Friday, September 30, 2011

Lucid Analysis - Trials in Therapy : Hard Decisions are Hard

Hard decisions are hard. I feel like I’m coming to a point in my life where I’m going to run again. Pick up my life, leave all this ridiculous NY drama behind and move back with my sister. If only running away actually solved anything. ::sigh::
So let’s start with the easy stuff. Therapist asked about work. In a surprising twist of productivity, I’ve actually been pretty happy with my job lately. I’ve been incredibly productive. Getting organized and getting projects done has come together much easier. I haven’t had the constant mental distractions of extraneous people crap that makes it difficult for me to focus. I’ve been feeling more like a part of the team, even socializing with the guys on my own without having to be dragged along. I brought in a loaf of apple bread and I made my homemade Chocolate-Chocolate Swirl Fudge especially for them. They were ultra appreciative which made me feel good. How they raved about the fudge was even bordering on that feeling of proud embarrassment because I’m just not used to such profuse praise.
I did my homework. Therapist was actually surprised that I did the whole thing.  I read through all of it, but we primarily focused on Sadness and Anger. I had a hard time getting started. Admitting that I felt this way about some things. I was worried that she’d think less of me, that she’d be upset or not like me, or not want to work with me if I admitted how I felt about some things. That my answers would show that I’m weak and a bad person. I shared them anyways. I had written them down already. I just had to open my mouth.
Anger. My revenge fantasy. I thought she’d be disgusted with me, think I was a terrible person for thinking these things. I was totally not prepared for what she did. She laughed. She said it was great. She said what I thought was completely ok and I’m allowed to feel that way. That I’m envisioning myself moved on, to something better that could be mine, is healthy. I felt my shell melt a little after that. It was easier for me to keep going.
My sadness is understandable but not entirely consistent. I wonder if it was real. If I made it all up. Therapist doesn’t think this is true at all. What I described when things were closer between Friend and I was very real. We had a very physically and emotionally intimate relationship. I’m distanced from my own feelings. She doesn’t want to diagnose him because she doesn’t know him, but she says it sounds like he’s dealing with his own inability to understand and express what he really wanted. Or wants. He has his own dissociative problems reconciling his feelings. The last night we were together, I remember feeling so wanted and so loved. It was such an intensely passionate evening. As I was turning to walk out the door he reached out, pulled me back to him and kissed me fiercely. And then it was done. No warning.
I said I’ll never understand why I wasn’t enough. If I was enough he’d want to be with me. Therapist thinks this is transference from my past. Clearly, with how comfortable we were together, I was enough. However, he had his own stuff. He decided to work on his marriage and family. That wasn’t my short coming. It’s not that I wasn’t enough, it’s that he had his own issues.
If I start crying: I feel weak. Therapist was actually concerned about this. I know exactly where this comes from. When I was little my father always invalidated my feelings. If I was sad, or upset, he would tell me to toughen up or suck it up. Showing these emotions wasn’t tough, therefore they were weak. Any display of weakness is not acceptable. I remember when I was 7 or 8 and my grandmother died. I locked myself in my closet so no one could see me cry. I still feel like doing this. Therapist notices.
As a reaction to people from my past that have taken or tried to take aggressive or abusive control of me, I’ve developed this mechanism of pushing back. Of holding back.
I finally told Therapist that I’m afraid to talk about some of the things I feel because I’m afraid she’ll be disappointed with me, or shocked, and won’t want to deal with me anymore. I hold back, not because of anything she’s done or her own issues, but because it’s what I fear from anyone I’m close to: if I show too much, feel too much, share too much, people won’t want to deal with me, will be disgusted, will reject me. I don’t want her to tell me to leave or that she doesn’t want to work with me anymore. It came out as a rush. Like I had to say it quick before my brain kicked in and told me to shut up.
I have trust issues. I don’t trust easily, if I trust at all. I’ve learned that it’s not ok to be vulnerable. I’ve been up walls against it. Secluded myself from people and locked my heart away to avoid it. Then of course, I came up against a malicious invader. One time with Evil-Ex, we were actually sitting down having a conversation where he told me it was ok to be vulnerable. My impenetrable walls make me seem like a robot. Everyone is vulnerable sometimes. It makes me seem more human, easier to connect with and relate to…. So of course, being as in love with him as I was, I wanted to show him that I was human. He just wanted to hurt me. And he promptly used it against me. Time and time again. I did something he didn’t expect though. I had so many secrets, kept so many things to myself, bottled up inside, it was like a treasure trove of nasty secrets he could use to hurt me because I was afraid to let anyone see these bad parts of me. That I didn’t want people to know is what gave him the power to hurt me. So I took that power away. I opened myself up completely, let all the bad things out for our friends to see. Ironically, Evil-Ex was right. It did make me more relatable. A lot of my friendships strengthened. And no one cared at all. Except Evil-Ex. Who sat there and stewed in his foiled plans to torment me.  No one has ever said I was predictable.
So Therapist understands why I hold back and act the way that I do. She also lets me know that it’s ok to feel the things I’m feeling. Especially in therapy. My feelings are valid. Then she said something constructive. She’s not here to be my friend. She likes me, she thinks I’m a joy to work with, but I’m not here to impress her or work for her approval. I’m here to work through my problems to heal. In order to do that, I need to be able to express the things I think and feel without worrying that she’s going to judge me. Her job isn’t to judge, it’s to listen, and to help.

She also said something that I’m having a hard time coming to terms with. When Friend and I first started getting to know each other, and even when we were involved beyond just friends, it was a very healing relationship for me. It was a time where I saw that someone could accept me and like me for who I am because I wasn’t hiding who I was. Now, however, I need to consider what continuing this friendship means to me. It is not healing for me anymore. Especially with the frequency which I hang out with him, seeing him so much. Therapist asked me what I’m gaining. All I could really say is that at least when I’m there, I’m not alone. ::sigh:: I’m not usually very connected, but I’m not by myself. That’s something, right?
I don’t want to be alone. But would I really be? I have two guy friends that have been poking me to hang out a lot lately. GF has been texting me and telling me she misses me and wants to see me. The girl from the tattoo shop that I was dating for a while has been texting me and e-mailed me last night to come hangout. There’s this really cute tech that I work with, he just gave me his phone number (**squee** and holy crap!). And let’s not forget Roommate. She wants to do more things too. So what’s holding me back? I am, that’s what. I’m holding on to something that isn’t there. But, why? Do I think something will change? Do I think it’s really worth it? I don’t even know anymore. All I know is I can’t imagine things being different.
But maybe they should be. Therapist suggested that maybe I should consider having less to do with him. See him less. Not hang out so much. I don’t need to cut him out of my life completely, but it might be time for him to have less of a place in my life. ::sigh:: I’m not blind. I’ve had this thought approximately a million times. I just don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to let go. I don’t know if I can or if I even want to.
What’s worse is, he knows I’m in conflict about something. He even said that whatever decisions I need to make he hopes it doesn’t mean cutting them out of my life. ::double sigh:: He is a good friend. Like last weekend I was disappointed that we couldn’t do our usual Sunday night dinner thing (after he told me this I had an all-out binge, which I didn’t tell him about, and didn’t talk to him until Monday -  yeah I know this is bad), but first thing Monday he IM’d me to make extra all day plans for this upcoming Sunday. Or, his phone is dying so he had his wife contact me first thing this morning to let me know and invite me over for stuff tonight. Or like, I’ve had a kink in my back for the past few days so he offered to rub my back later. He’s clearly making an effort here.  It all makes it very difficult to dismiss and remove myself from. Especially when I don’t really want to.
I just want these residual feelings to go away. I want to be capable of being friends without all this emotional bullshit. I hate emotions. They’re so messy. Hates it.

Homework: And I wonder… what it would be like if he left. Therapist wants me to think about this more and journal my thoughts and feelings. Think about what would happen. What it means to me.  
I can’t right now. I’m not ready to make this kind of decision. I’m not. It makes me want to panic. I can’t think about this anymore right now.

Total random. A buddy of mine just said to me: I think you should be a fitness model. You are sort of kinda hot, yanno, if you’re into physically fit star wars nerd chicks.

Therapy homework: Not as simple as I thought it would be.

Deep Breath. Release. I finished my homework assignment. I thought finishing these sentences would be easy, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Posting this is actually a little scary for me. Reading what I wrote down makes me feel raw and exposed. Therapist wanted me to focus more about my present than my past, so mostly my responses have to do with me, Friend, and Roommate. I’m sure if I went back and redid this more into my past my answers would be even more volatile. Walking around I feel like I’m clutching everything to me so tightly. Wrapping myself in a blanket of hurt that I can’t release or let anyone see. Like armor that makes moving stiff.

Writing about Sadness
All I wanted was: To be with you. For you to love me.
And I wonder: If I made it all up. How things could have been. What it would be like if he left.
I feel sad when: I go home alone and sit by myself with no one to do anything with.
If I start crying: I feel weak.
I’ll never: understand why I wasn’t enough.
Remembering now makes me feel: Used. Foolish.
One good thing about my sadness is: I know how I don’t want to feel. I can see the things that I’ve done that have brought me to feeling like this.

Writing about Anger
Under all my anger is: hurt and loneliness
I have been: smiling when I want to grind my teeth
Someone needs to: Stay.
My revenge fantasy is: watching his wife go completely manic, ruining their finances (again), and seeing their stress rocket through the roof, while I get my life together.  Having him realize just how good to him I am, want to be with me, right after I’ve found someone that I can actually be happy with, so he knows what it’s like to want something he can’t have. To be happy and cute in front of his deteriorating marriage, so he will always have to wonder what could have been but will never know.
Someday: I hope he’s truly miserable with the path he chose.
I feel most angry when: I’m ignored. When they’re doing things that are ‘couply’ or affectionate in front of me. When his wife refers to him as ‘my husband’, as if I don’t know. When I think about how much better together we are. He can’t hang out because he has to do family stuff, without me.
One good thing about my anger is: it makes me feel strong

Writing about Shame
I’m embarrassed when: I’m not at my ideal weight. I feel fat. I’ve lost control and eaten more than I should have.
Everyone will: Look at me. Judge me. See that I’m not perfect.
And everyone will think: that I’m an embarrassment to be seen with.
And everyone will say: That I used to be so skinny.
I see myself as: Imperfect.
And I want to: Find my willpower and regain my control.  
I feel most embarrassed when: I have to go out in public, to work, to some social function, and do not feel thin.

Writing about Guilt
I should have: been a better roommate; not let her see my breakdowns, maybe I scared her away. Not slept with Friend; been desirable but unattainable.
Sometimes I want to: sit down with Roommate and gossip, or just talk, but I don’t know how, or feel like I’m intruding on her time.
I don’t care if: His marriage fails.
I regret: Letting people get close enough to see my vulnerabilities.
If only: his wife would do something terrible; he would open his eyes; he would care. Things could stay the same with Roommate.
I have to: act like I’m happy for Roommate and ok with her moving so she doesn’t feel bad.
I feel most guilty about: I don’t know. I don’t really feel guilty about anything.

Writing about Fear
No one: will love me enough to stay with me.
I’m afraid to: really open myself up to someone. What if they leave me, or reject me. If I don’t give all of myself then they’re not really rejecting all of me. Invest in people. Confide in people. What if they use what I tell them against me? See that I have fears and judge me? Think I’m weak or not the person they thought I was on the outside and leave me? Think I have too many problems and don’t want to deal with me?
Will I ever: feel like I belong?
I want to: be attached to people, even after they go away.
When I remember: I want my life back.
I feel most afraid when: I’m alone.
One good thing about my fear is: Nothing. I can’t think of a single good thing about it.

Bonus post today because I’ll be writing about therapy from last night. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Therapy Homework

I meant to post before and totally forgot. I’ve been really bad about doing my therapy homework. It’s been so hard for me to focus and motivate on anything other than work which has required pretty much all of my motivation and control to do.  Anyways, I wanted to post the exercise that my therapist gave for me to do. It’s a simple exercise. But things don’t need to be complex to be helpful. I’m going to post the blank exercise, and then once I finish filling out my own responses I’ll post those too. I’d be really interested to hear what you guys have to say, either in my comments or as an email ( You don’t have to do all the sections. I might not. But I’ll definitely do the ones that I feel are relevant to my current situations.

It started happening slowly. As my counselor began listening, I discovered  a voice For the feelings deep inside Me. I can finally talk with no One overreacting. I can sit silently with no one looking at me like I’m crazy. I’m discovering that like who I am deep down inside. How did so much of myself get buried? It isn’t ME that’s the problem; it’s what happened to me that was. I’m beginning to see things in a new way. I have more feelings about what happened than I realized. And even though I still have days when I don’t want to feel the way I do, it’s not as scary as it used to be.
There are ways I protect myself from my feelings. I’m learning about the ways I protect myself from people, too. Keeping a journal is a safe way for me to begin looking at what I’m afraid of. It’s been long and slow and sad, but I feel I am recovering.

Finish the following sentences:
Writing about Sadness
All I wanted was:
And I wonder:
I feel sad when:
If I start crying:
I’ll never:
Remembering now makes me feel:
One good thing about my sadness is:

Writing about Anger
Under all my anger is:
I have been:
Someone needs to:
My revenge fantasy is:
I feel most angry when:
One good thing about my anger is:

Writing about Shame
I’m embarrassed when:
Everyone will:
And everyone will think:
And everyone will say:
I see myself as:
And I want to:
I feel most embarrassed when:

Writing about Guilt
I should have:
Sometimes I want to:
I don’t care if:
I regret:
If only:
I have to:
I feel most guilty about:

Writing about Fear
No one:
I’m afraid to:
Will I ever:
I want to:
When I remember:
I feel most afraid when:
One good thing about my fear is:

Writing about Counseling
Since the trauma I:
When I’m here I wonder:
And I expect:
I wish:
I won’t:
I think I’ll feel finished when:

Sometimes, my feelings cause me to act in ways that end up hurting me or someone else. But I know now it’s not my feelings that are wrong. It’s what I do with them, and how I make sense of them that matter.
Some people still think my feelings are the problem. I can’t control what they think, but I can own who I am, feelings and all.
I have a right to feel every way I do. My feelings help me understand when I need to talk and when I need to take care of myself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow me, just not that far - Stalking

I am outraged. Seriously. I read an article that just blew my mind, and not in a good way.
The title of the post: Borderlines (BPD) and Stalking.   
Throughout their article they present a one sided, biased view of BPD from the perspective of someone who is not themselves a Borderline, but has had a problem with someone they ASSUME is Borderline. As far as I can tell this person wasn’t actually diagnosed or admitting to being Borderline, it was just a gaggle of psychs that may never have met the person saying, Sure, that sounds like someone with BPD to me. And they ran from there. The article proceeded to pick out standard characteristics to selectively support their assumption…. Without understanding what these characteristics might actually mean to someone with BPD.  OH hell, here’s the article. Let’s go through it together shall we?


In recent years psychologists have learned about and done case studies on a new personality disorder which the DSM-III-R classifies as an Axis II disorder- the Borderline Personality . This classification includes such personality disorders as the Anti-social Personality, the Histrionic Personality and the Narcissistic Personality. 

In recent years huh? New personality disorder? Cuz, you know, it hasn’t been around since the 1930s. DSM-III? Seriously? Update your material please. There’s a world of knowledge out there and you clearly are not very well informed.

Several psychologists (including myself) diagnosed my stalker as afflicted with the Borderline Personality.

I would assume that this means that they actually sat down this person that they are accusing of being Borderline and put them through a full psych evaluation. Unfortunately it sounds more like they just looked at some characteristics and said, sure, that fits, let’s go with that. Now, I’m not saying this stalker for sure isn’t BPD, hell for all I know he/she is, I certainly didn’t interview the person, but it’s destructive and harmful to those of us that struggle with this disorder to portray this kind of behavior as ‘typical’ or as something that is characteristic of someone with BPD. Way to perpetuate an ignorant stereotype. Thanks.

Some characteristics of the Borderline (derived from research done by Kreisman & Straus, 1989) are:

a shaky sense of identity

sudden, violent outbursts

oversensitivity to real or imagined rejection

frequent periods of intense depression

self-destructive tendencies

There’s no doubt that some of these are BPD characteristics. Many of them are taken straight from the DSM diagnostic criteria, out of context as they may be. With no explanation of how they actually present in a person. Two problems here: 1.) These are not limited to BPD. There are other personality disorders that these are associated with, and not to mention *gasp* regular people are often afflicted by any number of these at any given time and in varying circumstances. 2.) It seems to assume that all people with BPD are the same. Look at these scary characteristics! They’re different from me. Clearly they’re frightening people! Us vs. Them. This completely ignores the fact that every person is different. Every person has their own unique struggle and experience with BPD. Completely ignores the fact that someone with BPD is another human being fighting a disease of the psyche. I’m not going to try and say that often our behavior is not incredibly inappropriate. I know full well how out of line it can be. Can be. That doesn’t mean it always is, or is for every person.

Not much research has been done on the Borderline Personality, and for many years it was difficult to diagnose- and to treat. A Borderline often feels as though his/her life is marked with a distinctive emptiness; a void in which a relationship often acts to fill. Many times the Borderline is a victim of an early dysfunctional family situation and/or emotional/physical abuse by those he/she trusted early on in childhood.

What? There’s been a ton of research done on BPD. Welcome to my blog. And I’m just one person. I won’t dispute the notion of emptiness and early dysfunction family situations. This however, is an extremely limited, and hand picked introduction to what goes on with BPD. Limited and misleading.

The Borderline is psychotic , in the original, psychological meaning of the term: he/she is not in control and not in touch with reality. 

Excuse me? Borderline does NOT equal psychotic. These words are not synonymous. The enormity of a statement like this beyond my ability to comprehend. It’s beyond outrageous. Everyone occasionally loses control and touch with reality. To say that we live in a perpetual state of delusion and psychosis though is an exaggeration of extreme proportions.

To the Borderline, a softly spoken word of advice can be construed as a threat on his/her emotional stability. 
An outsider's viewpoint that the Borderline is not in touch with reality often ends in a bitter and irrational dissassociation from the outsider on the part of the Borderline. Often, the Borderline ends up very much alone and victim to his/ her disillusions.

This sounds a lot like devaluation to me, which is a real problem. The tone and language is very judgmental with no sense of what is actually going on here.

The Borderline stalker is very apt to see his/her actions as perfectly justified; he/she has paranoid disillusions which support these-often with disturbing frequency. The Borderline often has brief love affairs which end abruptly, turbulently and leave the Borderline with enhanced feelings of self-hatred, self-doubt and a fear that is not often experienced by rational people. When the Borderline's relationships turn sour, the Borderline often begins to, at first, harass the estranged partner with unnecessary apologies and/or apologetic behavior (i.e. letters of apology 'from the heart', flowers delivered at one's place of employment, early morning weeping phonecalls, etc.). However, the Borderline does not construe his/her behavior as harassment - to the Borderline he/she is being 'responsible' for his/her past behaviors.

Whoa.  At least the article is starting to talk about stalking. Not that any of the previous information has really been sufficient evidence of a stalker profile. That’s probably because if you’re looking for obsessive personality disorders they have their own PD category. Regardless. Have you ever stalked someone? And I don’t just mean via Facebook. I know I haven’t.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Boring-Ex after we broke up. He tried accusing me of driving by his house, while saying he wasn’t there at the time. I was like, well even if I were to have driven by, how would you know? He threw in a lot of double talk too to make it confusing in order to ‘trip me up’. It’s kind of hard to trip someone up when they only defense they need is, “Sorry, I never did that.” I seriously think he wanted me to have stalked him to make him feel like he mattered more to me than he did. What was I gonna see looking through his window anyways? Him sitting on his couch playing his x-box? If I wanted to watch him play video games all day I wouldn’t have broken up with him the first two times. Boring and pointless. Not that some people with BPD couldn’t do this, I’m sure they could. We do have the potential to fixate. By the same token plenty of ‘normal’ people do as well, and I wonder how many people out there who have been stalkers don’t have a personality disorder. That are “normal”.  Saying that someone, anyone, is the equivalent of a stalker because they have a Borderline Personality Disorder is just mean spirited and untrue.

The Push-Pull sort of break up/get back together isn’t stalking, it’s a cycle. One that has to be reciprocated to continue. Is it healthy, functional behavior? No, not really. Not denying that.  But is it stalking? I don’t think so. It’s just the fallout from an emotional relationship. I can see why this kind of behavior would be seen as harassing though. It’s not uncommon to want to fix something with someone you’re afraid to lose. When you have BPD though, the emotional intensity is elevated and it can become a priority.

The next phase of the Borderline Personality develops relatively quickly and soon he/she feels suddenly betrayed, hurt, etc. and seeks to victimize the estranged partner in any way he/she can.  This will happen when friends and relatives leave the Borderline. Strangely enough, this deleterious behavior is always coupled with a need to be near or in constant contact with the estranged partner . While sending threats to the estranged partner, it is very common for the Borderline to begin to stalk his/her estranged partner in an effort to maintain contact.  

The next phase of the Borderline Personality Disorder... This doesn’t even make sense. Special op Codename: Facemask Phase one complete. Next Phase: Go Go GO! This sounds like we’re targeted predators. Like we’ve chosen a victim and are now going to make them our prey. That’s not the intent.  That’s not how it works. When you’ve had an intimate relationship with someone, emotional connections, real emotional connections form. For a Borderline it’s more intense, but it’s no less real. So when/if heartbreak occurs it’s all the more painful and the only logical person that can do anything about this, is the person who hurt them. We can be volatile, but we don’t set out to make people our victims. Emotions run high when people break up. It happens.

We are finding, in many cases, that a great deal of stalking behavior is associated with Borderline or related personality disorders.

Fear mongering. Perpetuating the stereotype with a bigoted, biased view. This kind of article is harmful. It actually works to counter positive advancements in treatment by making us appear evil and dangerous. How do people expect us to heal and develop better functionality if they make people afraid to treat us? You don’t like a behavior, you want to warn against it? Fine. But don’t come crying to us then when we want to change it but can’t find the help we need in order to do so in order to become the kind of people you wish we were. And don’t try to claim that one act is standard behavior for us all. I can certainly take responsibility for my own actions. Take responsibility for yours. This kind of limited information presented as fact is misleading and simply ignorant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Go to your room. You're Grounded! - Dysfunctional Parent Modes

Rotten, right to the core. You don’t deserve to have this. You’ll never be good enough. If you weren’t so worthless you could do that. If you weren’t so dirty I might love you. You deserve to hurt for what you did (didn’t do), bleed for that, cut for that, so next time you remember to be better.
Hello. Meet the Dysfunctional Parent mode.
This mode fucking sucks.
Dysfunctional parent modes are internalizatinos of parent figures in a person’s early life. When someone is in the Dysfunctional Parent mode, they become their own parent and treat themselves as the parent treated them when they were younger. They often take on the voice of that person in their ‘self-talk’.
There are two common types: the Punitive Parent and the Demanding Parent.
Punitive Parent
The Punitive Parent angrily punishes, criticizes, or restricts the child for expressing needs or making mistakes. The most common associated schemas are Punitiveness and Defectivenss. This is especially prominent in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder or severe depression. Patients with BPD have a Punitive Parent mode where they become their own abusive parent and punish themselves. “I’m bad, I’m evil, I deserve to be punished”… and as a result may cut or self-harm.
The function of this mode is to punish the person for doing something “wrong”, such as expressing needs or feelings. The mode is an internalization of the parent figures rage, hatred, loathing, abuse, or subjugation of the person early in life. Signs that you’ve slipped into the Punitive Parent mode are things like, self-loathing, self-criticism, self-denial, self-mutilation, suicidal fantasies, and self-destructive behavior. In this mode all you hear is that angry, punishing voice that rejects the good and shines a spotlight on the bad. You might become angry at yourself for having or showing normal needs that your parent didn’t allow you to express.
Demanding Parent
The Demanding Parent pressures the child to achieve unrealistically high parental expectations. The person feels the “right” way to be is to be perfect and the “wrong” way to be is fallible or spontaneous. This is often associated with Unrelenting Standards and Self-Sacrifice schemas. When someone falls into this mode they shift into a mindset where they set high standards for themselves and drive themselves to meet them. The Demanding Parent mode isn’t necessarily Punitive though. The Demanding Parent expects a lot but may not blame or punish. Most frequently, the child recognizes the parent’s disappointment and feels ashamed.

Many people have a combined Punitive and Demanding Parent mode, in which they both set high standards for themselves and punish themselves when they fail to meet them.
That would be me.
I’m so familiar with this dysfunctional parent mode it’s almost tragic. I definitely speak to myself in a harsh, punitive manner, but I’ve found that I’m primarily mired in a state of Defectiveness. Feeling defective is my default setting and being punitive is how I try to ‘correct’ my defectiveness. I have a very strict idea of what and who I should be. I often feel the need to punish myself when I feel like I’ve failed at something I’ve set out to do, or I need something that I don’t know if I have a right to need, or I can’t stop feeling some way that I wish I didn’t feel. This was one of the primary reasons I would cut and burn myself. I talked about this as a reason I would cut months ago.  It’s a little bizarre to see myself, my thoughts and patterns, reflected in the reading and research that I’ve been doing. It’s also kind of reassuring to know that there’s been a lot of effort put in to understanding where these thoughts and actions come from.
I have to say though, while my father was often very critical, he was never cruel or harsh. He may have been insensitive to the emotions needs of his first female child, but he was in no way abusive and I know he loved me a lot.  Demanding, not Punitive. I truly believe that there is something in my inborn temperament that made me particularly susceptible to his criticisms. My earliest memory of him was a constructive criticism (a drawing I did when I was 3 years old) and so many of what memories I have are of him pushing, guiding, teaching us to be better at whatever activity or pursuit we were participating in. In fact, until my BPD and depression really started presenting when I was 12/13 years old, I rarely remember him being angry at all except for the occasional spanking when I did something really objectionable. Of course, once I started acting out, I ACTED OUT, and the screaming fights between us were epic. Still, he never hit me. I pushed and pushed and while he got monumentally pissed at me, he never stopped loving me. I wonder if this isn’t some subconscious standard I have for a partner. If I can be a monster and they still stay, maybe that ‘proves’ that they really love me and won’t leave? No need to tell me how ass backwards this kind of logic is.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Running Late - Time for anxiety

Well, it’s Monday again. I am beyond frazzled this morning. Ever have one of those mornings when your alarm clock doesn’t go off and you wake up when you’re supposed to be walking out the door? Yep, that was my morning. Do you want to know what I hate more than a good many things in this world? Being late. I am never late. Not ever. “Late” for me, is arriving 15 minutes early. I’m compulsive when it comes to being on time.
I can tell I’ve made progress in my anxiety disorder though because I was not completely reduced to a panic attack. Usually if I even think there’s a possibility of being late my heart begins to race, my hands start to shake, my thoughts jump and race. The air feels like it’s constricting in my lungs and all the walls begin to feel like they’re pressing in, the ceiling a little too close. Nothing moves fast enough, everything is in my way, slowing me down. In the past I’d be losing my tempter, swearing up a storm, and trying to wipe the tears from my eyes as I applied my eyeliner. Can you say futile? Now at least, I can take a deep breath, and while I still have a few choice words for my unreliable alarm clock, I can get myself pulled together without dissolving into a puddle of tears and self-deprecation.
In part I think it helps that I have compulsive morning rituals. I do the same things, in the same order, every morning. I don’t have to think about what I need to do, it’s practically automatic. Get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, do my hair, do my make-up, get dressed, get my gym clothes, make my lunch, get out the door. Those are the things I must do, and I can do them without having to put any thought to it.
I managed to only be 15 minutes late, which coincidentally is the time it takes me to get ready in the morning. I missed the most important part of my morning ritual though and I still feel guilty for it. The first thing I do when I wake up is play with and brush my cat in the morning. He wakes up when I do, I can hear him purring when I skritch his ears real quick. When I pull myself out of bed and he goes to his spot, flops over and looks at me waiting for his brush, my heart breaks, and I’m overcome with guilt because this morning I just don’t have the time. I feel like such a bad person when I can’t give him the attention he needs. I’m sure people will think this is silly, but he’s my only family out here, the only one I know won’t leave me, and he deserves all the love I can give him.
Two hours later my heart is just now barely starting to slow down. Driving to work was frantically surreal. I’m out of sorts and still feel like I need to rush and push and get everything done as fast as humanly possible. It would almost be a wonderful efficiency motivator if I didn’t feel like my world was going to spin out control.
I really am much better than I used to be. Social situations barely produce panic for me if I think I’m going to be a few minutes late. My eyes rivet to the clock and I monitor every minute still, but now I know that the world will not end and my earth doesn’t quake with anxiety. Those official things though, getting to work, making appointments, being at meetings; these things I still need to be on time for. My anxiety spikes but I can control how it shows. In fact, I usually manage to stop it from showing at all except in an initial rush of sweeping in through the door. No tears, no swearing, even the dizzying anxiety is a little lessened enough to hide that it’s there at all.
Being late has always made me feel like I’m holding up other peoples lives, like I’m forcing them to stop what is important just for me. Guilt. I’ve interrupted their plans, slowed them down, delayed their needs, just because I couldn’t move a little faster. I’ll have let them down. It’s selfish to make people wait on me.
I’m sure this goes back to when I was little. My family was always late for gatherings. Have you ever tried to wrangle 3 young children, get them dressed and ready and out the door? I haven’t, but I’ve seen other people try, it takes forever. “We’re going to be late! Are you ready! Come on, we have to go! They’re waiting on us! We’ll leave without you. You should have done that sooner.” Ghosts of words I remember hearing so often they’re permanently imprinted on the inside of my mind.
It took a long time for me to get this under control. Day by day, allowing myself to close the gap between arriving early and simply on time. Miraculously, the world didn’t end! In fact, no one even noticed. Hah! It didn’t seem to be such a big deal to anyone else, and over time I’ve allowed myself to relax a little. It’s still sort of a big deal to me, it’s important to be punctual, but it’s not the end of the world if I’m not. Yay progress.

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