She’s Back…

On Monday after work I met up with my ex, Elizabeth. During one of my “episodes” a little while ago, I impulsively sent her a message. I wasn’t expecting a reply, and wasn’t even sure whether I wanted one. But a couple of days later she sent a reply and I was genuinely shocked when she told me that my message was a wonderful surprise. We sent some messages back and forth for a few weeks. We were supposed to meet up the weekend, but I took a rain check and we met on Monday instead.

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I kept an emotional distance and was prepared to leave as soon as I felt things weren’t going well. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found that I was having a nice time catching up with her. Even more unexpected were the genuine apologies for her behaviour in our relationship, and acknowledgement that a lot of the issues came from her side. She had started therapy some time after we had broken up and been diagnosed with ADHD which made so much sense and put a lot into perspective when looking back.

We ended up spending that whole afternoon together and I only got home just after 11 that evening. We were having such a good time, and the alcohol kept coming (with both of us being on meds, we discussed that this can’t happen again). It felt so comfortable and familiar being with her. We sat intimately close, closer than I’ll allow anyone else to sit next to me when talking. And when we walked to another place for another drink, I was freezing (alcohol has that effect on me, while it makes her hot) and she put her arm around me to help keep me warm. That felt amazing. She told me that she has been wanting to get back into contact with me for so long, but thought I was angry with her and never wanted to see her again. That she had missed me so often, and how glad she was that we can be friends now.

I discovered that my feelings for her haven’t changed all that much, but I also have my guard up. My therapist told me to keep my boundaries in mind whenever I’m with her. Only thing is, I’m not so sure what my boundaries for her are, or should be. She invited me to two events this weekend, but I’ve got a nasty cold and need to rest and recuperate. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m also using that as an excuse to keep some distance from her so I don’t get swept up, and giving myself time to figure out exactly how I feel about all of this. All I know right now is that I was happier during the time I spent with her on Monday than I have been in months. I realized this after she told me the same thing. Right now I’m a little confused, but I guess that’s normal.

Maybe we can be friends after all. Do I want more? I don’t have to know the answer or make any decisions right now.

The best thing I feel I can do in this situation is take things slow and at my own pace, and see what happens.

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Self-Respect & Boundaries

When I was in the clinic last year and while attending the Tuesday group sessions, we often spoke about boundaries, and, using DBT, ways to enforce those boundaries while maintaining self-respect.

While I’ve become better at setting and stating my boundaries, the follow through doesn’t come as easily. I may do well for a while, but then give in for some reason or the other. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely (not to be confused with being alone). Maybe I feel bad for the person. And sometimes, maybe because I feel the need to fit in and avoid conflict (as in the case of my dad).

I’m still a work in progress, and don’t know if I’ll ever become an “expert”. But that’s okay. The important thing is to remember that I have the right to set and maintain these boundaries.

With that in mind I’ve decided to make a list of things I’d like to remember when it comes to my self-respect and boundaries. This list may change and grow over time, but for now this is what I’ve got.

It’s not my responsibility to fix or heal others.

I have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty about it.

I have a right to my own opinions.

My feelings are valid.

I have the right to my own space and time.

I don’t have to explain my reasons.

I’m allowed to change my mind.

I have the right to walk away when a situation or person makes me uncomfortable.

My needs are also important.

I have the right to ask for what I want and need, just as the other person has the right to say “no”.

It’s okay to be different to those around me and not force myself to fit in.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

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A Dizzying Few Weeks

For the past three weeks my stepmom’s parents have been here, which means they’ve been staying in my room. The first week they were here, I stayed at M’s place. She was supposed to be there with me, but went into the clinic a few days before, so I ended up staying there alone. It was nice being alone and away from the family, but I still had to go into work and see them every day. I’ve realized I really can’t live alone because I’m terrified at night, and sleep badly because of that. Maybe having a dog sleep with me will help with that. Maybe I just need a being present in the house.

I saw quite a lot of M during the weekend I was there as she got day passes. We went out for dinner and coffee. I really love this woman. There was a really beautiful moment on Saturday. I had had a bit of a sensory overload situation while we were out, and she just hugged me tightly while I was “shaking like a leaf” (her words). She held onto me for quite a while, which really helped me slowly start to calm down. We went to go sit down, because I was feeling very disoriented. After a while of silence, and when I was starting to feel better (it took a while after I had gotten back, alone, to her place to feel completely better) she started talking to me. I apologized for what had happened, and she told me there was no need to apologize. She told me that she loves me, and sees me as a daughter. That I’m special to her and bring so much joy to her life. When she said this, I didn’t know how to respond. What do I say? Thank you? I love you too? You too? Do you really mean that? What? I was still in a “weird” space, hence the confusion I think. It took a while for me to say “I also love you”, to which she replied, “I know. You show it.” That made me feel better. Okay, so I’m not a complete freak then, I thought. It was only a few hours later when her words really hit me, and I felt the warmth of them. For some reason when I’m in the state of mind I was in earlier, I don’t really feel, and if I do the emotions are dulled.

When I got back to my dad’s house, I spent the rest of the time in my stepbrother’s room, while he slept on the couch downstairs. It was a full house again, and uncomfortable. Had family from Sweden visit as well (my stepmom’s brother who lives in Sweden got married here last weekend), so meeting lots of new people too. Wanted to bang my head against a wall. Okay, maybe I did. It helps, okay, even if I lose a few brain cells in the process! I got my room back this week at least (which is weird, since stepmom’s parents spent one night somewhere else, then came back and slept in my stepbrothers room, leaving this morning) and am only now starting to feel “normal” being in my room again. I still feel a bit all over the place and confused, as if I don’t belong in my own bed, but I’m getting there. I don’t know why my mind struggles with orientation in space (and change) to this degree. Here’s another example of what I mean. There was always a ladder in a specific place in the garage where I park my car. It helps me judge how far in to park. One day my stepbrother had moved the ladder, and when I drove into the garage and it was in a different place that day, a little more to the right, I suddenly panicked. I felt disoriented and stuck. Then I got furious. It took quite a while for me to calm down and realize that I could just move it back. Logically, I know I don’t need that ladder in that specific place in order to park properly, but that logic doesn’t matter to my mind/brain. Everybody now knows not to move that thing, and if they need to use it, put it back where it belongs immediately afterward. Please tell me I’m not the only one who experiences things like this?

I’ve been having a lot more issues with my dad lately too. I don’t back down as much as I used to. I feel stressed and he makes thing worse every day. He’s constantly complaining, criticizing everyone and the country, and being far more negative than is even normal for him. I can’t remember when last something positive came out of his mouth. I just can’t take it anymore. He’s driving everyone (except his darling step-daughter) crazy. I know I need to get out of working there with him, but I still can’t find any other work. Some days I feel I could strangle him. The temptation is huge, but I know I’ll be even worse off in prison. So there’s that.

There’s more I can write about, but I just can’t right now.

On a good and positive note, my uncle and I have started a new tradition. On the first/last Sunday of every month we’re going to take a drive to our favourite place (about an hour away) and have our favourite ice cream and sit on the beach. Tomorrow is that day, so I’m really looking forward to that.

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“Hold On”?

I don’t believe that suicide is selfish. It may not be entirely rational. But selfish, no. I understand why people do it. Those who have left me behind… I’m not mad at them. They were in pain, they felt like they were a burden to the world, that everyone would be better off without them. I get that. They weren’t a burden, at least not in my life, but I never got to tell them that.

We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We don’t know when someone we love will leave this world, either through their own hands, those of others, or “natural” causes.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to someone sooner than we thought. Sometimes there’s no warning. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. But that’s the reality of being alive.

Love, You’re Still Here

Slowly making its way into my consciousness
The feelings came first, then the memories
And I saw you everywhere that night
As the old year started fading away
I knew I’d have to face the new year without you
But your shadow wouldn’t let go of me
It felt like just yesterday you were by my side

Remembering the previous December…
The restaurant where we had our last meal
The sandy beach we sat on that night
Welcoming in the new year together
The way you clung to me when you got scared
As if I alone could keep you safe

I’ve tried to forget you, erase you from my life
Removing all traces of you from my world
But the heart has a harder time letting go
I’m not sorry for loving you
But I am sorry that love wasn’t enough
To keep you with me, to keep you close

I had thought you were my whole world
But I realize you were just the center of it
Now, even without that center
The grass still grows, the sun still shines
Everything looks pretty much the same
But the atmosphere has changed somewhat

I loved you like no other, I adored you
I had felt safe and content in your love for a while
When you told me you don’t feel the same anymore
It tore me apart, down to my core
How could love fade so fast?
And I wonder, did you ever really love me?

I avoided talking about you, thinking about you
But I didn’t know I’d have to pay attention soon
I had to feel it, open up to the pain again
In order to finally let go fully and completely
It’s been a few days and you’re fading once more
I’ll always love you, but we were only meant
For a season, for a while, and that’s okay

Sun, Friends, and the “Silly Season”

I took the week off from work last week and it was glorious. I’ve realized that this time of year isn’t that bad when you’re an introvert, have sensory issues, but get to spend your time at home.

On Friday I was nursing a painful sunburn. I had arranged to meet up with my friend, M, the “old” lady I had met at group last year, on Thursday. We were going to go for a walk on the beach. I thought we’d grab a coffee (decaf for me) and just go for a short walk. I was wrong. We ended up walking a total of just over 3 hours that day, with an hour break for a drink and lunch. M might be in her late seventies, but she outdoes even me (in my mid-thirties) where exercise is concerned. She told me she had gone to the gym earlier that week. Damn, I need to get my ass in gear. I wasn’t expecting such a long walk, so hadn’t even thought of sunscreen. That stuff is expensive anyway, and I didn’t have any, neither does anyone else in the house.

I had such a lovely time with her. There were so many dogs along the way, and I got to play with a Golden Retriever on the beach for a little while, while M was talking to the owner. The highlight of my day! Something I really like about spending time with M is that we have stimulating, deep conversations, but can also just sit in silence watching the goings on around us. I never feel any pressure to be “social enough” or entertaining. I really value our relationship, and the acceptance, care, and peace I get from her.

It’s been so hot lately. Combine that with the sensory overload of the holiday season, and I’m not in the best, most peaceful mood. But I made sure to avoid entering that activity as much as possible this year by staying home. I had coffee with Jasmine on Saturday, and we both witnessed first hand how stupid people can act at this time of year. As M mentioned, “they don’t call it the silly season for nothing”. Jasmine and I really connected again on Saturday, and it felt like it used to before things went all haywire between us, which I’m so happy about. I truly value her friendship.

My biggest cringe factor when it comes to Christmas, is the gift giving and opening. I always find it so awkward. I actually hate it and can’t wait until it’s over. When someone hands me my gift, or they open theirs from me, I feel like disappearing into the ground. My idea of gift giving is when I’m out and I see something that reminds me of a person, or that I know they’ll like, and I get it for them. Spontaneous gifts. I don’t believe in getting people gifts just because it’s expected for that day or occasion. But that’s the way it goes, and most people like it, so I deal with it. I really liked and appreciated the gifts I got, and now it’s over.

I got to spend quite a bit of time with my uncle this week, which I enjoyed. It also felt like old times again with him too, and there were plenty of moments where I even forgot that he’s sick. Even though it’s scary, and at times I want to pull away from them, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue nurturing my relationships with my uncle and M. I told my therapist that I’m afraid of losing M, seen as though she’s not young anymore, but as I’ve seen, she’s in good health and anything can happen to me, so it’s not guaranteed that I’ll outlive her. But even if I do, that’s part of life. We get attached, we love, we lose people. That’s not a reason to avoid relationships.

I’m so glad that Christmas is now over. People are broke so the shops are quieter and I can do my shopping in relative peace.

And the best part? No more Christmas music!

I hope you all had a good festive season.

Finally Feeling It

I spent some time with my uncle yesterday. Since he was diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been feeling pretty numb about it. I have had fleeting moments of anger and disbelief though. Driving home after seeing him yesterday, a deep sadness came over me. The kind of sadness you feel everywhere inside your body and that just sits there. I couldn’t cry. Just feel it as it took my breath away. Such a deep pain with nowhere to go.

It scared me when I saw him yesterday. He’s lost so much weight, I don’t know how he has the strength to even stand. We went for a short walk on the beach and then sat there for a little while until he got too tired. When we got back to his place I only stayed for a few minutes so that he could get some rest. He told me that I’m the only person he looks forward to seeing and that he can really talk to. I’m glad that he feels like he can talk to me, and that he phoned me the day he was feeling at his worst. He doesn’t need people telling him at every turn what to do and what not to do. How to feel. Which is what the rest of the family does. He’s got doctors that do that. He needs family who will listen with no judgement. Who will be there for him. I don’t always know what to say. Most of the time I don’t say anything. I just listen. And apparently that’s exactly why he feels he can be open and honest with me.

We have a special bond. We always have had, even during those times where I felt far from him. The time it felt like I had lost him. I feel like I have him back again, and the thought of losing him forever, terrifies me. A part of me wants to push him away. To not feel the fear, the pain. But I also want to hold tightly onto him. I love him so damn much, and hate seeing how much he’s suffering. I wish I could just take it away from him. But I can’t. All I can do is be there for him. It’s so hard and painful though.

The one person I really want to talk to about this is my previous therapist, A. But I can’t. She knew the relationship I have with him, and was there when he moved out and I was having a hard time with that. I’m missing her even more than I usually do. I’m aching to hear her voice and see her face again. For a hug from her.

Tonight, the sadness is still there. But I can cry now. It’s got somewhere to go.