Thursday, June 14, 2012

Music and Safety

Music is important to me. I've never learned how to play an instrument and I'm not a great singer, although that doesn't stop me from singing to myself and going out to karaoke with my friends. Often when I was growing up, whether I was cleaning or crying in my room, I would be listening to music and singing along.

Music was safe. NM didn't care what songs I liked or didn't, and I never played it loudly or sang loudly if she was home so that was never a problem. Through music and song I could at least partially experience the emotions I had to repress. For example, being sad was not acceptable-- liking, listening to, and singing with a sad song was acceptable. It's no wonder many of the songs I liked growing up were sad, angry, or about longing for something more/better. Anyway, it's hard to describe. It's almost  like I would vicariously experience the emotions of the music in place of my own or maybe it was simply one of the only outlets I had for my emotions. Maybe I displaced my emotions onto the song, so I wouldn't experience the discomfort of having the feelings I was taught were wrong. Maybe it was all of that.

Today, I still look for music that reflects those emotions when I am feeling them, but I am at least able to feel my own emotions, too, now. Music moves me, it helps me fully explore those emotions, relating my emotions and the song. Music is part of the story of my life and music goes with me on The Journey. So off and on I'll be posting some of the songs that I associate with myself, my NM, and my journey.

To start us off, "Between a Mother and a Child" by Chely Wright. I'm bolding parts of the lyrics that really resonate or fit with me and my situation. Also, I'll be out of town soon so I may be delayed it posting or responding to comments.

I know you don't like me
Don't like the things I do
The saddest part just might be
That I don't like you too

You think you know my story
Well maybe you did for a little while

I guess that's the way it sometimes goes
Between a mother and a child
Oh a mother and a child

All my life you've reminded me
How you struggled nine long months
Your achin' back and your swollen feet
How you almost lost me once
You say you gave up everything
All the dreams you had

Told us kids we're the only reason
You stayed there with our dad

And you want me to cry for you
And you want me to feel the way you do
I'm sorry your life let you down
But the fault it is not mine

It's not supposed to be like this
Between a mother and a child

You want me to just agree
With everything you say
Call my dad the bad guy
Make him pay and pay and pay

It's really not my business
It never was or will ever be

But I know nobody's perfect
And that's counting you and me
Yeah that's counting you and me

I don't remember all that happened
Mama I was just a kid
But if it really was all that bad
Why do you wish I did?

You want me to cry for you
I'll never feel the way you do
I'm sorry your life let you down
But the fault it is not mine

It's not supposed to be this way
Between a mother and a child
Oh a mother and a child
You're my mother and I'm your child

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Good Cry

I've read a few books on the subject of horrible parenting. The well know Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller, Toxic Parents by Susan Forward, and The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment by the Pressmans, which I highly recommend and you can read a review of here. Although written with therapists in mind, it's very informative and validating. In fact, it's the very kind of book I was thinking of writing until I discovered such a book was already written!

I mention this simply to illustrate my familiarity with the subject, beyond my personal experiences with my own NM and what was I was required to learn and study for my higher education. More importantly though, I bring this all up because one of the friends I mentioned in the post, A Validating Experience, who is also in the field of psychology, felt compelled to print and give me a copy of an article from the Wall Street Journal, entitled "Calling a Truce in Mother-Daughter Conflict" at an event where my E-sis was present despite knowing my preference for not discussing the matter at all in front of E-sis.

Fortunately my E-sis didn't see what was on the paper, so for all she knows it could have been recipe for the delicious dinner we had. Anyway, I am certain my friend meant well, but I was very uncomfortable receiving it and actually not interested in reading it because from the title alone gave me a bad feeling. You see, my NM and I have a kind of truce already; I have distanced myself from her and don't discuss sensitive personal things with her. We are capable of being quite civil and pleasant in each others' company.. What we are not capable of is having a close, intimate relationship because she cannot even begin to accept that my experiences and feelings are valid even if she doesn't like or agree with them. But the other night, after finally catching up on the blogs I read, I decided that since I was on the topic of NMs already to read the article before going to sleep.

Just to emphasize, this was a four page article from the Wall Street Journal of all places, written by a journalist who is in no way a member of any so called "helping professions" like therapists or psychologists, and who quotes only one or two people who are. Considering my friend's own higher education in the field of psychology and her knowledge of my personal and education background, and about the fact I have C-PTSD, I'm very surprised she thought this article would be useful or relevant in any way for me. I found it actually very invalidating of my experience, especially in light of the fact I had recently told my friend the entire story regarding my mother and me.

It was the end of the article that really did it for me, though. Where it lists "...ideas for how mothers and daughters can improve their relationship." - as if it were as simple as that little list makes it out to be! As if I hadn't already tried to "speak as an adult" to NM! Maybe for relationships where the mother is just irritating but genuinely cares for and loves her daughter, but definitely not for those where the mother was an abusive narcissist! I could rant on, but I would be neglecting the most important part, the true point, of this entry.

Right there in bed, with my DH next to me reading a book, I started tearing the article into pieces and bawling. Without a word he took me in his arms, and I did not refuse his comfort like I am prone to doing. Having been raised in an environment where I was taught I was not worthy of comfort and that it was wrong to feel anger, sorrow, or pain, I almost always push him away physically or emotionally when he first tries to reach out to me when I'm upset. Not only that, but crying often makes me feel more miserable than I already am, because I feel bad for crying, for troubling him with my tears, even though I know he is not like my mother. In fact, it's fairly recent development that I refrain from apologizing when I cry now.

But for the first time I can recall, perhaps for the first time in my entire life even, I didn't feel bad about crying and sobbing out my pain. Instead of making me feel worse, it actually felt good to be sobbing without any shame in front of another human being. I didn't even feel and have to suppress the usual urge to apologize for my sudden outburst. I didn't try to hide my face. And best of all, DH didn't ask me to explain what was wrong before offering me comfort, and I didn't feel like I had to explain immediately, either. I didn't feel like I had to try and justify my tears to anyone, even myself. Of course after I explained what set me off and he had already figured it had something to do with the article and my NM.

Unfortunately now I am left wondering how to politely ask my friend to refrain from giving me any more articles on my the subject.