Friday, October 14, 2011

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

Therapy absolutely sucked last night. I walked into Therapists office full of energy. Light headed, brain whirring, full of energy. I sat down and she instantly commented on how I was glowing and seemed to really be getting through my grieving process (a.k.a. getting over Friend). I talked about forming attachments at work and how having an emotional investment in the people I work with seems to really drive my desire to have an emotional investment in the work I’m doing.
Not a breathe later she practically cuts me off saying how happy she is for me, and that it’s good that I’m being socially invested with the guys I work with, but I shouldn’t get too close to them. It’s a good idea to keep a nice respectful rapport but dating is a bad idea in case something goes wrong. I hadn’t even had a chance to tell her about Tech Boy. And of course, now I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to tell her that we’ve been talking more and he really seems to like me. Hell, he’s coming over Saturday to make me dinner!
I felt crushed. Instantly. Like someone had just dropped a cartoon anvil on my heart.
For months she’s been asking me if there’s anyone at work I thought had potential to date. Last week she said I was taking safe risks and she was happy for me. This week she completely contradicted herself. I don’t know what to believe. I’m incredibly confused about what I’m supposed to do now. I was so distracted driving home I missed my exit. At home I had the worst knots and anxiety I’ve had in ages. I drank. A Lot. How am I supposed to trust her when she tells me conflicting things? She sees how happy I was and then says I shouldn’t pursue the thing that’s making me happy. Does she not really want me to be happy? I’m sure there’s an aspect of concern for my professional integrity. I have plenty of that concern! Then of course, I couldn’t stop my mind from racing over all the things I have to consider. How close could I actually be? How do I even figure out if I can trust him?
By most anyone’s standards I’ve lived a rather shocking life. At least, I’ve had a lot of shocking experiences. It’s all stuff I would never tell my coworkers. That, of course, makes me think of how much of myself I won’t be able to share, or shouldn’t share with Tech Boy. Which leads to how unfair it would be for me to get involved with anyone because I simply have too much crap baggage. How do I ever get involved with anyone and expect them to be ok with the things that have happened in my life?
I’ve just been taking this day by day. Appreciating each day (ok, so it’s only been like a week or two, but still! That’s longer than I’ve had in so long). I can’t think of the long run. I don’t even know how. Things don’t last that long, or don’t turn out how I want them to. I don’t want to think about the future. I want to enjoy my life now. For once! Apparently I’m not allowed.  Lost and confused.
She asked me how things were going with Friend. Fine. I don’t think I’m so emotionally dependent on him. I still talk to him every day, but I don’t NEED to. She thinks he gives off mixed signals. Like on Saturday for his wife’s birthday, instead of spending much time with her, he spent almost the entire evening with me. So what. You know. He has stuff going on in his life too. It’s a tough month for him and maybe he just needed a caring friend nearby. She thinks there might be more there, but he’s dissociated from his feelings so he’d probably never be honest with me. I’m kind of getting sick of Therapist always harping on him. She puts so much emphasis on my grieving the loss of the intimacy we had. I’m just sick of hearing it. Sick. Sick. Sick.
And then she also went on about how I seem so steady, like my foundation is very solid, so she can’t imagine that I was turbulent when I was younger. I have done A LOT of changing and growing over the last decade. A lot. I slowly changed from Acting Out, to almost entirely Acting In. I’ve put in an incredible amount of time analyzing myself and increasing my self-awareness. I have changed a lot over the years, but that doesn’t change who I was.
She flat out does not believe me when I tell her I was a terror in middle school and high school.  How does she expect to get an accurate picture of who I am if she doesn’t even listen to what I’m telling her? She thinks I’m too kind, and sweet, and loving to have ever been, this violently angry, destructive person. I terrorized my sister, fought with my brother, had house shaking screaming matches with my parents. Daily. I put my fists through windows and walls. Kicked down almost all the doors in the house, vandalized properly, shoplifted, got arrested, drank, had reckless sex, my parents even tried kicking me out of the house until I actually ran away. I could go on forever. I’m not proud of the girl I was, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was in fact, that girl. That she doesn’t believe me really makes me wonder how she expects to help me. 
She wants me to be this person she thinks I am. Except I’m the person I actually am.
I don’t want to go back. At least not to her. Maybe I should find a new therapist.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who wants to be happy anyways?

I have the worst anxiety I’ve had in a really, really long time right this second. I told Therapist about Tech Boy and she instantly made me deflate. I was so up, and positive, and productive today. I thought she’d be happy that I was moving on, meeting someone. I was excited, was getting butterflies in my stomach. The good kind! Not the I want to tear my hair out and smash windows kind. He was making me smile today, telling me nice things. I’ve been looking forward to going into work!.... and INSTANTLY she squashed that happiness. I felt totally lost when she said I shouldn’t get involved with him. I know it’s probably not a good idea but I’ve been feeling good! I just want to keep feeling! For a change! I hate this! Why, as soon as I find something to invest in does someone need to take it away? Why?

My stomach is in horrible knots. I’m having a drink. 

She didn’t even give me a chance to talk and be happy about it! She just jumped in and started in on how I’m making good decisions and I shouldn’t take that kind of risk in case of a break up or whatever… when just last week she said I was taking good risks! For months she’s been asking me about guys at work that I could possibly be interested in. Even when I was with Lady Friend! Seriously, what the fuck?!? I just want to feel cared for. For a change. And I was starting to hope that I could be.  With someone that I’m attracted to, and have obvious interests shared with, who isn’t fucking married, who is actually interested in me…. Despite how weird I am. Too much to hope for? Ya know what? Screw it. I’m doing what I’m going to do. 

Maybe she's just jealous. Seriously. Recently divorced. Recently broken up with her latest boyfriend that she also found a million things wrong with. Admittedly he was probably horrible but that doesn't mean everyone will be horrible to women right? RIGHT? 

Investing in my mental/emotional... financial future

I’ve noticed that the more emotionally invested in my coworkers I become, the more invested in my work I become. It’s not just a matter of doing a good job because I should do a good job. It’s a matter of I NEED to do a good job to not disappoint CoWorkerA or I NEED to get this done because CoWorkerB is counting on me. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that this is what it takes for me to be intensely invested in a job, but still, as I have never had social ties at my places of employment I find this interesting. My personality is so split between home and work I’ve never made human connections at work. I go. I do my job. I leave. Collect paycheck. Now it’s different. I’m really getting to know everyone I work with. I enjoy their company. I’m becoming invested in them as people, not just colleagues so I want to do things for them. Because I like to do things for everyone I’m emotionally invested in. At least here I’m getting paid to do all the things I’m doing for people.

I’m liking the people I work with, and by extension I’m like the work that I’m doing. I’m not sure I find it personally satisfying, but knowing the job I do is of benefit to the people around me is satisfying in its own way. I’m sure there is something screwy with this. I need to think about this more. Just a thought as my very, very hectic and productive day has gone alone. As an added bonus I am becoming hyper efficient and more productive than I’ve probably ever been in my life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thoughts from the Borderline

I like to do nice things for people. It makes me feel good to do things that I know other people enjoy. It makes me feel useful and wanted.
I don’t really know how to justify someone else appreciating me if I am not doing things for them.
I don’t need this approval, but approval from people that I’ve not done anything for seems suspicious to me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don’t play chess with Death

Mistrust and Abuse. Since writing that post yesterday I’ve had the evening when Evil-Ex tried to kill me on my mind. I need to get it off my mind and the best way I know to do that is to write it down and let it go. So hold on, this is going to get a little rocky.
Cast of Characters:
Evil-Ex … Malignant Narcissist. Need I say more?
Cutie … Met Evil-Ex around the same time I did. He lead her on, pursued her, they dated briefly and turbulently. When they broke up he created elaborate schemes to get revenge on her, make her life miserable and ruin her reputation. He tormented her in a way that made her feel like she was the one going crazy and he was really on her side all along. Sound familiar? It certainly feels familiar.
Doc….  Evil-Exes best friend who was slowly coming to the realization that there was something truly wrong about his friend. Went out of his way to open up and protect me. He tried to do this for Cutie as well and developed a very meaningful relationship with her. Eventually they started dating in secret. All in all a really good guy.
Blondi… One of Evil-Exes lackeys friends that also had a crush on Cutie.
…and of course, Myself.

This particular story starts around Thanksgiving 2008. Evil-Ex and I were ‘solidly’ in a relationship and living together. Evil-Ex was trying to pass Cutie off onto Blondi. He and a lot of his little minions treated women like objects; something to be passed around and handed off when they were done with them. Cutie was trying valiantly to be friends with our group despite all she had been through. Unbeknownst to Evil-Ex, her and Doc were getting pretty close and she was interested in him. Evil-Ex was done with her. Evil-Ex decided that Blondi should have a shot with her so Blondi felt entitled to her. She wasn’t interested in sleeping with Blondi. Taking a true page from Evil-Exes playbook, he felt like he deserved this and not getting it, wanted revenge. Evil-Ex, being the ingratiating friend that he was, offered to do this. What was the revenge? Blondi wanted a picture of her crying for his birthday. Evil-Ex was more than happy to do this. He started talking to Cutie more and more; hanging out with her when I was out of own visiting family or with my own friends. He always waited until the next day or so to let it drop, trying to make me jealous. He actually told me what his intentions were, about his little game. I was sickened and nearly told her. He got to her first though and managed to play us against each other for a while. He told her a slew of lies about me to make her hate me. He told me she hated me for bullshit he had made up and let me believe she was trying to get back with him so I would be jealous and not want to help her.
This built up slowly for two months before The Party.
About a week before The Party (@Blondi’s house) Doc called me and told me that he was bringing Cutie, but not to tell Evil-Ex. I don’t remember if he knew what Evil-Ex was up to, but he didn’t want to give him the chance to prepare something to hurt her. I asked him if she hated me and he assured me that she didn’t. We decided it would be best to clear the air altogether.   
The night of the party rolls around. It was a dark, snowy night. We got all dressed up and fancy. About an hour after we arrived and started drinking Doc and Cutie show up. The look on Evil-Exes face could have melted glass. His anger was barely contained, but bubbling just below the surface I saw some anxiety when he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. He’d been feeding me a steady stream of lies and smear trying to keep me from ever speaking to her again. He was paranoid that we’d confer and really be able to dig up the dirt on how truly terrible the deeds he pulled were. He was reasonably sure I believed him, but I’ve never been very predictable. This time was no exception.
As soon as he left the room, before he had time to think of anything further, I walked over to Cutie, asked her if I could talk to her for a few minutes and pulled her down into the den away from the party. I completely threw caution to the wind. “Look, I don’t know what you’ve been told, or what’s going on here, but I don’t hate you, I don’t even dislike you, I just don’t know you that well so I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. I wanted to talk to you and get your side of the story. This is what he’s been saying to me…”  and told her what Evil-Ex was conveying to me about her.
We quickly got to the heart of his lies and uncovered the truth of what was really going on. I let her in on his game for Blondi as well, thoroughly ruining his ability to cause her more misery. Instantly we were allies.
As soon as Evil-Ex noticed my absence, then hers, he started looking for us. He barged downstairs, plunged between us, and dragged me back upstairs. Anytime we stood too close, sat too close chatting in a circle, he would wedge himself between us so we couldn’t ‘conspire’. There wasn’t any plan to do anything except figure out the truth. But that was enough. He was harsh, made jabbing comments, demeaning and cruel with almost everything he said to me. We drank more. And more.
By 1 o’clock I was well and thoroughly smashed. He made yet another verbal attack and that was as much as I could handle at the moment. Another of our friends took me into the living room where I sat crying onto his shoulder. He was being awful to me, to her, hell! To everyone! They just couldn’t see it. I didn’t deserve to be treated like this. At some point Evil-Ex came up behind us and sat down on the couch. As soon as our friend noticed he got up and left me to talk to him. I sat down next to him. He accused me of betraying him. I told him I just wanted the truth and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was treating me.
I don’t remember how he got me on the floor. That part of my memory is a black void. But there I was, flat on my back, lying on the ground with him on top of me. His hands wrapped around my throat, smashing my head into the ground. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. The room was spinning maddeningly from lack of oxygen and about two dozen too many shots of vodka. But my hands were free and my instincts from 15 years of martial arts took over. I was able to get him off of me. We collapsed lying there.
“I told you I can snap. See what happens when you push me?” This was all my fault? Apparently. Shame. Shame is what I feel now thinking back on this because all I wanted at the time was to make everything better. I wanted to fix it. He said he was going downstairs to sleep this off. I wanted nothing more than to curl up with him, have him wrap his arms around me and tell me we could figure this out. He refused and I didn’t push it. That was the first night my future Boring-Ex and I really hung out. He kept me company afterwards so I wouldn’t be alone. Treated me like a human being.
The next day we went out to breakfast with everyone who spent the night, pretended everything was ok. I actually thought it might be. When we got home we sat down to talk. Evil-Ex decided it was time for us to ‘take a break’. I agreed, reluctantly.
This was the beginning of the end for us. And possibly a blessing in disguise. We agreed not to hang out, not to even speak to one another for a while. I stayed away from our house as much as possible. Every night I went out with friends I hadn’t seen, or hadn’t had the freedom to see whenever I wanted. It took me about a week to realize what I had. Freedom. Every night I was going out with people that wanted me around. I was seeing people that treated me well. I was starting to laugh again. Enjoy my life again. Three weeks later he broke down, wanting me back…. But that’s a story for a different day.

Through all of this, I don’t feel like a victim. He tried to victimize me, but at no point did I completely roll over and allow it. It may have taken me a while but I always managed to fight back and look for the truth in what was happening. Ultimately, despite how horrible of an experience this was, I learned from it. That knowledge has made me a stronger person.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some People Want to Abuse You... But There Others Who Don't

Hello and good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was hectic and crazed but even fun at times. More on that some other time. Today I’m elaborating more on the next maladaptive schema type.

Typical Presentation of the Schema
People with the Mistrust/Abuse schema expect others to lie, manipulate, cheat, or in other ways to take advantage of them, and in the most extreme form of the schema, try to humiliate or abuse them.  These patients do not trust other people to be honest and straightforward, and to have their best interests at heart. Rather, they are guarded and suspicious. They sometimes believe that other people want to hurt them intentionally. At best, they feel that people care only for themselves and do not mind hurting others to get what they need; at worst, they are convinced that people are malevolent, sadistic, and get pleasure from hurting others. In the extreme form, patients with this schema may believe that other people want to torture and sexually abuse them.
Now. I think it’s important to note that these can be very real issues that are not unjustified. A lot of people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder have had major trauma and abuse growing up. I think this becomes a schema problem when you start seeing demons in EVERY shadow, not just the ones where it is justified. I’ve survived “friends” trying to manipulate me to suicide, people masquerading as friends to get me into bed, every kind of mental and emotional abuse, lying, manipulations, deceit, isolation, alienation you can imagine, attempted rape, rape, and my ex-boyfriend trying to kill me. Those are just some of the highlights. It doesn’t even touch on the extent of what I’ve been through in my life. I’ve actually suffered through a lot of abuse and my mistrust is justified. However. And this is an important However…. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there that do deserve to be trusted. The doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there don’t want to just take advantage of you or have ulterior motives. There are some pretty decent people. This becomes a schema problem when we impose the problems from the past onto people that don’t justifiably deserve the mistrust.
Goals of Treatment
The main goal of treatment is to help people with the Mistrust//Abuse schema to realize that, whereas some people are not trustworthy, many others ARE trustworthy. We teach them that the best way to live is to stay away from abusive people as much as possible, stand up for themselves when necessary, and focus on having trustworthy people in their personal life.
Patients who have healed a Mistrust/Abuse schema have learned to distinguish between people who are trustworthy and those who are not. They have learned that there is a spectrum of trustworthiness: People worthy of trust do not have to be perfect; they just ha ve to be “trustworthy enough.”
I have to say this is a problem I have. Cognitively, in my brain, I know that this is true, but I still fight with some black and white thinking here. Once my trust has been broken, or I’ve been sufficiently disappointed, it’s nearly impossible for me to regain my perspective and not consider someone untrustworthy. I’m trying though.
With trust worthy people, patients learn to behave in a differ way. They are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, they are less guarded and suspicious, they stop setting up tests, and they no longer cheat others because they expect to be cheated. With individuals who become their partners or close friends, patients become more authentic. They share many of their secrets and are willing to be vulnerable. They eventually find that, if they behave openly, trustworthy people will generally treat them well in return.
Strategies Emphasized  in Treatment
With patients who were abused as children, a therapist must work to establish emotional safety. The goal is to provide a safe place for patients to tell their story of abuse. Most abuse survivors are intensely ambivalent about telling their story. One part of the patient wants to discuss what happened, whereas another part wants to hide it. Many of these people alternate between the two – just as they alternate between feeling overwhelmed and feeling numb.
Cognitively, the therapist helps reduce a persons over vigilance to abuse. Patients learn to recognize a spectrum of trustworthiness. Patients also work to alter the extremely common  view of themselves as worthless and to blame for the abuse. They stop making excuses for the abuser and place blame where it belongs.
Venting anger is of primary importance in the experiential work. It is especially important for patients to vent anger at the people who abused them rather than continually directing anger at the people in their current lives, or at themselves.
Imagery and visualization to create a safe inner place away from abusers is helpful. Finally, patients visualize themselves being open and authentic with trustworthy significant others. The thrust of treatment is first to help patients make the sharp distinction between the people in the past who deserve the anger, and the people in the present who do not; then, to help patients express anger in therapy sessions toward the people in the past who deserve it, while treating well those people in their current lives who treat them well.
Behaviorally, patients gradually learn to trust honest people. They increase their level of intimacy with appropriate significant others. When appropriate, they share their secrets and memories of abuse with their partner or close friends. They consider joining a support group for abuse survivors. They choose non-abusive partners. Patients stop mistreating others and set limits with abusive people. They are less punitive when other people make mistakes. Rather than avoiding relationships and remaining alone, or avoiding intimate encounters and staying emotionally distant from people, they allow people to get close and become intimate. They stop gathering evidence and keeping score about the things other people have done to hurt them. They stop constantly testing other people in relationships to see if they can be trusted. They stop taking advantage of other people, thus prompting others to respond in kind.
Abuse severs the bond between the individual and other human beings. The person is torn out of the world of ordinary human relationships and thrown into a nightmare. During abuse, the victim feels utterly alone, and, after it is over, feels detached and estranged from others. The real world of current relationships seems hazy and unreal, whereas the memories of the relationships with the perpetrator are sharp and clear. The therapist/patient relationship is very important. The therapist is an intermediary between the abuse survivor and the rest of humanity: he or she serves as a vessel through which the patient reconnects to the ordinary world. By connecting to the therapist, the patient reconnects symbolically to the rest of humanity.
Severed. I always feel cut off and separate, severed, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it in these terms or even because of the abuse I’ve suffered. Maybe I have and forgot, or just figured it was one more experience grouped with all my others. I sort of compartmentalize the trauma I’ve been through. I stick it in a box and try to bury it in my mental closets. Hide it away. But put in these terms it makes it so much clearer to me the impact that the abuse I’ve suffered has had on me. Abuse severs the bond between the individual and other human beings. I would add that abuse severs the bond between a person and themselves too.  I guess I always kind of think of the abused part as a separate part, and the rest as the protector part. I’ve split myself into pieces. I’m still working through just how big of a deal all of this stuff actually was on me. I haven’t faced it all yet, but I’m starting to recognize where a lot of my dissociation comes from. Why I dissociate the way I do.
Most survivors of abuse struggle with moral issues. They are haunted by feelings of shame and guilt about what they did and felt during the abuse. They want to understand their own responsibility for what happened to them, and to reach a fair, moral judgment of their own conduct.
I still struggle with this. For a very long time I considered myself at least partially responsible for the abuse I suffered. It was my fault for being there, it was my fault for putting myself in the situation (even though there was no way I could have known that it would happen), and therefore my fault for allowing it to happen. It was my fault for not being able to leave because I couldn’t control how I felt. I was in love with my abuser, on more than one occasion, and I couldn’t do what I knew was best for me because I was afraid of losing my heart. I couldn’t control my emotions so I blamed myself for the way {t}he{y} treated me, for what they did to me… but you know what? It wasn’t my fault. It was theirs. I may have been in love, but I didn’t ask to be treated that way, I didn’t want to be treated that way, I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. It wasn’t my fault they were monsters. They made the choices they did because they were bad people, and that wasn’t my fault.  I couldn’t predict what was going to happen, and at the time I wasn’t able to take the steps that have been healthiest and safest for me. I can’t change that. But what I can do is learn from it and not make those same mistakes again. I can make better choices in the future. I can allow better people into my future. I’m still working on it, but it is possible.
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