Happy Sunday y’all! The second half of the week was difficult for me. Thus far in this blog, I’ve hinted at the struggles of our relationship. On Thursday, I received 38 text messages from my mother that were pretty nasty. I didn’t respond once – they were all unsolicited. They were manipulative, and frankly emotionally abusive. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.
My mother has been the subject of much of my therapy. One of the most pervasive stereotypes associated with therapy is that the individual has daddy or mommy issues. You can just picture someone laying on a couch with a box of tissues, talking about how they weren’t hugged enough as a child. I feel a lot of shame and embarrassment when I think of this stereotype, and thus, it makes this post rather difficult to write.
There’s two underlying core beliefs that are at play here. As ludicrous as it sounds, I believe that my mother is a reflection of me. Her faults and inadequacies are somehow indicators of my faults and inadequacies. To an extent, it’s kind of true. Borderline Personality Disorder is thought to be the result of both environmental and biological factors. Parts of BPD, such as fear of abandonment, develop as a child. Having BPD and its associated symptoms doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, though. I can simultaneously take responsibility for my actions, and understand that it’s not my fault. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
The other underlying belief, or beliefs plural, that I must conquer is all the terrible things I’ve been told about myself that I’ve internalized. I didn’t realize until maybe a year ago or so how much I really took everything to heart. Every time Tyler and I get in a fight, or I’m not invited to a party, or someone doesn’t talk to me at an event, my mind jumps to telling me that I’m going to die alone. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told that I’m going to die alone. Someday, I’m going to be 45 and wake up and be all alone, and it’s going to be my fault because I’m such a terrible person.
Over the years, I’ve learned to self-mother. It’s similar to the self-care that every millennial enjoys talking about. But beyond the bubble baths and acai bowls, every time I take time to re-charge and push myself to leave the house when I’m feeling anxious, I’m self-mothering. Every time I validate my feelings and self-sooth when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m self-mothering. Taking myself to therapy, getting the help I need, and trying to implement the skills I learn in classes in my everyday life is self-mothering.
During my last appointment with my therapist, I was brought to the realization that my mother is practically a stranger. The idea sounds harsh, but let’s think about it. She doesn’t, and hasn’t contributed to any of my decision making. She didn’t weigh in when I was deciding what college to go to, what classes to take in high school, what internships to take, where to work, ect. Since I moved to Sacramento, she’s come to visit twice. The first was for a work event, and she left early. I spent the previous two days showing her around Sacramento. We went to quite a few of my favorite places in Midtown, and I tried to share my appreciation of the city that still feels like a small town. It was like talking to a wall – we just weren’t able to connect. I try to share about what I do at work, but she takes no interest. She doesn’t take any interest in Tyler, either. She doesn’t know much about me, nor does she want to. I think that qualifies as a stranger.
It was during my upbringing that I learned to turn off my emotions. She would scream at me endlessly, and I would just stand there and take it. I saw it as a minor inconvenience; I just had to wait for the yelling to end, so I could get back to my work. I became extremely cold, and to this day, I struggle with empathy. I either care too much – I want to be all up in your business and take care of you, or I don’t want anything to do with you. I just can’t hit that sweet spot when it comes to empathy and everyday relationships.
I started this post talking about the flurry of text messages I received on Thursday. The texts left me with a heavy feeling; a sort of depression not characterized by actual sadness, but physical heaviness. It’s not wanting to get out of bed Friday, and being too lazy to go and buy myself lunch. It’s feeling a present happiness because you’re surrounded by good people, and remembering what happened and crashing emotionally. But it’s important to acknowledge that I am, in fact, feeling. Especially in interactions with my mother, I turned off my emotions for so long that I struggle to turn them back on. So for now, I’ll lean in to the pain, and acknowledge that these feelings are healthy.