I am up to 5 sessions with my counsellor now (out of the proposed 8 designated by standard NHS procedure) and I can tell he’s not going to drop the mother thing.
I was 13 when mum died and she had been ill for about 4 years. It had a profound impact on me and on my lifestyle and it has shaped my attitudes to certain things including myself.
However, it is no more the root cause of my depression than it is the reason I fancy women – I don’t care how Freudian you want to be, it is not the be all and end all of my existence and my life is not all about her absence.
I know that it is perfectly possible and probably legitimate to read my (ongoing) anger at people’s fixation with my mother and my rejection of sympathy on the topic as symptoms of my inability to grieve or due to a developmental gap caused by the lack of a mother-figure and the requirement to grow up and take resonsibility I didn’t want. I grant you that its probably not entirely a helpful attitude to take but I can’t help it – it pisses me off.
So here are some of my psychological issues that I think are related to my mother dying followed by some I think are not:
- A rather mixed attitude to life and death – I’m hyper-conscious of mortality which sometimes pushes me to take risks in order to make sure I experience life; I am occasionally flippant about my own death and unfazed by putting myself in danger (a habit I am working on breaking for the sake of my partners) & I can seem cold and unfeeling or over-emotional about other people’s illness and death
- A need for control – I had no control over her illness and I hated it since then I have endeavoured to take control of what I can and shut out what I cannot (linked to but not the same as Quitting whilst ahead, see below); Being forced to take on more responsibility caused anger and confrontations but ultimately led to me having to have more self-control – leading to suppressed feelings and
- Self-harm – although I believe that my anger turned inward in order to get things done and my need for control ultimately tipped me over that precipice, I also remember the signs of a desire to punish myself and a lack of ability to express myself before my mother’s illness so this one is a little double-edged.
- Fear of attachment/commitment – pretty self-explanatory really, don’t get too close cos it’ll hurt when its gone
- Sense of not being good enough – try as he might my therapist still hasn’t quite worked out how to link this to my mum’s death, and I think this is because I believed I was inherently flawed before I started school
- Quitting whilst ahead/hating to lose – in this world there are some things I am destined to only be OK at, I have come to accept that, what I can’t accept is being second-best (or worse). I hate knowing I did everything I could and it could never be enough so I try to avoid situations where this might come up. This is not the same as situations where I feel if I work harder, longer or more concentratedly I would and therefore should be better (like say a thesis, housework or relationships)
- The crushing sense of responsibility – in my heart of hearts I know that only I can change me (inevitably leading to the knowledge that my depression and physical issues are my fault) and that it is my responsibility to make everyone’s lives that I touch in any way better by some increment, my duty to always consider the impact of my actions, words and emotions on others and to therefore act, speak or express myself in such a way as to help not hurt them. It is a moral/ethical stance I stand by but it can lead to obssesive behaviour and thoughts and a spiral of guilt.
I can’t help but feel that my sense of self and self-worth had a profound impact on how I reacted to my mother’s death and therefore on the way it affects me now.. but hey ho I’m no professional and I can’t quite get the eagle-eye perspective