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I have no identity / constantly suffering

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #334572

    joanna.s
    Participant

    I recently moved out from my narcissistic mother.i though my life would change for the better but since then everyday I miss my old room,<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>also my cat I left there. The other cat I took with me. I can’t get used to living in new place, I feel like a stranger and not happy at all. I don’t know what is wrong with me and how I should feel.

    I’m afraid I have no identity. many things I have done in my life was it was on purpose to make my mother mad or to satisfy her. I dont even know what are my own preferences, and it’s scary. I went to university because she wanted me to get an education (because she didn’t get support from her family when she was young and didnt go to university). I kinda liked the subject I have chosen, maybe I liked this idea it when I was in high school, I didnt even know where and what to apply to get in. I just went one day and applied. Wasn’t my plan or a dream to be there. I continued studies because she wanted me to. i cried every morning before going there but I never told anyone I wanted something else. I wanted to study psychology then. Later I wanted to work in a shop and even went there once to ask for a job. But a week after she said she wants me to continue, of course for my own good, it seemed justified there, dont get me wrong I know I was privileged to have a chance to go to university and get education. It’s just I know now and I knew then I wasn’t my place and I didnt like it, I was always<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>afraid I will not be good enough to get a job in this area , I felt it. later I never even applied for a job within this area and didnt find any, I didnt want to. So I stayed unemployed because I wasn’t good at anything else to look for a job. Only thing I did was to give lessons, because I was unemployed and needed money. Now I’m 34 and dont know what to do in life because it’s too late to go to university of my choice, also I’m afraid it’s too late to look for any job because no one will hire me. I didnt get driving license because my mother always bragged about how she’s a good driver and pushed me to. So I never did, hated the idea. And now I live far from the city with no car.

    I used to date guys whom my mother would love, so that she would admire me for once. She never did. Now I dont even understand why I chose some of those people, and to think I really believed I loved them.

    I always used to say I hate the city, and want to live in the village, like my dad. Now I don’t even know why I said it and if it was really the truth. I think I used to say it to make my mother angry because she made me move to city. Now I love in a village and hate it here, I’m not used to living that far, with no shops and public transport.i didnt realize it would be that difficult. I feel alone and scared here, I’m afraid to come back late in the evening. I feel like I’m in a trap and made the worst decision in my life. Before I moved out from my mother I waited because I didnt have all my things there, and some people asked me whether I moved already, and I was ashamed it takes so long so i just took some clothes and my cat and moved. Although I didnt have any food yet and wasn’t ready. I dont know why I act like this. I can’t make decisions, I dont know what I should or shouldn’t do. What kind of person I am, I dont know anymore.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>I dont know what is this feeling. I know I used to move too many times in my life including the first time when my mother said we were moving, when I was 11, we packed everything while my dad wasn’t at home, and left without saying. he came home to empty rooms. although of all traumatic experiences in my life this one wasn’t that bad, but it has haunted me all my life.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    I’m thinking I’m not going to stay in this place, because it’s too far. But I’m afraid to tell anyone because I’m ashamed. All those preparations and excitement for nothing.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    I feel like in order to change my life now I need a confirmation from my mother or someone like a friend who would tell me: „if you dont like it here, sell this place and move somewhere else, that’s ok, people do that”. But I cannot make my own decision and change what happened. I do not trust myself, I dont feel like I am not person who can make decisions because I’m not qualified, I dont even know where I would want to live and work, I feel like I dont have an identify of a real person.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    I dont know who I am, what I like. I spend my days scrolling through the internet and crying. Maybe it’s because every time I moved in my life I had to be tough and never showed emotions. I never had the time to „mourn” the loss of father in my life, my cousins, my family I left there, my home, my cats, my bedroom, everything I had in life was taken away from me. Instead I got my mom who hated me and her partner who abused me for years. And then another moving. I remember when I was 15 before we moved to another place, 4th moving in my life. I sat and cried in my room, for the first time. I was losing my mind, I think it was the first time when I had one of these moments which occurred regularly since then. I thought I would be better when I move out and live alone, but I feel empty, that’s the best definition of how I feel. Empty, nothing.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    I would really really want to change my life but I dont know what would make my happy and if it even possible, because all my life I suffer and I after all the self help I have done, medications, talking with people I still dont know what’s wrong with me. I’m really exhausted of living the life of over 30 years of pain and misery despite of trying so hard to understand, change, fix my behavior. The amount of work I’ve put into meditation, mindfulness, trying not to be narcissistic like my mother, trying to be a good person and true to myself, and it’s all for nothing because all my life I feel no different that this moment when I cried after finding out we’re moving again: losing control, pain, being alone and suffering and not knowing why.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Recently I’ve been thinking about taking medications again, although it has taken a few years of my life and didnt turn out well. I once went to see a therapist but she didnt help me. The psychiatrists I visited also didnt. this feeling is tormenting me. Sorry if’s too confusing. If anyone ever felt this way and can share their story I would be thankful.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> Does it ever get better.</span>

    #334666

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joanna.s:

    “I’m afraid I have no identity. Many things I have done in my life.. was on purpose to make my mother mad or to satisfy her”-

    -I will tell you what I understand, and if you want, you can let me know if I understood correctly, or if i didnt and correct me, and we can communicate further.

    What I understand is that as a child you were consumed by trying to satisfy/ please your mother, trying to make her happy with who you are, make her value you, make her give you that Okay stamp so that you can be free to become your own person.

    But she never did give you that Okay, so you never had the opportunity to become your own person, with your own preferences, own desires, values, motivations.. your own identity.

    Consumed by a motivation every child has- to satisfy her mother/ to be Okay-ed by her mother so to grow up and become a healthy, independent adult, on one hand,

    and on the other hand, consumed by anger at her for refusing to give you that Okay- stamp, your life so far, has been about your mother, not about you.

    Now, living away from her, at 34, you still don’t have.. you.

    Did I understand correctly?

    anita

    #334688

    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Joanna

    I’m afraid I have no identity…

    From the perspective of Buddhism you are correct you are not a ‘identity’. You have experiences  you are not your experiences.

    That might sound like semantics however it does create the space to engage in life experiences without being overwhelmed and defined by them

    #334696

    joanna.s
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, pretty much. what I wanted to add is..having a narcissistic mother is tricky. I just realized something since I’ve been living apart from her, which is a good revelation: there are things I’ve done on purpose, to make her angry like not getting driving license and showing her I hate cars – which is not true, I hated the fact she pushed me but what this has done for me is I have been living for her, I did not get driving license FOR HER. because of her. My own preference was not important, I did not even have one. Which is stupid. I’m just realizing this. I used to say I hated the city because she made me move here. I was always making her angry saying I want to live in a village and have no ambitions like she said about my dad.Truth is I got used to living in the city and it’s tough for me to be far away. She used to call me messy and clumsy so I was more messy just to show her. I hated the fact she is so neat and cleans everything all the time. Truth is, I realized while living alone I like my things organized. I clean before going to sleep because I feel better. I used to “love” a guy who she thought was perfect, maybe he was, his appearance, way of speaking, he was a perfect idea of a man. But we didn’t have much in common, he was into games and boring stuff which literally bored me, but I did not see that then, because once  I discovered how impressed she was by him I started chasing him and fell in love after 2 or 3 dates. (I showed her a picture very early and she “loved” him). It’s sad I really thought I loved him where in reality I was crazy about the idea that my mother admires me for having a perfect man, that this perfect man wants me, I must be worth something. so I discovered some things about myself. Still not enough to have a personality/identity.. and still too late to discover this. I know it’s good I did but it’s too late. I know it sounds not very complicated but I think people who has grown with a narcissistic and abusive mother would understand.

    What I struggle the most is seeking validation. Even today when she called me I deliberately told her about commuting and how it’s tiring just to hear her approval about my problem. I’m an adult and I dont trust myself to make a big decision. I know it’s hasty to move out, maybe I should live here for a year or two but I already know I dont feel good here and it’s not for me. How to discover what I like and want in life, how do I do that. I’m not even sure I hate this place.. can’t tell. I know I think I don’t like the commuting, I dont like the fact there are no shops around, but I hated the noise in the city. But I miss living near some places, not in the middle of nowhere. I feel like I don’t even trust to ask myself what I want, because there is no me. I think sometimes I pretend and fake having opinions and preferences. not on purpose, I just dont know how to tell if I like something or not. Like I always used to say I love playing the piano, guitar, My dad did and since moving out there was no one to teach me, and she failed to continue my music education because she didn’t care, so I was always making her angry saying how I wasted my talent because of her. Recently I realized I’m more into singing, and I always was and I don’t really like to play instruments that much, which I really didn’t know then because I spent my life doing and saying things for my mother to hear, and not focusing on my own preferences. I know it sounds scary. I wasted my life “acting” and pretending for my mother, I created a person based on what she projected on me, and I’m not that person, it scares me it’s impossible to develop a sense of identity after all these years, I don’t even know how to do that.

    #334698

    joanna.s
    Participant

    Dear Peter, Thanks. That’s interesting, could you please elaborate?

    #334702

    anita
    Participant

    Dear joanna. s:

    “My own preference was not important”- for a child, the most intense preference, or better word, need is for the parent’s approval. All other needs are put aside for after getting this approval. Only there is a complication: we need to separate from her and become our own selves.

    It’s a huge conflict: the struggle to stay with her in one form or another until she gives us her approval and the struggle to separate from her, both happening at the same time.

    It is a conflict between our love for her and our anger at her.

    “She used to call me messy and clumsy so I was more messy just to show her”- if she called you messy and clumsy when you were very young, I bet you tried to be neat and orderly but over time, as you failed to get her to see that you were indeed neat and orderly, failing once again at getting her approval, so you got angry and rebelled, be messy on purpose.

    “I was crazy about the idea that my mother admires me for having a perfect man.. I must be worth something”- this is your motivation to “make her value you” that I mentioned to you in my earlier reply. A child cannot produce her own sense of value, or worth- she has to receive it from a parent (the adult care taker, usually the mother). The mother is like a mirror to the child, if the child sees her worth in that mirror, then she takes it in.

    I mentioned that the most intense need is to get her approval, to be valued by her.. this is how intense it is: crazy intense (“I was crazy..”).

    “I think people who has grown with a narcistic and abusive mother would understand”- I understand. Like you I didn’t know an identity, not in my twenties, or my thirties, or forties. I too did not trust myself to make decisions, not even small decisions, not even the smallest decision between having vanilla or strawberry ice cream, literally. Like you, I felt that “there is no  me”, but I certainly felt a lot of pain, fear and hurt and shame and confusion.. and anger and guilt.

    “it scares me it’s impossible to develop a sense of identity after all these yeas, I don’t even know how to do that”- it is possible and you can develop a sense of identity sooner than I did. I will be glad to share with you all that I know about accomplishing that. Let me know if you are interested and we can communicate further.

    A question: are you aware of feeling a longing for your mother, a need for her, a pull toward her.. a strong emotional need?

    (I will soon be away from the computer for a while).

    anita

     

    #334816

    joanna.s
    Participant

    Dear Anita, you wrote: “Like you I didn’t know an identity, not in my twenties, or my thirties, or forties. I too did not trust myself to make decisions, not even small decisions, not even the smallest decision between having vanilla or strawberry ice cream, literally.” – Could you please elaborate on that? I think I know what you mean, but I’m not sure if it happened to me, perhaps yes, I need to think about that.  I think small everyday decisions bring me struggle, never knew why I’m so indecisive  but could you please say more about it. Example: when choosing a face cream seeing all the wide choice I have, I cannot buy one, I HAVE TO buy 3 or 4 because I can’t choose which is the good one and I’m afraid if I do choose only one I’ll miss out somehow, so I  get a couple of them so that I don’t have to choose. wow that’s really weird.

    Yes I am aware of my need for my mother, recently I have feeling I “miss ” her but not miss her, as you miss someone, I know spending time with her is: walking on eggshells, being careful not to offend her, listening to her vent, being scolded, absorbing her emotions, so NO, I don’t “miss” her as a basic meaning of a word ‘miss’. I miss having a mother. I miss a person she sometimes was, whenever she behaved “okay” it was cool for me. But mostly she’s not and she has a bad influence on me, so phone calls from time to time are okay, don’t affect me that much I think.

    #334832

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi joanna.s,

    Wow, there is so much here. Do you mind if I number my thoughts?

    1. You have to internalize that your mother failed in her role as a mother. In a fundamental way. You have to find a way to internalize that “OK” stamp.

    2. The Bible has this idea of God as your actual Parent. (Or the Universe, if you will.) There is even a line where, “Though my father and mother abandon me, You take me in”. So view yourself as literally a Child of the Universe. A Child of God. When your parent fails, The Universe swoops in. And it has, hasn’t it? Look harder.

    3. People move all the time. Move and don’t tell anyone. Then when they bring your old place up say, “Oh it wasn’t working out so I moved closer to the city or to a real village with shops, etc.” Be bored when you say it as if you moved years ago.

    4. Get your license. Even people who hate to drive, or claim to hate to drive need one. It’s another form of identity and makes life so much easier in any case.

    5. The Universe has given you its “OK”. You are an adult. You are here. You are well. You made it, despite everything! Imagine you are a forest creature. Forest creatures shuffle around, complete in their forest creature-ness. They aren’t tormented that they aren’t forest creature enough. They just are, dammit! And they will fight if their mother tries to take their food. Ha!

    6. Maybe take a break from talking to your mother. Then you can hear “you” more clearly.

    7. If you want to study psychology, you can! It’s not too late! I promise you! Thirty? You’re not old!

    Best,

    Inky

    #334840

    anita
    Participant

    Dear joanna s.:

    By “I too did not trust myself to make decisions” I mean that when it came to buying an item, be it food, clothing, self care, any item that the store had more than one to choose from,  I stood in front of two or more items for a long, long time and I did feel weird for taking so much time, and feeling so uncomfortable not knowing what to choose. I considered mostly what is the less expensive item by figuring weight, volume, price per unit of weight, ingredients and whatnot. My struggle was a combination of not knowing what I wanted: what color do I prefer, what is it that I want, what is it that I value, and not wanting to spend more of my hard working mother’s money than I had to, feeling guilty for spending her money.

    I figure you were not worried about the price, like I was, because you buy 3-4 items, being afraid you choose the wrong one, so the thinking is that if you buy two items, you don’t have to choose between the two. You referred to this thinking as “really weird”, but I don’t think it’s weird, it  makes sense! I don’t think my behavior taking so much time choosing was weird (although it felt weird at the time) because now I understand why it was so difficult. When you understand the Why of your behavior, you no longer think it is Weird.

    Maybe your Why has to do with your mother expressing great displeasure when you chose something that she thought was the wrong choice?

    My goodness, how you described your experience with your mother is exactly my own experience: “walking on eggshells being careful not to offend her, listening to her vent, being scolded, absorbing her emotions”.

    I asked you if you were aware of feeling a longing, a pull, a strong emotional need for your mother. You answered: “Yes.. I ‘miss’ her but not miss her.. NO, I don’t ‘miss’ her”-

    – this is how I understand your answer: as a young child you felt the most intense longing/ pull/need for your mother (all young children do), but because she hurt you so much and repeatedly, you did your best to not long for her, to not need her, to no longer be emotionally attached to her. Because we instinctively (like all animals) move away from pain.

    I did my very best to not care for my mother. For decades I was aware of feeling nothing for her but anger and disgust. It was only after I ended all contact with her seven years ago, and long after I did, that I became aware of how intense and desperate my need for her was early on, as intense as a need for oxygen.

    It messes us up when the person we need and love the most in the world hurts us repeatedly- it is definitely enough to cause the “no identity/ constantly suffering” state of mind you referred to in the title of your thread.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #334866

    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Joanna

    As you work through your thoughts and feelings about your experiences with Anita and Inky it can be quite emotional, and the tendency could be to identify with the emotion and or though.  For example, I am sad vice in this moment I feel sad are two very different things. Or I am Bad because bad things happened to me.

    My suggestion is that as you go through this process of healing that you take a few moments each day to sit quietly and reflect on what you have learned and notice if you have attached your sense of self to an emotion or thought. Nothing more then noticing is required.

    There is a time in everyone’s lives where the task is to take responsibility in learning how to nurture ourselves and “become our own mother” – (nurture yourself).  Your experience of your mother will have influenced your ability to nurture yourself however it does not or need not define that ability.

    We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. – Seneca

    #337152

    joanna.s
    Participant

    Thank you all for amazing advice. I’ve read it enough times already so that I never forget.

    Sorry I haven’t responded rearlier but I had to think over some things.let me know if you had experienced something similar. What I noticed while living alone

    I start getting very very angry when people tell me what to do. but not just tell me what to do, it’s a typical situation: for example I have this let’s say boss, well she’s not my boss technically but she pays me for some projects I do, so we can say she hires me, in a way. I always come to her house discuss things,<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>she never comes to me (I guess she pays me for commuting too? ) Now I have 2 weeks off and we established four meetings. I thought it would be best to do it Monday Tuesday, and the rest of week free. I would prepare things on weekend and then two days work. So I told her we can meet and she said, okay: Monday and Thursday is fine with me. (She prefers to have some time off in between but she is not the one who prepares things or does the work). I said „ok” I was disappointed because I preferred to get it done earlier and have more time free, but Monday and Thursday means I will still be thinking about work on Wednesday anyway and preparing things at home. But I agreed, because that’s how I am. I got sick and texted her I won’t be able to come on Monday. She told me to text her tomorrow how I’m feeling. Like an order. She always gives orders to me. I got angry, like really angry, I texted my friend about it and then I thought: I’m not gonna vent about it, and just be angry in silence. So I texted her: we’re meeting Wednesday and Thursday. This kind of situations happen all the time. I don’t know how to prevent it. I can’t respond right away. I need to go home, get angry, think about it and then try to be brave enough to stand up for myself.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Another thing: my friend’s parents helped me a lot with my apartment. I invited them couple of times but then my place was not done entirely. So I was planning to invite them for dinner and cook something. Then this friend came last weekend and said let’s invite them tomorrow.I said ok. I had no shopping, very little money left, haven’t cleaned the place. She said her mom will prepare chicken and we’ll just do some vegetables and potatoes. I was angry the next day, I had to clean in a rush, didn’t even have and drinks or dessert, that’s not how I wanted this dinner to look like. In the end it was nice but they brought the chicken and drinks so I felt stupid. I was angry at myself that I never make decisions, I just do what people tell me to do, I’m passive. That’s the best way to describe myself.

    I think its a good thing in a way that I get angry. I never did. I mean, I did, I got angry at myself but never acted. I just vented or got angry in my room in silence. Now I’m angry at people. Which is probably not that good but.. Not sure how to change it. I think it has something to do with not having identity and what we talked about earlier. Not trusting myself. What do you think?<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Also another question if you dont mind me asking. Of course you won’t answer if you dont want to, I will understand. Were you ever afraid of being narcissistic? I read about this a lot. I think I am more of a victim type, but some people say narcissistic mothers raise narcissistic daughters. Sometimes I catch myself being passive aggressive to some people. Or focusing on my feelings too much. What do you think?

    #337160

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joanna.s:

    Three members replied to you but in your recent post right below three replies by three different members, you didn’t respond to the content of what any of the three members wrote to you, nor did you address any member by name. And so, I don’t know who your questions are addressing, and I don’t know if you read or valued anything specific in these three posts right before yours.

    So when you ask “What do you think?”, I don’t know who you are asking and why, as in do you value anything specific in what a member wrote to you already or .. are you asking just anyone, no matter who it is that may read your recent post?

    anita

    #337166

    joanna.s
    Participant

    Sorry, Anita, I didn’t know I have to address a particular person here. As to “who” I’m asking and “why” it’s just a question and just a thought. Have a good day!

    #337170

    anita
    Participant

    Dear joanna.s:

    You don’t have to address a particular person here, nor do you have address anything a member wrote to you. Please feel free to keep posting not addressing any member or the content of what a member wrote to you.

    As far as my input, I am not encouraged to reply a second or third time if my previous reply has not been read or considered, that’s all. I hope other members do reply to you.

    anita

     

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