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My own horrible behaviour

(96 Posts)
elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 10:33:00

This is a really difficult post, not least because no one likes having to really look at themselves and conclude they don't like what they see but that's what I am doing.

I have been responsible for a great deal of hurt and unhappiness in my family for some time now and I am not deluded enough to think it's all my fault or my responsibility but it's certainly there.

Now that I have said that I don't know where to begin! I was only 18 when met my DH. My mum had died when I was in secondary school and my dad met another woman quite soon afterwards and moved in with her on a sort of ad hoc basis, which meant as I did my A levels I was almost constantly alone. That was quite hard for me (obviously) as I was lonely and grieving and I threw myself into my interests - music and horses mostly - which meant I was quite isolated. DH was a few years older than me and seemed very together (he was 23; I know 5 years is nothing but at that age it was.) I clung to him like a limpet because he was sort of the one constant in my life.

Anyway, I have made such a mess of things I hardly know where to start so I'll do a list:

1. I have messed up career wise, I was a teacher and the first school I went to was awful - really, really bad. So I got a new job quite soon afterwards and I liked it there and initially I did really well. But then I got pregnant and I had terrible sickness and exhaustion and then I went back part time and I now realise I got really lazy. I left, when we moved and I got another post which was a small promotion but I had a horrible time of things there and I don't know, I look at people now who have a strong network of people they work(ed) with and wonder why I was never good enough to stick at anything, to have that. I've been a SAHM for a few years now.

2. I resented my dad for years for leaving me (as I saw it) - he stayed with his new partner until after I'd had my DC1 which was in 2007. I was stroppy and unpleasant with him and I just wasn't someone he could be proud of. He died and the week before we'd had a massive argument and I said he was useless and all sorts of things - I am still not entirely sure I didn't cause or at least contribute to him dying as he'd been perfectly healthy before.

3. I am so selfish. I do exactly what I want to do and I expect other people to sort out messes I make. I don't do this intentionally but I had a thread the other day about losing my phone (have now found it again!) but this is typical of me; I lose stuff or forget to do important stuff and it's like I haven't got a proper handle on being a grown up. Then I tell lies to get myself out of whatever mess I've created. I'll say I've done something when I haven't, or been at home when I've been shopping.

I need to really be firm with myself and honest with myself too about the impact my behaviour has had on those I love but it's hard. I had counselling after I had DC2 last spring and I liked it but I don't think the counsellor quite understood how selfish and lazy and spoilt I have been and just seemed to think I was too harsh on myself but I'm honestly not. Sometimes I wake up haunted by the stupid things I've done and mistakes I've made and how badly I've treated people.

I don't dislike everything about myself. I like my humour. That's never fully gone which is one reason I have managed to get through as I generally can laugh at myself. I know I can have a very sweet caring side which sometimes shows itself but I have to admit to my husband and to my dad when he was alive I just wasn't nice, at all.

Has anybody ever had this experience of forcing yourself to change and how do you start?

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 11:09:02

I dont think your being realistically in your expectations of yourself
One argument doesn't kill just didn't
And teaching with a baby..most people can't cope at all and walk away..its not lazy to cut back..its self preservation
Most people are entirely familiar with the "where's my
Its not special, horrible or unusual
But blaming yourself, expecting unrealistic perfection from yourself...
Looks a lot like depression...

JulyKit Sun 28-Jun-15 11:11:19

Well you didn't do anything wrong in 1.
Perhaps you could have done things differently - but it's always possible to think that with hindsight.
In 2: you say you resented your dad for years. I don't think that's an unusual attitude for a young person, and you had a lot to cope with. A lot of people in your situation would still consider that they are 'owed' something by their DF. Or at least they would be much more forgiving of their own behaviour as a young person. In fact, you studied, you started a career. You did quite well...

3. is a concern - perhaps. (You haven't given much detail about your behaviour.)

This may sound like a cliche, but it sounds as if you are 'parenting' yourself - and have been for a long, long time - at least since your DM died, possibly longer.

I think this is - and probably always has been - really hard for you, and because you haven't had the luxury of not having to do this, perhaps you don't realise how hard this is. People can't effectively 'parent' themselves. They need more support than that.

Could it be that you need to look into your own behaviour more deeply than it's possible to do with a counsellor? What I mean (I think), is that if you can be more 'forgiving' of your behaviour, then maybe you can alter it more constructively because you won't be spending energy on self-loathing and censoriousness, which can get so exhausting that you then lapse back into old, childish ways because you need a break from your own relentless self-criticism.

(I hope that makes some sense. Your OP got me thinking, you see. I can relate to a fair bit of it.)

JulyKit Sun 28-Jun-15 11:12:58

And I agree with Kintsugi. It does sound as if your way of thinking is shaped quite a bit by depression.

Dead Sun 28-Jun-15 11:21:01

The experiences/behaviours that you are beating yourself up over are very normal - and given that you have experienced real trauma by loosing your mother and being abandoned by your father - I think that you have done remarkably well in your life - you are resilient and have real insight. This will put you in a good place to heal and soothe yourself and live a better life. I think that you have a lot to unpick and would suggest counselling. You have to accept that the exceptional traumas you have experienced have set you back - but you will get there.

pocketsaviour Sun 28-Jun-15 11:41:04

I lose stuff or forget to do important stuff and it's like I haven't got a proper handle on being a grown up.

I think this is the key to the whole of your unhappiness with yourself. You lost your mum, and then your dad effectively abandoned you, at a crucial stage in your emotional development into an adult. In a way you were forced into early adulthood and I think you have accepted the emotional independence that brings, but developed a huge self-sabotage streak when it comes to the practical side of adulting.

As for your list:
1 - lots of people make mis-steps with their career. Unless you were sacked for gross misconduct, I see no reason why you couldn't return to teaching when your DC are older.
2 - Being sad, upset or angry doesn't kill people. Otherwise people would be dropping like flies after every argument! I recognise your distress and guilt over this. My DS experienced very similar when my late H suddenly died without warning, and they had always had a very turbulent relationship. It's very common after a bereavement to feel like you "caused" the death, and look for ways that it could have been your fault. I can promise you that it really wasn't. Would it help you to check your father's death certificate for cause of death and speak to a medical professional about it?

You recognise that you're not acting as an adult with responsibilities, and I guess that means you want to change. I would look for a therapist (not counsellor) with experience in CAT. If budget is tight, what about having one session a month, with a therapist who will set you "homework" in between sessions?

mummytime Sun 28-Jun-15 11:57:38

You do not sound horrible.

You do sound as if you need counselling and my be depressed. Please go and see your GP, take a print out of your original post to show them if you might not know what to say.

I also wonder just where you get the messages in point 3? Was it from your parents or is it what your DP says to you?

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 12:14:24

Gosh, thank you for such lovely posts blush flowers

Kint, I know, logically, that the argument in itself didn't kill my dad, but I do believe that the general friction between us and worry for me (my brother as well) was what led him to be stressed which led to the heart attack - he was only mid-60s, didn't smoke, was a normal healthy weight, kept fit ... It was the only thing and we caused that stress.

July and Dead , you're very right and a lot of what I do is some sort of weird 'rebellion' against myself but also DH when he starts trying to point out that I'm being silly or not thinking something through properly.

Pocket, I also think that was probably the most insightful part of my OP. In many ways I don't feel I ever had an 'adolescence' - I can't relate at all to what many people got up to. I had a friend who had a baby young who says similar things. I had to be a grown up and I wasn't ready, so when I met DH I let 'him' be the adult. But that's a pattern we are stuck in.

It's things like - the house can be a tip. I don't mean ordinary mess but mess that yes is like a teenagers bedroom blush I spend too much money and don't really like dealing with finances so have a head in the sand approach.

My dad died abroad, I've never really fully understood what happened. I have asked DH but he goes into such long and complicated answers I am more confused than when I first asked.

Mummy, like I say, I've had counselling but I'm not sure it 'worked' in the sense that I thought it might. I know this needs to come from me and me alone - not DH, not counsellors, not pills. Just me.

JulyKit Sun 28-Jun-15 12:31:32

I know this needs to come from me and me alone - not DH, not counsellors, not pills. Just me.

I think that that statement is an example of the amount of pressure you put on yourself, elder. As other posters have said, you've actually coped with a lot and achieved a lot, and from a very young age, and without the luxury of experimentation and sanctioned failure that many people get from the luxury of a supported and carefree adolescence.

I think pocketsaviour gives some really good advice and signposts in her post.

I think you may have had a similar experience of counselling in some ways to what I have had. I don't mean to slate counsellors, but I think that sometimes they are presented as having more insight and expertise than (perhaps) they really do. So it can be the case that they don't or can't understand what's being related to them all that well. Because as 'patients'/'clients' we might have faith in counsellors enough to overestimate their skills, I think that sometimes we see the limitations of counsellors' skills as our own failure.
It might be that if you can find a more in depth way of looking at your life (as suggested by*pocketsaviour*), then that could be really helpful.

mummytime Sun 28-Jun-15 12:58:13

I have to say there are counsellors and counsellors, psychotherapists and psychotherapists, etc. etc. I have known people who help others with mental health issues - including just unclear thinking - who I wouldn't want to go to, knowing what I know about them... but maybe they are fine for their clients.

OP from your posts: You blame yourself a lot!
You sound a bit of a perfectionist. Is "good enough" ever really good enough for you?
You may well self-sabotage.

Can you get someone other than your DH explain to you about what happened when your Dad died? Sometimes going to ask lots of people to explain the same thing can help you understand.

Most heart attacks do not necessarily have a cause it could be genetic, high blood pressure, an undiagnosed congenital heart defect or a whole load of other factors. Was he particularly tall? Is that a feature of your family? Quite often the underlying reason for a heart attack is not really investigated.

You may well need counselling to help you and your DH sort out your relationship, so that you relate more like adults.

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 14:05:22

DH would never go but thanks.

He wasn't tall, I think it was stress and some of the stress he experienced was because of me.

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 16:56:21

So your dad, who lived his own life, made choices ...clearly not focussed on you, who was divorced / split twice from life partners was absolutely in perfect health...but after one row with you became so stressed 168 hrs later that he dropped dead, no underlying conditions, no health problems, no cumulation of lifestyle choices...
This is called "magic" thinking. Google it. You are not to blame.
You should talk to his doctor, or read the coroners report. Or take the coroners report to your doctor and ask them to explain it..explicitly ask could you have been to blame for having a row a week earlier...
You do not seem to have been able to grieve in a healthy way, either for him, or for yourself.

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 17:02:36

Oh kint I'd love it if that was the case.

My dad moved out - not completely but certainly at weekends, which turned into Monday's and Fridays after he retired, then sometimes whole weeks, then ... you get the picture - over the course of the two years I was doing my A levels. This was wrong, but he was grieving himself.

He stayed with this woman (I'll call her Jane) for ten years. During that time our contact was sparse: I wasn't made welcome, he showed little interest in my life - he was polite and we were loving when we did see each other but it wasn't often.

He was however very financially supportive: gave us a huge deposit for our house, put a large amount into Ds's savings account when he was born - really pulled out the stops in that respect. Dad had a very good financial head on him.

He split up with jane in 2008, I think. We were slightly closer after that but there was always this simmering undercurrent of resentment and that coloured our relationship. I felt - don't know if I still feel - that if my parents had been supportive and kind I wouldn't have got into a bad marriage.

I don't know.

I do know he was fine, then he was not.

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 17:16:54

Elderflower, who would you believe if they told you .." You are blameless" ? Who does it have to be ?

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 17:18:56

But honestly Kint I know I am not.

I'm not saying I think I'm totally responsible, or even mostly responsible, but I do think/know my behaviour/actions had an impact on his death.

But I also know my dad wouldn't want me to spend the next however many years depressed and u happy as a result, I owe it to him to be a better person and truth is I'm just not, DH was right, in many ways: I am lazy and spoilt and disorganised and impulsive.

Penfold007 Sun 28-Jun-15 17:35:21

You/I/we can allow our pasts to dictate our todays and tomorrows or we can choose to move on.

You've been to counselling previously but I suspect you were unable or unwilling to fully engage and truly look at your past. I think you've finally come to a place where you are willing and able to engage with the counselling process. You are right when you say you have to face and explore yourself but there is nothing wrong with doing it with the support of a counsellor. Good luck.

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 17:36:35

Ok..let's tiurn this around....what gives you the right to take responsibility !
How arrogant
You wont accept the word of a stranger on the internet
Or your partner, or your brother..does he blame himself like you do?
Does he blame you like you do ?
Or a mental health professional ?
Or even what you think your father would say...?
But you've gathered it all up
And said "I did that"
Even though there can be no medical evidence to support this point of view
Lazy..or too much to do with impossible ?standards
Impulsive? Some people are..thats just who they are
Disorganised?..see two kids and too much to do..
And spoilt? You are not at all nice to yourself, how is that spoilt?

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 17:39:29

Give yourself a break, ! need to think through a whole pile of issues, and getting some help will shorten the process. You would do well to have a professional to help, simply to stop you ending up in blind ally's, like theceelf blame one you seem to be stuck in now.

Kintsugi Sun 28-Jun-15 17:39:59

Self blame one..blush

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 28-Jun-15 17:46:06


You almost certainly are judging yourself far more harshly than those around you are. You need to be kinder to yourself.

You need to deal with the issues probably with a professional, and let the past go. Live in the present.

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 17:52:20

Actually, my brother did blame himself - we both caused our dad a lot of stress.

I knew the 'you weren't ready to engage' would come up. Believe me I was ready and did. But I couldn't really make my counsellor see that actually I wasn't very nice - I just want to be a better, more capable person, for me and for my children.

springydaffs Sun 28-Jun-15 18:04:42

How long were you working with a therapist? I've so far notched up 6 years, on and off, due to a fucked up start in life.

Bad marriage you say? He calls you lazy, impulsive, thoughtless etc etc. Hmmm. Sounds like his 'opinion' has gone in and you've taken it on. But is it true?

Have you looked at abusive relationships, how they work? You say he scrambled your head when you asked a simple question - a very important question iirc. You don't sound unintelligent to me, how could he complicate a very straightforward answer about something so important?

elderflowerlemonade Sun 28-Jun-15 18:07:25

It is true, honestly. I wish it wasn't sad

DH can be controlling; we are working on this.

But I have really caused him to be disappointed and angry in me as well.

Therapy - 7 months?

popalot Sun 28-Jun-15 18:14:35

A counsellor isn't meant to tell you whether you are nice or not. They are supposed to look at your behaviour, find a root for it in your past experience and then reframe that experience so you can rewire how you do things/perceive how you do things.

So, you already know that your adolescence experience has had a profound effect on you. But at the moment, you don't know how that links to your current behaviour. That is why you are thinking the little lies and head in the sand attitude is just because you are 'not nice' and has just appeared from nowhere.

Logically, you know there is probably a connection.

What you need to do requires someone to help eg a counsellor. They need to show how your adolescent experience framed your mind in a certain way, that led to , y, z and your current situation whereby you have certain behaviours you feel are detrimental to your life. It really does require that other person to help you examine your experiences, what that made your brain to do for self preservation and how that has affected your life since then. They sort of take out your memories with you, examine them with you in a more objective way and allow you to see yourself in a different way.

springydaffs Sun 28-Jun-15 18:15:01

Not bad, but not long enough. Perhaps try a different therapist? It means telling the whole story again though from scratch - which has its pluses and minuses.

'We' are working on his controlling behaviour? Only he can work on that - to be absolutely technical about it.

No, I just can't see you are as heinous as you very strongly believe. All the 'I have to do this/on my own/nobody else' - I assume you mean you have to fully face what a dog you are. Sackcloth and ashes, much.

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