I had a very disturbing dream last night. Its a dream that I have had in different forms from time to time, in this dream a man was pushing down on my breast and figuring my nipple in a way which was icky and invasive. I was very distressed as no matter what I did I could not get him to stop, and when I tried to tell other people they ignored me.
When I considered it this morning, I saw that yesterday I had my boundaries invaded. I was in a deal of distress after the events of Thursday and I had been feeling very vulnerable. I opened the door to my Mum which is always precarious. I was also struggling with not feeling up to an appointment which I needed to cancel. In this case I took action to do what was best for me.
Part of the invasion with my Mum yesterday came out of concern for my emotional state. When we had spoken on the phone earlier in the day I had been having a bad anxiety attack, her instant response was to panic and to rush into fix it mode, at least that is how I see it. There is no ability for her to stand a little detached but an immediate rush to want to move in and take the pain away by doing something, or suggesting something, which is really not what is needed. My experience is that at these kind of times someone’s loving unconditional presence can help, the point was yesterday though that I was very, very tired. I asked my Mum not to rush over and when I knew the appointment was cancelled I did a very unusual thing, I got back into bed and rested for two hours.
Often when I do this during the day, my body cannot relax. I end up feeling pushed and pulled in different directions, but yesterday this didn’t happen, I was able to calm down and I actually slept for a time. But after a few hours there was an agitated rapping at the door and my Mum’s voice calling out anxiously to me. It had been pouring with rain and she stood at the door with her umbrella.
We sat then and I had the sense of us both in boat on very stormy seas. There has been so much going on for me this week inwardly that is hard to articulate. Of course I had the breast cancer scare and then I had the purchase of a new car that my Mother ended up talking me into over several years, which I woke up to see in the garage with a kind of start, feeling as though I had awakened from a dream. Then yesterday there was the tangled kind of communication in which she tried to make sense of me, and gave me yet more advice about where she thinks it would be better for me to live.
The truth is I am living in a house which she egged me into buying at auction a few years ago, pushing me well above what I really wanted to spend (from money she gave to me as a gift, an early inheritance). As you can imagine this has not sat very well with me. Although it is a beautiful soulful house at times I struggle with guilt and with the strange feeling of living in something that I did not entirely choose.
I shared a little about this in a blog yesterday, about how I don’t really feel I have full ownership over my own life, and awareness of how open I am still to the influence of my mother over my thoughts and desires. I actually cried about it this morning. I thought of the times I stood on the brink trying to choose for me and was met with misunderstanding. I think of my sister in law telling me all of those years ago that I needed to get as far away from my mother as I could. I think of how my own boundaries are not secure and how open I can be to psychological invasion.
Yesterday as my mother was sitting next to me telling me things I have heard many times a voice inside my head was screaming. “I wish you would leave, I wish you would get the fuck away from me”, while we were sitting I became conscious of the dust on the floor, under the television and of the things laying casually around as they never do in my mother’s home. I felt an impulse to clean which I clocked with interest, would I have been seeing all these things if my Mum wasn’t with me. I ended up doing a lot of housework after she left.
It wasn’t an entirely difficult visit though, at times I just sobbed my heart out. I had so much inside me I could not articulate in words. And when I felt my Mum hug me a had a powerful vision of all my maternal ancestors in their struggles with life and love. Considering the visit later it helped me to make sense of the push pull struggle I go through so often with intimacy in my own life.
Today I feel quite a deal of shame when I see that at the age of 53 I have still not separated psychologically from my mother. I know I have made steps. I know my father’s death complicated our relationship for all those years ago when I tried to make the permanent move overseas, my mother fell and my love and concern for her brought me back, since on his death bed, Dad asked me to take care of her. When I tried to leave a year later I had a dream in which she was crying and holding onto me and I said these words “You are not my lover”. I didn’t fully understand the implication of the dream then. Considering all of this now, I guess there is pain in these kind of realisations, but as Kahil Gibran writes “your pain is the kernel which encloses your understanding.”
This morning when I tried to raise with Mum the subject of our enmeshment, she cried me down. “I think its a normal thing to be this close to each other”, she said. I thought of my Mum’s lonely childhood, of her longing for siblings and how that longing gets transferred at times onto me and my sister. I thought, “yes, but is there a way to be close and not be invaded, to loose oneself.” All of this makes sense to me of the struggle we can feel between twin fears of emotional abandonment and emotional engulfment and twin desires for closeness and separation.
With all my Aquarian planets and my Uranus in Leo squaring her Scorpio one’s its par for the course that I seek separation from this engulfment at times. Often when I am with her I feel tired, if she is tired, and I feel sad if she is sad. I know as her youngest child I can be a conduit for her emotions. At times I can also even feel them from a distance. And sometimes my empathy for my mother and over concern can hold me back from living my own life.
I do know that with the inherent sensitivities I have I need the time to be with me alone, so I can get in touch with how I really feel and feel the spacious calmness of nothing invading my energy field.
I do love my Mum and sometimes I long for us to be close. Sometimes we really are. But I am also beginning to increasingly see how often my Mum doesn’t really see or understand the depth of me, and how often she fills my head with ideas or advice that doesn’t serve me. I see how she hides from her small, insecure, powerless self in advice giving and philosophising. If she can be the strong one, the one who we rely on for money or attention, it makes her feel better and most certainly mothers should be there to support.
But they should also not invade their children’s territory, they should be able to stand off and also empower their children to be strong and self sufficient in the right areas and imbue them with a sense of their own agency and ability. They should also honour their “No” and their right to protest. When these kind of respects for another’s separateness are not shown it disempowers the child. And for our own psychological health we most certainly need a realistic sense of our own intrinsic power and the awareness of our own and others boundaries.