I finally saw my therapist after 3 1/2 weeks. I hadn’t seen him since before Christmas. It felt like coming home. In fact, when I saw him I did something uncharacteristic of me: I blurted out, “I MISSED YOU SO FUCKING MUCH!” and ran into his arms like a 6 year old girl runs into her dad’s arms when he returns home from a long day at work. He thought that was funny and laughed. I sat down sheepishly, my face turning red from my outburst. But he just thanked me for being so open.
We discussed the dream I had a couple of nights ago, the one where I was swimming in the ocean with my mother. He agrees with me that my mother in the dream wasn’t actually my mother, but the part of me that internalized her critical and disapproving voice — and a lot of her narcissism.
We talked about my nakedness and the fact I was deep underwater — and feeling happy about it. Nakedness represents my vulnerability, and the ocean is deep emotions. I was feeling happy being vulnerable and exploring the deep ocean of feeling that I avoided for so long, like someone who’s afraid of the water and yet desperately wants to just let go of their fear and jump in the deep end.
Because I was swimming with my mother, and she was as naked as I was in the dream (we were both much younger in the dream but were approximately the same age, yet I knew it was my mother) and because I was feeling completely comfortable in her presence, this means that the self-critical, judgmental, narcissistic part of my personality (which is really my mother’s voice which was internalized) is integrating with the vulnerable child-me. I had already figured most of this out myself, but his agreeing with me validated what I already knew.
Something even stranger happened yesterday, and it’s directly related to the dream. I was browsing through one of the Christmas catalogs I always get, preparing to toss them in the recycling. But one ad caught my eye: an ad for JOY perfume. JOY is very expensive — about $80 for a small bottle. It was always my mother’s favorite fragrance and I remember my dad always bought it for her on her birthday. I suddenly had a strong desire to purchase a bottle for her for her birthday, which isn’t until August.
I thought it was strange that I had such an idea, because I’m No Contact with my mother and intend to remain that way. I have no desire to see her, talk to her, or have any dealings with her at all. For the past few years I haven’t even sent her a gift, just cards on her birthday and Christmas. Why all of a sudden would I want to send her a bottle of her favorite, and very expensive, perfume?
I told my therapist about this and we talked about it. I want nothing from her. Buying her the perfume wouldn’t be to “buy her love,” because I know it would never work, and in fact, I don’t even want to talk to her when she receives it. I just want to mail it to her and leave it at that. I expect nothing in return.
I know my mother will cry. She’s a high spectrum narcissist, but she gets emotional about certain things. When I was a teenager, she cried all the time, but back then she drank heavily and usually cried when drinking — or when sober, to manipulate or get attention. She rarely cried from genuine emotion.
But I doubt anyone has given her a bottle of JOY in many years, and I know in my heart that she will cry because it will touch her. She’s like that. She’s easily moved to tears when people are unexpectedly kind to her. I also know that as hateful as she always acted toward me, there’s a part of her that is desperate for my love. I know she thinks I don’t love her, but that’s not quite true. I just don’t want to deal with her, because I can’t and because it’s very bad for me. I love her; I just don’t like her. I want to do something nice for her.
But I don’t want to see her tears. I told my therapist I know she will cry if I do this, but I wouldn’t be able to handle her emotional reaction. He asked me why and I said I didn’t know. Maybe it’s because her tears are triggering to me because they were so often used in the past to manipulate, or just because I can’t stand to see her out of control. Maybe seeing her like that makes me feel too vulnerable or is just too embarrassing. I have no idea why seeing her shed tears of gratitude would make me want to run, but I know it would. I told him if she called me to thank me, I would avoid the call. All I want to do is give her something that would mean something to her, because she has had such a sad life and will never escape from her prison of oblivious, un-self aware narcissism.
My therapist said what he saw happening to me was that I was turning something negative and dark into its polar opposite. From the crucible of narcissism, real affective (not cognitive) empathy is emerging, and that is why I suddenly want to give my mother something that means so much to her, without expecting anything in return.
He told me something else too, and this bothered me a little. He said when I first started coming to see him over a year ago, I seemed angry and cynical. I was a little taken aback by that, because I had thought I came across as friendly and funny. I didn’t realize back then that this was a mask, and apparently the anger I really felt wasn’t that well hidden. (I’m not a very good narcissist because I’m such a lousy actor, apparently). It bothered me that I could have been so transparent, but of course it’s his job to see through to my real self.
But he followed that up by admitting he hasn’t been seeing as much anger lately. Instead, he’s seeing a loving, gentle person emerge, a person who is capable of empathy and love. I wasn’t even aware this was happening, but he’s seeing it. I just thought it was weird that I wanted to splurge on a bottle of JOY for my mother, but it really means much more than that, so much more than that.
Hey, Mom, I know you lurk on my other blog. I don’t know if you ever found this one. But if you did, and you are reading this, YES, you’re getting a bottle of JOY from me for your birthday. Don’t ask questions; just accept that it’s something I want to do for you. My biggest wish for you is that one day you will become self aware.