Friday, May 4, 2012

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy - Frustration in Therapy

Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th, be with you ;) I'm a geek. It's ok. I know. What a stormy day. Literally. Not emotionally stormy. Though it kind of was yesterday.

Really I was just hung over and under rested = moody. Therapist was frustrating the heck out of me though.
She asked me how things with Tech Boy are going. When I replied with ‘fine’ she immediately jumped on the fact that I didn’t seem enthused. I definitely got a little snippy with my response of,  yeah, I don’t feel well and I’m exhausted, I’m not very enthusiastic about anything right now.
Question mark.
She kept asking me whether I felt like we were getting closer? Developing more of an emotional bond? I don’t fucking know. Unless he’s in the same goddamn room as me or actively texting me or something I’m not sure I even exist in his world anymore. In the moments we’re together I’m happy and I really enjoy being with him, but as soon as he’s gone it’s often like he’s no longer in my life. I can’t hold onto how I feel for long. And the fact that we haven’t had a chance to see each other as much lately hasn’t been helping the fact. We went out Friday night, had a wonderful time, he stayed over, woke up with him… absolutely wonderfully happy. It felt fantastic. By yesterday, I’m not so sure anymore. I remember that I felt that way, and I can recall a glimmer of what that felt like, which is good for me, but I don’t know.
She asked me if he felt an emotional attachment to me? If he loved me?  How the hell would I know? When it comes to figuring out how other people feel towards things external to me, what other people want and need, I’m really good at it. When it comes to figuring out how people feel about me? I have a tragically misconstrued perception of what goes on.
That’s why I always choose people that are so bad for me. Maybe not the only reason, but some of it.
Therapist wanted to validate my sense of perception. She says I’m very adept at understanding what other people need and filling that need. I see a hole in someone’s life and without even thinking about it I can be exactly what it is they need. She says I’m a wonderfully caring and nurturing friend. She asked me if I see that I’m a nurturing person. Again, I don’t know. I feel like I do what I know I need to do sometimes. Other times I do genuinely want to do things for other people though. So maybe. Sometimes. She says that everytime she sees me she thinks about how giving and caring I am. What a wonderful attribute it is. I don’t feel that way though. I feel cold, distant, closed off. Separate. Other.
She says maybe that’s why Tech Boy isn’t responding to me more intimately. He may be picking up on the idea that I seem closed off in some ways. So he is guarding himself and remaining not fully available. What I hear, is that it’s my fault he’s not in love with me and that our relationships isn’t at an emotionally deeper level. Does she think I don’t know that?
At which point my frustration got the better of me and I snapped at her a bit. Why do we have to be in love? Why can’t we just be enjoying whatever the hell it is that we’re doing? Why does it have to be more than what it is?
No, I don’t feel like I can completely be myself with him. He and I think differently. I have a very creative and quirky mind, he’s very down to earth and rational. We talk about tons of stuff and I’m never bored with him, but he also doesn’t challenge me or bring out my creativity. Am I supposed to decide now if that means he’s long term material or just a transitional relationship? Why do I have to?
Therapist was very intent on understanding my feelings for him and how they’ve differed from other people. Is my connection with him similar to what I had with say, Friend? Close? Very different? Yes, it’s very different. With Friend my connection to him was almost instantaneous. From the moment we started talking regularly our minds and imaginations were in sync. We could talk about anything and everything and be as wildly silly or serious as we wanted to be. I never felt judged, or like he wouldn’t understand what I was talking about because he’d been through so much of what I have been. That intellectual and creative interest is what really sparked that intense emotional intimacy between us. I don’t have that same thing with Tech Boy.
Therapist recognizes this is true but she wants me to keep in mind that it doesn’t mean he’s not good for me. True. He treats me well, he’s been wonderful to me, he wants to be with me, I just, I don’t know.
Those are the things that Therapist wants me to keep in mind. Those things, along with the attractive spark is what a healthy relationships should be. Those things that I have with Tech Boy, I never had with Friend. She believes Friend completely took advantage of our emotional intimacy. He had a big gaping hole in his heart and in his life where his wife was abusing him, but instead of working on their problems, he let me fill that gap instead. I was there to give him the caring, love, and support he wasn’t getting from his wife. In his selfishness he took advantage of the fact that I could be what he needed, but wasn’t getting. But he never looked out for me. He never paid attention to how I was feeling or how our relationship would affect me. Instead of seeing how close and attached I was and recognizing that it was moving to a level beyond just friendship, and stopping it, he continued to take, and take from me. Instead of shielding me from being hurt, he abandoned me when things changed. He never had any intentions of leaving his wife (which I never expected of him – I really think Therapist doesn’t understand what was going on with this sometimes), but he always lead me to believe that he had a polyamorous approach to love and that he could love in a capacity that was not limited to one person. But not me, I guess. He manipulated how I felt to fulfill his own needs, until it was no longer conducive to the life he needed to lead. He didn’t care enough to not hurt me.
Which definitely does not seem to be a problem with Tech Boy. We’ve had one incident and he was more upset about it than I was.
Amusingly, Therapist thinks we might not have enough conflict in our relationship. I had made a comment that I probably wouldn’t know just how strongly I felt about him until the relationship was about to end. If it were to end. I always feel stronger about people when there is conflict. Which is probably why I was so attached to The One, and Evil-Ex, and yeah, even Friend. Those relationships were in constant conflict with what I needed. Which also, isn’t healthy.
Friend was not right for me. He said he cared, but his actions showed otherwise. Tech Boy doesn’t really talk about his feelings, but I feel cared for when he’s with me.
She went on a complete rant about Friend. She thinks a lot of the reason I’m unable to open up and be vulnerable and need Tech Boy is because of the abandonment trauma I just experienced with Friend. I wish she had known me longer. I wish I had had longer, continuous therapy with one therapist so that she could understand that all of this is not just the result of Friend.
I mean, he didn’t rape me, or try to kill me, so comparatively speaking he wasn’t the worst person I’ve been involved with. How sad is it that, that is my standard of measurement? Yeesh.
Yes, Friend is a jerk, which is why we’re no longer friends. He was cold and indifferent to me when finally faced with what he was doing to me and instead of talking to me, and at the bare minimum being considerate of my feelings; he said it was too much effort to discuss. The only time we’ve ever had direct conflict and it’s too much. But me having to deal with his constant stream of issues and his wife’s overwhelming bullshit is just par for the course? Asshat.
I KNOW my choice in companions is flawed. ::sigh:: Which I suppose is why Therapist is trying to get me to see things that are more healthy, things that I have now. She made me talk through a sheet of “Questions to ask yourself throughout your relationship” in regards to Tech Boy. She said she’d give me a copy of it next week. I’ll post them then. That’s when she brought up the idea that there might not be enough conflict between us. We’ve had one conflict. One. And it brought us closer, despite my fear that it would drive him away. But otherwise, he’s so laid back, and I’m so self-reliant we just don’t have anything to fight about. And, get this, I don’t want to just cause conflict. That doesn’t sound like a good idea either. But she wants me to make more of an effort to be true to who I am.
She wonders if I do certain things because I like them, or if it’s because other people need them. If the latter is the case, then I may not know who I really am. Who my true self is. Especially not in relation to other people. I think it’s a bit of a mix. I have a very strong personality. I know what I like, but I also adapt to what others like/want/need as well. If someone wants something that is in too much opposition to what I value, than no, I won’t bend. But if it’s something that I don’t have strong feelings about, I’m likely to pick it up for their sake, not mine. I think people in general do a lot of this.
I was so tired, and so frustrated by the end of the session. Therapist actually hugged me. She doesn’t do it often, but apparently she felt I needed a hug. She was probably right.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Random Check In....

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all have had a pleasant and uneventful evening. Is it strange that I hope for merely uneventful? I just wanted to check it. Myself and un-topic-ed. I feel like I've been distant. Even in my posts. I have been so much going on at work, in my personal life, by the time I get home at night I just want to crash. Not look at my computer. I'm  not neglecting you, I swear. It may take me a little longer to respond to e-mail, comments, tweets, whatever, but I will I promise. You have no idea how much I appreciate hearing from you, hearing your comments, receiving your e-mails. It means a lot to me and I thank you.


Living with self-injury

"To be nobody-but-myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." -- ee cummings
“As much as we'd like it to be, self-injury isn't something that can be tucked away in a little corner of your life where it doesn't touch anything else. Even after you've stopped, it continues to affect who you are and how you interact with people. Scars fade but never disappear entirely. Feelings of alienation may subside but still lurk in the background. If you're still actively hurting yourself, life gets even more complicated.”

Even on my good days when I don’t actively think about self-harm, it is forever present in my life.
First, I don’t exactly know how to stop the intrusive thoughts of self-harm. The thing that has worked best for me, is to identify the triggers that make me want to self-harm and work on those issues in therapy until they no longer have such control over my mind and my emotions. It hasn’t destroyed all thoughts of self-harm forever for me, but something that I never thought would happen… has. I have days, weeks, even months where I no longer think about injuring myself for purposes of self-injury. Some people might argue tattoos, piercing, sky diving, whatever could put me in harms way, but I don’t go into any of that stuff because I’ve been triggered or need to control some aspect of my life. It’s amazing to me. I’ve been self-harming, in some way, since I was 12/13 years old. I think about it, Every. Single. Day. of my life. These thoughts are intrusive, invasive, pervasive, and sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere! It’s maddening. Other days they are small thoughts, like a voice whispering in the back of my mind that those scissors are over there if I need them. Others I want to grab my favorite pocket knife and pull it across my flesh as hard as I can. I’m very used to these thoughts. They’re like the annoying neighbor child that you don’t really want to hang out with because he always gets you in trouble but you can’t avoid because he’s right there.  It’s an odd thing to think about hurting yourself every day. I know it’s difficult for people that don’t do it to really wrap their head around it too. For me, I never thought I’d be rid of these thoughts. Even though I am currently rid of the self-harming behavior. Miraculously. I was wrong. Not that they don’t come back or pop into the fore of my thoughts from time to time, but I’ve gone months without having self-injurious thoughts! Months! It was kind of a shock to realize that I wasn’t thinking about it all the time. I didn’t even notice. Which is good. It means I’m healing.
When I first noticed it was many, many months after my last cut. I’m here today, 17  months SI free, and still I think about it sometimes. It’s important to remember that this is a deeply ingrained probably. Like alcoholism. Just because you have stopped the behavior, doesn’t mean it doesn’t still affect your life. It can be a constant struggle to not pick up the knife. Even when it’s not a struggle, it can still be present. Looming. Waiting. Ready to sneak into your consciousness when you’re defenses are down. It’s something that I/we are constantly aware of and have to constantly ward against.
Hell. I’ll be honest, because that’s what I do here. I’m writing about this stuff because it’s an important issue, but at the same time it is very triggering for me. I can’t write about this topic and not think about what it means to me, has meant to me, and there are parts of me that miss it.
I think this is normal for people like me. Keeping in mind that “normal” is relative and does not mean healthy.
Having these thoughts is an indication that something is wrong. It’s important to acknowledge them, but not to let them take over. Give them their voice and try to understand where they are coming from. Acting on these thoughts in a self-injurious way doesn’t solve the problem (though it may feel better in the moment), it just delays the issue, but allows for it to come back. These thoughts and feelings tend to keep coming back until you figure out what these thoughts are really trying to express and you take action to deal with the heart of the problem. Band-aids on a bullet wound don’t do so much, yanno?
Fortunately I’ve reached this point. And even when there are days that I don’t think about it, as I mentioned before, there’s no escaping the impact that self-harm has had on my life. When I cut, or burn, I go deep. I scar. I’m reminded of it all the time. You can’t tell yourself that it’s just a temporary problem, well, you can, but the reality is that it doesn’t disappear so easily. You can tell yourself that in the future you won’t ever have this as part of your life anymore. You may not have the active coping mechanism, but it’s very likely that you’ll always have a few reminders. Those reminders might make it hard to move on. Make it hard to forget when you no longer need to hold on.
It’s something to keep in mind.
It’s not something to be ashamed of though. I love my scars. It’s very, very rare that they cause me uncomfortable feelings in some situation. They’re a reminder that I have the strength to make it through things that I didn’t think I’d be able to. They mean a lot to me. I appreciate them. Therapist doesn’t really understand why I like my scars, but they mean something to me. It’s okay. They mean I’m okay. That I can remain okay.
They’re always there to remind me.

However! And this is important. They are no longer my first impulse. They are no longer difficult to dismiss. They no longer have control of me.
There are a lot of things that people living with self-injury and mental health issues have to deal with that others do not. Over the next few days I want to talk those things; about telling others, how to handle intrusive questions, wound healing and hiding, reactions, and whatever else pops into my head.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline

“People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind. The same as the stories they tell. We trap ourselves.”

                        ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Haunted

Monday, April 30, 2012

Is it really Self-Harm?

It may seem like a funny question, but not everyone knows if what they do is self-harm. Some things like pulling out individual hair or chewing on your fingers until they bleed might just seem like a ‘bad habit’, but it could actually be more.

So some good questions to ask yourself are:
1.       Do you deliberately cause physical harm to yourself to the extent of causing tissue damage (breaking the skin, bruising, pain, leaving marks that last for more than an hour)?
2.       Do you cause this harm to yourself as a way of dealing with unpleasant or overwhelming emotions, thoughts, or situations (including dissociation)?
3.       If your self-harm is not compulsive, do you often think about SI even when you're relatively calm and not doing it at the moment?
If you answer #1 and #2 yes, you are a self-injurer. If you answer #3 yes, you are most likely a repetitive self-injurer. The way you choose to hurt yourself could be cutting, hitting, burning, scratching, skin-picking, banging your head, breaking bones, not letting wounds heal, and so on. You might do several of these or something entirely different. How you injure yourself isn't as important as recognizing that you do and what it means in your life. [source]
Something that I would also pay attention to.
Do you make excuses or lie about the behavior when asked about it? Does something feel normal or okay when you’re doing it, but having to explain it to someone feel wrong?
I know what I do/did is self-injury. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve always been honest about it. I’m almost always honest about it with people that know me, but I don’t always feel it’s appropriate or necessary (or frankly, any of their damn business) to explain to strangers so I make shit up. It’s easy to say I got scratched by the cat. I know this is typical of a lot of people. My favorite responses are, “Oh, the trials of a misspent you,” or “Angry puppy”. If you know where either of those references are from, you get bonus points. When I was younger I was much less careful or uniform about my cutting so I would have my forearms covered. I often wore long sleeves to cover it up but if someone noticed I’d blame it on a skateboarding wipeout on gravel or something similar. I got creative. But if you’re not sure if what you do is self-harm, and you find yourself explaining away your behavior or injuries as something else, ask yourself why. Do you feel shame about it? Are you afraid people won’t understand? Are you even able to pinpoint the emotional reasons you have for doing what you do?
If any of these questions are setting off red flags in your mind, you may need to take a deeper look at the intentions behind your behaviors.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Moving on… just not yet.

I can always tell when Roommate is going to bring up moving out.


“Oh, so  I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Uh, oh.”
“I don’t think it’s really an ‘uh-oh’ kind of thing.”

Roommate will be moving out. She first mentioned it about 6 months ago. Around this time is when she expected to be leaving. As it turns out, she has found a place, but she won’t be moving in until July.

That’s 2-3 more months! Very good news. She wanted to make sure I hadn’t found a new roomie yet to make sure that she wouldn’t be screwing up a potential move in date. Nope. I haven’t even considered looking for a replacement yet. I hate the idea of having to do that, even though I know I’m going to have to eventually. I’m putting it off as long as possible.

We had a really nice talk about helping her get moved in, decorating, and all that jazz. < ---- I can’t say this without hearing Liza in my head. Ugh. At the end of the conversation she said something along the lines of, “And I’m hoping that it’ll actually make us closer and motivate us to go out and do more things together…” At first I didn’t even realize she was talking about me. I thought she was talking about her boyfriend for a split second, because who would want to be closer to me, and then, Oh, me? Yes, me too. Especially in the last couple months we’ve been spending more time together, but I’ve still been having a hard time going out to public venues. Lately that’s been changing and I’m ecstatic about it. Even at the apartment we’ve been hanging out more, watching T.V. or movies together more, doing Sunday dinners with her boyfriend, it’s been really great. I’ve even been motivating off my butt to put on pretty clothes so we can get out on the town! Crazy!

It was just really wonderful to hear an unprompted: I know I’m going to be moving out, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving you. In fact I hope it means we become even closer and go out and do more things together. I want you in my life.

It makes dealing with the transition a lot easier. Especially when she says things like this and then we do actually hang out more. It’s like, holy crap, people do actually mean what they say!

I always worry about feeling like I’m imposing on people or that they really don’t want my company. Roommate, her boyfriend, and I had plans to go out last Saturday. After some rearranging we managed to get a wonderful evening pulled together. I was sitting in the car with her boyfriend talking about how stoked we were for the evening and he told me he was glad I was coming out. It made me smile. I told him I feel like a drag sometimes when I can’t bring myself to go out, but I just have times when I can’t make it out into the public eye, I can’t deal with the eyes, or people looking at me. I’ve been feeling better though, better about myself, and I’m really excited to be in a mental space that let’s me go out and actually enjoy the people that I like spending time with.

He surprised me a lot. I’ve only known him for a little over a year, yet he responded that he could definitely tell that I’ve been feeling better lately. And he’s seen the changes in me and my happiness over the time he’s known me. On top of that, he considers me one of his best friends and someone he really appreciates spending time with. I like Roommates boyfriend a lot, he’s a great guy and treats her very well, but I never thought that he considered me a friend, let alone one of his better ones. I guess I just figured I was the roommate, and while yes, we hang out and talk and watch movies and stuff all the time, I just sort of feel removed. He’s hers. I’m on the sidelines. Not a part of it. I guess I was wrong. There are definitely times I like being wrong.

Roommate had come back to join us by this point and the three of us were all sappy and sentimental. The boyfriend was saying how even though she’ll be moving, we still have to go out all the time, and do our weekly Sunday dinners and everything. We’d all be incredibly upset if those things stopped.

And then we went on to have a really wonderful evening with another buddy of ours. The conversations were very validating and really helped ease my fears of losing touch with Roommate when she moves. Living with her has been wonderful for me. I’ll be sad when she does move, but I don’t think it will be debilitating. In fact, I’m already feeling happy for her and glad that she’s moving on to the next good stage of her life.

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