Controlling through depriving

For the past weeks I have been working with my trust issues regarding other people. Namely, I had the type of controlling mother that used ‘the take away’ tactic a lot, meaning she just threatened to take away her support, my home whatever that there was to take away when I did not do as she pleased.

I can use a good recent example of this as I am currently visiting. So my mum wanted me to clean the attic which for her is a bit more uncomfortable for various reasons. However she asked me five days before me leaving. Since she still needs to be next to me and supervise, I did my best to find a common time. I then quickly realized that my mum had four days of my staying already reserved and in fact there was only one particular day she could have done the cleaning. When I told her that no can do, I have plans for this day already, she threw a hissy fit and then promised to cancel one trip which we have planned together for the summer.

Each time she does these things I am thinking whether I should stop the contact altogether. I have mixed feelings in relation to that, partially because stopping all contact seems quite extreme and I think I would miss the occasional keeping in touch, on the other hand also because she being in my home country and offering me a place to stay comes in handy. But I understand that she has always been manipulating me with taking away these very benefits like the accommodation, but also her presence and connection. It somehow feels a bit like keeping in touch with her makes me weak and vulnerable and still susceptible to such threats.

It is exactly the same pattern which existed with my ex as well. My ex would give me his support until he thought I had done something that displeased him and then resorted to threats – threats of leaving me, verbal assaults, silent treatment etc. I was constantly being punished for disobeying.

There is a lot to discuss on this matter still and I am in the process of ruminating over the matter.

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Why I am uncomfortable with dating – inability to say no

So, for the past days, I have been mulling over my potential issues related to online dating and the guys going into chasing mode. I think I am starting to finally understand what my problem is.

I do not know how to say no. In my childhood saying no was not really something that was acceptable. Me defending my interests or borders was interpreted as aggressive and rebellious and this was to be pushed down the minute it was seen. By the age of seven I had become so docile that when visiting someone I was afraid to ask where the toilet was. I was afraid to say when I had some pain or when I did not want to eat what was offered. Basically, I was afraid of creating any kinds of waves or attracting any kind of attention to myself.

This inability to say no lead me becoming a victim of child molesters. These guys know their game, they know whom to choose as a victim. Even though I was never sexually abused as a child (at least I think I was not), I became a head target for 50 year old guys, simply because they sensed my inability to say no. So all kinds of things happened from these guys touching my knees to dry humping. Luckily since I was never alone with these guys and never agreed to go anywhere with them, the worst never happened. However, I need to thank god that I was not particularly popular among teenage guys, because I swear to god, I would have just plainly done everything they told me to do.

So when I talk to guys in the internet, I suddenly become this little child again. I cannot tell them when they have crossed the borders. I am too scared to make any waves. I am too scared to make myself heard. So I am afraid that as I go on a date with someone, this pattern will just be exaggerated and I will just plainly agree doing whatever these guys want me to do. This has happened plenty in my relationships, why would that be any different on dates?

So I need to somehow take care of my vulnerabilities before I can go any further with my dating.

Tired of therapy

I am going to express feelings which I assume do not only characterize my own position, but that of many people who have undergone therapy. So let me say this straight – therapy is a lot of ungratifying work for which you pay a lot. Essentially there is nothing enjoyable or gratifying about therapy. You are going to experience bunch of emotions which you have tried to avoid so far and you are going to feel bad with slight variations of less bad. Depending on how deep your trauma is, this feeling of badness may prevail for years as it has in my case.

The whole problem with therapy is that there is little instant gratification. Gratification comes with seeing yourself slowly getting better and better. However, this process is sometimes painfully slow. Furthermore, as therapy costs a lot, you are less likely to be able to afford other kinds of gratifications such as vacation trips, extensive shopping etc.

I have cut down my entertainment costs for years. I have not been able to save any money for buying an apartment either. Sometimes I question my choices, but then I remember exactly how messed up I was when I started therapy. That however does not mean that there are not times when I think – oh god, other people seem to go and enjoy their lives and I am just stuck in therapy.

If you go for psychotherapy as is the case with me, you are going to be rather dysfunctional for a long time. In my case this period could have been about four years. You are basically picking yourself to pieces and then trying to reassemble yourself. Questions which are in the center of other people’s lives such as – having kids, taking a mortgage whatever, do not really belong to your every day.

Currently I feel exhausted. I feel like I have worked really hard for a lot of years and there is still some work to do. I assume it is like with a marathon, these last miles….You have gone through all this distance and you know you cannot give up, because otherwise the result will be – you did not finish. It kind of does not matter if you stopped in the first mile or thirtieth mile. So you have no choice but to continue unless you want your years of work to be for nothing. However, sometimes I just wish I could crawl into some nice warm soft place and not have to work so hard with my emotions anymore.

I know the results are probably worth it, but still that does not take away the feeling of wanting to have some gratification now and not in the future.

But if I work hard enough everything will be OK……

Today I want to talk about some illogical connections which my childhood has created in my head. There is really not a better word I can currently find for that as I am still exploring the issue myself.

So the thing is, my childhood was about somehow finding out a way how to control my mother’s reactions to me. The whole childhood I entertained the idea that if I only tried hard enough, I would find a way to control these reactions and her dysfunctional emotions. So that was one and most primary purpose behind why I did things and also largely defined where I chose to put my efforts to. Mostly my efforts went to studying well and well, not making myself too visible. Just being low key and not driving any attention to myself. Of course I also suffered on constant anxiety – a feeling I could never really make sense of when I was a child. Anyways, I invested to something which my mother held dear – namely schoolwork. The rest, well….obviously was not of much importance or well did not give any significant effect as to whether my mother would be happy or not.

The problem here is that somehow such a focus came to define my life. During the university I focused on my school work. As other people explored social life and other things, I hanged along to a degree, but in my mind this was not important. I had internalized the idea that as long as I do well in school, everything will be fine. Labor market was scary for me, because school provided the safe haven. The only place where I knew how things function.

Such exaggerated focus to schoolwork during my growing up years and treating the success in school as some kind of key to success to all other areas of life has had a termendous effect on how I live my life. I have continuously ignored other areas thinking that if only work hard enough, somehow other areas would fall into place. Somehow I would feel more safe and somehow I would not experience problems in my finances etc. It is kind of magical thinking really – and the kind of thinking which does not help one in life. I have focused so much on my work because that was the only thing where I felt I could excercize some kind of control. School – the only thing that allowed me to somewhat control my mother’s reactions and feel like I am less dependent on her moods.

That is not how life works though…..

recreating my early feelings of instability and unsafety

I am doing a lot of rethinking about my life these days, hence so many posts.

I have been anxious lately. Perhaps it is about my ex moving out soon. Perhaps it is my work stress. Perhaps it is my financial struggles. Perhaps it is some of my addictions. Perhaps it is my love interest blocking me. However, as I zoomed in to the anxiety, something really different started to uncover.

Namely, I am used to living my life, being controlled by someone unstable. Being dependent on someone who was not really dependable. I am used to feeling at least some level of anxiety all the time. I mean I had to constantly watch my steps. I developed a certain self-regulation mechanism where even when my mother was not a round, I was mortally afraid of her judgement. I still am. Only these days I rationalize it as me objectively screwing up.

So what do I do? I recreate this early childhood feeling of being dependent on someone non reliable. I choose either guys who constantly judge me. Or guys who are unreliable and unpredictable. Or maybe both in one person. Anything to recreate this early feeling of not being safe in the world. Hell, I even chose an unstable career which is based on me constantly getting scrutinized. Little did I know about how many of my choice in this life were defined by this constant feeling of insecurity and constant feeling of being unsafe.

Obviously it is not really something you fix with one day, but I think me understanding this already takes me closer to perhaps solving it. Perhaps being able to create a more secure life for myself. I feel that so far I have sabotaged all the kind of security there potentially was in my life. I feel that me realizing that I have been sabotaging it is a breakthrough. I am looking forward to being able to create a more secure future for myself.

“Fighting for love”

When I was fifteen my father reappeared and wanted to establish some kind of contact with me. Mind me he had earlier occasionally shown up and met with me for one evening and then disappeared again. My very skeptical reading as to why he wanted to connect with me at the age of fifteen would be that, he assumed that most of the work of child-raising would be done by this point and he could reap some rewards of having a child.

However connecting with me did not exactly go as planned. Namely I was distant and mistrustful. I had trouble opening up and talking to him which was obviously not something he expected. In his mind he was hoping for a daughter who would embrace him warmly and give him some of the love he was missing in his life. The idea of having to rebuild the trust at this point was not part of his plan.

So it did not take long for him to disappear again. Even if it seems obvious that it was my fault, subconsciously, I think I have always held myself accountable for his disappearances. I mean how else would I explain that when my ex disappeared, somehow I believed him when he explained to me how I had made him disappear. How relationship with me was so draining that he had no choice but to vanish for months. I looked at other happy couples and felt myself like a total failure, because I somehow made my boyfriend want to run away from me and not even keep in contact with me.

Interestingly enough when my ex reappeared, it was not him who had to work with regaining my trust. No, instead it was me who somehow had to fight for not having him abandon me completely. This sounds perverse as I write this here but I think even today there is a part of me that keeps asking – why don’t they want me? Why does no one want me enough for them to invest and fight for their relationship with me? Why do I have to fight for the right to have them in my life instead?

It is apparently these types of men I keep looking for. The kind of men for whose presence I have to fight for. The kind who disappear and reappear or make me work for their attention and love never giving me enough security about the relationship.

It has taken me for years to understand that on some level I have taken responsibility for my father’s assholish behavior. That on some level I thought his disappearances spoke more about me than about him. I also understand that just because I now understand rationally that these disappearances should not speak of me, emotional understanding might take a while, still.

My dysfunctionality

Today I am feeling dysfunctional. Becoming and being dysfunctional has been my darkest and worst secret over the years. Even the feeling of being unlovable does not compare to that one. I have yet no idea how I got into believing that I was dysfunctional and later also to a degree behaving like I was. Or maybe I do.

I look at my mum and for years I did not like to visit her. The place was a mess. She was a mess. There is more to say here, but I am not really going to. And you know there are things which you can easily overcome, like you learn to wash yourself more often. Or you learn to actually comb your hair. Or you learn to cook. But then there are things which you really cannot overcome.

You work until you are so tired you cannot work anymore. You keep irregular hours. You do not follow your spending. You are a slave to your emotions. You get into relationship with people who challenge your functionality further. You ignore your pain, both emotional and physical. You ignore your needs. Where would you have learned that you have needs to begin with?

And all this talk and thinking about dysfunctionality seems rather fuzzy. I do not yet understand why I feel so dysfunctional. Why this has always been my dark painful and ugly secret which I tried to hide from others. But since these feelings are starting to come up, I assume that I will find out soon enough.

Has therapy made my life easier?

I am going to try to express here my latest feelings around therapy. So I have been somewhat frustrated lately, because let me tell you the last half a year has really been a challenge. I seem to get to the situations with people that are just conflictual. I seem to finally notice how messed up and insecure life around me is. And well, everything seems….a bit difficult to handle at once right now.

My friend told me about cycling. His point was that the cycling never really gets easier, but instead you become faster and faster. I am starting to think that with therapy and life it is the same way. No, your life will not get easier, magically, after certain amount of therapy. Instead, you start taking on new challenges. But these challenges are as difficult as ever. Unfortunately. Maybe I have still not developed far enough to see the point where life indeed becomes easier.

So what am I currently tackling? Well, I am tackling still my addiction to hot and cold guys. I am tackling my financial issues. I am tackling my habit of drinking wine at least during three evenings a week. I am tackling dealing with insecurities in both my professional and personal life. I am tackling being honest with people. All this at once. And let me tell you – it is not easy. It is actually fucking difficult. I feel like I need tons of therapy to handle everything. And yet, I cannot have tons of therapy so instead, I let myself be overwhelmed and try to forgive myself for not having it all together yet.

In a relationship with narcissist?

All  – my mother and my two exes show some signs of narcissism. I find that the definition of narcissist as someone who is hiding their true self behind some grandiose false self is quite fitting. It has taken me some time to actually start perceiving these behaviors and narcissistic traits, because I never questioned those.

Lately, with a little bit of distance I am starting to see such behaviors more clearly in my ex. I notice certain manipulative behaviors. For instance, my ex finds it necessary to fill me in, in terms of how many women flirt with him. Hell, he wrote a separate message to tell me. Actually, he was telling me also in the middle of our relationship about some women that flirted with him. This to me seems like a behavior which is catered towards showing ‘how wanted guy he is’.

Another behavior that I have recently noticed is his lack of regard to my feelings. When I actually tried to communicate my feelings in the relationship, my ex repeatedly said that I was overly dramatic and everything circled around my feelings in the relationship and his were never taken into account. Now, I cannot comment on how much I took into account his feelings or not, because obviously I am not an objective judge for that, but what I can say is, if he was really constantly taking into account my feelings over his, then his reactions would not have so often entailed telling me how insignificant those very feelings were. Namely there is a certain discord between him telling me how he never dared to go against my feelings and openly telling me that I was a drama queen. If he really had been so afraid to confront me, he would ha never be able to tell me something like this.

Now another thing, which I have pointed out repeatedly in this blog already was that my ex really did not like when I brought out his negative behaviors or traits. Mostly I thought it was just because he could not accept blame, but now I am coming to see that me pointing to these very weaknesses was actually threatening his false image. I was pointing too much to this vulnerable self that he was trying to cover up. My ex is still pointing out to me that he does not like to analyze himself and he does not like to deal with his feelings. In fact, he hates me doing this as well. I used to think this was some fault of mine – being overly obsessed with these things (ex also openly blamed me for that). Now I see this in a different manner, in fact if you have an open and loving relationship you do open up about these feelings and vulnerabilities. You do not see someone who tries to help you open up as an enemy.

There are multiple other behaviors which I am starting to see, but I will leave these for the next post.

Changing the dependency relationship

I have had one of those epiphanies again where I look back at my longest relationship which lasted for six years and realize how our dynamics were changing along my therapy. Since writing helps me to make sense of everything, I am just going to put it down here.

As I started dating my ex, I was a child. I was carefree, funny and playful, but I was also irresponsible and compliant. My ex was more of a caretaker – wise and comforting, but also at times somewhat dictatorial and inflexible. This dynamic was problematic from the beginning, because my ex did not do responsibility very well, whereas I was never fully compliant. Hence, even in the beginning we had our fights, but the duo worked much better then.

What happened over the years was that I started to slowly become less compliant and develop my independence. I started having my own opinions, instead of first looking at everybody else to find out what I should think and do. I also refused to take the blame for every mishap in the relationship. Suddenly there was very little tradeoff for taking care for me. Even though I have started to develop a bit of rebellion against being submissive, I had not fully developed the ability to be responsible grownup (as also witnessed by the last post). Hence the relationship with me became challenging to say the least.

I feel that I am currently on the last part of becoming fully independent – namely I am trying to take full responsibility for my actions and my life. I am trying to see and show myself as less of a victim and more of a person who accepts responsibility for whatever happens. Instead of going to become depressed or complaining about how life is so unfair, I am trying to figure out the appropriate cause of actions.

My ex, I think, has started his own little development. My changes have not left him completely untouched. He has noticed the problems with his anger outbursts. He is slowly starting to question his opinion on me just being a person with whom no one can have a proper relationship. However, since he started his route later than me, he is now somewhere in this inconvenient middle step, where he is giving up his caring tendencies, but still wants to control and dominate, making a relationship with him difficult to say the least.

If everything works out great, you will have two people in the world who can now express themselves without the bounds of the roles they once took over. I am still struggling with accepting responsibility and my ex is definitely struggling with listening and accepting other people, but I think we are on a good path.