Friday, May 18, 2012

Internalizing and Borderline Personality Disorder

Happy Friday!  Made it through another week. I thought I’d talk about something a bit more mellow today. I mention it a lot but I’m not sure I’ve ever explained what it is.
What exactly does it mean when you internalize someone or someone else’s actions?
In developmental psychology, internalization is the process through which social interactions become part of the a persons mental functions, i.e., after having experienced an interaction with someone else that person subsequently experiences the same interaction within him/herself and makes it a part of their understanding of interactions with others in general.

Well that’s fine and dandy, but what does it mean?
I break this down to two different aspects. Internalizing someone/a relationship or internalizing behaviors
There's a place for you in my heart
To internalize someone means the relationship you have with them feels real to you. When you can see, recognize, and connect those outer experiences you have with someone, the relationship you have with them, to your inner feelings and hold onto them, that’s internalization. It’s making an experience, a relationship, real to you in both your mind and your emotions.
For example: My relationship with Roommate. I’m just now starting to internalize her. I’ve known her for years. We’ve been living together for the past 2+ years. Cognitively I know we are friends, we are there for each other, hang out, talk… but I’ve always had this emotional distance and disconnect when it comes to believing we have a relationship that won’t just spontaneously disappear. Like a surface hologram that you can see but can’t touch. Internalizing our relationship has made our friendship something 3-dimensional that I can actually hold onto. I know that even when she moves, we will still be a part of each other’s lives because I can feel her presence on a deep emotional level.  
It’s accepting something but also believing it. In that belief is the knowledge that there is something that has an aspect of permanence. I can feel it like a small swelling in my heart.
By extension, for me, the lack of internalization is recognizing that the feelings I have for someone are fleeting. I may really like someone, I may know that all our actions and interactions point towards a label of friendship, I may enjoy spending time with them, and genuinely enjoy their company when we are in each other’s presence…. But without being able to internalize them there’s no emotional reassurance that they’ll continue to be a part of my life experience. There are definite aspects of lacking object constancy going on here.
When you are able to internalize someone or something, it’s the opposite. It’s being able to form that object permanence. It’s knowing that they are a real and important part of your life in a way that is more than merely cognitive. It’s true. I’ve made our relationship a part of who I am in a way that isn’t dissociated, it’s connected.

To internalize behaviors is a slightly different thing. This meaning has to do with Acting In. When you turn your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts inward, that’s internalizing. When you take the behaviors, feelings, words, and actions of someone else, and interpret those things as if they were all directed at you, take what they say or do to heart, make those emotional connections a part of yourself, this is also internalizing. This is a destructive form of internalizing. Often those of us with BPD do this. Being hypersensitive to how people are, we can read too much, empathize too much, and take on the pain, anger, or hurt of others as our own. Or interpret it as if it’s directed at us in a way that causes us distressing emotions. This often leads to feelings of shame, misunderstanding, anger, and fear.  It’s believing something is our fault even when it isn’t, with a conviction that often leads to us taking some kind of physical or emotional action on it. Cutting as punishment, berating ourselves for not being perfect, criticizing what we did or didn’t do to be exactly what they “needed”, etc.  When you turn your feelings in on yourself, that’s internalizing.
Bottling up and letting everything implode in on you.
For Example: When your boyfriend comes home from work, quiet and brooding, and it feels like maybe it’s your fault so you have to make up for it, when in reality it could just have been because of an annoying co-worker or a douchebag boss. That spark of panic wells up in your chest as you frantically try to figure out what you did and if you can fix it, or that shock of anger when you know you didn’t do anything to deserve his mood. Sometimes you even know that his mood is due to something else but it still FEELS like it’s your problem. And instead of letting those feelings go, being able to release them in a productive way, they harbor inside you and stew.

Internalizing isn’t always negative and it is quite natural. It is how people learn social norms. When you see how people around you act, and this is what you come to understand is “normal” and acting this way becomes your norm without conscious thought, those are internalized actions.

I talk about internalizing people a lot because I have a very difficult time connecting to people. Much of this is due to my dissociative defense mechanisms. I can’t trust people because of all the trauma I’ve suffered.  One of the ways I know I’m making in progress in therapy is that I can feel connected to people, even in their absence. I’m still in sort of the beginning stages of being able to do this with some people, but I’m getting there.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Does Borderline Personality Disorder improve with Age?

Does BPD ever get better? Will everything always be the devastation and earth shattering crisis that it seemed to be in my teens and 20’s?
This is your brain on therapy.    This is your brain on its own.
Any Questions?
Yes, it does/can get better. No, things do not always have to be this way. This is based entirely on the individual though. 
I’ve received correspondence from many people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that still suffer with the more intense problems of Borderline Personality Disorder. These are often people that haven’t received any help, sufficient treatment, or had trouble acquiring any kind of treatment or support at all.
From my experience I can’t say that Borderline Personality Disorder will just spontaneously get better on its own. Over time the severity of symptoms is likely to diminish but they may not go away entirely. I think this is due, in part, to life experience. When a person reaches a certain age, by virtue of experience and having lived through so many situations they can recognize that all the traumatic feelings that they experience are feelings they’ve had before, and despite how they feel, see the pattern that things don’t turn out as terribly as they feared, or that they are in fact, capable of coping with the results of what do happen.
Then there’s also the fact that the human body and psyche can only handle so much. It can only deal with so much constant bombardment of adrenaline boosting anxiety and pain before it starts to wear down. Or build up a tolerance. When you’ve been exposed to something for so long, the body adapts. It’s a basic principle of existence. Adapt or die.
Constantly fighting the pain, tears, and trauma is exhausting. Eventually the body builds up a little tolerance to all the things that create such distress and while things may still cause anxiety and panic, the intensity of those emotions no longer reaches the same heights. The body, the mind, the spirit… gets tired. And tougher.
Like scar tissue for the mind. It’s not to say that the pain won’t eventually come through, but it doesn’t penetrate quite as easily. Which still doesn’t sound incredibly encouraging.
However!  That’s the theory for those with BPD that have never accepted or found support or tried to work through the disordered thinking that we have to deal with. The odds of having your Borderline Personality Disorder improve rises drastically and dramatically when you are able to admit there is a problem, seek help, support, and/or therapy, and actively work to tame the wild beast that is the  Borderline Personality. 
You don’t have to tell me that this is easier said than done. You don’t have to tell me that there are times when therapy feels futile and it seems like nothing will ever improve. Trust me, I’ve been there. I still have those days. But those feelings pass. You’re kind of on this journey with me. I still have my bad days. I have a lot of my bad days. But I have many more good days as well. Days without panic, without anxiety, without depression. Days with happiness! Or just contentment. Those feelings are so foreign to me that it’s hard for me to recognize them at first. By the simple fact that I have had days like that, days where my world wasn’t shrouded in darkness, proves to me that even though things may not be perfect, things most certainly can get better.
The choice is yours. That’s the important thing to remember. Blaming our parents, blaming our exes, blaming the world around us, regardless of whether or not our circumstances are our fault, does not help. I certainly blamed my Evil-Ex for the years of trauma and unhappiness I had to deal with when I was with him. But blaming him isn’t going to make my situation better. Blaming him isn’t going to suddenly make him take it all back and try to fix my life for me. That’s never going to happen. It wasn’t fair, but life usually isn’t. The only one that can decide to make my life better, is me. It sucks that things have to be so hard. It’s a shitty hand to be dealt, but it’s the only hand we have. We can let the murk mire us in thoughts of self-pity, blame, and loathing… perpetuating a cycle of dismal depression and anxiety, or we can decide to make a change.
In time, things may get a little better on their own, but frankly, I’m sick of waiting, and I don’t have a lot of faith that the world is suddenly going to smile on me and decide that I’ve dealt with enough shit for one person already. Borderline Personality Disorder can absolutely improve with age, but the amount of improvement is directly proportional to the amount of effort you are willing to put forth.
I’ve seen  a lot of “studies” and read a lot of testimony from therapists and social workers that say in X amount of years they’ve never seen improvement for BPD. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that these people probably were not skilled or trained in the very recent developments that create real change for those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Therapists/clinicians are people too, and certain types of people are simply not equipped to deal with someone that can be more difficult to pinpoint their problems. That’s why we have specialized therapy now. Major, MAJOR, strides have been made in therapy specifically meant for us. Don’t let these limited perspectives discourage you. They usually don’t have the kind of knowledge or experience to give an inclusive opinion.

The other thing that I’ve noticed people focus on is the distinction between what improves. Many say the ‘symptoms’ of BPD often improve; the self-harm, the suicidal ideation, the paranoia, impulsivity… but how about the instability in relationships? That’s a different kind of symptom. That first group of symptoms are internal to the one person suffering with BPD. However, relationships take two. It seems more broadly agreed upon while the individuals symptoms may improve, things like abandonment  and dependency issues are longer lasting. Again, this is all dependent on the individual, what kind of help they seek, and how much effort they put into their own recovery.
I can’t promise that all symptoms of BPD will eventually go away. I can’t promise that everything will one day be healed and no longer any issue at all, even with therapy and dedication. I can say that I am entirely optimistic that these things can all become manageable and not the monsters we know them to be.
BPD is not something that is going to get better in days, weeks or months. Hell, even years may be an estimate that is too conservative. I’m going on a year and a half of intense therapy and medication and I’m far from ‘recovered’, but my Therapist tells me every week that she can see improvements. What’s more though, is I FEEL better.
Without acknowledging the issue that is BPD there may be little to no improvement for decades. Even with active acknowledgement and intense effort improvement can take years. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but I do mean to be realistic. You know me. I don’t sugar coat anything. That’s not why I do this. Think about this: In a world where it is now common to live into our 80’s and 90’s, isn’t taking a year or two to really focus on ourselves, worth it? If we can have 40, 50, 60 years of living that is more content and happy than what we currently know, isn’t the long term pay off worth the struggle and introspection? 
Taking care of our mental health is no different than taking care of our physical health. If you eat nothing but junk food, load up on soda, and smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day your body is going to be pissed and reward you with a heart attack by the time you’re 40. If you eat healthy, exercise, get a good amount of sleep and don’t abuse your body… in other words; work on taking care of yourself, your odds of living a long and productive life vastly improve.
Whether Borderline Personality Disorder improves or worsens with age, is up to you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May is Borderline Personality Awareness Month

Did you know that the month of May is Borderline Personality Awareness Month?  I didn’t either. Now you do! And this isn’t new either. This month won Congressional approval for BPD awareness in 2008!

Ranking Member Davis Hails Passage
of Borderline Personality Disorder Legislation
Measures to Strengthen D.C. Court System Also Gain
WASHINGTON, D.C. Rep. Tom Davis, R-VA., Ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today thanked his colleagues for approving legislation he introduced to increase awareness of Borderline Personality Disorder.

BPD afflicts 3 million Americans and accounts for a fifth of those admitted to psychiatric hospitals. The disease, which prevents victims for managing emotions effectively, leads to impulsivity, mood swings, rage, bodily self harm, chaotic relationships and fear of abandonment. BPD victims commit suicide at 400 times the rate of the general public.

The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder designates May as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. Davis
 resolution, which passed 414-0, supports this designation.

I’m really glad this disorder is finally being given some real recognition. As all of you that follow me know, I believe raising awareness and providing real information and understanding about Borderline Personality Disorder is incredibly important. Without understanding, healing is difficult. The more recognition this disorder is given, the more scientific attention and resources will be dedicated to understanding the underlying causes and providing proper treatment.

So Cheers, things may be hard now, but they can keep getting better.

I have a whole line-up of interesting topics to delve into and explore as well. Thanks for joining me and I hope I’ve provided some help, if even in only a small way.

How to Stop Self-Harm

We’ve reached the final installment of our self-harm series : How to stop self-harming.  I’ve found some good guidelines and some distraction techniques that I thought I’d share.
Step1:  Admit you have a problem. It’s the same step in every form of battling addiction, and you are addicted, admitting it just helps you realize you need something to help you. If your one of those people who think, “I don’t need anyone’s help. I can take care of myself.” You’re wrong. Everyone needs someone’s help at one point in their lives, and if you’re battling this devastating addiction, your time is now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it for 2 weeks, or 2 years. You have to stop before it comes to the point that you really hurt yourself. After will be too late.
Step 2: Think positively. You don’t have to run through the streets saying, “My life is AMAZING!!!” but you do have to change your thinking. It won’t happen overnight, don’t expect it to. It’ll happen slowly, but it will happen if you let it. Start by doing small things, like, whenever you feel negative, think of every single positive part of it. You might have to really think, but in every bad situation there are good things to come out of it. Chances are if you have a problem with self-harming, you have a self-esteem problem. The main thing to do to fix that is really simple. Like thinking positively, it takes a while to happen, but if you do something simple like stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself “I’m beautiful.” Every day, it’ll help. Every time you think of something bad about yourself, counteract it with a good thing, even if you have to come up with something that feels silly like “I have cool shoes.”
Ok, here’s my problem. Being positive is very important. Fixing a self-esteem problem is in NO WAY simple but it can be done as long as you take control of your attitude. I only mention this because I don’t want you to think that if you can’t change the way you think about yourself right away than you must be doing something wrong. Especially for those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder how we think is wired a little differently and these things can take a little more effort.
Step 3: Find coping skills. Some examples of healthy coping skills are, listening to music, writing, reading, drawing, taking a shower/bath, hugging a stuffed animal or blanket, playing a game, talking to people, and running your hand through something calming, like sand or rice. Self-harm is a type of coping skill, but it’s unhealthy. Find things to occupy your mind, so that you don’t think about it. When you DO think about it, find things to get your mind off of it. Writing is a really good coping skill, because it helps release your feelings or wanting to self-harm, and the longer and more emotional your writing is, the more stress you’ll get out, which lessons your desire to self-harm. If you put your coping skill into effect and still want to self-harm, the best possible thing you can do is ask for support.
Step 4: Tell someone. You don’t have to go on Facebook and say, “Hey, I hurt myself.” But you should tell someone you trust, preferable an adult, like your parents or teacher (or any other adult), but even telling a friend is a huge step up. When you feel the urge to self-harm, the best thing you can do is tell someone you feel that way. Telling someone about your problem can be an extremely hard thing to do, especially if you’ve gone months or years without anyone knowing about it, but it’s the BEST thing you can do if you want to stop.
Keep in mind the things I wrote previously about Coming Out aboutSelf-Harm.
 Step 5: Believe in yourself. If you don't have faith in yourself that you can do it, then it'll be a lot harder to stop. Don't kid yourself and think that it will happen overnight, but don't be negative Nancy and think that you'll never be able to stop. Addiction is a monster, a big scary monster that a lot of people face, but every monster has its weakness. If you think positively and have faith in yourself, little things like that will slowly rip the monster to shreds, until it's just a memory that left a few scars. Once you stop self-harming, you'll feel and think much better. Believe that others care about you, and care about yourself. You can stop- just have faith in yourself.
Here’s a list of things you can do to distract yourself, other things you can do to cope. Some of them are kind of silly, but hey, if it works for you, then it’s really not all that silly at all. When you feel in danger of self-harming try at least a few of these things to get through those times before allowing yourself to take more drastic measures.
1.      Call a friend or two and talk to them about anything – the weather, politics, the news, old times, new recipes, etc. Distract yourself, and enjoy the company.
You don’t even have to tell them that you’re trying not to self-harm, just talk to someone to get your mind on other things.
2.      Watch a movie or two, or three, or however many it takes till you get past the urge to SI. Promise yourself that you will watch movies until you feel safe again.
3.      Write about your feelings in your journal. Write a poem out about your feelings.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this.
4.      Scrub the house from top to bottom. Distracting yourself with tedious tasks, paying close attention to details can give you a different focus for the energy you are feeling.
This is one of my anger management distractions as well. When I get really pissed, I clean like crazy.
5.      Get out the hottest jar of salsa and add jalapeno pepper or red chili peppers, and dig in. It might burn your mouth or make your eyes water and your nose run to eat this, but it won’t scar or cause actual harm.
6.      Draw or paint on paper what you want to do to yourself. Draw or paint a second picture showing why you want to do this. Draw or paint a third picture showing how you wish you were feeling.
Art therapy is one of the most helpful things in the world for me. It’s always better to use your energy to create instead of destroy.
7.      Play with, pet, hold, or hug your pet. Find comfort and soothe yourself with the company of your dog and cat instead turning to pain or injury.
8.      Take a walk or exercise. The physical release of energy is helpful.
Physical exercise is also a good prevention method. Exercise helps clear your head, reduce stress, and work out all that pent up frustration, stress, and anger.
9.      Plant a small garden. Creating something nice, making something pretty to look at, and tending to something alive can put you into a different frame of mind.
10.  Take a bath or shower. Let the water soothe you and help release your stress. Talking out loud or crying in the shower helps get the pain out that is locked inside you. Let the stress rinse off and send it “down the drain” away from you.
11.  Draw on yourself with a red marker instead of cutting.
12.  Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when you think of hurting yourself.
13.  Hit a pillow over and over and over till you tire yourself out or the thoughts go away. Speak or cry while you are doing this, if you can.
I have a punching bag, same principle.
14.  Listen to soothing music (or scream to angry music).
15.  Read your favorite book, or read a new book from your favorite author.
16.  Watch something really funny on TV – use comedy and laughter as a release.
17.  Play games online. Computer games can be monotonous, trancey-hypnotic, time-consuming, and calming.
18.  Work on web pages or any other big task that requires your attention.
19.  Sleep, just have to complete shut down. Let the time pass, and hopefully when you wake up, the intensity of the emotion will have subsided.
Yep, this is something I’ve done a lot. I always try to remind myself that in the morning my feelings won’t be so dire. If I can just make it until morning I’ll be able to think more clearly. The quickest way to get there, is by being asleep.
20.  For those with DID / MPD, go to the safe place you have created inside. Visualize nice things, comforting things, favorite things. Allow yourself to be surrounded by good things in life, even if it exists only in your internal world at that moment.
21.  Snuggle under your favorite blanket in a safe, private, secure place, and allow the feelings to surface. Cry, shake, feel, breathe. Let yourself experience and feel your feelings.
22.  Think of all the people who have ever had good, kind thoughts of you. Imagine each of them standing with you, holding hands and being with you. Allow them to offer comfort and support to you, even via your own thoughts. Write letters of appreciation to them.
23.  Play the guitar or piano and play out your feelings through the music. Write a song about your feelings. Sing out loud with your favorite CD’s. If you find a song that fits just right, play it over and over and over.
24.  Close your eyes and visualize yourself on vacation, far away from your stress. If you love the beach, for example, picture yourself walking at your favorite time of the day, barefoot along the shore, feeling the cool breeze across your face, listening to the waves coming and going, watching the sea gulls fly, picking up sea shells. Imagine yourself walking in the warm clear water, swimming with the dolphins, being totally safe.
25.  Eat a healthy snack (not too sugary), have a cup of herbal tea, or a glass of milk. Avoid caffeine. Nibble on saltine crackers. Challenge yourself to take 50 nibbles or more on each cracker.

Stopping self-harm isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t quit the first time you try. I’ve tried to quit many times and subsequently had many relapses. This is my longest period of time without self-harming. I can’t promise that I’ll never do it again, but I can promise that I’ll try other things first in order to cope and if I do happen to slip I won’t beat myself up for it. The world will go on and there’s always another chance to try again. I’ve had a lot of people e-mail or catch me on Facebook when they’ve needed support or an encouraging word. It’s important to get help if you can. But if you can’t that doesn’t mean you can’t still help yourself. I’ve been in therapy, but the decision and the will to stop cutting has been my choice. The choice starts with you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy - What is love?

I really didn’t feel like writing on Friday, so here’s our Monday edition of Lucid Analysis.
Mostly Therapist wanted to talk about my relationship with Tech Boy and whether or not I felt like we were developing emotional closeness (She forgot to give me a copy of those questions we went over last week so I can’t post them for you yet).  
Things with Tech Boy and I have been pretty awesome. I finally was able to coax him into Brooklyn this weekend. We double dated with Roommate and her boyfriend to two of my favorite hangouts in the world. We had an absolute blast. I got way more drunk than I expected to. I only had 5 drinks over the course of 6 or 7 hours, but I had a killer workout that morning and barely ate so it all went right to my head. It made me a little more vocally affectionate. Towards him and towards Roommate.
I hate when that happens. It’s so embarrassing. I only told Tech Boy that I liked him a lot, many times. At one point I remember telling Roommates boyfriend that I was glad he was so awesome because if he ever did anything to hurt her I’d have to kill him because she’s one of the best people in the world ever. I’m so sappy sometimes. I think they thought that was sweet, but I’m so embarrassed when I start to let out how much people mean to me. Seriously, it feels like I’m word vomiting a poem of epic proportions. Cringe.
So here’s is the episode where Therapist decides more than ever that she really likes Tech Boy. He made me blush that night. Which let me tell you, is not an easy thing to do. A burlesque performer came on stage. I was explaining the difference between burlesque and stripping because he’s never seen either professionally. I kept getting distracting by the performance and he kept trying to reacquire my attention. I said something like, “Don’t you want to watch the pretty half naked woman on stage?” Without missing a beat he replied with, “You’re way more beautiful than she is.” ::blush:: I brain crashed into a wall and I think I just gaped at him like a fish before kissing him on the cheek and telling him thank you. You have to understand, Tech Boy isn’t a flatterer. He doesn’t just toss compliments around or mince words about stuff he doesn’t mean. So, amazingly, I believed him. Then on the way home as I was getting very ill from the sea sick motion of how the car was driven, I curled up with my head in his lap and tried not to vomit. Even then he stroked my face and told me I was gorgeous. I just wanted to laugh.
The next morning we woke up to me having one of the worst hangovers I’ve had in a very, very long time. We had been faux arguing the night before about gaming. I’m a PC gamer, but I like to play alone. I don’t really like getting on or whatever and joining a party, so I don’t. I like being an anti-social hermit. Except apparently this lead to me missing out on the knowledge of some gaming combinations that had him floored. So when we finally hauled out of bed he mentioned again how he  couldn’t believe I didn’t know that thing. I just shrugged and said, “I know, you’re right, I just don’t like playing with other people though.” To which he replied, “You wouldn’t even play with me? We could have a character date and kill monsters together.” ::swoon:: I about died. That’s probably the most romantic thing he’s ever said to me haha.
 The only time I ever carbo load is when I’m extremely hungover. So he drove us for Italian food and he stayed to take care of me while I indulged my hangover traditions of pasta and bad explody movies with the blinds pulled and the lights out.
And then! We had tentative plans to hang out with Roommate and her boyfriend Wednesday b/c I felt obligated to introduce him to The Notorious Betty Page. Seriously. How do you not know Betty Page? Anyways.  The night before he switched it up on me a little. He posed plans of having dinner with his parents AND grandparents first, then movie with the roomie.
Dinner plans. With the grandparents. That’s like, a relationship step there. I’ve spent a little time with his brother, sister, and step-dad before, but not really his mom (though we’ve met) and definitely  not his grandparents. His family is really nice. Therapist asked me if I felt like I belonged there, if they were nice and inviting. This had me confused. They were very nice and welcoming, but that won’t make me feel like I belong there. Hell, I don’t feel like I belong with my actual family, how does she expect me to feel like I belong with someone else’s? Anyway, it was a really pleasant dinner. We chatted a lot and when we were leaving his grammy gave me a hug and said it was nice to finally meet me, she’d heard nice things about me. ::shock face::
So, in summation, signs point towards things getting closer between us. But for me that translates into no less scary, maybe even scarier, than things were before. I still, just don’t know.
I have these conflicting ideas of what I envision in “the perfect relationship” and at the same time fearing that I’m going to somehow ruin his life for having to deal with me. We have a lot in common but he lacks that artistic passion and creativity that I’m so attracted to. On the other hand, every guy I’ve had that with has been a complete and utter asshole and treated me like shit. Those guys have also lacked my appreciate for the outdoors, athletics, and a healthy lifestyle, which Tech  Boy does have.
It makes me wonder if that’s really what I’m attracted to or if I simply associate those strong feelings with those traits because they happen to have occurred with those kinds of people.
How I perceive love is something else I need to take into consideration.  With the people I believe I have really loved, there has always been some kind of abuse or mistreatment. There has been no trust and there has been a lot of conflict. A lot of conflict. That conflict makes my emotions spike, it triggers those fears of abandonment and creates the need to hold on tighter to the relationship. They’re always on the verge of ending (for reasons that are real and reasons that I blow out of proportion in my mind) which makes me obsess about how I can make them last, how I can be better, how I can hold onto them longer. All that conflict created by the abuse, inspires those obsessive feelings of love and pain.
That’s what I know of love.
I don’t have that with Tech Boy. Which is good! He treats me wonderfully, he seems to really like me, he’s not abusive, we never fight…. Which Therapist thinks might actually be a problem…. He’s really good to me. But without all of that constant fear and conflict I’m not shocked into obsessions of devotion. I like him a lot, but without all the pain, I don’t know how to gauge just how much I feel for him. I don’t know what love is without pain.
So that’s where the lack of conflict comes in. As Therapist says, some conflict in a relationship is healthy. Couples that occasionally fight but also work through the conflict develop stronger relationships. Tech Boy and I never fight. We have nothing to fight about really. He’s really down to earth and nothing bothers him. My biggest complaint is that we don’t see each other enough but what am I supposed to do about that? He moved here for the job, so all his friends are back where he grew up. He goes out of state to visit them. It’s not like I’m going to stand in his way and tell him he can’t go visit his friends. That wouldn’t solve anything either. I don’t know. 
I like him a lot. It’s hard for me to even admit it because if I admit it, it makes it real, and I can’t protect myself from being hurt by keeping those feelings behind a wall. I think this is why I get so uncomfortable when Therapist asks me how I feel about him. Really, really uncomfortable.
But it shouldn't always be.
How am I supposed to know how much I like him without this correlation to what I’ve known of love before? I’ve never had mutual romantic love AND a healthy relationship. I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I am saying that I don’t know what real love is. What real love is all about. I have to start form scratch and reevaluate what it is I think love is supposed to be. Not close myself off because what I’m experiencing now is different. Not give up because I don’t feel the way I think I’m supposed to feel, because I know how I’ve felt before is a product of the pain I was also experiencing at the time. My whole perception of love is changing.
Post therapy update: Yanno, how I always say he doesn’t talk about his feelings or how he feels about me?  That’s not so true anymore. He’s been opening up more. He was talking about how things were really falling into place in his life and said that I was really the missing piece that made everything right.
Which makes my heart all melty and makes me freak out a little at the same time. I’m doing really, really well with my meds and therapy but I’m still worried that I’m going to screw up and ruin this perfect perception of reality that he has.
I’m different now though. I have a very hard time remembering that who I was, is not necessarily who I am now.  My past will always be a part of me, but who I am becoming is not who I used to be. I still have a lot of doubt and inner turbulence, but I’m learning to control it so it doesn’t just explode out of my control. I’m succeeding too. I can’t seem to let go of the idea that all of the bad that used to be me and in my life, is still with me, worn like a suit of shame. Everyone’s done stupid things, bad things, things they’re not proud of, but the trick is to learn from them, and not make the same mistakes again. If I can continue to do that, continue evolving, than I can be exactly the kind of person that I want to be.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...