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This topic contains 38 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 days, 9 hours ago.

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  • #212907

    caroline
    Participant

    Hello

    Its been quite a long time from when i last posted. I am 37 year old single mum. i am unemployed, isolated, lonely and can feel my confidence withering away. I have been in therapy which i found helpful but it stopped as i got behind with the payments that were owed. I struggle with so much shame about myself and fear intimacy with others. I only have one friend who i dont see very often. i have tried to make new friends online but they usually live too far away even though i drive but i feel like im becoming agoraphobic as travelling panics me alot even though i drive. i turned down a job today that could have helped me financially and i could have felt better about myself but because the job required commuting to cities (i live in a small town) i turned it down. i feel so limited and felt so ashamed saying to the manager but i thought its best to be honest. this issue affects me immensely. i am considering seeing a hypnotherapist but i will have to wait until i can afford it. I have turned down quite a few job offers because of this reason and it makes me feel even worse when people look puzzled by my reason and it triggers my belief that there is something wrong with me. i have felt this way for a long time. it seems so hard to fight through this belief but i succumb so easily to it even though at times i put a brave face on.

    The last four years have been very stressful and emotional. i managed to end a toxic relationship that was not serving me and this ex texts me randomly and now i dont respond. i realise that when we connected before i was in the same place internally and externally so i am trying to not give in to my need to reconnect. i think i will be ok but im not completely sure.

    Also most importantly, i decide that my teenage daughter should go and live with her dad (we live in the same town). i reassured her she can see me anytime she wants, she still has her key and i see her at weekends. i done this because she was verbally abusing me swearing at me, she has been physical with me too. I was scared that if she continued with this kind of behaviour she would think it was ok to treat people like this, to not be respectful and abuse people. I have worked through the challenges as i know that it was the mistakes i have made which is the cause.  i have tried to repair the rupture in our relationship, sometimes i have been strong and sometimes i havent as her words and actions cut too deep at times. She has been living with her dad, brother, step mum and step brother for about five weeks now. Strangely we are getting on ok and have even started to hug each other again and she is listening and respecting me a bit more but her dad and step mum are not good role models at times which makes me feel like a failure as her dad still puts me down in front of her and tells lies about me and the step mum is unstable. when i made the decision i was exhausted and stressed and needed to do something. there is so much to mention about this but i dont want to write too much. I dont want to sound like the victim here but i do feel like one which i know doesnt help. the ex and step mum have judged me and said that i ‘threw' her out and step mum said she would never do that to her children. she is in denial and is not super mum as my daughter has told me the kind of behaviour she has displayed at times and she has even told me herself that she doesnt even want to live there but has no choice because she needs the ex to look after their son so she can go to work. that was a few years ago though. I checked my daughters phone recently and its been the only time i have done it as i have felt desperate to make some sense of direction of this situation. my daughter has been playing us off against each other which hurt a little and her dad telling lies to her. i have said to her that i am sorry for deciding that she should leave the home as i am scared she feels abandoned but i was very tired from doing it all on my own and being criticised and disrespected alot. she has said she will do the phone rule (mobile will be limited as i think this is a big factor in her behaviour as she has viewed inappropriate things online) and i have said to her that she can come home as soon as she wants too.

     

    i have goals that i want to do that i think will help my situation and to do it properly means doing it slowly but i feel like my whole life has been waiting for my life to start. i recognise that i have progressed in some ways that i am proud of, i am a much calmer and self aware person, i am vegan, i dont drink alcohol anymore and i exercise regularly (although i havent done so in the last few weeks) i treat myself better now by considering my choices and who i spend my time with. i am more responsible but i do have a long way to go i think.

     

    I am writing on here as i want to connect as i feel very alone and perhaps a few words of encouragement. sorry if this has been very long and thanks for reading.

    #212913

    Mark
    Participant

    unworthy,

    Good for you for taking charge with caring for yourself with your diet and exercise and way of thinking.

    I would be aware of how you label yourself (e.g. “unworthy”) for words are powerful especially how we program our unconsciousness.

    A suggestion with your daughter is to be the parent, i.e. draw lines on what is acceptable behavior with you, set boundaries.  You can stop being sorry but can communicate that you are doing the best you can in caring for her, that you will not tolerate being disrespected by her, that you will not war with her father especially in spreading falsehoods like he or the step mum are doing.

    You can tell her that even though her father is openly disrespectful in front of you and her, that you will not do the same with him since that is not right.  Plus you can speak up for yourself whenever your ex does that.  Even if he ignores your request of not saying such things, at least you have shown that you have boundaries which is good role modeling for your daughter.

    Again, acknowledge what you have done right for yourself and that you are doing the best you can with integrity (as oppose to what your ex and the step are doing).

    Mark

    #212925

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    Good to read from you after just over two years. Glad you started this new thread.

    You read like an honest person who is trying and has been trying very hard, to be a good mother, to do the right things, to heal. You still suffer from anxiety, anxiety that centers currently around driving. Anxiety is such an uncomfortable feeling that … feeling it does feel like there is something wrong with us. I know this feeling very well.

    You have made some progress, this is why you make better choices and feel calmer than you used to feel. There is more progress to be done, more healing.

    Soon I will be away from the computer for about fifteen hours. I hope to read more from you soon.

    anita

     

    #212921

    Peter
    Participant

    A word that appears often in your story is Shame. Shame is a complex emotion. Sometimes the shame we feel is deserved, for example we deliberately hurt someone, and the shame we feels informs us that amends may be called for, however most of the shame we feel and that drives us  and keeps us stuck is not deserved. We have done nothing wrong, are nothing wrong…

    Undeserved shame is shame we feel for being who we are, as we are (who others told us we are)…. we judge and measure ourselves unnecessarily unacceptable… We tend to suck at measuring our experiences, judging them and then worse labeling our sense of self based on those measurements.

    “One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don't turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.”  ― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

    You may find Lewis B Smedes book ‘Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve‘ helpful

    “If you persistently feel you don't measure up, you are feeling shame—that vague, undefined heaviness that presses on our spirit, dampens our gratitude for the goodness of life, and diminishes our joy. The good news is that shame can be healed.”

     

    #213191

    caroline
    Participant

    thanks for the responses, it has helped how i feel, to not be judged and for your kind words.

    Mark- good advice on parenting and i will take what you have said into practice. i know the importance of boundaries and beleive it or not i have tried but my daughter is very defiant and strong willed which makes it really hard to be patient all the time and to not get side tracked, i guess my past mistakes have caught up with me and now this is the damage that has been done. i understand im not completely responsible  for my daughters behaviour but in this world today mothers are expected to do it all, mother, career woman, wife/partner but it is not realistic. no child should be brought up by a single parent and i dont beleive it is possible to raise them into healthy young adults as its not the way that nature intended it to be but even beleiving this still makes me feel like a failure and im really trying to challenge this and not be hard on myself. my ex has been a thorn in my side for the last ten years now and most of the time i dont react to his games or demands but there have been times where sadly i have. Thanks for encouraging me to change my user name, small steps but valuable ones. I wish there were more people in my life especially my family who would acknowledge my progress but they arent skilled in being supportive, attentive and patient but very good in asking so many questions that i feel im put on trial all the time in their presence, its draining and i feel so disconnected from them. i never seem to be good enough in their eyes, i know they love me in their definition of love and i love them but do i like them, no and i feel bad about that.

     

    Anita- nice to hear back from you after speaking that long ago. i try to be as honest as i can and because i am trying to be as authentic as i can, its hard to let myself off the hook when im not being fully honest. yes i do try to be a good mother and to heal, this i know without a doubt. i screw up when im exhausted or i feel overwhelmed which is why im trying to be as strong as i can mentally, physically and emotionally.  Have you healed this belief anita that you feel there is something wrong with you? if so,  can you say a little about this please? this is very difficult for me to overcome. in many ways i feel this and im hoping in time it will fade away. im learning to be present with the emotions that come up when this has been triggered and as its happening i try to not make it personal so i dont identify with it but it happens so quickly and i feel like a child again.

    in regards to the driving, i am going to take some refresher driving lessons to see if this will help but it will be expensive. i feel ridiculous that my anxiety is preventing me from driving further a field. its embarrasing having to tell people this as i feel like a loser and that there judging me among other things.

     

    peter- yes i do struggle with shame thanks to past experiences. i have worked on this quite alot in threrapy and with different therapists but i always feel that it is never ending. when i am in my child state i am super sensitive, i feel wounded so easily and i dont even trust the therapists that i have had. i try to second guess them. they cant win because if they are kind, i think there just pretending and they dont mean what they say, if they say what i dont want to hear, i feel angry and feel scared.  Thankyou for recommending the book, i will check it out thanks.

     

     

    #213229

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    You wrote: “I know they (family) love me in their definition of love”- my comment: to be love it has to be experienced as love by the supposed loved-one.

    You asked: “Have you healed this belief.. that you feel there is something wrong with you? If so, can you say a little about this”-

    Feelings and thoughts in this context go very much together, feelings lead to thoughts, thoughts lead to feelings. This happens quickly and frequently. “There is something wrong with me” is a thought that causes distres. At times one feels distress, not knowing why, and that distress leads to the thought: what is wrong? If not knowing the cause, the question is then: what is wrong with me?

    The healing I have experienced (still an ongoing process) is about identifying the sources of distress. A few moments ago I felt distress and noticed that the reason was that the temperature is too high so I removed a piece of clothing. I identified the problem and came up with a solution. it is important to do it throughout the day.

    It took me a long time to understand that my anxiety is a result of being injured, that it is a consequence of being harmed as a child. That it is not a defect in me, that anyone in my place, having suffered the injuries I suffered, would feel anxious. That I am a human, reacting like a human, to an injury. Just like you have, caroline. We don't choose this uncomfortable, unpleasant experience. I repeat this truth to myself and it calms me down, at times. Right now it does.

    I pay attention to what I think and if what I think is not congruent with reality, I correct my thinking so that it is. The more my thinking is congruent with reality, the less distress. An example from what you shared: “I feel ridiculous that my anxiety is preventing me from driving”. The thought is: there is something wrong with me, shameful, about being anxious (and having a difficulty driving as a result of it). Correcting the untrue thought is: I was injured, this is why I am anxious. I deserve empathy for having been injured/shamed. I don't deserve more shame.

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  anita.
    #213595

    caroline
    Participant

    I know i have been hurt so much and it feels like my body is exhausted from it all. i feel so down and i just want to sleep all the time. my legs feel heavy and i havent been going to the gym but i just feel like hiding myself away from people. its a catch 22, im lonely & isolated and wish to have friends and a man that loves me for me but im afraid of getting close to people. im always in survival mode with people because if i show who i really am they will reject me and judge me.

    my daughter isnt coming to stay with me this weekend and hasnt responded to a text i sent her asking how she was (she was poorly and off school) she was with me  because this is where she feels comfortable. she was here for two days and then she started being disrespectful again, i asserted myself with her and said to her she has no right to talk to me like that. yeah i got cross with her. i feel like she is testing me and if im not perfect im the bad guy.

    i saw my mum because she wanted me to return the hoover i borrowed. as we were talking i was aware i was forcing myself to talk as much as i was. i feel like saying to my mum, what will it take to get you to see how much pain im in? i dont want to talk because i will have to convince you i have a plan of some kind of how im gonna get a job and improve my life because i know you only like to fix me.  it is so hard to raise a smile in her presence and all my family for that matter. im sick of having to be strong and proving myself.

    im really trying to build up my energy to feel better and to embrace all emotions but when i feel so down like i am at the moment it just makes me want to sleep it feels that strong. i believe this is a coping tool of how i coped during my lonely teenage years. i would spend all day in my room with no interaction and would look out the window afraid to leave the house on my own. when i knew mum & dad were home from work, i would put on a pretence that i was busy and was ok, i was so ashamed.

    i have interests in terms of my career but im struggling to pick one because i procrastinate alot and i just want to be sure before i invest my time and effort because im not getting any younger.

    I wish men that might be interested in me  would approach me so we could start a relationship but it never happens. ive tried online dating but because my anxiety is there i cant go through with the first date. id like to meet someone in an everyday situation as i think this would be easier.

     

    #213605

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    About your interactions with your mother, you wrote:

    “I feel like saying to my mum, what will it take to get you to see how much pain I'm in?” -If she didn't see your pain in 37 years, better give up that hope.

    “It is so hard to raise a smile in her presence… having to be strong and prove myself”- better not try to raise a smile, better not try to appear strong for your mother. Definitely, better not aim at proving yourself to your mother. I don't think you owe her that.

    Regarding your interactions with your daughter: I wish your daughter didn't live with her father or with you, that she would have a third option and that she attends quality psychotherapy. Don't accept abuse from her, don't abuse her, do no harm to her and accept no harm from her. I hope that healing can take place soon enough, on her part as well as on yours, and that the relationship between the two of you will be a good one. It is possible and that possibility is exciting to me.

    I see your first priority to be that of resting and relaxing, removing people in your life that encourage your distress, simplify your life best you can.

    I hope you post again soon.

    anita

     

     

    #213627

    caroline
    Participant

    I feel quite judged by your comment that said, you wish she didnt live with her father or with me, thats quite hurtful. Yes i know how harmful being cross with children can be and i also know there are no perfect mothers in this world. Correct me if im wrong but are you a parent? on the outside when you do not have an emotional bond with a child, it is easier to be calm and mindful as you are not being directly challenged either by your child or by life itself. And yes being the harmful mother i am, me and my daughter both attended quality psychotherapy together but she did not want to continue. in many ways i have been a good enough mother but because i take my role as a mother seriously, i only share my failures hoping to not be judged as were all human.

    I found your comments helpful about my family and my wellbeing but me as a parent is a big part of who i am.

    #213631

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    I appreciate that being a parent is a big part of who you are. I will explain my comment about wishing your daughter did not live with her father or with you, that she would have had a third option where to live, and then have quality therapy while living in that third option:

    You wrote in your original post: “her dad still puts me down in front of her and tells lies about me and the step mum is unstable.. the ex and step mum have judged me and said I ‘threw' her out… she (step mother) has even told me herself that she doesn't even want (your daughter) to live there”- this is why she shouldn't live there.

    You stated your daughter has abused you, physically as well- this is why she shouldn't live with you.

    You wrote: “my daughter has been playing us off against each other”- this is why a third option is a good idea, so that there are no two sides (first and second options) playing against each other.  Your ex and his current wife have been turning your daughter against you, reads to me. (Maybe your daughter is trying to please her father by carrying on his battle against you).

    Please let me know if my explanation resolves your hurt, the hurt you expressed in your recent post.

    anita

     

    #213633

    caroline
    Participant

    yes it does resolve it thankyou. i know i am coming across  as defensive and i guess i am but its because i have felt guilty from such a young age even before i was a mother. it was the main theme of my therapy work. needing forgiveness for my mistakes. your views on parenthood i usually agree with but lets remind ourselves of the almost impossible challenge of a parent who were  once children themselves and have been damaged by being  emotionally neglected, witnessing  domestic violence, very lonely with no sense of belonging and ridiculed by family members to grow up to be able to do the most important job there is, to raise a child in a safe and loving way without never harming them.

    #213645

    caroline
    Participant

    apologies anita for being defensive and not really acknowledging alot of what you have said. I feel like me and my daughter are close but its always felt challenging. i made most of my parental mistakes when she was younger, when i was still with her dad and the years after when we split up, i have to live with this for the rest of my life and if i could go back and undo all the hurt i have caused her i would it in a heart beat. i was never ready to be a mum and i was very immature when i had her. i have spent years trying to make it up to her by being the best mum i can be and i will continue to do so, it seems the only logical thing to do, either this or just put my life on hold and be consumed with guilt which i dont think will help her anyway.

    my mother has been caring at times and even on the odd occasion has gave me a hug which is a big deal as my family dont do affection very well. its always the disconnect i feel with her and it feels conditional at times. im also resentful of her staying with my dad as i grew up thinking she was weak as she convinced me that she was a victim with their arguments and fights and the violence she had disclose to me. i resented her for not being strong enough to stick up for me when my dad would put me down and call me thick but this was in a ‘playful' way. where my dad and my sister would make fun of my appearance, my mum wouldnt join but she would laugh along and wouldnt stop it. i loved her because she didnt tease me but i resented her for not being a voice for me. my dad had a temper and he was quite an aggressive person when he was stressed or when he wanted to have fun. i do feel guilty for saying this stuff about my own parents as i know they have been hurt too.

    When you said my first priority is resting and relaxing, i took it the wrong way, i feel like im lazy and insignificant. if it was your attempt at being caring i cant trust it. i cant trust anyone. when i think i can, i cant.

    #213647

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    This communication with you is an opportunity for me to understand a lot more than what I understand now. I want some time to think and then, in about sixteen hours (first thing tomorrow morning) read and re-read your posts so far (and whatever you would like to add to it).

    I have thoughts but I want more time to develop them. Please take good care of yourself.

    anita

    #213795

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    I read and studied your posts on the other threads, particularly the first one, April 2016. You and I have a lot in common. When I was your age (and a decade later) I too did not yet meet a therapist I trusted nor did I meet a man who was decent, a man able and willing to help me in the context of a relationship.

    I too wasted a whole lot of time and energy with a negative return on investment, drained with nothing positive to show for it, nothing at all. It is overwhelming, is it not (it is for me) to realize the enormity of the waste of one's time and energy.

    I was at the point of giving up altogether when I finally met a man who was decent and who was interested in a committed, loving relationship with me. That is what it took for me to begin the long process of my healing, and that happened, the very beginning of my healing process, when I was ten years older than you are now.

    There is so much I started typing to you here, on this post, and I keep deleting it. I  share with you and then I delete, scared to be misunderstood. Scared to wait, vulnerable after I submit. Scared you will respond, saying something like: this is not my experience, you got it all wrong!

    So I delete.

    I read all your writing about your ex, the first boyfriend to later be back to your life, lots and lots about that. He was not the decent, loving man able and willing to help you. When he encouraged you to get closer to your family, for one, he harmed you. The promises he made kept you going, kept you trying. You thought that the two of you being hurt will be a bond to strengthen the two of you as a couple, that you will have the co-parent you needed to help you with your daughter. That didn't happen. The hurts the two of you shared from childhood did not translate to strength as a team of two, as a family of three. It didn't happen.

    I hope he remains in your past. No reason for me to look into that relationship as it was a waste. There is nothing there.

    You wrote: “I have tried to improve my life but it has been hard as our relationship has taken so much work as well as being a mum and the stress from worrying about money… my life is always a struggle.”

    Your relationship with your family, “I feel I'm put on trial all the time in their presence, it's draining.. I know they love me in their definition of love and I love them but do I like them, no and I feel bad about that”- still not knowing that you were not loved, still feeling shame for deep down knowing they did not love you. The shame belongs with them, not with you.

    My healing has been about going back to the past for just that purpose: to give the shame to my mother, where it belongs. See, I loved her. She didn't love me.

    You wrote: “I feel like saying to my mum, what will it take to get you to see how much pain I'm in?” I think it will take her loving you. But then, if she did love you, you wouldn't be in this pain.

    “I know you only like to fix me', but she broke you when she laughed at your father's teasing of you, not protecting you. You loved her for that, you wrote, for not doing the teasing… because you loved her.

    You have done your best to be a good mother to your daughter. It was impossible for you to do any better without any help. The help you needed had to do with distancing yourself from your parents (but your ex encouraged you to get closer to them, unfortunately, as he himself still lived with his mother). But you didn't get that help.

    Whatever therapy you had was and could be only of partial help without a supportive relationship outside of therapy. It takes the two things: therapy and a supportive relationship, one with a decent, loving man. You didn't have that.

    I don't think I am helpful at all. I am quite tired and I feel overwhelmed by the sheer futility of all the trying I did in over forty years of my life, the trying I am acutely aware of after reading about all your trying. I feel vulnerable sharing this. I imagine you felt vulnerable too, sharing. It hurts to feel judged or criticized. I am afraid of the same thing.

    I definitely do not want to trigger that shame in you (as unjustified a shame as it is). I definitely don't want to trigger the critical voice in you. I wish you gave your shame to the people where it belongs and freed yourself from it.

    I would like to communicate with you further. If you would like. If in this post I somehow confused our individual experiences and seen it as being the same where it is not, please let me know.

    anita

     

    #213837

    caroline
    Participant

    Thanks for your very honest and caring response. It means alot to me. An example of how my mind works. I was very eager to hear from you, excited for connection and slightly anxious, when i first read the last response you sent, i felt loved and considered. i read it again about 30 minutes later and i thought to myself, because you dont know me completely, i cant allow myself to receive your kindness. its ‘what if she reallt knew me, if she did, she would regret investing any time towards this communication and she would judge me and think to herself how could i have been so misunderstood about this girl, she is a liar, an incompetent person and not to be trusted. i just feel like im a bad person no matter how much ‘good' i do.

    i want to write more but im in the uk and its quite late now so i shall write more tomorrow. i really appreciate you taking the time to respond anita.

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