Social Anxiety, Embarrassment And Shame

In my previous post I mentioned how I had felt better on Friday. But that only lasted until Saturday evening.

That evening I went to Jasmine’s birthday dinner. There were 10 of us. Two of my friends (I’ve been friends with one of them for over 21 years) had also been invited, since they’re now also friends with Jasmine. My social anxiety was way up there. It was in a noisy restaurant, with the TV way too loud (sports of course). So all that stimulation, and add in 7 people I don’t know, and all I wanted to do was get in my car and go home. But I stuck it out. By the end of the evening I was exhausted.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of Jasmine’s friends made a negative comment about my hair. An overwhelming feeling of embarrassment, shame, and a deep hatred toward myself settled over me like a dark cloud.

I was already especially sensitive that night, due to what happened in group on Tuesday. I haven’t written about that yet. We were busy with the check-in’s, but before it was my turn to share, we had a break. I had a classic BPD mood swing during the break. Anger (towards myself) raging inside and actually throwing a tantrum in the bathroom when no one was in there (throwing my bag across the room- good thing there’s nothing breakable in there). And then the damn tears.

When the break was over and I got back inside, I thought “okay, I’ll share”. I was sitting next to the OT who was leading the group. I told myself “it’s safe, she’s here” (aside from my OT, this one also makes me feel like I’m in good hands). She told me to focus on someone (I chose her and another member of the group), and started. But I spent most of it looking at the damn floor anyway. I felt pressured, not wanting to waste anyone’s time, and just started talking. I know I was probably putting the pressure on myself. After the group, I felt very vulnerable and exposed. And embarrassed. What had I just done? The things I had shared, and the way I had said them, seemed all over the place, and I didn’t think I was even making much sense. Thoughts of “I shouldn’t have said that.” “I can’t believe I said all that”, “what was I thinking?”, “I’m such an idiot.”

I felt I had said too much. Shared things that I actually wasn’t ready to share. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t even look at anyone for the rest of the group time. I felt too vulnerable. I didn’t feel safe after the group (I was in the self-harm “mood”), so I tried to stick around as long as I could. Basically following the OT to wherever she was going, like a damn puppy. We went to the art therapy room and I got to get my “craft” that I had done during my time in the clinic. I was surprised to see that it was still there. So that was nice. Then it was finally time to leave. I didn’t want to, but didn’t have much of a choice.

On the way home, the feelings kept washing over me, the self hatred and abuse loud and clear. I had already been feeling depressed that week, and the previous week, so this was like salt in the wound. I wanted to drive into a wall, and I got pretty close too. I tend to get stuck on thoughts, both negative and positive, but especially the negative ones. They become obsessive thoughts, and I really struggle to let them go. I don’t really know how to.

Have you ever felt this need to have someone hold space for you when you feel you just can’t do that for yourself? Because you feel you don’t deserve it, and maybe if someone can just hold it for you for a little while, you’ll be able to take it back when you feel stronger? I want someone to hold that space for me, but I feel completely alone and abandoned (even if it’s not actually true, and I’m just seeing it through negative eyes right now).

Right now, at this very moment, I feel like I’ve just given up on fighting. I don’t have the strength or energy. I’ll just go through life and take the blows. I’m depressed as hell. I don’t like people right now. Yet I want them. I don’t like me. But I wish I could.

I feel guilty for being me. Ashamed of who I am, and what I’m not.

The Breakdown And Recovery

It happened.

As you know from my previous few posts, I’ve been in a very dark place. Thoughts of suicide overtaking everything, and coming to a head on Friday evening. Obsessive thoughts of death and dying. Over and over again. Pain so intense, memories so vivid. It felt as though I had hit rock bottom. Hearing voices inside my mind telling me to end it. That I don’t belong on this earth. I knew those voices were my own. Frightening visions of a dark figure was also present. Even though it only lasted a second each time, it was terrifying.

I had my plan all mapped out. I even wrote a note, which left me strangely happy in a way. Like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It was all going to be over soon. At the last-minute, my therapist’s face flashed in front of me. I fell to the floor and just cried. A mixture of pain, frustration, and a feeling of comfort and warmth from feeling our connection.

I read a book a few months ago, “Healing from Trauma” by Jasmin Lee Cori. After what happened, I remembered something I had read in that book. So I picked it up again and searched for the part I had in mind. Where she was talking about finding your rock. A person (or even a pet) that you feel connected to enough for them to be a powerful regulating resource. She says that it helps calm the nervous system. That was certainly the case that night. And I saw for myself just how powerful it is.

On Saturday and Sunday, I reverted back to my 20’s. A time in my life that I never want to relive. A time I had vowed to never repeat. But it happened, and I wasn’t aware that it was coming. I didn’t know the signs. I definitely know them now.

Earlier that day (Saturday) I thought about calling my therapist, but decided against it, as I didn’t want to bother her. If I knew then what I know now, I would have called her. Because once it hit, I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t regulate myself. I was so out of control, that all thoughts of calling my therapist disappeared. I didn’t think about anyone but myself. I was literally unable to bring anyone I know to mind. It was all about me and what was happening in that moment. I wasn’t aware of anything else.

I was reckless, self-destructive, and unintentionally putting other people’s lives in danger. (eg. speeding while drunk). I’m not going to go into detail about everything I did, as I’ve already told my therapist about it. But I will say this, I fucked up. Now that I know the warning signs, I will call my therapist this time, if there is a next time, which I’m going to try to prevent at all costs. Because this can’t happen again. I don’t want to end up destroying my life, or anyone else’s. I don’t want to live with the consequences of my behaviour. It only takes a second to ruin a life.

The difference between this time and my 20’s, was that I realized quickly (2 days instead of years) that I was running away from something. From extreme emotions, pain. Reality. Life. I didn’t have that insight back then. The way I lived my life those years, as well as this time, may have kept me alive, but this kind of behaviour doesn’t serve me, and it’s unhealthy and dangerous.

On Sunday evening, once I had “snapped out of it” I felt horrible. Ashamed. Dirty. Furious with myself. Shock was also mixed in. On Monday, those feelings carried over. I felt the effects in my body as well. I felt nauseous. My stomach was in knots and aching. My nervous system was protesting. It felt like I was in an alternate reality.

I usually have therapy sessions early on a Thursday morning, but I felt that I couldn’t wait that long. So I sent my therapist a text yesterday asking for an earlier session. We arranged it for a few hours later that day. At the beginning of the session I told her that I’m a bad person. She asked whether feeling that I’m a bad person, means that I am? Good point. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and does things they’re not proud of and regret. But that doesn’t make us bad people. Near the end of the session, she said that she’s glad we got together that day, and didn’t wait until Thursday. So was I. This is the second time that I needed a session more than any other time. It did me well. She told me that we could spend the session just talking, but it wouldn’t be effective in the long-term. So she went through an exercise with me, that was really helpful. And it will continue to be helpful. It was a very productive session, and she was very gentle and soft with me. Going into the session, I wanted her reassurance that she wasn’t going to leave me. But the way she spoke to me, made me feel very cared for, and I didn’t need to ask for that reassurance. Because I felt it.

I’m still feeling some of the after effects, but it’s not as intense as it was. I’m trying to practice self compassion.

This all proved to me just how important and vital deep and meaningful connection is for us as humans.

Lashing Out

Dear Therapist

I lashed out at you when you were three minutes late for our session. I know it’s not an excuse, but I wasn’t in a very good place, so those three minutes felt a lot longer. Thank you for validating that it’s a big deal for me, and for your apology. I know you’re only human, and these things happen. You’ve been consistent since the very beginning, so I feel a little embarrassed for being so upset today. I’m so sorry.

I remember what you told me. That whenever I apologize the way I did today (over and over again), that you feel as though I regress to a younger age, expecting that I’m going to be in trouble. I didn’t realize until now how big that statement actually is.

When you said that I’m lashing out at you, and I thought that you were getting upset, I panicked. I panicked because I was so afraid that I would lose you. I backtrack so quickly, and apologize as soon as I suspect that you’re getting mad. Because I feel myself flinching on the inside. Like a child who knows what’s coming. Who feels like she’s about to get hit. But I know that’s what happened in the past. That it’s not what’s happening today. I only realized after our session that this is what happens to me in these moments.

There are two reasons that I usually apologize. The first is that I genuinely don’t want to upset you, because I care so much for you. The other is due to fear of abandonment. I get so mad at myself, because you’ve proven time and time again that you won’t abandon me. And I feel that I should stop worrying about that. Yet it still happens from time to time.

Sometimes I feel that I need to act out to a safe person, because I can’t do it with anyone else, so I bottle up those intense feelings, that rage I may be experiencing. And it just sits there. Or I take it out on myself.

I don’t do it on purpose, or to upset you and cause a conflict. In my mind, I’m not lashing out at you, but rather to you. I feel a little upset now. Therapy is supposed to be a safe space, but I feel I have to contain myself in sessions as well. I’m not sure who I’m mad at. You or myself? Or both of us? I also feel that I don’t have the right to be feeling mad about this. It doesn’t serve any purpose.

Thank you for being here for me yesterday. I really appreciate you, and everything you do. I value this special relationship.

Love,
Rayne

The Question Of Sexuality

I’ve received a few emails by some of my amazing followers (aka: my people), regarding my sexuality. So I thought I’d write a post for those who are curious.

I’ve never liked labels. I never identified myself as straight, lesbian, bisexual or any of those labels. Firstly, because I was confused about my sexuality, and secondly, because it filled me with shame and embarrassment.

I remember when I first started therapy. We got on the subject of sexuality, and I told my therapist that I don’t know what I am. What I identify as. I’ve read that those of us with BPD struggle with our sexuality. So that made perfect sense. It was the story of my life.

But over the past few years, I’ve started realizing that it doesn’t matter. Why should it matter who we love? After all, isn’t it the soul that attracts us the most? And if it’s purely physical, is it really love? To me, it isn’t about the outer shell, but rather what’s inside. It’s not about the body. It’s about connecting to the soul. It’s a deep soul connection.

I’m a human. Not a label. I’ve never been opposed to falling in love with a male. I actually used to wish I would. Just so I could conform to society’s norm. But fuck the norm. Why shouldn’t love be the norm, and not the form that love takes?

Over the years, I’ve only fallen in love with two women. My ‘first love’, which was never actually a relationship in the first place. And now, my current girlfriend. I’ve been attracted to guys, sure, but I never felt that connection with them. They always felt like brothers or just friends.

An example is my first ‘real’ boyfriend. I just wanted to be friends with him, but every time we’d go out he’d ask me to be his girlfriend. I would always turn him down, but he never got the picture. Until one day, I just gave in and said “okay”. I liked him. I sometimes thought I might be falling in love with him. But the truth was, I saw him more as a good friend, and sometimes even a brother. Which confused me a lot. Especially when it came to the physical intimacy.

In my early twenties, there was another guy I liked. I thought I was in love with him. We had only gone out once. I was friends with his sister, which is how we met. One night we all went out to a bar, and I went to go order drinks with my friend. When I got back to the group, I saw him making out with another girl. My heart broke. I downed my drink, and went back for another one. And another. But the next day, I was over it and realized I wasn’t actually in love with him. I was just lonely and desperate. I had just been trying to conform. To force myself to feel something for someone because he was a he and not because I liked him as a person. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really even like his personality. He was a complete moron.

Why should labels exist? The answer: They shouldn’t. It’s not an illness. We’re all human. Our sexual orientation doesn’t make us who we are.

With my current girlfriend, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I was happy being single. Sure, I got lonely, but it didn’t make me want to get on the relationship bandwagon again. So I didn’t expect things to go the way they did, and to feel this way about her.

I used to wonder… Am I the way I am, because of the trauma I experienced? Or is it simply how I’ve always been? I can’t tell, because some things happened before I reached the age where children start becoming interested in boys or girls. I didn’t have a stable mother figure in my life, and I had bad experiences with men. But it’s not something that bothers me anymore. I don’t care either way, I just thought it was an interesting train of thought.

The way I see it, is that at the end of the day, love is love, no matter how you look at it. It’s two people who care deeply about one another. Who connect on an intimate level.

That’s all that matters.

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Openess And Shame

I’m having a hard time with something. I had been open to sharing parts of my life, my thoughts, and emotions since I started this blog. But now I don’t feel like it’s okay anymore. I’ve been feeling a lot of hurt and shame these past couple of days. I shared something with someone that I shouldn’t have shared. It was inappropriate. And now I can feel myself shutting down again. Which is something I’ve done my entire life. I did it in order to protect myself. I’d pretend that I’m okay. They say to smile and happiness will follow. So that’s what I did. Only, happiness never came. And now I feel the need to protect myself again. I don’t want to shut down, but it’s not like I can just flip a switch to control it.

Guilt is easier to deal with. You recognize that something you did wasn’t right. That you crossed a boundary, angered or hurt someone. You can then apologize. And try your damnest to not do the same thing again. Maybe you’re able to forgive yourself as well.

Shame is harder. It’s too uncomfortable to sit with. But it’s impossible to ignore.

I’ve tried to numb it. Some moments, it works. Other times, not so much. Because even when my glass is empty, there’s still a single drop remaining that I just can’t quite get out. And that one little drop contains enough of the emotion to prevent me from not feeling it at all.

I made this in Photoshop to help me process. It’s a mess, but it was a therapeutic experience.

Shame