A Heavy Heart

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

Seeing my ex again affected me so much more than I expected. I didn’t actually think it would affect me at all. But what gave her closure, opened up old wounds in me. Wounds, I realized, I had just placed a band-aid over.

Leaving the relationship was hard. The hardest part was leaving her behind, knowing I had hurt her by ending us. I hurt for myself as well, but most of the pain and sadness I experienced was for her. I would push my own feelings down as often as I could. I had a few moments here and there where I would just break down, and experience the pain I was in, the doubt, fear, sadness at what I had lost. I spent more time trying to convince myself that I was okay.

This time has been so much harder. I started off feeling a lot of anger towards myself. I caught myself thinking that I shouldn’t still be feeling this way. It’s over. It was over a long time ago, so there’s no reason for it to be an issue now. Thinking that I shouldn’t have gone to see her. But I did. I can’t change that. All I can do is accept the consequences, and deal with them.

Beating myself up for feeling this way, was just reinforcing a pattern I’ve repeated throughout my life. When I was thinking “I shouldn’t have gone to see her” that made the anger even stronger. Why? Because it sounds (and feels) like a demand and a judgement. The better way of thinking about it, is stating a preference instead. I wish I hadn’t gone to see her. When I changed it to the latter, I felt more compassion and gentleness towards myself, and the anger lost its sting.

It’s okay to feel this sadness. It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m human. It means I loved. It means that I cared enough about someone to notice their absence and feel the loss. Our tears help soothe the pain we feel. They heal us from the inside out.

Our emotions, what we feel at any given moment in time, is neither good nor bad. They just are. I would rather feel, than numb myself again. Because at some point, that numbness will go away, and I’ll be forced to feel anyway. Whereas if I allow myself to feel all those emotions as they come up, they will pass quicker. These emotions aren’t going to kill me. I can’t rush it, I can’t force it. I can instead allow myself to go through this grief and see it through.

I feel that I’ve changed during this process over the past few weeks. There’s healing taking place. Not just with regards to the end of the relationship, but also in my relationship with myself. As painful as this process is, and has been, I can see the beauty in it.

I’ve been trying to treat myself with compassion. When we silence the inner critic, and let go of our judgments towards ourselves, the true healing begins. When we allow self-compassion into our hearts, it can change so much of our experience. It shows us that we’re valuable and worthy.

I took the day off from work today. I was feeling too bad, and needed time to just be. Away from the outside world. I took a long, hot bath, and did some art therapy. My new favourite thing.

You might think that I regret having gone to see my ex that day. But I don’t. Now I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it really is over. That there’s no going back. I also gained something important. That’s my closure.

My heart is heavy today. But it’s healing.

Advertisements

Getting Me Through

This isn’t my usual type of music, but it’s helping me provide release for my emotions and all I feel, without hurting myself, and is keeping the suicidal thoughts at bay. The music that usually helps me get through dark times just isn’t cutting it this time. The intensity of this song so perfectly captures the intensity of all I’m feeling inside. The lyrics hold so much meaning, and can be interpreted in different ways by everyone.

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.

Safe Travels – Part One

On Wednesday I got back from my week-long trip to see my mom and sisters. Annoyingly, I’m still recuperating from it.

I had been looking forward to this trip since it was booked. I was counting down the days. Sometimes even the hours. Last Tuesday, after coming back from group, I started to feel unsettled. “Tomorrow is the day”. I don’t know why I had shifted into that almost panicked mode.

Packing for a vacation always overwhelms me for some reason. That Tuesday, it seemed even worse. I was so anxious, and even emotional. I cried through most of it. What was going on? I had no idea why I was feeling the way I was. In our session on Monday my therapist told me that she’ll let her other clients get away with “I don’t know”, but not me. Apparently I’m insightful. But sometimes I really don’t know. And this was one of those times. Maybe it will come to me at some point. That happens quite often, so maybe I can’t get away with “I don’t know” after all.

I hate airports. I despise them. Even more than I do crowded shopping malls (I try to go during the week when most people are at work). Those are places where I’m most likely to get panic attacks (lasting either from a few minutes to over 20 minutes sometimes). So, in preparation, I took one of my magic anxiety killing pills, and after that, I felt so much better. I had used some mindfulness and breathing exercises before taking it though, hoping that it would be enough. But it wasn’t. I lasted 20 minutes with that. But at least I tried. I got through the whole airport and flying thing pretty smoothly. I used to love flying. But when I got into a relationship with my ex, I started becoming as anxious and paranoid as she was every time we had to step foot on a plane. But this time, and alone, my old love of flying was back! My favourite part is the take off and landing. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush.

On my way from the airport to my mom’s place, I had to go pick up my youngest half-sister, who lives quite a while away from my mom. She was going to be spending a few days with us. I also popped in to see my eldest younger half-sister, who was at work, so I couldn’t spend much time with her. To me they’re just my sisters (there’s no half in there for me). By the time I got to my mom’s place, I was exhausted. As I walked through the door, my mom was busy with something. She looked up and saw me, and her eyes just lit up. She also seemed to do a double take, not sure whether I was real. I hugged her tighter than I ever had before. She looked so happy!

Throughout my stay there, I slept on a small blow up mattress, and my youngest sister slept on the couch. Sleeping in the same room with any one of my sisters is a crazy experience. My mom’s place only has one bedroom, so we slept in the lounge. I didn’t get much sleep while I was there. I struggle to sleep in a new environment, and add to that a young sister who doesn’t get the value of sleep. I’m a very light sleeper. After having her try to keep me awake as long as possible, I would finally go to sleep. But she’s so noisy, and every time she moved, the couch creaked way too loud, in my opinion. The curtains also couldn’t close, so it was too bright in there with all the street lights. Not a very good environment for inducing sleep. But I survived. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like waking up to peace and quiet in the mornings, while I drink my coffee. There was no chance of that happening here. Imagine being semi-asleep and having your mom and sister yelling at one another before you can even get your eyes open. Those two can’t be together for more than a day, or they’re at each other’s throats. They know exactly how to push one another’s buttons. Now here I was, stuck with this for four days. Burying my head under the pillow never sounded (and felt) so good.

A lot happened during the time with my mom. The unfortunate thing is that I barely got one moment alone with her. Both my mom and sister vying for my attention. I didn’t know which way to go. Which way is up? It was exhausting. My mom’s 23-year-old boyfriend (I called him daddy, that had him laughing for a while), was there in the evenings and the weekend, so we were never entirely alone. The only uninterrupted time my mom and I had was an hour before I went to bed on my last night there. I had taken my youngest sister home by that time. I adore my sisters, but the youngest one is a handful! We had our own “salon day” at my mom’s place though. She coloured and styled my hair, and we even played around with make-up. That was a nice bonding experience.

It was a busy week. Driving back and forth to go see my eldest younger sister, and a bunch of other outings that made me so sick of driving. But I don’t see my family every day, and it was nice to be able to do those things for, and with, them, so it was worth it. I struggled a lot that week with disconnection though. I “felt” numb quite often.

On the Saturday evening, we went out for dinner with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and uncle. He’s Greek, she’s Portuguese. They’re constantly fighting, and it’s fascinating (and extremely funny) listening to them, as they switch between English and each of their languages! It makes my head spin just thinking about it. It’s always fun spending time with them though. Oh, and they took me to a bookstore, and bought me two new books! I’m obsessed with books. I got “Into the Heart of Mindfulness” and “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion”. The first one was recommended to me by my former OT, so when I saw it I just knew I had to get it.

My mom was emotional and cried a lot during my stay. Sometimes over small things (sound familiar?). As far as I can remember, I’ve only seen her cry twice in my life. And now suddenly it’s almost a daily thing. Apparently it’s been like this for months already, so I’m worried about her. I wanted to hug or hold her during those times, but it’s like there’s an invisible wall between us, and I can’t get myself to do that. The most I could do was put my hand on her shoulder or back for a few seconds, and even that felt awkward. I can’t remember her ever holding me either. Of course hugging her hello and goodbye is easy. But other than those times, that’s not the case. It’s still a great source of sadness for me. I don’t know why it’s so hard with her, when I find it so easy to be that shoulder when someone else needs it, including my sisters.

I still have more to write about this trip, but I’ll rather split it up into two parts. I don’t want to write anymore tonight. Writing has been hard for me lately. Wanting to write, but not able to start. An internal battle of sorts. But now it seems like I’ve broken through that wall.

It Was Okay

On Monday I phoned the OT who lead the group last week. I’m going to refer to her here as D from now on. I told her how hard I had been taking the events of last Tuesday’s group. That I’ve been holding onto this feeling of shame. Side note: I don’t really know how to let go of shame, other than to try to bury it. But that’s not helpful either, as it keeps coming back. I told her that I don’t want to go to group on Tuesday, but at the same time, I do. I asked her what I should do. She didn’t tell me what to do, but instead, gave me the tools I needed in that moment to make my own decision. She reminded me of a skill I “learnt” previously. Doing the opposite action to how I’m feeling. So if I don’t feel like coming to group because of the emotions I’m experiencing, then the opposite of that would be to go. Something like that. The moment she said that, it fell into place and I made the decision that I’m going to go in. For some reason, she has a strong influence on me (along with my therapist and the OT I’m working with individually). Their words hold more power than anyone else. I felt better after that call.

Walking up to the clinic last night and going inside, my heart was racing, and I felt nauseous. In our session on Thursday my therapist told me that she’s concerned about how often and how many of my Benzo’s I’ve been taking recently. So after that session, I decided to lay off them for a while. Last night was the first time I had it again, and just one, the lowest dose, just as prescribed (even though that dose barely takes the edge off). I had taken it before I left for group. Walking into the coffee shop (where we usually meet), I didn’t even look at anyone. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to stay, but I had already ordered my coffee. Which, by the way, is my weekly splurge. Who thought cappuccino was something to get excited about? I look forward to that cup of coffee every week… Don’t know what I look forward to the most. That or the group. I know, that’s sad. As I held the warm cup in my hand, and heard D’s voice in my head, I suddenly felt this calm come over me. Like a soft, comforting cloud.

It was then that I felt I could face everyone again. That it was okay. So I joined those outside, and that feeling of calm stayed. None of them seemed to look at me any differently… Like I had assumed they would. Assumption really is the mother of all fuck ups, isn’t it? Thinking that they were all judging me, when I was just projecting my own self judgement onto them. At some point I somehow (I have no idea how it happened), spilled coffee all over me. I’m one of those people who always falls over things, spill things, etc. I’m never without bruises (and never just one). My friends joke that when I get my own place I must child-proof it. Thanks guys. When these things happen when I’m around people (other than my friends), I get so embarrassed, turn bright red, and try to cover it up with a joke or two. But this time, I felt… Nothing. It didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even care that it had spilled on my phone as well, whereas other times I’m paranoid about anything happening to it. Even a drop of water. Yes, I’m that protective over my phone. With all my stuff actually. Even my books. I could have read them twice, but they still look brand new. I look after my things because I can’t afford to replace any of it, and I only keep things around me that serve a purpose in my life.

One of the clinic psychologists was leading the group last night. I’ve always been somewhat wary of him. But the past two times that he’s run the group, I’ve been slowly warming up to him. But I’ll never talk to him or open up to him outside of the group. It was a small group last night, which was actually nice. The psychologist asked who wanted to check in first. One of the guys shared his week. When the psychologist asked who wanted to go next, I actually raised my hand! What?! I hadn’t gone in with the intention of sharing anything. But now, here I was, ready to do just that. I didn’t hold anything back. I told them about my struggle regarding last week’s group, and the aftermath of it. The shame, embarrassment, and fear, I’ve been feeling since then. I didn’t talk down to the floor this time, but looked at everyone as I spoke.

They were all so supportive, kind and validating. I felt relieved, like I could breathe again.

In the second half, we were going through the Barriers to Interpersonal Effectiveness. One of the guys was explaining how he experiences one of those barriers. I had noticed that he used the word “should” a lot. For example, “this person should support me”. I kept hearing my therapist telling me that she doesn’t like the word “should”. So I somehow managed to find the perfect time to jump in and give my input. I told him (and the others) how my therapist catches me when I say the word “should” (and all those other “have to” words and phrases), and has me rephrase it. Such as “I would like this person to support me”, or “I would prefer to have their support”. So I feel as though I at least contributed a little bit. And I still felt so calm. It’s very rare that I feel proud of myself. I’m way too self-critical. But last night was one of those rare times. I did it! And it was okay!

At first I thought (and said) “it’s probably just the meds that’s making me feel so calm and able to talk about this now”, but the psychologist was quick to point out that I can’t attribute it all to medication. That it was me, and that I did well. Thinking about it, I know it’s not “just the benzo”. Because last week I took three of them before the group, and I was still anxious. So one couldn’t have made such a big difference yesterday. I wasn’t dissociated either. I was fully present. At least that’s how it felt.

I felt relatively good driving home afterward. But at the same time, I had this subtle feeling that all was still not okay on the inside.

I’ll write about that in another post. I’m all out of writing fuel for today.

Inside & Outside

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

I can talk about my emotions. How I’ve been feeling. How I’m currently feeling. To everyone else, it looks like I’m okay. Yet in those moments of talking about my feelings, my outside doesn’t reflect how I’m feeling on the inside. There’s a disconnect. And I don’t know why, or even how that happens.

In group today, when it was my turn to share, I told them a little bit about my experience on Friday, and how I’m still in that dark place. In our session last week Tuesday, OT told me I need to open up more in group, and use the time to its fullest. Therapist told me the same thing. So tonight, I tried. It was terrifying and extremely uncomfortable, but I did it. But once again, my true feelings didn’t match the way I spoke about it.

At one point during group (when someone else was talking about something), I had to leave and go to the bathroom because I could feel tears starting up. I don’t know how long I was in there, but I couldn’t stop crying. Then I intentionally this time, shut down those emotions. I walked out like nothing had happened, and went back to the group. Yes, I know. I probably should have stayed. Instead, I was rude and selfish.

One of two things happen when I talk about emotions and what I’m struggling with. Either I feel it all inside, but it doesn’t show on my face, as if I’m two different people. Or I just shut down completely and become numb. And the worst part is that 99% of the time, I don’t do it intentionally. It happens automatically.

Do any of you experience this? And how do I move past it?

I’m still feeling terrible since Friday. All I can think about is death. I see, and feel it all around me. I’m having nightmares. The kind that haunt me, and show up out of nowhere throughout the day. Like flashbacks. I get frustrated. After all, it’s just a dream. It’s not real. But then why does it feel so real? It’s past events, but with a twist. Like memories, mixed in with current fears. Some of these fears are those that I never even knew I had. I’ve also been struggling a lot with anxiety. I’m living off my Benzo’s (I’m not overdoing it- just enough to cope).

I feel disconnected from everyone and everything.

Going Back To The Old Me

Before starting therapy, I pretty much kept to myself. My feelings, my thoughts. They belonged only to me, and I didn’t share them with anyone. I was always the shy and reserved one. It protected me. It worked for me. Yet at the same time, it didn’t really work. It might have sheltered me from rejection, but it also ate me up inside. I tried to open up a few times, but just ended up getting hurt. Further reinforcing that it wasn’t safe to reveal the deepest parts of myself.

Even in primary school, I was a shadow. When I tried to make friends, and join the other children, I’d just get mocked, teased and called horrible names. So eventually I stopped trying. What was the point. I still remember the day I got my first friend. I was eating my lunch on a step, overlooking some children playing. A girl came to sit next to me and asked my name. We shared my lunch, and from that day we became best friends. I think she was the first friend I ever had. I was never allowed to go visit her at home though (my dad was very controlling- “only protecting me” in his words- when I actually needed to be protected from him). Then we moved to a new city again, and I never heard from her, or saw her again. I didn’t want to get attached to anyone again after that, and I don’t know if I ever did, as I can’t remember the next year or two.

I went to go watch the sunset on the beach today. It’s one of my favourite self-soothing practices. Usually it makes me feel better. It brings me peace. I feel at one with nature, and like I’m not alone in this world. But tonight I just felt this deep sadness the entire time. At first I didn’t understand why, and just tried to push it away. To be mindful of the beauty surrounding me. And then it came. Memories of the same way I felt so often throughout my life. Memories of moments where I felt so alone, with so much sadness buried deep, but that I couldn’t express or verbalize. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to show emotions. Both my dad and then step-mother hated any display of emotion, other than happiness. But I was hardly ever happy, so I had to pretend that I was. When I went to my biological mom every second weekend, I watched my step-dad hurt her, and occasionally my little sisters as well. I couldn’t show my fear and hatred toward him. I couldn’t protect them. I was scared he would hurt them even more, and that he’d hurt me too. But he never did. I think he was scared of my dad. He was very cruel to me though. Men (monsters) like him, usually are. He also hated displays of emotion. It was a trigger for him. So there were many tears left uncried. So much hurt with nowhere to go. So many secrets with no one to tell. That pattern has followed me ever since.

It was only when I started therapy in March last year, that the pattern got interrupted. Opening up to my therapist felt amazing. She didn’t judge, she didn’t tell me to “stop being a baby”, or get angry with me for expressing my feelings. She didn’t punish me. I felt safe with her. Since then, I’ve become more open to more people. Only to a certain extent though. I knew what to share, and what to keep hidden. Every now and then though, I’d become brave and say more than I should.

In group on Tuesday, I was in a bit of a manic state (I had been in that state for a few days already). We had the usual “check in”. I was a bit late, as I had to go pick up a friend, so when I got back to group, the check in was already underway. Other than the usual check in, we also had to pick an animal that represents us, and tell the others why we chose that animal. When it was my turn, and started sharing, I got interrupted by one of the guys. He argued with me about the correct name for the animal I had chosen. I was so embarrassed and just wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to make it known though how I really felt in that moment, so I argued back. And then I just shut down and let the next person share. It’s taken me a while to start opening up in group. But now with this, I feel it’s not okay to do that anymore. I’ll still connect to the few people I’ve really grown to care about, before group, during the break, and afterward. But I don’t want to open up during the group anymore.

Jasmine and I spent the day together yesterday. Usually when I’m with her, we speak openly about our thoughts and feelings as they come up. But this time I couldn’t. I pretended that everything was okay the whole time, that I was happy. I have to pretend with the dad and current step-mother anyway, so it’s easy. Easy to pretend, difficult to deal with internally.

I just don’t want to be vulnerable anymore. My blog is my space to be open, but in the offline world, I want to stay away from that. I had a great therapy session on Wednesday. But then on Thursday, my manic phase was over, and I went straight down into the depths. And since then I’ve been feeling this need to protect myself from the world.

My younger parts, especially, have been struggling. They need me to take care of them, protect, and love them. They can be vulnerable with the adult me. They only need me. This song is my message to them. It just seems to fit.