The Photo That Made Me Smile Today

I haven’t written about it, but last week was a difficult one for me, with BPD and PTSD symptoms in full swing. It’s hard enough dealing with one of those things, but together? At a few points I literally thought I was going to die, or that I was busy dying. Unless you’ve experienced something like this, you’ll probably think I’m exaggerating. But it all feels so real, so intense in those moments. The flashbacks, the physical bodily sensations, and on top of that the fear (and being convinced) of abandonment, among other things. It was just a horrible few days, and even despite having spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning with two friends, I still feel some of the effects.

After therapy today (which really helped me make sense of some things, and made me feel heard, validated, and held), I came home feeling a little lighter and more “here”. I came across this gorgeous photo of a Golden Retriever (my favourite dog breed), and couldn’t help but smile. It warmed my heart.

Sometimes it’s that one tiny moment of happiness that whispers “stay”.

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Photo by Celine Sayuri Tagami
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A Need For Solitude

The older I get, the more I seem to want my own space away from others. Socializing exhausts me. I spent time with two of my closest friends this weekend, staying over on Saturday evening. It was lovely, but I didn’t want to stay another night. They know me well, so I don’t have to wear a mask around them and I feel comfortable enough to tell them when I’ve had enough. They know it’s not personal. That I love them to bits, and enjoy spending time with them.

It’s not just being sociable that exhausts me. It also depends on the activities we engage in. For example, if we go on a hike or a walk on the beach, I can spend more time with people. But when it involves sensory rich environments such as carnivals/festivals (this is where we went on Saturday evening), concerts, movies, etc, I become overwhelmed and over-stimulated, and want to get back to my comfort zone (my room, my bed, my stuff) much sooner.

Every so often (very often actually) I long to just disappear for a while. Go somewhere quiet, surrounded by nature, with not a soul or building in sight for miles. Switch my phone off and disconnect from everything and everyone. But my financial situation won’t let me do that. I wouldn’t mind going camping, which is more affordable, but it’s too dangerous to go alone. So I feel stuck in an overwhelming world. My little corner of the world.

So when my friends asked me whether I would house-sit for them for about a week at the beginning of August, the decision was an easy one. Granted, I’m not someone who enjoys sleeping in unfamiliar environments and beds (even when on holiday), and I always have to prepare myself for it mentally. But I’m usually okay as long as I have my “comfort items”. My family and friends always tease me about the fact that even if I’m going or coming for one night I pack as if for a week-long trip. And it’s not clothes and other essentials that are taking up all the space. But I can’t help it, it makes me extremely anxious any other way.

While I’m looking forward to getting away from this place for a few days (and from work), I’m also a little scared as I’ll be staying alone. They have two cats (I’m not really a cat person) and two little dogs, so that’s a comfort at least. The neighborhood they live in is quiet, so I’m looking forward to the peace, and plan to enjoy my time there as much as possible. Maybe I can see it as practice for one day when I eventually have my own place.

I’m supposed to be seeing my friend/business partner on Friday, but I just don’t want to, so I’ve decided to postpone it until next week. I’m going to group tomorrow anyway, so really don’t want to have to socialize more than that this week.

 

It Didn’t Work: Attachment Styles

Over the past couple of years of learning about boundaries, I’ve learned that I can choose who and what I allow in my life. It’s been a liberating lesson, but also a difficult and sometimes heartbreaking one.

Since Elizabeth and I broke up a few months ago, I’ve often wondered whether a friendship would work between us. I tried to make it work. But two weeks ago, I realized that I just didn’t want to try anymore. It wasn’t working for me, and was only causing me frustration, anger, and pain. It’s been a learning curve, but I now know better what I just won’t stand for in any type of relationship anymore. I’m done letting people walk all over me, treat me like trash and a problem, and not respecting my boundaries. I unfortunately still have to put up with it in my home life until I can move out, but outside that environment I have more control.

I started reading a book a while ago “Attached: The Science of Adult Attachment“. I have an anxious attachment style (anxious/ambivalent more specifically), and almost instantly recognized Elizabeth in the Avoidant attachment style. Looking back, and armed with this new information, the signs had been there from the beginning, but they became far more obvious as our relationship progressed. When I realized all this, I felt a sense of relief. I’d been believing that the relationship not working out was almost entirely my fault, and due to my own issues. And Elizabeth seemed convinced that was the case as well. Being made out to be the “guilty” one was one of the reasons I decided I just can’t have her in my life anymore. I take responsibility for my part in the relationship not working, and I refuse put up with someone unable to see her own faults and constantly pointing fingers at others. The point is, our attachment styles aren’t compatible. It just doesn’t work out well. I’ve now let go of all the guilt and self-criticism regarding the relationship. It doesn’t serve me and just keeps me stuck in a negative loop.

I learned a lot from this relationship, and now it’s time to let it go. To let her go. I have to do what’s best for me. Even if it hurts initially. And it hurts.

Adulting is Hard

Another project done and dusted. I made it through a tough job with the most difficult client I’ve had (so far). I thought I’d be over the moon. I usually feel good afterward. But this time? I felt nothing for the first couple of days, and didn’t know what to do with myself. And now I feel like a fraud. Like I don’t deserve to feel proud of myself for a job well done, because… well, I suck. And I’m not actually that good.

I suck at relationships, work, socially, etc. Basically anything that involves being alive. Why do I bother trying? All I want to do is hide away in a dark, quiet, small space, with tons of blankets (like I used to do, but have since adulted) and my Cuddly. Being a kid was hard, but being an adult is even harder, and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Having to pretend to be normal every day is exhausting.

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Cuddly – He’s super soft. I want a real one too, but have now finally given up on that dream.

Want

I recently came across something I wrote years ago. This was before I started therapy, and it’s beautiful to see how things have changed. I still struggle with most of these things, but not to the extent I used to. It’s become easier to reach out and open up. To be honest about my feelings, needs, and wants. I’m still a work in progress, but then again, aren’t we all?

Want

You want to reach out. Instead, you keep it inside.
You want to know whether they care. But you don’t ask.
You want to be seen. Instead you hide.
You want to be heard. Yet you silence your voice.
You want to feel real. So you hurt yourself again.
You want to tell someone you want to die. That you can’t imagine living one more day. Instead, you smile, because you don’t want to be a burden.
You want to cry. Instead, you hide behind humour.
You want to open up. Instead, you put your shield up. Afraid you’ll be rejected and cast aside once again.

Writing and the Lack of it

I just realized that I haven’t written any new posts this month, and it surprises me that I’m still getting new followers. Had another one just a little while ago. Thank you, and welcome, to my new followers.

In the online world, and having witnessed a couple of my favourite blogs remain inactive for months now, it’s easy to start in with assumptions. Especially considering the topic of mental health/illness that we write about. Questions such as “Are they alive? Are they okay?” run through my mind. So for those of you who have been part of my blog for a while, I felt an update is in order.

Life has been a bit of a roller-coaster. I have a lot more demands on my time from both a work (mostly this) and personal standpoint. I’m dealing with a difficult client and an increasingly difficult father. I swear he gets worse with age. I seem to have been given the role of “fixer” again. “When things fall apart, let’s call on Rayne. She owes me anyway. Fuck her boundaries.” My goal is still to get out of this place before the end of the year. Just hope I survive until then.

Because of all this, I’ve had to take as much time to myself to do other things as I possibly can. I’ve only seen a friend once this month so far, as I just want to be alone when I have spare time. I feel all “socialed” out. I’m overwhelmed and stressed. But I’m hanging in there.

Another reason I’ve been quiet is that with weekly therapy sessions now, I don’t feel the need to write and process on my blog as much as I used to. I still process between sessions of course, but I tend to take those thoughts directly to my therapist as it’s still relatively “fresh” in my mind. She’s been really lovely, and is a great therapist. Of course I still miss A (my previous therapist- the best ever), but I know I made the right decision, so that helps.

Please know that even though I might not post as much as I used to, I won’t ever close this blog down. It’s too precious to me. Last week I spent some time reading certain old posts to get some insight into something specific, and it really helped. So there’s a lot of value in having this space.

It’s been a long and busy day, so I’m going to unwind by working on my new puzzle. If that’s not mindfulness, I don’t know what is.

Contemplating Achievement

It’s time for a more positive post, because it’s not always just bad.

About a month ago I told my mom that I feel like I haven’t achieved anything in my life. That I’ve just wasted my life, and have nothing to show for myself. I was feeling a little despondent about my web and graphic design business. She told me that the fact that I continue to come up with ideas and work hard, despite the obstacles, she sees that as a great achievement. She said that she would have given up trying long ago, but I didn’t. And at some point, all that hard work just has to pay off.

My design business is about 6 months old, and I think I’ve done pretty well so far. Even though the business isn’t where I’d like it to be, I realize that it will take time. I haven’t had many clients, but at least I’ve gotten some. It’s much more successful than my photography business ever was, and is. And for that, I’m grateful.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been wanting to redesign the website of one of the restaurants my friend (previous wedding business partner) and I often meet at. Their website was ancient, had security issues, and didn’t work correctly. I spoke to one of the managers, gave her my business card, and asked her to please give it to the owner. And then I waited.

About 2 weeks ago I decided I was sick of waiting. So I found out the name of the owner of the restaurant and sent him an email. It took me an hour to write! Not because it was a long email (it wasn’t, it was short and to the point), but because I kept rewriting it in an attempt to get it just right. Damn perfectionist tendencies. It took me another 10 minutes to get the courage to hit “send”. But I did. And I was rewarded two days later with a phone call from the owner, telling me he’d been wanting to change his website for 3 years, but hadn’t gotten around to it! He wanted to meet. The last meeting we had, on Monday, I had shown him what I’ve done so far, and he was super happy with it. That was such a relief. I had been so nervous that he wouldn’t like the design and layout, and I’d have to start over. I find that I get very attached to my design work, and really want the client to like it too. I’m almost done with the website now, and should have it up on Monday. It would have been ready earlier, but of course, I still have my half-day job. I’m glad I’ve got that job though. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I went into panic mode just before starting this project because I would have to do something completely different to how I would usually do it. I thought I couldn’t, and I’d have to tell my client that I couldn’t help him. But I did the work to figure out just how to do things this way. It set me back two days, but I learned, and with it came a boost of confidence. Adaptability in business is crucial. I learned this from an online sales and entrepreneurship course I’m taking at the moment. Business funds spent wisely.

One thing I’ve learned through this experience with the restaurant is that it’s not enough to just hand out business cards and hope for the best. I’m going to have to follow-up, and reach out to the correct person. And my meetings with my friend in business really motivate and inspire me. We motivate and inspire one another, and even though it’s draining spending too much time with her, I always get something out of it. I’ve learned to tell her when she’s overwhelming me, and ask her to talk softer and slow down, or give me 5 minutes to just ground myself. She respects my boundaries, so our meetings have become so much more pleasant, and I leave feeling good (most of the time anyway).

Achievement isn’t limited to career or studies. The other day Jasmine told me that I’m becoming really good with boundaries. That was nice to hear. To me, that’s an achievement. So when I think I haven’t achieved anything in life, I can recognize that thought for the lie it is. Maybe I can refer back to this post during those moments of self-doubt.

Unfortunately the depression and desire to just give up on life hasn’t left. It’s there when I wake up in the morning. It’s there every time I take a break from work. Heck, even while I’m working, but at least once I get into a flow state, I get a break from those feelings and thoughts.