A few weeks ago when I was right in the midst of terror and crisis, I got back in touch with my old psychotherapist, James, who I first started seeing when I needed the support to be able to leave Tom. I’ve had a few sessions with him recently and we’ve been working hard but after today’s session, I realised something and so rather than wait for next week’s session, I wrote down all of my tangled thoughts and feelings as if I were writing to my therapist. . .
I have come to realise over the past few weeks, just how difficult I find it to speak openly in our sessions. When I write, the thoughts flow more readily and I seem to be able to be more honest about things and more true to myself.
I don’t always feel that I’m getting what I want from our sessions but I realise it’s because of my inability to really let go during an hour that is focused solely on me, an hour when I am expected to speak. I hate all of the attention being on me, it’s something I normally try and shy away from so being in that spotlight, I find is rendering me speechless. Not only do the words get blocked but the thoughts and feelings do too. I have realised this over the last two weeks when, within two minutes of being in my car, I’m having to pull over, take out my notepad and start writing, the thoughts that should have come in therapy, come as soon as I stop talking and start writing.
This week I have had a lot of thoughts coming to me daily. It started with a friend saying, ‘What is love, anyway?’ I relayed what I had said to you in one of our first ever sessions. Love, to me, is acceptance. I compared it to the love of a child, how a mother or father accepts that child totally, despite, or rather because, of any imperfections or disabilities, and therefore that is what love is.
It made me think about accepting a man and loving him totally. I thought I had never achieved this but thinking hard about it this week I have realised that I loved Tom unconditionally, even when things were really awful, I still loved him deeply. The difference between what happened with Tom and what would happen with one of my children was that I gave up on him and on that love. I would never have walked away from one of my children had their ‘behaviour’ been something I didn’t like, in fact I would have worked harder to get to the bottom of it to work towards resolving it, all of this would have been done with a great faith that it was a phase and all will be right in the end and that with love and acceptance, we’d have been great again. I find myself asking, why could I not do the same for Tom, a man that I have loved as much and as passionately as I have my children?
I know he triggered a lot of old hurts, but so too have my children at times.
I was not a good partner to Tom. I accused him of being abusive to me, and yes at times his words were abusive and hurtful, but I have been hurtful to him. We both are guilty of hurting the other with words and with actions, of being selfish and inconsiderate to the others’ needs. Maybe I was triggering something for him too?
I became totally wrapped up in my own pain and feelings of feeling unloved. I focused totally on what he wasn’t doing (not spending quality time with me, not supporting me the way I needed, not wanting to have sex with me) and not what he was doing (working hard to provide a good home for me and MY children, remaining cheerful and even when things were really bad, trying his best to ease the pressure I felt with Annie and much much more) and yet despite all that he did do, I chose to only see the bad, never the good.
I have always said to everyone that Tom is a good man with a heart of gold. He is kind and considerate, loving and giving but it has never been recognised by me, for me, until now. There are, no doubt, behaviours that Tom displayed that, if changed, would have benefited the relationship, but on the whole, the bigger problem, all along, has been me.
I have allowed hurt and anger to completely take over. My mood swings are indescribable but are a constant. One minute I felt really really happy and I adored him and the next I felt really really hurt, angry, and down and hated him, even though he did nothing to warrant this most of the time. My feelings are still the same now. Deep down I’ve never stopped loving him, I can’t stop, but on the surface, what he sees is a completely different thing. He sees an angry woman that wants nothing to do with him and says such hurtful things one minute, then a vulnerable, but strong loving woman that wants deeply to support him throughout everything, that wants to hold him, and love him completely but sadly this never manages to fight and win against the horrible part of me.
I have become like a Jekyll and Hyde character and instead of being open and honest about this, I blame him for everything. I even blame his childhood, which I have no right to do, and actually no real knowledge of. (I know I am probably projecting my childhood pain onto him, to avoid looking at my own.)
I know that for him to have a happy and loving life, I should cut all ties and let him go and find someone that can love him as he really deserves but I selfishly don’t want to do that, although I will if I can’t put an end to my behaviours.
I hold him in great esteem and power and want him to take all my Hyde away but as I’m in Jekyll mode as I write this, I know this isn’t possible. I also know this is my responsibility, my battle to win and nothing to do with him.
Tomorrow I could awake in Hyde mode and I will honestly believe that this writing is all bullshit, and will probably blame Tom for it in some way. I’m aware this makes me sound mentally ill.
I really want to get to the bottom of all this, whether its because Tom loves me in return or not. I want to live life on an even keel and stop having this emotional roller coaster. It really is just really big highs and then really big lows, and this happens on a daily basis. Tom has tried telling me for years. It’s exhausting, mentally, physically but mostly, emotionally.
Most of all I want to protect my children from it, they do not need to grow up thinking this is normal behaviour.
I think my nature is predominantly happy and positive, at least that is what it is like when I am alone; alone with my children, with friends and family. It is really only when I am with Tom that my behaviour is the opposite. I often feel that I have adopted my mum’s negative ways due to the high level of conditioning she gave me about men. The inner battle I have seems to be a lot about living my life with my set of beliefs or living it with hers. When I try to live with mine, her voice starts in my mind and doesn’t stop until I take notice and act on it, resulting in me ‘attacking’ Tom.
If I could erase my memory of all words and actions she ever put into my mind, I would be loving, caring, affectionate, happy, easygoing, funny, extroverted. I would be supportive and gentle. Instead, I have the messages running in my mind constantly, (fighting with what I feel deep down), that men are bastards, they are unsupportive, never there, angry, use me for sex, only want me for a dogsbody, abusive, nasty, treat me like a doormat, controlling, selfish and on and on. All words and phrases my mum used far too frequently throughout the whole of my childhood. Like a lesson on a loop it eventually went in.
I have learned to ignore and have no faith in my instincts in how to love a man. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve not even allowed myself to love a man fully. I have taken on board all the messages I have had drummed into me over the years, from all sources, and it has left me feeling confused, hurt and unable to love how instinct tells me to.
Maybe the only thing I need to learn to do is trust what I am feeling, trust my instincts and ignore all the non loving messages that have bombarded me over the past 37 years of conditioning.
I know this to be right as having children has taught me I don’t want them to be as unhappy as I feel. I have, especially with the girls, been teaching them that men are lovely, kind, strong, loving, funny, supportive etc. I want them to have a positive conditioning towards men and love, but I also want them to trust their instincts and not be sucked in by what I say, or what anyone else may say to them. The realisation then, that if I can teach this to my daughters, then I know this as truth, and yet I find it so hard to live it on a day to day basis.
As I write this, Tom is visiting family. We’ve been apart for seven months and yet I miss him, there is a void, I feel it physically. When he’s five minutes around the corner I feel safe, knowing he’s there and that he will be there for me if and when I need him, no questions asked. He is, in actual fact, very supportive. He is a far cry from the man my mum taught me he would be but I still can’t always see this. Now he’s away I have five days of feeling scared and insecure, knowing that he’s not physically there for me. This is terrible behaviour to inflict on another human being. I am treating him like my own personal yoyo, pulling him towards me when it suits me and throwing him back out when it doesn’t. Yet, none of this is done intentionally or consciously.
I often find myself thinking back to when we first were together, especially when he’s away and I’m missing him. At that time, I was, on the whole, loving towards him, kind, supportive and a good girlfriend. Either my instincts were very strong at that point due to feeling so madly in love and the haze that comes with a new relationship or something else was going on. At this time I don’t know what. Maybe I knew somewhere within me that he wouldn’t love me if I acted in this way, in which case I tricked him, I think I tricked myself too. Waiting until he loved me and loved my children was not only controlling but callous too.
Writing this is making me see something that I don’t like. (I don’t like much of what I’m seeing, in all honesty.) My mum’s description of men, are these not all of the behaviours that I have been displaying towards Tom?
I have been a bastard.
I have been, on the whole, unsupportive of his needs.
I have never really been there for him, always thinking I know better, never listening.
I have been angry, constantly.
I may not have used him for sex but have been very angry with him for not wanting to have sex with me. It could have been a man being angry with my mum for refusing sex that made her believe men only want you for one thing? Scrap that, I did use him for sex, to make myself feel loved. I didn’t do this all the time, most times sex was about loving him and wanting to connect with him on a very intimate level, but sometimes it was about needing to have his love validated through sex. I realise sex makes me feel safe.
I have probably used Tom as a dogsbody at times.
I have been abusive.
I have definitely been nasty.
I have treated him like a doormat, allowing him to do more than he should and then complaining that it wasn’t enough.
I have been controlling. Not intentionally and not consciously, but I can see how my behaviour would make another feel controlled.
I have most definitely been selfish.
Now I have the question in my head, ‘Why have I become the man that my mum despised and the man she warned me about?’ Is it so that in doing so, no one can do it to me or is it connected to a misguided attempt to protect my Dad from her venom?
Her poisonous words were meant to stop me from forming a strong relationship with my Dad, she tried to also stop a relationship with my Granddad and Uncle. The one male relationship that was permitted was with my my stepfather, John. No doubt because she was in love with him, she wanted me to love him too.
I feel drained. I want Tom to know all of this, but I fear his reaction. He has every right to be angry, to reject me and see the light, that I am actually no good for him but what I really need is for him to understand me and tell me that he loves me and that we can work through it together. I really need him to share the blame for the deterioration and end of the relationship. I need him to acknowledge his part, even if it was smaller than mine. I need to know he takes some of the responsibility and doesn’t blame me entirely for all that went wrong.