Friday, June 15, 2012

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy: Changing doesn’t mean Ending

Therapist sprung a little surprise on me yesterday. She’s graduating me to sessions every other week. I’ve been with her for about a year and a half now. I started at two sessions per week. I’ve been doing one per week for the last year, and now she thinks I’m ready to go to just one (slightly longer) session every other week.  She says I’ve made an enormous amount of progress in the last year and a half, I’ve had some setbacks but they haven’t been major, and I have created a very stable support system in Tech Boy and my current circle of friends so I seem to be in a place where we can try this out and see if it’s enough. She sees the effort I put into my treatment and is really proud of the work I’ve accomplished. And of course, if I need to see her more often I can always go back to once a week.

Thank goodness. I’m a huge fan of therapy but man does it take a lot of time. I’m excited that I’ll be able to increase my workout time on some Thursdays again.  

The news did kind of make me hold back in therapy yesterday because I didn’t want to disappoint her and worry her. I’ve been really depressed this week. Really depressed. I haven’t been sleeping well and everything seems to be going wrong.

Roommate was gone Friday and I was home alone, it was so much harder than it should have been. I was so alone and so afraid of going to sleep I stayed up until I couldn’t possibly stay up any longer.  Most of Saturday was spend by myself until I went out with Roommate and her bf later that night. Which was a lot of fun… except for the mild annoyance of the random older guy hitting on me ceaselessly. My tolerance for small talk isn’t very high. I’m pretty anti-social when I’m not feeling well. I have about 10 minutes worth of energy for people I’m not interested in relating to and after that I just get annoyed. For as amusing as I find it, I also get sick of hearing wow you’re cute, alternative, AND smart. Like it’s so unusual for attractive women to be intelligent? Bleh.

Had a late night diner binge which I’ve regretted ever since. Bleh. Everyone was hungry and I couldn’t say no.

Sunday was nice, went out to see Prometheus with Tech Boy, Roommate/her BF, Doc/his GF (my soon to me roommate) and then we went out to dinner after. Therapist is completely right. I have a truly fantastic group right now. Very stable, solid people. This, probably more than almost anything, is probably why I’ve been making so much good progress. It’s really important to get rid of the negative influences that create all the anxiety and tension.

Sunday night I slept terribly which is unusual because I usually sleep better with Tech Boy. Monday was the worst. I woke up in the middle of the night with racing, ruminating thoughts about Friend. He still has some of my geek stuff (light saber electronics worth about $100). I could not stop my brain from freaking out about how he might use my stuff, or demand that I come collect it myself and all the various ways that he could make trouble for me. Getting my stuff back from him was the most important thing in the world. Not letting him have anything that was mine was all I could think about. I was furious and anxious all night and all morning.  I couldn’t calm down until I was able to get ahold of a “mutual” friend and he agreed to collect my stuff next time he was over. I say “mutual” because he’s a good friend of mine that has to tolerate them due to the fact that they host practices at their place.

I belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and one of the specific groups that I’m friends with all belong to it as well. It’s the group that I go camping with every year and have big events with throughout the year, etc. This is how I know Friend and his wife. So we have a lot of friends in common. One of the things that I’ve been continually resentful about is that his wife holds weekly practices at their house (though they no longer participate) because it allows them to remain focal. And anyone not in their good graces is pretty much forced to not participate. That means I can’t see or hang out with a bunch of people I like because I won’t go over there.

Something else that was extremely sad for me was that I informed Roommate and this buddy that I wouldn’t be taking our group vacation this year. Zoe’s bachelorette party overlaps and the wedding is the week after so that’s my priority and I don’t have enough vacation for everything. But even if I did, I haven’t had much fun for the last 4 years and I really, really believe it’s best for my mental health to take a break from the politics and dramatic bullshit that is a constant source of stress. At the same time I’m worried that if I don’t go people will forget about me, which will give Friend and his wife the opportunity to turn people against me. Maybe this is just my paranoia. Maybe not. I’ve seen them do this to many other people so I know my paranoia is at least a little justified. Both Roommate and my buddy are sad that I won’t be  going but they both completely understand because they feel the exact same way about it (even the same way about Friend and his wife) but they’re more invested and involved so they still find more enjoyment in the group/vacation. It took me a long time to really make this decision and it’s caused me a lot of anxiety because it’s breaking a pattern that I’ve had for 6 years now. I don’t deal well with change and there’s just a lot of change happening right now.

Especially since Roommate is moving out in two weeks. Two weeks! I almost can’t believe it. Just trying to talk about this in therapy choked me up and made the tears well up in my eyes. I’m terrified of losing Roommate. She means so much to me. I know, I know this won’t end our friendship or anything like that. We’ll still see each other and hang out all the time. We actually have a very strong relationship. Strong AND healthy, can you believe it?  Which is why I’m scared (which let me tell you how much I hate admitting that) and so sad that she’ll be gone.

I’ve been seriously down and depressed all week and I was afraid Therapist would take this as a bad sign.
Best change ever, am I right? 
However, Therapist thinks this is a good thing! I’m feeling very natural and appropriate emotions for the situation I’m in. I’m feeling them. Not detaching from them. Not dissociating from them. Because I am feeling them when they are happening I can work through them in the moment. For me, this is huge. Very important and a definite sign of progress.

Yay me. Therapist is proud of me. I’m proud of me too. But at the same time, it sucks because I’m fucking sad! My best friend is moving out and I’m going to miss her terribly!  Woohoo getting to feel my sadness and cry at appropriate times.

That’s something that I think is important to remember. Even when healing and becoming mentally healthier, things will still cause you pain. Because life, at times, isn’t always the happiest thing. However, it’s not some big traumatic event and I’m not dissolving in a fear of abandonment and that our friendship will end and be irrevocably unrepairable and different because she’s taking a very healthy step for herself. It’s sad, but at the time, I know it will be okay. It’s a change. Life changes. And it’s going to be okay.

What’s more. Doc’s Girlfriend is going to be moving in with me and that’s going to give me the opportunity to spend more time with a woman I really like, more time with a friend that I’m so happy I will get to see more often, and I will be able to develop an even stronger, and healthy, relationship with them as well. So even in the sadness and unpredictable change of the future, there’s still potential for a lot of awesome.

Plus, Doc and his Girlfriend, and Roommate and her boyfriend all really like each other. Roommates boyfriend and I have been getting closer as well and he’s really excited to have this cool group of friends too. So it’s like I’ve pulled together a bunch of people that all really enjoy each other’s company and have a good time together which is very reassuring because it seems pretty obvious to me that even though things are changing it doesn’t mean things are ending.  I shouldn’t forget Tech Boy either. They all really like him too. And what’s more. Therapist really likes him. He’s almost opposite of me emotionally. He’s very steady, very down to earth. I’m clearly pretty erratic at times and I often have my head in the clouds, but he’s good to me and he likes me.

Therapist says he’s interdependent. Which about the best thing that you could hope for in a healthy relationship. He clearly cares about me, but he’s not clingy or controlling… he’s not codependent. He’s confident and secure in our relationship. He doesn’t need to know my every move and he’s okay with not spending every second of every day with me. It’s weird for me. I’ve gotten so very used to these unhealthy relationships where the men in my life are so insecure and controlling in some way that it feels weird for me that he’s not. He’s not constantly on my back for attention I’m not always sure how to interpret it. If I’m honest it makes me a little insecure because for me, the unhealthy dependence that I’m used to also corresponds to a more constant source of attention which in a backwards way is kind of a validation that they’re always thinking about me. It’s hard for me to reconcile sometimes. Smothering = attention, caring: leaving me alone = not caring about me, not remembering me. That’s how I’ve always felt. That’s what The One and Evil-Ex would do to an extreme. That’s not a healthy way to look at it though.

Interdependent. That’s the balance that we should be looking for. Security in the relationship and respect for each other’s space.  Crazy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Projection and Borderline Personality: Part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, projection isn’t uncommon. It can also be relatively benign - such as in attributing one's own likes, dislikes, opinions, beliefs or feelings to another person. Even positive projection can be insidious though, when it comes to Borderline Personality Disorder.

Complementary projection, for example, is a type of projection where one assumes that other people share the same opinions that he or she does. This phenomenon is quite common. For instance, whenever you hear a story about an animal that has been mistreated, you are shocked to discover that not everyone shares the same views regarding animal cruelty as you.

Or so we think
Complimentary projection is slightly different and not as common. People who employ complimentary projection assume that everyone has the same skills and ability as they do. For example, someone who is skilled in the kitchen might assume that everyone else is able to make a soufflĂ© with as much ease as they do. Of course, we all know that this is not the case. ::laughs:: I had a roommate at University that utterly failed at making a box mix cake and managed to destroy pots just by boiling water.  I was always floored when she would confess to making such a tragedy of my kitchen.

For someone with BPD, this might take the form of positive as well as negative emotions. I’m fair certain that I’ve done this with The One, Evil-Ex, and Friend to various to degrees… maybe even all my exes and lovers to an extent. I can focus so much on the good, the things we have in common, that it makes me feel as if we’re perfect for each other. No one else can or has ever understood me so well because they seem to ‘really get it’ on a level that other people haven’t.  When we have a shared interest it’s like the importance of that interest becomes compounded, highlighted to an intense degree. Really I think it’s the need to share something with someone in order to create a tangible attachment with them. I need that bond, that thing I can point to and say, see, there, that’s something major we have in common that proves we should be together in some way. And then I want them to see it too. I even think they do see it that way too. That they understand that sharing is between us and how great the importance of it is. This often leads to crushing disappointment when the other person wants to share the activity, hobby, whatever and invite someone else along. It’s so important to me, I project the importance onto someone else, due to my need for a strong attachment, so I can feel like I’m not alone. Then of course when they extend this thing to someone else I feel like the importance we shared has been severed and it’s like a physical blow to my chest.

It makes me consider the connection between projection, codependency, and idealization. It may explain why people with BPD become so attached to a particular person that they are the focus and center of our world. If we see that person as embodying all the positive characteristics that we value/value in ourselves, it complements our own need to have our sense of self-worth supported. If we’ve idealized someone by projecting all these positive qualities, to have them potentially leave would be crushing blow to the sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Self-worth becomes dependent on this person and having them remain in our life. Hm. This is my own theory, I’ve never read anything about this, but it makes sense to me. I’ll have to think on it further.

Even positive projection can be negative if it’s taken to an unhealthy extreme. My emotional investment in the projection would become so heightened that the reality of the situation was a devastation. I would get angry, pissed off, hurt, feel betrayed… the list goes on and on.  

So, some positive projection is a good thing. It helps people relate and bond. However overly positive projection may lead to adhesive bonding that would make superglue jealous. What do you think? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Projection and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 1

I’m going to do this in a small series: What it is and Negative Projection, Positive Projection, and how to begin Healing from Projection.
What is projection and how does it apply to Borderline Personality Disorder?
Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others other people have those same feelings or traits.
Projection isn’t uncommon. What I find interesting is that in most Buddhist literature and other spiritual studies there is an overwhelming theory that we ALL project. What do you hate about other people? It's something you hate about yourself I have always heard. I have heard it most recently make a little more sense - we judge others for their behaviors and attitudes because it relieves the judgments we have against ourselves. It might even be a natural way for people to relate to one another. When we find someone with a common interest, we relate to them by unconsciously believing they share the same level of appreciation for that interest.
So for people with Borderline Personality Disorder this may be an issue of magnitudes; meaning like many other things it’s blown way out of proportion.

Sometimes people who suffer from personality disorders have an unstable view of themselves which leads them to lose track of where their own identity ends and where another person's identity begins. Projection can become malignant when it involves attribution of one's own actions, words, blame, fault, hatred, liability or flawed character onto another.
Projection can be conscious - where the perpetrator knows they are deliberately deflecting blame or liability onto another person. Where that blame or responsibility for a problem is conveniently attributed to to someone else.
Projection can also be subconscious - where the perpetrator is unaware that they are distorting or dissociating the facts. I try very hard to be aware of my own actions and try not to consciously project, however in retrospect I believe subconscious projection has happened quite often in my life.
This might explain a small part of why I always feel like an outsider. I see me as different, so I assume other people see me as different and may be acting to exclude, or at least not include me as fully, based on this assumption. Hm. Something to think about.
I think projection is easier to grasp in the form of examples.
Example 1: A woman cheats on her husband. She then begins “seeing signs” or picks up on normal habits that she now attributes as suspicious behavior in her husband which leads to her believing or accusing him of cheating on her. Instead of dealing with their own undesirable feelings of guilt, shame, whatever, they unconsciously project those feelings on the other person, and begins to thing that the other person has the same thoughts of infidelity/whatever and that the other may be having an affair as well. By doing this, the person alleviates their guilt if she/he projects their own impulses to faithlessness onto their partner to whom they should be owing their faith. .
Example 2: Someone who is prone to stealing or shoplifting may project those feelings onto other people and think that those around them are stealing from them, that something of theirs will be stolen, or that they’ll be shortchanged in some way because it’s something they themselves do – the subconsciously believe others will do it as well.
Example 3: A parent that sees herself as fat and criticizes or closely monitors her daughters diet and exercise to “prevent” her from becoming “overweight”.
Compartmentalization, splitting, and projection are ways that the ego continues to pretend that it is completely in control at all times. Unfortunately the reality of being human is anything but being in control at all times. The human experience is always shifting with reactive instincts and emotional motivations. While these experiences can sometimes be negative, they’re not always reprehensible, but for someone with a personality disorder this distinction may be blurry and the main sense of self tries to separate itself from things it knows are unsavory on some level. Further, while engaged in projection, individuals can be unable to access truthful memories, intentions, and experiences, even about their own nature, as is common in deep trauma.  This is deep subconscious type dissociation where a person really does believe that the projection and the “logic” behind the projection are real.

Dr. A.J.Mahari says, “The reality that people with BPD project out triggered dysregulated emotions onto others, attribute their own feelings, thoughts, devaluation and judgment to "other" and then feel "other" is victimizing them originates with the borderline's inability to hold their own distressing feelings. This cycle of projection also has its roots in the borderline's repetition compulsions wherein the other person is often lost in the "here and now". To the person with BPD "now" fades into a time from the past and the person on whom he or she is projecting is no longer visible or seen for who he or she is but rather becomes a person from the borderline's past with whom there was significant trauma, abandonment, and/or relational rupture with.”

When we shift our feelings from within to without, from Self to Other we are using a defense mechanism that essentially enables us to abdicate responsibility for what it is that we really feel. Doing this then separates us from our own very basic emotions. Being separated from our basic feelings also separates us from having the tools to meet our own needs. < ---- This is part of my Therapist works on my detachment and dissociation so much. Not so much to deal with projection, but because not being able to connect to my own basic feelings inhibits me from having the tools to deal with my own problems as best as I could.

Emotional defenses, such as projection, protect us from experiencing the pain and uncomfortable feelings like guilt, shame, and rage. The Borderline defenses of projection, projective identification and splitting enable the Borderline to put and maintain distance between him/herself and the rest of the world in which lasting bonds and congruent relational ties are formed. These defenses are both a protection from and a barrier to intimacy. And we all know how much we want to be loved in theory, but the practice of allowing someone to love us is an entirely different story.
Most Borderlines (until they reach a certain point of healing) often are not consciously aware of their projections. When they look at you and say you did this or that and it's all your fault when in fact it has all to do with what the Borderline has done, said or felt - a Borderline does not see this. They will fight you every step of the way, convinced that they are right and you are wrong. The right, wrong, good, bad black and white of splitting follows projection closely.
Projection is a defense mechanism used often by Borderlines to shift personal responsibility. It can often begin in childhood when a needed and relied upon parent is "hated" by the borderline. Hate or love/hate is often the environment from which projection is born.
So does that mean projection really is all bad? Nope…..

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

Chuck Palahniuk

Maybe this is why our racing thoughts, our ruminations have the power to create such a hold over us. It’s all in our mind. Well, maybe not ALL of it, because there are harsh things in this world, but often it’s not nearly so terrible as we fear it will be. More often then that; if we decide to, we can overcome them.
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