March 10, 2017 at 5:34 pm #138921
The little girl that you were, watching your mother fall apart like that, that child did not react by thinking: “I need to be self sufficient!”-
that girl was very, very scared. Terribly scared. Very unsafe, your world about to end any moment.
* A responsible parent has to practice self discipline and limit expressions of sadness and despair, anger and fear- yelling, crying, throwing things- those behaviors injure children.
How do you think these injuries inflicted on you by your mother, repeatedly, affect your life?
anitaMarch 11, 2017 at 4:44 am #138951
One more thing, for your possible consideration:
You wrote in your last post about your mother’s behavior: “There were times when she would totally meltdown- literally throwing things, yelling, crying… one time she basically turned everything in the house over, throwing everything on the floor, knocking over furniture, just totally unhinged. These episodes happened throughout my life, even recently.”
And you continued: “as she suffers from bad depression and other issues I don’t really have a clinical definition for.”
I am sure she suffered/ suffers from depression and anxiety. She is also exhibiting symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). The DSM 4 states about HPD: ” a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking…provocative behavior…shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion”-
This means she wouldn’t have behaved in those ways if she wasn’t performing for an audience (you/ others). It means she felt anxiety and depression and then she exaggerated her feelings via theatrics. The theatrics made her feel good, a sort of release, like an actor on a stage, impressing an attentive audience.
anitaMarch 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm #139479
That does sound very accurate to how my mother acts. She certainly has some kind of personality disorder. She always needs attention and exaggerates everything. I’m not totally sure how her behaviors affect my life. When she wasn’t acting this way she was very kind, very responsible, very dedicated to us. She had a very rough life, so I don’t hold a lot of animosity towards her outbursts growing up, but as they continued and even got worse over the past 10 years, it has gotten more difficult to deal with as an adult, because I don’t know how to help her and I don’t know how to handle her emotional distress and erratic behavior without getting angry. I rely on close friends for a lot, and rely on myself for pretty much everything else, including being financially sufficient. There have been times where I felt really scared not having a “safety net” of sorts, and when relationships end I guess its even more painful to feel alone because I don’t have that close family security.March 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm #139485
You can read more about HPD, Wikipedia, perhaps. It is a self serving pattern of behavior, the self serving part is the emotional release a person enjoys as a result of having a captive audience, especially a child so empathetic and eager to help. It makes her feel good at your expense. No wonder you feel angry when she acts histrionically.
How did it affect you? No doubt it did, and significantly. A child cannot witness such behavior and not be significantly affected. For one, it scares a child. Repeatedly, it makes life a nightmare. I know because my mother fit the HPD diagnosis (as well as BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder).
anitaMarch 14, 2017 at 4:32 pm #139491
I’ve been reading along with this post because it resonates with me a lot. I share many of the same issues and problems. I have been going through a breakup for the last 6 months. My relationship lasted 15 years but eventually he decided to end it. I became completely dependant, overly needy, depressed and angry. I believe he has an alcohol dependancy. He is not a full on alcoholic but I have never witnessed him be able to or even want to go more than 1 or 2 days without alcohol. He also tends to neglect his health and over works which is leading to all sorts of health problems which he is completely in denial about and if I mention it he sees it as nagging. On the other hand I am a bit of a health nut and my work life is a mess with long term unemployment now effecting my opportunities. I’m 48, I have a degree, but my lack of confidence and low self esteem seem to hold me back and so I go through life taking on menial mind numbing work here and there to try and make ends meet.
Our relationship basically imploded. It seemed to bring out the worst in both of us. I always had hope that because these issues were all coming to the surface that we could find a way to heal but for him it was all too overwhelming and he didn’t want to continue. When he told me I completely broke down. Even though I could see it coming I never really thought it would end. It’s now 6 months later after we sold our house and we are now living together in a 2 bed apartment and I am looking for another apartment to move into. It is the most difficult and draining situation I have ever found myself in but I don’t feel I have any other alternatives because I have very little income and barely any connections.
I still love him very much and he loves me and living together we are still very emotionally connected but it’s like we are in limbo now and there is a grief hanging over us. I am dreading the day I actually move to my own place mainly because of the lack of income but also because I get very lonely and tend to isolate myself. I don’t feel like I have a place to belong in the world and fear becoming an alcoholic reclusive like my father has become.
From what I have read of your situation mapnerd, it sounds to me like your mother is more borderline personality than histrionic. Borderlines lose it uncontrollably when they are triggered whereas histrionic are in a constant attention seeking state in social situations. They cannot handle not being the centre of attention and will be very sexually seductive and provocative. Your mother doesn’t sound like that. She sounds from, what I’ve read, to be explosive and lose control. I recognise this because my mother was/is the same. My mother completely loses her shit and lashes out at everyone and everything around her. When I was a child she stabbed me with a fork in my arm because I didn’t want to eat broccoli, she wacked me with a steel pronged dog brush and repeatedly hit and slapped me across the face and body as well as hurled obscene verbal abuse at me. Once time she threw a cup of tea at me. My father was equally abusive if not more so. After my father beat me my mother would convince me to apologise for making him lose his temper!!! Then everything would be ok till the next time he would explode. Our poor dogs also bore the brunt of their anger at times. It was a very unstable childhood. There were times my sister and I would be spoilt rotten especially at xmas but the abuse was and still is a dark cloud overshadowing the good times.
After reading about your situation I understand mine a little more. I seriously need to find a way rewire my brain as I don’t see a bright future for myself at all. I have been practicing insight meditation for over 6 years now. I guess it has helped me get through all this but it is not changing anything or fixing it. It helps me to realise that everything is impermanent and ‘not self’ and how we cause ourselves suffering etc but I seriously need a big wake up call. Like right now it’s 9:30 am and I am still sitting in bed dreading getting on with the day. I have so many dreams and thoughts and ideas about what I thought I would like to do with my life but I have never achieved any of it because I have no belief that it’s even possible. My faith and trust in people is so shattered.March 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm #140853
For some reason I am just seeing your post, so I apologize I didn’t respond sooner. I will say I am very grateful for this forum and for (mostly) Anita’s insight. It has really helped in these times of utter despair. I am so sorry to hear about your situation; I’ve never been in a relationship nearly that long and I’ve only lived with someone once before. I do understand the gut-wrenching turmoil break-ups cause, especially when you feel like you’re the one being rejected. I think in our cases, we feel and process the pain much differently than those that might not have the insecurity issues and history of past abuse/dysfunctional relationships with family. I’m just now realizing that, because in every break-up, I initially feel strong and capable of handling it, knowing that it’s for the best, or in several situations that I needed to walk away because I was dealing with an alcoholic, a liar, or someone that I didn’t really see a future with. But after several weeks something seems to get triggered in me, some kind of fear, need, emotional or sexual attachment that drives me back, and I’m willing to give up or look past SO MUCH to have it again. I feel like it’s actually the textbook definition of being insane – doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results. I’ve done this in every single serious relationship I’ve been in and there’s never, ever been a clean break. I’m always going back.
In your situation, I can’t imagine splitting with someone after that long. That’s why so many people go through such hell during divorces. I’m no expert on giving relationship advice, but I think one thing that always helps to remember is the reason or reasons why you have arrived at this point of turmoil or break-up. It is true people like to romanticize things and like to cling to the good things, forgetting all the bad or the pain or the hurt someone caused you. Perhaps it would be helpful to make a list or write out all the reasons why you two have not been able to successfully sustain your relationship? I have done this in the past and it does help, at least for the time being when I’m feeling super vulnerable. I also think that you are feeling more torn up about your relationship because of your surrounding circumstances, i.e. no steady work and having to rely on this person for income. No one wants to be in that situation. Have you thought about taking any free online courses to further develop the skills that you have? Or perhaps enrolling in professional development program of some sort for adults? Being stuck career-wise is really brutal. I finished a master’s degree in June and have been interviewing for potential dream jobs seemingly non-stop since then with nothing but rejections and it’s really weighing on me. I am trying to stay motivated and grateful for the full-time job I do currently have, but I can’t seem to stop slipping into negative thoughts that nothing good will work out.
I was coming on here today to write about how vulnerable and desperate to talk to my ex I have been feeling the past few days. Anita has been great at bringing me back to reality usually, but my mind has been spinning out of control with thoughts of my ex and his new girlfriend. I’ve been obsessing over it and this in turn makes me want to see him or talk to him, just to get something from him, although it won’t be what I want. In times like this I just feel like I want to be back together with him, because of how much jealously and misery I feel. But I know it’s the wrong emotions coming to play, not the rational ones that made me walk away in the first place, or the ones that know he hasn’t changed at all and is still drinking regularly. I just so desperately want to know he still loves me the way I love him, but I’m saddened to think he doesn’t. He does care for me very very much, and I guess that’s a form of love, but I still desire him and miss him. I’m not sure he feels that way for me and that’s been the worst part about seeing him again.March 20, 2017 at 6:12 pm #140857
* Dear Mapnerd: the above note is addressed to another member and I hope she reads and respond to it. At anytime you want to post again on your thread, addressed to no one in particular or to a certain person, please do so. I will be glad to reply.
anitaMarch 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm #140863
Well the past few days I have been struggling pretty bad. As I noted above, my mind has been spinning out of control with thoughts of my ex and his new “girlfriend”. I’ve been obsessing over it and this in turn makes me want to see him or talk to him, just to get something from him, although it won’t be what I want. Some days I feel fine, knowing it’s the right thing or being at peace with our separation, then other days I go into a really dark place and can’t seem to control my thoughts. I get consumed by these thoughts of rejection and sadness, even though that in reality I didn’t necessarily get rejected. There’s just a lot of inconsistency all the time with my thoughts and mood, how I can go from feeling completely OK to completely miserable within a matter of a day or two. Perhaps that’s something therapy will help with? I don’t know, but it affects every part of my life and I become so unmotivated and down on myself from spinning the situation out of control in my mind and comparing myself to this other woman obsessively.March 20, 2017 at 6:56 pm #140867
I can’t imagine competent therapy not being helpful to you. What fuels the obsession is, I strongly believe, your childhood experiences on which we touched on this thread.
It feels like your obsession and distress is about the guy, but not really. I do wish you attend competent therapy. The days when you feel okay are proof that it is possible for you to feel okay.
If you give in to the obsessing and contact him, you will be disappointed with yourself and end up with more days being distressed and fewer okay-days. Why make things worse?
Appreciate the okay days. The fact that at times you strongly feel that he can help you, it means that you strongly need help, only he can’t help you. He can’t help you because, like I wrote above, your distress is not about him. It predates him by many years.
anitaMarch 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm #141041
Yes, I know you are right but it’s very helpful hearing it. There are few times I feel like my pain stems from really missing him – of course I miss the companionship and affection, but usually I am thinking about myself, and how I feel rejection, jealously, fear, or vulnerability from the situation. The obsession and total shut down of rationality rarely thinks about how much I miss him as a person but instead exaggerates insecurities and a lack of control I feel over my own thoughts. I did start therapy a few weeks ago, but I’m not totally sure if it is actually a form of psychotherapy. I kbnow it is based on gestalt and mindfulness practice. The overwhelming sensation that I feel is this need to have his love, to know he still loves me, to feel like I always did with him. After seeing him again I feel like that had changed, that he’s more at peace with not being together than I am. That’s where this cloud of sadness comes from and I don’t know how to escape that.March 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm #141053
The sadness you mentioned is about the loss of emotional attachment. There is a sense of safety when you are in the presence of the object of your attachment, and a sense of anxiety (leading to obsessing) and deep sadness when you are away from the object of your attachment. It is similar to the feelings of a young child when separated from the parent, it is overwhelming.
Because as a child, you were not safe with your mother (who was falling apart histrionically in front of you, and repeatedly), your need for safety is now intense. This is why you are intensely attached to this guy and why your anxiety and sadness are so intense.
What fuels your attachment to him is not that the relationship with him was wonderful or that he is the right guy for you (he is not). What fuels it is your lack of safety as a child.
I hope you work on the latter in therapy- hope it is a competent therapy. In the meantime, repeat this to yourself: this attachment does not mean I should contact him. It will harm me if I do. It only FEELS like it will help me.
Does this help at all?
anitaMay 9, 2017 at 7:50 am #148649
It’s been about a month since I wrote, and I’m starting psychotherapy on Friday. I’ve also been participating in a Mindful Mood Balance course. I will say being more present and less out of my mind has really helped many days. However, about a month ago I turned on an old computer that I rarely use anymore, and when I logged in to Gmail, my ex’s email account was still logged in. I was honestly devastated, because I immediately saw several emails from his new girlfriend. I saw that they were running a marathon together, and traveling to Europe with her family, attending church and all kinds of things that we didn’t do together. This sent me spiraling, and I honestly felt like I would rather die than go through that pain. It’s been so hard to deal with the grief and jealousy I feel and constantly compare myself to this other woman and to the relationship they have. I’m so threatened and hurt by it, again and again. I have weeks where I feel really great, where I feel at peace with the situation and know deeply that it is for the best. But other days I get so depressive and down, and I can’t break free of the thoughts of them together and wonder if he treats her better, has stopped drinking as much, and is generally happier in his new relationship. I know these are insecurities talking, but some days it’s just unbearable and today is one of those days.May 9, 2017 at 8:49 am #148665
I am glad you are back to your thread and that you have weeks where you “feel really great” and “at peace with the situation.”
You wrote: “I’m so threatened and hurt by it, again and again”-
Can you define “it” (is it you comparing yourself to the new girlfriend? the idea that they have a loving relationship when you don’t have one?)
Also, you wrote “threatened”- can you clarify the threat: what is the threat?
May 9, 2017 at 11:31 am #148737
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by anita.
I guess by threatening I am meaning threatening to my self-esteem. I constantly feel this despair and jealously when I think about him and her, because I’m still very much attached. I feel like it’s a rejection, and it reflects on me. I feel angry that he’s doing all these things with another woman when he hurt me and treated me so badly.May 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm #148753
It is you being pushed out of his heart while she is in his heart. And the threat is that this is another proof that you are the cause of rejection because you are not worthy enough, not as good as others, specifically the new girlfriend.
Of course, such belief hurts a lot. Thing is, it feels so true, isn’t it? We believe that what we feel indicate what is true. But in this case, it does not. You feeling hurt is not because you are unworthy but because you were rejected, only through no fault of your own. You were a worthy child, as worthy of any. Just as you are a worthy woman, as worthy as anyone, as worthy as the new girlfriend.