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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.

 joanna@poppink.com

Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.

Tracy

A lot of what you write is very much how things used to be for me. If I ever stood up for myself with my mother it would always be met with an explosive tirade of abuse, and I would end up walking away, only to be called up by my dad saying exactly the things you  said "you know what's she's like, ljust go and apologise and make things up with her...you know if your mum is happy, then everybody's happy...it's for the best" and I used to do it partly cos I wanted her to love me and partly because I knew that if I didn't, he would be the one having to put up with her moods and temper and her keep moaning on about it all.

Like you, I changed my whole life, in fact my life revolved around want she wanted  or needed from me, because I believed that one day I would get it right and make her happy and then she would finally love and accept me.

Once I started to work on things in therapy I tried to be tougher with her and not allow her to treat me in inappropriate ways - just like you are doing now. Unfortunately for me it didn't really work, it just caused lots of arguments with me making lots of false apologies through gritted teeth, for the sake of my father and the family. It was only when my father died, and I no longer needed to do the things I did to make sure his life was bearable, that I truly stood up for myself and out of necessity at the time, pulled away properly.

I started reading stuff about narcissitic mothers and enabling fathers, and it was like reading the story of my life, but written by someone else....I could also see at that point that I was the family scapegoat - everything started to make sense.

It's been a hard 18 months, seeing the way things really are and accepting that nothing I could do would ever get me the love and respect I needed from my mother. Accepting that mentally, her own upbringing has done so much damage that she is not able to love me in the conventional sense that we expect mothers to love their children, that she doesn't even have self-respect let alone any idea of how to treat others in a respectful way.

There's been a lot to grieve about, and a lot of courage required to allow my therapist in to a place where she could model for me, acceptance, worth, love, respect, caring etc, in a way that I could take it on board and learn that I could do all those things for myself, I don't need a mother to do those things, I have developed those immature parts of me that were stuck in childhood, forever looking for a mother to care for her, to a woman who (in the main) can fulfil those needs for herself. And for me that meant allowing myself to fall in love with my therapist, and pulling that love apart, examining it bit by bit.

People don't really discuss countertransference on sites like this, or if they do, only to ask if it's possible that they might be the exception, and that it might be reciprocal, and their therapist might have similar feelings for them too. The reality of it is strange, yet powerful, I knew that if I went with those feelings, and allowed myself to feel them, that it would be difficult, full of anguish and confusion, and a little bit of hurt too ...something also told me that I had to let myself do it, stop fighting it, embrace the feelings, go with the flow, fall in love, explore my feelings, wrestle with the feelings of knowing it would never be reciprocated, exploring and learning all the way, until I came out of the other side. I believe that embracing all that is what made my journey successful.

I know it's not everyone's journey, not everyone falls in love in therapy, but loving my therapist is what taught me how to love and value myself, and that in turn is what has allowed me to deal with my mother, and finally, only in the last few weeks is letting me re-form a relationship with her based upon not needing and not wishing she could give me those things.

Stick with it Tracy - you're doing a fab job of questioning how you let people treat you and beginning to address that xxxx

 

 

 

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