Grateful

I’m sitting on the balcony of my lovely lady’s place, surveying the beauty around me. In front of me I see the landmark mountain in all it’s glory.

Elizabeth is still asleep. I’m tired, as we haven’t had much sleep over the past three days. But for some reason I had this desire to make myself a cup of coffee and come sit outside for a while. Will climb back into bed with her when I’m done with this post. The strangest thing for me is that I usually struggle to sleep with someone so close to me. But with her I sleep deeply, even when she’s holding me or I’m holding her. It’s just so comfortable and perfect. We just fit in so many ways.

I’m going back to my place later today. We went to an event on Thursday, which ended really late, and went to her best friend’s birthday party on Friday evening, which is why we decided it would be better if I stayed over. I took the day off work on Friday. My work was done by Thursday late morning anyway.

She met one of my friends on Thursday, who came with us. My friend was only going to stay for an hour, as she had to work the next day, but she ended up staying with us the entire time. She loved Elizabeth, and vice versa. We all had a blast. We “collected” people as we walked from art gallery to art gallery, and went bar hopping (we didn’t over-do the drinking). We were walking through the city with plastic glasses of wine (the one evening that it’s legal to walk around in public with alcohol) and it was raining. Elizabeth had an umbrella, but the wind here makes the umbrella irrelevant. So we spent most of the time with wet hair and clothes.

I had a great time at her best friend’s party as well. Her friend’s are just as crazy as mine. The same kind of people who allow their inner children to come out and play, and just be silly. I love it!

I feel so at home at her place. More so than my own. It’s comfortable.

On Friday and Saturday when Elizabeth was working (she works from home), I caught up on some reading and writing. I also took the opportunity to take walks through the city, getting lost plenty of times and having to use Google Maps and ask strangers for directions. I love that! Just being free without having a fixed destination. I found a lovely little coffee shop that I’ll go to every time I go for a walk when I’m here. They have the most amazing cappuccino’s and croissant’s. I haven’t walked this much in years! I feel so good!

I’m going home later today, and will probably only see Elizabeth for a few hours on Wednesday.

I’m so grateful for my life, and never thought I’d ever feel as happy as I have been feeling. I’m living in one of the most amazing places in the world, and I have the most beautiful, amazing girlfriend. I feel so content.

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At Peace

I wrote a post earlier today, which got me thinking more about the situation I’m currently in with Elizabeth and Jasmine. I realized that I make things more complicated for myself than they actually are. I see a crisis where there isn’t one.

I was sitting outside a few minutes ago, and saw a shooting star. The biggest, brightest, and longest lasting one I’ve ever seen. Wow! What an incredible, beautiful experience. That one little star lit up the whole night sky, as I was focused on that light, so could no longer see the darkness surrounding it. Such a great metaphor for life, isn’t it?

My relationships are precious to me. I value them. But I can’t control them. There are two people in every relationship, and I can only focus on my part. So I’ve decided that I’m going to give Jasmine the space she needs. I’ve done all I can do for now. I hope that she comes around sometime, but it’s out of my hands.

I’m going to continue giving my all to my relationship with Elizabeth, and allow myself to just go with the flow, and be myself. Express myself without fear, or worrying about what anyone else thinks. I can’t be responsible for other’s thoughts, feelings, and decisions.

Worrying about what may or may not happen only serves to take my focus away from all the good in my life, and from being mindful in each moment. When I first learned of mindfulness, I thought it was a bunch of Buddhist nonsense. But I’ve since discovered just how powerful this practice actually is. It has the potential to change our entire life. It’s already slowly changing mine.

So, I choose to focus on that star, not the darkness surrounding it, and be present for each moment in my life. There’s a time and place for everything. If being present means sitting with painful emotions and letting the darkness be experienced, then that’s what’s needed during that moment. Tomorrow is tomorrow. But right here, right now, I’m exactly where I need to be.

And I feel at peace.

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Elizabeth, and the Dilemma

About an hour after writing my previous post, my mood started climbing again. All memories of Wednesday’s “negative” events just vanished. It’s like they stopped existing, and never even happened. The happiness I’ve been experiencing has been amazing and intense. I had a few hours of mania on Monday last week, and that was insane! But no, the happy space I’ve been in lately is the more stable kind. Extreme, but not in the “danger” zone as it was that Monday.

So, about Elizabeth. We met just less than three weeks ago, dated for just over a week, and then on Friday we made it “official”, as the kids say these days. There was a connection between us from the first date already. We spent almost 3 hours together, and would have continued if we didn’t have to catch our bus home (to our own houses of course). As it was, we ended up having to chase after the bus, as it was the last one of the evening. That was a hilarious (and fun) moment! Life is an adventure with her. She’s already been opening up new worlds for me.

She’s an extrovert, but not the extreme type that makes me fear for my sanity. She enjoys spending time alone too, and up to turning down invitations if she wants a quiet night in. She’s an artist (I love her art!), but that’s not her main job. She’s working in another field (don’t want to give too much away for the sake of anonymity), and studying for her social sciences degree. I really like that she loves learning new things. It’s something we’re both passionate about.

Elizabeth has a nice solid, stable sense of self. I never have to worry whether she’s “faking it”, as she’s very expressive. She speaks her mind, so I don’t have to wonder what she’s thinking or feeling. She’s not afraid of talking about the difficult things. One evening she told me that I have a very expressive face, and she really likes that. Now that came as a surprise. It was in that moment that I realized that it’s true… just how much of my guard I drop when I’m around her. For some reason I’m not afraid of being vulnerable with her, and allowing my feelings to be shown. It’s easy. She has a lot of empathy and compassion towards others. My family adores her… Even my stepsister, who never liked anyone in my life. She gives them her evil eye. But from the first moment of meeting Elizabeth, she liked her. Once Elizabeth had gone home after that first meeting, my stepsister kept telling me how cute and nice she was. I felt so proud.

I don’t over-share with her. I find that I only share certain things when it comes up in conversation somehow. It just comes, and flows naturally when I do share with her. When I first met Jasmine, by the second week, she already knew my whole life story (well, a lot of it at least). So I’m enjoying this, taking it as it comes, and not feeling this pressure to lay it all out on the table in one go. Elizabeth knows I have BPD. It started when she asked me one Tuesday what plans I had for the evening (she had dancing practice). I told her that I was going to a support group. On our next date she asked me type of support group it was, and I told her. She didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all. During the conversation that ensued, she told me that one of her closest friends has BPD (she was speaking very fondly of her). This was the perfect moment! So I told her I also live with it.

I was expecting her to either get up and make some excuse to leave, or look at me differently. But she didn’t even flinch when I told her. I kept waiting to see her expression change, but the only thing I could see on her face was compassion, and genuine interest. She asked questions, of course, but knew exactly what BPD is. I felt so heard and at ease talking to her about how BPD, depression and anxiety affects me.

I can’t be someone’s entire world again. Best friend, lover, parent, saviour, etc. In all of my past relationships I’ve often felt claustrophobic, and there was a whole co-dependent thing going on. Even with my ex-boyfriend (yes, I have one of those). So I love the fact that Elizabeth has her own group of friends (who I’ll also hang out with from time to time with her- and vice versa), and her own hobbies and activities that are just hers, and that I have mine. It’s a breath of fresh air. Thankfully, when she goes to dancing or out with friends, she sends me a little voice note just checking in sometime during the evening. It helps me feel secure in her and our relationship.

With Jasmine, relationship wise, we were a match but not a fit. If that makes sense? As friend’s we’re the perfect fit. With Elizabeth though, it feels like both a match and a fit. Jasmine obviously knows about Elizabeth. I was completely open and honest with her from the very beginning.

It’s so hard though. I feel like I’ve let Jasmine down. I don’t want to lose her. But she has been pulling away from me, which is completely understandable. It’s a tough situation. Even though she was the first one to say that we should rather be friends, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy for her. I guess that’s why people don’t remain friends with their exes… And especially not best friends.

I invited Jasmine out for dinner last week Friday, since I knew she really needed a friend then, as she’s been struggling lately. Especially with her new job. I didn’t bring Elizabeth up, but I was open to her bringing her up. I tried to be my usual self with her as far as possible, and I think I did a good job. I know there’s an overconfidence bias where we think we did or know something better than we actually do, but I still think I did quite well here. Jasmine didn’t end up mentioning Elizabeth either. The conversation and dinner went okay, but Jasmine didn’t talk as much as she usually does, and didn’t open up much. I sent her a text a few days ago, telling her that if she wants to talk about all of this, she’s free to. That it might be helpful and good for her to get it all out in the open. I invited her for coffee today, but she turned it down.

I always have to drag things out of her. Even when we were still in a romantic relationship. The way we’re going to get through and around this is if we sit down and honestly talk about it. I’m aware that she probably just needs time. But how much time? I care about her so much, and just want her to be okay. Even if that means we never see one another again, if that’s what she thinks will be best for her. But I want to know how she’s feeling, what she’s thinking. I just want her to say something. Even if it’s something that hurts me.

We’re all (a few other friends of mine and Elizabeth’s) going to an event together on Thursday, but I’m not so sure whether Jasmine will still be joining. If she does, I’m a little worried. I can’t not hold Elizabeth’s hand (her love language is also touch, and she’s very affectionate in public too- to a reasonable extent of course), but I also don’t want to put our relationship on “display” in front of Jasmine. It’s not fair to her. But it’s also not fair to Elizabeth by keeping a bit of distance between us. So I don’t know what to do. I don’t want my relationship with Jasmine to interfere with my relationship with Elizabeth. This relationship is too important to me. But I also don’t want to hurt Jasmine anymore than I probably already have.

When I first started developing feelings for Elizabeth, I thought of Jasmine, and how it might affect our relationship. I even considered ending things with Elizabeth for the sake of not messing things up with Jasmine. But then I got a flash of insight. I’ve always sacrificed my own happiness, and put my life on hold, for others. But what about me? Don’t I also deserve to be happy? I never used to think I did, which is why I always lived for others. But through my healing journey I’ve come to realize that I’m important too. That I’m only responsible for my own life and happiness. Yet, I’m still struggling with this feeling of guilt.

What do you guys think? I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this.

The World In Colour

Today,
The world is bathed in vivid, splendid colour
Colours I have never seen before
But want to see forever

Powerless against this force
I get lost in the beauty all around
My heart fills with life energy
Every part of me overflowing

The ocean understands my soul
She feels as I feel
She breathes and flows
With sheer power and intensity

The intensity of these feelings
Just might kill me, and if it does
I can’t think of a better way
For my life to end

To the one who stole my heart…
Thank you for colouring my world.

 

“That little kiss you stole
It held my heart and soul
And like a ghost in the silence I disappear”

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A Heavy Heart

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

Seeing my ex again affected me so much more than I expected. I didn’t actually think it would affect me at all. But what gave her closure, opened up old wounds in me. Wounds, I realized, I had just placed a band-aid over.

Leaving the relationship was hard. The hardest part was leaving her behind, knowing I had hurt her by ending us. I hurt for myself as well, but most of the pain and sadness I experienced was for her. I would push my own feelings down as often as I could. I had a few moments here and there where I would just break down, and experience the pain I was in, the doubt, fear, sadness at what I had lost. I spent more time trying to convince myself that I was okay.

This time has been so much harder. I started off feeling a lot of anger towards myself. I caught myself thinking that I shouldn’t still be feeling this way. It’s over. It was over a long time ago, so there’s no reason for it to be an issue now. Thinking that I shouldn’t have gone to see her. But I did. I can’t change that. All I can do is accept the consequences, and deal with them.

Beating myself up for feeling this way, was just reinforcing a pattern I’ve repeated throughout my life. When I was thinking “I shouldn’t have gone to see her” that made the anger even stronger. Why? Because it sounds (and feels) like a demand and a judgement. The better way of thinking about it, is stating a preference instead. I wish I hadn’t gone to see her. When I changed it to the latter, I felt more compassion and gentleness towards myself, and the anger lost its sting.

It’s okay to feel this sadness. It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m human. It means I loved. It means that I cared enough about someone to notice their absence and feel the loss. Our tears help soothe the pain we feel. They heal us from the inside out.

Our emotions, what we feel at any given moment in time, is neither good nor bad. They just are. I would rather feel, than numb myself again. Because at some point, that numbness will go away, and I’ll be forced to feel anyway. Whereas if I allow myself to feel all those emotions as they come up, they will pass quicker. These emotions aren’t going to kill me. I can’t rush it, I can’t force it. I can instead allow myself to go through this grief and see it through.

I feel that I’ve changed during this process over the past few weeks. There’s healing taking place. Not just with regards to the end of the relationship, but also in my relationship with myself. As painful as this process is, and has been, I can see the beauty in it.

I’ve been trying to treat myself with compassion. When we silence the inner critic, and let go of our judgments towards ourselves, the true healing begins. When we allow self-compassion into our hearts, it can change so much of our experience. It shows us that we’re valuable and worthy.

I took the day off from work today. I was feeling too bad, and needed time to just be. Away from the outside world. I took a long, hot bath, and did some art therapy. My new favourite thing.

You might think that I regret having gone to see my ex that day. But I don’t. Now I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it really is over. That there’s no going back. I also gained something important. That’s my closure.

My heart is heavy today. But it’s healing.

Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

Now this is an awkward topic, right? Which is why I haven’t written about it yet. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to start. After the in-person session I had with my therapist last week Monday, I feel the time is right. There’s nothing strange with what I’m writing about, it’s just that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic as I am. I get it. I was there too. In fact, even though it’s so much easier for me to explore this these days, I still feel a little vulnerable. But that’s why I love my blog space. I can be as open and honest as I want without anyone seeing the different shades of red spreading across my face when I share certain things. “Red suits you”, one of my friends recently said after she kissed me on the cheek. In my defense, we’ve been friends for over 21 years, and she’s never done anything like that. She’s one of those “anti-touch” people.

So. I love my therapist. She knows this, as I’ve told her a couple of times in the past. I once asked her whether that was okay. Trust me when I tell you, it’s okay. I haven’t said those words to her since last year, but there have been a few times where I’ve almost blurted out again “I love you”, but didn’t. I wasn’t quite on the “knowing what I actually mean” path yet.

The love I felt for her has taken on different meanings throughout the first year of working with her. The “in what way?” question had been a source of confusion during much of that time. A few sessions into our first couple of months working together, I had a little bit of a crush on her. Okay, maybe a big one. There was also a time where I thought I might actually be in love with her, or getting there. I told you…Awkward. Plenty of times, I thought that loving her is wrong. That I’m not supposed to. Not allowed to. That it’s inappropriate. The natural consequence of those thoughts was shame. And a lot of it.

Sometime last year, I went through a stage where I had a few intimate dreams of her. They confused me. I told her about one or two of them, but never went into detail of course. It’s intimidating and so scary to bring these kinds of dreams and feelings to our therapists. Wondering what’s wrong with us, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. Those feelings can be so big sometimes, and it’s important to talk about it. I’m guilty of not always having spoken to her about some of those feelings. But I know I’ll be able to if something ever comes up again. After all, I need to practice what I preach, right?

I once told my therapist that I love her as a person. A fellow human being. But that’s very broad isn’t it? After all, I only get to see the professional Clinical Psychologist side of her (with little bits of self-disclosure thrown into the mix every now and then). But, it’s still her. Maybe I don’t get to see the other roles she plays outside the therapy room, such as that of wife, daughter, friend, etc. But I also get to see her in her role as therapist, which they don’t get to see.

“I love coffee.”
“I love my friends.”
“I love my parents.”
“I love my partner.”
“I love my children.”
“I love my pet/s.”

Love. One word to represent different forms of it. So I’m going to call this form “therapy love”.

I feel like I’ve grown in the love I feel for her. I’m finally in a comfortable, secure place, where it just makes perfect sense. It’s not the kind of love shared between partners, parents, children or friends. It’s a love of its own. But it’s not less than those other forms. The therapeutic relationship is unique and not the typical kind of relationship, but it’s still a relationship. And the same is true of the love that we feel inside that relationship. I know a lot of you love your therapists this way too.

Then there’s the love that the youngest parts feel. I think it comes out of how children might feel about their main attachment figure? I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I felt anything about my earliest attachment to my mom. The earliest memories I have of her is when I was about 3 or 4 I think. But I also don’t remember much from those years and those after. Just little (and big) things here and there. But the love for my therapist that comes from those little parts feels different. Attachment love maybe?

Seeing my therapist again last Monday was amazing. When she came to get me, the minute I saw her face, it felt as though my heart just lit up. It was so nice being back in her office. It was familiar, with that “home” feeling. I like the fact that she has couches, and not just chairs. Like with my psychiatrist and OT, it felt a little awkward sitting in those chairs. I also find it intimidating because you have someone sitting right in front of you, whereas the way my therapist’s couches are arranged, you don’t get that “she’s staring me down” vibes. It’s comfortable and makes the space feel less clinical, and more welcoming.

I brought a lot to her that session. Way too much. I was emotional and jumped from one topic to the next. I was extremely ungrounded. So I gave her too much to work with, or too little. But at least now I understand (after she explained it to me), how the way I want therapy to work won’t provide long-term benefits. I might feel better for a few hours afterward, but that’s not the goal. I’ve always felt that maybe I’m doing therapy wrong. But there isn’t a wrong. It’s a learning journey as well. And now I understand her view better, and it makes so much more sense. Now I know better how to approach our sessions. Strangely, I feel more in control, like there’s a clear structure to work with. I’ve always tried to squeeze as much into a session as possible, because it feels time pressured due to the fact that I don’t see her every week. I feel like our most productive sessions have been when we’ve stuck with one topic though, and I know she feels the same way about this. I prefer it that way, so will give up on the “time pressure”.

Sometime during the session, my therapist asked “what do you want?”. In that moment, every part of me wanted to say “can you please come sit next to me? Hug me?” Of course I didn’t ask that. I’m very aware of boundaries these days, and I especially don’t want to cross any of her personal boundaries.

Near the end of the session, I wanted to show my therapist some of the pictures that I had taken while visiting with my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. By that time I was feeling much more grounded. I like how she always seems so interested in seeing the pictures that I take. Last year, during one of the sessions we had when I was still living in the same city as her, I also showed her a picture (of me when I was a little girl- moody as hell), but I just handed her the phone where she was sitting. This time though, she actually moved to the furthest end of her couch, so she was close to mine. That surprised me (in a good way of course). One of the other reasons why I didn’t ask her whether she could come sit by me, was because I was also holding onto shame (so what else is new dammit), and therefore felt untouchable, unlovable and hideous. Why would she want to sit close to me? Why would anyone? Stupid inner voice. That one little action, of her moving closer, made a world of difference. It felt as though she broke through another one of my defenses. I have so many, I don’t even know all of them. Most are (probably) subconscious.

At some point I had the urge to draw, colour in, paint, etc. Why, I have no idea. My therapist let me borrow some paper and her pencil, and I got to it. It was so small, just took up a little space in the corner. I drew one thing on top of the other. No one would have been able to decipher that and know what the hell I had just drawn. But I know, so that’s what matters.

At the end of our session, I started to feel a little emotional again. I didn’t want to leave. But of course, I had to. Don’t you just hate that? As we were walking out, I wanted to ask my therapist whether I could hug her, but felt too shy to ask. But I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably regret it for a long, long time, and beat myself up over it. And then without thinking about it any further, I just came out and asked if I can give her a hug. She said “of course” and when she said it that way, I knew she was comfortable with it then, and I felt relieved. And my favourite part was when she said “I’ll give you one”. I loved that! It was the most special, meaningful hug I’ve ever had. A hug from the person that I never thought I’d ever get to be that close to.

It feels like my connection to her, that bond, has deepened. Which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt loved and valued. She really cares about me. And that’s such an amazing, warm, and soothing feeling.

So…

I love my therapist.

To The Man Who Raised Me

It feels like I’ll never get rid of you.
I constantly feel you inside me.
Like a second layer of skin.
I see you when I look in the mirror.
And I hate what I see.

You’re putting a roof over my head.
But you’re not doing it because you love me.
You don’t know how to love anyone but yourself.
You’re just doing it to keep control over me.
To show the world what a good man you are.

But you’re not a man.
You’re a monster.

I asked you to stop doing something.
You got mad, and still just keep doing it.
“That’s what family does. At least our family”.
But I don’t want to be part of that “family”.
I cringe and feel nauseous every time, but bite my tongue.

I was never your little girl.
I was just an object for you. Someone to control.
Just like you did with the rest of them.
You make me question my memories, my sanity.
My beliefs. Myself. Who am I?

I am who you say I am.
Isn’t that right?

You’re giving me so much right now.
Except that which I’ve always needed.
But you’ve taken away even more.
I wish I wasn’t yours.
But I can’t cut you out of my life.

I can’t stand the sight of you most days.
When I look at your face, I want to scream.
Memories flash on the screen of my mind.
Your voice sickens me.
Your touch destroys me little by little.

You broke what was shiny and new.
And have the audacity to say it was them that ruined me.
It’s never you, is it? It’s always everyone else.
You can do no wrong.
Your worldview is sick and twisted. Just like you.

I should have just let you die those times.
I shouldn’t have intervened.
Just go to my room and pretend I didn’t know.
Let others find you on the floor.
She says I did what I thought was right. But was it?

You think you’re a god, sitting on your throne.
Everyone must bow down and and worship you
Or face the consequences of your rage.
It works, because we’re so fucking scared of you.

I can’t escape. I’m trying so hard to find a way.
But I fail time and time again. I’m a failure.
I’m letting go of the hope that you’ll change.
That you’ll be the father I’ve always wanted.
I wish I could get you off me and out of me.

Will it ever end?

I can’t get away from you.
I’m helpless. Trapped.
“Get out” they say.
I’ve tried. I’m still trying.

And it hurts. It fucking hurts.
because even though I hate you,
I love you.