Yesterday I hit the stores, as I still desperately need pants for work, having lost weight. I ended up buying pants two sizes smaller than my previous. No wonder the old ones were baggy. Two t-shirt type tops. Then also a pair of shoes. The shoes were very expensive, but on sale, so now they were actually the price of a regular pair I might buy. In all, quite a few hundred were spent. OK, three.

I spent all the money in my chequing account last month, without being quite sure how it happened. I can buy a few clothes every month, but not a whole lot, without dipping into savings. I’m making a reasonable income, so I was not sure what the problem was. I don’t go out a lot, I never buy things for the house, my grocery bills are very small. Then I realized – oh yeah, I pay for therapy. That takes a big chunk of change from my account right there. Forgot about that.

In the evening I went out to dinner with my SA group spin-off social group. Four of us eating Thai food. Not bad. Last time I went out with this group, I started to feel this intense loneliness towards the end of the meal. But I liked the people I was having dinner with, this time especially. I think the loneliness may have been the kid’s feeling, who is securely locked down at grown up affairs. This time I tried to let the kid out a bit. For instance, she got to stack the coffee creamers into nice towers and knock them down. And I think she added a comment or two into the mix. So in the end, I didn’t end up with that huge lonely feeling.

Today was completely spring like and beautiful. I’d promised my mother I’d drop by, so in the afternoon, I drove up to my parents’ place. None of my siblings was around, which made for  a calmer time. First we had tea. I asked about the recent funeral of my aunt in Germany, so they filled me in. My father brought out some old photographs of his mother, and of his siblings as kids, which he’d brought back from Germany.

Then my mother and I went for a walk. They live beside a historical graveyard which is very large, so we walked there. My mother has a health worry, so she talked a bit about that. Then she wanted to talk about a philosophical book she was reading, about a Canadian musician. Then we talked about politics.

I’m trying not to be fake with my parents. I find I get confused. How could the things I remember really have happened? How could I have emerged from my family in parts? It starts to seem very unreal.

I am ready to be angry, if I need to be. But I don’t find anything to grasp onto. My parents are happy to see me. They talk cheerfully. Yes, they consider my job very low class, but they don’t come anywhere near saying that.

It is kind of as if everyone is constantly putting on a show, is how I can best describe it. This is what a classy, academic family is like. Always cheerful, never catty, never complaining. Always reading great books or working industriously in the garden. Composting everything. Recycling.

My mother and I walked for about an hour. For the first half hour, I was really anxious, though about what I couldn’t tell you. Then the anxiety faded, and we settled into chatting about politics. We have roughly the same opinions actually, so it was quite peaceful.

My mother has never wished to discuss ordinary things, like clothes, or things breaking, or people. It made life quite difficult, because nothing that a child or teenager has to deal with was ever discussed. I didn’t know things could be discussed, that this is a way humans have of making life possible, or at least easier. That if you have trouble with someone at school, you could talk about it. If you have bad skin, you could try drugstore stuff to help. Or doctors. If your feet hurt, you can try to figure out why, and do something.

It’s as if my mother thought we could take care of all these mundane issues entirely alone, while she read great literature and was lost in a separate world. That doesn’t work so well for children.

It never would have occurred to me to tell my mother a problem actually. I was trained from an early age to keep my problems to myself, since they were all my fault anyway.

Now when we try and talk, there is an air of unreality about the conversation. I still have no interest in telling her of any problems I have. So we chat about world issues.

Anyway, I saw them, so I don’t have to feel guilty about them for a while now.

  1. Thank you Ellen for sharing. I do not share my problems with my mum. For one thing she "reacts" almost always out of fear. And I am beyond that, and do not want to be subject to it. Blessings to you dear one.

  2. gniz said:

    Ellen, Very interesting points about how "academic" families behave. Although my family isn't quite as intellectual and academic as yours, their seems to be some parallels there and I can relate.Especially nowadays where there is so much off the table due to my disagreements with family members over my brother's situation–I find that we cannot talk about anything but pretty much surface type stuff.But that was always preferred by my family anyhow. For me it's always been a want and a need to connect on a deeper level, to be understood and to understand my relatives. Recently my wife's sister was spending the night and the two of them were lying in bed together chatting away like two little kids. Just talking and giggling. It was sweet.I realized that I have absolutely NO memories of ever just sitting in my sister or brother's room like that, being close and talking and giggling. Feeling really comfortable with each other.It's a really sad thing because I know now as an adult that children will naturally behave in a fun and close way with one another if allowed to do so and encouraged. But in my family it was all intellect and competition and anger and even physical violence.No wonder I was fucking miserable.Sad, isn't it?

  3. Laura said:

    I thought that was brilliant, letting your kid come with you to the dinner. I came to therapy in part because I was ashamed of my angry outbursts in public, and Howard worked to make me less ashamed – can't grow when you're trying to hide bits, if which you're ashamed.Somehow, somewhere you learned to take care of your kid parts.I have the same lack of experience with personal conversation. Your mom sounds a bit like my mother's mom. She was an intellectual woman with many interests. Not emotionally available. Actually, she sounds like that generation, Victorians. It's no wonder my mom had no clue when it came to raising children.

  4. Laura said:

    also, it seems a bit unusual (according to the picture you paint) for your mom to share a health worry with you? or does she share her problems with you, but not the other way around?

  5. Ellen said:

    @ JBR – My mother also would over-react in an icky kind of a way I think. Or deny. Interesting we have similar issues. thanks JBR.@ gniz – Interesting how your family is similar Aaron. Sad interesting. Sometimes I think also that the saddest part is not being able to have much of a relationship with my sibs. We grew up with competition and anger also, and that doesn't lead to friendly feelings. I am also an 'outsider' to my bother and sister, who stick together more. I was a bit of a scapegoat in the family. I'd never thought that children will be close to each other if allowed – that is actually a hopeful thought for others anyway. Very nice scene with your wife and her sister – though I can see it would be bitter sweet for you. Sometimes I long for someone who has known me all my life and whom I could take for granted and talk to. Yep, it's sad.Thanks for sharing your story, I feel less alone.@ Laura – Interesting that's why you went to therapy. I also have angry outbursts, say at work, of which I am ashamed. It could be a result of not taking care of a part of me….The kid thing is new. It never occurred to me that could be the problem, why I felt so lonely in groups sometimes, but something Ron said one time made me think of it. If I can let the kid do something or say something, I immediately feel better! A very excellent discovery.Not emotionally available describes my mother too, and I'm sorry yours is that way. As kids, we don't know what's wrong either, and blame ourselves. I asked my mother a direct question about her health, because I overheard her say she was going to the doctor. Otherwise, you're right, she probably wouldn't have mentioned it. She's worried about cancer, so it's a really big concern for her.

  6. Ellen,I can relate to the feeling confused with your mother. I think that however your mother trained you to not share your problems is the root cause of that confusion because in a way you are acting, acting like you have no problems. If you are like me it is frustrating to feel guilty if you don't visit and confused when you do. In my family no one is ever supposed to be unhappy, angry, sad, etc and if you are then you are blamed, punished, ignored. I'm glad you had a good time at your dinner and found a way to let your kid come out and participate. That sounds like an important connection that you made between feeling alone and not letting your kid out.enjoy the new clothes,

  7. Ellen said:

    @ attached – Maybe that's a pattern for dysfunctional families – pretending all the time. No one is allowed to be sad, mad or whatever without being looked down on for it. I'm sorry you can relate di. I think you actually make more efforts to talk honestly with your family than I do to mine. I'll have to test the 'social kid' theory out some more to see if it works. thanks!

  8. Sounds like you coped quite well with the visit. I hope you felt OK afterwards too. I know what you mean about when you're with family and you start to wonder how you could have ended up in parts. I get the same thing. I guess that's part of why the parts happen, because the bad things can be so separate from the family's front that parts are needed in order to cope with the two sides of the family structure. I don't know if that makes any sense or if you feel it applies to you but that's how I think sometimes about it. I never doubt DID more than when I'm spending time with family and we're getting along ok.

  9. Ellen said:

    HI Candy – The visit was not bad as these go. I think not having sibs there helped, as the whole family mechanism doesn't go into action to the same extent for just me. That's a really interesting explanation of how parts happen, thank you! It makes perfect sense. There are the two sides – the acknowledged 'light' and the hidden 'darkness'. It's reassuring (for my sanity anyway) that you have similar experiences with your family. take care

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