The Challenge And Necessity Of Being Good to Ourselves

My psychologist shared this quote online, and it’s been at the back of my mind since I saw it.

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I was approached by one of my male friends a few weeks ago. Someone I’d known for a number of years. We’ve never been close, but the friendship had its merits.

He asked me to take on a personal project for him. It would require a lot of time and work on my part, and the only thing I would get out of it would be the satisfaction of having done something for a friend. As usual, I agreed. However, since my break up and move, I don’t have the large amount of internet data it would require. I had unlimited WiFi access, but in this new place, there’s a limited amount of data available every month and it has to be shared by six of us. This project has been causing me a lot of distress lately. To say I’ve been dreading it would be an understatement.

This quote came into my mind again yesterday, and I knew what I had to do. I was nervous telling him I couldn’t do it anymore. I also told him that I’m going through a really hard time and I have so many other things on my plate at this time, and am already overwhelmed. That I need to be kind to myself now too. It took a whole minute for him to tell me he never wants to hear from me again. Thanks, and fuck you too.

I’ve never been good at handling stress. I get overwhelmed easily, and it used to result in panic attacks. I’ve since learned how to stop it turning into a full blown one. But a lot of it was my own fault. Always taking on too much. Never wanting to disappoint or offend anyone. Never standing up for myself and taking people’s crap. In all the jobs I had, I spent many moments in the bathroom hitting the walls or cutting myself where no one could see. Then walking out, the picture of calm and control. There was only one job where I allowed myself to express my frustration and anger. My boss and I would often have screaming matches with one another, swearing included, which would end with him going into his office and slamming the door. I’ve never been able to fight with anyone like that, not even with my ex. But I felt comfortable letting this man have it. Everyone else in the company was terrified of him. But the bastard loved me. Would always bring me chocolates or flowers afterward or the next day. Ah, the good ol’ days. 😛

I recently became obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence. It was her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” that really got my attention. I watched it a couple weeks ago with my family. They thought she was crazy… I was fascinated and loved her character. Who I’m pretty sure has BPD by the way. Anyone else happen to think so?

Just as a side note: That scene in the restaurant was epic. I played it back a few times when everyone else had gone to bed. It made me feel so satisfied. What can I say? I’m messed up.

Anyway, in one scene, Tiffany (Portrayed by Jennifer) tells Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat:

I do this time after time after time, I do all this shit for other people, and then I wake up and I’m empty. I have nothing. I always get myself into these fucking situations. I give everything to other people and nobody ever… I don’t get what I want okay?

Those words really hit me hard. A lot of us are in the habit of doing things for others, even at the expense of our own needs and desires.

Being good to ourselves also means taking care of our own needs. It’s okay to ask for what you want. This concept is something I struggle with. I’ve realized that a few times in my life I’ve offered others hugs simply because I wanted or needed one. Manipulation much? I send my apologies out into the universe to those people, wherever they may be. The other day I followed the example of Tiffany (who asked Pat to help her with her dance), and told a friend that I need a hug. And you know what? She was more than happy to give it to me. It was terrifying to ask, but I felt good afterward. Proud of myself for a change. We need to be proud of every step we take in a positive direction. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

It makes me feel good doing things for others, as I’m sure it does for you too. But sometimes there are things you don’t want to do, aren’t comfortable doing, or that go against your values or beliefs. We need to learn to say “no” and become comfortable in doing so. I don’t like hurting or offending people. But I think I need to learn to balance being kind and good to others and myself at the same time. This won’t always be possible of course, but I’m sure most situations will enable me to do just that.

I’m currently reading a book, ‘Coping With BPD’.  After this experience with my “friend” I was trying to get the situation off my mind and decided to read a little. I opened up to the next chapter in that book. Surprise… The title? ‘Saying No’. Funny how these things happen, isn’t it? I read about the FAST skill of DBT. FAST is an acronym for:
F – (be) Fair
A – (no) Apologies
S – Stick to values
T
– (be) Truthful
They don’t go into too much detail in the book about it, so I found this article that explains it really well. Will definitely need to practice this skill.

People won’t always treat you well. But whenever you remember, and whenever you can, treat yourself well. You deserve to be good to yourself. You’re worth it. The saying “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is true. But you know what’s also true for those of us in the habit of always putting others first?

“Do unto yourself as you do unto others.”

The Age Game

My ex and I had this ‘game’.

Depending on how I was acting, she would assign an age to me. The oldest I got to was 60. The wise old lady. But that was always accompanied a few hours later or earlier by a downgrade to any age between 2-16 years old.

Well, today I was the toddler throwing a tantrum. So, I guess that makes me 2 or 3 years old. Take your pick.

They say a symptom of BPD is impulsive behaviour. Does posting something in the heat of an intense emotional meltdown count as being impulsive? What about sending your therapist an email while in that same emotional state? I did both. And once the storm had passed, I was left feeling like a complete idiot. Again. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I had a therapy session today, and for the first time since we started seeing one another I just wasn’t feeling the connection. Something was off. In hindsight, I was feeling very exposed and vulnerable. I also felt a wall at times. One I had most probably constructed in my own mind.

Near the end of our session, I turned the conversation to a personal matter. And obviously I was approaching a boundary. Naturally, my therapist wouldn’t give me the information I wanted. Then, the whole one-sided relationship feeling washed over me. I might have pushed a little, knowing that boundary would be there. But pushing anyway. Wanting, needing to feel ‘special’. But of course, I’m not.

After the meltdown, but still in ‘danger zone’ I decided to take a drive down to the beach. I needed to get rid of all the energy coursing through my body, and get my mind to shut up. I chose the healthier and safer option of release, which I can hear my therapist say I should be proud of. So I’ll go with that.

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There was no one else around. I walked, concentrating on listening to the sound of the waves breaking, the feel of the sand beneath my feet, the smells and sounds in the air. Things got calm. I felt utterly alone. Yet I basked in this sense of solitude. Just me and nature. I didn’t need anyone. I didn’t want anyone. Sitting on the soft, white sand, my mind started wandering.

I came to the conclusion that yes, I actually do need people in my life. We all do. And I already have a wonderful support group of two.

So why then, if I knew I had someone I really need in my life, did I just realize that I’d been trying to push her away? To distance myself from her? Is it because she’s going on holiday? But I’ve gone two weeks between sessions before. Besides, she needs the break. She deserves more than a week actually. It’s not like she’s leaving forever. Or is it the fear that our application for more sessions would be rejected and it would be longer than just a couple of weeks before we could resume our work together?

Is it because she’s getting too close? I’ve let her in on so many secrets already. She knows too much. No one can know so much about me and still choose to stay. Yes, she said she’s committed, but I thought the same about other people in the past, and they ended up leaving. Maybe I’m trying to see how far I can push. Maybe it’s easier to do the rejecting than being rejected.

Or perhaps, with my recent revelation in another post about the way I feel for her, did I subconsciously create the drama at the end of our session on purpose to find a reason to hate her?

I don’t have the answer. I won’t pretend to understand. Maybe it’s all of the above. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

As is the usual case with me, while I was trying to push her away, I was also panicking at other times that she would leave. I don’t want to lose her. I want her close. See, there’s that walking contradiction thing again. I’m still feeling a little insecure, but I need to deal with it.

I can now understand why some professionals don’t want to work with us. But I think it’s their loss… Because I’m sure once we’ve gone through the healing process and arrived on the other side, it’s the biggest compliment to the therapist who chose to commit.

The saying goes “one day at a time”. But that feels overwhelming sometimes, so I’ve broken it down even further. One hour at a time. Like a baby learning to walk. Little steps at a time. Slowly. We can do this.

Now to work myself up to my actual age.

Friends and Good Therapy

Today is a good day.

Had a therapy session yesterday, and the wonder that is my therapist, managed to help me shake off the depressive and weird head space I’ve been in lately.

This past week, I’ve been avoiding thinking about all I left behind. Occasionally something would remind me, especially while unpacking and packing. I would have a few minutes of agonizing sadness, without the ability to shed a tear, but would recover relatively quickly. After all, I’ve done this before. I should be used to it by now. Right? But no, each situation is different, and this one I had to do completely on my own. This time I had no one to ‘take care of’ but myself. And this time, it was far more intimate and personal.

I had really needed that session. I felt it had given me a sense of hope again. That things might be hard now, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I can do things to ensure it doesn’t stay that way. I just need to get some structure into my days and life.

Woke up this morning feeling quite positive and lighter than I have in a long time. Met up for coffee with an old friend who I haven’t seen in what feels like forever. You know who you are. 😉 I had forgotten just how good I feel around her. She’s definitely one of those people you need in your life. Someone who builds you up, is fun to be around, really listens, understands, and accepts you just as you are. In short, a truly spectacular person.

One thing I’ve realized in life is that it’s not the quantity of time we spend with people that matters, but rather the quality of that time. That hour yesterday, and the couple of hours today, meant more to me than words can express.

Now that’s the magic of friends and good therapy.

Art Of Feeling

I recently came across some powerful and beautiful digital artwork by an artist who calls herself DestinyBlue, and decided to share some of my favourites.

These images represent my own feelings so well. I’ll name the images as the artist has, and the images will link to the page you can find on her official website. There you can read what inspired her to draw it. Her stories. I’ll then add my own interpretation… What each image represents to me.

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Paint your Wings

Having negative feelings towards myself… Seeing myself as bad, dirty and evil, I sometimes feel the need to prove to others that I’m a pure and good person. An angel, if you will. Maybe I try to convince myself of that too. There’s also a longing to go back to a time before ‘the fall’, as I call it. To regain innocence. To start over. Or to have never existed at all.

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Mute

We’ve all had moments like these. Feeling terrible, but smiling and pretending the sun is shining. This image perfectly represents the story of my life. Wanting help, wanting someone to notice the real ‘me’ beyond the smile. Being ignored or yelled at when trying to express feelings. Eventually learning to keep it locked away instead. Unable to express the emotions I was drowning in.

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Last Piece

When I read DestinyBlue’s description of this piece I was pleasantly surprised by her words in the second paragraph. Years ago I had written something that said the same thing, just in a different way. Her intention for this was for it to be a positive representation. But, as we all know, everyone interprets things differently. To me, I see it as the puzzle that is me. Trying to fit pieces of myself together, without really knowing who ‘me’ is. Sometimes it feels as though a piece fits, only to find later on that it actually doesn’t, and ruins the rest of the image. A constant searching and re-building.

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Sew Closed my Soul

I’m pretty sure there’s never been anyone who’s never had their heart broken in some way. After each loss in my own life, I’ve felt the need to stitch up  my heart. Two motivations: 1) Close the wound, stop the bleeding 2) Don’t let love in anymore. But who can resist love? Connection? It seems to just happen. And when you least expect it. It’s like an obsession. It is an obsession. It’s perfect. Until it’s not. But in the end, every little bit of love is worth it.

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Imprint

The previous image and this one make up a set for me. Every person I’ve ever met has left an imprint on me, whether positive or negative. Whether a healing presence, or destructive force, they’re all still a part of my soul. Right now, this image represents someone specific… Someone who is currently a powerful presence in my life and heart. My therapist. She’s left a great imprint on me… A case of transference perhaps? I don’t know if that matters anyway. Along with this connection I feel towards her, comes a familiar overwhelming fear. Abandonment. Rejection. She’s reassured me before that she’s committed to this process with me, but I fear that now that she knows me better, that might change. That she’ll decide I’m just not worth the trouble after all.

This is my favourite image, and perfectly shows how a person may leave, but their mark on us never disappears.

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All Wrong

Disconnection. Between her feelings and her body. A sense of watching the emotions, the brokenness from a distance, yet it still being a part of her. This is something I have struggled to explain properly even during my therapy sessions. It seems words aren’t sufficient to convey the exact meaning, as I can’t describe it here either. A concept in my mind that I can’t quite express. It’s frustrating. This last image and even the title that the artist has given it, represents where I find myself at this very moment.


There are a few more of these that I connected with, but decided to only share these few.

You can find the rest of her exquisite work at: http://destinyblue.deviantart.com/