“She’s Gone Forever”

My therapist went on leave for two weeks. I knew about this for two weeks before her break, and during that time, I didn’t think much about it. More importantly, I didn’t know how I felt about it. Like I told her in our session two weeks ago, I’m happy that she’s making time for herself, and taking this break. In Thursday’s session, she brought up her leave again, and asked me whether I want to discuss it and how I feel about it. I can’t really remember what I answered. It’s like a chunk of my memory has been erased (I’m so tired of this happening). So I don’t know what I had said. But I appreciate that she always discusses this topic, and tries to make it easier for me. She doesn’t just throw me into the deep end.

We have this special emoticon that represents a hug (not the traditional hug one). We made a deal to only use that one for us, not for anyone else. That little symbol comforts my soul, and brings a smile to my face every time she uses it. I sent her a text on Friday, as it was the last day I’d be able to until she gets back. I asked for one of our special hugs, and she sent me one. I hold onto that one simple little thing. A simple thing that means so much.

I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the contributing factors of my recent surge in abandonment fear, is due to me knowing that she’s going to be away. Even though, like I said, I didn’t give too much thought to it, I think it was stored in my subconscious instead.

It’s not about not seeing her for a session. I wouldn’t have been able to see her for a session in that time anyway. The weeks when we don’t have therapy, I’m perfectly fine with our contact between sessions. Some weeks it will only be one text or email. It’s more when I have something to say, or am feeling insecure. Sometimes I initiate it, other times, she does. Checking in. So that’s what makes her going away hard… We won’t have any contact. I miss her. And I’m sad that she left me alone (that’s what it feels like anyway). There are moments where I think that I don’t know if I ever want to speak to her again. Then other moments where I just want her to come back. I’m being selfish. And this feeds into the emotion I’ve been struggling with for the past while, which I’ll write about in my next post.

I once got asked by a friend of mine, who went to therapy for a year herself, why and how I can be so attached to a therapist. She understands attachment, but not between a therapist and client. I realized that no matter how you explain it, a lot of people won’t truly “get it”, unless they’re in the same boat. Almost all of you who have BPD have this same attachment to your therapists. I always relate to your posts on this topic. So I know I’m not the only one who gets upset and chaotic when our therapists go on vacation or take leave. Counting the days down until they return. Days that feel like weeks. It’s hard. And others don’t understand why we struggle so much with this. But they don’t need to understand it.

The words “she’s gone forever” came into my mind when I woke up this morning. I know it didn’t come from my adult self, but from the little part.

I know it’s not true though. She’s not gone forever. But why does it still feel like she is?

It Was Okay

On Monday I phoned the OT who lead the group last week. I’m going to refer to her here as D from now on. I told her how hard I had been taking the events of last Tuesday’s group. That I’ve been holding onto this feeling of shame. Side note: I don’t really know how to let go of shame, other than to try to bury it. But that’s not helpful either, as it keeps coming back. I told her that I don’t want to go to group on Tuesday, but at the same time, I do. I asked her what I should do. She didn’t tell me what to do, but instead, gave me the tools I needed in that moment to make my own decision. She reminded me of a skill I “learnt” previously. Doing the opposite action to how I’m feeling. So if I don’t feel like coming to group because of the emotions I’m experiencing, then the opposite of that would be to go. Something like that. The moment she said that, it fell into place and I made the decision that I’m going to go in. For some reason, she has a strong influence on me (along with my therapist and the OT I’m working with individually). Their words hold more power than anyone else. I felt better after that call.

Walking up to the clinic last night and going inside, my heart was racing, and I felt nauseous. In our session on Thursday my therapist told me that she’s concerned about how often and how many of my Benzo’s I’ve been taking recently. So after that session, I decided to lay off them for a while. Last night was the first time I had it again, and just one, the lowest dose, just as prescribed (even though that dose barely takes the edge off). I had taken it before I left for group. Walking into the coffee shop (where we usually meet), I didn’t even look at anyone. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to stay, but I had already ordered my coffee. Which, by the way, is my weekly splurge. Who thought cappuccino was something to get excited about? I look forward to that cup of coffee every week… Don’t know what I look forward to the most. That or the group. I know, that’s sad. As I held the warm cup in my hand, and heard D’s voice in my head, I suddenly felt this calm come over me. Like a soft, comforting cloud.

It was then that I felt I could face everyone again. That it was okay. So I joined those outside, and that feeling of calm stayed. None of them seemed to look at me any differently… Like I had assumed they would. Assumption really is the mother of all fuck ups, isn’t it? Thinking that they were all judging me, when I was just projecting my own self judgement onto them. At some point I somehow (I have no idea how it happened), spilled coffee all over me. I’m one of those people who always falls over things, spill things, etc. I’m never without bruises (and never just one). My friends joke that when I get my own place I must child-proof it. Thanks guys. When these things happen when I’m around people (other than my friends), I get so embarrassed, turn bright red, and try to cover it up with a joke or two. But this time, I felt… Nothing. It didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even care that it had spilled on my phone as well, whereas other times I’m paranoid about anything happening to it. Even a drop of water. Yes, I’m that protective over my phone. With all my stuff actually. Even my books. I could have read them twice, but they still look brand new. I look after my things because I can’t afford to replace any of it, and I only keep things around me that serve a purpose in my life.

One of the clinic psychologists was leading the group last night. I’ve always been somewhat wary of him. But the past two times that he’s run the group, I’ve been slowly warming up to him. But I’ll never talk to him or open up to him outside of the group. It was a small group last night, which was actually nice. The psychologist asked who wanted to check in first. One of the guys shared his week. When the psychologist asked who wanted to go next, I actually raised my hand! What?! I hadn’t gone in with the intention of sharing anything. But now, here I was, ready to do just that. I didn’t hold anything back. I told them about my struggle regarding last week’s group, and the aftermath of it. The shame, embarrassment, and fear, I’ve been feeling since then. I didn’t talk down to the floor this time, but looked at everyone as I spoke.

They were all so supportive, kind and validating. I felt relieved, like I could breathe again.

In the second half, we were going through the Barriers to Interpersonal Effectiveness. One of the guys was explaining how he experiences one of those barriers. I had noticed that he used the word “should” a lot. For example, “this person should support me”. I kept hearing my therapist telling me that she doesn’t like the word “should”. So I somehow managed to find the perfect time to jump in and give my input. I told him (and the others) how my therapist catches me when I say the word “should” (and all those other “have to” words and phrases), and has me rephrase it. Such as “I would like this person to support me”, or “I would prefer to have their support”. So I feel as though I at least contributed a little bit. And I still felt so calm. It’s very rare that I feel proud of myself. I’m way too self-critical. But last night was one of those rare times. I did it! And it was okay!

At first I thought (and said) “it’s probably just the meds that’s making me feel so calm and able to talk about this now”, but the psychologist was quick to point out that I can’t attribute it all to medication. That it was me, and that I did well. Thinking about it, I know it’s not “just the benzo”. Because last week I took three of them before the group, and I was still anxious. So one couldn’t have made such a big difference yesterday. I wasn’t dissociated either. I was fully present. At least that’s how it felt.

I felt relatively good driving home afterward. But at the same time, I had this subtle feeling that all was still not okay on the inside.

I’ll write about that in another post. I’m all out of writing fuel for today.

Social Anxiety, Embarrassment And Shame

In my previous post I mentioned how I had felt better on Friday. But that only lasted until Saturday evening.

That evening I went to Jasmine’s birthday dinner. There were 10 of us. Two of my friends (I’ve been friends with one of them for over 21 years) had also been invited, since they’re now also friends with Jasmine. My social anxiety was way up there. It was in a noisy restaurant, with the TV way too loud (sports of course). So all that stimulation, and add in 7 people I don’t know, and all I wanted to do was get in my car and go home. But I stuck it out. By the end of the evening I was exhausted.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of Jasmine’s friends made a negative comment about my hair. An overwhelming feeling of embarrassment, shame, and a deep hatred toward myself settled over me like a dark cloud.

I was already especially sensitive that night, due to what happened in group on Tuesday. I haven’t written about that yet. We were busy with the check-in’s, but before it was my turn to share, we had a break. I had a classic BPD mood swing during the break. Anger (towards myself) raging inside and actually throwing a tantrum in the bathroom when no one was in there (throwing my bag across the room- good thing there’s nothing breakable in there). And then the damn tears.

When the break was over and I got back inside, I thought “okay, I’ll share”. I was sitting next to the OT who was leading the group. I told myself “it’s safe, she’s here” (aside from my OT, this one also makes me feel like I’m in good hands). She told me to focus on someone (I chose her and another member of the group), and started. But I spent most of it looking at the damn floor anyway. I felt pressured, not wanting to waste anyone’s time, and just started talking. I know I was probably putting the pressure on myself. After the group, I felt very vulnerable and exposed. And embarrassed. What had I just done? The things I had shared, and the way I had said them, seemed all over the place, and I didn’t think I was even making much sense. Thoughts of “I shouldn’t have said that.” “I can’t believe I said all that”, “what was I thinking?”, “I’m such an idiot.”

I felt I had said too much. Shared things that I actually wasn’t ready to share. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t even look at anyone for the rest of the group time. I felt too vulnerable. I didn’t feel safe after the group (I was in the self-harm “mood”), so I tried to stick around as long as I could. Basically following the OT to wherever she was going, like a damn puppy. We went to the art therapy room and I got to get my “craft” that I had done during my time in the clinic. I was surprised to see that it was still there. So that was nice. Then it was finally time to leave. I didn’t want to, but didn’t have much of a choice.

On the way home, the feelings kept washing over me, the self hatred and abuse loud and clear. I had already been feeling depressed that week, and the previous week, so this was like salt in the wound. I wanted to drive into a wall, and I got pretty close too. I tend to get stuck on thoughts, both negative and positive, but especially the negative ones. They become obsessive thoughts, and I really struggle to let them go. I don’t really know how to.

Have you ever felt this need to have someone hold space for you when you feel you just can’t do that for yourself? Because you feel you don’t deserve it, and maybe if someone can just hold it for you for a little while, you’ll be able to take it back when you feel stronger? I want someone to hold that space for me, but I feel completely alone and abandoned (even if it’s not actually true, and I’m just seeing it through negative eyes right now).

Right now, at this very moment, I feel like I’ve just given up on fighting. I don’t have the strength or energy. I’ll just go through life and take the blows. I’m depressed as hell. I don’t like people right now. Yet I want them. I don’t like me. But I wish I could.

I feel guilty for being me. Ashamed of who I am, and what I’m not.

Time Out: Good For The Soul

Waking up yesterday, I felt so much better than I had in weeks. I’m still a little low, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it has been. The best part is that I feel refreshed.

I took the week for myself. No social engagements (except for group), disconnected from social networks, and stayed off WhatsApp for a few days. I would get home from work (took Wednesday off), then the rest of the day I would spend reading, writing, watching my favourite TV shows, and just daydreaming (my meditation). I also spent about an hour with my other therapist… The beach and ocean.

Isolating myself for a while has paid off. These times aren’t about anyone else. It’s my “selfish time”. I do it because it’s what I need in order to recharge. To take care of myself and keep myself safe (and sane). Those people who say that I need to force myself to get out there and do things, don’t know anything about how my internal world functions. If I force myself, and follow that advice, it’s like adding fuel to the already blazing fire inside me. People drain me. Being out in the world with people all over the place, is exhausting. There’s just too much stimuli out there, and I think that feeds into my hyper-vigilance. So instead of adding even more stress to my body, I choose to stay in the comfort of my room (and one day, my own place). I don’t mind having a friend over for coffee during these times, but I won’t go to a coffee shop or any other public place.

When I can afford it, I’m going to invest in a tent. Whenever I feel like I need to get away and be alone, I’ll go camping. Spend time in nature, and enjoy the silence.

Obviously, I’m an introvert. Most of the introverts I know, can recharge after a day or two. But I take longer. It sometimes takes me a week or more. I accept this part of me now, whereas before I’d just beat myself up over it.

One of the OT’s shared this quote with me, and it’s one of my favourites.

busy

 

Scared Of Losing Them

I took my step siblings out for dinner last night. My stepmom and the man who calls himself my dad went to the casino again (an every weekend thing- they’re there again tonight).

I don’t have a close relationship with my stepsister, the way I do with my stepbrother. While having dinner last night, my stepsister was in a happy, childlike state (which is rare). We were talking about random, silly things, and we had a good time. At one point, just before the bill arrived, I looked over at her sitting across from me, and realized… I really love her. That scared me. It still does.

She reminds me so much of my first stepsister. The sister who ran away. For 13 years I had this entire stepfamily, and then in one day, I lost all of them. Just like that. There one minute, gone the next. It was as if they hadn’t even existed.

I guess I’ve subconsciously been keeping an emotional distance from my current stepsister because of that. Although it’s not the only reason. I’ve told her a few times though that if she ever wants to talk, that I’m here for her. But she’s never needed me. And I’ve been okay with that.

Lately, my abandonment fears have been acting up again. Sure, they’re always in the background. But sometimes for certain periods of time, they come out in force. What set it off? I haven’t figured that part out yet. I don’t even know when it started, just that it’s been a while already.

I told my therapist (and I wrote about it in my previous post) that I’ve been feeling disconnected. From her. From everyone. Seeing her again in our session on Thursday, I felt a little more connected to her again. I saw that my insecurity that she was pulling away from me, was unfounded. That my insecurity wasn’t an accurate representation of the state of our relationship. It was a projection. She wasn’t the one pulling away. I was pulling away from her. It’s not my intention though. I don’t want to pull away from anyone. Yet, I feel like I am. I’m not sure how to stop it. Or if I even want to. I’m just really confused.

I’m scared. What if I lose my current stepfamily too? I’ve already lost four families, people I grew to love. I’ve been to way too many funerals. And it all still hurts. Some of the losses feel more raw than others. I wish I can say that I won’t have to deal with another loss. But unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life, and loss is inevitable.

Maybe if I don’t love anymore, people will stay. Maybe if I disconnect, it won’t hurt as much when or if they leave.

I feel as though there’s not much left of me. All those I lost have taken a piece of me with them.

Inside & Outside

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

I can talk about my emotions. How I’ve been feeling. How I’m currently feeling. To everyone else, it looks like I’m okay. Yet in those moments of talking about my feelings, my outside doesn’t reflect how I’m feeling on the inside. There’s a disconnect. And I don’t know why, or even how that happens.

In group today, when it was my turn to share, I told them a little bit about my experience on Friday, and how I’m still in that dark place. In our session last week Tuesday, OT told me I need to open up more in group, and use the time to its fullest. Therapist told me the same thing. So tonight, I tried. It was terrifying and extremely uncomfortable, but I did it. But once again, my true feelings didn’t match the way I spoke about it.

At one point during group (when someone else was talking about something), I had to leave and go to the bathroom because I could feel tears starting up. I don’t know how long I was in there, but I couldn’t stop crying. Then I intentionally this time, shut down those emotions. I walked out like nothing had happened, and went back to the group. Yes, I know. I probably should have stayed. Instead, I was rude and selfish.

One of two things happen when I talk about emotions and what I’m struggling with. Either I feel it all inside, but it doesn’t show on my face, as if I’m two different people. Or I just shut down completely and become numb. And the worst part is that 99% of the time, I don’t do it intentionally. It happens automatically.

Do any of you experience this? And how do I move past it?

I’m still feeling terrible since Friday. All I can think about is death. I see, and feel it all around me. I’m having nightmares. The kind that haunt me, and show up out of nowhere throughout the day. Like flashbacks. I get frustrated. After all, it’s just a dream. It’s not real. But then why does it feel so real? It’s past events, but with a twist. Like memories, mixed in with current fears. Some of these fears are those that I never even knew I had. I’ve also been struggling a lot with anxiety. I’m living off my Benzo’s (I’m not overdoing it- just enough to cope).

I feel disconnected from everyone and everything.