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Maternal transference (oh so long post)

Posted by onceupon on September 4, 2008, at 14:20:06

This is particularly painful for me right now. I've been seeing my current therapist for a little over a year and with time, have started to feel deep longings for some kind of maternal response from her. I daydream about curling up on the couch with my head in her lap and feeling comforted. Especially as I'm falling asleep or just waking up. It's hard to describe how embarrassed this makes me feel (and how difficult it even is to write this down here). I feel young and needy and just kind of ridiculous sometimes. I mean, I am an adult, at least most of the time. I work, I'm a grad student, I'm a parent - I generally function in society from an outside perspective. But from the inside, I sometimes feel like I'm crumbling.

I'm not surprised that I've fallen into maternal transference land with my therapist, since I've done the same thing with varying individuals since I was in my early teens and recognized that other people seemed more compassionate than my own mom. My relationship with my mom has always been complicated (whose hasn't, right?). Over the years it's been a mix of fear and anger (in response to her angry outbursts and hitting), more anger and sadness (in response to her frequent statements about how ugly I looked when I cried, or her rhetorical questions about what she had ever done to deserve me), and even more anger and despair (following her total lack of response to a friend's parent telling her I was suicidal). At any rate, it seems like I've been on the search for a substitute mom forever - teachers, friends' parents, mentors, therapists - there have been lots of conduits for this longing, but never any real outlets.

I'm at the point in my life when I want to "get over" this. I know there's probably no getting over it, especially as I have not yet made many efforts to repair my relationship with my actual mom (outside of joining in the conspiracy of silence about anything bad ever having happened). In some ways I think becoming a mother myself in the last two years has accelerated my need to, well, feel more like a mother and less like a child.

I've tried to talk with my therapist about this (albeit in an indirect and hemming and hawing kind of way). I get that it's my responsibility to choose what I discuss, and I can't rely on her to read my mind (shoot) but she always seems to drop these discussions. This could just be my perception - since I'm reluctant to talk about it, maybe I'm seeing reluctance in her too. A part of what makes it difficult for me to talk about the idea of maternal transference with her is a judgment on my own part that I "shouldn't" feel these kinds of things. That to feel such things flies in the face of my competence as an adult. Intellectually I know this isn't true, but my emotional self just doesn't get it. I worry that she'll think less of me/think I'm crazy/be annoyed with me/want to stop working with me, etc. It doesn't help that she is good friends with one of my coworkers (I had started seeing my therapist years before I started working at my current job. When I went back to my therapist after a several year break, I had just started a new job and my therapist told me about her friendship). I trust her to remain professional, but it's just a little unsettling to be confronted with that small degree of separation between my professional and therapy lives.

So, to sum up this already too long post: I want so badly to be mothered, want to resolve this issue of wanting so badly to feel mothered, and have a hell of a time talking about it in therapy. I don't have any specific questions, per se, just wanted to get this all out "there" so that it's not just congealing inside my head. Thanks for reading.




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