Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mum & Me and defining healing

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Loss of Routine, in which I mentioned my relationship with my mother. At the time I had a comment asking if we were able to talk openly about things and since then I have been meaning to write a post about my relationship with my parents.

My mum and I have an interesting and complex relationship, in many ways we are very close, particularly since we spent so many years just the two of us (see here).  However we have made very different lifestyle choices and my Mum doesnt always understand my choices. This causes alot of fights and tension between us, particularly when I have spent any great deal of time at home. I think we are also amazingly similar in our personalities despite the different lifestyles, we are both extremely stubborn people who need to feel in control of our own lives which causes its own clashes.

I  have also always felt that I need to look after Mum as much as she looks after me. Mum has always provided for me and always been there in her own way. However she doesnt cope with things very well and I have always felt I need to be strong for her. In this aspect I have often felt like the mother in our relationship. My mum is not really aware of me looking after her and I prefer it that way. My mum is very particular about each person playing their "roles" in life and its her role to mother me not the other way around. However I am the only person she lets close enough to help her.

To answer Paul's question (can we talk openly about things?) the answer is yes and no. I talk to my mum about most things in my life and Mum has always shared with me more about her own struggles than most parents do with their children. But there are a few things that we dont really talk about too much.

My Mum is a very opinionated and strong willed person and she struggles to accept things that she doesnt understand. This is particularly so when it comes to things she doesnt understand in my life, and I think this is because of her love for me. However it makes any things in my life she doesnt understand to be difficult topics to discuss. The two things that this really limits our conversations on is my beliefs and DID.

Yesterday, Mum & I drove with Charlie & Rascal back from the beach house to my parents home. Andrew drove back in his car with Satan & Oscar (my parents dogs) which allowed Mum and I to have some really good talks, just the two of us.

One of the things we talked about was that Mum does understand DID or Chronic Fatigue and doubts she ever will however she realises that ignoring it or puting it down will not help me heal and she does realise I have been hurt & sick and need to heal. This was hard to hear but comforting at the same time - that my mum doesnt understand and struggles to accept my diagnoses hurt, I have always felt my mother and I are closer than most mother/daughter relationships and to know that she doesnt completely believe it all makes it so much harder to trust other people to be understanding. However knowing that even though she is struggling she wants me to heal and she wants to be supportive was encouraging. Mostly I knew these things about Mums thoughts on DID already, but to talk to her and hear it from her say it was good.

Another thing we talk about was uni, we discussed why I have chosen to stick with a psychology degree and why, something my Mum never particularly understood. She listened as I told her how I am struggling with comparing myself to others, that I feel in all aspects of my life I feel I am falling behind my peers and my life at uni is a huge example of this that slaps me in my face whenever anyone asks "hows uni going?".

I talked about Chronic Fatigue and how I was anxious about going back this semester and the fear that the stress of uni would set me back with the Chronic Fatigue and I would have to start healing all over again. Mum wanted to know why I was going back then and I was able to tell her about how I felt that I was disappointing her with how much I am struggling with uni, that I am so far from being completed. That the reason I was going back was because I didnt want her to feel disappointed in me further, that I am so consious of how long it is going to take me to complete my degree part time and I felt bad putting working on it off even longer.

Mum and I talked about me having come so far and that I should let myself have all the time I need rather than pushing myself too much before I am ready. She has encouraged me to withdraw from this semester (which hasnt started yet - starts in March) and spend some time doing a little volenteer work so that I am doing something and pushing myself a little while not having the pressure and stress. I think prehaps she is right, and knowing I have her support in this makes me feel it is okay to do. I am going to talk to Margaret (my psychologist) about it before I definitely do anything because I find talking things over with her help me to look at it in a different way and more confident in my decisions.

We also talked about how much she is struggling with Ann's death, we talked about her being depressed but she is not ready to achknowledge that she needs to allow herself to heal - she sees too many obstcales and wants to just put on her mask and keep going - because to her its the only option. I try to encourage her otherwise but she needs to see it herself before she will do anything. Its hard to see her in so much pain and not be able to help more. I listen, and I provide comfort, sometimes I encourage her to do little exercises I have tried or heard about, I tell her about options of help that are available but until she is ready to start healing and seek help there isnt much I can do.

I deal with her pain better than I used to, I recognise that I am doing all I can and that I cannot carry her burdens. I have learnt to listen and be supportive without adding her issues to my own. I have learnt to also take time for myself to process and let go after I have spent time listening to my Mum. Listening to her stregthens my own resolves in healing, I recognise that putting up a mask and "getting over it" only causes more pain and negativity in life. I want more; I dont want to just appear to be happy - I want to be happy.

Paul from Mind Parts said something in his post, Reflections on 2010, that struck a chord with many of his readers, myself included:
“I also have an appreciation for the fact that healing is really about living. It is not all about therapy. The work we have done has helped me live more of the life I want to live.”
I think this so well worded, it defines what healing is to me. I want to live life to the full, I want to be happy and content and I want to have the tools to deal with hard times so that my outlook on life will no longer be defined by them. I want to learn to look forward in to the future and not have that vision obscured by the past. Healing is the means to do this, its the means to allowing myself to live life to the full. Healing is about living.


Paul said...

You are doing so much. The way you are talking to your mother sounds like you are making a real big effort and I am a believer that the effort is 90% of the solution. It's hard for a loved one to really understand DID. I struggle with that with my wife. If it all confuses us so much, it must confuse loved ones. Just remember this, and I think you do: her pain is her own. It's not yours to heal.

MultipleMe said...

Thank you Paul, I do try and remember but it hurts to see her so upset all the time and know she is not making the choice to heal. But it is her choice to make and she needs to make it in her own time else it wont work.

Paul said...

I know it hurts. But you have to give yourself the permission to help yourself first.

castorgirl said...

I identify with a few of the things you talk about here - in particular your mother both appearing strong/stubborn, yet you still needing to protect her. This is the same dynamic I have with my mother.

If your mother wants to put on a brave face regarding Ann's passing, there is not much you can do. Each of us deals with grief differently, and you can't force your mother to seek help. You can say it to her as an option, but that's as far as your responsibility goes. I know that is easier said than done.

I'm glad you're thinking realistically about what you think you can handle in terms of university.

Take care,

MultipleMe said...

Thanks Castorgirl

My Mum has been suffering from depression for a few years now, it is as much to do with that as it is Ann's passing. But you are right, I can only tell her about other options - healing needs to be a personal choice else it wont make a difference. Still it is hard to see her hurting so much.

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