Friday, June 7, 2013

New Analogy

I have started to think about my early relationship with my parents in a new way.

I no longer - having, of course, first gone through such a long phase of anger, blaming, and analyzing, which I'm perfectly happy with - need to think about the "relationship" we had. Or them, really, too much.

I see it this way: yes, this early stuff, and love, and parents, all of this is very important. It's like developing language in children. If a child is not communicated with in early childhood, she will have trouble learning language.

Well, I realized recently that, no, my parents never taught me the language of love, but that, yes, I am able to speak it with others now. It's not easy, it's not my mother tongue, I make mistakes or just don't know how to express myself, but I'm slowly getting there. And this is all that currently matters to me. I don't need to think about the fact that my parents failed me in this department so much any more. I just want to focus on the department itself, because that's what matters.

Therapy helped with that. Mostly, my therapist helped me allow myself to not feel anything much for my parents. And be OK with that. Because I feel things for other people, which means I learned language later in life - which is harder to do, but not impossible.

My new version of the recurring dream in which I discover that I actually never graduated from high school and thus my university degree and graduate degrees are invalid? I go back to school, ask around and really, there are a couple of classes that I never finished owing to an error of sorts. I never really graduated. But, also, the administration overlooked this. They gave me a diploma. I officially and validly graduated, even though I missed some things. No one will cause me any trouble or blame me for not completing those courses so long ago, especially given how far I've come since. I can freely go on with my life and, in the dream, I choose to do so.

In my life, I choose to do so as well.

I'm where I am and will be focusing on that now. Working on my doctoral dissertation, embracing new career opportunities assertively, actively making friends with people I find interesting, enjoying my family.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dreams, Lies, and Video Tapes

So, I'd asked my father to have some old family videos turned into CDs for me.

I hoped it would provide me with additional insights into my childhood.

 He brought them to me a few weeks ago.

I was somewhat surprised. I'd forgotten my mother and, looking at her, I felt more distant from her than ever. She seems weird, cold, too eager to sound loudly interesting and funny, or just vanishes into the background, despondently.

She's the one who'll taunt me and criticize me for her amusement in those videos. My father actually sometimes defends me. It's nothing big, for sure. Annoying pecks more than stabs.

But, I just don't like her.

I guess that's surprising. She died, then I discovered my father was a narcissist, then I remembered he was always the dominant one, and I somewhat idealized her posthumously. And I felt guilty for being duped or forced into choosing him over her when I was a child. Now I'm not so sure it was the worst thing I could have done. I just don't like her.

I've been telling people about this interesting discovery lately, most recently last night over some beers with friends.

So, this morning I had one of those vivid nightmares, the recurring one I've been having for years with some variations: I find out again all my work towards my doctorate is futile, as I never actually graduated from college. I have to go back to my final year. Nothing is a big deal, except for one course that I'd apparently just forgotten to take and thought of as boring and useless.

I now realize I can choose another course instead, and this time, being older and different, I choose, strangely for me, a course taught by a lovely, helpful, kind woman, involving baking colorful cookies shaped like snowmen and stick figures and cartoon characters. It was childlike and fun and you couldn't fail. I was happy to learn something that might help me make nice gifts for my family. I felt like a loved child being allowed to take this course. I hugged the teacher for being so helpful and she hugged me back.

She looked and acted nothing like my mother. This time, passing the missing exams meant finding a kind, loving, mother surrogate.

The dream continued by me going to my therapist and discovering someone else there, a colleague of his. He insisted I talked to him, so I started telling him about my mother and my dream, and he interrupted me:

- Stop blaming your mother! Stop blaming your parents for your problems and behaviors!

So I started railing and ranting and howling at him:

- I'm NOT blaming her for my behaviors! I'm only blaming them for not loving me, and for how bad that makes me feel, but me screaming at you right now is all ME, and my anger is all ME! And if you think I can't blame them for making me feel that way, don't you dare blame me for how you're feeling right now, being screamed at!!!

That felt good.

(I still haven't terminated therapy, as things are sort of still happening in every session.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I'm in a phase where I'm kind of living again without obsessing and analyzing and wondering if I'm human all the time.

I'm working on my dissertation. I had two papers published recently and am attending a conference soon. I'm excited about this. I no longer feel like enjoying doing my research and presenting it to others is narcissistic or ACoNish - it's me, it's human.

I work out. I watch movies with my husband and sometimes play with my kids. Sometimes I take a break from them, too.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a worse parent than my parents in some ways. And that's OK, too. They're not monsters in my mind any more. Nor are they perfect.

They actually often tried to be good parents, but in sometimes wrong ways and for the wrong reasons. So others could see them as good parents. So they could see themselves as good parents.

I said "NO" to my father a few days ago. No, I didn't want to call my elementary school teacher just because my father had contacted him and the guy wanted to hear from me because I was "so successful." No, there was no need for my father to justify and excuse me because I was "so busy" - I explained I had no obligation to call anyone I didn't want to call.

I wasn't scared or even overly triumphant. It was just normal.

Today, I believe I'm going to say to my therapist that I want to stop for now. I'm not sure what more I can get at this point via this particular method. I've had some good insights, but I feel I've reached a plateau - one I actually feel good at right now.

I'm going to use the money for my daughter's swim classes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Wire Parents Experiment

I've wanted to write this post for a long time, but things get in the way. Like not finding a good link to the Wire Mother experiment. This is not a really good one, either, but more accurate ones are also more disturbing.

I feel like my therapist gave me "permission" not to have felt attached to my parents enough to truly feel hurt when their lack of love for me was demonstrated, because I've always felt this on some level.

And then I felt like one of Harlow's monkeys, one raised by a wire surrogate. (These rhesus monkeys were isolated and put in a room with a wire contraption which held a bottle of milk.) I was fed and taken care of, just not loved in any vital, living, animal or human way.

These monkeys were physically healthy. They were just emotionally and socially stunted.

And they didn't attach to the wire mother.

There were other monkeys in the experiment, ones that had a cloth mother too. They cuddled with her and ran to her for comfort. They were inconsolable if she was removed from the room.

These fared better afterwards.

I was raised by wire parents. It's not my fault I never felt much for them. It's not my fault I went to them for food and the went away and never cared if they were removed.

They weren't even fucking cloth surrogates.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

At the core

I have people in my life that accept me and love me now. But I still can't accept and love myself. I don't trust them to actually accept and love the real me. They accept and love the adult me that developed after years of being molded by my parents.

I don't know any other me. I can try my hardest to be the real me, but I can't re-raise myself from scratch.

When I was a child, I wasn't accepted or loved. That was the core me, the one that could have developed differently.

So, I'm bad at the core. There's something fundamentally wrong with me. I hate and loathe this child at the core of me.

Sure, now that I'm a decent, articulate, generally well-behaved adult, people can accept what they see on the surface. But if they saw through to the faulty unlovable core, they'd hate the real me - the whiny, boring, annoying, weak, loud, pathetic, sensitive brat at the core - just as much as I do.

(I know this is irrational rubbish, but I've just realized after therapy that this is how I feel deep down).

Friday, January 4, 2013

No, not armor. Painkillers.

What my therapist asked of me - to express having been hurt by my parents when I insisted I wasn't, I couldn't have been, they never had the power to hurt my feelings for as long as I can remember - made me rethink my metaphor.

Intellectually, I'm now aware a child cannot put on an armor against her parents, preventing hurt. What we as children could have done was, at best, to start sedating ourselves, numbing all feelings, never experiencing any hurt at all.


An armor would have prevented injuries. The painkillers leave us unfeeling, but still mangled and bleeding, unaware of these still very acute problems.

This is still a merely intellectual insight.

I'm afraid to feel it because I'm impervious to my parents and what they did and do and said and say.

It is perhaps not a well-known fact that soldiers in wars often go into fighting drunk or on drugs. They have to feel like they can't really feel hurt even if they actually get hurt, or they won't be as brave. It's fake, but it's a necessary survival mechanism. The other option is becoming a deserter, I guess. And I don't want to be a deserter. I want to fight.

I need to keep finding better metaphors. Ones that might actually help me get healthy.