It’s Different

Last night’s group session was nice. I was in good spirits going in. Saw the OT I used to have sessions with, and it was so nice seeing her again. I went up to her and gave her a hug. I can’t believe I did that! But I’m glad I did. The attachment is still there. Dammit. I miss her. I didn’t know just how much until I saw her.

For the check-in’s, we did something a little different. We split up into two groups of five, and did the check-in with those in our group. That suited me well. There were two new girls in the group and they happened to be in mine. So when I shared, I was still terrified. But I managed to overcome it and actually shared something that I wouldn’t have mentioned if we had done the check-in’s as usual with the whole group. And I managed to say everything that was on my mind regarding that, and felt I communicated it pretty well. Go me! With only four other people I had to share with, it was the perfect balance between stepping out of my comfort zone, without it being too overwhelming. The therapist leading the group asked how we found it doing things this way. It seems I was the only one who preferred the split groups. I hope we can do it this way again though. Maybe after enough of those, and becoming more comfortable with it, I’ll slowly start being able to open up to more and more people at once.

Something else also came up last night. But first, a little back story. In a comment on one of my posts regarding my attachment to D, someone said I should try opening up to her and telling her how I feel. So, after about a week of giving it some thought, I decided that even though I’m scared to do it, I’m going to anyway. Life is short, right? So I reached out and opened up to her through an email. Then, at last’s week’s group I asked her whether she had received my email. She had, but said that she wanted to read it through completely before responding. Cool stuff.

It’s been more than a week now, and I haven’t heard anything back from her yet. Obviously, my paranoid and insecure self doesn’t like that very much. I found myself thinking “stupid, stupid girl, you shouldn’t have sent that fucking email”. But fuck that. I sent it, it’s done, and there’s nothing I can do about it now. So I allowed that thought to just float on by, and away it went. Sure, it crops up from time to time again, but I know how to better deal with it. After all, for all I know, she might just have been really busy, on leave, etc… There could be a lot of reasons for not having received a response.

Back to last night though. Sometime during the last part of group one of the other ladies was talking about some meditations that D had emailed to her. I had also asked her to send it to me. But she didn’t. So when that lady mentioned that she had gotten that email, I felt this stab of pain. I brushed it aside and tried to focus on what she was saying instead. There was no way in hell I was going to allow myself to think about that and feel that emotion right then. Hurt? Confusion? Embarrassment? Shame? All of the above. Dissociation, my friend… Welcome.

The rest of the evening I kept telling myself it’s okay. I kept trying to deny those feelings. Because they were from the young part. I’m an adult, I’m healing. I can’t still be struggling with this inner child thing. But I’m fed up with denying things that demand to be out in the open. So I let it out. You know that look on a young child’s face when they get hurt, and you can see they want to cry, but they’re trying to be brave? That’s the image that came into my mind… That little girl was me. And I just cried, from that very young place. The adult me understands (well, sort of), but that little one’s heart is hurting, wondering whether she was bad and that’s why she doesn’t want her. That little one will latch onto anyone. She’s so trusting. She keeps reaching out. D seems to satisfy some deep need and longing. The adult me is content and secure in my relationship with my therapist. But for some reason, my inner child is drawn to D. I wish I could figure out why. Because if I know the reason, then maybe I can deal with it somehow.

As an adult I know things aren’t always what they seem. There’s probably a good reason she hasn’t sent me those things, or replied (Of course I was hoping for a reply, but not expecting one). But the little one doesn’t understand. She can’t make sense of things the way the adult me can. She can’t rationalize. So when I’m in that young mode, the adult doesn’t exist. It literally feels like a completely separate part. And I can switch so quickly between the two sometimes that I don’t even realize the switch has happened.

I’ve been dealing with feelings of rejection and abandonment by two significant connections, so I’ve already been in a vulnerable place. So this one just compounds the issue.

Somehow though, I’ve been dealing with it pretty well. I say that because usually I’d be a complete mess. These situations cloud my perceptions of every other relationship in my life, intensifying the fear of abandonment, and making me want to push everyone away. It ramps up my paranoia. But for some reason, this time, these situations haven’t been able to spill over into my relationships with Elizabeth and my therapist. I feel very secure and content in these two relationships. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I had a moment where I felt disconnected from my therapist. After writing that post, I sent her a text letting her know how I feel. She sent me a lovely text back, and I felt secure again. All it took was one little text. My relationship with Elizabeth is progressing at a comfortable, steady pace. Which is so very different from my previous relationships. It’s wonderful.

In our session today, my therapist said that I don’t give myself enough credit for things. That I give other people and things the credit. Something to that effect. And that’s true. So, I’m not saying that it’s entirely because of these two relationships that I’m handling all of this so well this time. I have grown and changed. I have made progress. I am doing well. But having these two strong and stable connections is also contributing to my ability to deal better with this situation. Connection is powerful, and definitely helps us cope better with life.

So I was hurting last night, and still don’t feel good about it, but I’m not obsessing about it the way I would have in the past. It’s different this time.

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Adult Children

I had another great night’s rest. I’m constantly tired (the story of my life), but for most of the day, much less than usual. Wow, I really needed all the sleep I’ve been getting. So I was in a good, healthy mood this morning. I had a few not so good moments, but they were bearable.

After work I met up with my business partner (let’s call her Kim) and Jasmine (who helps us with our marketing) to take some photo’s of ourselves for our new website and Facebook page. We had such an amazing time. Kim took photo’s of me, I of her, and Jasmine took some of the two of us together. I set my camera to auto mode for her, and gave her a quick tutorial on how to work it, as well as some composition tips. She took some good shots, and seemed to be having fun. She was just snapping away, even when Kim and I were fooling around in between our “professional mode”. We were running around, semi-climbing the trees. Just being big children. I felt happy. I was having fun, and it felt so damn good. I’m at my happiest when playing with children. My inner child feels free during those moments. I connect better with children than I do adults. I’m that person who you’ll see running around with the kids at an event or party, instead of sitting at the “adult’s table”. Kim, who is young at heart, is also a real adult child. I tell her that all the time, and she loves hearing it!

She’s 58, which I found out today! There’s no way! I thought she was 50! She’s one of those happy, full of energy, extroverted, and confident people. I always enjoy spending time with her and Jasmine. Even when we have our meetings over a cup of coffee, we have fun. It’s laid back and easy. Jokes abound. I’ll give you an example of what a character she is. She has these white sneakers that flash different colours when she walks. She wears them often, even in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. She certainly draws attention. The first time she wore them when we went for dinner, I freaked out when I saw them. But she made it seem cool! Seriously! The next time we went for lunch and she was wearing those shoes, one of them stopped flashing (apparently it was flat- shoes going flat? Who knew). When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress whether they have a charger lying around so my friend could charge her shoe. Jasmine went bright red. But Kim and I (and the waitress of course) just laughed. Now that’s the effect Kim has on me. When I’m around her, I feel confident and couldn’t care less about what people think. Her energy is contagious. After a couple of hours with her, I’m left feeling happy, but exhausted.

I’m coming off that high now. I don’t have any of the strong feel good emotions I had earlier, but I’m not feeling bad either. Just tired.

It was a good day, and I’m so grateful for that.

“She’s Gone Forever”

My therapist went on leave for two weeks. I knew about this for two weeks before her break, and during that time, I didn’t think much about it. More importantly, I didn’t know how I felt about it. Like I told her in our session two weeks ago, I’m happy that she’s making time for herself, and taking this break. In Thursday’s session, she brought up her leave again, and asked me whether I want to discuss it and how I feel about it. I can’t really remember what I answered. It’s like a chunk of my memory has been erased (I’m so tired of this happening). So I don’t know what I had said. But I appreciate that she always discusses this topic, and tries to make it easier for me. She doesn’t just throw me into the deep end.

We have this special emoticon that represents a hug (not the traditional hug one). We made a deal to only use that one for us, not for anyone else. That little symbol comforts my soul, and brings a smile to my face every time she uses it. I sent her a text on Friday, as it was the last day I’d be able to until she gets back. I asked for one of our special hugs, and she sent me one. I hold onto that one simple little thing. A simple thing that means so much.

I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the contributing factors of my recent surge in abandonment fear, is due to me knowing that she’s going to be away. Even though, like I said, I didn’t give too much thought to it, I think it was stored in my subconscious instead.

It’s not about not seeing her for a session. I wouldn’t have been able to see her for a session in that time anyway. The weeks when we don’t have therapy, I’m perfectly fine with our contact between sessions. Some weeks it will only be one text or email. It’s more when I have something to say, or am feeling insecure. Sometimes I initiate it, other times, she does. Checking in. So that’s what makes her going away hard… We won’t have any contact. I miss her. And I’m sad that she left me alone (that’s what it feels like anyway). There are moments where I think that I don’t know if I ever want to speak to her again. Then other moments where I just want her to come back. I’m being selfish. And this feeds into the emotion I’ve been struggling with for the past while, which I’ll write about in my next post.

I once got asked by a friend of mine, who went to therapy for a year herself, why and how I can be so attached to a therapist. She understands attachment, but not between a therapist and client. I realized that no matter how you explain it, a lot of people won’t truly “get it”, unless they’re in the same boat. Almost all of you who have BPD have this same attachment to your therapists. I always relate to your posts on this topic. So I know I’m not the only one who gets upset and chaotic when our therapists go on vacation or take leave. Counting the days down until they return. Days that feel like weeks. It’s hard. And others don’t understand why we struggle so much with this. But they don’t need to understand it.

The words “she’s gone forever” came into my mind when I woke up this morning. I know it didn’t come from my adult self, but from the little part.

I know it’s not true though. She’s not gone forever. But why does it still feel like she is?

I Want It To Stop

The excruciating physical pain I’ve been in this week has subsided quite a bit. It’s not as unbearable as it was. But the emotional pain has stuck around.

In my previous post, I wrote how I feel like crying when thinking about the next day, week, etc. But now, its escalated into panic. How the hell am I going to make it through the next few days? The next week? My usual “one hour at a time” mantra isn’t holding up. It’s one excruciating hour at a time, and feels like too much to handle. I can’t do this! It’s too hard.

I don’t know what to do. I just need everything to stop! Please, please, please make it stop! How can one person hurt this much?

I need and want a friend right now, but none of them are available this weekend. And they don’t even have decent excuses. It’s frustrating and makes me extremely sad that when I really need them, they’re nowhere to be found. But when they need me, I’m there, no matter what mood I’m in. Even if I’m hurting as well. But I obviously don’t tell them that. In that moment, it’s about them. I put my own shit away to be there and support them.

Today I found myself repeating a pattern of something that I used to do a lot of in my teen years. Every time someone hurt me, or let me down in certain ways, I would feel this defiance and anger inside. But I didn’t want them to see or hear how it affected me. I was scared I might lose them if I mentioned it or showed it. So I’d hide it until I was alone. Then the anger would come, and I’d repeat “I don’t need anyone, I’m fine on my own.” But when the anger died down, I’d break down, with sadness consuming every inch of my being. I’d feel so alone. I preferred the anger, because it covered the disappointment, the rejection, the hurt. Anger is always so much easier to deal with, isn’t it.

I’ve had to cancel a few birthday “celebrations” over the years. Even as an adult. I’ll never forgot my 21st birthday. I was at a co-worker’s house (I was staying with her for a few weeks- I just can’t remember why), and everyone I had invited to my little party had been unable to attend. One of them cancelled an hour before it was due to start. My co-worker had gone to visit her son, as it was his birthday as well. So I was alone that night. The power went out at some point. So I lit a candle, poured myself a glass of wine, and sat on the floor, against the couch (I seem to find it comforting sitting on the floor instead of a couch for some reason- only couches though. Normal chairs- I’ll sit in them rather than on the floor). This might sound really silly, but I pretended there were other people there. Like my mom, little sisters, friends. Making up conversations in my head (there were some pretty funny ones). I had to do that, because if I stopped, the reality hurt too much. Remembering that makes my heart ache. So I’m not a fan of the day of my birth. Besides, I was a mistake. I never should have been born. I don’t even know why birthdays are celebrated in the first place. Who came up with that idea?

I’m writing about all this because I want to prove a point. I’m convinced that there’s something I’m doing wrong. That’s there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. That it’s why friends and family seem to want to spend as little time with me as possible. The things I mentioned above seem to prove it. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had this feeling (and believed) that I deserved everything that happened to me. And right now, I feel it’s especially true. Looking in the mirror earlier today, I wondered who that face belonged to. What’s her life worth?

I want my therapist. She always seems to know what to say, and has a calming influence on me. It’s weekend, so I can’t even reach out to her. And I’m not seeing her anytime soon either, which just feels so messed up. I just want to be held by her. No CBT, DBT, REBT, FFST (Okay, I made that last one up). Just one of those talking sessions. We all need one of those from time to time. Those sessions where she just listens and doesn’t make me work through techniques, skills, etc. I just need someone to listen to me, without judging. That’s what I mean when I say I want to held by her. In that protective therapeutic cocoon. Where it’s warm and safe. Even when it’s hard.

In one of the letters my therapist had written me, she told me that I’m brave. And now I keep hearing her words “be brave” (from another note), but I don’t feel brave right now.

I will try to be though. I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. I just need to get through tonight and tomorrow. That thought makes me panic. I’m trying to just stay in the moment, practice mindfulness, but it only works for a few seconds and I swing right back. These flashbacks that I’ve been having don’t make it any easier. I don’t even know anymore what’s a nightmare, and what’s a real memory. They seem to blend into each other. Swinging from adult to child mode. The nightmares and flashbacks are all from that young part. I should never have opened that door to let that inner child in. When we started working with that whole thing, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know just how painful it would be.

“Stop crying. You’re not a baby.”

But big girls cry too.

Protection And Running Away

This is a follow up from my previous post.

After I had written it, and gone to sleep, I had a nightmare.

Before I get into the dream, it needs to be said that most of my dreams over the years have followed a similar theme. They all involve me protecting others (or myself and even baby animals). Running away from someone, a group of people, or something (like a natural disaster).

In this dream, that person was my step-father. He was hurting my youngest little sister, and throwing her around the room. She was so tiny. Just a little toddler. It broke me seeing what he was doing to her. So I picked her up and ran. Suddenly there were other people with us who I was also trying to lead to safety. We climbed and jumped over walls and roofs, and crawled through barbed wire fences. Trying to stay out of sight of the monster who was hunting us. There were security camera’s, so it was even more important for us to avoid being seen. There were wide open spaces, which made us especially vulnerable. Other spaces were difficult to get through, as there were plants and trees surrounding us. We came across a house here and there, but I knew they weren’t safe to run into. That the people who lived there were in on it with my step-father. Every time I thought we were in the clear, I’d find that it wasn’t over, and he was catching up to us.

Suddenly a SWAT team appeared. They were helping us escape. But then we understood that they weren’t there to help us at all. They had their own agenda. Now there were more people after us. One of the guys running with us, picked up a dead snake, and told us that the SWAT team had been fooling us. Why a dead snake, and what that has to do with anything, I have no idea (some of my dreams have featured snakes- I don’t know what that represents). At the end of the dream, when I finally thought we were really safe this time, as there were normal people walking around, I realized that we were still in danger. I felt trapped.

I woke up crying. And I realized just how much my past has affected me, and shaped my life. For the first time, I can acknowledge that I haven’t yet fully dealt with it. I always tried to run away from my past. Pretending that it didn’t affect me. But now I realize just how much it actually did.

Once I was fully awake, I felt a combination of anger and deep hurt. I’ve always tried to be the protector to everyone. To take care of others. I took on that role. But who protects me? Who protected that little girl? The people who were supposed to protect her, didn’t, or couldn’t. And for the first time, I’m feeling the extent of that pain.

I could never truly connect to that part of myself until now. I’m grieving for that sad, lonely, and scared little girl. For the teen who had to deal with so much.

Those uncried tears, are finally being released. The hurt with nowhere to go, is being experienced and channeled. The secrets with no one to tell, are now being told.

It’s too painful to feel all at once. But the door has been opened, so I can begin to walk through it.

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.

It’s The Connection

For the past two weeks, I’ve been so fixated on the thought of not being able to afford to have therapy sessions, that I failed to see what’s been right in front of me this entire time. I was reading through some of my posts on being afraid of losing connection with my therapist, and that’s when it hit me.

I think I finally get what my therapist told me. That she doesn’t want me to become dependent on therapy. I get defensive when she says that and tell her that I’m not dependent on therapy. She counters that by telling me that she didn’t say I am. I realized it’s not the therapy I’m dependent on. It’s the connection with my therapist. The attachment. I’ve never felt a connection like this with anyone. Not even with my grandmother, who was my favourite person in the world. At this point in my life, and for the sake of healing, I need this stable relationship. Especially for those younger parts. They’ve had a hard week without her. I think one of the ways of healing those childhood wounds, and working on integrating the parts, is through a healthy, secure attachment.

The way I see it, is that there’s still plenty of time to focus on the work in therapy. But the relationship needs to be there. And going more than a week without some form of communication is the thing that’s hard for me. I’m not ready to go a full week without hearing from her. It feels like I lose that connection, and it’s agony. I still need to be able to keep that connection with my therapist alive.

I have my weekly group and DBT sessions with my OT, which is part of my journey toward healing. It will help me improve my functioning, and provides me with the tools I need to better navigate this world and my life.

I can have therapy once a month and I’ll be fine. If that’s the way it has to be until I get a job, then there’s nothing I can do about it. All I want is to be able to speak to Therapist and hear her voice once a week or every two weeks, with texts or emails the weeks I can’t call her. A 5-10 minute conversation is all I need. When I think of the situation this way, I feel a sense of relief. We’ll obviously need to talk about this in our next session, and work something out.