stay with me for other reasons than the wish to hurt me. It was weird, but I still doubted it was love, wouldn’t have dared to use this word about a relationship. It was “mutually beneficial and respectful relationships”, something like that.
In these good friendships, we don’t have to try hard to be respectful and say nice things, to enjoy having another person in our life. It comes naturally. It is more than what my mother ever gave me.
Now I think about it, I don’t remember the last time I genuinely was able to smile at my mother. I barely look at her. And the rare times I do, I don’t smile. Even when she’s doing something nice for me, I’m just polite with her. I am not happy to have her in my life. Does that mean I really don’t love her anymore?
“she understood before and she still understands that you don’t want to be touched in a certain way.”
Yeah, she just doesn’t care about my feelings.
I guess it is an appropriate time to say that our conversations make me smile, especially when I see you enjoy them too.
” your behavior toward your mother never followed an intent to hurt her, while her behavior repeatedly followed her intent to hurt you. When you love a person, you don’t harbor an intent to hurt them (not beyond a momentary instinct that lasts only a second or two, not long enough to carry an elaborate hurtful action). […] If said person A, in between hurtful actions, displays affection toward person B (“she shows us affection“)- person A still, does not love person B.”
I agree, it makes sense. No matter what she says she doesn’t love me (enough or at all). During all my teenage years I tried many many ways to help her go beyond her abusive tendencies, to make her understand she was repeating the abuse that was done to her and that it wasn’t the way to heal, that she should get professional help because I couldn’t do more… I gave her a lot of time to pick up things, a lot of patience and energy. If really she wanted to change, certainly it would have gone differently. If she really loved me, I wouldn’t have had to try that hard.
“when she touches you were you don’t want to be touched, your breasts, let’s say.. seemingly affectionately, and you remove her hand from your breasts- you are not hurting her, even if there seems to be hurt on her face.”
Protecting myself isn’t hurting her. Even if it was, she would be the one interpreting wrong and causing her own hurt. If she was able to think healthily, she would understand I may not want to be touched in a certain way by her and she wouldn’t be hurt that I do not allow that.
” as in: I care about you… another feeling of breathing fresh air”
Yes, I do care about you, Anita. And I am more than happy to give you breaths of fresh air.
“our mothers become our brain neuroactivity and chemistry: our thoughts, our feelings, our actions and reactions. Until and if we separate from her, until we develop our own thoughts, feeling our own feelings, thoughtfully choosing our own actions and reactions as the individuals that we become.”
The separation is an interesting subject, the way we chose to do it has a lot of impact on who we become.
My mother has tried to build as the opposite of her mother (or so she says), but she wasn’t really successful. She kept the humiliations patterns, materialistic patterns. The main difference would be she shows us affection, unlike her mother did to her, and didn’t throw us out (even if there were threats for the sake of manipulation, so… it was just different. Her mother used her while she had to keep her then threw her away when she didn’t have to keep her anymore, my mother used me and tried to keep me around so she could keep using me.)
Personally, I believe purposefully trying to become the opposite isn’t necessarily the best choice, not for me at least. It wouldn’t be a choice at all, it would just being built in comparison to her, it isn’t thoughtful enough. I need other people to understand the extent of possibilities this world has to offer. I like to have others, healthier references to think about.
I like to observe, in healthier people, traits my mother has used in a harmful way, and see how these traits can exist in a positive form. Like being dramatic, she’s using it in a serious inappropriate way to the point it becomes harmful. While it can be used as humor, in a way that actually dedramatizes things we want to be light-hearted about. It’s all about the context and the intent. I do not dislike all real-life actors, I can appreciate those who are doing it self-awarely, for entertainment, to bring joy and fun, unlike those who dramatize in a harmful way. It is part of my process of growing my own thoughts, figuring out what is harmful and what isn’t.
“me too, but no pressure. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Hopefully it will be interesting either way. When you become interested in the life that is available to you right now, it gets to be an interesting process of learning vs. life being a good or bad final product.”
Thank you for not adding pressure. I have been pressuring myself enough during the past years, and even if it didn’t turn out all bad, I would be more peaceful if my healing came with less pressure.
“I will not turn against you. If I did, I would lose my most important value: to be worthy of sincere, innocent trust. Losing that, I would be losing everything.”
It is a good, reassuring value. I trust you. I am not exactly clear on my own personal values, but I know one things : as much as I can, I like to avoid unnecessary harm/hurt for both others and myself.
Unnecessary hurt is: attacking someone on something that is just part of their individuality and isn’t objectively harmful to anyone, etc.
Necessary hurt: requiring our boundaries to be respected, and respecting others’ even when we are going through difficulties, being able to listen and consider unpleasant truths, being able to stand up against harm… etc
Noting that the necessary hurt is the one that is unavoidable, and is usually the one that allows healthy, safe, and sincere relationships, while the unnecessary hurt is just destructive. Unfortunately, things I consider like unnecessary hurt are deemed necessary for some people who find nuisance in a lot of things I judge unharmful… There would be less pain in this world if people weren’t turning against each other for so many things.
I think for us, either way, even if we came across some kind of disagreement with each other, we wouldn’t do it the harmful way, because we care about communicating in a peaceful way and not causing harm to each other.
” But still, I don’t expect it in the future- for you to attend to me like this. It is important to you to not burden or exhaust me, and it is equally important to me that you are not burdened or exhausted by me. I have such a good feeling about our communication!”
I didn’t feel burdened or exhausted as I attended to these 3 points, I did it because I felt like doing it. I appreciate your wish of not burdening me, and for your peace of mind, I will be careful to pay attention to my own emotions so I don’t exhaust myself during our conversation. Because I also have a lot of good feelings about our communication and I want to preserve them for both of us.
Some attending from my part is likely to happen again in the future though, I really like to attend to people I care about when I don’t feel burdened about it. It just makes sense to do it when I feel like it.
I am going to respond to the elements I felt inspired to respond to today among your two posts, and as I’m writing it I notice I’m going back and forth, answering in disorder to make links and just go with the flow. Hopefully, it should still make sense to you.
I am very happy. ‘’Keep myself spontaneous, free to just express, and hopefully Linarra is/ will be doing the same: be spontaneous, not be compelled to say the right thing and reply to every single thing.. and it is okay to neglect to say Thank You, no need to be perfectly polite… to be given the permission to .. not be cautious, alert, alarmed.’’ I think this way of communicating will allow us to be more comfortable and enjoy our communication more. I am glad you took the initiative to start this. And I will do my best to do the same and to remind me about it.
‘’ this may very well be what’s behind your social anxiety on the outside.. this fear of saying the wrong thing.. why you are quiet around people, being cautious, alert, alarmed ‘’ ‘’this is your adaptation to her.. interesting, you see her as a ghost, while it is you who is the ghost in your own life- outside the home. ‘’
It is interesting. She haunts me outside, in how she shaped my brain, making me cautious and unadapted. But inside my home where she really is, I am guarded and adapted against her.
I think about a phrase you wrote in your first post (‘’I expected other people to be like my mother’’). It is the same for me, except I am adapted to my mother because I know her well, but for the other people I’m expecting to be like my mother, I do not know them enough. I cannot predict their triggers, I cannot protect myself.
‘’ isn’t the full picture expanding for you, as you understand more and more? As to your dysfunctionality- it may remain the same, but it may lessen and lessen. ‘’
I guess it is expanding, slowly and with some uncertainty. I really do hope my dysfunctionality will lessen over time.
‘’In this context cheerleading annoys the hell out of me because it minimizes the difficulty and complexity of what it takes to really heal and change from a devastating childhood, and it expresses arrogance on the part of the cheerleader. ‘’
I understand. For me, with this kind of cheerleading… there are chances I could get sad or frustrated, especially during the times when I am feeling the struggle. I don’t get upset with the people who do that because it’s just impersonal of them. It can be ignorance, or they didn’t give a real thought about the extent of the struggle. Either way, it makes me feel alone in my struggle, disconnected from the world.
‘’I suppose we should both keep in mind that we don’t have to read an entire post all at once, we can attend to a part of it, then hours later, to another part. So, just as I am permitting myself as I type this, to produce a long post, I hope you give yourself a similar permission when you feel like it. ‘’
I understand. As long we don’t have to force ourselves to answer everything it is less exhausting to receive a long post. So we can permit ourselves to make them long if we know the other won’t have to feel forced to answer everything.
‘’I will not be offended. I will like it, as long as what fuels your expressions of appreciation is sincere and not exaggerated or overly positive (and for as long as you don’t second guess yourself much in regard to whether what you say is exaggerated etc., causing you too much distress).’’
I agree with your way of thinking, the lack of sincerity isn’t good for anyone, especially when it comes to affection, it is suffocating. My appreciation of you at the moment isn’t causing me second-guessing or distress. It is nice.
Oh, and at last, I wanted to address the experience you described in your first post, and share mine with hopes it will be clarifying, for the future. Personally, I like to know about the perspective of the people I’m talking to, knowing how they feel helps me feel reassured. In the long run, it helps me to know what to expect from them. It makes the closeness feel less threatening, so hopefully it might help with that for you too.
‘’A list of the recent mistakes that the child in me believed may cause you great emotional hurt and turn you against me: (1) typing bonne-nuit last evening, (2) replying to another member first this morning, (3) adding parenthesis to a ? this morning. ‘’
1) Really, I have no problem with it. It was nice. As long it is something you genuinely wanted to say and you weren’t forcing yourself, it is alright with me.
2) Also not a problem. Literally, it doesn’t hurt me how you chose to prioritize/organize those things. I do not feel entitled, especially as I like to have the right to organize my communication too. There’s no way I would let your personal freedom affect my opinion of you. Even if I ended up feeling anxious sometimes, I do not consider it as something you are causing to me, or something I should hold you responsible for. My anxiety is entirely due to my unhealed issues, and my current lack of functionality. My brain does that, not you. And talking with you in safety, figuring out a pace that is comfortable for both of us, figuring out we aren’t going to turn against each other, is already helping. It’s enough.
3) This one surprised me. I personally find your ‘’(?)’’ kind of cute… They aren’t something I ever saw anyone else use, so they feel very “Anita” for me, in a nice way. I never minded them in your messages, for sure. When I noticed them for the first time, I found them endearing. After that, I didn’t overthink the meaning behind their usage, to be honest. Though it is good to know now what you are meaning with them, there’s never too much clarity in communication.
I’m not here with the intention of adding up more reading/responding work for you with this message. I just wanted to express my appreciation for you wishing me “bonne nuit”, it is very sweet of you. I was probably already sleeping by then. I responded to you so late because someone had just told me a scary story before my bedtime and it’s easier for me to fall asleep with peaceful feelings. Replying to you was successful in making me feel better and making me forget about my previous worries.
I hope you’ll be also sleeping well tonight.
“What followed this unfortunate truth in my life (it was all about her, and nothing about me)- is that my life proceeded (in the home and in the outside world) to be … nothing about me.”
It is an awful feeling, isn’t it? Everywhere we go, it feels like we are a minor character in our own story. We don’t get to make the choice, we don’t get to make things about us… It isn’t right.
About that, when I observed my friends over years, I was amazed how they were so much about themselves. So much that, for a long while, I didn’t even tried to communicate with them about me. Because my mother was all about herself, and didn’t listen, so surely they were like my mother. Over the years, I discovered while it was right for a few, it was wrong for most of them. Some could care, if I dared to take some space. But until I didn’t and when I still don’t, I am/was an object in the background, even of my own life when I let others take all the space. Not everyone goes out of their way to get to know you, as their mind are already so busy paying attention to those who already know how to speak up already, and dealing with their own stuffs too of course.
All that, meaning… We are doing this to ourselves, because we were taught like this. Making things about ourselves, taking some space… It isn’t always pathological and disrespectful. It can be (and it is recognizable when someone only care about themselves), but for a lot of people… It is just the healthy way, it is just right! Just like they are allowed to exist, take some space and importance into this world, we should be allowed to.
“She didn’t see me as a person… fast forward, I lived my life as if I was not a person (one with certain rights, like physical boundaries/ privacy that should be respected. And about the distance from her, the distance she created, oh, how so very lonely I was and proceeded to be in the outside world.”
I relate to your pain a lot, as I’m still like that. Not feeling like a person. Very lonely everywhere. And don’t expect love and respect from anyone (not even myself until recently, I’m learning).
“she didn’t see your LOVE for her, she saw weakness that can be explored, or something else, but not love. If she saw your love for her, if she felt it, she would have stopped hurting you. (this is a projection I am making, which I feel quite certain to be true).”
I have no idea what goes on in her twisted chaotic mind, what she does see or don’t see. But I have came to learn a thing for sure, my love CAN’T heal everyone. Whether it is because she can’t see it, because it can’t reach her, because it won’t changer her. My love… didn’t matter. It didn’t make a difference. It wasn’t in my power to stop or change who she is, to make her love and care for me. It never was in my power, never will be…
“I feel very good answering right now, no exhaustion at all. I don’t know what you mean by taking it upon yourself to deal with your anxiety- you didn’t burden me at all with your anxiety. I perceive you as a very responsible, socially-conscious person, one who is the farthest from burdening anyone with anything.”
I am glad you feel good. And that you perceive me as responsible enough. I guess I feel the burden of my own emotions, and am very worried it could contaminate others through uncontrollable little signals I wouldn’t be self-aware of.
Too much empathy also lead me to sacrifice myself a lot in the past, which is something that someone risks when they don’t perceive themselves as a person (with rights and boundaries). If it’s anything you could be also prone to, I just want to avoid that. I don’t want to take advantage of your kindness. I value you as a person, and I don’t want any of my difficulties to be an excuse or a reason to burden you, disrespect you or make you feel like your feelings doesn’t/shouldn’t matter.
I hope it doesn’t come across like one of those misplaced caretaking behavior you mentioned in one of our previous conversation. It’s just… my way to try to makes sure communication goes right on both sides, as it is very important for me that we do not ignore our own boundaries for the other.
So it is why, I’m glad you’re able to respond either way is better for you. I am okay with you not responding everything with me (or not responding fast) I won’t take it the wrong way. It is enough if you respond what you feel like responding the most.
“isn’t it wonderful when something positive is mutual? It’s … what I always wanted in regard to my mother: mutuality of something good. Well, it feel good to experience a bit of that with you!”
I crave for this too, so I agree, it feels good.
It is silly, but during the last days I wondered if I should tell you how much I liked talking with you, “if I tell her I appreciate her, if I show appreciation… would she feel offended or threatened? Would it be inappropriate? Is it crossing a line?”
It is probably a projection, because I’m always afraid to care about someone.
But now I’m glad we established we both feel positive things about our discussions. It is a relief to know that I am allowed to care and feel invested in our talks.
‘’ I want to tell you before I close this post that I am pleased and at times thrilled to be communicating with you! ‘’
I am pleased and thrilled too, I’m happy to hear the feeling is mutual.
‘’ you can see that the statement in bold is true, but you doubt yourself because you still believe that she loves you, that she is capable of loving. So, on one hand you see cruelty, on the other you think/ feel something like: she can’t be cruel, she loves me!’’
I think it is more of a ‘’She tried to break me but I am not broken enough. I resisted her, so maybe the abuse wasn’t that bad. Maybe it made me stronger, smarter. I have been able to analyze, to be amused from the insanity at times, I was hurting but I also find interesting how mentally broken this family came to be. I suffered, but I survived. Maybe this abuse wasn’t entirely a bad thing. Maybe, if I was able to cope, my suffering doesn’t even deserve to be acknowledged.’’ I am denying my own pain because I forced myself to be okay and I kind of managed to be? But not in a way that allows me to survive in any other situation… And that’s a problem.
‘’ You still doubt your suffering.. are you still looking for it in that mirror (?) ‘’
Hm, not really? I have not been giving many thoughts about my mother for long (except for our talks of course). I live with her but she’s more of a ghost in my mind, I am not giving her my full attention.
I guess I am more looking into the few people I was able to confide in. They would be the “mirror”, but when I do confide I am acting strong, so the reflection isn’t exact. They send me admiration for being able to cope, and they do tell me I should leave my home. But they don’t know I am unable to survive outside, they don’t seem fully aware of the extent of my dysfunctionality. They see what they would do if they were me, but they don’t get the full picture.
Therefore, when I chose to stay, it’s like saying the environment isn’t that bad and that I’m not suffering that much. Which is untrue (I think?). I am just unable to find functionality in the outside world, so I would break down there. I am ashamed about that.
‘’I suppose I kept waiting for years and decades for my mother to finally tell me who is whom and outside that one sentence she said about her doing wrong to me, there was nothing coming my way from her, as far as clarity. I had to get my clarity away from her.’’
In the end, our mothers and our twisted relationship with them couldn’t give us the truth, it kept us in the dark. I understand how figuring out who we are (and who they are/aren’t) can only happen away from them.
‘’but (confused with who-is-whom and who did what to whom), she rushed to protect herself from someone long ago who hurt her, or she rushed to punish someone in her past that hurt her. ‘’
This makes a lot of sense. It was all about themselves, and nothing about us. Even this protection. This is why they never protected us the right way.
‘’You felt close to her and you imagine that she feels close to you and that she will hurt if you take some distance. All along, not realizing that there is no distance to take, it’s already there as far as she is concerned.’’
I don’t think she’s aware either, but the distance is there. If it wasn’t, she would have seen me as a person. She would have noticed how emotionally detached I was getting from her over the years, how I had to force myself when she asked for hugs. She didn’t notice, she acts as it was all the same, as if I never stop loving her despite the regular abuse. Following your logic, it would be because she still loves the mother who hurt her… She never grew into an adult who knows better. But I still can.
‘’creating more long posts that take a lot of time and energy out of me. Maybe we can produce shorter posts. But I have no intent to no longer communicate with you. It’s the other way around, I hope to keep communicating with you for months.. or for as long as you want to. ‘’
Sorry for the length of my posts. I will try to keep it in mind and keep things shorter. I like our communication, and I like the idea it could keep on for months, as long you also wish to. I will try my best to make my posts more bearable.
‘’ Are you capable of considering it now, sort of meditating on it when you are calm enough, or tired enough and therefore calmer, thinking of this as a possibility (?) ‘’ If you mean, meditating and see as the truth or a possibility in the fact that ‘’a child is not capable of believing that her mother does not love her.’’, yes I can.
‘’By the way, a curious thing perhaps: you shared earlier that your language is French (and I assume it is your mother’s as well), so is my mother’s and her siblings’. I grew up with French (although not in a French speaking country). It was my first language, but because I stopped speaking it at 6, I can now understand casual speech only. ‘’
Interesting. You’re assuming right, it is my mother’s language as well. We’re living in France. Does it mean your mother was coming from a french speaking country before she had you?
” I wish I answered you first this morning, in case you’ve been anxious waiting for my reply. I answered you last because I wasn’t looking forward to the length of your post and the one I expected to put together, particularly given that the content of our conversation is indeed powerful for me too, and exhausting.”
It is alright. It is very understandable our conversation would be exhausting for you, I figured as much. It’s up to me to learn how to cope with my anxiety. I wouldn’t feel good if you had to go out of your way because of those insecurities of mine. I am feeling bad at the idea of causing you discomfort, so I prefer to take it upon myself and learn to deal with this anxiety. I am very thankful that you care about my feelings though, it is heart-warming. But I also want to do things right by you.
I understand your way of answering and I see how it can be valuable to do it that way. For transparency, I will share I do read your whole post before I answer any of it. It is just anxiety-relieving to do it that way and rereading helping me process better. I am patient enough to read your words thoroughly, but my anxiety doesn’t allow me the patience to answer before I read everything.
” so, she ..breaks the child in order to show to other adults that she is fixing a broken child. This is cruelty, to break a child on purpose, for any reason.”
These words are a relief. While this statement seems obvious (from an intellectual standpoint), my emotions are still making me doubt sometimes.
I am, unfortunately, prone to self-gaslight. It is a bad habit that isn’t always there, not when at home, not when facing my mother, but when I do tell my side of the story I almost never fail to fall into the trap of gaslighting myself. What if the thing that I say isn’t true? What if I am being dramatic? What if this accusation is me abusing my mother? A most dreadful thought that nourishes my anxiety every time I speak about it. And it is absolutely born from my mother acting like she was abused every time I… pointed out what she was doing was abusive.
She was refusing this information so much she made me thought myself. Just like she denied/didn’t listen to my suffering so much I started doubting I was suffering. Or suffering enough to deserve an acknowledgment of what was happening.
There’s a memory that comes into my mind. I don’t remember how old I was. Maybe high school? I was trying to make my mother understand I was suffering (probably from her abuse, or a reproach that I wasn’t doing enough for her, I don’t remember the details but it doesn’t matter), her immediate reaction was to express how much (more) SHE was suffering. I was frustrated and after my words failed to make her understand I wasn’t trying to deny her feelings there but she was denying mine, I had an impulse. It was a desperate attempt to reach the communication the was refusing, I didn’t think much about it but I think it was an attempt to see if she would listen/understand more if I spoke her language: I slapped myself, in front of her and I told her “That’s what you’re doing to me.” I was crying, I was overwhelmed. Her reaction: she looked at me with strong negative emotions and left the room. We never spoke about it again. I felt extremely stupid and in shock. I was horrified both by my behavior, and by the fact she was out of communication to the point she would ignore my pain even when I made it obvious, and in her language. Of course, I never repeated that.
The lesson I learned from this time was about the impossibility of communication. Now, I think I should have seen there was a lack of caring, a lack of love. The woman who was worried for me for things I didn’t want her to worry, wasn’t worried when I had wish she was. Not too much, just enough for her to acknowledge what she was doing and feel sorry enough to make some change. But it didn’t happen.
And it was easier to tell myself it was because she was mentally ill than to see the truth.
“When your mother suggested to you that she does not want you to leave her, it was after she has left you long ago, emotionally… (if she was ever together with you, which I doubt). Her subjective experience of being “Really alone” cannot be undone if you keep living with her for the rest of her life.”
This is also relieving, at least for the guilt part. If it is like that, then I am allowed to… not care about her feelings as I take some distance.
“Leading the boy to his death did not invalidate the affection Mengele felt for the boy, but I wouldn’t say that Mengele loved the boy. If he loved the boy, he would have made an exception for the boy and arrange to move the boy outside of Auschwitz, to safety.”
It is an enlightening distinction. Even if I wonder how humans manage to separate both.
“how can one lose a love that’s not there. I mean, didn’t she provide you by now with adequate evidence of her lack of love?”
She did, I am still processing it.
“taking the concept of mutual love out of a context where it does not apply (your mother/yourself), can lead you to a context where mutual love does apply”
It makes sense. It is putting things in their rightful place. It is healthy.
“please remember that you can end our communication at any time if it scares you too much. I am surprised every time you do post for me, thinking beforehand that you may not.”
It isn’t too much, and even if it was I would probably reply. Actually, it is funny, because I feel the same way. While I do not doubt an instant that I would and will reply to you, I am anxious while waiting for your answer. While I am at peace when replying to you. The peace easily turns into anxiety once the response is sent. “What if it is too much? What if I am too much? What if something I say might make her want to leave the conversation?” I do not censor myself, not anymore. At the beginning I was restraining a bit, to not overwhelm neither you or myself. But your answers were straight to the point and you came back, so I thought, maybe it was okay.
I am overwhelming myself, no doubt with that if the anxiety is any hint. I do not know if it is the challenge of my thoughts/beliefs, if it is because this conversation is powerful, if it is the amount of vulnerabilty I am allowing with you… I don’t know yet. But, wow, it’s been a long since had so many lasting and intense freakouts… It is frightening, but it isn’t negative.
If my mother numbed me, our talks are un-numbing me. I wouldn’t dream of not answering even if I was at risk of some kind of anxious cardiac arrest at some point (figuratively, of course, it wouldn’t happen).
“It was very difficult for me to understand and believe that my mother was/ is dishonest. When I finally understood it, I re-evaluated what she told me before, which I automatically believed earlier to be the truth.” “she is confusing because a lot of what she tells you is untrue. You can’t make sense of a story with a mix of some truths and a lot of untruths”
Fair enough. Outside of my moments of confusion, it has been a well-known fact for me that my mother was liar. A lot of the stories she told people weren’t true. I did witness so many times she lied about verifiable facts, twisted undoubtable truth. So it isn’t that hard to believe she could have been dishonest to me. I think sometimes I didn’t even believe when she told me compliments or when she told me she loved me. Because she lies so much you doubt everything she says. And you guess someone can’t lie all of the time, so you try to tell apart the lies from the truth. It was distressing to guess, maybe it didn’t worth it but it was a survival matter to guess and hope for the best.
“When she suggests regret for her actions, she may be lying. Look at her behavior over time: does honest regret fit into it (?)”
If she really regretted it, she wouldn’t repeat the harm she’s doing to me. So the answer would be no.
“does this mean that you can legally evict her?” “to choose to live with her, if it is a choice, would be a heartless choice for you and for your siblings.”
I think I mentioned it, but not really no. That would be too complicated to do and for not an assured win. It doesn’t worth it, since we do not want to live in this house in particular in the future. (Cursed village, cursed house. Oh, I used to love it so much, I was the last one in my family to still love it. My mother and my siblings saw the abuse of my father in it. I still was able to see the beautiful childhood memories, happiness, so so so much love for this place and my family when it still looked like one. But what happened and keep happening to my family killed the memories eventually, made me numb to the point I can’t feel the love for the place anymore. I don’t care as much about living there anymore. It is just a roof to not be homeless in case we got else nowhere to go.) So basically, if we got enough money for that, it’ll be just easier leaving. Where to? I don’t know. How long until? Uncertain. But as long as she’s alive she’s unlikely to move out before us.
” if she feared revenge, she would try to make things right for you and for your siblings, so to de-motivate revenge. I doubt she fears revenge from her adult children.”
Oh she tried some things, not very lasting and successful, but she isn’t behaving as bad as she used to. Her violence and abuse are less regular since then. It still happens, but she has been improving, and going down, and improving, and again showing it wouldn’t last. My brother pointed “Have you noticed how she acts perfectly well when she wants to convince me to come back home? And how she drops the act when I’m home? It is an act, not a real improvement.” And I trust his judgment on that. Sometimes I do not see the ulterior motive behind her temporary improvement, but that doesn’t mean the improvement will be lasting. She really could be doing it only when she tries to obtain something from us.
“You can never be sure that any piece of chocolate is free from a smear of feces. Better throw away the whole cake.”
Very pictural indeed, but efficient. I do agree. It doesn’t worth it. There are other better cakes out there.
“but part of you is still waiting for her to regain the trust (?)”
I have been until early 2020 for sure. Then I didn’t do much check because I was overloaded and kept myself overloaded with work. Or mental breakdowns after too much work. I didn’t have time to wait for her, I had to save myself. I wasn’t able to process everything. I have spent the last few years learning how to survive my situation alone, I didn’t expect recovery for my mother. But I didn’t want to exclude the possibility.
“You and I developed our thoughts in parallel ways although at different times, coming to a meeting place at the end, the same conclusion.. as if we had a conversation at the same time.. amazing!”
It is amazing indeed, and it is because it is the only conclusion that makes sense, keeping healthiness in mind. I must warn you but I can’t know if I’ll have a relapse about you. I might have to debunk and figure out a lot more before I am able to not feel like my world is on the edge of collapsing. Because I’m on unknown ground. I might have said that I trust myself, it is mostly a bet I’m making. The bet I’m not going to die or hurt myself too much during this exploration. That I will survive the fear, the anxiety, the loneliness, and the doubts. Thank you for your patience while talking with me until now, I hope I won’t wear it out too much in the future.
“unless a person is suffering a psychotic breakdown, he/ she is aware-enough of what is happening, this is why a violent parent beating their child stops short of hurting the child badly enough to kill the child, or badly enough to require hospitalization.. and why parents avoid beating their children in public (where child protection laws exist), etc.”
I agree. Yet, there were times during her crisis she really seemed to lose touch with reality, enough to make us wonder if she weren’t on edge of a temporary psychotic breakdown. And other times she can seem to be aware and manipulative. It is a thing I was never entirely able to determine with certainty with my mother, how much she was aware and how much she was unaware. The only sure thing about her was her instability.
I thought about the difference between humans and objects a bit more.
Some people would lash out at an object if it ceases to function like they want to, but they would like the object alright when it works well for them. An object has no feeling so it isn’t technically a problem to lashing out at them. If someone considers a human as their possession, as an object, they wouldn’t care to break it if it isn’t working well, or be violent to make it work right again.
I guess you’re right, there’s no love there. Some humans can chose to love and care about an object. So I guess she could have chose to do so for her children. But she didn’t. Or only temporarily.
“One more thing, my mother, as mentally ill as she was (no less than yours, I imagine), told me that one time: “You think that I don’t know that what I am doing is wrong? I am not stupid, I know. But what are you going to do.. you have nowhere to go”!”
My mother also knows what she does is wrong. I think it is part of her motivation for self-destruction. I do not remember mine telling something as obviously incriminating about herself that the thing you mother said, not without any remorse at least.
Remember when my mother hit me last week and I was alright? I defended myself, just by putting my arm in the way to prevent her foot kicks to reach another part of my body. Just pure reflex. Her foot hit my elbow. She hurt herself by trying to hurt me (at the instant it happened, I could only laugh at the idea of karma. Then I thought “oh no, she might use it against me, say I beaten her up or some kind of bullshit”, because she very often told people about how abusive and controlling her children were towards her.) I came out without a bruise, she came out with (maybe?) broken toes. She didn’t use it against me this time. But she refused to go see a doctor when I told her to. She said she had worse when she was a child, she said that “maybe she didn’t want to heal it as a way to punish herself”.
My mother’s choice to regret and to be a victim in order to wash out of her wrongdoings is a confusing factor. It always was been. She is very confusing in her ways of doing things. Trying to make sense of actions, especially in times of crisis, was making me insane. She makes everything look unreal and insane.
I will never know if there could have been any truth in her regrets because we are in a very specific situation of balanced powers.
We are (the children only) the owner of the house we’re living in, not her. That was the heritage of my father, it wasn’t very legal of him to disinherit his wife so she could have opposed it, but she let it happen, playing the self-sacrificing heroic victim.
Long after, we discovered she secretly stole a lot of money from my brother’s heritage while he was a minor. While she was doing so and we ignored it, she used the fact she was paying for our food and for the bills to, well… make us shut up when we were expressing anger at being abused? While I was disagreeing with the “I feed you so accept the abuse and shut up” logic, I accepted it, because there’s not so much we could do about it. We were paid/feeded to be abused. If she wanted it to be a transaction, well it could be. This kind of logic was the thing that killed the love for me. When we discovered she had been stealing money, it was a turning point for us. Because it couldn’t be a fair transaction anymore if she’s been twisting the rules.
She has been afraid she would be thrown out by us. Probably because she’s aware of her wrongdoings. She has been afraid in spite she has been the one to make sure we knew we couldn’t legally throw her out as long as she paid the bill of this house we own. And well, legal possibility or not, we aren’t heartless enough to throw her out. Even if we were heartless, we aren’t able to function without her yet. And she knows it. And she uses this power to keep the abuse going. But, you know, not too much, because she fears the day we’ll be able to function without her. She fears an act of revenge from us.
I personally wouldn’t do that, I don’t believe revenge or long-term resentment would do any good. My siblings? She better not push her luck too much… They are tired of fighting, but if she breaks them down until they got nothing to lose she has good reasons to fear. That might be why she’s more comfortable to take ‘’ free abuse turn’’ on me than on my siblings, my need for inner peace is stronger than the short-term satisfaction revenge could bring. If anything, revenge would hurt me more, I don’t like conflict and I don’t feel good about hurting someone, even if I had been hurt by. Because, unlike her, I know it isn’t a good enough reason.
Whether the empathy and love she expresses sometimes are genuine or fake, twisted or inexistent… in the end, she broke the relationship and the trust to a point of no return. It doesn’t change what she did. It doesn’t change I do not want to be a part of that or a part of her. Just like I wish she weren’t a part of me, within the mental wounds she created in me.
” I am scared too, I don’t want my input to scare you too much… It took me years to understand these things about love that took me minutes to type out for you. I hope you are okay, I want you to be okay!”
I am okay, I will be. The hurt cannot be avoided, it has to happen at some point. And it is helpful to have your input to help me think and I appreciate you’re keeping me company during this exploration, it would be harder to cope alone, the distress would have been greater I think.
I am mature enough to take those things, but I am not guarded enough to be above getting emotional or vulnerable (not during this conversation, not with you). If someone else had given me this input, in other circumstances, I would probably had been too focused on controlling my reaction to give the input a real thought. But I’m allowing it with you. And emotions like fear, pain, or distress can happen. But I trust you, and I trust myself to be okay once the emotions are done expressing.
The idea of being loved by her, even unhealthily, was among the few good things she brought to me. Even if it was for wrong reasons or an illusion. The idea some part of me could be lovable was reassuring, and I chose to believe that and built confidence in that. It is a bit shaking, to remove some foundations/reinforcement of these beliefs. But I guess it doesn’t make them untrue. I can be lovable, her feelings about me shouldn’t be more relevant than anyone else’s, or my own’s.
I can be okay with the idea she never loved me. But the act and the deception are scary. I guess I can still learn to recognize better, to not see what I would prefer to see in order to not risk being endangered again by an illusion of love.
“the abusive, materialistic mother who cares for appearances, doesn’t need a healthy child, she has no use for a healthy child… But a child? A child cannot give her what she wants. She doesn’t care what a child feels inside.. If her child feels happy and healthy, can she buy anything with it?”
She cares for appearances, but it’s the reverse, she isn’t materialistic. The reason she doesn’t need an healthy child is because she act as the selfless savior with an healthy child. She prefers a broken child, so she can brag about how she’s been saving her.
But once the child is adult, two dilemmas happen :
– her adult child is broken, unfunctionnal, and people notice and tell her mother something is wrong. She takes it as a jugment of her having failed as a mother and is angry at the child, pressing her to appear normal and make a living not for the materialistic aspect she would gain, but to not fail her scenario.
– but if her adult child make a living, she will live and make a life of her own. And the mother will be alone. Really alone because everyone in her life left her because of her personality, and she’s socially isolated, without a meaning if she isn’t a mother or a savior. So she can’t have the child succeeding too much either. She needs to keep the child’s dependency, so she can have power over her.
“but it was not any kind of love, not even a love of an object kind-of-love: when a person loves an object, she doesn’t purposefully break the object, does she…?”
Mental illness make people do strange thing…
“what if she didn’t love you at all.. what if she was/is often angry at you, intending to hurt you, and then doing what she can do to hurt you … and then, once in a while she feels affection for you… is that love?”
I have no idea… Do purposeful harm invalidate the affection? I don’t know. But it is messed up in any case.
“but she wants to destroy more than she wants to love.. (?)”
There definitely are a lot of times when her lack of control over her emotions, and her self centered personality, makes her need destruction more than she needs love.
Hm. So. Honestly… I never ever considered the idea my mother could NOT love me. Love me in a twisted way, sure, not love me? Then why would have beared all these years of abuse for…
At another time, I would have say it would be a relief if she ceased to love me, so we could take distance from each other and be healthy.
But this is different. Answering this message triggered enough hurt and distress for me to cry. I wasn’t expecting his kind of challenging thoughts.
I think I would be more alright if I lost her love by standing up and taking distance for myself…
The idea she might have never loved me? It would question so much of everything… It would make me doubt so much things about love. Well, I already have issues on this but it wouldn’t make it any easier.
The only comfort I could take facing this idea, would be that her inability to love me would come from her pathology, and not the fact I am unlovable. But it is equally worrying.
I am not entirely mentally sane myself. I have issues with love and be loved. And it would be distressing to think I could also not feel real love because of this.
I wouldn’t survive if I ended up being damaged on this. If I can’t feel, recognize or trust love then how I am supposed to survive emotionally?
I am scared.
“once you are able to separate yourself from your mother, to really know who you are vs who she is, what is yours, what is hers– it is then that you can find your individual meaning and personal power.”
I see. It seems like a long hard work to get there. I cannot say more on this tonight, but I acknowledge this statement.