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Rachel

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  • #365664
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Thank you for the birthday wishes! I haven’t heard anything from my family yet. Interestingly, my mom complains at me when I don’t wish her happy birthday or happy mother’s day but has forgotten my birthday for years now. Double standards are not great to deal with. Here are my lists:

    Good behaviors:

    Being respectful and polite to other people, even people we disagree with

    Listening to listen and not just to respond

    Following through with what you say you’re going to do

    Apologizing for wrongdoing and not doing it again

    Honesty, saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Not lying intentionally

    Seeing all people on equal footing: not thinking we’re better than someone because of social status or political beliefs or other superficial things

    Taking responsibility for ourselves

    Caring for and loving our children unconditionally

    Helping others in need to the best of our ability

    Caring for ourselves so we don’t become an unfair burden on others

    Respecting the boundaries of others

    Caring for and loving the Earth and animals, meaning do as little harm as possible.

     

    Bad Behaviors:

    Acting in a self interested manner at all times

    Lying to people to get something from them

    Manipulating people to get something from them

    Disrespecting other’s physical, emotional, or energetic boundaries

    Doing something kind or nice just to get something in return or gain power over someone.

    Dumping problems and bad energy on people, using people as an emotional “trash can”

    Sexual irresponsibility (cheating, not using birth control and/or protection, having multiple partners without being tested for STDs)

    Stealing, taking what doesn’t belong to us

    Gossiping about people

    Parentifying children

    Gaslighting people, denying their reality and making them confused

    Trying to gain power over people

    Looking down on someone because you perceive them to be lesser than you

    Talking at people instead of to them

    Unhealthy competition

    Downplaying someone’s achievements or good qualities to make ourselves feel superior

     

     

    #365655
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Yes, that’s something that’s hard to wrap my head around – that even cruel people are kind from time to time. It creates a lot of confusion because you never know if it’s you. I’ve always struggled with getting angry at someone for mistreating me then feeling like I need to be kinder or more understanding. This reminds me of another memory from my teenage years: my dad used to always rant at me about his life, his problems, how my mom was terrible to him, so on and so forth. I didn’t want to be around him. I remember the summer after my freshman year of college I told him so. My mom shamed me and said I was making him feel bad. It’s like you said before about how mothers train their children in toxic ways. But now I don’t know how to untrain myself. I feel like I need to reconnect with my own inner guidance: I feel that when I can trust myself, things usually work out pretty well. I think I have good instincts but it’s hard not to have social support to back you up. It’s like the frog dying in hot water. I feel my intuition has died, or quieted. In my head I hear the things other people have told me, but I cannot “hear” myself because no one on my life has really heard me.

    I have always felt I attract toxic people. It’s interesting to hear you say that might not be the case. Another toxic thing that therapist told me is that most people are good, only a few are bad. I thought that was wrong and maybe you agree. And I think assessing people as good or bad is unhelpful. Maybe someone isn’t a bad person but they can still be toxic to my wellbeing. I feel it’s more important to think about how people make us feel, how they treat us and whether or not the relationship is a win-win. This stuff is very confusing, I still don’t know how I can unlearn all of these lies, especially ones that have come from a so-called mental health professional!

    You’re right, no one is completely healed. I guess deep down I still feel I am a messed up person, and for that reason I close myself from the possibility of getting close to someone who I actually want to be close to. Maybe that’s why I have these toxic relationships: I know they are toxic, but I feel I am toxic too and don’t deserve any better. I always wonder, am I good person? What does good even mean? It’s hard going through life without parents to guide us…how can we know right from wrong without anyone to teach us? I feel values are often distorted and it’s still so hard to see clearly. But once upon a time I did see clearly…I wonder how to get back to that point, or to go forward to an even better place. I know I can’t be perfect but I still want to be for some reason. I wish I could cut myself some slack.

    On another note, today is my birthday! I am 28 today. Even with all of this confusion this is a better birthday than in the past. For most of my life I didn’t want to be alive, didn’t care whether or not I was dead or alive. Even when COVID hit, I was not afraid because I didn’t care if I caught it and died. But now I am looking forward to the future and I feel a little happier to be on this planet. Maybe because I am trying to untangle myself from abuse and lies. Love heals and truth does also.

    #365423
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    That made me smile that you would copy my post for yourself. I greatly respect you and it makes me happy that you think what I say has value.

    Yes, she did choke me, in so many ways. Another thing I got wrong was thinking to be kind, you have to give someone access to you at all times. She demanded that we remain friends after the breakup. And I felt so bad, and confused: not wanting her in my life, but feeling I was mean to block her. I didn’t understand that not seeking revenge was enough. Honestly, I sort of sought revenge: She left the apartment trashed when she left, and left a ton of her stuff. She wanted to come back to get it, I said no. When  I was going through it I found a diary entry saying how she wanted to have sex with men and I wasn’t doing it for her. The whole relationship she blamed and shamed be for being attracted to men, saying it was “disgusting”. I was so mad I threw a lot of her stuff away, including some comics she had drawn in high school. She wanted me to mail her the comics, and when I admitted I threw most of them away she freaked out at me. I felt so so so bad and horrible. I had forgotten this happened. I wish I understood that I can choose who I allow to be in my life. I feel that if someone shows any sort of kindness I owe them or something. I guess it goes back to what we were talking about, parents saying to their kids that they owe them. And then carrying that false belief. You’re helping me to feel a lot better I feel so much calmer talking with you. I am very grateful.

    I’m noticing my thoughts are slowing down, I feel less “crazy” for lack of a better word just by communicating with you. Maybe because you are sane and before I was confiding in people who were not sane, meaning still connected to insanity. Now that I am remembering how bad my ex really was, I can’t believe I even considered speaking to her! I used to still check her social media. I don’t know what I was looking for: proof of what happened maybe? Trying to keep in contact? I am not sure. But I know I must be sure not to allow her any access to me and not to torture myself by checking her social media. I feel if I can move on from this relationship and truly learn the lessons I was meant to learn I can have a great and healthy relationship in the future. I have not dated since, it’s been three years. I did have a one night stand when I visited Amsterdam a couple years back, but that was it and I felt guilty after the one night stand. That kind of thing isn’t for me. I have not trusted myself to be able to discern a good relationship from a bad one. I tell myself sometimes I don’t want a relationship but it isn’t true. Another former friend tried to rush me into dating again and made me feel badly for being single. But honestly I am okay being alone. I enjoy my own company, and I am learning more about who I am outside of a partnership. I also hope that if I can be strong on my own I can attract a healthy partner. I am not completely sure at this time what I would want in a partner but I hope to find out.

    Contrary to what people have said to me I have not lost hope in love, I just want to be sure I am ready for it. I would never want to date someone and possibly hurt them because I have not healed from my wounds. It isn’t fair to use people this way, yet so many people do it! Just as you mentioned, relationships should be win-win. I am not looking for someone to take all of my pain away. This former friend got divorced around the same time my relationship ended, then quickly started sleeping around with people, even people at our place of work (we used to be coworkers). I don’t necessarily disagree with casual sex but I feel it’s not healthy to try and heal through casual sex. She was also of the belief that women can do no wrong which wasn’t good for me. Not only do I want to find a healthy partner I also want to find healthy friends too. I didn’t realize just how much your environment affects your mental health even when you are not fully aware of it. I hope to be more mindful and conscious in the future.

    #365419
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    That’s a very good point about self judgement. You’re right, I am not very empathetic towards myself. Or I am empathetic towards other people at the expense of myself. Sometimes I revert to my child self, waiting for someone to save me. But that person never comes. When I am healthy and strong, it’s because I am focused on saving myself. I often am very very hard on myself.

    You’re right, I did judge this man unfairly. I got caught up in stereotypes, not fully understanding at the time that stereotypes work both ways. Sometimes I can be critical and judgmental, and I am trying to learn how to catch myself and redirect those thoughts. I try to remember that I am just acting the way my parents taught me and not to act that way, or else I might hurt someone like how they hurt me. I am glad I amended my behavior. I realized that if I was closed off and mean to him, then he would be closed off and mean to me. So I tried to be kind to him and understand him better. I learned that we had a lot in common! For example, we liked the same movies and bonded over things we liked as kids. I know this is something that I have to keep a lookout for: not to judge and to allow people to be themselves. It’s hard unlearning things we’ve learned as children.

    Yes, my inability to articulate in that relationship was because of a “lack of air”. It’s amazing how you are so right about everything. The lack of air was her not listening, or twisting what I said, or throwing what I said back in my face to punish me. Or calling me crazy. So I choked up and couldn’t communicate. Then she blamed me and said I was abusive for ignoring her. This got so bad that I got physically ill. I had to go to urgent care because I literally could not breathe. Much like George Floyd: I can’t breathe.

    What you wrote in your last paragraphs is so very true for me. I have had these exact thoughts. For a while I thought very clearly, was connected to myself and my feelings. But then I went backwards, and I got angry at myself. I kept blaming and blaming myself, and got more confused the more I blamed myself. I mistakenly thought healing was a “one and done deal”. I also mistakenly thought going to therapy would “fix me”. Then when it didn’t I felt more lost and disassociated, thinking I was broken. I didn’t realize the momentous task healing is. I also mistakenly thought I was the only broken person, that other people knew more and were better than me. If I saw more clearly, I would see that all of us are broken in one way or another. And I would not take it so personally when people hurt me, knowing it’s coming from a place of brokenness. I wouldn’t give other people so much power.

    I guess the theme here is learning to be kind: to ourselves and to others no matter who they are. I know when I am kind to myself I naturally am kinder to others. And I hope to always remain a kind person as much as I can. But it can be difficult!

    #365373
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    I completely agree with what you wrote about children identifying with an aggressive parent and acting that way towards others. It reminds me of my ex: she identified with her father, who beat her and did other horrible things. So she enjoyed being a hypermasculine and aggressive person. Or my sister who constantly argues and antagonizes people: she identifies with my aggressive mother. That therapist I know was still in contact with her most likely abusive parents. I also know that she felt lost as a child and moved around a lot, and most likely that made her feel angry. So I probably triggered her just like her girlfriend. I think she felt inadequate as a therapist and that’s why she acted the way she did. This is another mark of poor therapy on her part: I shouldn’t know all this. The focus should have been on me.

    I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that people who share identities aren’t always empathetic towards each other. It confuses me. This idea has gotten me into a lot of trouble: expecting that someone who shares my identities or beliefs would be kind to me, and then that is not the case but I have a hard time accepting the truth. I thought dating a woman would be better than dating a man. It wasn’t. In fact it was worse because I didn’t see the red flags. Or more accurately, I saw the red flags but dismissed them. Another example is this man I knew at my last job: he was white, enjoyed guns, and went on to become a cop. I thought he was a bad person because of those things. But he ended up treating me with kindness and respect. He made me laugh and I enjoyed his company. And he was the reason I was able to leave my ex, because I would feel so happy spending time with him and my other coworkers, laughing and having a great time. Then I would come home to her and feel so depressed, like the air had been sucked out of my lungs. I think now part of the reason I’m having trouble moving on is that I don’t have that social support anymore, like you mentioned in your earlier response.

    Thanks for saying I express myself well. Sometimes I feel I am stupid and can’t express myself well. I always blamed myself during my relationship that I couldn’t articulate properly. But the truth was she just didn’t listen to me. Sometimes I feel my expectations are too high, like I have to accept some disrespect and suffering in a relationship. I used to have high expectations but I lowered them, and because of that I lowered my self respect. It’s madness, isn’t it?

    I agree, we must judge abusers for who and what they are. The reason the world is in disarray, the reason so many of us suffer is because we look the other way and lie to ourselves about abusers. I don’t think abusers who refuse to take responsibility deserve forgiveness. Nor do they deserve punishment per se, but it’s best we get as far away from them as possible. I don’t want to punish people who have hurt me. I just want them and their toxicity away from me and my mind. But people always blame me for wanting this. I agree, having a win-lose therapist was awful for me. I am starting to feel a little compassion for myself in knowing it wasn’t my fault. I wonder what others who have been her clients felt, or maybe she only did it to me.

    I do see myself as someone chained to suffering: mentally. I still ruminate over these things that have happened, and have flashbacks. It’s as if these things are still happening. I am stuck in the past in many ways and would like to be free from it all.

    I look forward to reading your response when you are back. Thanks so much for listening and for providing such great insight.

    #365363
    Rachel
    Participant

    Also regarding my former therapist: I think the reason she defended abusive people was because she had been abusive herself. She said once about a former girlfriend of hers that they would”trigger each other”. My intuition says that means she abused the girlfriend. I’m usually good at reading between the lines. She inappropriately told me a lot about her personal life, like she was trying to be my friend. No boundaries. She texted me outside of sessions and encouraged me to do the same. And she got angry when I found healing on my own terms. There was a point where I was finding out a lot about emotional abuse and finding myself. She shut all that down. Just like with my mother, I wanted her approval. But she was just another woman who rejected me.

    #365362
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Thanks for saying that I can let you know if I feel you are trying to control me. I doubt I would ever feel that way, but it makes me feel respected that you would say so. It reminds me of the best therapist I ever had. Even though he didn’t share my identities (he was a white man) he let me know right away that although he didn’t share my identities and might not always understand, he would always try to. That made me feel respected and I healed a lot with his help. He was always on my side, and viewed me in an unconditional positive light. On the contrary, this other therapist that did share my identities did not respect me or empathize with me. She enjoyed me being weak and depending on her. She wanted to feel powerful, not help me help myself. I got worse under her care.

    What is love? A hard word to define as it is misused all the time. Love is caring for someone at the same level, and at times more, than you care for yourself. Sometimes it’s easier to define something by saying what it is not. Love is not keeping score. There is no obligation in love. Love is respect at all times. Love is allowing a person the freedom to be who they really are. To allow space for them to grow into their highest self. Love does not demand, threaten or invade. Love requires us to do no harm, and in those moments of human weakness when we do harm, to apologize sincerely and take steps so it never happens again.

    Yes, my former therapist and girlfriend were bad. Thank you for saying that. It feels validating and makes my heart feel at peace. My inner child feels happy to hear this. For years my heart has been hurting from confusion. People say we shouldn’t judge that we should forgive. But these notions if used wrongly keep us chained to suffering. There has not been anyone on my side, to validate me or my humanity. Often I’ve thought to myself over the past few weeks that I don’t exist. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and think, who are you? It’s hard to feel like a ghost.

    #365344
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Yes, it is horribly selfish. It’s funny in a not funny sort of way: when I was a teenager and starting to find my own independence, meaning doing things for myself and not for my family, my mom called me selfish. Something as simple as getting myself something to eat after work. Then for years I felt guilty doing anything for myself. Thankfully I am trying to change that now, trying to feel okay with self care and doing things that make me happy for the sake of it. It was just her projecting onto me. I guess all of these toxic people have just been projecting on to me. Parents should love their children unconditionally. Now I get some sort of intermittent backwards approval, but it’s not unconditional. And if love isn’t unconditional it isn’t real. That doesn’t mean we always have to approve of what our loved ones do, but we should love them by always treating them with kindness and respect.

    You’re right: toxic mothers say what serves them, and people who are in denial about the toxicity of their mothers say things to back them up. Flying monkeys is the term I believe. My father absolved himself of all responsibility, believing just what you wrote: go to your mother, it is her job to take care of you, not mine. But unfortunately my mother didn’t want the job either. So she tried to dump it on me. When I moved away, she dumped it on my older brother and he got glowing accolades for bending to her every will. They think providing food and shelter is enough. It isn’t enough. It’s interesting to hear you had a similar experience with your mother around internalized racism. The principles of racism and all other forms of oppression, that one human being can have power over another…it’s the same principle that exists within toxic families. It all comes down to the same toxic root.

    I had forgotten until this moment, how badly I wanted my parents approval as a child. How I longed for affection from them. I remember I used to pretend to fall asleep in the car, hoping my mom or dad would then carry me into the house because they never touched me affectionately. I also remember working hard to clean the house perfectly when they were at work, hoping they would notice and be happy. But they only ever found something to criticize. I remember making a card for my mom for her birthday as a little girl. Secretly buying ingredients to make a cake to surprise her. Buying her chocolate for Christmas. But she’d only complain I was making her fat. Studying hard into the night, getting an A only for my dad to yell at me for not getting a perfect score.

    Sooner or later I stopped caring what they thought. But deep down, I never stopped caring or else I would have distanced myself for good. It feels cathartic to type this out and I’m happy to hear you’re willing to support me in this thread. Thank you. I am always the one giving support, not getting it. And if I am “getting it”, it’s from someone who wants to control me. Somehow my childhood experiences have become lost the more connected I’ve been with my family. I can remember the experiences of my siblings, those are ingrained in my mind now. But not my own. Because in the context of my family I have never been first. I have never been important.

    Thanks for saying that my ex was abusive. Over the years I have heard mixed messages from people I have talked to about her. My former therapist even called me rude when I intially stood up to her a few months after the breakup. She had rapidly moved on to someone else and then was still bothering me, saying the new person was just a rebound. When I told the therapist how I was confused because sometimes she would be nice, the therapist said “it doesn’t have to be all bad, you can focus on the good”. I think I spoke in my other thread about this so forgive me for repeating myself. So somehow my mind shifted from this 100% being an abusive situation to it not being so bad. I gaslighted myself, so to speak. And it’s hard to know what even happened. I blocked out a lot in my mind.

    I did block her though and I am proud about that. She then went and contacted my sister and the friend I mentioned above trying to reach me by proxy. I have no idea how people can act like this. I know if she were sitting in front of me she would say it was because she loves me so much. After a fit of rage and screaming, she would say she did it because she loved me too much. Interestingly, my dad would say the same. I yell because I love you. It’s confusing to say the least. It confuses me how people punch you and then act offended when you bleed (figuratively). Am I always supposed to be someone’s punching bag?

    #365299
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    No, I do not think you are being dramatic. On the contrary I think your analysis is 100% correct. But it’s taboo in this society to place responsibility on parents. People think just because someone brought life into this world they can do no wrong. People especially think mothers are always good, loving, kind. It’s okay to blame fathers but not mothers. I remember as a young girl my aunts yelled at me if I ever confided in them about how my mom treated me. My college essay was how I loved my camp because it was the only place I felt loved. When I asked my aunts to review it for me one of them got mad: “this is a lie, your family loves you”.

    I have known for a long time that my parents have internalized racism and have subscribed to a colonized belief system. They never wanted us to be “too black”, we grew up in a majority white town to escape blackness, things like that. I tried to escape physically but I haven’t been able to escape mentally. I think because my abusive relationship wore me down so much, and I felt so much guilt because I stayed away from home for 4 years. During that time my parents sent me guilt trips for not coming home (unsurprisingly, when I told them I couldn’t afford to go back home which I really couldn’t, they never offered to pay for me to come back). The guilt is how they keep power over me, and how other abusive people have kept power over me. Also, the projection onto me that I am not a good person. So I try even harder to be good, but it’s like I am chasing my own shadow. No one ever said anything to mitigate this guilt. so it remains hoovering over me like a dark cloud. Sometimes I think about moving even farther away, like to Europe. But physical distance isn’t enough, I know that now. I already live halfway across the country from them, they guilt me about that too. Everyone complained about attending my college graduation because it was so far. The intermittent reinforcement is also confusing: they are nice to me when I do what they want or succeed at something. So my inner child thinks “finally! i will get the love I need!”. But it’s just an illusion. This trap is what kept me chained to an abuser for almost 5 years. She’d scream, be abusive, then be nice and pretend like nothing happened. Even now she is still trying to contact me out of “concern for my well being”. This is why I am so foggy headed all of the time.

    The problem is I don’t have any support and I don’t know where I would get it. It’s tough to find a decent therapist. A few months ago I tried online therapy, but it was more of the same unhelpful stuff. Every time I’ve tried to make connections with other people it’s always more of the same, which is why at this point I’m almost always checked out from life.

    #365218
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    That is a great point, and something I didn’t consider before. You’re absolutely right: I momentarily get a “feel good reward” for her supposedly looking up to me. Subconsciously I feel that maybe this means I am not as worthless as she always claimed me to be. But you’re right, nothing was ever fixed. She ended up confronting my dad after ranting to me about it and he got angry at her and told her to leave him alone. She showed me all of the texts and conversation and of course I gave her empathy, saying she did the best she could etc etc. I had no idea I had fallen back into this trap of her extracting energy from me. Of course my dad continued to do whatever he wanted. But did she really expect he would listen to her? Maybe it was just a show to get empathy. She always would do stuff like this: talk about how hard her life was, how hard she works and how my dad treated her so badly. But she never takes responsibility for her part: no one forced her to marry my dad, no one forces her to live in an expensive house and spend so much money on material things. No one told her to buy my sister another car when she already got into 2 accidents. I realized as I was reading that my sister does the same thing! She rants and complains and asks for advice but she never does what I say. And I feel a false reward, but the truth is she doesn’t look up to me either. So I’m left spending this energy on people who don’t appreciate it and it does no good. But who can I rant to when I am in trouble? I have to figure everything out by myself.

    People dumping their emotions on me has happened to me my whole life. A friend I had from high school would do the same: every time she was in trouble (which was all of the time) she would call me to complain, and I would be supportive. I gave her money when she needed it. Even in the middle of the night I would wake up and listen to her complain about whatever predicament she had got herself in. Finally one day she borrowed money and didn’t pay me back. When I asked for the money back she paid me less of what she owed me. I told her she didn’t pay me back the full amount and she laughed it off and said she would pay me, but never did. That’s when I separated myself from her. And one again, I got the reward of  her saying I was such a good friend, I was always there for her etc. But she was never there for me. She would talk about it, but not actually follow through.  Even my ex did this, all throughout the relationship and even after the breakup. She talked about how bad things were for her, she got sick, her family was mistreating her, she’s disabled, no one cares about her, so on and so forth.

    I have never been in a relationship with someone who actually genuinely cared about me. It’s always been people draining my energy. Maybe that’s why I am so tired all the time.

    #365216
    Rachel
    Participant

    Thanks again anita. I appreciate your insights and talking to you is helping to calm me down. I notice, the incessant chatter in my mind and tightness in my chest dissipates when I read your words. I hope we can continue communicating as I don’t have anyone else to talk to about this. My former therapist really messed me up, and I’m just starting to really come into that realization a year after I stopped seeing her. So talking to you is helping me shed some light on my issues.

    I agree wholeheartedly about your comments about the jigsaw puzzle. Where did I fit into the puzzle? Well, I was always the fixer as well as the scapegoat. Even now, I’m the one siblings turn to for advice, but not in a way that makes me feel good. One of my sisters sees herself as the “truth teller”. She is always demanding that we respond to her questions about things, and gets mad when people don’t engage in that chat. The sister I mentioned above sees herself as perfect, all knowing. My older brother sees himself as the father figure, so on and so forth. I don’t know what my role is now. I guess I am still supposed to fix: for example, my father moved in with a much younger woman from another country. He brought her to my sister’s graduation uninvited, and everyone was mad about it. (it was highly inappropriate). My mom then tells me I need to confront him and tell him he’s making a mistake. Why? It’s none of my business what he does. Whenever one of my siblings is acting up or in trouble, my mom contacts me to vent about it and to ask me to fix it somehow. I have never vented to my mother in my whole life, the relationship is entirely one sided. My youngest sister has been in a lot of trouble. Most recently she crashed the car my mother bought for her and started selling drugs. My mom asked me to talk to her and somehow force her to act differently. This was after I paid for her to visit me in the city I am living, constantly tried to reach out to her to offer her support, etc etc.

    I realize this is a lot of information, but I’m just saying this to further prove your point. My family members and 99% of the people in my life want something from me, and I serve a function but I am not a human being. So I go somewhere else and I feel I am essentially a robot. It’s hard to feel sane when you’re surrounded by insanity, and sooner or later you absorb the insanity. And then I always feel I am the problem, somethings wrong with me that I need to fix, and spend a lot of energy and money and time fixing.

     

    #365203
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Thanks for responding, I had hoped you would. Regarding my family, I agree with everything you said. My happiest and calmest of times was when I was in college building a life away from them, when I did not speak to my parents. Now as I have gotten older it has become more difficult to keep that boundary. When I was younger the pain was fresh and present, and I had friends in college to support me so it was easy not to feel guilt. Now I don’t have many friends, and I have found the people in my life as of late have all shamed me or hurt me in similar ways. My parents are not a part of the group chat, but I feel the same negative feelings around my siblings. During the video chat they always want to “discuss” our toxic family dynamics.It’s weirdly formal, like a college seminar. My former therapist thought this was great and healing, and I subscribed to that thought because therapists are supposed to know what’s up, supposedly. But my siblings often make excuses for the way our parents acted, especially my mother. They are still attached to her and see my father as the one with all the problems. However deep down I believe they are both at fault.

    Once I shared with my siblings how my mother had hurt me far worse because she is my same gender parent. They told me I was being unfair to expect her to be better because she is a woman. That’s not what I meant. Also, there is always a feeling of competitiveness, maybe I imagine it but I feel it every time I speak to them. My younger sister basically emulated all of my career and education choices and constantly goes on about her accomplishments, discussing all of her feelings, ranting about politics, etc. She is also very close to my mother. I find myself feeling very inadequate around her and I blame myself for feeling that way, but my mother always hated and belittled me and glorifies her. Now my parents are “nicer” to me, meaning they don’t scream at me but I believe they are only “nice” because I have a decent job and can pay my bills. I feel there has never been anyone in my life to validate me which is why I disassociate. It’s confusing because the same patterns always repeat even with people outside my family, and within my sibling group there is this “us vs. them mentality”. I used to have a good grasp on how all this was affecting me but my therapist confused me, she always said I need to talk to them and open up to them so I have been but it’s done more harm than good. I barely feel comfortable sharing my accomplishments with them but I feel guilty for feeling the way that I do. It’s tough because the idea of family first is so entrenched in society,

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Rachel.
    #282287
    Rachel
    Participant

    Dear GL,

     

    You have some amazing insight, thank you so much. I do very much agree that I’m rationalizing my emotions, and have been doing that pretty intensely for quite a long time. Before this relationship I didn’t rationalize as much – I didn’t often share my emotions with other people but I let myself be sad, cry, feel fear, etc while alone or with someone who I felt was safe. It’s hard re-learning how to feel my emotions when they’ve been caged in for so long and I’ve been so often shamed or misunderstood for expressing anything. With my ex, she would even get angry that I showed any sense of being tired after working two jobs and 12 hour days. I’ve always been expected to be constantly strong and take care of everything and everyone and always have all the answers. I’ve been told I’m too independent but then I am shamed whenever I show vulnerability. It’s frustrating.

     

    You’re right, my therapist is not my friend and I should not be dependent on her. I find that I most definitely am, like you said I don’t have any friends to spend time with so she’s my only source of human interaction outside of work. I find it very hard to find people to genuinely connect with. I like what you said about life/healing not being linear & that emotions can’t be solved like a math problem. I’ve thought that to myself often, but I feel that’s been something drilled into me be other people, that I should be able to fix/snap out of my emotions and now it’s difficult to unlearn that. I think people in general don’t allow much space for negative emotions and we’re expected to always be efficient and perfect like machines. As I’ve gotten older and had these negative experiences I’ve definitely become one of the masses in that way. Even though I know I should express my emotions and it’s safe to do so now I feel I don’t even remember how.

    #282255
    Rachel
    Participant

    Also, what adds to my confusion is how her friends and other people around us would always say how loving she was and how much she loved me/talked about me, and she did act lovingly at times. So that’s what makes it hard for me to think about the situation clearly.

    #282247
    Rachel
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

     

    I think you’re right, and I’ve had the same observations at times. My therapist told me how she became a therapist because she never felt heard as a child, which struck me as interesting because sometimes I don’t feel heard/understood by her. I agree, you can only be helped by someone as far as they’ve helped themselves. Like I’ve said, she has helped me in some ways. I feel like some sessions are good, some irritate me. I’ve thought about stopping with her but I always thought it was me, that maybe I’m resistant to change or being helped. She has been more validating in past weeks, but I feel like I’m putting in so much effort to try and explain the things I’m feeling and going through. It’s exhausting. It’s nice to have that feeling when you just feel understood, without having to make an argument for why you feel every minute emotion. My ex was also like this so maybe I’m carrying some of that into therapy – when I was upset she would relentlessly badger me about the why  my emotions if I ever showed anything other than happiness and devotion to her, instead of just letting me experience them and supporting me in that. She was also always trying to fix/change me and I always had to explain that I didn’t need fixing I just need support. She just would never understand/be empathetic/allow me to feel anything.

     

    I have trouble letting go/putting boundaries with people. I do have therapy with her tonight so I guess I will see how I feel. The effort of having to say goodbye and find someone else feels too exhausting for me, I don’t feel like going through this whole process over and over again. Sometimes I feel like I should just stop therapy and help myself instead, because in listening to so many people telling me I need to do this or that or that I have such and such problems, I don’t even know what’s real anymore. I tend to put up with toxic/unhealthy situations for much too long, until it becomes unbearable. I have a high tolerance for pain/discomfort – my parents never really let us complain about anything, because since they grew up overseas (in Western Africa) and in poverty they had it so much worse supposedly. Like with my ex, I actually wanted to leave her only a few short weeks into the relationship, because I could already see red flags (her saying I love you after only a couple of weeks, wanting to move in with me, being angry for no reason, getting upset when I wanted space/time with my friends, among other things). But I always let my guilt/sense of obligation get the best of me.

     

    My ex told me I was that I was a monster, crazy, dishonest, judgmental, dramatic, mean, controlling, stupid, emotionally unavailable, unaffectionate cold, an addict (when things got really bad I was smoking a lot to get through it all, that’s when she called me that), a narcissist, a b***, bipolar, that I never apologize (when she screamed at me she would demand I apologize to her for it then get mad when I refused), that I was spoiled and privileged, that I don’t know what the f*** I’m talking about, I’m unloving, I don’t know how to love women, accused me of cheating/lying, when I didn’t want to go out and wanted to stay in she said I was f*** up and needed to take pills to fix me. I also would hide in my room or in the bathroom from her, and she would complain that I was ignoring her and therefore abusive. I’m attracted to both men and women and she said that was disgusting and I should essentially be ashamed of my sexuality, which really screwed me up.

     

    The stuff she was referring to – I often called her a child and said she was selfish, ungrateful and manipulative and didn’t know how to deal with her emotions or take responsibility. Towards the end of the relationship I started ignoring her quite a lot and spending as much time as possible away from her. We stopped being intimate with each other which she blamed me for, because I was never in the mood and just hated touching her/having her touch me or being around her at all. I feel the most guilt around that, especially because she always said how her mom would leave her alone all the time so she couldn’t stand ever to be ignored/alone, and I know withholding affection is abusive as well.

    Hi Anita,

     

    I think you’re right, and I’ve had the same observations at times. My therapist told me how she became a therapist because she never felt heard as a child, which struck me as interesting because sometimes I don’t feel heard/understood by her. I agree, you can only be helped by someone as far as they’ve helped themselves. Like I’ve said, she has helped me in some ways. I feel like some sessions are good, some irritate me. I’ve thought about stopping with her but I always thought it was me, that maybe I’m resistant to change or being helped. She has been more validating in past weeks, but I feel like I’m putting in so much effort to try and explain the things I’m feeling and going through. It’s exhausting. It’s nice to have that feeling when you just feel understood, without having to make an argument for why you feel every minute emotion. My ex was also like this so maybe I’m carrying some of that into therapy – when I was upset she would relentlessly badger me about the why  my emotions if I ever showed anything other than happiness and devotion to her, instead of just letting me experience them and supporting me in that. She was also always trying to fix/change me and I always had to explain that I didn’t need fixing I just need support. She just would never understand/be empathetic/allow me to feel anything.

     

    I have trouble letting go/putting boundaries with people. I do have therapy with her tonight so I guess I will see how I feel. The effort of having to say goodbye and find someone else feels too exhausting for me, I don’t feel like going through this whole process over and over again. Sometimes I feel like I should just stop therapy and help myself instead, because in listening to so many people telling me I need to do this or that or that I have such and such problems, I don’t even know what’s real anymore. I tend to put up with toxic/unhealthy situations for much too long, until it becomes unbearable. I have a high tolerance for pain/discomfort – my parents never really let us complain about anything, because since they grew up overseas (in Western Africa) and in poverty they had it so much worse supposedly. Like with my ex, I actually wanted to leave her only a few short weeks into the relationship, because I could already see red flags (her saying I love you after only a couple of weeks, wanting to move in with me, being angry for no reason, getting upset when I wanted space/time with my friends, among other things). But I always let my guilt/sense of obligation get the best of me.

     

    My ex told me I was that I was a monster, crazy, dishonest, judgmental, dramatic, mean, controlling, stupid, emotionally unavailable, unaffectionate cold, an addict (when things got really bad I was smoking a lot to get through it all, that’s when she called me that), a narcissist, a b***, bipolar, that I never apologize (when she screamed at me she would demand I apologize to her for it then get mad when I refused), that I was spoiled and privileged, that I don’t know what the f*** I’m talking about, I’m unloving, I don’t know how to love women, accused me of cheating/lying, when I didn’t want to go out and wanted to stay in she said I was f*** up and needed to take pills to fix me. I also would hide in my room or in the bathroom from her, and she would complain that I was ignoring her and therefore abusive. I’m attracted to both men and women and she said that was disgusting and I should essentially be ashamed of my sexuality, which really screwed me up.

     

    The stuff she was referring to – I often called her a child and said she was selfish, ungrateful and manipulative and didn’t know how to deal with her emotions or take responsibility. Towards the end of the relationship I started ignoring her quite a lot and spending as much time as possible away from her. We stopped being intimate with each other which she blamed me for, because I was never in the mood and just hated touching her/having her touch me or being around her at all. I feel the most guilt around that, especially because she always said how her mom would leave her alone all the time so she couldn’t stand ever to be ignored/alone, and I know withholding affection is abusive as well.

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