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Anita – how do I find my joy again?

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  • This topic has 91 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 1 day ago by anita.
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  • #357678
    Juanita
    Participant

    Hello Anita,

    you wrote this about yourself (in response to another person):

    “When I used to think of my youth being gone, mostly in emotional pain and distress, alone and lonely, I used to feel great regret for not fully living life, for not achieving what others achieved. Now, having learned all that I learned about life and having seen and adjusted to reality, I no longer feel regret when I look back. Instead I am able to focus on the here-and-now, on the life I have left, the life that is still here to be lived.”

    I would so appreciate if you could tell me how you made that change.  I would like to get to that place within myself.

    I have recently come to realise that I must let go of the hope that my mother will ever love me, and I think this has set me up to end up being stuck for years now in a relationship which is not working.  In fact, my whole life is stuck.  But letting go of that hope makes me feel really frightened for some reason.

    I know I absolutely have to get out of the stagnation I am in because I’m not acting as a responsible adult, and I’m letting these precious days pass by unlived, which is crazy as I’m in my 50’s now.

    I was reading recently that other people also describe never having had a mother’s love as feeling like you have a huge hole in your heart and in your life.  I felt my husband filled that hole for several years, until he became closed and distant towards me.  I clung on to the hope of the revival of our relationship but separated a year ago.  I don’t know why but I have somehow got stuck in a place of fear and although I know what I would like to do with my life, I seem to be in a kind of paralysis.

    I don’t know if I’ve explained enough for you to be able to comment.  Please let me know if you need further information.  I think it’s amazing that you are out there somewhere and willing to help unknown people.  That is hugely generous, thank you!

    #357703
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    I will be glad to read your post attentively and reply when I am back to the computer in about 15 hours from now.

    anita

    #357739
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    You are welcome.

    “I have recently come to realise that I must let go of the hope that my mother will ever love me.. this has set me up to end up being stuck for years now in a relationship which is not working.. my whole life is stuck. But letting go of that hope makes me feel really frightened.. I’m in my 50’s now… never having had a mother’s love as feeling like you have a huge hole in your heart and in your life. I felt my husband filled that hole for several years, until he became closed and distant towards me.. separated a year ago… I have somehow got stuck in a place of fear.. kind of paralysis”.

    Connecting the quote you pasted into your post, what I mean by it is the following: when a child experiences the lack of love by her mother, that experience involves a great fear. The fear is instinctual, same that which a fawn feels when separated from her mother deer, because in nature the fawn will die without her mother’s care and protection. When a child experiences lack of love by the mother, the danger is the same: to be abandoned by the mother. The fear is instinctual, animalistic (A young child doesn’t compute that there is such a thing as social services or charity organizations that will take care of the abandoned child).

    The child, unable to endure intense fear for long, makes believe her mother loves her after all. For an example, and it is an extreme example: a child beaten by her mother repeatedly throughout a day will believe her mother loves her because she has fed her in the middle of that day.

    Adult relationships cannot work out for as long as the now grown child does not correct what she believes to be true: for as long as her vision so to speak is obscured by the false belief that her mother loved her, she can’t see what is happening otherwise, can’t trust that anyone does love her, can’t tell the difference.

    Once I personally understood thoroughly on the emotional level, later in life, that really, my mother didn’t love me, it was calming. Painful but calming because it was the truth. There is a saying: the truth shall set you free. It happens to be.. true in this context: free from that paralyzing fear, free from confusion, free from all kinds of delusions/ false beliefs. Free to see what is true and what is not true.

    That hole in the heart stops being so scary, it becomes tolerable, something you can live with and move on from, experiencing life a step beyond being stuck in what was lacking all along.

    Let me know if my answer to you is satisfactory. I will be glad to elaborate further and continue to communicate with you.

    anita

    #357746
    Juanita
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    in receiving such generous help, I am naturally more than satisfied with your answer!  It is already a sheer miracle to me that I am able to communicate with someone about my thoughts and feelings, and receive such in depth help and advice.

    So thank you for your detailed explanation.  I find it really helpful. I wish I could get straight to that “Zen” calmness which your words emanate, but I’ve just begun an internal Kondo-ing (clutter clearing) and have this huge, disordered pile of “everything” within me.

    I do actually literally still feel visceral fear of my mother when I think of her.  I was wondering about trying some Somatic Experiencing or something along those lines to finally get my body calm again because my inner tension increased enormously since being with my husband (18 years), not just because of him, but also because our lives were hit by many awful tsunamis during the first years.

    I still see my husband quite often and sometimes we talk, sometimes mundane things and sometimes the past.  I was doing quite well emotionally until recently, when I became confused and depressed (after we’d gone to buy garden plants together which was like old times).  Eventually, after some researching, I realised I was stuck in the same loop with him as with my mother = still hoping.  I was suffering so much that I wondered what else there is I could try and I realised I had so far never considered accepting that my mother doesn’t love me.   That had seemed to me like capitulation and confirmation of my worthlessness, but now I feel ready to accept and move on.

    I feel it is a bit different with my husband because he is trying to understand himself and is open to talk, although he has so much fear of emotions, I don’t know if he’ll ever open up again.  I don’t want to live with him though, as I find his avoidant behaviours too frustrating for everyday life, and sometimes a bit crazy-making.  I can accept that he is like that now, although it is very sad.  I don’t feel angry towards him as I do with my mother, but I’ve realised that hanging on to hope or anger is just messing my life up so I want to stop.

    I was starting to think I had hung on to our marriage because a relationship with someone proves I am worthy of being loved (=disproving my mother), but as you have pointed out, the deeper layers, the subconscious, are full of fear, and I can certainly feel that fear of “life without my husband”.  I will take some time now to let that sink in, because I hadn’t seen the connection between my childhood fear and my present fearfulness.

    In many ways my husband and I have been like Hansel and Gretel, lost children clinging together.  Even now in separation, he is the person I most often speak to about how I feel.  I do have contact with my family (mother: narcissist, father: enabler, sister: distant) but they don’t want to know about how I feel.  It’s forbidden to speak your truth anyway.  I don’t have to go no contact with my mother because she simply never bothers with me, so I just keep in contact with my father and sister.  It has taken my father until now (in his late 70’s) to dare to call me without my mother’s permission though.

    I absolutely do have difficulty these days in knowing what to think about people I meet, i.e. what do they want from me, and I am not sure whether I can trust people or not.  This didn’t use to be the case at all, but when my husband and I moved away, I discovered all my local “friends” were just users who dropped me instantly, and my remaining friends dropped me once I began to have marriage troubles.  Nevertheless, I am going to have another shot at just happily meeting people and trying to make new connections.

    I would like to ask how you achieved your understanding on the emotional level?  Now I have realised I’ve been eternally hoping my mother is going to love me and that I need to accept she isn’t.  And thinking about the way she treated me, and still does treat me, this is obviously not love.  I already knew when I was a little girl that she was not treating me the way a mother would.  So if I know this much, what is missing so that I can process this emotionally?

    You write about truth, and this is something which always confused me – why did I always end up with men who lied to me?  Drove me round the bend, as I find lying the pits.  Now in reading another response of yours to a person with an “allergy” towards liars, I could see that I had so far not connected the dots between my mother’s lying and the lying of partners. And indeed there is a kind of unspoken law in my family that you are not allowed to “say it as it is”.  So today I have also just begun to realise that my mother, indeed the whole family, was lying all the time.  I was the scapegoat and was subjected to all kinds of unfair treatment, but it was always portrayed differently and I wasn’t allowed to “say it as it is”.  And really, as I’m just learning to say, they were blatantly lying in my face!!

    I do believe it must be less painful to live with the truth, despite the hole in your heart, than living in this eternally painful place of feeling unloved and worthless.  I wonder how many other kinds of blindness I am still suffering from?

    I would be really grateful for any help and guidance which you can give me to become truly free and live in my truth.  I have already survived so much, I do believe I deserve to have a “happy ending”, even if it is in solitude.

    Juanita

     

    #357760
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    You are welcome.

    “I was stuck in the same loop with him as with my mother= still hoping…. I was starting to think I had hung on to your marriage because a relationship with someone proves I am worthy of being loved (= disproving my mother)”-

    – a child sees her mother as a god, a perfect, powerful being. She needs her sense of value to come from that god entity.

    When a child is unloved by her mother, she grows up looking for a god to love her, that is,  someone as powerful as mother (or father). She needs someone as powerful and perfect as mother (in her child’s mind) to love her. When we, unloved girls turned women, have a good enough man, but not perfect and powerful, we punish him, as if he did us wrong by not being the god we need him to be.

    “I would like to ask how you achieved your understanding on the emotional level?” – when I first attended psychotherapy in 2011, I was newly married (50, at the time). My therapist focused on healing the relationship, which was in trouble at the time, right after the marriage. And this is key and my answer to your question: we need one healthy relationship so to believe that we are worthy.

    As the social animals that we are, we can’t see our worth unless we look in a mirror. As children our mirrors are our parents, particularly the dominant parent in our young lives. When we don’t get to see our value in that mirror, as adults, it is still possible to find that mirror, but we first have to understand that the mirror we are looking at (the man in our lives) cannot be the same as the one we looked at as children: we no longer have the child-mind capable of seeing a human as a god entity.

    We have to learn to appreciate a different kind of love by a different kind of person, a human, one far from being a god.

    anita

     

    #357772
    Juanita
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I understand the syntax but I am not sure how to apply your reply to myself.  Do you mean that I need to learn to live with my husband with his faults?  He is a compulsive liar, for one, which is terribly confusing but he says he can’t stop.  I wasn’t actually all that keen on having any more relationships with men at all.

    I often asked my husband for us to do a joint therapy but he’s not into it.  We tried briefly a couple of times but he doesn’t like male therapists and then when we had a female, he always criticised them (essence: too powerful).   I think he’s not into me any more either.  I’m a bit confused, could you elaborate?  Thank you.

    Juanita

    #357777
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    I wrote to you: “When we, unloved girls turned women, have a good enough man, but not perfect and powerful, we punish him, as if he did us wrong by not being the god we need him to be”-

    – notice the adjective “a good enough man”? I thought maybe your husband has been a good enough man, but a “compulsive liar, for one.. says he can’t stop” is not a good enough man.

    My point is that as the social animals that we are, we can’t feel that we are valuable before someone else values us first. We need our parent or parents to value us. When they don’t, we need someone else to value us. For many, it happens first in the context of an empathetic, professional psychotherapist. A person who is a compulsive liar cannot be that trustworthy mirror I mentioned.

    It happens in other women’s lives (and it happened in  mine as well) when a woman has a good enough man, a decent, honest man, but the woman doesn’t appreciate him because he is imperfect and not all powerful. After reading your most recent post, I realize this is not your situation.

    anita

     

    #357783
    Juanita
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    actually I’m really glad you did bring up this point because precisely this questioning of my own motives/behaviour and my husband’s behaviour is exactly what has been going on (or around and around!) in my head for some time now, leaving me feeling confused.   I do know what you mean about not being too exacting and critical with a man who is not perfect, yet secure and loving.   When my husband is helpful, I get a bit wobbly with my boundaries, although I should know better.

    I thought he was a secure guy when I met him, though I was in emotional turmoil at that time, so maybe not seeing clearly.   I know now that he’s one of those natural charmers who can wear a smile whilst they lie in your face.  I was dished up a lot of empty promises, but as I said, still didn’t want to give up hope.

    It does me good to read you stating clearly that lying is not good enough.  I am afraid I used to play down a lot of his behaviours  because I was just glad he wasn’t violent, and I was grateful for the human closeness.  I know it is really pathetic, but I wasn’t able to believe I deserved better at that time.  I supported him financially for over 10 years, though today I see that he inexcusably used up all my resources, and I was inexcusably lacking responsibility.

    I feel it’s the same dilemma as with my parents, I call it “sweetened poison”.  It’s easier if someone is just a total **§§** – then you know where you are, but when someone exhibits both nice and unacceptable behaviour, it leaves me feeling confused.  Oddly I was never confused in business, fair but decisive, there was no messing with me.

    So this is why I am glad you brought this subject up, because I am still learning about clear boundaries.  I feel it has helped me to learn to understand my husband’s behaviours are as much a result of his childhood traumas as mine are, but I wasn’t sure which boundaries I am entitled to, tbh.

    Thinking about mirrors, I did have a teacher who was very supportive.  In fact two English teachers were always telling me to become a writer, but my parents responded so negatively, so the seed never sprouted.  I’m still not quite free of the way they mercilessly quashed my creativity.  I still don’t quite dare to live it, though it’s like an ocean within me and I long to be creative.

    How lucky you are that you have found such a trustworthy mirror!  I am truly glad for you.

    Juanita

    #357787
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    Thank you. “I thought he was a secure guy when I met him, though I was in emotional turmoil at that time”- you were in emotional turmoil, so you needed someone stable and secure. We tend to believe that we have what we need to have. A child needs a parent’s love so she believes she has it in the parent; a woman in turmoil needs stability, so she believes that she has it in the  man.

    “When my husband is helpful, I get a bit wobbly”- it is only in cartoons and some fictional movies that a character is always bad, never good. In real life, every  bad person is sometimes good to someone, even to their own victim. We get confused only when we expect someone to be always the same way.

    “I was dished up a lot of empty promises.. I used to play down a lot of his behaviours.. I was grateful for human closeness”- we see what we need to see, we make believe that what we need is there.

    I am sorry to read that you endured his empty promises and his lies, and that you supported him financially for so long… I understand you believing that you didn’t deserve better at the time. For most of my life I believed I didn’t deserve much of anything good.

    “It’s easier if someone is just a total ***$$**- then you know where you are”- like I wrote above (before I read this sentence I just quoted from you- no one is a total **$$** all the time, only cartoons and some fictional movie characters. “when someone exhibits”- only if you wrongly believe that people are all good or all bad.

    Regarding your writing, your creativity (“they mercilessly squashed my creativity.. it’s like an ocean within me and I long to be creative”)- I would love to read anything that you write, as an exercise, resurrect some of that squashed creativity!

    anita

    #357811
    Juanita
    Participant

    Hello Anita,

    thank you for offering to read my creative works.  I haven’t had anyone to share my works with since my old school teacher, sadly though I have not written anything for a long time now, I even stopped journaling.  I used to write poetry and was apparently very good at creative writing.  I actually wanted to do a degree in textile design but wasn’t allowed.  I love many forms of creative expression; doing anything using my hands makes me feel in heaven.  But for some reason I stop myself.  I want to make my next business creativity-based but have so far been paralysed to just start.  I am beginning to think it may really be because of holding out in hope of receiving my mother’s love, but she saw my creative talents as unacceptable competition.  It is so hard when being treated so badly seems normal to be able to readjust to what is really normal.

    I am sorry but I am afraid I need more help to find clarity regarding the assessment of people’s characters.  I usually assume people are good, and give hurtful people the benefit of the doubt (at least one chance) in the beginning – though in retrospect I have often thus let bad people into my life who took advantage of me.  I should have been less tolerant from the start but I feel it would be being too harsh.

    I realise people (me included) are not perfect, but I have trouble in getting clear about which are the people who are mainly good, and which are mainly hurtful – and how to set boundaries with the hurtful ones without being a mean person.

    So like with my husband, I think the reason why I felt depressed again recently is because of this difficulty in getting clear.  As I never had a responsible partner at my side, it feels like almost asking too much of someone to be responsible and consistent, yet I know I will keep suffering if I don’t get clear about where I stand with my husband (and other such people I may meet in the future, which is what is keeping me from meeting new people generally).

    I worry that he thinks by being friendly towards me I might eventually concede to a reunion.  I AM clear that I do not want to be with him anymore, but I feel guilty if someone does something nice for me and then veer into confusion, a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

    If this were business, I would find it much easier – either it is a reliable, consistent business partner, or I don’t want to do business with them and cut the connection.  How do I get to feel that clear in my personal life?  Why do I find it so excruciatingly difficult to be so clear and consequent in personal affairs?

    Thank you for your patience.

    Juanita

    #357822
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    “I need more help to find clarity regarding the assessment of people’s characters… I have trouble in getting clear about which are the people who are mainly good, and which are  mainly hurtful- and how to set boundaries with the hurtful ones without being a mean person.. with my husband.. it feels like almost asking too much of someone to be responsible and consistent… I feel guilty if someone does something nice for me… If this were business, I would find it much easier- either it is a reliable, consistent partner, or I don’t want to do business with them and cut the connection. Why do I find it so excruciatingly difficult to be so clear and consequent in personal affairs?”

    When you meet a person in a business setting, you don’t spend any time with that person in a private setting, like waking up in the morning together and going to bed at night, sitting by the TV and commenting on shows, or seeing that person sick and comforting them, seeing them weak and needy. In the business setting you have way less information to process about the person, and for a well defined, business goal.

    In the private setting, you have less of a defined goal and a whole lot more information to process, information that is suspended in your brain like fog, preventing you from seeing clearly.

    For the purpose of gaining clarity regarding your husband, I suggest that you answer the following questions in an objective, factual way, not adding your interpretations and perceptions:

    1. List the lies he told you and the timeline of his lies, best you can (“He is a compulsive liar”).

    2. List the empty promises he promised you and the timeline of his promises, best you can (“I was dished up a lot of empty promises”).

    3. List his frustrating avoidant behaviors and frequency of those behaviors over time (“I find his avoidant behaviours too frustrating for everyday life”).

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by anita.
    #357844
    Juanita
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    oh God, that is tough!  I felt horror just visualising some of those answers.   I don’t wish to write them all in the internet, not just due to the length.  But I will write the three lists here.  Very depressing, hope it’ll lead to me feeling better eventually.  I’ll report back once I’ve done it (which is going to be soon as I don’t fancy that one hanging over me).

    Juanita

    #357850
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    “due to length”, if you only write the facts, an objective account without your commentary, it will still be long?

    Also, if you feel horror about a suggestion I make, it is not a good idea for you to follow my suggestion, at least not before you are calm enough.

    anita

    #357858
    Juanita
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    thank you for your concern.  The horror I felt is not because of your suggestion but due to facing those ugly truths.  I have spent some time writing the lists now.  I am sure there are more things to write but it’s a start.  Writing those truths down made me feel pretty nauseous.  So here you are:

    1. List the lies he told you and the timeline of his lies, best you can (“He is a compulsive liar”).

    I cannot ever list all the lies, it is impossible, there are too many to count.  It is a continuum with every contact we have. I don’t know most of the time what is the truth and what is a lie as I find them out later, sometimes serious issues, but often about silly, irrelevant things.

    I now question whether his original interest in me was a lie and that he was just after an inheritance I was due (which was common knowledge locally but I subsequently didn’t get).

    Examples of lies I found out:

    He often spent the whole monthly shopping money in the first week (I was the sole earner)

    He enlisted someone to do work but then hid the bill (in my name only) due to the high cost of which I had no idea, and I didn’t find out until the bailiff came to the door.  Then he denied any knowledge of the bill.

    He spent all of my savings in secret which I had put aside for a pregnancy to enable me to close my business for a while.

    He told me shopping costs were very expensive (I was paying) but in reality he was siphoning money off for himself.  Then he lied about that too until I proved it.  He always flatly denies everything unless I can come up with proof.

    Recent example of all the endless, mundane lies: he has lied to me every time he spoke of the outstanding money a client owes him (changing the figure 5-6 times).  Then when he asked me to do a translation for that client, I discovered the real figure – different again.

    1. List the empty promises he promised you and the timeline of his promises, best you can (“I was dished up a lot of empty promises”).

    He promised we would dance on the beautiful wooden floors in my house once they were finished and that he would take me dancing.

    He promised me a family (children).

    He promised to look after me and build a home and family together.

    He promised to finish building works on my house and that it would be a jewel (he is a carpenter and builder).

    He promised that when I sold my house we would go abroad and do “Workaway” to save money whilst travelling around Europe and searching for a new home but he refused to do anything once we got there (and I was paying).

    He promised with every new address in a different place that “the next house we’ll settle down and I’ll get a job”

    1. List his frustrating avoidant behaviours and frequency of those behaviours over time (“I find his avoidant behaviours too frustrating for everyday life”).

    He seemed quite normal re. closeness and intimacy for 5 years until we married. Within a year he withdrew from the bedroom and continued in a pattern of closeness-distance until we separated, which was mainly distance only for long periods of time.

    Originally we mainly went out together, but especially after we moved abroad he didn’t want me around when he went out.

    We originally worked together to make a new garden, and did a lot of things together generally, but then he changed and only wants to do things alone.

    He barely communicates anything he’s doing.  When we lived together he didn’t communicate when he was leaving or when he would return.  Now we are living separately, he still seldom considers communicating in advance when he will be coming.

    I don’t know what category this frustrating behaviour falls into, but basically he seldom keeps his word.  E.g. he says, I’ll be there at 7, but then he just doesn’t come, nor call, and subsequently always has an excuse for any behaviour.

    So Anita, I am interested to hear your comments.  In the meantime I’m going to play with my cat and try to cheer myself up again.

    Juanita

     

    #357859
    Canadian Eagle
    Participant

    Juanita
    Doing a Marie Kondo on your thoughts and emotion is wise. We all have limited ability to focus so we must choose carefully what we focus on, not wasting our life energy on stuff we can’t influence.  I know the previous generation were loath to use the word “love” and to hug. I grow up in such a home but love was implicit . It is most likely your mother is damaged ( as we all are in some way) and is not capable of showing you love, though it is likely deep down she does love you. As Anita says , accepting the truth is freedom.

    It Is not clear if you have children , but being friends with your estranged husband is good because of the shared history.

    Have you read Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” , it is so liberating as it explains how the mind always seeks our attention , preventing us from enjoying the current moment in all its beauty and simplicity .

     

    Tony

     

     

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