“Should I move to New Zealand and leave my baby son in Norway?” Proper Advice from a Psychoanalytic Perspective

I fell in love with a Norwegian girl four years ago and she became pregnant soon after. I moved to Norway, had a child and generally struggled with the way of life here. At the beginning of this year she left me. I live in shared accommodation in Oslo to be near my son. I still love her and asked her to get back with me – her reply was that she was not ready for a relationship, with me or anyone else. When we meet, I detect she is happier now than she ever was when we were together. I am here in Norway, without accommodation and no real sense of belonging, unable to sleep properly. I am starting to long for warmer climes where I have friends and a lifestyle more suited to my character. The problem is that the destination is New Zealand. I feel a sense of dread, guilt and worthlessness that this would mean I would see my son once a year. Should I sacrifice my own happiness just to be around my son as he grows up?

This problem appeared first in the Observer.

My Reply:

Hmm. It’s a fascinating first line. The fact that you say ‘fell in love’ and that you describe your partner as ‘a Norwegian girl’ makes it all sound very romantic and somehow out of your control. ‘Fell in love with’ is very different from ‘started a relationship with’. Her being a ‘girl’ makes her sound young, at least in your eyes, feeding your idea that this was a carefree time when things just seemed to happen.

 Then ‘she became pregnant.’ Again there is a feeling that there was nothing you could have done about this, a bit like ‘fell in love’. This is something she did or that happened to her. So, as a result of having been buffeted by fate, you moved to Norway and found yourself to be unhappy there. ‘Struggled with the way of life’ is an odd way to put it. Presumably you could have chosen your own way of life wherever you found yourself but again, very passively, it sounds as though you tried to fit in with a life that you had not forged for yourself, that just happened to you. It seems hard for you to say you felt sad, lost, helpless. Instead you feel hard done by.

 Then the Norwegian girl acts again, leaving you – you don’t say why, what went wrong. Again, just out of the blue as if you were no part of the relationship. You feel very sorry for yourself, something we can see in the ‘shared accommodation…to be near my son’. So, now your son is dictating how you should live, forcing you to live in a way you feel you haven’t chosen. You don’t say ‘I want to be near my son’ or give the impression that you enjoy spending time with him.

Though you were already struggling in Norway, you made another bid to stay and were refused – again this feeling that you are organised by others, that no choice is really your own. It was a kind of fate that you ended up shackled to her and now it is her choice not to continue in the relationship. The result is that you feel homeless, lost and unable to sleep. It sounds as though you are highly anxious, stressed and suffused with a sense of loss that you don’t face head on. Your passivity and the sense that you are not in control seems to make you feel very confused.

‘I am here in Norway’ sounds as though you are surprised to find yourself there, somewhere you don’t belong. It is cold and you long for warmth. By the sounds of it, your ex is cold and you long for human warmth. You feel rejected by the whole country, the whole way of life (your early home life?). My strong suspicion is that you have never felt the love and warmth you hoped to find by creating your own family, one that would give you what you didn’t get in childhood. Instead, you have ended up re-enacting something more familiar. I wonder if you feel you might meet someone in New Zealand who will provide the love and warmth you have always lacked, if perhaps your true self is there (ie. elsewhere).

It sounds as though you feel completely worthless – your ex-girlfriend seems happier without you, your son perhaps doesn’t need you. The way you say ‘just to be around my son’ sounds as though you don’t really feel necessary to him, that you would be there for your own gratification rather than because you feel you have something to offer him.

There is clear resentment in ‘just to be around my son’ as though you have been cornered by fate, your own needs denied. It seems you feel usurped in your ex’s affections by your son, thrown out of the family home and left all at sea.

Going to New Zealand is a ‘didn’t want to come to your party anyway’ message to both your ex and your son. Unless you can try to understand why you feel so helpless, so managed by others and so rejected, you are likely to recreate the same scenario again in New Zealand. I suspect that this is either Oedipal material (you felt usurped by your father in your mother’s affections and left out in the cold after the honeymoon period of very early infancy), a sibling rivalry thing (new baby casts you out) or, perhaps, you were brought up by a single mother who then found a partner and left you feeling isolated and thrown into some kind of student accommodation (Boarding school? University?).

Obviously, these are wild guesses but you seem to scream;‘None of this is my fault! It just happened!’ without seeing that you, as the adult you now are, were making clear (if unconscious) choices all along. I suspect that leaving will increase your feelings of worthlessness and being unwanted (though it is designed to do the opposite) rather than forcing you to look them in the eye and prevent your son from growing up feeling as rejected, worthless and as devoid of choice as you do.

Proper Advice in private via Skype or email: anna@blundy.com

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About Anna Blundy

Honorary psychotherapist with a Masters in Psychoanalytic Theory and another in Psychodynamic Clinical Psychotherapy. Novelist - Author of the Faith Zanetti quintet - The Bad News Bible, Faith Without Doubt, Neat Vodka (US - Vodka Neat), Breaking Faith, My Favourite Poison. Also a memoir of my father, Every Time We Say Goodbye and my most recent thriller - The Oligarch's Wife
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