Friday, March 9, 2012

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy: Not what I hoped for

I’m beyond exhausted. All week. Stress is really getting to me I think.

Saw Therapist yesterday. I walked into her office and I actually had nothing to talk about at all. I was irritable, aggravated, and angry in general. I’ve felt like that for the past couple days. I’ve noticed that my mood tracker has been all the hell over the place for the past few weeks. Therapist says it’s no wonder with everything that just happened with Friend. The whole ending of our friendship was very triggering for me.

Yes, this is my actual Tracker [ Medhelp.org ]

Therapist tried getting me to look at him and his wife in a less harsh light. She started with his wife and looking for virtue in her. There just isn’t any. I tried to like to her at first, but I’ve never trusted her. Hell. I mean seriously. The event that sparked my friendship with Friend was because his wife PUNCHED MY GIRLFRIEND IN THE FACE for something she had absolutely nothing to do with. The woman is just out of control. The only reason I put up with her was because I valued my friendship with him and if I wasn’t pleasant to her she’d have told him I couldn’t be friends with him.

Therapist said that from Friend’s perspective it was probably quite a shock that I had these feelings because I’m extraordinarily good at suppressing my feelings and coming across as if nothing is wrong. Even Therapist didn’t realize just hold long I harbored such intense feelings for her.  Just because I’m not outwardly hostile towards someone doesn’t mean I like them. And as a matter of fact, I told friend that it hurt me to see them like that, that I didn’t like his wife. His response was he didn’t want to lose me but he didn’t want me to be uncomfortable when I was over there. We had this conversation. Is it my fault he didn’t pay attention to what I told him directly? No. What should I have done? Acted how I felt? That’s real mature. Just because I can’t stand someone doesn’t mean I have to be openly hostile towards them. Especially when doing so would destroy the thing I actually wanted – to spend time hanging out with my best friend.

So where’s the line? Where do I get to be civil and act like an adult and not be a horrific bitch to someone I don’t like? Is it really better to act like an asshole? I was CIVIL. I acted like an ADULT. It just seems like I can’t do anything right. I could Act Out and hurt their feelings but hey, at least they’d know for sure how I felt. Instead I Acted In. I kept my meanness and my unhappiness to myself, let them be happy and kept our company nice. But apparently my civility meant I was lying. So, I can be an honest asshole. Or a pleasant liar. Those are my choices.

People get bent out of shape about how Borderlines Act Out. But they get angry for not Acting Out too. Make up your friggin’ minds people. I know the real problem is mine for not being able to regulate and express myself in a timely way, but at that point it didn’t dawn on me that it was something I should be able to do. Expressing my needs and concerns = rejection.  Obviously Friend proved my fear accurate. (To my credit I didn’t let that stop me in regards to Tech Boy and he actually did exactly what I’d hoped and needed him to do!)

I realize he was probably a bit blindsided when I finally unloaded all this stuff that had been building up. As I was talking about earlier this week, I hold stuff in and don’t express it until it finally pops.  That’s why I was trying to talk it through. That’s why I wanted to have a conversation so we could work through things; to clear up the misunderstandings, the miscommunications and work it out like adults. That was asking too much of him though. I was TRYING to COMMUNICATE. Yeah it took me a long time to get to that point but I was trying. I gave him way more credit than he deserved.

Therapist asked: Do I think once some time has passed and he’s been able to think about things, will he want to try to work on things? Unless he says the absolute perfect things, I’m not interested. I’ll be willing to hear what he has to say. Clarify some of the things I said. Get some closure. But I’m done. Finished. The End. This was seriously the first time I’d asked him ever to please be considerate of my feelings, oh yeah, and quit touching me inappropriately. But no, that’s too much to deal with. I will not give him another chance to hurt me like that.

I thought he was someone I could trust. Someone that I could talk things through with, but I was wrong. I put myself in a very vulnerable position when I tried to explain what was going on in my head… and he gave me nothing. Not a damn thing. All he said was this is too much trouble, good bye.  Well, fuck you buddy.

Therapist says that I’m a very good Friend.   I give so much to the people I care about. Oh yeah? Then why is it so impossible to find someone that will give me even a little reciprocity? I’m like a magnet for douchebags. At least I have Roommate. Tech Boy has been awesome too.  

Man, for going into therapy last night with nothing to talk about, I ended up talking a lot. And nearly crying twice.

I may have made up my mind about this whole thing, but there still was really no closure from him.

I’m starting to get angry with ideas of vindictiveness as well. We have a couple events coming up. I always go to both of them. The one I want to attend especially because I’m sure he’ll be there and my presence will make him exceptionally uncomfortable. I find this amusing.

The other… ::sigh::… I’d like to go but that one might just be too painful. Not only will he be there, but K and Twiggy as well (they’re at least civil), I ran into Evil-Ex and the girl he’s living with who was also the last girl he cheated on me with, and Boring-Ex who started volunteering there just because he knew it would get under my skin after I introduced him to the scene. Yes, I know Boring-Ex did this on purpose because when I brought him he did nothing but complain, piss, and moan about how boring the event was. That’s  just too many people in one place that I can’t and/or won’t speak too. Too many people in one place that could trigger me. Too many people in one place that aren’t in my life anymore.

Really, Boring-Ex is a non-entity. I’m peeved at his immaturity but he doesn’t even rank on my list of important people. Evil-Ex I’m really pretty over. It’s too soon for Friend. Of all the people that I’ve lost from my life I miss K the most. She meant a lot to me and I really screwed up with her. Every time I see her I relive the guilt and bad decisions I made, I relive how I failed her, how I was blind to the bullshit Friend was feeding me and chose to let myself get swept up with him. I break my own heart when I see her. Too painful.

Therapist pulled out her Wheel of Self Awareness.  She said I do the exercise very easily and come to a lot of very valid conclusions. It helps that I’m so vocal in therapy.

What’s the point of going to therapy if you don’t talk? Seriously. I realize the lack of trust thing is an issue, but if you don’t like your therapist, get a new one. If you’re not willing to try expressing yourself in therapy, why waste an hour of your time?

I’m ranty and grumpy today.

Therapist admitted to being human yesterday. It’s funny. I want her to have all the answers. I want her to be able to tell me what I should do. But at the same time I really respect that she knows her personal limits and isn’t afraid to express that with me.  She also told me that my ability to make a firm decision in regards to not allowing for the potential reunion with Friend is a very healthy move on my part. And something that is exceptionally difficult for a Borderline. Therapist doesn’t like labels so it always makes me step back when she acknowledges my BPD.  Most people have a hard time letting go of people that were such an important part of their life. Not that this was an easy decision for me. It took me a year and a half to get to a point where I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I’ve done that very thing, constantly, over and over, my entire life – let people back in when I should have stayed firm and held onto the reason I kicked them out in the first place. All it does is continue to allow them to hurt me. I’m sick of it.

She asked if I regretted sending Friend the letter. I do, and I don’t. I’m angry at myself for showing him my vulnerability. I’m angry at myself for showing that there was human weakness in me. I’m angrier at him that he couldn’t be a decent human being. Maybe I’m just disappointed in myself because I thought better of him and I was the one that was wrong. On the other hand, if I hadn’t sent him those letters our friendship would have been over anyways. I needed to address these things in order to fix them so I could be comfortable over there again. Without resolving those, it would have continued to torment me, and in reality I simply would have seen him and spoken to him less and less until one day he just wasn’t in my life anymore. It’s probably good that I opened up, even if it didn’t have the outcome I’d hoped for. I’d hoped he would be my friend. I’d hoped he would care. I’d hoped he’d be able to talk with me in a constructive and helpful way. Things don’t always turn out the way I hope. Sometimes having things turn out differently is actually better.

Being friends with him was holding me back. Holding me back from pursuing someone that I could actually share my life with. Holding me back from finding untarnished pleasure in someone’s company. Everything with Friend was a compromise of my emotions. Some compromise in a relationship is good, but if it’s always a compromise, then something isn’t right.  

Angry. Angry angry angry. Right now that’s all I am still. Therapist says it’s better to be angry than depressed. I agree.



I almost told Tech Boy I’m in therapy last night. Almost. I balked. ::sigh:: Despite our unofficial status we’re clearly pretty involved. I’m going to have to let him in on some of this eventually. Any thoughts on how to do that?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love is a Battlefield - How do Borderlines fight?


In line with this unintentional relationship theme a Reader mentioned that it seems Borderlines have two patterns:

1) Leave suddenly, altogether, final, game the hell over.

2) Leave and come back constantly.

"With my borderline, it's #2 and I like to think its cause she is attached and can't/doesn't want to leave. The first time though, I thought and reacted like it was #1 because the experience was so emotional and in my world it meant game over. Not to her. Now I see her pattern as her way to regulate her feelings. Close, closer, love....BAM you are bad, bad, bad to reduce the feelings to a manageable place. Then repeat."

What do you see as underlying this difference?


I agree that these do seem to be the overarching patterns with BPD. I have certainly been encompassed by both at varying times.

I think some of it has to do with whether a person with BPD is more prone to Acting In or Acting Out. When I was younger I Acted Out much more often and had less control over my impulsive behaviors. As a result I would end relationships quickly, break things off, stop speaking to people, then freak out that they were gone and work to pull them back into my life. Even if the reason I broke it off was extremely justified, like an ex cheating on me. I could be furious, and I mean RAGING homicidally furious, but when the anger cooled, I’d miss them, they’d weasel their way back in and I was powerless to prevent my feelings from resurfacing. The result of this was often to hurt us both. Sometimes the hurt I inflicted on people was unintentional. I was just so wounded by whatever happened I lashed out. Other times when I felt justifiably angry, I Acted Out against them, and on purpose. They hurt me, they deserved to know it, and to feel it too.

As I got older I worked to gain more control over myself. I think I did too good of a job though. Now I have almost completely flipped to only Acting In (which is not necessarily any better and not actually healthy either), so instead of acting on my impulsive inclinations I hold them in and let them bottle up until they pop. As we know this doesn’t make things better. This just prevents the ability to release the hurt and work on the problem. The other person may only be hurt once in the end, but the pain inflicted on myself is orders of magnitude greater than it probably would have been if I’d  blown off some steam as it began to build up.

Actions present as extremes. All in or all out. All or nothing. It’s finding that middle ground, a balance, that grey area where we believe we can express ourselves in an honest way in a safe environment that is so hard.

Whether it's displayed as either the first or the second there's always that push-pull going on. In BOTH cases they’re attached and can’t/don’t want to leave. However, in the first case the push-pull is silent. You may not see it, because it’s suppressed to an internal struggle, but it’s probably still happening. It's what I've gone through with Friend and Tech Boy most recently. I get upset, push away, but it's an internal process and I withhold my impulsive inclination to act on it. Things will be going great, until something happens, then they'll be terrible, horrible, and bad, but I don't say anything. I’ll WANT desperately to leave and never see them again, but instead I just hold it all in, storing it up. Then if our next interaction is better, it kind of ‘corrects’ the negative feelings I had previously. Until the next “bad” incident.

It's almost better to have many episodes of expressed push-pull because you could actually deal with problems as they blow up and there's a chance to get back together or work things out. When you hold everything in until it's too late to deal with, until the resentment has festered into a gaping emotional wound, all that’s left is to amputate the cause, there's no going back and the relationship has to be severed.

A lot of it comes from fear. Fear of being vulnerable, fear of rejection, fear that you will not love them the way that that they love you. So when they become closer, realize they are creeping into a more vulnerable place, they rail against the vulnerability to keep themselves safe. It doesn't actually work though. It still hurts like hell, which is why someone with BPD will pull back and return to the person they care about.


Then there’s the problem of how close do we want to let someone. There’s this weighing in our mind about whether someone is likely to hurt us or not. Whether someone should be allowed the chance. Are they are worth the investment and potential pain? Even if the answer is ‘yes’ - sometimes especially if the answer is ‘yes’ - it’s more of a reason to push someone away. We see the danger from the start and have to decide if we want to put ourselves in that position. So often we try not to let ourselves get to close from the get go and cut things off completely before they have a chance to develop into something real, something intimate, something scary. This is often what happens when you first start getting to know someone with BPD. They’re around, they’re great, things seem cool, and then they drop off the face of the Earth.

Relationships, aren’t easy. The reasons for our behaviors that go on in our heads  may not make any sense to you. Hell, they may not make any sense to us. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these things. In the moment though, all you feel is hurt, anger, pain, suffering, and that sensation is the driving force for the unconscious decision to act or not. These things aren’t generally a calculated maneuver. They’re an overwhelming feeling that we can’t control. When it feels like your world hinges on the last upsetting interaction you’ve had with someone, keeping yourself composed isn’t a consideration.

When the zombie apocalypse happens, you don’t take a step back and consider the implications of running for your life. You just do it.



So how about it? What questions do you have in terms of relationships and Borderline Personality Disorder? Is there a topic you’d like me to attempt exploring?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Push Me - Pull You : The Push-Pull Cycle


The Push-Pull cycle in Borderline Personality Disorder is complicated. There’s a million different variables that lead into and cause various episodes of this; love, fear, abandonment, dissociation, object constancy, splitting, etc. I’ve talked about the push-pull cycle, mentioned aspects of it in various places, but I don’t believe I’ve tried to pull it all together in one place. So let’s do that.

Push-Pull - is a chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without apparent cause or reason. It’s that back and forth feeling of wanting to be close to someone, letting them into a more intimate and vulnerable position in our life, being suffocated, or becoming afraid of that vulnerability, needing to escape [potentially] being hurt, fearing the loss, acting on that fear, and then desperately trying to get that person back from fear of that abandonment, often by apologizing profusely and doing everything we can to be perfect for them again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Often for me this breaks down to two key factors; wanting to be intimately close to someone, and fear of being hurt/abandoned by them at the same time. The closer you allow someone to get to you, the more vulnerable you become to the reality that they are now in a position to hurt you more than other people. If you keep people at a distance you have a safety zone, an emotional buffer. But this doesn’t allow for true intimacy.

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 me. So someone gets too close, I push away. Half the time I think it’s for their own good! I know my issues. I’ve ruminated on the millions of possibilities that could happen if someone gets close enough to see the “real me”. The illusion of perfection will be shattered in the tarnished portrait of the bad person I really am. For as much as I want love, want to love, I don’t always believe I deserve it because I know how much has happened to me, everything I’ve done, all my baggage is too much to place on another person. What right do I have to unload all of this onto someone? So pushing away really is for their own good after all. Of course I’m rationalizing, but it’s true to me regardless. But then I’m left alone, I get lonely, and I miss the closeness that was there, and I want to pull back.

For the most part I think it’s a fear response. Fear that we will be left, that we aren’t worthy of being loved, that people are lying and trying to use us… an endless list of other things. We need reassurance and it takes a lot of energy to show us that. Unfortunately it’s a part of our nature to need this. It’s also a part of our nature to feel smothered by it, push it away, fear the loss of it, frantically try to retrieve it, and repeat the cycle endlessly, for as long as someone will let us.

From my article on Baiting and Picking Fights:
There’s something else though. An element of, if the other person will allow me to push, stay with me through the hurtful things I do, it ‘proves’ that they won’t abandon me. The more we can push away, the more baits and barbs we can throw, the more fights we can pick, the longer they show that they’ll tolerate it or try to work it out with us, the more we can believe that they mean what they say and aren’t trying to deceive us … If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong. Either way we’ll know something for sure, and it stops (momentarily) the constant second guessing going on in our heads. Believing someone, trusting someone… I know I’ve been hurt so badly that I can never fully do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I just have to test the fences to be sure.

I think what triggers unstable behavior in relationships is the magnitude of intimacy. The closer the relationship, the more invested we are, the more frightening the possibility of it ending becomes. Funny, that this is almost always a self-fulfilling prophecy. We become frightened something will happen, we act in ways to push people away, to distance ourselves from them, before they can hurt us, and this very act is what starts the downward spiral into the destruction of the relationship. It sounds clean cut when you look at it like that, but it never is.



The pushing away is gradual. Often we don’t even recognize the things we do that manifest as pushing people away. Our thoughts and actions seem quite rational to our traumatized mind. No one sees it coming, not even us most of the time.

Hypersensitive to feeling trapped! This is one of the biggest triggers that makes me push away in relationships. It’s coupled by the sensation of being smothered. Boring-Ex smothered me. He’d coddle me. I would see him and I would have no room to express myself, be myself, I would lose myself because he would criticize when I did express myself. His personality was so overbearing that I could feel the air being slowly sucked out of my lungs whenever I was near him. I didn’t feel like I could be me, and the only way I knew to reestablish that was to eliminate the problem that created this deficit; the relationship. I did try talking to him about these things, but he wasn’t the kind to compromise.

That’s not to say that everything that goes on is purely in our own minds and created by our fears. Things are often brought about by how the other person treats us. I’ll do so much for people, pull people close, meet their needs and demands, and then eventually I’ll flip. I’ll be completely overwhelmed by what someone else wants when it’s not what I want. This often happens because I’ll take on so much responsibility for “our happiness” that I don’t express what I need in a constructive way. Instead, I’ll feel like I’m losing my sense of Self to their needs, not my own, that what I’ve just been doing is now too much, being taken advantage of, a demand instead of a desire, expected not appreciated and I’ll have to Push away to regain control of my own situation. It’s not quite the same as the traditional Push-Pull explanation, but the sentiments match up. It inspires feelings of resentment and resistance coupled with the borderline flipside desire to not be abandoned and needing approval. Can’t be too aggressive otherwise we’ll push people away irrevocably, can’t be too passive and just let things slide because then we’re just being taken advantage of and the resentment builds to explosion.  

A Non may have done nothing wrong, they may have unintentionally triggered us, or they may be someone that we’re afraid to get too close to because we can see the potential for an intimate relationship. Seeing the potential doesn’t mean we’re prepared to deal with it though. For me, and for many with BPD, there is a lot of abuse, a lot of hurt, a lot of pain in our past, and each new relationship is an opportunity to repeat that process. We have to move slow, emotionally. I often move fast physically to stave off the emotional intimacy that I really need. When I sense things getting too close, closer than I prepared to handle, I need to reestablish a safe zone, I push back. Sometimes this just means taking some space, sometimes it manifests as baiting and picking fights, sometimes it means dropping off the radar completely until I’m ready to rejoin humanity. What I want is to be close, but not too close. I can’t figure out how to do this without pushing away and pulling closer. Allowing someone in, and then forcing them back out.

How do you cultivate trust when you’ve been so wounded? How do you cultivate trust when you don’t actually know how to trust?
Finally, this also happens when we plain just don’t want to be with someone anymore. I’m not going to lie. This is exactly what happened with Boring-Ex. I wasn’t attracted to him when we were together. The only time I was attracted to him was when we were breaking up. I absolutely believe this was because I was more afraid of The Loss and not necessarily the loss of him.  So I would pull him back to me, despite the fact that I knew deep down that I didn’t really want to be with him. It still FELT like I did. In the moment I absolutely believed I needed to be with him. It was the fear of that loss that triggered my need to pull him back to me though.
The Push-Pull cycle is insidious. It sneaks up on you. Neither person may notice it at first because it begins so small. Only once it escalates do you really realize what is happening.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline



If I can't touch you, how can I be sure you're real? If I can't feel what you feel, how do I know you mean it?


Monday, March 5, 2012

Apart


A Film by Aaron Rottinghaus
Recently I was contacted about a soon to be released movie and frankly, I’m intrigued. I think you might be as well.  
The film is called APART, and is the journey of the tragically star-crossed Noah and Emily who are linked by a rare psychological disorder classified as ICD-10 F24, Madness of Two. Drawing from actual case history, this richly evocative and unsettling mystery holds a love story that will haunt you long after the final scene.  APART stars Olesya Rulin (High School Musical), Josh Danziger, Joey Lauren Adams (Big Daddy, Chasing Amy) and Bruce McGill (Collateral, Law Abiding Citizen), and will be in select theaters, On Demand nationwide and on iTunes, starting March 9th. 
About the Film:
Noah Greene (Josh Danziger) awakens from a two-year coma. His memories are hazy; even as he rehabilitates himself, he remains lost in his own life. His inquiries into how he arrived at his condition are vague and evasive. Best not to dwell on them, he’s told. Focus on the future. He’s got his whole life ahead of him.

But the pull of the past is inexorable, and as Noah digs deeper into his half-remembered life, he is forced to confront the suspicions of those around him, as well as a pair of shattering tragedies that both bind him to and drive him away from the girl he loves. The first of these – a school bus accident when they were young children – has forever connected him to his playmate Emily Gates (Olesya Rulin). The result of the accident is a rare disorder called folie à deux (referred to as ICD-10, F.24), where the traumatized Emily suffers disturbing and precognitive visions for the rest of her life – visions which Noah also experiences, but only in proximity to Emily.

(Folie á deux – literally means a madness shared by two – while uncommon, is an actual psychological condition, with cases recorded as far back as the 19th Century. The nature of the disorder at the center of APART is based on actual case study)

As Noah returns to his hometown, determined to discover the cause of his injury and memory loss, he re-connects with Emily – still as luminously beautiful as she was in high school, but damaged and lost, cut off from her family, and only sporadically taking the medication she requires to keep her horrifying visions in check. Together, Noah pieces together the nature of the relationship they enjoyed as  teenagers: warm, familiar, achingly tender… a closeness that should have blossomed into romance, save for the catastrophes of the past.

Gradually, the night that changed their lives comes into focus: A football game. A party. A rival for Emily’s affections. A bereaved and vengeful parent. A fire. But how do the pieces fit together? What was real, and what may have been a dangerously shared delusion? When the truth is revealed, it will change Noah’s and Emily’s lives once again, leaving them desperately hoping their rediscovered love might survive, and terrified that it may be doomed forever. In the end, only one choice will save them.

This film promises to look at two people dealing with a rare condition in a very visceral way.  From what I’ve seen in the content of this film so far, I have high hopes that they will portray something in a way that is very true and meaningful to how two people might actually experience this phenomena. I for one, am excited to see how they pull it off.
Check out the trailer:
 

You can also visit the Official website @ www.madnessoftwo.com

True to my usual form I looked up a little about this disorder. I’ve never heard of it before but I’m fascinated. Madness of Two is a shared psychosis and is also known as Induced Delusional Disorder in the ICD-10 or Shared Psychotic Syndrome in the DSM-IV.
F24 Induced Delusional Disorder
A rare delusional disorder shared by two or occasionally more people with close emotional links. Only one person suffers from a genuine psychotic disorder; the delusions are induced in the other(s) and usually disappear when the people are separated. The psychotic illness of the dominant person is most commonly schizophrenic, but this is not necessarily or invariably so. Both the original delusions in the dominant person and the induced delusions are usually chronic and either persecutory or grandiose in nature. Delusional beliefs are transmitted this way only in uncommon circumstances. Almost invariably, the people concerned have an unusually close relationship and are isolated from others by language, culture, or geography. The individual in whom the delusions are induced is usually dependent on or subservient to the person with the genuine psychosis.
Diagnostic Guidelines
A diagnosis of induced delusional disorder should be made only if:
(a) two or more people share the same delusion or delusional system and support one another in this belief;
(b) they have an unusually close relationship of the kind described above;
(c) there is temporal or other contextual evidence that the delusion was induced in the passive member(s) of the pair or group by contact with the active member.

I encourage you to check out this movie and share your thoughts. I hope the portrayal is as meaningful as it seems to be. The reality of mental illness is very difficult for those not suffering with it to understand, so the prospect that someone could demonstrate it in a way that is understandable and moving would be something to commend.
March 9th. Save the date.
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