Foreboding Joy & Self-Reflections

Warning – this is deep for a Sunday night post ha!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have realised recently that when I feel something deeply joyful, when I feel a real connection or deep happiness, I seem to withdraw from that joyful feeling somehow and lessen the happiness somehow. That feeling of something being too good to be true. Waiting for it to go wrong, predicting it ending badly somehow.  Freaking out even.  It turns out, Brene’ Brown has written about this and refers to it as “foreboding joy”.

“Our actual experiences of joy—those intense feelings of deep spiritual connection and pleasure—seize us in a very vulnerable way,”

“When something good happens, our immediate thought is that we’d better not let ourselves truly feel it, because if we really love something we could lose it. So we shut down our ability to completely enjoy so that we can also shut down our capacity for feeling loss.”

The words Brown writes sum my experience up exactly. My main thought as I read and write about this today being the feelings I was left with after my last session with T.  On Thursday I felt so deeply heard and understood by T, I felt such a wonderful connection with her. The connection warmed my heart somehow, it felt as if I had been hugged tightly – emotionally speaking.  When I got home, I could feel this strange sadness setting in. It became more than just a sadness, it became a deep longing.

At first I thought I was missing T but something about that didn’t feel quite right because I hadn’t left her long ago.  I later realised thanks to one of my very intelligent and insightful fellow bloggers Blue Sky, that she had also experienced what I was writing about and wrote her blog “When Love Equals Loss” which is where I found this reference to “foreboding joy”.  Since then, I have read lots about it and it has helped me so much (Thank you again Blue Sky!).

Brown says

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.  If you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is start dress rehearsing tragedy”.

She also says:

“We’ve learned that giving into joy is, at best, setting ourselves up for disappointment and, at worst, inviting disaster”

and

“We’re afraid that the feeling of joy won’t last, or that there won’t be enough, or that the transition to disappointment (or whatever is in store next) will be too difficult.”

There are so many other brilliant snippets I am tempted to insert here, but I won’t keep on. If you are interested I am sure you can google it yourself or buy one of her books.  The point is, this has really spoken to me. Her words have resonated so deeply and I have been reflecting on this all weekend.

I think this is what happened after that session Thursday.  I felt a wonderfully deep connection with my T. A connection that I have craved for my whole life from my mother. Clearly T isn’t m mother, but in my psychotherapy process right now, I guess due to transference and all my unconscious desires, T is the new fantasy mother figure and so in a way, I finally got something I’ve always really, really wanted. Needed.

What followed that was panic. Panic it wouldn’t last. Grief because logic told me she isn’t my mum and won’t ever be my mum. Grief and longing that I should have had that from my actual mother, but never did and never would….. and I now think, dress rehearsing tragedy as Brown writes about.

Thinking about the fact that T could leave. Stop seeing me. Give up her practice, decide she no longer wants to treat me etc etc…. Perhaps not logical but that doesn’t make any difference to the unconscious fears.  It is interesting because at the time I thought perhaps I was crying about the loss of my second session a week (my decision, my choice etc but still a loss for me) and that may well be in there somewhere but I think its deeper than that.  The loss of the second session is a harsh reminder that I can’t have it all can I? I can’t have my new job AND continue to see T as much as I would like to, because, she isn’t my mum, she isn’t my family and unfortunately, I can only see her at times when she has appointments available that also fit in with my work commitments.  The “loss of T” then, triggers my abandonment fears and all sorts of other things and the joy I felt from the connection we had, is suffocated and replaced with sadness and panic.

When in my past was I left distraught from joy and vulnerability ending badly? My childhood of course. Connecting, even for a second or a minute once in a blue moon with my mother would have been a dream. It would have felt just incredible.  Connecting with my emotionally unavailable and distant mother would have given me the hope that things were finally going to change, to get better.. I was finally going to “get” to her….

… until that didn’t happen. The connection would be broken (by her) and she once again, moved out of my reach. Shit that is painful. And that is when my template was set I guess.  Connection equals heartbreak.  Connection equals disappointment and connection was not going to last.

I guess then, its no surprise I would immediately “dress rehearse” tragedy when feeling joy, is it?

 

I thought to myself earlier, I wonder if this is something I have always done. I am sure it is.  I am trying to think about how this may play out in my relationships.  It’s weird because I don’t think of myself as being guarded or defended or someone that moves away from commitment – I think of myself as the opposite because I CRAVE love and affection and commitment and forever-ness (not a word, I know) BUT…. looking back, my relationships with men were disastrous because I attracted avoidantly attached men, men that didn’t want closeness or forever-ness. This was bad for me because it totally reinforced my internalised opinion that I wasn’t worthy of love.

Every time I felt these men move away from me I felt abandoned all over again. Every time the relationships failed, I was left heartbroken.  I got nicknamed something at school which referenced how many boys I had dated. Friends used to tell me I was constantly in relationships.  Even as a young teen I knew that the amount I dated was more than most, but I didn’t understand why or see it as an issue. I was trying to find love – but in all of the wrong places.  Christ as I write this the phrase “you need to love yourself before you can love another” springs to mind. I’ve always thought that phrase was bollocks!

As I write this my eyebrows lift up and I realise the weight behind the words. The realisations I am having.  Writing this feels so revealing.

I was drawn to avoidantly attached men for a few reasons I think.

  1. Anxiously attached people attract avoidantly attached people due to confusing the mixed messages and the going hot and cold with passion.
  2. Anxiously attached people wish they were “less needy” and avoidantly attached people seem to have these admirable traits, independence and confidence. So we are drawn to them.

I question tonight whether I had a need to keep some emotional distance so that I wasn’t left distraught? I’m not sure.

Both of my parents are incapable of emotional closeness with me and I craved that so very much all of my life. It hurts me a lot to really realise that neither of my parents gave me the connection and emotional closeness that they should have – could have.  But understanding it wasn’t me, my fault, that helps to ease some shame.  It makes me so determined to never repeat that pattern with my own children. Also, it makes me determined to never waste time with anyone who isn’t able to tolerate emotional closeness again. I only hurt myself trying to change them. I guess I was trying to “right a wrong”.  Trying to finally “get” an emotionally distant guy.  To change the ending of that childhood story where I never did “get” either mum or dad.

Anyway, back to the point, I was drawn to these men and that was in some weird way, what I needed/wanted because unconsciously I knew that if they were incapable of real, intimate closeness, then I didn’t have to panic did I because I didn’t need to dress rehearse tragedy, the deep intimate connection was never there for the offering.  I think? Something like that, my head hurts a bit as I try to work this out. I think I need a bit more time with that bit.

Weirdly I dreamt last night that I was in Starbucks and I ordered something I didn’t want. That is making me laugh now as it suddenly feels relevant. I didn’t order what I really wanted.  HA! 

Applying this to my time in therapy, it makes sense that feeling that connection with T would have freaked me out so much.  It makes me think again about the fact that I decided to drop my second session a week whilst she was away on holiday.  Leave before being left maybe? Sabotage the closeness that was building in our relationship perhaps?

You know I have never been broken up with before. I’ve had a lot of relationships and I’ve done the leaving every.single.time. One of those times I was heartbroken for a few years afterwards which I could never understand. Why would you grieve a relationship that YOU ended? I can understand now that it was because I didn’t WANT it to end, our whole relationship was a battle of me wanting more closeness and commitment and him not being able to offer that.  I will admit, I cheated on him several times and I could never understand why when I loved him so much.  Finally after about 6 years I ended it but then tried to go back to him a month later to find out he had met someone else. That hurt me so much.

Even looking at my fiance now – okay so I finally met a more securely attached man. A man capable of closeness and intimacy (thank God) but he wasn’t truly “available” when I met him. He was married with children. He left his wife before we got together, but the first few years of our relationship was drama fuelled due to his ex-wife’s rage.  He also has 3 young children (strangely my father also went on to have 3 children) and so I was never able to be his total focus, his number 1 because there were “others”.  There has always been “others” in my life and understanding this has helped me to get a hold of pangs of jealousy where his children are involved.  As T says, I can now use those painful feelings to understand more about myself and my childhood.

In terms of my career, I started a psychology course once but then quit. I tried to learn to drive for 10 years on and off and on and off again. I applied for a promotion last year at work, only to pull my application when I was offered the interview! And now, currently, I’ve been freaking out about starting my new job in November. Why? Because I’m dress rehearsing it all going wrong of course!

But as Brown has taught me this weekend, predicting it going wrong won’t change anything. It won’t hurt any less if it does.  All it means is that I lose out on that wonderful feeling of joy that may not actually, ever be ruined at all. Being vulnerable then, is the way forward.

 

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vulnerable

soul mate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Separation Anxiety: A Letter To T

Dear T,

Yesterday afternoon I found myself re-reading an old blog called “An Hour Is Never Enough“. I sent that blog to you back in June and we spent an entire session talking about it. Whilst reading it again,  I found myself crying and feeling the same (clearly that is why I went looking for it).

I wish that I could find the words to help you to understand how I am feeling but I can’t, it is really confusing. At first I wanted to write and say that I felt like I was just missing you, but something doesn’t quite feel right with that word. I can’t miss you because I had only been gone for a few hours.

I thought that perhaps it was because I just didn’t want to leave my session. I was enjoying my session and I felt very warm inside.

When I let myself cry at home, I got such a pang in my chest. I’ve written that before, it is a feeling I can never articulate very well but it always comes back when I am crying about loss somehow. When I nearly quit therapy when I lived in [    ], I remember vividly crying on the bathroom floor and having that same pain.  I keep thinking about losing my Thursday sessions and wondering how the hell I will cope without them if I was crying having seen you twice this week already.

I wrote a blog yesterday about how it must be because I hadn’t “had enough” yet which is another thing I’ve written about and told you about before, but since then I have come to realise that it is actually a bit more complicated than that. It’s almost as if the fact I felt so connected to you yesterday/recently is what is hurting me.  That is the only way I can explain it.

I wrote about the feelings I got when I was first dating [   ] and he would leave my flat to go home or to spend the weekend with the children. I would be in bits within seconds or minutes of him leaving. I would cry so much. I would yearn for him to be back and I hated it. I would be preoccupied with him and the only thing that helped in that time apart was that we had constant text messages and he would tell me that he missed me or that he loved me.  The pain feels very similar to that but obviously the attachment with you is different – the pain is the same though.  Does that make any sense at all?

A lady whose blog I follow wrote this (Life In A Bind):

“I wish I could email my therapist. Sometimes you just want to reach out to the person your heart feels safe with. Not even for a reply or an acknowledgment, but to be received and wrapped in thought.  You know that it will pass. That you will talk about it tomorrow. But right now she is the only person you feel intimately connected to. And you miss her, very much.  I wish that I could say: “I’m crying, and you make me feel safe ; I just wanted you to know”.

And that summed it up for me so well. I also know “it will pass” and that I can talk to you about it next week, but that doesn’t seem to help much. I acknowledge the huge amounts of shame that I am feeling about all of this. I try to tell myself its the child feelings and not the adult which makes me feel a little less pathetic (I can hear you saying “don’t do that to yourself” as I type that)!

I understand why I might be feeling sad and as though I am missing being there with you, I can understand that to a point.. but I can’t understand why getting what I’ve always wanted and needed can hurt so much at the same time. That doesn’t make sense and that feels so cruel and unfair.

If I have always wished I had someone (a mother) who was warm, attuned, who cared about me, who tried to “get me”, who I could talk to, laugh with etc.. then why, when I get those needs met do I leave feeling such heartache?

Hole In My Heart 

I just found myself reading an old blog post from 8 June entitled “An Hour Is Never Enough”. The post was about me crying after a session knowing I was going on holiday for a week and so would miss a few sessions. 

I wrote about how sad it feels that I can only see T on paid and restricted time and about the secret fantasies and wishes of how things would be different… in an ideal world. 
Me and T spent an entire session reading and talking about that blog back in June. 

Here I am, in October feeling the same. The feeling is the same. There is a horrible pang in my chest when I let myself really think about how I’m feeling and it hurts so much. 

It’s a weird feeling like that of missing someone and wanting to be with them. I only saw her a couple of hours ago and so that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I didn’t want to go and I wish I was still there or maybe back again tomorrow or something… I don’t know. 

I’m crying because I feel like I want more and that feeling is one that’s familiar to me. One I’ve written about a few times. 

Also there’s the issue that soon I will only be having one session a week and the feelings that’s stirring up in me are horrible. I feel so sad about that and worried about how I will manage when I can cry after a few hours of being with her when I’ve seen her TWICE! T mentioned it earlier and I cried instantly, the feelings are really raw for me at the moment. 

I’m scared I guess…. but not scared how I will cope with every day life, I know that I’ll be okay, but scared to feel this feeling regularly. 

T suggested earlier that I may find myself feeling as though I’ve been abandoned, that she’s abandoning me, even though clearly it was my decision. She said to ignore the logical stuff because feelings don’t work like that as we all know. Perhaps she’s right?! I’m not sure but it feels horrible. 

T says it’s absolutely okay to be attached and to need…and I agree and understand that but I guess what scares me is this feeling. This feeling that when I love someone, when I become very attached, it hurts more – that doesn’t make sense. It reminds me of the early days of my relationship with my fiancé, he would leave to go home and I would cry! I would pine for him in ways that I knew were hugely OTT for “normal” people. I would crave being with him so much, even minutes after he had gone. It’s the same feeling now. 

I know that if I could go back now, in an hour, tomorrow, that I would like it but I would find myself thinking “I don’t NEED to be here after all”… it’s all very confusing. 

My heart hurts. 

Anger Turned Inwards

anger

In last night’s session I told T that I had noticed from reading through some of my old blogs that when I have my “bad days”, I tend to be extremely harsh about my weight and my looks. I told her that I always feel “hideous”. I told her that reading through the posts written on days where I was in that dark place, there was a very familiar theme where I pulled myself apart and called myself lots of horrible names.

T said she could tell I was really quite taken aback about this and I told her that I have NEVER been someone who has liked her appearance, particularly my weight but other things too, but that this was shocking because of how extreme the self-hatred was in some of those blogs.

I told her that last Monday’s post (written in the rupture) was particularly awful. I told her that it was the most severe I have felt with regards to the self-hatred. I was trying to get her to understand that it was the closest I have ever come to self-harm. I have never self-harmed in the conventional sense of the word but that day last week I guess the image I had was VERY vivid and the thought did cross my mind. I know I shouldn’t really admit that but I feel it is important at the moment.

I didn’t actually tell T this and I’m not sure that she quite understood what I was trying to say (why would she when I wasn’t actually saying the words).. I was too embarrassed to tell her and thought perhaps I would send her that blog after the session so she could see for herself (but I didn’t/haven’t).

I said to T “I am wondering if on the days where I am really down and crying a lot that I am actually angry?” and she kind of nodded and said “you mean the anger comes out as tears?”. I said to her perhaps yes, but I was thinking more that the anger is turned onto myself in a “I hate my body, I am thick, I am useless” kind of way.

I have thought about this a lot since my session and this is what I’ve come up with.

Many people say that depression is anger turned inwards. My T said this to me years ago and I remember always finding that immensely interesting. I didn’t think it applied to me (I wasn’t depressed OR angry apparently) but here we are. Now, why would you turn your anger onto yourself? For me the reasons are clear: Trying to save others from being on the receiving end of my anger.  Preventing myself from pushing people away and causing them to abandon me.  Being the good girl. Having been taught that I am not allowed to show my anger else I will be punished.. there are probably more reasons than that even.

If I have been too scared of my own anger for all of the reasons above, it makes sense that any angry feelings I had wouldn’t have just miraculously disappeared, so where did it go? Onto myself.

Forms of turning anger inwards for me include the self-hatred as discussed above, reckless spending or perhaps drinking too much, different food habits perhaps not eating enough (starving myself and punishing myself for being “fat) or perhaps eating too much to try to feel better. Withdrawing socially, sleeping too much or not enough and various other things.. which lead me to my next thought:-

On my “bad days” I stay home because I can’t face the world/work/people. I stay home, I draw the curtains and lock the doors, I cry on and off all day, I might sleep a lot or I might not.. it depends but the thing I am focussing on here is that I lock myself away.  Now, when I was young, about 4 probably, my mother and her friend locked me in a room because I was being “a little brat” I was locked in there for a long time, at least a few hours and the memory of it still makes me feel weird.  I banged the door in with a hairbrush over and over again until I fell into a heap on the floor from exhaustion. Nobody came, nobody helped me and it was horrible.  It is a memory I talk about a lot and clearly a memory which has had an impact on me because a few years ago me and my fiancé were having an argument and he left the bedroom in a huff, slamming the door behind him. I FREAKED out at that. I couldn’t bare that door being closed and me being left in it like that. Clearly I now see it was a trigger for me of that horrible memory.

Today I feel I may have joined some dots up..

When I am depressed (read ANGRY), I lock myself away in my room (house). I punish myself for having angry feelings. JUST LIKE SHE DID.

I could be onto something here or I could be way off and being a bit dramatic, but it feels like I might have really understood something that I unconsciously do.

The problem with locking myself away like that is that I become stuck in my depressed, crying state. I am left to almost marinate in my own sadness. The feelings are usually hopelessness, powerlessness and other similar things which would make sense if you think about it because if you are angry with someone else (let’s say my mother in my case) but I am too scared to feel that anger towards her, I decide that I will blame myself for my disappointments and frustrations. I decide that it is all because of me, my shortcomings, my failures, my inabilities…. Because unconsciously I’ve decided, or perhaps learnt, that the alternative is to express my anger outwardly and to lose the love, care and affection of those I depend on. I guess the primitive fear goes back to the fact that without my mother, I would have literally died and so I couldn’t possibly feel the amount of anger I must have had in me to her.

So moving on now that I’ve had this idea, I guess the next step is to try to be honest with myself when I get those feelings and figure out what I am truly angry about. I imagine that won’t be easy giving that I’ve been able to block that out for my entire life to date. If I can pinpoint the real source of that anger and find a way of expressing it more appropriately (not in hurtful ways), perhaps I will disperse the anger quicker and in the process perhaps I won’t hate myself quite as much.

Doing my usual Google search, the suggestions for getting in touch with repressed anger/anger turned inwards are figuring out the following:

  • How often do you feel that way?
  • What type of feelings do you get?
  • What are the warning signs?
  • What triggers it? (i.e. is it a lack of self-control, self-discipline, forgetting something or being selfish or not having the ability to do something you wish you could).

Now I don’t know what to do with my anger, clearly so I need to make it my job to find out how to appropriately do that. Time for more Googling and to buy lots of new books I think!

“The first image that comes up is stripping my clothes off and then slicing the fat off my body.”

“I’ve noticed that my fiancé is the one triggering my angry feelings. Whenever he comes close to me to try and touch me or make a joke it makes me mad. Why?” 

“I feel so stupid.” 

Borderline Personality Disorder?

I had a dream last night that I was in a different house, I think in the dream it was meant to be my aunt’s house but she was away and I was house-sitting or something.  I was having my therapy sessions there but T was changing the times of my sessions and at one point I sat outside the room waiting for her for over an hour past my session time.  I didn’t know what was going on but I acted as though it was fine and I didn’t ask why she was late but inside I was stressing out.  Later in the dream I went for a ride on a motorbike or in a car or something, I can’t quite work it out, with my fiancé and then realised I only had 20 minutes until my session time and I knew I wouldn’t make it back in time. My fiancé was non-phased by this and was relaxing on the grass wherever we were but I was very anxious and stressed by it all. I remember feeling extremely stressed and upset.

I woke up feeling a bit….. groggy perhaps? I feel a bit irritated and a bit low in spirits I guess and I don’t really know why but usually feelings from my dreams seep into my waking life and so perhaps the dream stirred up some feelings for me.

I had spent my evening on Google reading about Borderline Personality Disorder , the whole push/pull thing, the fear of intimacy and engulfment and also some development phase that I clearly didn’t work through properly which is why all of this happens in the first place (I have forgotten what that was so I will try to find it again).  I read A LOT and it all fitted me so well.

It was one of those weird times that you are glad to read yourself in something and know that there is a reason for things and, obviously, that it means there is hope that things will get better. It also really grounds me when I can read stuff (intellectualise perhaps) because it becomes less scary somehow.. but given how I feel today, perhaps it has stirred up some other feelings or maybe its something else.. maybe it’s because it is T day and I have some unconscious fears about that? I don’t know.. maybe it is the dream.

The things that the dream and the stuff I was reading have in common is the fear of abandonment.  I can see that. In the dream T wasn’t being reliable was she? She wasn’t showing up when she was meant to and I didn’t know where I stood with her. Will she come, won’t she come? In the stuff I was reading I understand that the reason for the push/pull in relationships comes from a desperate need for intimacy and affection but at the same time, having a deep fear of abandonment and engulfment and so hence the push part of the push/pull situation. Leave before being left etc….  so the common theme therefore being abandonment right?

I don’t know, maybe I’m feeling the old body memories or emotional flashbacks of the abandonment fear. I feel irritable and moody.

I then flicked through some of my old blog posts to see if I could find any evidence of my new knowledge of the BPD traits.. and I did, but what stuck out more for me than anything else was quite how many “bad days” I have had.  I wrote a list down and there are at least 30 bad days.. not including today and others that I may not have written about at the time. These 30 days are between today and February this year.  So in 9 months, I’ve had 30 bad days.  An average of 3.3 per month. That is a lot, isn’t it?

I read that one of the “symptoms” of BPD is Emotional Instability and experiencing a range of emotions such as rage, sorrow, shame, panic, terror, emptiness and loneliness.  I then read

“You may have severe mood swings over a short space of time.

It’s common for people with BPD to feel suicidal with despair, and then feel reasonably positive a few hours later. Some people feel better in the morning and some in the evening. The pattern varies, but the key sign is that your moods swing in unpredictable ways.”

That is true for me.  I do feel a range of emotions including ALL of those things above… I don’t feel suicidal with despair but I do sometimes feel fine at one part of the day and then horrific at another; or visa versa.  I don’t feel “suicidal” but I have had images of harming haven’t I? I’ve written about that as recently as last Monday.

The next bit I read about impulsive behaviour. It talks about self-harm, feeling intensely sad and depressed but also impulsive activities like binge drinking or spending or gambling etc.  I have always described myself as impulsive. Often when it comes to shopping and buying clothes that I don’t have the money to buy (even when I have no money and I use credit cards or an overdraft). If I want to buy something, I will buy it and then later feel silly or guilty for it. The high doesn’t last long.

Next..

Unstable relationships

If you have BPD, you may feel that other people abandon you when you most need them, or that they get too close and smother you.

When people fear abandonment, it can lead to feelings of intense anxiety and anger. You may make frantic efforts to prevent being left alone, such as:

  • constantly texting or phoning a person
  • suddenly calling that person in the middle of the night
  • physically clinging on to that person and refusing to let go
  • making threats to harm or kill yourself if that person ever leaves you

Alternatively, you may feel others are smothering, controlling or crowding you, which also provokes intense fear and anger. You may then respond by acting in ways to make people go away, such as emotionally withdrawing, rejecting them or using verbal abuse.”

Okay so I have a fear of abandonment, that is undeniable. I suffer from feelings of intense anxiety and anger (which I usually turn towards myself but T perhaps found herself on the receiving end of last week).  I don’t constantly text or phone anyone and I wouldn’t physically cling or threaten to harm or kill myself but in all honestly that is more about saving face. I have often wanted to constantly text or call someone but I wouldn’t do it. However I can’t handle the feelings associated to that feeling of being abandoned or forgotten or left or not important… I could pull my hair out of my head.

It says that people with BPD have “love-hate relationships” and that they have a very black and white view of people. That they make people either all good or all bad with no real in-between.  Splitting/fragmenting.. I know I do that. T has said that to me many times.  Look at my latest rupture for evidence. T was all bad for a few days… and then it was over and she is now all good again and the only person who is “all bad” is me.  Look what I did?

For many people with BPD, emotional relationships (including relationships with professional carers) involve “go away/please don’t go” states of mind, which is confusing for them and their partners. Sadly, this can often lead to break-ups.”

I then found this website https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm which had a list of statements that would describe feelings associated with people who have BPD.

  • I often feel empty
  • My emotions shift very quickly and I often experience extreme sadness, anger and anxiety
  • I’m constantly afraid that the people I care about will abandon me or leave me.
  • I would describe most of my romantic relationships as intense, but unstable.
  • The way I feel about the people in my life can dramatically change from one moment to the next—and I don’t always understand why.
  • I often do things I know are dangerous or bad for me, such as driving recklessly, having unsafe sex, binge drinking, doing drugs, or going on spending sprees.
  • I’ve attempted to hurt myself, engaged in self-harm behaviours such as cutting, or threatened suicide.
  • When I’m feeling insecure in a relationship, I tend to lash out or make frantic gestures to keep the other person close.

I relate to many of them, particularly feeling empty, having emotions that shift quickly, the impulsive things as previously discussed and feeling very insecure in a relationship.

And this…. the 9 signs of BPD

  1. Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Even something as innocuous as a loved one getting home late from work or going away for the weekend can trigger intense fear. This leads to frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, jealously track your loved one’s movements, or even physically block the other person from leaving. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to have the opposite effect—driving others away.
  2. Unstable relationships. People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense and short-lived. You may fall in love quickly, believing each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be quickly disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, with nothing in between. Your lovers, friends, or family members may feel like they have emotional whiplash from your rapid swings between idealization and devaluation, anger, and hate.
  3. Unclear or unstable self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself, or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity.
  4. Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful, sensation-seeking behaviors, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, or overdo it with drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you over the long-term.
  5. Self-harm. Suicidal behavior and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Suicidal behavior includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm includes all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.
  6. Extreme emotional swings. Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the hole with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.
  8. Explosive anger. If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself.
  9. Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.

Again, I can relate to many of them.  My anger is mainly directed towards myself and my body image or me being “ugly” or “stupid”… I guess occasionally my fiancé may be on the receiving end of it.. and perhaps T was last week, but usually its directed towards myself.  Perhaps this is what causes my depressive days or days like today where I feel irritated and angry with no real reason… things trigger me easily to lash out like a busy day at work where I feel I can’t stay level-headed.  Friday for example, I was busy at work, not feeling great and I CRIED at my desk because I was stressed.

This morning my fiancé said he woke up and thought to himself “how do I feel today” because he wasn’t feeling too good yesterday. He laughed and said how silly is that? I told him that is my first thought EVERY DAY.  He asked “in a mental capacity you mean?” and I said yes.  He said that was very sad.  I guess it is, isn’t it? I can go to bed happy and wake up feeling very sad or vice versa.. it is my very first thought of every day. Yesterday I felt excitable and hyperactive and today I feel rubbish.

I know that lots of people don’t agree with needing a “label” and I can’t be bothered to get into a debate on that right now, my brain is too fried, but for me, this is helpful. I will speak to my T about it tonight and see what she says.

If I am right and I do have BPD at least it explains a few things, particularly the mood swings and the extent at which I go from happy to utterly depressed and back because that really does worry me sometimes.  It explains the push/pull to me more and helps me to understand and it means I can read up about it so that I feel less scared by everything.

I think that T triggered something in me that session which made me freak out and pull away from her. I split her off as all bad and projected onto her until the next session where we started to repair things and I came back down a bit (the depressive position I spoke about yesterday).  The sadness and grief that followed on Thursday and all the tears I cried that day which were the result of my panic at her leaving me due to my anger… my fear of abandonment kicking in and my need to pull her back to me again. Is this what I do in all of my relationships?

Did I decide to drop a session whilst T was on holiday because I was freaking out about her leaving me? Because I was unconsciously fighting against my own abandonment fears? Was I trying to pull away from her because I was hurting?……… and the tears and fear I felt on Thursday about the fact I would only see T once a week instead of twice soon, is that me panicking because I have brought on an abaondment (kind of) all by myself…. a self fulfilling prophecy?

So many thoughts in my head right now whirling around!

Paranoid-Schizoid and Depressive Positions And Recovery from BPD

Last week in my session with T, she said something about “paranoid-schizoid and the depressive position“. At the time, all I heard was the word “schizoid” and I momentarily freaked out that she was trying to tell me I had a personality disorder (which I probably do, but she has never actually told me that), then last night I was Googling Borderline Personality Disorder and it lead me to this page which I now realise was what she was referring to!

I found this VERY interesting and enlightening and what’s more, it has really helped me to understand the process of rupture and repair.  I am hoping it may also help some of you too.  I was planning to summarise these notes and make some comments on them but I think it is a bit too complex for me to do that accurately, so whilst I am tempted to sit here and make comments on everything, I will just attach a few links and if you have time/are interested, please do read them and let me know what you think, I would love to talk to someone about this!

A very brief summary is as follows:

The paranoid-schizoid position

Anxiety is experienced by the early infant’s ego both through the internal, innate conflict between the opposing life and death drives (manifested as destructive envy) and by interactions in external reality.

A child seeks to retain good feelings and introjects good objects, whilst expelling bad objects and projecting bad feelings onto an external object. The expulsion is motivated by a paranoid fear of annihilation by the bad object.

Klein describes this as splitting, in the way that it seeks to prevent the bad object from contaminating the good object by separating them via the inside-outside barrier.

The schizoid response to the paranoia is then to excessively project or introject those parts, seeking to keep the good and bad controlled and separated. Aggression is common in splitting as fear of the bad object causes a destructive stance.

The child’s ego does not yet have the ability to tolerate or integrate these two different aspects, and thus uses ‘magical’ omnipotent denial in order to remove the power and reality from the persecuting bad object.

This splitting, projection and introjection has a frighteningly disintegrative effect, pulling apart the fragile ego.

Projective identification is commonly used to separate bad objects whilst also keeping them close, which can lead to confused aggression.

 

The initial depressive position

The initial depressive position is a significant step in integrative development which occurs when the infant discovers that the hated bad breast and the loved good breast are one and the same.

The mother begins to be recognized as a whole object who can be good and bad, rather than two part-objects, one good and one bad. Love and hate, along with external reality and internal phantasy, can now also begin to co-exist.

As ambivalence is accepted, the mother can be seen as fallible and capable of both good and bad. The infant begins to acknowledge its own helplessness, dependency and jealousy towards the mother. It consequently becomes anxious that the aggressive impulses might have hurt or even destroyed the mother, who they now recognize as needed and loved. This results in ‘depressive anxiety’ replacing destructive urges with guilt.

The general depressive position

In the more general depressive position, projective identification is used to empathize with others, moving parts of the self into the other person in order to understand them.

To some extent, this is facilitated when the other person is receptive to this act. The experience that the projecting person through their identification is related to the actions and reactions of the other person.

When the thoughts and feelings are taken back inside the projecting person from the other person, they may be better able to handle them as they also bring back something of the other person and the way they appeared to cope. It can also be comforting just to know that another person has experienced a troublesome part of the self.

The depressive position is thus a gentler and more cooperative counterpoint to the paranoid-schizoid position and acts to heal its wounds.

 

My understanding of this is that children (or adults if they have been emotionally neglected and wounded and didn’t have a “good-enough” caregiver to help them develop through these phases successfully), tend to see people as all good or all bad due to using splitting as a defence mechanism.  In the therapy setting, this happens because a child is desperate for a good enough parent substitute (this is 100% true for me as I have written many times on here).

As therapy continues, the aim is that the therapist helps us to move through this phase as we should have done as children and in turn, we are more able to view the therapist as a whole person made up of good bits and bad bits and not one or the other.

I guess that when my T referred to me having “moved out of the paranoid-schizoid and into the depressive position” on Thursday she meant that I have moved out of the entirely “bad” projecting place and was then in a place where I was feeling guilt and worry about HER feelings and the damage that I may have caused to HER and our relationship. I think this is evident if you read my latest blog post.

Klein says “If the confluence of loved and hated figures can be borne, anxiety begins to centre on the welfare and survival of the other as a whole object, eventually giving rise to remorseful guilt and poignant sadness, linked to the deepening of love.”. I think I speak of this poignant sadness in my post “Drunk Thoughts“.

I guess when I went to my session Thursday and told T I couldn’t relax, was crying a lot and didn’t really know why and was feeling utterly helpless it was because I was feeling the guilt and grief of my projection onto T, the worry that I had damaged her/us.

 

AANNNDDDDD……

On top of this wonderful new information, I then came across the following blog:

https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/four-phases-of-bpd-treatment-and-recovery/

which explained the 4 phases of therapy when recovering from BDP – being

(1) The Out-of-Contact Phase

(2) Ambivalent Symbiosis

3)  Therapeutic Symbiosis

4)  Resolution of the Symbiosis (Individuation)

The blogger explains these amazingly well and so I won’t copy her blog but please read it if you are interested.  I wonder now if this is what my T meant when she told me last week that we were now entering into the phase of my therapy where rupture and repair was common.  (Phase 2 perhaps? The ambivalent phase?).

I then read this:

“…. the dominance of the all-negative images during ambivalent symbiosis result in the patient distrusting the therapist and using projective identification to reject them. The patient distorts the therapist, turning him “all bad” in their mind in order to block the development of a positive relationship. In other words, the patient sabotages himself by actively attacking his potential positive relationship to the therapist“.

Oh dear.. well that feels worryingly familiar doesn’t it? Our entire rupture was formed on me asking to go from 2 sessions to 1 and her reaction being that I was sabotaging my therapy……… GULP!!  What followed? a huge rupture where I turned her “all bad”………….

 

Drunk thoughts 

I’m drunk, not in a bad way but I’ve had enough wine that I’m feeling that typical I love everyone glow. 
And guess who I love right now? My T. 
I love her and I admit it, I need her. I want her in my life. 

But she did scare me. She really, really bloody scared me last week/weekend. I can see now with clearer more adult eyes that I projected a lot onto her and I can see that there was a hell of a lot of transference going on…. regardless of all that stuff, I was truly scared. 

Yesterday in my session I felt very weird. I felt uneasy and confused. I couldn’t find the words to sum up my experience. I cried so much. I told T I wanted to relax but couldn’t. I was being pulled between her being good and her being bad. 
I went for a long walk after and felt okay but when I got home I cried again, a lot. And then the guilt hit. 

Shit.. I haven’t apologised. I haven’t said sorry. She must think I’m awful. 
So I emailed her to say sorry and thank you and she replies a few hours later to say it was okay and that she understood. Her mail disappointed me again because it wasn’t as warm as I wanted it to be. As always though, it said enough that nobody else would agree with that. That feeling makes me wish I hadn’t emailed, it’s familiar. 

I realised last night that the feeling I was having was familiar. Someone says or does something which worries me, I shit myself and get protective of myself. I get strong and angry. I act out. Then I realise at some point I was wrong or I went too far or something and I am hit with such a sadness and such a guilt. It’s hard to find the words to convey the guilty feeling. It’s awful sadness and fear I guess. Fear that I’ve fucked everything up. 

T says “it’s okay”. She could be saying that in an honest, real “it’s okay!” (Calm down voice) or it could be a “it’s okay” (don’t do it again voice)… the one I think she’s using. 

I noticed when I arrived yesterday that T looked … something. She looked like she had been crying maybe? Sad? Her face looked different and she didn’t seem as ….. happy? as usual. I worried about her. Why? Why was she crying? Was she crying about the things I had said about her? About having to see me again when she didn’t want to? Something else? It’s played on my mind since then a few times. Is she okay? 

I’ve realised this week that the fact my trauma is about my mum and her emotional unavailability, her cruelty and everything else means that I need to see T as a replacement mother, a better mother, a “good enough mother” and yet I’m so clearly so scared that T will turn out like my mother did, that I’m unconsciously looking for evidence of her wrongdoing or bad traits… so it’s like half of me wants to find something and be like. “Ah hah! I knew it!” And yet the other half desperately can’t bare that to happen. To lose another Mum? To go through that loss twice? Oh no. I can’t. 

The stuff going on right now is deep as …. 

I don’t feel T is warm enough and I don’t feel she wants to help me enough and I don’t feel she (or anyone else) could possibly understand HOW BAD it hurts – and I also understand that perhaps all of those feelings are transference and understanding that makes me understand my “original trauma” more, or perhaps my unconscious trauma …. it helps me understand me more. And it’s painful. 

That’s all deep from wine thoughts huh?! 

First Session After The Rupture

I don’t know what to write but I am hoping that the words will come flying out of the tips of my fingers on the keyboard without me thinking about them too much and that somehow it will help.  Writing always helps… here’s hoping.

I had my session last night which I was very anxious about. I can’t work out how I feel now.  I came home feeling okay… weird though, kinda like I hadn’t really processed it or that I was numb or something. I went to bed feeling fine but have woken up feeling down. Again.

I got in the shower this morning and then cried and cried as I dried my hair. I climbed back into bed with my fiance who asked what was wrong, what was I crying for? I bloody hate that question when I don’t know the answer to it. It makes me feel so stupid! This has been a common theme in recent months, crying without being able to identify the exact cause. I don’t know why I’m crying.

I went back to sleep after my fiance left for work (where I should be!!) and woke up a little while ago having had some weird dreams. This is usual for me when I feel like this.  The dreams had a theme of showers… my fiance was in the bathroom and so was his eldest son. I was naked and fell back onto my stepson so he turned around to avert his gaze and I felt very embarrassed, grabbed a towel and said “he doesn’t want to see his stepmother naked! Stop it!”.  I then found another shower in a wardrobe in my bedroom and turned it on but it was dark in there and I couldn’t see so decided there might be spiders in there and turned it off. I then saw a fish-tank with a goldfish floating at the top. I felt irritated and confused and like I had nowhere to go. See – weird!

In my experience, dreams about showers and nakedness usually represent vulnerability and the feeling of being exposed. That would make sense I suppose wouldn’t it.

Last night I waited in the car for my session to begin, when it got to 7.28pm, my stomach flipped.  The nerves hit and I felt very anxious. I walked into my session feeling awkward and I didn’t really know how to feel, how to look, what to do…. T opened the door and greeted me as she always does. I kinda knew that wouldn’t be different.

I don’t have a lot to write about the actual session… I was hoping last night that by now I would have … I can’t work out why I don’t? where has it all gone?

I read my “letter to T” out loud. I cried through it and felt embarrassed reading the bits where I swore.  T was great about it all, she didn’t get defensive at all, she didn’t react in any negative way. In fact, she said something sympathetic to me and said something, something “sweetie” and I thought “Omg she called me sweetie!!!” she has NEVER called me something like that before, never. In fact, I had assumed that she just didn’t use words like that in her life (because obviously I see the whole of t and not just her professional self – ha!).  I didn’t react outwardly to that because I didn’t want her to realise and then never do it again… but she said “I just want to take a moment to ask you how it felt when I called you sweetie? I hope you didn’t feel patronised by that?” I admitted I liked it. I then couldn’t look at her.. I felt shame for liking it.  How can I go on about how I hate it when she treats me like a child, write about how she is controlling, powerful and dangerous and then enjoy it when she calls me sweetie?

T said a lot of things but none have really gone in.  She actually said to me at one point “I am aware that I am talking a lot but I think its important to reassure you and explain some of these things – how does that feel?”.  I guess she said that because I got very angry about that disaster session where I said she just spoke AT me and went on and on at me… I guess she was trying to make sure that didn’t trigger me again.  I told her it was fine but that I was struggling to process a lot of it. She said that was okay and that I would take the bits I needed and leave the bits I didn’t.

T explained to me that we are now approaching/in the “rupture and repair phase” and that this was exactly what was supposed to happen.  She told me that unfortunately this wasn’t a “one-off”.  I made a “mehhh” noise and exhaled loudly.

T said that she knew this phase was approaching as we have been building up to this for a long while.  She said it is one of the reasons that she was passionate about me not dropping from 2 sessions to 1.  She said she worried that this would hit and I wouldn’t be able to get through 7 days without her.  She also said that she worried equally that dropping back to 1 session would push this phase further into the distance – or cause me to prematurely terminate.  She said some stuff about our psyches always trying to sabotage things for us and how it was interesting that I made this decision whilst she was away and we were in a break.

I told T that I had worried she would think I had decided to drop back to 1 session BECAUSE she was on a break, but that I honestly didn’t.  T said something about “acting out”.  She said she doesn’t mean that in a negative way, like acting out as in being childish etc… but that it is common during a break for these decisions to be made.  T said that she was very aware I was already cut-off due to being preoccupied with the engagement and then the job search and then the break and said that it was her biggest concern I had gone to that adult place in order to go out and get the job and to handle the break and that my psyche was sabotaging my therapy by making these decisions in my adult brain. She said she was trying to hold the child part which I wasn’t in touch with.  She said something about how as a patient/client I could only focus on the now whereas as therapist, she had to “hold” the bigger picture and she could see, or have a good idea of, where it was headed.

I asked her if the next phase is rupture and repair, what was my last phase? She kind of smiled or something, I’m not sure why.  She said that it was building trust and some other things but I can’t quite remember what.. I guess it made sense though.  I then said “what is the point in rupture and repair? what is the point in all of these angry feelings?” she smiled again and said that it’s accessing all of the anger and fears I’ve held in my body my entire life – that it is very important to release them all.

T said something about the anger she felt when she got my email. She said she felt it was important to discuss this.  She then said that she didn’t say SHE felt anger when she got my email, but that she was in touch with something in the days afterwards and that she knew it was going to trigger MY anger….. (I am pretty sure this is NOT what she said but now I am unsure).  She said that she knew her reply could easily trigger some of my anger and she wasn’t sure how to respond because if she “gushed” about the job, she may have fallen into a trap about the second session etc and if she didn’t, that I would be upset.  She said that she had made a conscious effort to acknowledge the new job (which she did, but not in the way I had hoped).  She said she could tell the email, the dropping of the second session etc could cause anger and a potential rupture.  She said obviously she didn’t and doesn’t know exactly how these things will play out but that it inevitably would and that she didn’t want to take anything away from me until we could work through it properly.

She said something about the comment I had made about her wanting me there twice a week for money. I cringed – outwardly. I felt my face heat up and flush and pulled some “cringeeee” faces. I told her I didn’t mean it. She said that actually it was fine what I had said and that it was a very frightening and powerful fear and that she was PROUD I was able to write it.  I told her I didn’t really believe it even as I thought it or read it but that I wanted to write down all my thoughts so that I could try to make some sense of them.

T said that I had worked extremely hard over the weekend and that I must feel exhausted. I told her that once I had written the letter to her, I felt much, much better as I kind of made some sense of things and realised how much transference was in it.  She asked me if I feared her reacting to my anger? I said that I knew she wouldn’t but she seemed to think that was a big worry of mine. She said how this was the stuff I should have been able to do with my mum but was far too dangerous because she was “batty”… another weird word for her to use and not one she’s every used before ha!  I knew what she meant though and she is right.

T then said it was clear I was worried she would dismiss my feelings as “only transference”. She said to me that she was using my words there because she doesn’t ever use the words transference. She said in quite a serious voice that the feelings ARE real and ARE scary and that she would never say that.  She said it is very important that I can tell her these feelings and that they can be a source of really great work for me.  I told her everyone keeps saying that to me but I don’t really understand how. She explained and said a few things such as how the rupture would repair and make the relationship stronger and not weaker – I thought even as she said it, yes it does.. even though I know she is probably right.  Clearly that is a fear of mine.

T said that she understands I use my blog as a source of support in times like this, but that I should be careful because the only people who truly know what is going on during a rupture is us. I told her I get that but when the person you are most angry with, most scared of IS the person that you usually turn to for advice or comfort, it is very hard. I said I needed to write on here to get some help with it all – I needed that. She said she totally understood the need for support but that I just needed to be careful because sometimes it sends us spiralling off into even more painful feelings.

I told T how horrifying it was when that feeling hit me that she was just like my mum.. I said how stupid I felt, how utterly devastated I was and how strong the sense of fear was. I said that I don’t really have the words to explain this. She said sometimes there aren’t words that cover it. I agreed.

I can’t think of much else right now and I’m aware this is getting a bit long..  I know there is much more that was said that I can’t think of now but that is the gist of how the session went……

 

So…  there we are. Nothing in there to make me wake up how I did and since writing this out I haven’t got upset or cried once which normally happens when I am struggling like this so this really is an usual feeling/situation.

Coping Strategies/Behaviours

Its 3.54pm as I start to type this.  I am sat on my cuddle chair with the back door open for some fresh air to come in whilst wearig a comfy pair of jogging bottoms, a hoodie and have my blanket over my legs.

I took another day off of work today although I am actually feeling a million times better than yesterday.  I just craved one more day at home alone, but not because I am crying or anything.  Today I have been to the gym, blasted my music through my headphones and spent about 40 minutes on the treadmill walking and running and then a bit on the exercise bike.  After the gym, I went to the supermarket and stocked up on loads of healthy foods, fruit, salad, veg etc.  I came home, made and ate a lovely salad and I am now cooking a roast chicken for me and my fiance to eat tonight after my therapy session.

I feel strangely good today.. happy.. positive.  I don’t mean to sound like Mrs Negative or anything, but I am considering whether this is some strange sort of fake happiness or the calm before the storm.  It could also, of course, be genuine because writing that letter yesterday to T helped me immensely.  I found so much clarity writing that letter, it helped me to figure out my main concerns, my main fears and where they came from – what the transference was and what is actually “now”.  Since doing that, the whole episode feels minimised into almost nothing…

I am open to the thought that this could be some clever trick my psyche is playing on me because I admit that it feels much easier to be angry with T at a distance and of course in a few hours I will be sat in front of her and the thought makes me squirm!!!

I guess it’s better than spending the day feeling unwell which has happened lots in the past if I am dreading a session, sometimes I get bad heartburn, a headache or an upset stomach. I guess there is still time.

I am really intrigued to see how tonight goes.  I feel quite open to all ideas and suggestions and I am not going in angry or closed so I think that is good… but I am dreading reading my letter to T and any of the other blogs that I have sent her. How cringe is that? It isn’t so much the actual complaints such as “her admitting her anger” or whatever, that is genuinely a concern and one I am happy to tell her, its more the bits where I was angry and writing things like “well you sound like my fucking mother!!” cringe, cringe, cringe…………………

I am predicting that if T is nice and soft and makes me feel at ease then I may end up very easily accepting any apology or suggestion that she makes.. and then potentially coming away afterwards or the next day and thinking “actually, no, I don’t like that”… I don’t know why the delay.. perhaps again it comes back to being more comfortable feeling my anger at a distance where she can’t get to me/see me or something.  Either way, I feel this is my first real rupture and I am sure whatever happens will lead to some valuable therapy.. who knows how useful it may end up being. I am still in shock that I found some random courage to confront her about my worries and doubts, that is very unlike me. Perhaps a new, more courageous and outspoken me is being born! Here’s hoping!

Changing the subject slightly, the last time I felt as down as I did yesterday was the beginning of June. That was the week I ended up being signed off work.  In that week, after the two days of non-stop crying and sleeping, I went to the gym nearly every day, shopped for healthy food, ate nothing but salad and rabbit food (not really) and made a real effort to lose weight………  so that is interesting that I’ve done that again today/yesterday after feeling so low…. coincidence or not? I am not sure.

Me and another blogger were talking a while ago about this very subject – we have both noticed our patterns with food when we feel insecure or upset.  We both reported episodes of either restricting food OR comfort eating, depending on the feeling. She rightly pointed out that it seems to be about feeling powerless and out of control. I guess this is the same for people who suffer from eating disorders – perhaps it is for the same reasons?  When I was a kid, I had a little bin in my room and I used to hide my dinners in it rather than getting told off for not eating enough – that would certainly explain that, although it wouldn’t have been a conscious decision at that age.

It made me think of other things I do/behaviours I have when I am experiencing certain feelings. So far I can think of the following: Eat less/eat too much, sleep too much, stay home from work with the curtains closed and a blanket on me all day – not showering until an hour before my fiance is due home, spend money/shop excessively, clean and tidy the house excessively and get agitated by any mess that is made (I note I had severe OCD as a child) and lastly, crave alcohol – go out and drink wine.  What do you do?

The other thing we spoke about was that I will fall back into severe body hating.  I will find myself repulsive and get horrible visions of things I want to do to my body.  I will feel ugly and fat and just generally disgusting – she suggested that perhaps when I do that, I am turning my anger inwards – I think that is highly likely. I really need to keep an eye on this as it is clearly very destructive.

Well, it is now 4.15pm….. in just over 3 hour I will be there with T.. think of me please and send me good luck vibes! AGGGHHHH……

A Letter to T (not actually sent)

Dear T,

I am writing this for my benefit more than your’s, but perhaps it will help us both. Who knows.

Right now things aren’t feeling good for me. About you. You aren’t feeling safe to me at the moment. In fact, you feel dangerous to me. That probably sounds a bit dramatic but its the truth.

Right now I feel that when I see you I will have to put on an act that I am very strong, very sure of myself and of my feelings, opinions and thoughts and not weak. The reason I feel like that is that I feel if you sense my weakness, you will sense a “way in” and you will use it to your advantage to “win” somehow. Perhaps by making me doubt myself and think that you are right and I am wrong, perhaps by persuading me that I have been stupid, perhaps by filling me with guilt…. perhaps by removing the sense I have at the moment that I am not weak or stupid or guilty, but I am listening to my own mind, my body and to my gut, to my self for once. I don’t want you to take that away from me.

When I started to have doubts that perhaps you aren’t actually who I thought you were, I tried to brush them off. I tried to ignore myself and then I tried to listen to myself… listening to myself is what has got me here. I have spent my life ignoring or dismissing my own beliefs or ignoring my internal danger radar – I decided that has to stop. And here I am.

You don’t feel safe because I feel like perhaps the whole time that I have looked at you as the some great protector, the fantasy mother or whatever else I’ve seen you as, has all been wrong.  When you apportioned  your own angry feelings to me you were wrong. You weren’t only wrong, you did what SHE does. Don’t project your negative shit onto me. I won’t take it. I am NOT a scapegoat anymore for anyone, least of all you who should know better.  Why do people see me as such an easy target? Do I do something to make that possible? Is it because people look at me and think “she won’t do anything about it”? Is it that easy?

You don’t feel safe anymore because you ruined my good news. SHE does that too. Why have you started doing the things that she does?

You’ve admitted that when you got my email telling you I had a new job and telling you I would be dropping back to one session a week you felt anger. I could tell you felt something negative because of your reply. I admitted to you that your reply left me feeling disheartened and dissapointed. It felt “therapisty” and cold to me, but as usual, I doubted myself because obviously you are right all the time.. or so I thought. I should have trusted my gut at the time. I could feel something wasn’t right then but I chose to ignore it. There seems to be a pattern emerging there.

You experienced a negative reaction to my good news. I don’t know the reason for that, but what I do know is that, that isn’t right. It isn’t normal for my therapist to have a negative reaction to my good news.  Guess who else would feel a negative response to my good news?? HER AGAIN. I expected more from you T.  At least with her I can put it down to her being jealous of me somehow, but clearly that doesn’t apply to you and so the only way I can make sense of that is that you want to keep me down, small, weak…. dependant on you and that makes me so angry. Why do you both want to keep me needy?

I feel like you will blame all of this on me. I feel like you are currently sitting at home feeling totally un-phased by all of this. Perhaps it crosses your mind every now and again and you think to yourself “Ooh Twink has turned me bad – at last, this will be interesting” or something similar which feels painfully condescending and disrespectful to the pain and anguish I am left with in the meantime. It makes me feel like a fucking science experiment. You won’t admit that to me of course, that wouldn’t be ethical. My feelings mean shit, right?

Being angry at you or not trusting you feels like a no-win situation. You are more intelligent, more important, more authoritative and more wise. I am none of those things and so, naturally, I am wrong.

Every now and then this wave of guilt washes over me when I think of the times you have been kind and soft and it makes me cry. Like now as I type that… but I am fighting against that because I can’t lose my anger. Losing my anger makes me feel weak again and as I have already said, me being weak means you get to be stronger and overpower me and I can’t let that happen. I can’t be crushed. Guilt is a bastard little shit face. Guess who else uses guilt to win?

If it turns out that you are just like my mother I don’t know what I will do. The thought terrifies me. It isn’t impossible though is it? Look how many people like my mother I’ve already attracted in my life! There’s Sarah, then Tina and God only knows how many other people, not to mention the fact my Nan and sister clearly treat me with similar traits to my mother and her narcissism. Do what we say, do what we do, don’t disagree and don’t say no… or else…… that’s how you made me feel too.

If I have bared my heart and soul to you for the last 3 years and all the while you were just like her, then I give up. I won’t ever be able to trust anyone again because if even a qualified therapist is able to control and manipulate me and make me feel weak and use me as a scapegoat for her shit feelings, then what hope is there?

I think I will stop there because I am drained and I have a headache from crying.

Despite my anger, my fear and everything else, I can clearly see that a lot of this letter is probably transference after all…… but that doesn’t give you permission to make light of it. The feelings are real, the pain is real and the fear is real too.

Don’t laugh at it, please.