Friday, February 22, 2013

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Week of Promiscuity?

This was one of the longest therapy sessions I can ever remember having.

I walked into therapy and Therapist asked me how I was. I’m pretty exhausted. Oh yeah? Why? Well. I was up late last night because I slept with Tech Boy. Again. Last week too. ::head desk:: Sticking to my resolve is so hard! Arg!

So some backstory. We had a really nasty blizzard here. I was stuck crawling through the Blizzard for 3 hours in my car. I drive manual. My clutch was not happy with me after this so I took it into the shop for checkup and repair. They quoted me an initial $1000. Ew, but I can deal. There had been no one around my office to give me a ride to the shop so I could take a look at my car myself so I called Tech Boy and he took me over and drove me back. Good guy.  We got to talking about my car, and he told me to keep him updated and whatnot. Then they called me back and told me my transmission needs replacing. WTF? The car’s only 5 years old, and of course out of its warranty. That would be another $4000 for a $5000 repair total bill. Panic, the fucking, attack. Of course I told Tech Boy and he let me bitch, and then made some really helpful suggestions that could potentially save my bank account. I went home, had a couple glasses of wine to keep my brain from exploding, all the while texting with him. Our texting got a little snugglier, and I started missing him even more. I knew he missed me. He told me he’d come over and keep me company if I wanted, just company. Which sounds nice and friendly and all… until you remember that I have absolutely zero impulse control when it comes to resisting sex with someone I’m attracted to and have already been involved with in that way.

I had a serious internal battle about this before giving in to my feelings and he was over 20 minutes later. 10 minutes after that we were completely in bed together. It was delightful. Plus he’s the best cuddler ever. Some guys are begrudging about it. Not him, he just wraps himself all around me and it’s extra comforting. ::sigh:: When we woke up in the morning I had mild feelings of ‘what the hell am I doing?’, especially when his reaction was longer snuggle time and lots of kissing me good-bye before he left for work (he leaves a little earlier than I do).

I have so many conflicts about this. Because I desperately miss the comfort I feel from him. But I still don’t believe we’re right for each other. I do not want to lead him on. I feel very guilty about the thought of starting this stuff again and then potentially guaranteeing that I’ll hurt him again if it doesn’t work. I did tell him previously that I didn’t want to get back together and that I didn’t want a relationship… but then I go and sleep with him. I realize that’s a mixed message, but sticking to my resolve is so, so hard. He’s there and I want to jump on him.


All the while I’m still talking to New Girl. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that we are not going to be compatible. I love her passion and her artistic creativity, but she’s SO needy and SO insecure. I’m resolved to see her in person and actually get a feel for who she is in person but at the same time I know that if she knew that I just did this with my ex, she would be devastated… and I hadn’t even met her in person yet!

So then it was last weekend. I went to a convention with my friends. For the last couple months I’ve been working on a fun cosplay. Definitely a genre cross-over gender bending idea with the Neo-Vic and the Star Wars, but it was super fun and it came out AMAZING. All weekend people were gushing over The Lady Fett and the intricacies of my costume. Photos and all kinds of stuff constantly. It was really great. I went with xRoommate and her BF and we met a ton of other friends there. Seriously So. Much. Fun. It was just such a ridiculously amazing, fun time filled with so much laughter and good company. And wine. I drank a lot of wine Saturday. After the convention ended Saturday night we went to the After Party (DJ-ed and all) and danced like mad until about 4:30a.m.. At one point a friend of mine dragged me over to meet a friend of hers. Cutest girl I had seen all weekend. We danced, and talked, and ultimately ended up making out and being quite party lesbian all night. As we were about to leave  she ran up to me and practically jumped-hugged me and we just sort of spun around kissing. Such a great night. Not a care in the world.

Yes, this is me. 
Weird angle makes me look fat, but full costume.

Finished up the convention on Sunday. Finally got home, tried to sleep but the fates were against me, which made me hugely cranky. Also I was starving, so I went for take-out Chinese.  Tofu and Mixed Vegetables and Vegetable Tempura. I ate ALL of it. Then promptly purged it. I really had intentions of saving half of it for lunch the next day, but it was in front of me and my head was still spinning from the week. I just, ate it all. About halfway through I really felt like I had been eating too much already, even though I had barely eaten, so my brain was like, “fuck it, you already screwed up, if you eat it all, it will be easier to get rid of…” so I did. Welcome to the mentality of a bulimic. Therapist was quite concerned about this. For as much fun as I had, I was still feeling a little out of control about everything.  Purging is a way to re-establish control, and maybe also a way to feel a sense of relief. I wrote the other day about the neuroscience behind cutting and how it has a relief effect. Therapist thinks purging has a similar response to the minds of bulimics as well. I can’t say I disagree. I’m only binging/purging maybe a couple times a month now. Therapist still thinks it’s a lot and it worries her. I’m working on. Sort of. I remain not very concerned, just a little ashamed when I tell her. And yet, I still tell her.

It’s really nice at the same time, because she’s concerned but in no way does she seem judgmental. That’s really important to me.

Anyways….  Monday rolls around. I’m going to meet up with New Girl today. She’s taking a train in and I’m meeting her at Penn Station. She had all these plans of taking me out to get a drink or two, to the planetarium (I’m a space nerd), to a nice restaurant, etc. We never really made it past the first bar. She gave me a couple presents: a $250 pair of sunglasses (which were not my style at all, and I didn’t accept, but she’s insisting on getting me a pair that /are/ my style)…  and a collector edition Boba Fett toy (not in the box or anything, but it was really awesome). I made her a scarf I crocheted. We had quite a few drinks… she is: really not my type. She’s an amazing artists. She clearly wants someone to treat well and take care of. I don’t know how I feel about people really trying to take care of me. I’m extremely independent and I don’t connect so easily to rely on people.

At one point during the date she worked herself into tears… telling me she was afraid of getting hurt because she could really see herself falling for me… Whoa whoa whoa…. This is not first date conversation. What did I do? I held her face in my hands and comforted her. She told me she felt like an absolute pussy and that she wasn’t usually like this, and that she was embarrassed… I knew what she needed to hear to reassure her and make her feel better. Which is exactly what I did.

Except, it wasn’t me. I was doing and saying things that I absolutely did not want to be saying but it was like I was on autopilot and couldn’t stop myself. I feel like a completely different person with her than I do with just about anyone else. Even just talking on the phone I feel like someone else. And not in a good, I just want you to be happy way. In a way that makes me feel a little fragmented and out of sorts. I know what she wants and I have this bizarre natural instinct to give that to people. I don’t even think about it, it just comes out.

This concerns Therapist. She sees that in me. How exceptionally easy it is for me to pick up on what other people want and need. How easy it is for me to read people. My automatic response to give it to them, against or at the expense of who I am… is not incredibly functional.  New Girl has this very stereotype lesbian persona of needing to be “the guy” in the relationship. She wants to pay, to spoil, to be aggressive, to “take care of my baby” (which she actually told the bartender in regard to me and getting me drinks, ew)… Except I’m a very liberated, independent woman… also she’s nowhere near as dominant as I am which I think she realizes so she’s trying to compensate even more. It’s irritating. Plus she was so, so rude to people. This guy came in and sat down on the stool next to me and she caused a scene to get him to move down a seat in some misguided attempt to “protect” me… I was really embarrassed and as soon as she went to the juke box I turned to the guy and apologized. Told him he was welcomed to sit there, it didn’t bother me at all.

I could feel the emotion and anxiety pouring from her all night. We went to this hole in the wall taco place for fajitas and then another bar, where she promptly started to feel sick and fall asleep… so we called it an early night. Fine, I had work in the morning anyways. But egads.

It was just, through the night I also had a lot of fun. It was like I was experiencing the night as two different people. One that was aware that this was absolutely not what I want and/or need in my life, and as someone that was completely wrapped up in the experience of the moment and placating her needs. She would step on my words and cut me off when I was talking… which made my anger and irritation flash, but then almost immediately I would express that it was fine and let her go on, and hold her hand. It was instinctive to ignore what I felt and do what I knew she wanted.

Once I’m away from her presence though, it’s easy for my cognition to take the lead again and recognize immediately that this is not what I want for all the reasons I wouldn’t want it. It makes complete sense when I’m away and one my own. But when I’m actually with her, it’s very muddled and conflicted.

Everything didn’t even really end there. She missed her stop going home and ended up at a friends house out of state.  Okay, so she’s a recovering addict. Not by choice. She was in a nasty accident and her doctors didn’t regulate her pain medication at all… so she had to go to rehab to get back to normal, but she still struggles with it. She had a relapse that night I guess… she’s being put back into the hospital today but swears she’ll be better soon.

I just, really want nothing more to do with her in a romantic sense, but she’s going through a really hard time and I also don’t want to be a jerk and hurt her more when she’s so vulnerable. I’m not being overly responsive but she still has the impression that I’m there for her. All night she kept fretting about scaring me away. I think the phrasing is funny because yeah, I have no intention of sticking around, but nothing she says is scary, it’s just not compatible.  

Tech Boy also moved to a new apartment this weekend. He had wanted me to come over Monday, but well, New Girl. So we had plans to hang out Wednesday. I brought over a bottle of wine and he showed me around his place. We drank wine and watched scary movies. We sat close at first but by the end of the first movie we were cuddled up the way we used to. It was just so warm and comforting. We didn’t talk about anything particularly interesting but it was comfortable and easy to just joke around about the movie. I missed that so much. I love that. We didn’t watch the second movie much at all. Mostly we just had a lot of sex. A lot of sex. I stayed the night, which meant I had a really exhausting next day at work, but sleeping with him feels awesome.

I’m just confused right now. And feeling guilty. If New Girl new about Tech Boy or the girl from the convention she would be DEVASTATED. I know I really don’t owe her anything, we’ve only been on one date and we’re in no way monogamous, but I still feel guilty about the idea of potentially hurting her. And then I feel guilty about potentially hurting Tech Boy because it’s very clear he still has feelings for me and I really don’t know what I want or if I want more than this at all, but I am feeling selfish b/c I do want whatever this is at the moment, but I really, really don’t want to hurt him either. ::head desk::

Amusingly, Therapist thinks part of my desire for the comfort of Tech Boy might be a reaction to a need for stability considering the budding relationship with New Girl who is the exact opposite of stable. She’s the exact opposite of him actually. He’s extremely down to earth, supportive, not really needing to take center stage, happy to let me be me and do whatever… we don’t have much of depth to talk about but he’s very receptive and listens exceptionally well. New Girl is extremely high strung, anxious, I think she said bipolar, she barely lets me get a word in edgewise when we talk. She’s supportive but in a way that seems like she’s already made up her mind that she wants me so anything I could possible say, she’s going to respond positively. She’s hearing but not listening. Everything is about her and how she is and what she wants me to think of her.

New Girl relationship perception =/
Therapist sees how anxious I am just talking about her. And how calm I am talking about Tech Boy. She actually really likes Tech Boy for me. We’re both quite sure that I’m not going to pursue this thing with New Girl. She likes Tech Boy for me, for reasons I hadn’t really considered though. We don’t have much in common, interest-wise, and he’s not emotionally expressive in the same way that I am… but I do get a good sense of how he feels about me. His emotional style is just different. He’s happy to let me be me, to support my ideas and pursue everything I’m interested in pursuing without wanting me to change something. And being with him is very calming for me.

Above pretty much all else, I need stability. When I don’t have a sense of stability I feel crazy. When I’m with people that aren’t stable in themselves, I immediately feel that energy and am destabilized myself. When other people are crazy, it makes me even crazier. I don’t have that problem with him though. He’s really the epitome of down to earth and easy going. Nothing like how I feel inside (though I appear that way outwardly), but something I do really need. ::sigh::.  Idk.

I really don’t know how I feel about him though, other than comforted and appreciative of him in my life. Therapist wants me to pay particular attention to how I feel with him next time (if there is one). I have to really work on connecting how I feel with the recognition of how I feel. It’s so strange to me though. I feel like my cognition and my emotion run on two separate circuits that don’t directly communicate. In a healthy person these systems should be functionally intertwined. With me I have my cognition on one circuit, my emotions on another. I process one without the other, one at a time. Therapist thinks this is a very accurate perception of how I experience things. It’s strange that I have to put real effort into doing both at once, trying to connect them both.

But I do. And I need to put conscious effort into paying attention and trying to remember how I feel to help give myself a better idea of how to proceed. Or not.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Holding onto the past

“Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy.”

“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.”

“People who are depressed are living in the past. People who are anxious are living in the future. People who are happy are living in the present.”

“Don’t hold onto the past, the future holds more promise.”

These things irritate me. They strike me as such minimalistic platitudes that they actually make me angry. To some extent I do definitely agree. I would never have been able to experience the extended periods of happiness that I have experienced lately if I didn’t try really damn hard to make the effort to work on myself and take control of my life to be happy. That being said…

When you’re dealing with a personality disorder, it just isn’t that easy. When you’re dealing with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder, or any other of the myriad mental health issues, it’s really not that easy.
I mean, I completely understand that these things aren’t aimed at us, or meant to make those of us that can’t just “buck up” feel bad… but they do. They’re actually pretty invalidating. They’re invalidating for anyone really, in the guise of being motivational.

I’m often asked why people with Borderline Personality Disorder hold on to past pain so much. On the one hand I understand the reasoning behind letting the past go, but the simple fact of the matter is it’s just not that easy. And it’s not just a problem of holding onto the past.

First, people tend to act as if it’s a conscious effort. Okay, it can be. If you keep those things in mind, it makes it less likely that they’ll be able to sneak up on you again and create the same pain they did last time. When you continuously analyze what’s went on, or what lead up to the problem, you can potentially stop it in the future. That’s the hope anyways.

It’s not all a purposeful effort though. It’s often a matter of being so grievously wounded, and having those accompanying emotions and feelings triggered, that it’s never left alone enough to completely heal. It’s not that we don’t want to let go of things, it’s just that things continuously happen that keep them at the forefront of our minds. When a gaping wound continuously has the scab ripped off, you’re often left with a permanent scar. Hopefully it fades in time, but the evidence that it occurred remains.

I’m not sure why people assume that we want to hold onto all of that pain and misery. If it was so easy to let it go, I guarantee most of us would. But when you feel things on such an intense level, and are affected by so much actually hurtful and painful experiences and abuse, it’s just not something you can forget.

Part of the problem may be, that the people that think we’re just holding onto it, don’t actually know the extent of the issues. When you’ve experienced so much trauma in your life, you keep a lot in. Even if you have a lot of trust in someone, there are some subjects that aren’t easy to talk about, and some subjects that you simply don’t want to share. Everyone has a right to their privacy of emotion, memories, and experiences if they’re not comfortable talking about it. There is a lot I don’t talk about to anyone… believe it or not, there are even things I don’t talk about here (crazy, I know)… and if there is any shadow of a doubt, those things are not going to come out. So in place of those deepest darkest places, we tell as much as we feel we can, or something that’s a lesser issue… which may technically be a lie… and the other person thinks the problem is not such a big deal that is something that shouldn’t be easily let go of.

If you don’t understand a person’s entire history, you can’t really understand why it’s so hard for that person. I think this applies to everyone, not just people with BPD. And like most things, we experience to the power of 10 so they affect us and stay with us, even more. Not to diminish the pain, suffering, or experience of anyone else!!! 

And frankly, asking why someone can’t just get over something already… is really invalidating.

Then there are people that really just don’t understand. They don’t have enough similar life experiences to give them the understanding, the empathy, necessary for them to really understand that they’re missing something.

These last two things are part of why I think it often takes our loved ones by complete surprise when we explode “over nothing” or leave abruptly. The situation that is occurring seems to have nothing to do with the magnitude of the emotional expression being received… it’s pretty safe to assume that those feelings are really rooted in something else that has been triggered in us. Unfortunately they just don’t know the trigger, and the origin of the trigger, or can’t themselves understand the depth of feeling that this other person is experiencing. Of course this isn’t true for everyone, everyone’s history and relationship is different, but those are often big factors that can be helpful to keep in mind.

Letting go of the past isn't easy. It's also different for everyone. Some people think forgiveness is key (I have opinions on this), some people think acceptance is, some people need years and years of different therapies to come to grips with it. Learning to accept your past, learning to cope with it appropriately (not maladaptively) is a big part of healing. Sometimes you do have to re-experience that pain, in a safe, therapeutic environment, go over it with purpose and intent to heal, in order to actually be able to put it more in the past, and less in the present.  Then again, that kind of immersion or experience therapy isn’t right for everyone. It’s interesting to look into though… 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ask Haven: Insecure - Is it me? Is it him/her? ... and a quick note about my inconsistent posting!

Hello Dear Readers,

It’s been another one of those weeks. Except instead of an actual storm there was just a storm of activity for me. My personal life has been well, pretty wonderful, actually… and work has been intensely busy. I hate, hate, hate, that when my life gets busy, my blog research gets the shorter end, but I will never forget you! I actually tried to break down my currently used time during the week:

There are 168 hours in a week, 120 during the work week . I usually don’t write for my blog on the weekend. I try to get to e-mails, comments, have an actual life so I don’t go crazy from loneliness, and whatnot if I’m able but I don’t usually write up my articles on the weekend. 103 hours a week belong to absolute essentials (work, gym, sleep, driving, eating/showering, etc). Leaving 17 hours left to do anything else. I usually spend 10-15 hours per week on my blog. But if I work even a few extra hours (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately), or want to see friends at all during the week, that means the only time I really have to cut into is my blog time or my sleep. I rarely, let this happen, but I had a big convention all weekend and also a date with New Girl on Monday. So hey! You’ll have fun stories of adventure and drama that I will share soon! And for once it wasn’t me being the crazy one.

My point is when I miss days writing for you, I’m not trying to be negligent, I feel guilty, and okay yeah, some social time takes precedence for me on the rare occasion b/c let’s face it, I might implode in a hulk smash rage of inwardly directed explodey-ness if I don’t have company… but I’m not blowing you off, and I’ll always come back.

I’ve also been getting a lot of random questions from Readers so what I’m going to try to do is if I have a busy day, I’ll at least try to do some Ask Haven’s. They’re not quite as formal, but I think they’re helpful. At least I hope so. And then when things normalize a little I have some really important series coming up! Spoiler Alert: Wonder what the difference between Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder are? We’ll get there…. But in the mean time:

Dear Haven,

Why does my Borderline partner make me feel so insecure? I’m not naturally an insecure person but sometimes when I’m with her, especially if she’s hurting, I start to feel insecure. Is it her? Is it me?


Dear Insecure,

I’m sorry to hear that. I wish I could say I was surprised to hear that this is an issue for you, but I’m really not. Is it her/you? Well, relationships are always about both. I really can’t make that judgment without knowing you both b/c it really does depend on the kind of person you are (are you an extra sensitive kind of person? Fairly average in your feelings of sensitivity, etc.), and depend on the kind of person she is and how she expresses her Borderline traits (is she more prone to Acting In? Acting Out? Is she very demanding of attention? Tend towards putting other people’s needs before her own? Self-suppressed?).

What I can say though, is that this is not uncommon. We are very emotionally overflowing, people. We tend to have a lot of self-esteem and self-worth issues. From there we accumulate a lot of our own insecurities. Being emotionally reactive the way that we are, our insecurities and fears are triggered much easier than most people would expect and our reactions and the behaviors that come about because of our emotional reactions are far more intense than people are often used to. The things that trigger us and make us react are really just a symptom of the real problem though, and I think a big chunk of that come from a deep psychological need to avoid shame. We can react very strongly when we are scared or threatened (perceived or for real), and how we act tends to be directly related to avoiding feeling the shame that is so often inspired in us. It’s crucial for our perceived sense of well-being that the problem not be with us, which tends to make us turn things around to be the fault of the person that we perceived to be threatened by.  It’s important to understand that these feelings are very real for us, they’re not just some way to consciously avoid being responsible for ourselves. There isn’t a conscious thought process of, “I don’t want to take responsibility for ourselves,” how we react and lash out, feels like a very necessary and relevant reaction… even if in retrospect we see that it was out of proportion and then we come back and apologize profusely. In that moment, what we feel is overwhelmingly real, and as a result it’s not surprisingly that our ability to deflect insecurity away from ourselves can be reflected to inspire insecurity in the people around us.

If you’re not used to this, it can definitely make you wonder if it’s something you’ve done, if it’s something about you that creates this… and the answer to that is no. You are not responsible for his/her feelings. You may happen to trigger them or set them off (this is not about blame! What I mean is only that in human interaction people knowingly/unknowingly can trip memories and issues in our mind that create reactions – it’s not about fault, just an observational understanding of what can occasionally make us react). This is why I feel it’s important to be able to GENTLY be able to hold us accountable for what we express and get to the real root of it in order to reduce these negative expressions that create insecurity in you and in the relationship.

The one bit of reassurance I feel confident in giving you though, is that this isn’t usually a conscious, calculated decision. We don’t try to purposely manipulate and make someone insecure around us if they’re someone we really care about and love. It’s the result of our emotional reactions, not a purposeful desire to wound. I’m not saying that some people aren’t purposefully manipulative, but if it’s someone we really care about it’s not a thought out, intentional drive to destroy our partners self-esteem… though it can be a by-product of our impulsive emotional reactions.

I hope this help and good luck!

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