“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?

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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.

The Little One’s Letter To Therapist

I was a little embarrassed when the thought of posting this letter on my blog popped into my head. Until I remembered that my original purpose for starting it was for me to process my thoughts and feelings after my break up and move to a new city. So I’ve decided that it’s okay to post this, since this blog is my space to just let it all out and examine my inner world. I need to do this. For me.

In my previous post I mentioned that I felt very young last night. I’ve been feeling that way for most of today as well. I’ve tried to ignore that little voice inside, and the feelings it brought up. But then I decided that I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. So I listened. I listened to the little one’s fears. I acknowledged her sadness. I cried those tears. She wanted to write a letter to Therapist, so I let her. Which I’ll only be able to show to her at our next session. She told me to use my non dominant hand when writing from that little part. So that’s what I did. And this is the result:

2017-03-21 21.05.59

I have been trying to figure out why this is coming up now. And why it feels so hard. In my session with my OT yesterday, I mentioned to her that my medical aid benefits are almost depleted. The clinic stay took away from my benefits. I told her that after next week’s session with my therapist, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see her again as I just can’t afford it. She’s away this week, otherwise I would have rescheduled to sometime this week since I’m missing her so damn much.

When I told this to my OT, I think it hit me right then and there just how scared and panicked I actually feel about the situation. I shoved it down quickly though. But the uncertainty is killing me. I need routine, so I feel unsettled.

Yes, I’ll survive. But why should I have to? Haven’t I already survived enough shit? The teen in me feels that it’s fucking unfair. But I blame myself for most of what happened in my life. For being in the place I’m at right now. For my part in it. Sometimes even for the roles that others have played in my life. If only I had been better. Done better.

The little one knows, but doesn’t understand why it has to be this way. She thinks the connection will be broken and she’ll be alone. She has me, but she doesn’t just want me. She wants Therapist. She feels that her main attachment figure will be taken away from her again. The way she was taken away from her mother that day. The moving further and further away from her attachment figure, watching her fade away.

And that’s my biggest fear right now. I’m scared that our connection, the bond I have with her, will break. That my therapist will fade away into the distance.

Attachment: Here We Go Again

I’ve gone and done it again.

I got attached to someone else. My psychiatrist.

When I first met her, that Friday that I booked myself into the clinic, I can’t remember most of our interaction. I saw her four more times after that, and didn’t know what to make of her. So there wasn’t an instant attachment, like I had with my therapist the first day I met her.

Then, yesterday, everything changed. I went to a DBT program that the clinic organizes for previous inpatients. As I was signing myself in, I felt a presence behind me, and heard a voice. I turned around and saw my psychiatrist. She smiled warmly at me, greeted me and asked whether I had an appointment with someone. I told her that I was there for the DBT group. She smiled again, and told me that she’s proud of me, which caught me unawares. She asked me to walk with her, and started asking how I’ve been, what’s been going on in my life, etc. I was surprised when she asked me about something I had told her in one of our sessions a few weeks ago. Surprised because I didn’t think she’d remember that so clearly. Especially since she sees a lot of patients.

Eventually we got to her office, and she announced me to her assistant (who I really like- she’s awesome), with a “look who I found”. It’s nice to be remembered. The instant my psychiatrist touched my hand, that was it. I became attached to this woman, right then and there. My vulnerable child self emerged, and I could feel her hunger for love and care. Psychiatrist had just done something that made her feel warm inside and cared for, and she wanted more.

The three of us spoke for a few more minutes and then Psychiatrist had to leave to go see patients. But before she left, she told her assistant “take good care of her”. She left with a gentle touch on my arm. I didn’t want her to go, and the vulnerable child felt so sad watching her leave, thinking that she might never come back.

The group was really good, but near the end we had to lay on the ground for some meditation. After a few minutes of that, I suddenly felt this overwhelming sadness. I felt my vulnerable child self becoming activated again. I started crying (I’m glad no one would see me), and just kept thinking over and over again “I want Psychiatrist and Therapist”.

Why do I find myself getting attached to someone because of a simple, caring touch? It’s not like that with just anyone though. And never with men. I can feel when it’s genuine and there’s a measure of care. And that’s when it happens. It’s an amazing feeling, but at the same time it’s terrifying. It’s just one more person to worry about being abandoned by. But I can’t stop it from happening.

My therapist is still my favourite and most powerful attachment. I’ve got a session with her tomorrow, and I can’t wait. She sent me a voice note last night, just as I was getting out of the car to go to group, telling me that she’s proud of me. I had reached out to her and told her that I’ve been struggling with abandonment issues a lot this past week or so, and I was in a young and vulnerable place. I told her I was forcing myself to go to the group, even though I didn’t really want to (I’m glad I went). It was so nice hearing her voice again, and I always love hearing her say that she’s proud of me. So I got two “I’m proud of you” messages yesterday. It felt good.

I’m seeing my psychiatrist next week Friday for an hour. But I don’t want to see her only then. It feels like a lifetime away.

What the hell is wrong with me?!

Taking Responsibility For My Own Insecurites

There are times where I find myself feeling insecure about the smallest things. Only, these things aren’t so small to me in the moment. During these times, I see them as something that threatens my very happiness, sanity and survival.

For example, if someone doesn’t respond the right way to a text or email. Often though, there is no ‘right way’. I can find something wrong no matter what someone may say. I put them in a position where they can’t win. Being oversensitive is a common BPD trait. It’s not fun.

Another example is someone not responding to a text or email in the time frame that I think they should, in order to make me feel secure.

Both of these examples rang true for me yesterday with regards to my girlfriend. I’m going to call her Jasmine from now on. She went home yesterday to continue working on her thesis. She works on it when she’s here too, but there are more distractions… Me being one of them, of course.

A few hours later, my Rational Mind went offline. It was as if I had forgotten that Jasmine had work to do, and that was what she had to focus on. In those moments, I thought that it had to do with me. That maybe I had done something wrong, and she was angry with me. I was about to ask her whether she was mad at me, but then I realized something.

I can’t expect others to be responsible for my insecurities. They’re mine. They don’t belong to anyone else.

So instead of asking for reassurance this time, I decided to deal with it myself. I’ll never learn how to self-soothe and deal with my own emotions if I constantly expect others to make me feel better. Just because I didn’t get the care and reassurance I needed as a child and teen, I’m an adult now. And I’m perfectly capable of reassuring myself. It’s easier said than done of course, but that’s not going to stop me from working on it.

I started thinking about what I could do to deal with these insecurities, and came up with an idea. I took a piece of paper and made a few columns. And since I like making things as easy as possible (otherwise I just procrastinate), I made the same thing in MS Word and saved it as a template for future use. For the purpose of this post, I’ve put my exercise in as an example and made a screenshot.

table-insecurities

After doing this, I felt so much better, and could focus on my own activities. When those same insecurities would rise up, I would just look at my list. I’m the queen of catastrophizing. I don’t want to be this way anymore. And only I can change it.

Already Missing Her

Today I had my last therapy session for 2016.

The next time I’ll be seeing Therapist is on the 10th of January 2017. I know I’ll survive and that life will carry on as usual, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss her and think about her every day.

I’ve been having a lot of bad dreams about her going away. About me not being a part of her personal life. But on the other hand, I love this therapeutic relationship. It’s more intimate than any other relationship I’ve ever had, and I know that it wouldn’t be the same if we were friends, or even family. The therapeutic relationship is a very special type of relationship, and I treasure it.

A part of me feels abandoned by her. That she won’t be here for me during December, which is the worst time of the year for me. But that’s Emotion Mind speaking. Rational and Wise Mind knows that this break is important for her. This part is glad that she’s going to have a break and be able to recharge. That she’ll be spending time with those she loves. And that makes me feel happy. It’s just hard to reconcile the two parts at the same time. It’s either-or, depending on which frame of mind I’m in at that moment.

The fear of her not coming back in the new year is there too. The fear that she’ll forget about me. But I trust her more than I did in the beginning few months, thanks to her consistency. So that isn’t my main fear. Especially now that we’ve already set a date and time for our next session. That really helps as well. She also sent me a beautiful recording, which I’ll listen to whenever I feel I’m missing her too much and just want her to come back. I don’t want to forget her.

I think my biggest fear is that I’ll lose that connection I feel with her. What if when she comes back, I don’t feel that connection anymore? I tend to push people away and put a shield around my heart if I don’t see them for a while, or feel I’m going to be rejected. That way I won’t have to feel that intense longing or pain. But I don’t want to do that with her.

I told Therapist about all the plans I have in place for December. Constructive activities that will help me through this difficult time. Such as working on the book I’ve started writing, blogging, studying Psychology through those free online courses (MIT’s Introduction to Psychology, for example) and textbooks, reading through Marsha Linehan’s DBT Skills Training Manual (and practicing those skills). And most importantly, spending time with my girlfriend, who recently told me “I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere”.

Trying to explain to someone (like my dad and stepmom) who just don’t get it, about how hard this is going to be for me, is like trying to explain physics to a three year old. Yes, I’m attached to my therapist. And maybe that’s not normal or understandable to most people. But it’s real to me. And it makes sense for me.

Going into this session, I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect the goodbye would hurt this much. I feel this overwhelming sense of loss, and I don’t know why.

I don’t want to see it as a “goodbye”. Instead, I choose to see it as “see you soon”.

Footprints

When I first heard this song a few days ago, it brought to mind my relationship with my therapist. It’s strange how I seem to be able to connect a lot of things to therapy.

Because of the boundaries that exist in any therapy relationship, there have been times where I felt like my therapist had ‘abandoned’ me. When she would push me, and encourage me to hold myself, and not become dependent on her to take care of me. That I needed to do that for myself, and was very capable of that. That I had made it through 30+ years without her. Sometimes those words hurt, and I felt that she didn’t really care. In my mind, I felt like I needed her to save me. Especially during periods of suicidal ideation. I want to be able to phone her at 2am and tell her to stop me from taking it further. But those damn boundaries. I know it’s not realistic to bother her after hours. But the emotional mind doesn’t think like that.

Since starting therapy, she’s been there for me every step of the way. She never left my side, even when I pushed her away, and tested her. She’s been my safe zone. When there’s a rupture, I panic and feel like she’s giving up on me and letting go of my hand. But I’m learning that just because there’s ‘conflict’ in a relationship, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that the relationship will end.

She’s gotten me through many dark times. And even when I don’t see her for a while, the work we’ve already done together has made me stronger and better able to look after myself.

When I feel she doesn’t care enough, or isn’t there enough, the truth is very different. She’s still there. She’s still holding me. She still has my hand. I know she cares. Not just because she tells me she does, but also by her actions. She does so much for me. In a way, she is carrying me.

With the upcoming therapy break, a lot of emotions are coming up. Fear. Panic. Pain. Anxiety. How will I survive without her? What if she forgets about me? What if she doesn’t come back? We’ve been talking about the break and preparing for it, but that doesn’t make those feelings go away. There’s no magic pill for that. But I know that even though I won’t be able to see her, she’ll still be holding me in her heart.

She’s shown me time and time again that I can trust her. And I do. Sometimes my mind just needs to catch up to my heart.