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

Missing…

Today I hate you. I hate how angry I’m feeling at you. I hate that I can’t send you a message and tell you just how much I miss you. I hate that it’s so agonizingly painful to feel this attachment, but I can’t imagine not having it anymore. I hate how since yesterday this longing for you just builds with every hour that passes, and even when I distract myself, the thought never goes away for long. I hate how it seems you don’t understand how hard this is for me. I hate that I feel you’ve forgotten me. I hate that I’m not able to trust you completely when you say you won’t abandon me… Because right now I feel abandoned. I hate that you haven’t sent me any indication that you’re still here for me. I hate how afraid I am of telling you these things. I hate how scared and alone I feel. But most of all I hate how I don’t hate you, *”not even close… Not even a little bit… not even at all.”

miss-you-best-high-defination-hd-wallpaper-free

*Borrowed this part from “10 Things I Hate About You”.

Therapy, Connection, And Knowing She Cares

This past week was the worst I’ve ever had with regards to my feelings toward my therapist. I’ve had my moments in the past where I would feel the desire to push her away, and then try to pull her close again. But this past week and a half it seemed to happen nearly every day. I was more scared to lose her than ever before. The desire to push her away and just quit therapy was excruciatingly intense. And the desire to feel connected to her again was a whole different kind of pain and longing. During and after our session last week, and through no fault of hers, I had felt as though she had jumped from the “therapist” to the “best friend” box in my head. And maybe in a way that is what caused the insecurity. By her reiterating our therapeutic relationship, I had grown to trust in it as just that… A therapy relationship. But when the change in my head occurred, it might have upset the delicate tapestry. Maybe this is why a therapist needs such clear boundaries with regards to friendship and sexual relationships with clients. And even though I hate these boundaries, I’m grateful to my therapist for being so consistent in keeping them. It’s just one of the ways in which she shows that she truly cares. I found this post by Dr. Gerald Stein particularly interesting:

How Would a Friendship with Your Therapist Work?

Even though I know she’s only human, and that if we had a friendship outside of our therapy relationship, there might be things that annoy me or that I don’t like, in our current relationship it’s good that I see her as something of a superhero.

I’ve had a hard time trusting that she can care. Both because of past experiences and because I’m a client. A client, who I feel causes her to experience negative emotions at times, and because I care deeply about her, I believe it’s unacceptable for me to cause her any distress. And sure, it might be the work that she has chosen to do. But as she mentioned before, just because there’s a financial transaction, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care.

I received a note from her last Thursday. It was as if she had read my mind. I was missing her incredibly and feeling insecure and totally insignificant. I was fighting against the urge to contact her. So it was a beautiful surprise. I mentioned to her in our session yesterday that it was a particularly bad day for me and how timely her note was, and she said that it shows we do have that connection. I found those words from her very reassuring and special.

She told me that she thinks of me even in between sessions and tries to find ways to benefit me and our sessions together and make things easier and better. I loved hearing her say that. Somehow, it’s as if she knew all the right words. She seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear and she said it. She also said things that I didn’t even know I needed and wanted to hear. My favourite moments are those where she reassures me that she won’t abandon me. She won’t walk away. And once again, I experienced that moment yesterday. I’ve never felt this connected to her. This incredible bond. It feels like our relationship is deepening. Which I didn’t know was even possible. But it’s an amazing feeling. I feel more secure in her and in our relationship now than I ever had before. There may still be moments where I feel the opposite, but I’m going to try to hold onto this feeling and remember it when things feel dark again.

She makes me feel and experience things I’ve never had with anyone else. The sense of stability she provides is one which I had never known before. Her patience with me continues to take my breath away. The way she seems to believe in me. She doesn’t give up on me, even when I give up on myself and it seems everyone else has too. The way she seems to accept me just the way I am, but gently guides me in becoming the person I can be. The best version of myself. I feel such a deep respect for her. More than I’ve ever felt for anyone.

It’s the little things I appreciate the most. The little notes she wrote me, the way she helped me apply for extra sessions. The way she speaks to me. The way she often tells me she’s proud of the progress I’m making. I always just think I have nothing to be proud of. But I’m beginning to see it differently. To other people these may seem like small things, but to me, they’re huge, and mean the absolute world. It’s these things that show me that she really does care, even though she may never say “I care about you” in that direct way. She doesn’t need to. She shows me instead. And that’s beautiful and extremely powerful.

I heard this song again last night and it made me think of her. Of our relationship. Sure, it might be a love song, but for me it rather represents our therapeutic relationship. In her eyes… I am more than I believe. She sees me. She sees what I can become. She sees the good when I just can’t. This song, to me, represents having someone in your life who truly understands you, and those parts of yourself that you don’t allow others to see. Someone who reaches into your soul and doesn’t run away, or abandon you. She helps give me strength when I can’t find my own. More importantly, she helps me bring my own strength to the forefront. She helps me feel better about myself. She makes me feel like I deserve to be alive and part of this universe.

Even this line in the song has a somewhat different meaning for me:

I don’t count my possessions
But all I call mine
I will give her completely
‘Til the end of all time

I trust in her so completely that I allow her access to my thoughts, every dark corner of myself, the good and bad – Things that once given, can’t be taken or given back.

This perhaps sounds like something of a love letter. And in a way, it is. It’s just a different kind of “love letter”.

Because for the first time since I’ve started seeing her, the reality that this is a healing relationship isn’t just head knowledge, but heart knowledge as well.

“It Isn’t Real”

Sitting on the beach this afternoon, it suddenly hit me.

The theme of my life seems to be “it isn’t real”. Another piece of my puzzle put into place.

It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who experiences the sense of being unreal. Like a ghost wandering through this world, while everything goes on around us as normal. It’s part and parcel of our Borderline world. Knowing this makes it a little easier to understand and deal with. But it’s certainly something I could do without.

A few weeks ago my therapist went on leave, and it caused havoc in my head. Especially when in our last session she wouldn’t tell me where she was going, which is obviously a necessary boundary. Yet I couldn’t help feeling how I was feeling in that moment. The tone in her voice suggested to me that I had just put her in a tough spot. But that’s when I feel I knew, just knew that she was going to be in the city I’m currently living in. I was convinced. At the time (and during the course of the week) I didn’t care whether what I was convinced of was actually real or not. Was it a case of projection, transference? Possibly. Instinct, or just my own fears? Because I know I tend to confuse the two sometimes. When she got back, and in our next session, I didn’t tell her the biggest reason for my desperate emails. Why didn’t I tell her? I don’t know. Maybe because I was afraid she would tell me she really had been close by. Maybe because I didn’t want to put her in an awkward position again. Maybe I was afraid of counter transference. Maybe it’s a little bit of all those things. I can’t explain it. I just felt her presence close by, yet at the same time distant from her emotionally, if that makes sense? Constantly wondering, what if she is here? It felt like the biggest rejection when she wouldn’t tell me. The first email I sent her while she was on leave (I know, I’m terrible), I had written these words:

“Now I’m also wondering whether you’re even real.”

Little did I know back then just how profound that statement actually is with regards to my view of the world and the people who occupy it. Or at least, my life and those in it.

Which is why I think when I can’t see my therapist, or hear her voice (though the note she wrote me helps a lot), I wonder whether she exists at all. It seems to happen with people I look up to, people I love or really like. As though I’ll wake up one day and realize they were just a figment of my overactive imagination.

“It wasn’t real.”
“It isn’t real.”

Both past and present.

Words from special relationships that cut deep, and left a permanent scar on my heart. I suspect hearing these words have served to perpetuate my fears of rejection and abandonment, as well as lead me to question everything even more.

Is it real?

Lovers and “family” that were real. But not.

My uncle that recently took his life. It doesn’t yet feel real. But apparently it is. Maybe if I were going to the funeral today, it would hit me.

Something that may or may not have happened. Something that may have only been a dream unlike any dream I’ve ever had before, or since. But a dream nonetheless?

The world and events. Is this really happening?

Me. The shadow. Do I exist?

Still, I wonder… Maybe it wasn’t or isn’t real after all.

But it was, and is, real for me.

I apologize for the somewhat (at times) cryptic (and all over the place) post. I’m still sorting through everything in my head. Still battling to open up and truly face things. It’s a scary place… The internet, this world, my mind.

One thing I know is real right now though… I feel utterly and completely alone.

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.

ocean - Copy

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.

Shatter

Something so small.

A ‘healthy’ boundary set firmly in place.

My frustration and sudden anger. Trying to hide it, so she can’t hear.

My heart ripping into pieces. Shattered.

Finely tuned to every little subtlety in her voice. Searching…

How can something so small seem so big?

How can something so small feel like the deepest rejection?

How can someone I love so suddenly turn into someone I want to push and keep away?

How can the world turn dark again so very quickly?