Tag Archives: Rumination

Escaping the Narcissistic Mother

*Trigger warning*

Yesterday was the first therapy session with Paul in almost two weeks. The last time we met, my rumination over family dynamics had reached saturation point and the narcissistic mother was at the helm. We had no idea she was already planning her next cunning move.

Paul was already on holiday by the time news filtered through about my mother and sister visiting my home city, London. The potential fiasco happened last weekend and I honestly thought refusing to meet might trigger an onslaught of self-recriminations and hours in the company of our old friend, Mr Rumination.

As soon as I finished writing my last post, I had an amazing sense of peace surrounding my decision. For the first time in my life, I had taken a stance against these people without battling with the usual self-doubt and guilt. When the martyr’s plane touches down at London’s Heathrow Airport, it can often feel like a tornado landing, but this time it was no more than a gentle breeze.

On Saturday morning, I received text number two from my sister, “We’re on our way to the Chelsea Flower Show,” which is only 20min from where I live. I had already stonewalled my mother a couple of weeks earlier, but it appears she conveniently forgot while manipulating my sister into organising the trip. This is an old trick of the martyr’s, but I’ve never been able to see through it.

I had two choices. Reply and risk our contact snowballing into anger or refrain from any involvement by simply not answering the text. I chose the latter. I waited all day for the guilt to creep in, I even searched in case it was hiding, but I could not find it anywhere.

I doubt anyone could resolve relationship problems within a predominantly narcissistic family because the narcissists only believe in the faults of other people. Nevertheless, I’m tired of pretending everything is okay. I can no longer make feeble excuses and, “Sorry, I’m too busy,” is only colluding with the dysfunction.

Realising mother is a textbook narcissist is liberating and this might be difficult for most people to understand. Narcissists are faultless and will always need a scapegoat to direct their blame and to boost their own histrionic ego. To feel free of this weight is a tremendous relief. I will write a couple of posts about it next week.

I know this is the end of our relationship because the only thing that chained us together was my guilt. I told Paul that I feel different, very different. I am feeling free of the childhood trauma and of the ‘Scapegoat’ title that came from within the same dysfunctional family that caused the trauma in the first place.

Paul said I look and sound different. I’m more confident and decisive, as though I can finally see clearly for the first time in my life. This is exactly how I feel and it was especially nice to hear Paul acknowledge this amazing transition.

The slippery Slope & Anger

I wrote a post at the beginning of April about the need to change the bad habit ofthUCIKPC8U excessive ruminating. Initial attempts were reasonably successful for three short weeks, until last Friday when I started to ruminate my way down a slippery slope. Yes, I slipped on my weary ass and it feels like a humiliating defeat.

By the time I arrived at Paul’s therapy room on Thursday, I was sick to the back teeth of hearing my own voice banging on day and night about the same dysfunctional family dynamics. It’s ridiculous how I go to great lengths to keep certain people at a distance, while allowing them to live within a daily stream of endless rumination. What is the point?

I do believe rumination can be a worthwhile part of the healing process, but I need to make space in therapy for analysing my own shit within. The first problem to raise its ugly head is my fiercest enemy, anger.

Even though I need to speak my mind, it’s seldom in anger. This is less to do with being a cool and controlled Cat, and more about feeling terrified of my own anger and the other person’s response.

th8OFY8HOSSomething deep within says that anger is bad and I am bad for feeling or expressing it. Anger might provoke a furious response, or antagonise the threat of aggression and violence. Anger is wrong and can only end in rejection. This is ridiculous, I know, but those are the early ingrained messages. It’s easy to see how depression is anger turned inwards.

When I was in confrontation mode with Dr C at last week’s group therapy, every part of my body trembled while my voice quivered through our tense interaction. I wasn’t necessarily fearful of her response or worried that my anger might spiral out of control, but this tiny winy bit of agitation I had towards Dr C, felt like the last straw to a mountain of anger I’ve supressed over the years.

Anger has always been an extremely self-destructive emotion. Years ago, I would go off on drug and alcohol binges, each one conceived in anger. My reckless lifestyle would titter on the edge of danger until my health finally gave way.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see how that behaviour was less about addiction and more to do with self-destruction. Nevertheless, the anger didn’t go anywhere, but instead it evolved into chronic depression.

I don’t want to focus on my parents or childhood because that would only stir up thethKHLE167Z dreaded rumination and I really do need a break.

If we receive punishment and rejection for feeling angry as children, there is little opportunity to learn how to express this emotion as adults. If those early messages say we are bad, ungrateful and selfish for feeling anger, it’s hardly surprising that we systematically turn our rage inwards.

The Narcassistic Mother dilema

I spent most of yesterday’s therapy session talking about the difficult relationship Ith share with my mother and the decision I need to make about our future relationship.

Whenever I experience any kind of problem, whether it’s childhood trauma, or feeling unable to share in the group, I can never just simply change by willpower alone. I tend to become embroiled in an endless ruminating battle inside my head, desperately searching for a satisfactory conclusion.

All the mindfulness and self-affirmation routines mean little in my quest for healing. While these techniques do support positive change, the key to overcoming my own problem is to start by ascertaining the origin.

I am in no way qualified to diagnose a mental health disorder, but when I stumbled upon information on Narcissistic Mother’s, it was like reading a report on my own mother’s behaviour. Narcissism seemed to slot into place, but the realisation was bittersweet.

It was bitter because some of the information seemed to encourage a common understanding and compassion for a narcissistic mother and suggests making allowances for what is actually a mental illness.

The sweet part of it offered validation that I was not entirely responsible for the history of our conflict and it’s highly unlikely I possess all those horrible characteristics ascribed to my personality.

This does little for the ingrained guilt and self-blame or the anger and resentment that run between us today. What makes it more problematic is the realisation that she truly believes I am a horrible, heartless, and self-centred person.

This woman cannot see past her own narcissism. The hurt and disappointment she feels are genuine. One of the most difficult things to accept is being the cause of another person’s emotional and psychological pain, the guilt is very tough to deal with.

It’s as though the rumination is trying to justify my position or reach a decision over the best way forward, although I fail to see any viable options that might lead to a peaceful resolve.

There was a time when I used to drive 350 miles, twice a year, to spend a few days visiting each one of them, but mum was unhappy because I didn’t visit very often. I finally relented and increased the trips to every three months, but then she was disappointed because I wasn’t in their company for long enough.

“Do you realise how much you’re upsetting us with these flying visits?” She would say, “You’re more interested in other things and other people than your own family.”

thVLOWI8NEI can see only one decision that would lead to a peaceful resolution. She possesses no insight or ability to change, but I can’t make allowances for her narcissistic character traits, especially when I am the poor sod who’s in the line of fire.

I was wondering yesterday if my rumination is a warped way of holding onto the relationship… of subconsciously holding back from finally doing the “dastardly deed” of cutting off The Narcissistic Mother.

The Court trial & the martyr

As regular readers already know, years ago I was the victim of a completely unprovoked attempted murder by an evil character who is your movie-style psycho killer.

I asked my parents not to attend the High Court trial in an effort to save them from hearing personal details of my life echo around a courtroom disparagingly. There was a vulnerable need to protect myself against mother’s judgemental mentality and those familiar speeches of martyrdom.

I could only envisage my parent’s shame as their son’s life became public before a Jury and a busy public gallery. My assailants defence team were preparing to tear my testimony to shreds with accusations of the most despicable kind. There were only two of us in that room that night, no witnesses, just my word against his.

A High Court trial Jury in the UK are never aware of a Defendant’s criminal convictions until after a Judge passes a verdict of guilty, so for the duration of our humiliating trial, my character came under cruel and degrading scrutiny.

My assailant’s academic intelligence arrogantly tried to justify my extensive injuries and blundered through a ridiculous explanation of why I would jump through a first floor window in a dangerous bid to escape, if I was the attacker. The Jury were there to make a judgement.

The Defendant’s respectable middle class parents sat quietly in the courtroom in support of their precious son, while I couldn’t trust my mother to provide that same unconditional support, not without it being regurgitated sometime in the future with that familiar statement of, “Oh, what a terrible time I’m having.”

On the day of the verdict, I couldn’t go anywhere near the Courthouse. A bizarre and rather shocking twist to this story is that only a couple of years previously, my assailant had actually been sent to prison for life, for the first murder he ever committed.

Two years into his life sentence, he took his appeal to the Supreme Court and the Judges ruled that the Jury in the first murder trial were prejudiced into finding him guilty. Even though he admitted to the murder, those idiotic Judges, in all their glory and wisdom, overturned his guilty verdict and set him free. He had walked free once, this trial could swing either way.

Waiting at home alone for the verdict, I have never felt so nervous in my entire life, the sort where you just cannot get off the toilet, while watching the second hand sweep away the minutes. When the phone eventually did ring, it was the martyr, my mother.

Mum: Well Cat, That’s it finished… (She has that familiar patronising voice, the one that stinks of ‘woe is me’). Now listen, son, I hope we can put this behind us now because me and yer Dad ‘are done’, this is taking its toll on everyone, you know.


Mum: Hello? Are ye there?

Me: Well? Have they reached a verdict yet? Have you heard?

Mum: Eh?… Oh… Aye, they got him for it… he’s found guilty. Now listen, son, I really hope we can start to move on with our lives. Your only young, you’ll get over it.

Stunned silence

Me: Um…well, ‘Leaving it all behind’ might not be so straightforward for the victim.

Mum: I know that you’re the victim, son, (my tummy turns queasy whenever she uses ‘son’ in that emotionally blackmailing way) but listen, we’ve all been through a hard time over this, we’re all victims, it’s not all about you, you know.”

That telephone call is the beginning of where we are today. There is little point in trying to speak up against such narcissistic thinking and my silence has pushed her further and further away, but the anger, the guilt, and all the things I should have said, but couldn’t, are fuel to the chronic rumination today and this is one of the things I will be working on in therapy over the coming weeks.

My Mother the martyr

She, the martyr,  likes to be the pillar of the community and the centre of attention at her church, but behind closed doors mum is a very different character, overbearing, moody and rude, and everything – and I mean everything – revolves back to her. “Oh what a terrible time I’m having with all this worry,” is a statement we grew up hearing much too often.

I find her to be a very toxic person and for the last twenty years, I’ve managed to maintain a healthy distance, which in my opinion is never far enough. These days, we only text every 6-8weeks, but her lack of interest in anything other than herself can feel very damaging, even after all these years.

The last time I made the mistake of sharing something significant was when I suffered a slipped disc. One day, mum asked what was wrong and I duly told her the basic facts, but she never did reply to that text. I didn’t hear from her again for almost four months.

She text me the other day and this really shows her character in all its glory.

Mum: Hi Cat, how are you

Me: I’m fine, thanks, how are you?

Mum: It’s been a busy week with services at church and all the bible meetings and I made soup for the Sunday lunch club and all the ladies said how lovely it was. I can’t do it every week, but I’m always there to give them a good laugh and boost morale. But, we’re okay. Plodding on (She means her and Dad. I wonder if she ever notices we haven’t actually spoken a word in over sixteen years).

Me: That sounds nice

Mum: They want me to be Secretary for the Women’s Guild because it’s never the same when I’m not there to organise things. I said I would think about it, but I’m not sure I am up to it, I like to support them all I can, but you know how I’ve never “been able” (she means after losing a lung sixty years ago and barely a week goes by without some reference to it).

Me: How’s Auntie Barbara (who’s severely disabled since birth but still lives independently at 86yrs old and never complains)

Mum: B is ok. I finally went to the Doctors with my niggling complaints (actually, she’s never away from the Doctor’s). The Doctor is getting onto the hospital about them, but it could be thyroid problems. The main problem is I’ve sweated all through winter (she also sweated her way through an early and late finishing menopause and we never heard the end of that either and we suffered the full force of her depression).

Me: Do you take codeine for pain? (Codeine makes me sweat)

Mum: No I don’t like taking too many tablets, I’m already on 10 a day. No one knows pain like I do, I have a high tolerance for pain, but it’s just my back and my arthritis and my right foot gives me terrible bother but the Doctor gave me cream to rub on. The last Doctor gave me painkillers but I don’t use them. I’m not one for complaining, me and yer Dad just soldier on as best we can. So R u ok then? (She has revelled in her martyrdom since my earliest memories).

Now, I do not know what possessed me to respond with my next text. Maybe there is still an urge deep within me to reach out to my mother and… well, receive a mother-kind-of-response.

Me: I need to go for a colonoscopy next week because I seem to be losing a lot of weight too quickly.

As soon as I pressed the ‘send’ button, I regretted it and waited for the cold cutting response. I can never be certain if I’ll get an answer at all, so it was a long ten minutes. Maybe there is a hidden need for her to find it within herself to show as much love and compassion to her children as she puts on show for her churchy friends.

Mum: I know the feeling

End of conversation.

Therapy – Light at the end of the Tunnel

I had my therapy with Paul today. In many ways, I didn’t want to go. I’m still in thisthJS0QQEXZ weird void like state, which I wrote about here and I wondered what to talk about during our session. I no longer feel the need to go over the same childhood issues, but I’ve spent so many years consumed by the trauma, it feels as though a part of my brain is missing.

Paul said last week’s session gave him a better understanding of what the dissociation is like for me. He wholeheartedly agreed with my interpretation of “The Void” and shared my idea of finally leaving the past behind. Of course, he’s very careful never to lead and always accepts whatever I say. It’s nice to feel so understood, my perspective is always right, but I can’t help but wonder whether he would ever say if I was wrong or mistaken.

We talked a little about the rumination and how this is an act of dissociation and an attempt to resolve disagreements in my mind (which comes from fellow-blogger, Ellen). My current ruminating takes the form of imaginary arguments with my mum and sister. It’s manic when loose and could easily swallow the entire day, leaving a trail of tense anxiety and resentments. Not only does it sabotage any chance of grounding in the present moment, it robs me of the opportunity to move forward.

th251A6SLTThe rumination is a difficult habit to break, but I have tackled it this week by using a basic mindfulness technique of being more aware of my surroundings, particularly sounds. Dog walking would normally be a time of intense rumination and I sometimes wondered if other walkers were able to see my mouth muttering away as I wandered around in a ruminating-trance.

This week was different. I walked and listened to the here and now. It sounded like everything was on loudspeaker, the birds, ducks, dogs, and children, AND, bloody heck, I do live in a noisy neighbourhood! It feels as though I’ve only been in a semi-conscious state for such a long time, or locked inside the prison of my own mind, childhood trauma.

Being with Paul today also had a different feel to it. He said I appeared more groundedthA2PSAOHE and at peace, with a clearer idea of where I am and which direction to take. I knew then I have definitely turned a corner and… Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

I need to focus my attention on two things. The first is the relationship problems I have with my mum and sister, which of course is also the source of rumination, so two for the price of one, things are already looking up. The second is to confront what it is about the present moment that frightens me the most, what do I avoid at all costs, but that’s something for my next post.