Basking In The Sun

I wouldn’t refer to myself as a sunshiney (I don’t think that’s a word, but it is now) person. That honour belongs to my friend Summer… You know who you are.

But today I feel like I am the sun. I feel the sun shining down upon me, the warm glow filling every part of me.

And damn, it feels good!

I can’t remember when last I have felt this good, and had it last almost an entire day. It’s such a welcome relief.

I know there’s a lot of you out there who feel the opposite today. And to you I’d just like to say this:

The darkness feels real right now. It is real. But so is the light. And you will experience that light again. When you feel that sunshine, don’t spend it fearing the darkness that might come again. Just allow yourself to be present in that moment, without thought of what might come tomorrow, or even a few hours later. Enjoy it. Because it’s these little moments of sunshine in our lives that keep us breathing through the worst storms.

The Therapeutic Relationship

Most of last weeks session with my psychologist was spent discussing our relationship. I had started the session by telling her that I didn’t want to be there. She wanted to talk more about that. I got angry at her after a while, and felt a lot of agitation and impatience. I wanted to tell her to just stop. I felt there were other things I wanted to talk about instead. Things I thought were more important.

She told me that this relationship is important, so if I feel a disconnection with her, it’s really important for us to discuss it. That if I ever feel that something she did or said hurt me, I must tell her. She doesn’t want things to be left unsaid. I told her I would, but told her that I want her to do the same thing. Because one of my biggest fears is that she feels negatively about our relationship, but keeps it to herself.

I care about what she thinks of me and how the connection feels to her. I really do. Perhaps a little too much.

Since that session I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. I came to the conclusion that she’s right. It is important to discuss the relationship. A month ago, I would have loved to have spent an entire session talking about our connection. But I’ve become uncomfortable discussing it lately. Uncomfortable feeling this attachment. More and more I’m feeling this need to pull away from her. To keep her at a distance. To withdraw.

Because now it feels very real. Before, I loved the connection we shared. But lately, while I still love it, and need it, it’s become more solid. More real to me. And that scares me. I’ve never had this level of connection with anyone before. I’m terrified. The potential for getting hurt is huge. I know she’ll still unintentionally hurt me. She’s only human after all. But it’s not just that. It also comes down to my own shame. I feel embarrassed for wanting her, for needing her. At feeling this bond. There’s a lot of shame attached to it, and I don’t fully understand it yet. I long to reach out sometimes, but it also stirs up those feelings of shame. Reaching out feels wrong. A pattern from my childhood, where reaching out was met with negativity. Now it feels like a boundary violation, not just a boundary crossing. I feel like I don’t deserve the attention. That I’m not deserving of her time. That I’m not worthy.

I always thought I allowed certain people relatively close to me. But looking back this past week, I was sad to discover that that wasn’t the case. I kept everyone at some distance. Never allowing them too close. And now it’s coming out in my therapeutic relationship. Even the most important relationship in my life, that with my grandmother, reveals that pattern. I just wanted to spend time with her, be with her. But never talking about my deeper feelings or fears. Never connecting on a deeper level.

On Tuesday I sent my therapist an email with a one of the rare pictures I have of me when I was a little girl, the only one I have of me and my mom together. I also attached a ‘personality’ profile I have taken when I was 19 and in college. Feeling the need to push her away, I decided to use a DBT skill instead, that of opposite action. So I sent her that email to pull her close again. It was important for me to reach out.

I’m grateful now that she pushed me to talk about it. There are a few things I want to discuss with her in our session on Monday. And I don’t care if we spend the entire session working through these things. It has to be done. It is important.

But I’m scared.

BPD & Attachment

Those of us with BPD have unstable patterns in relationships. Until I started therapy, this fact didn’t even appear on my radar. I was living it, but not consciously aware of these patterns. It was only when I started therapy that it was brought to my awareness. I see it play out in my relationship with my psychologist as well.

One of the criteria for BPD in the DSM IV is:

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

This is also known as “splitting”, and is a common defense mechanism for those with BPD. In one article I read, the author referred to us as being emotionally 2 or 3 years old, with a lack of object constancy. Object constancy usually develops between the ages of 2 and 3, and is a normal developmental stage in early childhood that those of us with BPD haven’t quite mastered. What is object constancy? Out of the Fog puts it this way:

An inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision.

You can read more about this on their website.
http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/lack-of-object-constancy

This is how this looks for me:

I become so attached (obsessively so) to anyone who shows me an ounce of care. They become my whole world. Then, it starts. One little word, one small action, and I feel it all crumble down around me. The feeling that I’m being abandoned or rejected is all consuming. If I don’t hear from someone for a while, I start believing the worst. No longer are they this perfect hero, but now just another person who has rejected me, or is going to abandon me. So I withdraw and push them away. After all, it’s better to pull away myself than have them walk away.

I adore my therapist, and after almost 5 months she still has that place on the pedestal of my mind. But there have been occasions where I’ve found myself withdrawing. Wanting to push her away. She refers to it as “push-pull”. If I don’t hear from her for a time, I get extremely distressed, and I find myself trying to erase any trace of her from my mind. Anger. Pain. But never hate. A few minutes or hours later though, she pops back into my mind, and I long for that connection to her again. It’s extremely frustrating.

I wrote this letter to my therapist last night. I wasn’t going to even send it to her, but I feel it perfectly represents all I’ve written about in this post. So I’m publishing it here.

Dear (therapist),

I don’t mean to be a burden. I don’t mean to doubt you, your words, or your reassurances.

For the past two days I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head that maybe you’re angry with me. That maybe I did something wrong. Knowing that I can’t ask you that question. Thinking that if I contact you and ask you that question that I so desperately want the answer to, that you’ll get angry and put up more boundaries. Thinking that I’ll have to wait to see whether I hear from you, or if you show up, to know whether my fear is just another projection.

I don’t want to be like this. It’s hard for me. Excruciating would be a more accurate description of the anguish I feel. It’s like having a knife twisted, pushed and pulled into my heart and stomach, over and over again. It stops for a little while, only to start up again when something triggers the abandonment fears. I don’t mean to constantly want and demand your attention. I hate it as much as I fear you do.

You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re doing everything right, and more. It’s me. My mind can’t quite grasp that when you send me an email, or text message one day, that it’s equally valid a few days later. That you haven’t changed your mind. That you still care. I’m trying hard to change that. You should know though that I hold onto those kind gestures, and look at them, reading them again whenever I’m missing you. They keep me going. They keep me strong.

I’m sorry for being too much. Even though in my own world and life, I never feel like I’m enough.

How do I tell you that you’re my life line, when I’m terrified that revealing that will make you pull away from me… Fearing that I’m too dependent? Would it be okay if I told you that if it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I’d be here writing this letter? I don’t think I ever told you this…That first day I came to see you…I had decided that if our meeting didn’t go well, and I thought you couldn’t help me, that I was going to end my life. That you were my last attempt at staying alive. The others made me feel hopeless, that I couldn’t be helped. That I couldn’t be saved. Perhaps that’s why I’m so attached to you. Why I feel this bond with you. You saved my life that day. You saved my life a few weeks ago. You save me when I’m unable to save myself.

Thank you for all you do. Thank you for caring for this woman who’s still a little girl inside, working on growing up and soaring. Becoming the woman I can be.


Rayne

Parts Of Me

Today was one of those days where I wanted nothing to do with my therapist. All I wanted to do when I got her session confirmation text message was to cancel it. What stopped me? The different parts of myself all bringing their own voices to the thought. Arguing back and forth, pulling in different directions.

I’ve recognized 4 distinct parts of myself. There’s the little part, the one that’s terrified of having the connection to therapist cut. That’s scared whenever she needs to be away from her, and can’t bear “goodbye”. The thought that therapist will disappear and isn’t around anymore. Who doesn’t understand why she has to go and leave her all alone.

Then there’s the insecure girl (she feels about 8 years old). The part that doesn’t quite know whether therapist can be trusted. That isn’t sure whether she’s cared about. That’s scared of the connection she feels. She’s also a little scared of therapist herself. She’s the shy one.

There’s also the rebellious and angry teenage part. She feels like she doesn’t need anyone or anything and that she’s better off alone. She longs for connection, but afraid of it. To her, connection means getting hurt. So she pushes people away. She uses anger so that she doesn’t feel the pain.

Lastly, there’s the adult part. The one that knows therapy is valuable and helping her move forward, even when it’s uncomfortable and hard. The one who truly values and cares deeply about therapist. She knows the connection is a healthy and necessary one. She likes learning things about herself that she maybe wasn’t aware of, and wants to grow and become the best version of herself.

Sometimes all these parts of myself seem to collide into one big confusing mess, and other times there’s a dominant one that seems stronger than the rest. The teenager was especially active this morning. She had built up walls around herself. But once again, a few minutes into the session, my therapist somehow managed to pull those walls down. Broke through the resistance and fear.

So while the teenage part was the dominant one, the littlest part was panicking about not seeing my therapist today, and the adult part was providing the rational thought. I didn’t cancel, I showed up to the session. Then it seemed it was the teenager and the child competing against one another in the first few minutes before and during the session.

Why do I feel this need to pull away? I figured this out right before the session. I think it’s because of the current situation. I have to go 2 weeks between sessions for the next while, and that’s really difficult for me to cope with. In other words, I hate it, and I don’t care if anyone says I’m overreacting or being silly.

It’s not just in the therapy relationship that this happens though. It seems to happen in my other relationships as well when I really sit down to think about it. Although the littlest part doesn’t seem to feature with anyone other than my therapist, and my wonderful friend, Imani (sorry for pushing you away the past few days).

Writing all this makes me feel ridiculous. But then… wait, I hear a voice… I DON’T CARE how I sound!

I Will Rise

I heard Katy Perry’s new song today, and it grabbed me in a powerful way. Most of all it inspired me.

It’s my time to shine. It’s my time to start putting the pieces of myself together. To figure out who I want to be, who I am.

I may not be nowhere near where I want to be. But I’ll get there, on my own terms.

I never got the chance to be the rebellious teenager. So I’m going to be the rebel that’s a natural part of me, the part that I suppressed. She also deserves free expression.

I will no longer be controlled… Told what to do, or how to feel.

I will no longer conform, just because I’m afraid of conflict.

I will no longer be silent. I have a voice, and I’m going to use it.

It’s time for me to write my own story. To transform.

I will rise.