Friday, December 2, 2011

Lucid Analysis - Trials in Therapy : Stop the Borderline "stuff"

Therapy is hard sometimes. I guess if it was easy it wouldn’t really be necessary though.
Therapist earned bonus points this week. I told her about the other night with GF (Read the story HERE)and my worries with Tech Boy. She called me out on that one. Therapist doesn’t like to use labels very much but this is what she considers “Borderline stuff”.  I’m afraid of where things may or may not be going with Tech Boy, so instead of working on that, I’m pushing away, and going to someone that I feel is safe. GF is in and out of the picture a lot. As soon as I mentioned her Therapist was like, “GF? This is going to be trouble for you.”
I want to be friends with her, but I’m still very physically attracted to her and I enjoy the emotional comfort she provides me. Coupled with the fact that she very clearly feels the same way about me, but won’t leave her current girlfriend making it impossible for her to get too close to me, it makes her an emotionally safe place for me to fall back to. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
What it makes it, is me avoiding the actual issue. Which is figuring out how I feel about Tech Boy. I just, don’t know where this is all going. Physically I’m very attracted to him. It’s pretty impossible not to be, he’s a hotty. But we don’t have all that much in common, our personalities are pretty different, our general approach to life is different. He’s not the kind of person to overthink things and just takes things as they come. I overthink things to death, beat them over the head with a shovel just to be sure, bury them, dig them back up, and then perform resurrection rites.
I have a few red flags with him. Last time we went out he mentioned he liked being a jerk. “It’s fun to be a jerk. Say and do what you want, without tip toeing around other people’s feelings all the time, it’s just freeing.” Or something like that. This of course doesn’t apply to people he cares about and works with but still. Of my course my immediately reply was, “Just don’t be a jerk to me. I won’t deal with it.” Him, “Have I been a jerk to you?” Me, “No, just sayin’”.  Gah. On the one hand I don’t like people that are push overs. If I can walk over you (not that I would), I probably will judge you as not having a strong enough personality to deal with me. On the other hand, I have an uncanny ability to choose jerks (who turn out to be very abusive) and people that I can’t trust and this scares me.
Semi-drunkenly the other night I mentioned that I was pretty guarded. He said I seemed to be pretty open with him. I mentioned that I just have sort of a hard time talking about emotional stuff. He said he wasn’t the emotional type either. This is a conversation I’ll have to have with him in the future, and sober, but it worries me because I’m afraid that means he won’t have the ability to deal with me. Therapist gave me sort of a reality check here. I don’t know what he’s been through in his past. I don’t know him very well so it may be that he has his own baggage that he’s been injured from or trying to recover from. Like me, maybe he just doesn’t put it all out there at first and puts on more of a ‘tough guy’ mask to sort of overcompensate. Maybe, maybe not. The point is, I don’t know because I haven’t spent enough time getting to know him yet. Give it time and see what he has to say about himself as I get to know him.
So those are the fears. The reality, he’s treated me very well. Therapist thinks that he’s making good decisions with me. Taking things at a good pace. I worry that things aren’t moving fast enough. I always worry that things aren’t moving fast enough. I just want to know where things are going so I’m not confused and second guessing things all the time.  As I was reminded though, I can’t know where things are going until we actually get there.
I worry about him liking me and wanting to be with me, so I start to freak out and reach for someone that I know I have these things from, and while I’m doing this he texts me to spend the weekend together and go on a trip out of state. It doesn’t take a genius to see who the irrational one here is.
Sabotage. Therapist thinks I’m trying to sabotage myself because I’m afraid of him getting too close. That’s why I let GF come over and set no boundaries of ‘just friends’ with her. She reminded me that I wouldn’t be having all these fears if I didn’t like the guy. What I’m trying to figure out is how to keep myself safe. Safety is very important for me. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the abusive relationships I’ve had in my past. But just because I have had them before does not mean that this is one of those. Clearly he likes me. He’s not seeing anyone else, so I should give him the same respect that he’s giving me. I should allow him the chance and get to know him better.
Therapist kind of kicked me in the ass on this one. This promiscuous borderline bullshit isn’t healthy. I have no impulse control when it comes to physical closeness but it’s major source of emotional turmoil for me as well.  My goal is to be healthy and part of that is learning to be healthy in relationships and forming relationships that are healthy. That’s not just picking good people though. It’s also correcting how I act and think in those relationships. So no more GF for now. Geezus! No more GF! Period. Not ‘for now’. Gah.
She wants me to make sure I’m not acting on my bias against men as well. I seriously laughed when she said this. It’s true. I am biased against men. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I have some serious trust issues, and most of them are triggered from men I’ve been with. Women feel safer to me. That doesn’t mean I can’t find safety with a man though. I just have to be careful and not rush things.
We talked a bit about my going home for Thanksgiving, but I felt like this part of the conversation didn’t really go anywhere. She said my anger at my friend for cancelling on me was justifiable. I stayed in an uncomfortable place longer than I had to and at the last minute it turns out I didn’t need to. Plus I miss her. I haven’t seen her in a very long time. Oddly, she’s one of the very few people I feel like I will always be friends with. We may not talk much but I feel like she’s always there. Her, my friend in Texas, and my sister. Those three.

I still don’t understand why I get so damn angry at my mother though. She’s a nice woman. My parents love each other, they get along great. There isn’t any weird tension between them. My mom just misses me and wants to do things with me, but it drives me up a bloody wall. She’ll offer to take me shopping or something nice and reasonable and I want to snap her head off. Everything feels like nagging and invasive prying or the most inconvenient timing. What sucks is I know she means well and just wants to love me. And I know I hurt her feelings with how sharp I was. I don’t understand why I still feel this way towards her. Nothing I do to tell myself that I shouldn’t be so angry works either. IDK, maybe something for next week’s session.

Addition: (Forgot to include this): I also told Therapist that Tech Boy and I had sex. She was a little concerned about this. And surprised. I’m not sure sex is something she herself is very comfortable with. I definitely pick up on that. She was concerned that I felt alright about the choice to do this. I feel like she thinks it was too soon. But how soon is too soon? We were dating for 4 or 5 weeks, but I’ve known him for like 8 months. How long is appropriate? So, yeah, I guess I’m alright. I’m not flipping out about it so it’s fine. Honestly it almost feels as if we haven’t done it at all. Except my libido is starting to shoot through the roof. Is that strange? I know we had sex, but it doesn’t really feel like I’ve internalized it. Other than now I’m a little more crazy about the little things like how often he texts me.  She asked if he was gentle. Um, not really. I’m not a very gentle person though. It was fun. I think her concern was did I feel threatened at any point. Which, no I didn’t. I don’t think he’s out to physically hurt me or anything. She worries about me so she wanted to make sure. She also knows I’ve had problems with men in the past. For a very, very long time I had problems with men even touching me. Hell I still have problems with men touching me, but it’s not so bad if it’s one I know or am close to. So right now I’m going to say I’m fine. I don’t really feel like it’s a big deal.
We’ll see how I feel tonight though. He’s staying over so we can leave early in the morning to take a trip out of state. I’m kind of excited =)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hearts are Complicated Creatures

Oh Look!  A new Schema today! And we’re even in a brand new Domain as well! Why am I being overly cheery you might ask? Because I have a wild f-ing headache and nothing makes sense to me anymore. I’ll maybe write about my night last night some other time. Hint: It has to do with “bad” decisions, a hot woman, too much wine, and a barrel of confusion with a pinch of guilt on the side. Intrigued? I know I am.
(3 hours later)
Ok. Nevermind. We’ll do another schema some other day. My hangover says ‘No’.  So let’s talk about my night!

Romantic updates < ------ Juicy Haven Gossip
Do you remember GirlFriend? Not really my girlfriend, but she’d like to be? She’s back. Honestly she never really left, I just fell off the earth for a bit and quit letting her make out with me. Also, I had an actual girlfriend. Anyways.
She’s been having a rough time of things lately so I invited her over for wine and take-out last night (I know, I’m a classy bitch).
Good, friends catching up, no big deal right? Wrong. Please. Like anything in my life is that straight forward.
I’m still very physically attracted to her. I love the attention she gives me. And I’ve been freaking out a bit about Tech Boy. I’m not sure if it’s a wise idea to be leading on GF when I’m clearly very involved with Tech Boy. Keep in mind, that GF has a live in girlfriend of her own (open relationships). Oh yeah, lesbian drama circles. Maybe later I’ll draw a diagram. I just don’t know how I feel about Tech Boy to figure out if this is something I should be doing or not. Enter Guilt, stage left.
So I vented my mental conundrum in another forum the other night and the conversation went something like this:
Voice of Reason:  Do you care about the guy?
(Hmmm, I want him to care about me. I’m less concerned with whether I care about him.)
Haven: I'm starting to become a mess about the guy. I’m not sure exactly where we are because we're in the non-relationship arena, and he isn't pursuing me as aggressively as most people usually do, but he's pretty laid back and used to girls chasing him (which I don't do), but as we speak he just texted me to see if I wanted to go out of state with him this weekend.

I like him, but I don't think we're right for each other, which means I'm not sure if I even care about him because I can't figure out how emotionally invested in him I should allow myself so I don't fucking know. Amusingly, the longer I have this argument with myself the less it will matter because I'll just fall comfortably into crazy.
(Notice how a typically easy Yes or No question becomes easily avoided in the mosh of brain jumble)
VoR: he isn't pursuing me as aggressively as most people usually do

Guys commonly reach a point where they do this, usually at 3 or 6 months. Between stages of a relationship a lot of times. Just mirror him and wait it out. I bet you he'll come around once he notices it's not bugging you and he can be more sure that you aren't going to get all needy and freak out his commitment radar, as he's likely still trying to figure out what he wants.

I like him, but I don't think we're right for each other, which means I'm not sure if I even care about him because I can't figure out how emotionally invested in him I should allow myself so I don't fucking know.

The bolded part sounds like you're not sure which way to 'split'. Like a riot policeman, pepper spray in hand, just waiting for the word to turn from good cop to bad cop. You can still care about him and not be right for each other at the same time.

Wait a bit. Don't do anything rash just because you've got that trigger happening. Distance yourself from the paranoid feelings, i.e. you can contemplate them, just don't react to them.
I thought this was pretty sound. I’ve been doing pretty well with not reacting to my paranoia or impulsive feelings.  It’s just, I’m so used to dating women, and women are much more up front about their feelings and about showing affection. Guys, either hold back because they don’t want to appear too interested (read: game) or you know, they have other stuff to do and don’t know that we’d like a little more reassurance than they’re giving. It doesn’t help that I act in complete opposition to how I feel. To all outside appearances I’m extremely confident and emotionally stable. And by stable, I mean I deny that I have emotions and joke around a lot. The point is, I don’t come across as an emotionally needy person. I do this on purpose, because who the hell wants that? Tech Boy has told me outright that he doesn’t really get emotional. I don’t know what that means in terms of me though, so I just suppress what I want and have been letting things just unfold as they will. Which in this case means very slow. I’m used to people being constantly up in my life by this point, wanting to hang out at all hours, do stuff, idk.
Oh, btw, as I’m freaking out trying to figure out what to do before GF comes over, Tech Boy texts me and asks me if I want to go out of state with him on Saturday. ::headdesk:: Well,  yes.
So GF comes over. We get food. Drink some wine. Watch some Buffy (Don’t you dare make fun of Buffy). And before you know it we’re all cuddled up, holding hands, and smooching our soft little lips off. ::sigh:: Girls are soft and they smell nice.
I have no impulse control when it comes to human contact. None. I just, can’t say no. I mean, I can if I’m in a committed relationship*, but I’m not. Tech Boy and I are still in that non-relationship land of pre-relationship limbo.
GF is really into me. Has been for years. You have no idea the drama I’ve been through over this woman. Hell, she’s the real reason I broke up with Boring-Ex the first time. That and he just COULD NOT FUCKING RELAX AROUND ME. Seriously. I’m the one with the anxiety disorder and he was the one acting like someone infested his picnic pants with a nest of red ants. He was more neurotic than me. Calm the hell down, dude. ::breathe:: But am I really in to GF? Not really. I like her but she’s not someone I see myself being with even though she is someone that would provide me the emotional support and attention I need. Happily.  
No, I’m fighting with whether or not Tech Boy is someone that’s worth the emotional investment. I’m fighting with whether or not he’s someone I believe can deal with my issues. Hell, I’m fighting with whether or not I can even tell him about some of my issues, let alone all of them. I am trying to be mindful of him. I swear it. I know I have problems. I don’t want to drive him crazy. This is why I freak out here instead of in his face. I know he’s not an emotional person though, which makes me wonder if he can be there for me if/when I let him in to my more emotional side.
It’s that whole threat of intimacy. I want to be close, but I want to be safe too. The closer someone gets, the more able they are to hurt you. So someone gets too close, I push away. It’s for their own good after all. But then I’m lonely, and I miss the closeness that was there, and I want to pull back.
It’s a never ending cycle. On the one hand it’s reassuring for me when someone lets me back or doesn’t run away from me completely, because in a way it’s ‘proof’ that they can deal with my shit and won’t just up and abandon me. On the other hand, I feel guilty that there’s shit that they have to deal with in the first place.
**Ramble ramble ramble**
This morning over the coffee table he was making fantastic eye contact and smiling at me. My heart melted into gooeyness and I couldn’t help the smile the crept across my face.
F-ing cute
Well. At least my life isn’t boring.

*I don’t cheat. I break up with people. Do what I want. Then get back with whoever I really want to be with after freaking out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Look at Me, Look at ME! – Approval-Seeking/Recognition Seeking

Today I’m doing another Schema. I really just want to get these done. This one isn’t something I relate to so much. I think it’s more a characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder than Borderline Personality Disorder. But it’s on the list so I feel obligated to include it. Feel free to skip to the end and just read my musings. The next few I'll talk about are the good ones.

Approval-Seeking/Recognition Seeking
Typical Presentations of the Schema
These people place excessive importance on gaining approval or recognition from other people at the expense of fulfilling their core emotional needs and expressing their natural inclinations. Because they habitually focus on the reactions of others rather than on their own reactions, they fail to develop a stable, inner-directed sense of self.
There are two subtypes. The first type seeks approval, wanting everyone to like them; they want to fit in and be accepted. The second type seeks recognition, wanting applause and admiration. The latter are frequently narcissistic patients: They overemphasize status, appearance, money, or achievement as a means gaining the admiration of others. Both subtypes are outwardly focused on getting approval or recognition in order to feel good about themselves. Their sense of self-esteem is dependent on the reactions of other people, rather than on their own values and natural inclinations.
Alice Miller (1975) writes about the issue of recognition-seeking in Prisoners of Childhood. Many of the cases she present are individuals at the narcissistic end of this schema. As children, they learned to strive for recognition, because that was what their parents encouraged or pushed them to do. The parents obtained vicarious gratification, but the children grew more and more estranged from their genuine selves – from their core emotional needs and natural inclinations.
The subjects in Miller’s book have both the Emotional Deprivation and the Recognition-Seeking schemas. Recognition-seeking is often, but not always, linked with the Emotional Deprivation schema. However, some parents are both nurturing and recognition-seeking. In many families, the parents are very child-oriented and loving, but also very concerned with outward appearances. Children from these families feel loved, but they do not develop a stable, inner-directed sense of self: Their sense of self is predicated on the responses of other people. They have an undeveloped, or false, self, but it is not a true self. Narcissistic patients are at the extreme end of this schema, but there are many milder forms in which patients are more psychologically healthy yet still devoted to seeking approval or recognition to the detriment of self-expression.
            Typical behaviors include being compliant or people-pleasing in order to get approval. Some Approval-Seekers place themselves in a subservient role to get approval. Other individuals may feel uncomfortable around them because they seem so eager to please. Typical behaviors also include placing a great deal of emphasis on appearance, money, status, achievement, and success in order to obtain recognition from others. Recognition-seekers might fish for compliments  or appear conceited and brag about their accomplishments. Alternatively, they might be subtler, and surreptitiously manipulate the conversation, so that they can cite their sources of pride.
            Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking is different from other schemas that might result in approval-seeking behavior. When patients display approval-seeking behavior, it is their motivation that determines whether the behavior is part of this or another schema. Approval-Seeking/Recognition- Seeking is different from Unrelenting Standards schema (even if the childhood origins may appear similar) in that patients with the Unrelenting Standards schema are striving to meet a set of internalized values, whereas approval-seeking patients are striving to obtain external validation. Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking is different from the Subjugation schema in that the latter is fear-based, whereas the former is not. With the Subjugation schema, patients act in an approval-seeking way because they are afraid of punishment or abandonment, not primarily because they crave approval. The Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking schema is different from the Self-Sacrifice schema in that it is not based on a desire to help others one perceives as fragile or needy. If patients act in an approval-seeking way because they do not want to hurt other people, then they have the Self-Sacrifice schema. The Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking schema is different form the Entitlement/Grandiosity schema in that it is not an attempt to aggrandize oneself in order to feel superior to others. If patients act in an approval-seeking way as a means of gaining power, special treatment, or control, then they have the Entitlement schema.
Most Approval-Seekers probably would endorse conditional beliefs such as “People will accept me, if they approve of me or admire me,”  “I’m worthwhile if other people give m approval,” or “If I can get people to admire me, they will pay attention to me.” They live under this contingency: In order to feel good about themselves, they have to gain approval or recognition from others. Thus, these patients are frequently dependent on other people’s approval for their self-esteem.
The approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking schema is often, but no always, a form of overcompensation for another schema, such as Defectiveness, Emotional Deprivation, or Social Isolation. Although many patients use this schema to overcompensate for other issues, many other patients with this schema seek approval or recognition simply because they were raised this way; their parents placed a strong emphasis on approval or recognition. The parents set goals and expectations that were not based on the child’s inherent needs and natural inclinations, but rather on the values of the surrounding culture.
There are both healthy and maladaptive forms of approval-seeking. This schema is common in highly successful people in many fields, such as politics and entertainment. Many of the patients are skillful in intuiting what will gain them approval or recognition and can adapt their behavior in a chameleon-like way, in order to endear themselves to or impress people.

Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Demonstrating the importance of expressing one’s true self rather than continuing to seek the approval of others is the first step. It is natural to want approval and recognition, but when this desire becomes extreme, it is dysfunctional. Patients can examine the pros and cons of the schema: They weight the advantages and disadvantages of discovering who they truly are and acting on that versus continuing to focus on gaining other people’s approval. In this way, patients can make the decision to fight the schema. If they continue to put all their emphasis on money, status, or popularity, then they are not going to enjoy life fully, they will continue to feel empty and dissatisfied. It is not worth it to “sell one’s soul” for approval or recognition. Approval and recognition are only temporarily satisfying. They are addictive and not fulfilling in a deep and lasting sense.

I don’t know. I don’t really have anything to say about this. In terms of this schema I think I would be someone that overcompensates. I prefer to avoid attention and therefore approval. I stay in the background so people won’t notice me. I am purposefully contradictory. I enjoy playing the devil’s advocate, even if the devil is a decision I don’t actually believe in. If I can push someone away, there’s no chance that they’ll be able to get close enough to hurt me. It’s not until someone becomes an obsession for me that I need their approval and recognition, but this comes from all those other places I think.
Oddly I think my brother is closer to this category than me. My father pushed us so hard in athletics and activities. All these sports had judges and prizes. My brother was/is the golden child. He was the star athlete. He won every trophy, every blue ribbon, and every gold medal. His face was constantly in the newspaper. He was the leader, the head of the team, the president of his fraternity. He emphasizes wealth and status to a degree I can’t even fathom. I don’t care about these things at all.
In high school when I was a senior, he was a freshman. At that point I had fully rebelled against my parents, wore nothing but black and shock rock makeup/piercings, was completely Goth, the only Goth in my entire district in fact so I was terribly, ostentatiously different. Misunderstood by everyone. My brother was the golden child, star athlete, in his pressed and sporty clothes, whom everyone adored. Everyone knew us both, for very different reasons. We avoided each other. Me because I simply didn’t care and was consumed by my own preoccupations. Him, because as he once told me, he was embarrassed by how I dressed, “Why can’t you just be normal”. Why would I want to be?  To anyone that took the time to talk to me I was actually a very nice person with a lot of interesting things to talk about. I was sick of guys only interested in using me for my body or my looks. If you wanted to get close to me, you had to display a willingness to overlook the superficial and get to know me. Was that so bad? I don’t think so.
My brother and I get along fantastically now. I calmed down my outside image, and he has a more accepting mind towards things that are outside of the norm. I definitely think he falls into this Schema, but I don’t think it’s maladaptive (Remember, everyone has characteristics of the various schemas but that doesn't mean they're maladaptive). Or unwarranted. He actually is exceptionally good at the things he does and leading a life that is quite successful. I know he struggles with depression though which is a big indicator that all isn’t well in Beaver Cleaver land.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Until There’s Nothing Left – Self-Sacrifice

As it turns out I didn’t leave my Schema book at home, I just buried it in exactly the place it should have been ::headdesk:: There’s this new thing I’m trying, it’s called: Opening my eyes, before I fluster myself up too much. ::sigh::
So let’s bang on! Next Schema is Self-Sacrifice.

Typical Presentation of the Schema
People with this schema, like those with the Subjugation schema, display an excessive focus on meeting the needs of others at the expense of their own needs. However, unlike patients with the Subjugation schema, these patients experience their self-sacrifice as voluntary They do it because they want to prevent other people from experiencing pain, to do what they believe is right, to avoid feeling guilty or selfish, or to maintain a connection with significant others whom they perceive as needy. The Self-Sacrifice schema often results from what we believe to be a highly empathic temperament – an acute sensitivity to the pain of others. Some people feel the psychic pain of others so intensely that they are highly motivated to alleviate or prevent it. They do not want to do things or allow things to happen that will cause other people pain. Self-Sacrifice often involves a sense of over-responsibility for others. It thus overlaps with the concept of codependence.
Hmmm, I often do things for other people but not because I empathize with them. I do things because I’m afraid I’ll lose their approval and therefore my connection to them. If I’m honest it’s kind of selfishly motivated.
It is common for patients with this schema to have psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, or fatigue. Physical symptoms may provide these patients with a way to bring attention to themselves, without having to ask for it directly and without conscious awareness. They feel permission to receive are or to decrease their care for others if they are “really sick”.  These symptoms may also be a direct result of the stress created by giving so much and receiving so little in return.
Nope. Not even a little. If I’m sick I refuse to admit it. I have an unreasonable tolerance for pain (I mean, hi, I’m a cutter). If I’m injured it’s likely that I’ll go even further out of my way to do something for other people just to ‘prove’ how little pain I’m in. In retrospect this strikes me as overcompensating. I have a severe aversion to letting people see manifestations of weakness in me.
People with this schema almost always have an accompanying Emotional Deprivation schema. They are meeting the needs of others; but their own needs are not getting met. On the surface, they appear content to self-sacrifice, but underneath, they feel a deep sense of emotional deprivation. Sometimes they feel angry at the objects of their sacrifice. Usually patients with this schema are giving so much that they end up hurting themselves.
Ah. Now here’s something I fight with. Here’s something I fight with a lot. I believe this is part of why I’m still as close to Friend as I am. Being around him and the wife is still heart wrenching for me, yet I go out of my way to do elaborate things to take care of them, or him specifically and her by default because there’s no way to avoid it if I want to take care of him. Half the time I’m over at their place I’m flipping moods between emotionally numb, angry, jealous, hurt, and intense frustration at the their cluelessness when they intentionally stab at my emotions. Do I show it? Do I tell them? No, I suppress. It’s not my place so I suffer inside and don’t let anyone know. This is where the wine comes in handy.
Often, these people believe that they do not expect anything back from others, but when something happens and the other person does not give as much back, they feel resentful. Anger is not inevitable with this schema, but people who self-sacrifice to a significant degree, and have people around them who are not reciprocating, usually experience at he least some resentment.
Gold Star for the psych book. This is a HUGE deal for Borderlines. I didn’t recognize this in myself for a very long time. I didn’t really see what I was doing until I recognized it in a Borderline friend of mine. She would give and give and give, proclaim her selflessness, and then hold up all her examples of giving as a reason why someone else should want to choose her or do something for her, and proceed to melt down when she wasn’t made the priority, even though she did all these things when no one asked it of her. That’s not to say her efforts weren’t appreciated, they certainly were, but her expectations that the other people should put their life on hold, or rearrange their heart for her because of all of these displays was just unreasonable. I have this problem too.  Where she would break down into a sea of tears and despair, I would rage and resent. She would redouble her efforts to win back their love and attention and make them appreciate her more. I would withdraw my attention, my affection, lash out (more subtlety now), guilt and show how hurt I was… you won’t do this one thing for me after all of that? Fine, fuck you, you don’t deserve anything anymore, ever, you’re not the person I thought you were, clearly you don’t give a shit about me or what I need, you’re a terrible friend that was probably just using me for your own purposes any…. Check out the Splitting! Either way, it’s something I now recognize as that classic Borderline manipulation. We don’t do it on purpose, but the wave of emotions that crash over us when we feel we’ve been taken advantage of because our needs aren’t being met after we’ve sacrificed so much is overwhelming.
As previously noted in Subjugation, it is important to distinguish self-sacrifice form subjugation. When people have the Subjugation schema, they surrender their own needs out of fear of external consequences. They are afraid that other people are going to retaliate or reject them. With the Self-Sacrifice schema, people surrender their own needs out of an inner sense or standard. Subjugated people experience themselves as being under the control of other people; self-sacrificing patients experience themselves as making voluntary choices.
My ordeal with Evil-Ex was Subjugation. My need to take care of everyone else in my life is Self-Sacrifice. At least I think it is. I recognize that my actions are my choice, which makes them voluntary, but there’s always a motivation behind it. That motivation is fear of losing the people I care about. Fear of being abandoned by the people I need around me. If I don’t do something for them, don’t give them a reason to need me in their life, what could possible make them want to keep me around? My shining personality? I don’t believe it, I need to make myself indispensable to someone’s life or else I’ll be easy to replace.
The origins of these two schemas are different as well. Although the two overlap, they are almost opposite in their origins. The origin of Subjugation is usually a domineering and controlling parent; with the Self-Sacrifice, the parent is typically weak, needy, a childlike, helpless, ill, or depressed. Thus, the former develops from interaction with a parent who is too strong, and the latter with a parent who is too weak or ill.
My father = too strong. My mother = too weak. I have always had a need to impress, please, and rebel against my father. My mother just makes me angry.
People with the Self-Sacrifice schema typically exhibit behaviors such as listening to others rather than talking about themselves; taking care of other people, yet having difficulty doing things for themselves; focusing attention on other people, yet feeling uncomfortable when attention is focus on them, and being indirect when they want something, rather than asking directly.
There can also be secondary gain with this schema. The schema has positive aspects and is only pathological when brought to an unhealthy extreme. Patients might feel a sense of pride in seeing themselves as caretakers. They might feel that they are good for behaving altruistically, that they are behaving in a morally virtuous way. (In contrast, sometimes the schema has a “never enough” quality, so that no matter how much self-sacrifices do, they still feel guilty that it is not enough.) Another potential source of secondary gain is that the schema might draw other people to them. Many people enjoy the empathy and help of the self-sacrifice. People with this schema usually have many friendships, although their own needs often are not being met in these relationships.
In terms of over compensatory behaviors, after self-sacrificing for a long time, some patients suddenly flip into excessive anger. They become enraged and cut off giving to the other person completely. When self-sacrificers feel unappreciated, they sometimes retaliate by conveying to the other person: “I’m not going to give you anything ever again.”
There we go. Yeah, I do this. It doesn’t usually last long. More often than not I get paranoid that if I withhold myself for too long I’ll be  abandoned and no longer needed so slip right back into the mode of doing things for other people. Only this time there’s an added layer of resentment underneath.
Goals of Treatment
One major goal is to teach that all people have an equal right to get their needs met. Even though these patients experience themselves as stronger than others, in reality, most of them have been emotionally deprived. They have sacrificed themselves and  have not gotten their own needs met in return. Therefore, they are needy – just as needy as most of the “weaker” people they devote themselves to helping. The primary difference is that these people do not experience their own needs, at least not consciously. They have usually blocked out the frustration of their own needs in order to continue self-sacrificing.
Which makes it important to help these people recognize that they have needs that are not being met, even though they are not aware of them; and that they have as much right to get their needs met as anyone else.
It’s also important to decrease the sense of over responsibility. Often these people exaggerate the fragility and helplessness of other people. If the person were to give less, the other person would usually still be fine. In most cases the other person is not going to fall apart or experience unbearable pain if the patient gives less.
Remedying the associated emotional deprivation is also important. To do this the person must learn to attend to their own needs, let other people meet their needs, ask for what they want more directly, and be more vulnerable instead of appearing strong most of the time.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Awareness of other schemas that underlie Self-Sacrifice is important; Emotional deprivation for instance. Defectiveness is also a common linked schema: These people “Give more” because they feel “worth less” (Ugh, a world of yes). Abandonment can be a linked schema: People self-sacrifice in order to prevent the other person from abandoning them. Dependence can be a linked schema: Patients self-sacrifice so that the parent figure will stay connected to them and keep taking care of them. Approval-Seeking can be a linked schema; People take care of others to get approval or recognition.
Emotional Deprivation: Check
Defectiveness: Check
Abandonment: Check
It’s important for people with this schema to become aware of their emotional deprivation. Expressing sadness and anger about their unmet emotional needs is key. Behaviorally it’s necessary to learn to ask to have their needs met more directly, and to come across as vulnerable instead of strong. (I don’t like this idea at all). They need to learn to select partners who are strong and giving rather than weak and needy. In addition, learning to set limits on how much they give to others is important.
In a sense, this schema is the opposite of the Entitlement schema. The entitlement schema involves self-centeredness: the Self-Sacrifice schema involves other-centeredness. These two schemas “fit” together well in relationships:  Patients who have one of these schemas often end up with a partner who has the other. Another common combination is one partner with a Self-Sacrifice schema, and the other with Dependent Entitlement. The self-sacrificer does everything or the entitled partner.
HOLY CRAP! This is Friend and his wife. I have never met a woman that was so lazy, selfish and self-entitled and utterly incapable of doing anything for herself. He does everything for her so she doesn’t have to budge from the couch. That explains so much.

Special Problems with This Schema
One problem is that there is often a high cultural and religious value placed on self-sacrifice. Furthermore, self-sacrifice is not a dysfunctional schema within normal limits (Parents should take care of their children, loving partners and friends do things for one another). Rather, it is healthy to be self-sacrificing to a certain degree. It becomes dysfunctional when it is excessive. For a person’s self-sacrifice to be a maladaptive schema, the self-sacrifice has to be causing problems for the person. It has to be creating symptoms or creating unhappiness in relationships. There has to be some way it is manifesting itself as a difficult: Anger building up, the patient is experiencing psychosomatic complaints, feeling emotionally deprived, or otherwise suffering emotionally.

Wow, this was really really long today. Sorry! Hope you managed to get through it all. I guess I had a little bit of pent up feelings towards this schema.

Monday, November 28, 2011

To Sleep or Not to Sleep - It's obnoxioius to worry about Both

I hope everyone had a delightful holiday weekend (for all of you who celebrate some sort of holiday this weekend past). I clearly did not. I’m doubly angry at myself because I left my Schema Therapy book at my parents’ house so I have to wait until they ship it to me in order to continue my blog series. I’m a little pissed because we’re  very close to the end and I wanted to make a clean break before moving on to something new.
::sigh:: I’m trying not to beat myself up about this, but it bothers me that I don’t have what I need at my disposal.
So here’s a story I picked up over Thanksgiving dinner.  We all know I have sleeping problems. It’s why I’ve been prescribed the Trazadone = help me sleep and stay asleep. Since starting the Pristiq though, I have been falling asleep pretty well without the need of my sleep meds. I’ve also mentioned on multiple occasions that I often have anxiety about going to sleep.  This is an entirely different problem from my insomnia. I’m not sure why I’m afraid to go to sleep some nights. The thought of turning off all my lights, pulling myself away from my computer, isolating myself in some small way, it inspires this low level dread and anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I’ll check, double check, and triple check many things just to put off going to bed for a few more minutes.
It’s weird because I actually like sleeping. I absolutely LOVE dreaming. I have such vivid, wild dreams and I find them all fascinating, even if they’re bad or nightmares.
The act of getting into bed, alone, is just awful for me.
And apparently always has been.
I have a darling wacky aunt that loves to tell all the silly and embarrassing stories of our youth after dinner, just before dessert and coffee. They’re usually pretty funny. This past dinner my aunt was recalling the times we would visit and spend the night at her place. My sister would fall asleep anywhere, no problem. My brother was the same. Not me. I would fight and scream and not want to go to sleep.  I would insist I wasn’t tired and want to stay up with her just a little longer. Then my mother chimed in. I would become incredibly upset if I had to go to sleep alone. My mother would lie down with me at bedtime until she had to go to work, hoping that I would be asleep by the time she had to leave. (Remember, she worked evenings so she would wake up in time to put us to bed and then go to work). I would apparently be inconsolable if she wasn’t there to fall asleep with me. I don’t remember any of this. I do remember often sneaking into my parent’s room at night to curl up in bed with them until I was too old (maybe 7 years old) and they forbid it. Now that I’m focusing on it I remember sleeping with my brother and sister whenever we could get away with it as well. My parents would send us to our rooms at night, but by morning, I would wake up next to one of my siblings.
One of my favorite things about being in a relationship is the fact that I don’t have to sleep alone. Sleeping alone is one of my most hated things ever. I also tend to have very affectionate friends that don’t mind falling asleep together. Sleeping together doesn’t have to be sexual, just comforting. Even having my cat to curl up with me is better than being all alone. One of the reasons I like having a roommate is that I’m never alone in the apartment at night. When Roommate is gone for weekends I often forsake my bed and bedroom altogether and sleep in the living room on the couch. The common area has an energy that is less solitary, more open, more comforting, plus I know right away if someone is trying to break in (there’s not going to be any sneaking up on me). It’s safer.
I don’t know why this is such an issue for me, but it’s apparently been an issue my entire life.
Logically I know there’s nothing waiting for me in the dark. All those breathing exercises and visualization techniques do me no good. It does help for me to have some kind of white noise on in the background, like a running fan or air filter, something to fill up the emptiness in the air. Even when I’m falling down exhausted the idea of going to bed alone makes me anxious. I’ll choose to sleep on the couch before going to bed alone (unless Roommate is home, in which case it would just be rude so I always force myself to go to my own room).
I just need someone to snuggle up to and I’m fine. This isn’t exactly a ‘cure’ for my anxiety but it’s definitely an acceptable fix as far as I’m concerned. I’m very curious as to why I have this problem and why I developed it so young.  It definitely makes me think that this is potentially something I’m predisposed to as my siblings have no similar problem at all. Is this a problem for any of my Borderline readers out there?

Curiouser and curiouser. In the meantime I’m accepting Cuddle Buddy applications!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remember when...

Some days I wish I could go back in time to be that care free girl without a problem in the world. Then I remember that was just a book I read once. I've never been that girl.

Welcome to the life of a Borderline

Quotes from the Borderline

"What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.

~Chuck Palahniuk


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