Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heart in Head

I’m sorry Dear Readers. I’ve been kind of a physically and mentally sick mess this week. It happens. And when it does I have to prioritize what little energy I have into doing what I really need to take care of. Life stuff. Getting my job done. Getting my bills and utilities taken care of. You know, the boring life stuff. But at least I’m not homeless ::sigh::

Therapy tonight. I’ve been suppressing my emotions. Suprressing? Repressing? Whatever. I’ve been not feeling. Not any more. I know it’s suppose to be good for me. I have a dissociative problem and feeling my feelings when I experience them is what I’m supposed to do. … but yanno what… it fucking sucks sometimes. 

Feelings are so bloody painful. I feel like I have razorblades dragging through my heart right now and all the tears in the world won’t wash away my sadness. I don’t think people understand what I would give to be able to get out of my own head. Anything. My left kidney. Most of my liver. Take them. Just let me escape this heartache. It hurts so much.

Therapist says I’m grieving. All I know is that it hurts and I don’t want to feel it anymore. I spent the last hour and a half trying unsuccessfully to not cry and as soon as I left that’s all I could do. I didn’t even realize I was holding so much back. I didn’t. I thought I was just with things just fine. But when I start to choke up and cry the second I start talking about something it’s a clear indicator that I haven’t been dealing at all. I’ve been avoiding the feelings I should be facing.

I’m so sad. It’s so hard. I just want to be normal and not hurt when normal life things occur. I swear I don’t want to feel this way. Everything hurts so much sometimes. Everything feels like it hits me so hard. It’s no wonder I shut down. No one can deal with such a flood of emotions without some kind of life preserver.
I know how helpful therapy is for me, but there are days when I really wish I could just not feel anymore. 

At least now I know and am trying desperately to tell myself that I won’t always feel this way, I even believe it, but I still can’t help but wonder if people understand how much it can hurt to have this sort of heart with this sort of head. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lies and Borderline Personality Disorder - Part 1: Lies I tell myself

Here’s a question. Is lying common in people with BPD? This question comes up quite a bit. Lying is not an official symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s not listed in the qualification criteria anywhere. I’m also not sure if there’s been any research done on the topic so there’s no scientific proof that lying is a part of BPD. However, I know many love ones of those with BPD believe lying is a big concern in their relationship. So what’s that answer? Is lying common with BPD or isn’t it?

Yes, and no.  What the hell? You’re usually not this vague Haven. You know I have a point to make.

I’m going to tell you there are two kinds of lies:

1. Lies told to ourselves.

2. Lies told to other people… and from here:
a.       Lies of admission
b.      Lies of omission

Now I’m going to tell you another truth. Everybody lies. Ever seen the show House? Dr. House is famous for that simple line, “Everybody lies.” And it’s true. The last time someone asked how you were, did you say “fine”. Were you really fine? A lie is as simple as that.

As an interesting aside, people are also uncomfortable when you answer this question truthfully. The last time I was asked how I was doing I responded with, “Meh, I’ve been better.” They responded with, “That’s good, good.” As if they didn’t hear my answer and were responding to what they expected to hear.

Everyone lies though. People vague up details, they give partial stories, they give a biased perspective, they outright tell people something that is more pleasant to hear… the list of those little “white” lies is endless, and that’s not even getting into the big lies. It’s funny to me that people justify their lies too. Tell yourself, oh, it’s just a little white lie, it doesn’t hurt anyone… doesn’t make it any less truthful. People automatically rationalize their own misdeeds. It’s fine when you do it, but oh no, if someone else were to? Even if their reasons were the same as yours had been in a similar situation? Well that’s not okay at all. So let’s keep that in mind as I jump into this touchy subject.

2 Parts. Today we’ll do:

Lies – Part 1: Lies I tell myself

These are tricky little bastards. Tricky, because if you’re effectively lying to yourself, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Or sometimes the lie is something we think we need so badly, the truth is too hard, too difficult to face, that the lie is how we protect ourselves from the situation.

When I was with Evil-Ex he was awful to me. I was also completely in love with him. I managed to find all kinds of ways to justify his behavior to convince myself that my decision to stay with him wasn’t just one more way I should be disappointed in my ability to make healthy decisions. I lied to myself over and over, telling myself that if I were better at this, if only I would do that, things would work out. It made me feel desperate. But I believed it. I believed if I tried hard enough, he would love me the way that I wanted him to love me. We all know how that story ends. The truth however, is that he’s a Narcissistic  bastard who only uses the people around him to validate his own lack of self-worth. Nothing I did would ever change how he was, because he didn’t believe there was anything wrong with the way he treated me or any of the other people in his life.

People believe what they want to believe. Does that make it real? It may make it feel real. But does that mean things are really the way we want to convince ourselves they are? Nope. Not always.

I’ve believed so many times, that if I were to lose a certain person from my life that my world would end. That I wouldn’t be able to go on and live a happy existence if they weren’t in my world the way I wanted them to be. So many times I’ve believed this. Believed it so much I felt like my heart would burst.  Are all those people still in my life? Nope. Has my world ended? Nope. Am I a wreck of devastation and destruction piled on my bedroom floor? Nope, not at all. In fact, letting go of the people that caused me so much anxiety and pain has made me better able to form healthier, happier relationships in my present. I’m happier now than I ever have been before, EVER, in my life.

I lie to myself more than I’ve ever lied to anyone. I deserve to be treated this way. If I were better, he would be better to me. If I was more, she would want me. If they really cared, they would know how much that hurts me (I love this one. Do you know how many truly psychic people I’ve met? None.). They didn’t do this thing, so they must not care at all.

Our brains, our feelings, our emotions… lie to us. Those neuro-pathways in our brain are programmed to kick up the adrenaline feed to our amygdala and set our chemicals reactions to nuclear meltdown if someone even glances in the general direction of the detonation button. Oh, not always. Sometimes there is a very real threat because we do live in a hard world. But that trigger mechanism in our brain is set to a setting so sensitive that it can be impossible to know what the truth is, and what is a lie our chemical composition is telling us.

It’s almost funny, in a sad sort of way, when I’m able to push past those feelings that I have and see how differently things turn out compared to how I fear they will.

Often I think we can lie because we can’t actually see the “truth” of a situation. If a situation affects us emotionally, we have this defense mechanism that tries to protect ourselves from being in pain; when pain = facts of a situation.

It’s important to remember that your truth is decided by the information you take in; what you see, hear, and experience to believe as fact. People with BPD experience reality from a different perspective. How reality touches us is seen through a filter of our emotions. We gain knowledge of our environment by how we feel about the experience. These feelings aren’t always accurate in the strictest sense, but it’s what we know to be truth for us.

As Paul Ekman notes in Emotions Revealed, a person overcome with strong emotions “cannot incorporate information that does not fit, maintain, or justify the emotion.” BPD is a disorder of emotional dysregulation. When someone is dysregulated, they can’t necessarily see the truth if it doesn’t match what they are feeling. We may not even realize we’re lying because what we point out are the “facts” as we perceive them. But how one person perceives things, is not necessarily the same as how another person perceives that same thing.

I think self-lying, most lying actually, is done from a perspective of self-preservation. It’s more to protect from the pain or shame that the truth would reveal, and not so much about being deliberately deceptive.
For me personally, and my particular brand of BPD, I think I lie to myself more than I lie to other people. Does that mean I’ve never lied to anyone? Of course not, I’m not immune to being human. There are a number of reasons I’ve lied to people, and a number of reasons I think someone with BPD in particular would feel the need to lie… 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Accepting Compliments with Borderline Personality Disorder

A bit of a light topic today because I’m still really ill.

Why can’t people with Borderline Personality Disorder accept compliments?

In short? To truly accept a compliment you have to believe it yourself. Often people with BPD don’t have a high enough self-esteem to believe what they’re being told.

Sometimes I’m incapable of believing what people are saying to me, because I’ve been told the opposite for so damn long. When you’ve been told something over and over, for years, maybe most of your life, and you finally hear something different, it just doesn’t register as making sense because it’s so foreign. How do you internalize something that is the opposite of what has been beaten into your head? If you’ve been told your left hand is your right hand your entire life, and someone finally points out that your right hand is in fact, the right hand, somewhere in the back of your mind you’ll still have an initial thought of it being your left. Even if you can recover and tell yourself that it’s not after that initial thought, the knowledge of that pre-programming is still there. Have you ever tried to correct a bad habit? It’s not easy.

Especially if you’ve been told these things by someone you love and care about.

Growing up I was constantly told that what I could do could be better, so now it’s incredibly difficult for me to believe anything I do is good enough. No matter how hard I pushed myself it could always be better. To an extent I think this is something that is actually true. It is technically possible to always improve. But hearing that as a child all the time, it’s hard.

Other times I was told, “sure things are good now until they get bored with you.” Who tells their kid that?  It’s impossible for me to just sit and relax because I’m afraid if I’m not always entertaining or being the perfect hostess then there won’t be a need for me. I love, love, love just cuddling up on the couch and watching a movie, but in my mind I’m still stressed out that who I’m with is going to bored or that I’m not doing enough to make them happy.

How do you believe someone when all you’ve ever heard is the opposite?

Often there’s a lot of mistrust in people with Borderline Personality Disorder as well. Living with Evil-Ex (and many other exes), he would talk up an amazing story of why I should let myself open up and disclose something that I normally wouldn’t talk about. I would break down, open up. He would hug me, kiss me, tell me that my revelation made me seem more human and that it meant a lot to him… and then when it was to his advantage he’d use it against me to humiliate me. When you’ve been manipulated and lied to so much, for so long, it’s really difficult to quiet that nagging voice in the back of your head that is perpetually on guard against further deception. Is this person telling me that my outfit is pretty because they actually think it’s pretty, or are they trying to lull me into believing it so that I’ll wear it out and they can make fun of it once I’m out and it’s too late to do anything about it?

Or are they just telling you what you want to hear so they can use you for their own purposes? The One would tell me he loved me. No matter how many times he cheated on me, the reason he kept coming back was because I was the one he couldn’t get out of his mind…. To sleep with. He knew I loved him, and he would tell me anything he felt he needed to in order to get me back into his bed. It wasn’t until our relationship had persisted for years like this that I had the truth confirmed for me. Evil-Ex used me for my money. Anytime I would suggest going in a direction that affected our/his financial state, he would turn the charm up to high and convince me otherwise.

When you’ve learned that other people are out for themselves, and don’t have your best interest in mind; when you’ve learned that others will actually hurt you to get what they want, it’s hard to believe that someone could simply appreciate you for you.

Being Borderline, being more sensitive than is normal, being hypersensitive even, these things create an intense internalization of mistrust.

It’s not that I don’t want to believe the things people tell me. It’s not that I don’t want to take genuine compliments. Those genuine sentiments are just competing against a lot of hard experience and abuse.
That doesn’t mean I can’t take a compliment at all though. I believe pretty much anything xRoommate tells me. I believe her genuine compliments because she’s a genuine person. She doesn’t compliment unnecessarily. If something isn’t flattering she doesn’t bullshit, while still being tactful and sensitive with the truth. In short, our relationship developed slowly, over time, and her word is consistent with who she is and what she means. She’s consistent and she means what she says. That’s something you find out over time. I think the key is to take that time and develop trust in a genuine relationship. I also know she doesn’t want anything from me other than friendship. She’s never tried to take advantage of me or our relationship for her own gain. We’ve often helped each other, but she’s never used me. I’m very sensitive to things like that.

If someone has ever given me real reason not to trust them, it will color what they say in the future. It’s as simple as that.

Give it time. If your relationship is new, give them time to understand that you mean what you say. And be consistent. If you’re not, they’ll pick up on that very easily, and it’s likely that what you say will always be called into question. So be honest, be genuine, and be patient, and the Borderline in your life will hopefully see that the compliments you deliver are what they are. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

No means No. Yes, I'm sure.

I’m feeling extremely ill today. Not up for a real post. Here’s a weekend story with some BPD relationship insight at the end.

Dear Men,

No. It means No. 100% of the time. “I have a boyfriend, I’m not interested,” does not translate to, “Please, follow me around and continue to hit on me.”


Saturday night I went out with xRoommate and her boyfriend to see a band we like at a semi-local bar. xRoommates boyfriend knows the band. Super chill, fun guys. At one point during the first set I went to the bar to get another glass of wine.

Imagine if you will, some overgrown muscle bound choch with a neck the size of a tree trunk and biceps bigger than my head.

Choch: {Says something utterly incomprehensible to me}

Me: {points to ears} I’m wearing earplugs I can’t hear you.

Choch: {Continues to speak in a manner that I can’t decipher}

Me: Seriously, I can’t understand you.

Choch: {Throws his arm around my shoulder and pulls me close to him. Blows in my ear}

Me: What the fuck? Dude, I don’t think my boyfriend would appreciate that.

Choch: {Gestures for me to turn my head to say something to me. I do. Blows in my other ear.}

Me: What are you doing? I’m not available. {Bartender notices something is up. Gets me my drink which I didn’t even have to ask for.} I’m going back to my friends.

Bar scene mess took 5-10 minutes. 

After disengaging with this dude I walk back to our table and have a seat. A minute or so later he follows and tries to pull me out on the dance floor to which I reply by emphatically shaking my head no, waving my hands to nix the idea, and saying, Sorry, no, I have a boyfriend, I’m not interested.

At which point xRoommates boyfriend intervenes with something along the lines of: What’s going on buddy? She just wants to watch the band. Finally the meathead leaves.

After about half an hour the band takes a break and we go out on the back patio. Roommate and I were discussing the bar incident. She wasn’t sure if I needed help because I didn’t turn around and give the WTF face of “I need exit assistance here”. Honestly it didn’t even occur to me to ask for help. We’re in a crowded bar, the worst he could do at that point was be annoying and get spit in my ear. She said if I ever need help it would be really hard for a guy to argue with hysterical emergency friend, haha. We were just starting to laugh about it when meat-for-brains walks outside. xRoommate saw him first, stepped in close and put her arm around me like we were together. Not to be deterred meathead starts to get in her boyfriend’s face. Apparently he felt like he was being cock blocked and getting ultra-confrontational would totally get me to change my mind.

The look on this dude’s face was honestly pretty scary. He was really fucking pissed. Her boyfriend handled it well though, told him he wasn’t interested in fighting and to just drop it. This seemed to confuse Caveman guy who pounded his chest a bit more. Then the bouncer came over, pulled the guy away, and ejected him.

I had serious mixed feelings about the whole thing. On the one hand it was awesome to see that xRoommates boyfriend was willing to watch out for me like that. Him and the bassist from the band took a stand in between me and meathead guy. On the other hand I felt like I should have stepped in and taken care of it myself. I was straight forward with this guy without resorting to bitch-mode. I can kinda-sorta understand not taking a hint if someone isn’t being clear, but I wasn’t hinting. He was ignoring a direct rejection, albeit a relatively polite one. Maybe that’s my problem; not enough bitch mode. It didn’t seem like the best course of action though. Maintaining a sweet demeanor seemed more productive. If I’d responded with confrontation maybe we both would have gotten kicked out, which would suck because the band still had an hour left to play.

I’d call this good control on my part. There was a time in the not so distant past, when I would have exploded on that guy.  I wouldn’t even try keeping my cool. I certainly wouldn’t let anyone else intervene for me.

It’s odd. I had no fear of the situation though maybe I should have. I didn’t really have much anger either.  Mostly I was just uncomfortable. This seems like it's not normal. 

I have a profound respect for bouncers. When I was working at the strip club the bouncers were our black shirted heroes. They kept us safe, and believe me, there were times when we needed it. Maybe I’m just used to douchebag guys trying to be handsy and have lost my ability to be phased by it. Completely desensitized to the feeling that he could be a real threat. When this whole thing started happening at the bar though, I was totally worried about the wrong things. My mindset was to tolerate the asshattery because my focus was to get my drink. I was worried about flagging down the bartender not worried about this guy potentially trying something uncivilized. I had a cognitive handle on the situation but I had no emotional response whatsoever. It didn’t even occur to me to turn around and make eye contact with xRoommate for help because it didn’t occur to me that I needed help. I’m so used to dealing with things myself and taking care of myself, it’s a foreign concept for me to ask anyone else for assistance, even when I probably should.

After the bouncer tossed him, I thanked xRoommates boyfriend and said I should have stepped in. He responded with, “No way, I love you.  You’re family. Family has each other’s back.” Wow. Just wow. I was totally taken aback by that. I know he thinks highly of me and our friendship means a lot to him, but it really does help to hear things like that. My heart feels better and it’s like the connection between me, xRoommate, and him is reinforced just a little bit more. I hate asking for validation. I hate asking if people miss me or if they’re thinking about me or if we’re really good friends or whatever. Hearing that kind of validation without having to ask for it, is really important and definitely makes me feel more connected to our relationships.  This is true for any relationship I’m in.

If I have to ask for validation, to me, it feels like it’s said out of obligation and I can’t really trust that the sentiment is sincere because it wasn’t spontaneous. But when it’s offered without prompting it feels genuine and believable. I know it’s kind of a distorted perception to distrust the former, but it’s how I feel, not what I know. It’s very important for us to learn to communicate our needs better. It’s also important for our partners, friends, and family to communicate how they feel as well. I think this is natural for any human in a relationship, but maybe doubly so for those of us with BPD.

So what could have been a sticky situation, turned out to be kind of a cool bonding moment. What I don’t get is why some guys can’t take no for an answer. Any thoughts?
Faux moral of the story: Tech Boy shouldn’t let me go anywhere alone. I get hit on the minute he’s not around. 
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