Recently, it has become increasingly startling that to me that I am dysfunctional around my “family”. Maybe the impending sense of dread gave it away. Or the dread in my chest for most of the family weekend. Coupled with an emotional overload that I tried to open up to this weekend. Which left me (and perhaps others around me) emotionally drained.
I have no doubt that in the past, I have tried to escape “family” by finding (intimate/sexual/romantic) relationships outside of my “family”. Looking forward to leaving on a jet plane became a coping mechanism that worked for a few years. Now that particular coping mechanism isn’t an option for me. So, I want to face this fear (what ever it is) head on.
I have explored various obvious issues, and seen various obvious counsellors, and tried various obvious things. Some of the smaller issues I may even have squared away. I’ve got closer to “going all in” and fallen more deeply into my friendship and love. I’ve come to terms with being safer as mother (and overcome to some extent the fear of being abandoned therefor). I’m ok with doing things slightly differently to how I expected.
And then this weekend, I found the real problem. The proverbial elephant in the room. A press press prod prod, and an oh what the fark is that.
It started by my being open to my feelings. The idea is to acknowledge the feeling; open to it; find a place to be ok with it; and then feeeeeel it. I noticed I get stuck at step 3, and can hardly find a place to be “ok” with the dread, so the psycho suggestion is to find a time when i may have felt the feeling before. This can help to see the negative associations blocking the lack of acceptance. Jada.
So there I was, giving it a go; and suddenly I was a child again, and my mums boyfriend came to mind and a sense of dread so ginormous came over me that I popped out of the bath in an instant tidal wave and repressed that shit right back down again. I hardly got a chance to acknowledge it and there is/was hardly any way to open to it. Let alone be ok with it.
I have spent the last day or so, slowly acknowledging the feeling. And opening. This being the first and second steps, and I am surprised at how difficult it is. I’m not taking it all too seriously, just playing with it. As soon as I try to focus on the issue (by calling up a memory or thought) my chest constricts and it’s a huge sense of doom. I sit with it for a minute or two. And then let it cover back up!
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this guy did anything really bad to me. He didn’t beat me or abuse me. But over the course of about 7 or so years, his presence as my stepdad was unsettling, violent (between him and mum), unloving, and from my perspective unwanted. Do you know, I don’t even hardly remember him. I have hardly any memories of him. Which begs the question where are they. I have had no contact with him for 23 years and no interest in ever seeing or speaking with him.
My association of being in a family unit with him and my mum was, well, dread. I dreaded them coming home from the pub every night. I dreaded any birthday or Christmas event because there would be a fight. My mum would lose her temper; he would get violent; on more than one occasion my sister called the police. There were tears, screams, shouts. I don’t remember him shouting nor do I have any visual images of him violent. But I do remember the holes in doors, and the empty beer cans. The rumble of his car engine and the fear. Hearing them shouting. Urggg fuck them and that bullshit.
I don’t have any plans to exorcise this one. If I did I would need professional help is my guess. It’s buried and it all looks fine now with grass growing over the old mounds. Plus is so boring to go over old ground thinking there are answers. My guess the only answers are these kinds of insights:
- I can stop projecting myself onto my daughter and imagining she is me, and that she is feeling the dread. This causes a sort of panic that isn’t helpful; and a self vilification that results in unlove.
- I can acknowledge and open to the feeling without thinking it’s some kind of warning about my current family situation. It’s tempting to imagine the feeling to “run” is based on what’s in front of me; but it’s not I reckon, it’s a shadow feeling triggered and re-experienced: that’s kind of a very cool realisation.
I feel very loved and I feel very lucky. I also think my kids are completely safe and don’t have any reasons to feel any fear. I can also see that over-compensating with an overly loving and accepting environment that alleviates my fears isn’t healthy for them. This is also a very cool realisation.
What this process has done is activated some old anger torwards my parents. Fucktards. But I am quick to forgive so it’ll take a day or too. It’s all water under the stupid fucking bridge. Lol.
His name was Tim. I don’t ever remember saying his name, going anywhere with him, doing anything with him, seeing him enjoying himself, seeing my mum and him together, watching them, listening to any advice they gave, going on a trip anywhere, being in a car together, admiring them or being loved by them. I don’t ever remember him being rude rude rude to me. He was in the role of stepdad from age 9 to 16. Farking odd.