Keep Breathing.

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Happy New Year, blog world!

Since the beginning of January, I’ve been back in therapy with T weekly. I’m getting married very soon and it didn’t feel okay anymore, considering all the emotional pain being drawn up from the depths by the different aspects of the wedding, to be without her. The mummy issues have been unbearable and for a while it felt like an impossible choice – stay with her but feel the loss by the constant comparison with mum, and the boundaries and the not coming to my wedding and the reminders everywhere that I’m not really hers…or leave but feel the loss of the alone-ness I have when she’s not close by? When discussed with T, she asked why, when I am already suffering, would I cause myself pain by removing myself from a place and person of safety and love and warmth? She was right, of course. So, back to weekly therapy.

Everything feels very raw. I am not stressed about the wedding itself – I’m marrying the most incredible person and we’ve planned a beautiful day – but the attachment/abandonment stuff is eating me alive. I’m sad, jealous, angry, frustrated… inside me is always a big, knotted ball of unpleasant emotions.

T is being wonderful. She’s listened for hours on end, mostly about the same core emotions. She wrote in an email the other day, I hear the pain and the sadness and the loss and I am here”… and she is. And she’s wonderful. But those people reading who have their own experiences of parental neglect, loss, lack of attachment will understand that it isn’t enough to fully soothe the primal wound. Those people who haven’t, well, I’m not sure you could ever fully understand.

I’m desperate for T (someone, anyone) to say that it’s okay, she knows mum has never been the mother any child deserves, she knows I missed out on so much love. I want her to say that it’s not my fault and I’m worth enough and she loves me enough to fly in and wipe tears, brush back hair, rub shoulders, fix the broken and make it be okay. I want her to say that, even though on my wedding day I know my mum will be in full blown boast mode, she will be in her element despite having NO RIGHT to lay claim in any way to a mother-daughter relationship, SHE will be there. She will be there to love me and be proud of me and to celebrate with me with the warmth and love she is capable of. I know it’s not possible but it’s just the ultimate dream. Someone who will love me enough to stop this hurt. I’m struggling to accept that this attachment pain is always going to be a part of my life. I don’t WANT to accept that maternal love is not something I will ever experience fully. T wrote, “people love you enough to want to stop the hurt and they love you enough to support you in stopping this hurt. And it is your wise adult part alongside your child who needs to grieve and feel all the feelings that they weren’t allowed to feel as a child and in time that will stop it hurting as it does now. It won’t erase the past as I suspect you want to happen. But it will find a way through. And then you will see all the loving faces who want to help you but can’t take it away and make it not have happened, however much they might want to.” The problem is I don’t want to. I want her to love me enough. I don’t want to do it myself. It makes me feel disgusting and broken and wrong, that nobody will love me enough.

I know it is not really about being ‘enough’. It’s just a hideous hangover from the lack of love at the right developmental age. It is proving almost impossible to hold on to T’s words, though – “it isn’t your fault. It definitely isn’t your fault. And you are worth enough for everything” – when there is a voice inside saying, if you loved me enough you’d just come to my wedding. You’d adopt me. You’d hold me. You’d never let me go.

Today in session I managed to tell T I felt angry that she isn’t coming. T said it sounded more sad than angry. I said it felt more like a frustrated tantrum. She encouraged me to let it out with her but I couldn’t. I pulled over on the motorway on the motorway to scream and pound the dashboard repeatedly instead. A slightly more adult version of a foot stomping tantrum.

T is offering so much of herself for my wedding. She will be accessible by phone, all day, if I need her. We will Skype in the morning, definitely. She is going to lend me a bracelet, beads in colours that remind me of her – I am going to have them tied into my bouquet. I am working hard, too – trying to put strategies in place to make this everlasting loss feel more okay. This mostly involves weaving T throughout the wedding in as many ways as possible and also honouring her – I need to feel like, as the true ‘mother’ of my emotions, my wellbeing and my happiness, she has her place, too. Even if it’s not a physical place on the day.

T described this the other day as a journey – “so this is a journey, a journey of love that is growing and learning how to love”. Bloody painful journey. Unbelievably bloody painful. We are holding on, though.

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat the last few weeks:


The lyrics are very apt. They remind me of the important thing – “all that I know is I’m breathing now”. 

The storm is coming but I don’t mind
People are dying, I close my blinds

All that I know is I’m breathing now

I want to change the world
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing 

All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

All I can do is keep breathing. T is breathing along with me. All we can do is keep breathing now. X

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10 responses »

  1. These primal attachment wounds are so &$@)& hard to heal at all. I understand how it feels like violently and painfully running into a wall over and over while trying to grow past those stuck places/ parts that feel like they will always howl in loss and bewildering aloneness.

    This past session with my t was largely about this. Again. I spent much of the session in my adult, because it was the only way that I could talk about it. But at one point a child broke through and whispered at her, “You won’t throw me away?” It was sobering to me to realize that that is the belief that I have at my core- the people I love will throw me away.

    We talked about how I may never be able to fully heal that wound and may always have that vulnerability. All I can do is balance it with an adult that understands that it is safe to love now and the people I choose to rely on now are different from the ones I had to rely on then.

    I am so sorry that there is so much pain around your wedding day. My hope for you is that the joy and love of the day will out weigh the pain.

    • “I understand how it feels like violently and painfully running into a wall over and over while trying to grow past those stuck places/ parts that feel like they will always howl in loss and bewildering aloneness.” You’re part of the tribe, too. I’m sorry you have to be, but it helps to know we are a tribe and I’m not alone.

      Thank you for your words and your hope. I hope that the day will be so joy filled that the weight is lessened, too. X

  2. Perfect song! I’m sorry it all brings up so much pain, even though you and your T are doing an impressive work with it, through it. (sorry I don’t have anything good to say, but i’m reading along)

  3. “I’m struggling to accept that this attachment pain is always going to be a part of my life.” Indeed, but the pain shrinks if you and T treat it properly. It get to the point that it becomes more a remembered thing, not a painful present thing. No short cuts, but you know that. You’ll get there.

    • I’m losing my ability to believe that it is going to shrink. In the nicest way possible (and with total respect to your experience and knowledge), I think that’s something people who haven’t experienced it say. A bit like I could never truly explain the agony of an addiction, or the loss of a child etc etc… Nothing I could say to the mother of a dead child could make the pain smaller. Nothing I can do or anyone else can do changes the unfairness and agony of the abandonment. The haves and the have nots.

      Maybe it’s more about growing around it. It is going to stay the same but I will grow and it will look smaller with comparison. You have experience of people growing, right?

      • I’m glad you raised the issue. Do not assume (I do not mean you, in particular, but anyone) the person who says this has not known something comparable to what you’ve experienced. Not identical, but a significant estrangement from a parent, cruelty by a parent — ongoing cruelty. But, even if the one writing what I wrote had not experienced that, but only had the professional experience of watching others rise from the muck of an awful childhood, that still would be enough to be able to give some encouragement — encouragement, because one had seen others do it. This is not to dismiss the awfulness you suffered and still suffer. I am not trying to admonish you here. Only to say that improvement, significant improvement, is possible. Not everyone achieves it, but you are still at work on the project, so at this distance I wouldn’t yet count you out.

      • My thoughts are similar to your own. That loss and pain will always have the potential to be felt as sharply, but the rest of me is growing so much that I spend less and less time there and there is a greater ability to remain in contact with the fact that that loss isn’t my only reality, even when I am immersed in it.

        But it’s a process that will probably be ongoing for the rest of my life.

  4. Keep breathing, honey. You are worth everything. I know it’s scary to think about but you are growing your family and therefore the love in your life. I don’t honestly think I’ll ever be able to fully understand how hard these attachment issues are. Your blog gives me insight to be a better mom. You can do this. You are worth this. You are priceless. You deserve unconditional love. You always did.

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