“It Isn’t Real”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It wasn’t real.”
“It isn’t real.”

Both past and present.

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

Is it real?

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

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

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

The world and events. Is this really happening?

Me. The shadow. Do I exist?

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

But it was, and is, real for me.

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

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

The Dream And A Missing Psychologist

I find dreams fascinating. Even nightmares.

Growing up, I had a few recurrent dreams. They have stuck with me through the years, and every once in a while (very rarely at least) I have one of them again. I’ll write about each one sometime.

Now, I have a new dream. I’ve had it only once before, but even one repeat tells me there are issues I need to deal with.

The first time I had this particular dream was during one of my own vacations, and I couldn’t see my therapist that week.

I had the same dream again last night.

I go into my old living room and see my dad, a woman from our past, and my new stepmom. The woman has blood all over her face, and is sitting on the couch, which is also full of blood. He looks mad. And I know he did that to her. My stepmom is quiet and just standing there. My dad starts shouting and screaming. I tell them I’m just going to the bathroom and will be right back.

Terrified, I go out into the hallway, take out my phone and start looking for my therapists number, so I can call her and ask her what I must do. Do I phone the hospital or the police or both? Remember this is a dream, so even though the answer is simple in waking life, it didn’t work that way here. Anyway, my phone doesn’t respond, and does its own thing. Opening other apps and not allowing me into my contact list. I’m getting extremely frustrated and panicking.

Suddenly, I find myself outside. Everything is grey and there’s a heavy mist all around. I realize I’m standing in water up to my knees. I feel this urge to look for something. Only I don’t know what. There are big, tall buildings all around me, and I’m walking through narrow spaces between the buildings. I’m getting anxious, claustrophobic and overwhelmed. All the while I’m still trying to find my therapists number. I eventually manage to get into my contact list, but her number isn’t there anymore. There’s no trace of her anywhere on my phone. All the messages I had, also gone. As if I had never met her. As if she had never existed.

The water (that I’ve been walking through the entire time) starts getting deeper. Dark water, black as tar. My next step, I plunge down into the water, as if the ground had just given way beneath me. I struggle to the surface and manage to come back up for air. Just as I take a big gulp of air, something pulls me beneath the surface again.

I wake up in a panic, and check my phone. Everything is still there. Momentary relief.

It seems to happen when I don’t see my therapist for a week or more. I’ve only started seeing her at the beginning of last month, so the therapy process and these feelings toward her are still relatively new. By the time we have our next session, it would have been exactly 2 weeks since our last one. What is 2 weeks? For me… A lifetime. So I know this dream has a lot to do with my fear of her not being around anymore, of her not coming back. Of forgetting about me. Which is extremely frustrating because I know logically that it’s not true. But my logical center either suffers from memory loss or has a short attention span. The emotional part then takes over quickly, throwing me into a panic, and convincing me of the opposite. The fear is soothed (for a while at least) when and if being reassured that said person will indeed come back. It’s a special type of torture that only those who experience the same thing will be able to understand.

I follow Dr. Gerald Stein’s blog (which I highly recommend if you haven’t stumbled upon it by now), a retired Clinical Psychologist who often blogs about psychotherapy. It’s always helpful to read things from a therapist’s point of view. And this article I read seemed fitting for this post:

‘Managing The Dread Of A Therapists Vacation’

Feel free to offer any of your own interpretations of this dream if you wish. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s perspectives.

The Challenge And Necessity Of Being Good to Ourselves

My psychologist shared this quote online, and it’s been at the back of my mind since I saw it.

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I was approached by one of my male friends a few weeks ago. Someone I’d known for a number of years. We’ve never been close, but the friendship had its merits.

He asked me to take on a personal project for him. It would require a lot of time and work on my part, and the only thing I would get out of it would be the satisfaction of having done something for a friend. As usual, I agreed. However, since my break up and move, I don’t have the large amount of internet data it would require. I had unlimited WiFi access, but in this new place, there’s a limited amount of data available every month and it has to be shared by six of us. This project has been causing me a lot of distress lately. To say I’ve been dreading it would be an understatement.

This quote came into my mind again yesterday, and I knew what I had to do. I was nervous telling him I couldn’t do it anymore. I also told him that I’m going through a really hard time and I have so many other things on my plate at this time, and am already overwhelmed. That I need to be kind to myself now too. It took a whole minute for him to tell me he never wants to hear from me again. Thanks, and fuck you too.

I’ve never been good at handling stress. I get overwhelmed easily, and it used to result in panic attacks. I’ve since learned how to stop it turning into a full blown one. But a lot of it was my own fault. Always taking on too much. Never wanting to disappoint or offend anyone. Never standing up for myself and taking people’s crap. In all the jobs I had, I spent many moments in the bathroom hitting the walls or cutting myself where no one could see. Then walking out, the picture of calm and control. There was only one job where I allowed myself to express my frustration and anger. My boss and I would often have screaming matches with one another, swearing included, which would end with him going into his office and slamming the door. I’ve never been able to fight with anyone like that, not even with my ex. But I felt comfortable letting this man have it. Everyone else in the company was terrified of him. But the bastard loved me. Would always bring me chocolates or flowers afterward or the next day. Ah, the good ol’ days. 😛

I recently became obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence. It was her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” that really got my attention. I watched it a couple weeks ago with my family. They thought she was crazy… I was fascinated and loved her character. Who I’m pretty sure has BPD by the way. Anyone else happen to think so?

Just as a side note: That scene in the restaurant was epic. I played it back a few times when everyone else had gone to bed. It made me feel so satisfied. What can I say? I’m messed up.

Anyway, in one scene, Tiffany (Portrayed by Jennifer) tells Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat:

I do this time after time after time, I do all this shit for other people, and then I wake up and I’m empty. I have nothing. I always get myself into these fucking situations. I give everything to other people and nobody ever… I don’t get what I want okay?

Those words really hit me hard. A lot of us are in the habit of doing things for others, even at the expense of our own needs and desires.

Being good to ourselves also means taking care of our own needs. It’s okay to ask for what you want. This concept is something I struggle with. I’ve realized that a few times in my life I’ve offered others hugs simply because I wanted or needed one. Manipulation much? I send my apologies out into the universe to those people, wherever they may be. The other day I followed the example of Tiffany (who asked Pat to help her with her dance), and told a friend that I need a hug. And you know what? She was more than happy to give it to me. It was terrifying to ask, but I felt good afterward. Proud of myself for a change. We need to be proud of every step we take in a positive direction. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

It makes me feel good doing things for others, as I’m sure it does for you too. But sometimes there are things you don’t want to do, aren’t comfortable doing, or that go against your values or beliefs. We need to learn to say “no” and become comfortable in doing so. I don’t like hurting or offending people. But I think I need to learn to balance being kind and good to others and myself at the same time. This won’t always be possible of course, but I’m sure most situations will enable me to do just that.

I’m currently reading a book, ‘Coping With BPD’.  After this experience with my “friend” I was trying to get the situation off my mind and decided to read a little. I opened up to the next chapter in that book. Surprise… The title? ‘Saying No’. Funny how these things happen, isn’t it? I read about the FAST skill of DBT. FAST is an acronym for:
F – (be) Fair
A – (no) Apologies
S – Stick to values
T
– (be) Truthful
They don’t go into too much detail in the book about it, so I found this article that explains it really well. Will definitely need to practice this skill.

People won’t always treat you well. But whenever you remember, and whenever you can, treat yourself well. You deserve to be good to yourself. You’re worth it. The saying “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is true. But you know what’s also true for those of us in the habit of always putting others first?

“Do unto yourself as you do unto others.”

The Age Game

My ex and I had this ‘game’.

Depending on how I was acting, she would assign an age to me. The oldest I got to was 60. The wise old lady. But that was always accompanied a few hours later or earlier by a downgrade to any age between 2-16 years old.

Well, today I was the toddler throwing a tantrum. So, I guess that makes me 2 or 3 years old. Take your pick.

They say a symptom of BPD is impulsive behaviour. Does posting something in the heat of an intense emotional meltdown count as being impulsive? What about sending your therapist an email while in that same emotional state? I did both. And once the storm had passed, I was left feeling like a complete idiot. Again. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I had a therapy session today, and for the first time since we started seeing one another I just wasn’t feeling the connection. Something was off. In hindsight, I was feeling very exposed and vulnerable. I also felt a wall at times. One I had most probably constructed in my own mind.

Near the end of our session, I turned the conversation to a personal matter. And obviously I was approaching a boundary. Naturally, my therapist wouldn’t give me the information I wanted. Then, the whole one-sided relationship feeling washed over me. I might have pushed a little, knowing that boundary would be there. But pushing anyway. Wanting, needing to feel ‘special’. But of course, I’m not.

After the meltdown, but still in ‘danger zone’ I decided to take a drive down to the beach. I needed to get rid of all the energy coursing through my body, and get my mind to shut up. I chose the healthier and safer option of release, which I can hear my therapist say I should be proud of. So I’ll go with that.

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There was no one else around. I walked, concentrating on listening to the sound of the waves breaking, the feel of the sand beneath my feet, the smells and sounds in the air. Things got calm. I felt utterly alone. Yet I basked in this sense of solitude. Just me and nature. I didn’t need anyone. I didn’t want anyone. Sitting on the soft, white sand, my mind started wandering.

I came to the conclusion that yes, I actually do need people in my life. We all do. And I already have a wonderful support group of two.

So why then, if I knew I had someone I really need in my life, did I just realize that I’d been trying to push her away? To distance myself from her? Is it because she’s going on holiday? But I’ve gone two weeks between sessions before. Besides, she needs the break. She deserves more than a week actually. It’s not like she’s leaving forever. Or is it the fear that our application for more sessions would be rejected and it would be longer than just a couple of weeks before we could resume our work together?

Is it because she’s getting too close? I’ve let her in on so many secrets already. She knows too much. No one can know so much about me and still choose to stay. Yes, she said she’s committed, but I thought the same about other people in the past, and they ended up leaving. Maybe I’m trying to see how far I can push. Maybe it’s easier to do the rejecting than being rejected.

Or perhaps, with my recent revelation in another post about the way I feel for her, did I subconsciously create the drama at the end of our session on purpose to find a reason to hate her?

I don’t have the answer. I won’t pretend to understand. Maybe it’s all of the above. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

As is the usual case with me, while I was trying to push her away, I was also panicking at other times that she would leave. I don’t want to lose her. I want her close. See, there’s that walking contradiction thing again. I’m still feeling a little insecure, but I need to deal with it.

I can now understand why some professionals don’t want to work with us. But I think it’s their loss… Because I’m sure once we’ve gone through the healing process and arrived on the other side, it’s the biggest compliment to the therapist who chose to commit.

The saying goes “one day at a time”. But that feels overwhelming sometimes, so I’ve broken it down even further. One hour at a time. Like a baby learning to walk. Little steps at a time. Slowly. We can do this.

Now to work myself up to my actual age.

The Highs & Lows of the Therapeutic Relationship

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but have tried to put it off. It feels like I’ll be walking out into the street naked. But I have read similar posts by a couple of other people, which was a great help and comfort to me. And since this is part of my life, if someone can relate and not feel like they’re alone, that can only be a good thing.

Let me start with a quick background on my first meeting with my therapist.

Sitting in the waiting room, my heart was racing. And suddenly, there she was. Calling my name.

Following her, I felt strangely safe. I don’t remember ever feeling safe with someone right off the bat. Actually, there aren’t many people I feel safe around in general. But I digress.

When we sat down, that feeling remained. I was nervous and anxious, yes. But something else was also happening. Something I still can’t explain. She somehow managed to get me to open up and reveal certain things in record time. I felt an instant connection. And that was it. She had me.

Now, let’s rip this band aid off.

I love my therapist.

As in love love. I sometimes have to stop myself from just saying the words “I love you”. Sure, I might say “I have this crazy obsession or attachment to you”. Those are the words coming out of my mouth. But those aren’t the words I really want to say.

I’ve been reading Life In A Bind’s blog for a while now (have started from her first ever post and working my way to the latest – still a lot to go, but amazing stuff there), and there’s a post that I could really relate to, as with a lot of her other posts. I want to quote a paragraph that pretty much sums up how I feel about the therapeutic relationship:

Whether the feelings relate to a friend, a partner or a therapist, the intensity of an obsessive attachment has brought me, repeatedly, both the most intense highs and the most painful lows. It seems to me that therapy, in particular, is a cruel form of unrequited love in which attachment can be necessary for healing, but the boundaries of the relationship may serve to make the obsessional nature of the attachment even more painful.

You can find the rest of the post here (I also recommend the original post she links to as she describes the topic of obsessive attachments so perfectly and beautifully):
http://lifeinabind.com/2015/03/16/memory-monday-waiting-to-fall-bpd-and-obsessive- attachments/

We have a therapeutic relationship. My mind knows this. But in my heart she’s also a lot more. I don’t know what or who exactly. It seems to shift and change constantly. There was only one occasion where I knew exactly who she was for me in a specific life event, which I told her about during one of our sessions. The rest of the time I have no idea. How do I love her? Well, I suppose all the ways you can love someone.

I was also relieved to discover that I’m also not the first person who has to stop themselves from phoning, texting or emailing their therapist constantly. Most of the time I succeed in resisting that temptation. The rest of the time? I just can’t help it. Sometimes it’s as if someone else has taken control of my body, and I’m powerless to stop it. I feel like one of these children in this test:

How can they do that to the poor child? He/she desperately wants that marshmallow, but must fight a great internal battle to resist eating it. Sure, it’s cute and funny to watch. But to actually live it? Not so much.

Boundaries suck, and I don’t care how necessary they are. I hate them. Which is probably why I’m terrible at setting them… I feel there’s always certain situations where they should be broken. Boundaries shouldn’t be black and white. Where the hell is the grey in all this?

During one of our sessions we spoke about the motivation behind my actions. For example, what was my motivation in sending a specific email? What did I want or expect from her when sending it? I actually found that quite profound. It really made me think and question my motivations. Which is something I’m finding myself doing quite often now. I only recently realized another one of my intentions for the majority of my communications with her outside of our sessions. Over and above my other expectations of course. To make sure she’s okay. If I receive a reply, I know she’s fine. If I don’t… I worry about her until I next hear from her. Writing this right now, something else came to mind. Is it totally just for her? Yes, I care about her. I want her to be happy, healthy and safe. But I think there’s a selfish reason thrown in the mix too. If she’s not happy, healthy or safe… that will mean… Here’s that word again… Abandonment. And here I thought I was just a very caring person. Self image… Blown. Damn. This writing process just threw me my first revelation. Not one I like, but maybe necessary.

Moving on. I’ve always had this overwhelming urge to protect those I love and care about. I once chased down a guy, tackled him to the ground, put my hands around his neck and told him if he ever did anything like that again I would kill him. All because he threw a stone at my little sister. Well, I feel justified… it almost hit her in the face. My therapist is only the latest in this delusion. I call it a delusion because I can’t even protect myself, so how do I expect to protect others? Logically, I know she doesn’t need protecting, but that’s not the point. What do I need to protect her from? I can’t tell you, because I don’t even know myself. Maybe sometimes from the very person writing this? One day, she jokingly (I hope) said I seem to be a superhero… And now I fell into that trap again. Oh if she could hear me now. But seriously, if I think of anyone hurting her, whether physically or emotionally, I feel I would rip them apart. I’ve done Muay Thai, MMA and Krav Maga, so have a good set of skills I could use for this purpose. Yes, I secretly am a superhero. 😛

The past couple days, I find I’m trying to find someone to “replace” her with. Someone else who I can turn my obsession over to instead. Why can’t things just feel normal? Why must everything be so damn intense or agonizing? Why do I feel the need for an attachment? Why do I get these obsessions? I would love to be rid of that. Yet at the same time, I actually don’t. It’s like a drug. Along with a comment from the above mentioned blogger, one of my best friends told me that at least this is a ‘healthy’ attachment. That if it wasn’t her it might be someone who’s not good for me, as I’ve been in the habit of doing through the years, so I should just accept how I feel instead of trying to fight it. Maybe I must ask my therapist what she thinks about this. It does make sense I guess. It just doesn’t stop the guilt and shame.

While writing this post, I could hear the word all too well… Transference, transference, transference. But the question is… Who, what, where and why?

I was questioning my motivations regarding therapy as well recently, as I currently find myself in a very uncomfortable position. Unable to set a date for a next session due to financial constraints (we’re currently working on sorting this out at least, and I’m on a job hunt). It feels like a loose end not having a date for a session. Bad enough is the fact that even a week without seeing her feels like months. Now with this added complication, I feel horrible and hopeless thinking it might be weeks or months before we can resume our sessions. So I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel this way. The only conclusion I can come to is that yes, while I am slightly obsessed with my therapist, and love just being in her presence, I also know that healing can, and is, taking place. Even if I felt nothing for her, I would want to continue and have as many regular sessions as it takes. I arranged an appointment with a Clinical Psychologist because I was in a desperate place, and I just couldn’t go it alone anymore. So wanting to get help came first. Loving my therapist is a bonus (or a curse, depending on how you look at it). By the way, for those of you who see your therapist twice a week… I’m jealous.

In closing, despite the fact that I would love to know more about her (everything actually), and have her as more than a therapist (I’m pretty sure we’d be able to be friends – don’t get any other ideas – I’m talking to myself here too), I still think our relationship is pretty perfect. As she says, we work well together. Such true words. At the end of the day, I feel supported and cared for. And, for now at least, the joys of this relationship far exceed the frustrations.

Friends and Good Therapy

Today is a good day.

Had a therapy session yesterday, and the wonder that is my therapist, managed to help me shake off the depressive and weird head space I’ve been in lately.

This past week, I’ve been avoiding thinking about all I left behind. Occasionally something would remind me, especially while unpacking and packing. I would have a few minutes of agonizing sadness, without the ability to shed a tear, but would recover relatively quickly. After all, I’ve done this before. I should be used to it by now. Right? But no, each situation is different, and this one I had to do completely on my own. This time I had no one to ‘take care of’ but myself. And this time, it was far more intimate and personal.

I had really needed that session. I felt it had given me a sense of hope again. That things might be hard now, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I can do things to ensure it doesn’t stay that way. I just need to get some structure into my days and life.

Woke up this morning feeling quite positive and lighter than I have in a long time. Met up for coffee with an old friend who I haven’t seen in what feels like forever. You know who you are. 😉 I had forgotten just how good I feel around her. She’s definitely one of those people you need in your life. Someone who builds you up, is fun to be around, really listens, understands, and accepts you just as you are. In short, a truly spectacular person.

One thing I’ve realized in life is that it’s not the quantity of time we spend with people that matters, but rather the quality of that time. That hour yesterday, and the couple of hours today, meant more to me than words can express.

Now that’s the magic of friends and good therapy.