Augmented Reality.

Standard

I went on a training day this week about new technology. One of the areas we covered was ‘augmented reality’. I’m not an expert but this to me means looking through a screen  (like a phone or a tablet) and seeing something different to what is actually there. Space shuttles, mountain ranges, skeletons… with a few clicks of a button, these appear on the table before you as if they are totally real.

When I was driving home I thought that this is pretty much what is upsetting me about therapy at the moment. Seeing and feeling things that aren’t really there. That can’t really be there. 

T was okay on Thursday. I remember very little about the session. I know I panicked when I had to leave and T asked to hold my hand for a bit before I had to go. We talked a bit about my desire to have a baby soonish and how thinking about that has brought up worries about how I will cope with medical interventions etc, and also a lot of grief that she won’t be involved in my children’s lives. 

Then I met with GP and we also had a (more detailed) conversation around the practicalities of support I am likely to need. The first step for me with this is to register with a GP near my home.

For over a year I haven’t lived in the surgery catchment area. I’ve been willing to travel and it hasn’t been a problem so far (although I have felt a little bit naughty when lying about my address for appointments)… but if I want to have a baby, I will need a GP near to me. 

GP was gorgeous about this. He promised me (and I believe him) that he will always make time for me, that me moving wouldn’t stop any contact but that I would have to be a private client and he would need to inform my new gp of any really important things. That doesn’t matter to me – I rarely see GP for genuine medical things now, mostly I see him because he strengthens my soul. So… We agreed that we would both have a look and see which GP might be a good one for me to move to. He said he would ring or email them before I saw them to explain my background. That felt supportive. I feel like now things are mostly okay it might be easy for someone to not believe me…but I need to be believed, always, because there are so many inevitable triggers in a medical setting and I can fly from calm to hysterical if triggered. Especially by a stranger. 

GP genuinely was really gorgeous about it but I could still feel myself going floaty and dissociative. I think I said I didn’t feel like I was there anymore and he offered to talk about something else but I didn’t want to because how am I ever going to have a child if I can’t even cope with someone NOT leaving me? I should have felt the boundary and stopped… I felt horribly lost and panicked and dissociative all weekend and poor GP had many texts from me begging him to stay, to still love me and not to leave me. T had the same. Oops 😦

It’s hard to separate out what this panic actually is. It feels like a terrifying fear that they will leave me… but i know they won’t. I trust them both. It’s more to do with my own children. 

It’s no secret that I am desperate for a baby. I’m also totally terrified that I will damage my children as much as I was damaged. I’m terrified I will cause their broken attachments…. that they will end up in therapy for years like me because I didn’t manage to keep them safe. I want to be a mum so badly but I am horribly worried about the damage I might cause. Anyone who’s been abused hears the awful ‘facts’ said about abused children…. how they become abusive adults, how there is a cycle of abuse etc etc. I cannot be that mother. I cannot damage my children.

So much of what we do is based on the modelling we received as infants. The model of parenting I have shown as a child was horrendous. But then… enter T and GP. They have both separately (and partially together, despite having never met each other!) modelled excellent ‘parenting’ with me. All those things I was desperate for as a child (safe boundaries, predictable outcomes, someone to cuddle me, someone to be proud of me, someone to guide me…), they do all that in spades. Working with them has made me a more securely attached person. They’ve made me more stable, more secure, less anxious, less impulsive, more considerate and generally just righted a lot of the wrongs. Not all. Never all. But a lot.

This is my augmented reality now. I am so incredibly blessed to have met two people who give so much of themselves to help ‘parent’ me. Most of the time, I live in my augmented reality world where they love me and care about me and I’m a priority for them and when things are good I run to tell them and when things are bad I run to be comforted by them and generally I am secure. I have this (albeit slightly bizarre) patchwork family that I hold onto and it works. 

It’s not real though. They’re not real, not in the way I allow myself to believe. My wedding was a painful reminder of that. I got married and neither of them were there. They were both so lovely and T especially did all she could to be a part of my day… but they weren’t there. And when I have children, they won’t be part of their lives either. Of course they won’t. They’re not ‘real’. 

I trust them both. I know that I will hopefully have my baby and I trust that they will both be genuinely pleased for me. I know that when that baby is tiny they would both let me bring her to a session. I know they will both love to meet her. But that’s not what augmented reality me wants. AR me wants them to know my children as they grow. AR me wants them to read my kids stories and take them to the park and tell them off when they’re naughty. AR me wants T to talk to my children about their emotions and how it’s okay to be themselves… AR me wants GP to teach my children the importance of kindness and being respectful. AR me wants them to be an integral part of my kids lives and they won’t. Of course they won’t. I know that. AR me doesn’t, though. 

They’ve raised me (they’re still raising me. They probably always will be). But because they’re not REAL, because they’re separated from me by a professional boundary I won’t ever be able to break down… They won’t help raise my children. 

My children will have my real parents as their grandparents. I feel sure that they will be good grandparents but they also got things wrong with me that they will never be allowed to get wrong with my kids. There are beliefs that I don’t agree with. They have ways that I won’t follow. But because they added egg and sperm together to make me, they get grandparent rights. The two people who actually raised me from broken, damaged little girl to half-successful adult, wife and hopefully soon mother… They don’t count. They only exist in my augmented reality. 

I know that the answer to this is to just be so grateful for person they’ve made me into… And know that they WILL influence my children, through me. Every time I choose to do something my way rather than the way I was shown as a child, they will have had a part in that. And that’s beautiful and not to be underestimated… But it doesn’t make the grief feel any better, and I just don’t really want to hear it. It is similar to telling me I will eventually learn to soothe myself without them. That’s probably true but that’s not what I want… I want them to always love me and soothe me, and I want them to be tangible, real people for my children – so my children are protected from the world so much better than I was. 

I feel really shitty because how selfish is that? They’re incredible people who give me so much yet I’m sulking because they won’t adopt me and let me pretend forever? It makes me despise their own REAL children who will get what I want without probably even ever being aware of how lucky they are. It makes me into this hideous, jealous, evil person who I hate. 

It makes me angry that nobody saved me when I was young enough to legitimately find a family like my augmented reality one. I know the realistic prospects for children taken into care…. but that knowledge doesn’t help my jealousy for T’s child (T is not birth mum) who’s own children get T as their grandmother. Nobody saved me and that forced me into an adult world where I don’t get to be saved. It forced the family I so desperately want into augmented reality. 

T made me absolutely howl down the phone at her this week by telling me she wouldn’t know my children but she would always be by my side. It stung like hell to hear it said so clearly. I should have heard the positive but I didn’t, I just heard the ruined fantasy. I’ve always known it’s not REAL but it hurt all the same. 

The rest of the week has passed with many tears and split skin where blades are helping me make sense of emotions too big for me to truly understand. I’ve still got a few days until I see T and it feels unbearable. 

I don’t know how to make this feel okay. It feels like an illusion has been shattered… even though I’ve always known deep down. It feels like being left, being abandoned with every heartbeat and I’m totally miserable with it. I don’t know how to explain it to anyone in real life because to them, T and GP aren’t real. They’re faceless professionals. I don’t know how to explain it to anyone who doesn’t have insecure attachments because it cannot make sense to securely attached people. I don’t know what to do. 

I’m sorry for being so selfish. This drawing reminded me of me. A little girl wanting the moon. X

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8 responses »

  1. That fear of passing on my own damage in the way I parent is something I’ve struggled with as well. I talked about it a bit in one of my recent posts about Mothers Day. I think that the single most important thing is not trying to bear the full burden alone. There are many many ways in which other people can help provide emotional and practical support for you, and love and nurturing and good role models for any children you might have, if you are open to their help – starting with the love and help and support of your husband. That does not mean letting other people take over or having your own parenting style pushed aside. Truly helpful people will respect your choices and work with you. They don’t have to know much at all about *why* you struggle in order to help. I didn’t have much in the way of my own family to call on or many close friends, but good quality child care, supportive and caring schools and sporting and community groups (my daughter was in Sea Scouts and did karate) provided so much for her that I could not. They were my extended family in a lot of ways. You have the big advantage of recognising ahead of time that you may struggle and need extra help, so you can prepare a bit more. But with the right support, I’m sure you can do it.

    Now, this suggestion may sound a bit pathetic compared with what you really wish for in terms of T and GP being part of raising your children, but maybe a tiny gesture towards that would be for you and T to make an audio or video recording of reading your favourite children’s book to your yet unborn child, that you can share with them when they are old enough to watch and listen.

    • I had read your recent post and agreed with the feelings in it. You’re right about the extended family and the other people I will find for my children. I will do. It just feels shitty that I can’t choose them.

      I would love to have T recorded! But she’s never offered and I’ve never asked. And how am I going to explain who she is to my kids? Feels impossible.

      • Would it be enough to say that she is a special person in your life who has helped you a lot? Some kids might not even be curious, but with an older child who is genuinely interested in who this person is, it could be the perfect opening to talk a little bit about why you needed help and the sort of help you received. I have been quite open with my daughter about seeing a therapist, and as she got into adulthood I shared a bit about why. I think that as long as it doesn’t place any emotional burden on them, kids actually prefer to know a little. It helps immensely in them believing things are not their fault.

  2. I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time with the realities and boundaries of the special relationships you have. I completely empathise with you. The pain of that loss or of that boundary is just overwhelming. I hope you find peace soon.

  3. I Am a silent reader of your blog and I just had to comment this time.
    First, I understand those feelings of insecure attachment and this yearning empty hole inside and sometimes that pain can be excruciating and can feel as if it will never heal. I don’t know if it will or if this is just the way it is but one can hope. I’m sorry you feel this way, to.
    Second, I’ve had the same worries about becoming a mom. Because of all the negative things out there about abusive parents becoming abusive etc etc etc.
    now, I am a mom, of three! Although I’m not perfect (nor do I strive to be) I’m a good enough mom. My kids are happy and safe and for now, I can feel they are safely and securely attached.
    For me, unexpectedly, a lot of healing comes from raising my kids. I never resent them for getting the safe home that I’ve missed, I just try to raise them better then I was raised. Do better. Because I know how broken you end up if home wasn’t safe place.
    From your writing I can feel the worry but that alone makes you a good mom. You are aware of your own hurt, you are thinking about ways to prevent this from influencing your future kids and Im sure that when you make mistakes you will take the blame and apologize. I think you will be a great mom.
    With all your struggles and hurt, you can still be a great mom.

    • Thank you so much for your reassuring comment. Mum of three, wow. Well done you. As you say, I will just work to raise them better. Thank you for the reassurance x

  4. This might not be easy to read, so you may wish to stop now. Feel free not to post it, as well. There is considerable literature about the stress of having a child, both physically and emotionally. Child rearing is impossible to fully imagine as an abstraction, but the data from those who are in the midst of it are pretty clear about its effect on the parents. You’ve also written about your dissociative tendencies. Much anecdotal talk and writing can be found on “being there” for kids, but dissociation adds another level to the discussion by raising issues such as the capacity to be aware of what a little one is doing, what he is touching, where he is crawling, etc. The focus required to be mindful of a child usually assumes the parent is not suffering from significant dissociative symptoms. Then there is the stress on a new marriage when the child turns up before the marriage has found its footing. None of this is to state whether you should or shouldn’t have children now or in the future, but just to offer a few considerations not included prominently among the questions you’ve raised.

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