Self-Doubt and Insecurity

On Monday night I was gripped by an ice-cold feeling of fear.

There was a thought:
“What if Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed?”

At the time I couldn’t put my finger on where that thought, and the resulting fear, had come from. I only became aware of the cause once I had calmed down somewhat. I say “calmed down” because that fear had turned into panic, and I had to put all my available resources into action in order to prevent a full-blown panic attack.

Elizabeth had let me know that she was going to go watch a show with one of her best friends. I had just come back Monday morning from having spent the weekend with her. Just as an aside, I have no problem with her having her own friends and activities away from me. I like that she does. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to be one person’s everything again. It’s exhausting.

It wasn’t the fact that Elizabeth was going out with someone else that upset me. When she told me, I reacted (and felt) the same way I always do, “that sounds nice, enjoy!”. It was only a while afterward that I started feeling the fear. But why? For some reason my mind fed me the lie that I’m not worth spending time with. I wasn’t thinking about it in the way of Elizabeth, but rather my own friends. I was also reminded about Jasmine, and the fact that we’re not in contact anymore. That made the fear stronger, and for some reason I got it into my head that maybe Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed as well.

I also had this overwhelming need to contact Elizabeth right then and there. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m not enough”. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m too much”. I felt panic rise up in my chest. An urgency to do everything I can to have her stay with me, and not leave me. It felt as though she were standing right in front of me, breaking up with me. This feeling was so intense, so painful, that my thoughts turned to self-harm again, which is something I haven’t done in a while. It was a fight to resist, and required a lot of different coping skills.

My mind was in utter chaos. My thoughts turned to how useless and worthless I am, with “proof” of this “fact” at every turn. This had been coming on the entire day, and I had now reached the tipping point.

The wedding photography business I had started with my business partner isn’t really going anywhere. The photography industry in general is so populated. These days anyone with a D-SLR thinks they’re automatically a professional photographer, and advertises as such. How do you compete with those offering their services for next to nothing, in an economy that’s struggling as it is? It’s so fucking frustrating! I feel like a failure in the photography industry. That I’m just not a good enough photographer, and that’s maybe why we aren’t getting any business.

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from someone to design and print her cards for her new business. I jumped at the chance. That job gave me the idea to start my own website and graphic design business. I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and making websites since my family got our first computer when I was in high school, so I’ve had a lot of practice. I always did these things for family and friends, and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of turning it into a business before. Better late than never though. A few days after making the decision to start this new business, I overheard a contractor who does work for my dad’s business, wants to have a website made for himself. I managed to get him to hire me. So this new business has started off well. I’ve also secured the job to make the website for the lady I did the business cards for. But she wants to wait until the new year.

While working on my own new business website, and doing all the other setting up tasks, I’ve also been doing two online courses in Photoshop (Diploma) and Digital Marketing. So I’ve been busy. I’m building my knowledge and getting a qualification under my belt, so I should be feeling empowered right? Instead, I still feel like I’m not good enough. That I’m a failure. So much self-doubt and insecurity was plaguing me on Monday, that I guess by that evening, it all just came to a head.

By the time Elizabeth let me know that she was back home after the night out with her friend, I had calmed down a little. The insecurity was still there, but it had dulled somewhat. The most amazing thing happened then. She sent me a voice note letting me know that she had wished I could have come with. That she misses me. That she loves me. I hadn’t sent her that message I had been aching to. So she had no idea how I was feeling. Her words were made even more powerful because of this. All the insecurity I had regarding myself in this relationship, and the relationship itself, just vanished. I hate that these things happen. That I suspect abandonment where none actually exists. That I need regular reassurance that I’m still wanted, important, and loved.

Today, even though I’m still struggling with some feelings of self-doubt, I’m able to meet myself with more compassion. I’m working hard. I’m trying to create a better life (and future) for myself. That must count for a lot, right?

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The Missing Writer

I’ve been meaning to write a post explaining my previous few posts, which may have been confusing, and some of which might have had no solid context for you. But I haven’t been able to do that yet. And I’m not sure whether I will be able to either.

I’ve been having a really hard time with writing lately. I’ve started so many new posts, but ended up scrapping them all. Writing usually helps me organize my thoughts, process my emotions, and provide insight into myself. But that hasn’t been my experience for the past couple of weeks.

Instead, it’s been a source of even more confusion, annoyance, and despair. I’ve been struggling to express my thoughts, struggles, and feelings. Especially through writing, which is a strange experience for me.

There’s also a part of me that’s reconsidering this blog. The threat of having this blog discovered by those I want to keep it a secret from suddenly seems more real. It feels more risky than ever before. Even the thought of people I’ve never met having insight into my life, my self, is frightening.

The things I want to write about, the things I want to explain (like my previous posts), just feel too vulnerable. I’ve been vulnerable here plenty of times, so I don’t understand why it suddenly feels so insurmountable and anxiety provoking. Maybe I just need a break away from posting for a while.

I have therapy tomorrow morning, and I’m feeling pretty damn anxious about it. I’m worried that I won’t be able to connect with my therapist. Why? I feel disconnected from everyone in my life. It’s as if I’ve subconsciously been pushing them away internally. I also feel torn. There are two important topics to talk about, but I don’t know which is more important… I feel like there’s just too much to talk about, and not enough time. That I won’t say what’s on my mind, and talk about random shit that I actually don’t care about. That tends to happen often with me.

I feel extremely frustrated. At this point, it seems I need two sessions a week for a while, there’s just so much to cover. I feel overwhelmed with it all. And the topics, or at least one of them, will require a lot of sessions, as they’re causing me a lot of distress and impacting my relationships and life. To such an extent that I feel it will be easier to just give up on life so I don’t have to deal with these things anymore, and save the people in my life a mountain of negative emotions.

I’m just all over the place, and don’t know what’s next.

This post has taken me an hour to write. I just don’t know anymore. I’m done writing now. For how long, I have no idea. Let’s see what happens.

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.

I Can’t Remember Your Face…

Or the sound of your voice.

I recently found out that I’m not exactly “normal” when it comes to how I remember how people look. My world is black and white, but not just in the BPD/cognitive distortion sense of the word.

I’m unable to remember what people look like. How their voices sound. The way they walk. I was talking to an old school friend recently, and she was talking about some other students and teachers from our school days. The way she was describing them, I just couldn’t see it. I can’t remember what any of them look like. I have the memories of some of the events she was talking about, but had no recollection of how those she spoke of looked. I don’t quite know how to describe this, since it’s a normal thing for me. I can’t visualize the person’s face. It’s weird. It’s much more of a sense of that person, which for me, translates as seeing. I don’t know if this makes sense. How can I explain something that was always normal to me, and compare it to others experiences?

The strange thing is that during a flashback, I can see the faces of some of “them”… And their facial expressions of the moments I’m reliving, but not always either. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve known someone, if I don’t see them face to face, or in a photo, I can’t picture them. For example, even with the dad. I’ve lived with him most of my life, yet I can’t remember what he looks like when I don’t see him. It’s the same with everyone. With him I can see the facial features I inherited from him when looking in the mirror, but that’s still not the same thing.

I also struggle with my other senses, like smell and taste. Like in guided meditation, when they say something like “bite into the apple and taste the sweetness of it. Feel the juice dripping down your chin. Smell the ocean air, hear the sound of the waves, the birds singing overhead.” Nothing. I can visualize it, but there are no senses involved.

When I say “I can still remember her face, that look on her face”, it’s not the person’s face I’m recalling. I know who it is, but I can’t actually see their face, their nose, eyes, etc. It’s because I know what a smile looks like. I know what expressions look like. So it’s not an actual snapshot of how the expression looked like on them. God, this is confusing. Instead of “out of sight, out of mind”, the more accurate phrase for me is “out of view, out of mind’s eye”.

It’s unsettling that others can do what I can’t. All those times I’ve said that I hear someone’s voice in my head? Well, it’s their words, in my voice. I thought this was how it is. I didn’t know there was another way. As for the method of self-soothing that some people use… Picturing the faces of their loved ones helps them feel calm and safe. But I can’t do that. I have to rely on voice notes and photo’s. It doesn’t seem fair. But hey, life’s not fair.

I’ve “interviewed” most of the people I know, and I’m the only one who seems to struggle this much. They can all visualize someone’s face, some clearer than others, and hear the sound of their loved one’s voice. I’m the odd one out. They’re fascinated. I’m pissed off. Does anyone know whether this is a BPD thing, or a “me” thing?

Safe Travels – Part Two

You can read part one here.

The Sunday of that week, I was due to leave my mom’s place and drive almost two hours away, to the small town that I lived in with my ex-girlfriend (or fiance if you want to get technical) for almost 4 years. This place holds a lot of meaning for me. It was where I met my therapist. Little did I know that this therapist would help me find the courage to leave that toxic relationship that I should have ended three years earlier. But it would also mean that I’d have to leave her too. When she offered Skype sessions, I wanted to jump up and hug her (I was already attached by then). It was a really good call on her part. Thank you, therapist.

Sunday morning the four of us (me, my mom, her boyfriend, and my youngest sister) had planned to go for a quick morning outing before I left. When we got outside, my mom’s boyfriend’s car was gone! Stolen. My heart broke for him. He loved that car. He has such a good, kind heart, and goes above and beyond for people, and then shit like this happens. I was so pissed off! The car was ancient and falling apart, but he loved that car. I took him to the police station to give a statement, and when we got back, I thought of maybe just staying there again that evening, even though my B&B in my previous home town had already been booked and paid for. But my mom told me that there’s nothing I can do, so I should rather keep to my schedule. I knew she was right, but I was still hesitant to leave. The good news? A few hours after I got back to my mom’s place the next Tuesday, my uncle bought my mom’s boyfriend a new second-hand car! And this one was in great shape. He’s now made a plan to park this car in a safe and monitored place. It’s going to cost him every month, but it’s a small price to pay for security and piece of mind.

The drive to the town I was going to stay in for the next two nights went by so quickly. It’s usually such a boring drive of almost two hours, and seems to go on forever. But not this time. Even driving back to my mom’s place seemed to be over insanely quick, even though I was driving extra carefully (what with it being a rental car and all). Weird. Driving into the town felt like a kind of “coming home”. It was so nice seeing all those familiar places. The reason I went back there was to go pick up a box of my things that I had forgotten to take when my ex and I broke up. I also wanted to see my therapist in person again. A week before, I had asked my ex whether we could meet at a coffee shop and she could just bring the stuff, but she asked me to come to the house instead. I can’t remember the reason. I went straight to her house. I didn’t want to, because I knew I’d have to see the dogs. I didn’t want to see them ever again because I thought it would only break my heart. I didn’t know how I would feel seeing her again though.

When I got there, the dogs went crazy. They were barking and crying and jumping all over me. For the remainder of my stay, the baby sat on my lap, and the older one lay down against my leg on the couch. My ex hugged me when I got there, but I felt numb… The way I felt the whole time I was there. It was strange being there again. Everything looked different, yet the same. I don’t even know how that makes sense. The wall and frames that housed all our photo’s was still there. But all my pictures had been replaced. I was dissociating, but it’s exactly what I needed.

My ex made me coffee and we spoke a bit about life. A little while into the conversation, she asked whether I would be open to meeting her new girlfriend. I didn’t know how to answer that at first. But then she told me that she’s in the bedroom (I had no idea someone was even there), and wanted to meet me. So I agreed. The three of us spoke for a while. The two of them were very affectionate with one another during our conversation. I just remember thinking, “this is weird”. But I still wasn’t feeling any emotion. It’s as if all the feelings I logically knew were there, were lost in a deep, dark void. I told them that I need to check in at the B&B, so I’d better get going. They both hugged me goodbye, and my ex said “I thought this would be awkward, but it was actually pretty good”. Good to know.

The B&B was lovely. It was so peaceful there. My favourite part was the fountain, which was so soothing and relaxing. I can’t remember much from Sunday evening. All those feelings that I had shut down? They erupted the very next morning. The jealousy, the anger, the sadness. It just hurt. I was emotional the whole of Monday. I think the lack of sleep had also finally caught up to me. I had a session with my therapist later that afternoon, which was the highlight of my entire trip. But I’ll write more about that next time, as it deserves a post of its own, and ties in nicely with a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now.

On Monday evening I was in a very dark space. I didn’t want to be alive. But I wasn’t suicidal either. I think this place of being is worse than when I’m in the idealization or even the active “planning and preparing” suicidal state. Having a plan and preparing to act on it, brings a sense of peace, even with the intense pain, because you know it will all be over soon. But this weird in-between place is extremely frustrating. The kind of frustration that makes you want to peel your skin off, and scream. But as most of you know, I can’t scream out loud. That in itself is frustrating. I had been feeling suicidal that morning, and even during some of therapy, but it went away after that.

On Tuesday I overslept. So it was a mad rush to get ready and pack up in order to check out in time. That didn’t happen. I only managed to check out about 30 minutes after. Thankfully, the owner was very nice about it. I got myself a cup of coffee for the long drive ahead, and drove back to my mom’s place. I spent the night there, and this time my youngest sister wasn’t with us, so I slept a little better. I had to get up early in order to not miss my morning flight. The next morning, my mom’s boyfriend and I went to go get my car, which was parked a few streets away (the secure place). Since he didn’t have that new car yet at that point, we had to walk. Walking in that city at 06:30 in the morning is not wise. He wanted to go alone, but I didn’t want him to drive the rental car, so I went with him. We took our “weapons” with, and left all valuables at home. It was freezing, but I was warm by the time we got there. That was a fun little walk. I actually really enjoyed it. I felt so sad saying goodbye to my mom. I wish I could have taken her with me.

I had a few misadventures dropping the rental car off, and in the airport itself, but survived. Things that kept going wrong, and silly things I did (or didn’t do). I don’t know where my mind was that day. It up and left. The flight was really good again. Now I’m back home.

Up until Sunday morning, I had felt stuck in between two worlds. Like I wasn’t really here. But I wasn’t back there either. It’s a very confusing space to be in. It’s as if I needed to adapt to being back. But I don’t understand why that would be the case, because even when flying back from Sweden and Mauritius, I hadn’t had that experience. Maybe it has to do with having seen my ex again. Because since that Monday I’ve been dealing with a lot of feelings regarding her and the life we shared. Memories. Seeing her happy with someone else. Seeing how happy she is without me. I’m glad that she’s happy, I really am. But there’s also an element of pain inside.

It’s been so hard. And it still is. It feels like she’s haunting me. On Sunday afternoon I got a text from her, asking whether I was okay because it looked like I had lost a lot of weight since she last saw me (even my mom, aunt and sisters said the same thing- I hate it). I wanted to reply and say “so what, it’s not your concern anymore”, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to hurt her. She also apologized for “throwing *me* in with Girlfriend” and “but I know you still care, because you sucked it up. Thank you for being you”. I didn’t know what to say. She was being nice, and she apologized. So I forgave her for that little incident and thought it would be over now. So I just replied and told her that I’m glad she’s happy and has found love again. I wanted to close the book again with that final message. But then she just flung that door wide open. Telling me that she really believes this girl is “the one” (which she said about me as well), and that she hadn’t thought she could feel so much more for someone than she did for me. That “God” told her that this was the right girl. And for once in her life she felt sure about someone. My thoughts: “Well, did he also tell you not to throw things like that in your ex’s face?” There were smiley faces all over the messages. I had already been struggling after having seen her that Sunday, so these messages shattered me.

I’m feeling even worse than I did when I finally left the relationship early last year. I also keep seeing the last moment I saw her on that day. Our sad, last weekend together where we both knew what was coming, but tried to enjoy the remaining days together. She had broken up with me so many times in the last two years of our relationship, but the next day, she’d be all loving and sweet again, as if nothing had happened. It always confused me. Are we broken up? What’s happening? So I knew that if I didn’t end this relationship, we’d keep going around in circles.

I feel so abandoned by her. But I shouldn’t right? I’m the one who left her! But that’s the way I’m feeling, even if it doesn’t make logical sense. Maybe, without being consciously aware of it, I had held onto the sense of security that maybe I could go back if I wanted to. But seeing her again, so happy and content, ended that. She doesn’t need me anymore. All those times she was in pain and I held her. Those times where she was sick, and I looked after her. Now she has someone else to do that for her. To be there for her. That house that I’m so familiar with, now has someone else filling it with her presence. The dogs, one of them mine (but I didn’t want to split them up- and I couldn’t bring him with me anyway). “Someone else is sleeping in the bed that used to be mine. Doing everything that I used to do in my house”. Even though it was never mine. I had no idea I would feel this way. I go through so many different emotions. Back and forth.

I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone about this. About how I’m feeling. I feel this is something I need to deal with on my own. Like I always used to do. The difference this time is that I’m being gentle and compassionate with myself. A good blogger friend of mine recently wrote a beautiful post on empathy and validation. I really connected with it. Extending empathy and validation to ourselves. It’s easy to give that to others, but when it comes to myself, I treat myself really badly. So I’m trying to change that.

I keep reminding myself that it won’t hurt forever. That it’s going to fade again. But for now, I just need to deal with it as best I can, and be kind to myself.

My therapist asked me on Monday whether there was any unfinished business with my ex and I said no. But now? I don’t know what this is.

The Cliff

I didn’t want to write on my blog ever again. But here I am. Don’t have the energy to write much. Will write more about what’s been going on at another time. Just need to get this out of my head.

Standing on a high cliff. I had climbed up that cliff with the help of a ladder. Once I reached the top, the ladder fell away, leaving me stranded. It’s a narrow ledge that I’m standing on, and it’s a steep drop from every angle. If I move an inch, I’ll fall. I’m stuck. So I just stand there, trying not to move. But maybe I should.

Permanent

I came across this song the other day, and it touched me deeply. I cried through the whole thing. For those of us with attachment issues, and hold the pain and shame that so often come with it, these words are beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. They’re so special.