Safe enough to “act out”

I’ve been thinking of my phone session with T ever since we got off the phone yesterday. I’m pretty sure I was processing it overnight and it was the second thing on my mind when I woke up this morning (second only to the fact we have to find a new house to live in!).

One of the things that I remembered since writing last night was T saying that it was actually a sign of feeling safe that I was able to cancel my session the other week.

Don’t get me wrong, she very quickly tried to encourage me to always go to my sessions no matter how hard it was or how angry or upset I was feeling, in fact she said “even if you have to get here crawling on your hands and knees!!” So I just want to make it clear that she wasn’t rewarding me for it so to speak.

She said that I must have felt some sense of safety that I could be angry and cancel a session knowing it could, possibly, hopefully be repaired and made to feel better again… eventually.

She asked me whether I was scared she would retaliate or attack back or punish me for my anger and I told her that actually, I had been able to hold on to the fact that in the past she has never done that and that I did know she would allow me to have and tell her my feelings without embarrassing me. I did manage to hold that fact (this is progress, right?).

I’ve thought about this a few times since and it may sound a bit weird but I think it does show a sense of safety doesn’t it?

I used to always strive to be TWBTC (the worlds best therapy client) and obviously perfect therapy clients do not cancel sessions and do not experience any anger towards their T’s do they? Yet alone TELL them about it! So yes, I do think it shows some kind of ability to hold on that all will not be lost, all will not be ruined and destroyed forever.

This made me think about what would happen with my birth mother (note the negative tone). I genuinely don’t remember a single time that I’ve sat my mother down, told her that she has upset me or annoyed me somehow and had her say she understands how I feel and apologise OR say she understands how I feel even if she has her reasons. Isn’t that saying something? I have NEVER had that experience with her. Not once.

What I have had is her belittle me, tell me I am pathetic and childish or need to grow up or attack me back with things I have done that upset or hurt her somehow. She had often told me how ungrateful I am and remind me of “all the things she’s done for me” but the difference in the two experiences is huge.

T reminded me yesterday that my mother’s inability to show me love and affection and the fact I didn’t FEEL loved, was about her and not me. She said quite strongly that I AM loveable, that it was her issue and not mine. She also said that mothers who absolutely smother their babies and are draped all over them is about their needs (the mother’s) and not the baby’s. She said it’s similar in therapy, the baby shows it’s mother what it needs and so does the client. There is no need for a mother or for a therapist to smother. It doesn’t allow the baby/client to breathe and think for itself.

Anyway, the point of this blog was meant to be that although not advisable or encouraged, it may well be progress that I’ve been able to get angry and “act out” probably safe in the knowledge somewhere deep down that she will still be there.

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Trying to recover from the rupture

As 4pm drew closer today I began to feel more and more nervous. At ten to 4 I had to rush to the toilet where I got stuck for the entire 10 minutes (sorry for TMI)!. I watched my phone hit 4pm exactly and felt sick… I found T in my call list and pressed dial.

The phone rang just once or twice and then T picked up. I didn’t know what to say to her.  We said hello and then she asked me how I was currently feeling  had felt since I had sent her my email the other day.  In all honestly I wasn’t sure how I felt so I actually had to think about the answer to that question. I told her that her reply to my email had helped to lift a lot of the anger and pain and that knowing I would be talking to her today had also helped although I admitted that I was nervous and scared that it may end up making me feel more pain.

T told me that she had done some writing that she wanted to read to me to try to explain why she spoke differently to me and to other people. I was quite shocked at this, I’m not sure why but I think it’s something about the fact she had been thinking about it a lot and had clearly put a lot of thought in prior to this call.  Writing that now sounds obvious really doesn’t it? I guess of course she did.  Anyway, she begun to read to me and I can’t quite remember what she said but I do remember that I started to cry pretty quickly because what I “heard” at first was something that meant “some people need more love than others – than you do” and I cried because I thought my worst fears had come true. There really wasn’t anything she was going to say that was going to fix this rupture and there really was nothing she could say that was going to make me feel better, to enable me to trust her enough to be vulnerable with her again – to do the work with her anymore.

She said something about how she didn’t want to force herself and her love on me (as I heard this I thought to myself “it isn’t forcing when I want it”.) She said something about how my mother was an overbearing narcissist, that she didn’t want to repeat that for me and that she trusted me to show her what I needed.  She also said some things about how she worked using her intuition and that she truly believed that she was a good enough mother figure to me, and to all of her clients.  Now I got what she meant about my mother being an overbearing narcissist in one sense, but in another I was confused because my mother DIDN’T show me any love or affection so surely that isn’t the same? Surely that IS exactly what I need? There was so much being said and so many thoughts and feelings going on at once that it is hard to remember it all now.

She then explained how everyone she sees has different needs and said to me to think about my 3 stepchildren and how I would treat them all differently, but love them all the same amount.  She said you could have two children and one need a lot of reassurance and the other not need that so much. She said she worked using her intuition and was guided by me.  At this stage I was feeling pretty confused because, as I’ve already said, I understood what she was getting at, but I just kept thinking… yes, but I NEED you to show me love and affection so why won’t you do that??? If we all have different needs and I’m yelling at you because I want something (for my needs) then why aren’t you doing it?

I cried pretty constantly the whole time she was saying these things and then she asked me if I understood what she had said.  I told her I kind of did but kind of didn’t and she said it was okay if I didn’t fully get it at this moment in time, that perhaps I would in the future and that perhaps it would take more than just this one hour (someone had said this to me in a comment the other day and I am thankful they did as otherwise my expectations would have been too high – thank you).  I still felt rather disappointed and a bit deflated at this stage.  I could hear she was trying to make me feel better but it just felt a bit like what she was saying to me and what she was expecting me to feel weren’t tallying up somehow.  Like, was I missing something here?

She said that there was no denying it “was a monumental way to cock up“.  She actually admitted to me that when she realised what had happened, she had to phone a therapist friend of hers to cry to them! I felt instantly very guilty and sorry for her when she said this and said “oh nooo did you?” and before I could finish saying it she snapped quite abruptly “No! You do not feel guilty for that, I am not telling you that for you to feel bad about, but simply so that you understand that I did and do care very much“.  She said she knew instantly how deep this would have hit me and then said that the only reason she didn’t pry into how it had made me feel instantly and by text was because I was meant to be in session with her only a few hours later – until I cancelled.  She also added that being a therapist was a vocation to her and not just a job.  She said she really does get it and does deeply care, it wasn’t somethign she did simply to pay the bills.

I eventually said to her outright “I get that everyone has different needs and that you treat us all differently, just as I do my stepchildren, I get that.. but, I feel like I am always fighting to get someone to show me love and they never do and that IS what I want!” T said that it might feel to me like what I need is for her to show me lots of “gushing love” but that often what we think we need, isn’t actually that helpful for us.  She said that if she is working with someone who has had no love and affection from a mother and who has suffered childhood trauma and cruelty, that gushing them with love would be extremely damaging and painful for them.  My ears pricked up…  I questioned why and she said in the most extreme case, showering someone who has been loved deprived with affection COULD lead them to commit suicide. At this point I was listening intently but still confused and then she said this:

“Imagine a baby that is starving, literally starving and nearing death, extremely malnourished and very sick.  What you might think you need to do is to take the baby and feed it and feed it and feed it to make it better, to save it? But actually that would kill the baby!  What the baby would need is to be drip fed tiny bit by tiny bit until it built up a tolerance and could slowly adjust to having more food”…

Something about this image clicked in my head and really made sense… okay… okay, this was helpful – I told T this image was very helpful. She continued explaining and said that in my head I think I know what I need but that a lot of that was fantasy and built up using the fantasy that she is the perfect mother and that the perfect mother would and could never hurt me.  But that the fantasy was wrong.

I told T that it was so painful for me because so many times over the years I have got upset and complained to my mother that she never hugged me or told me she loved me or showed me any affection and my mother would shame me and tell me to grow up and tell me that I wasn’t a child and that I was pathetic.  I said it felt like the same thing was happening all over again – not the shaming so to speak, but like T was saying that she wouldn’t show me any affection even though she could have.  I told T that my mother was always very gushing with her men – just not me and the feelings were triggered by the text she sent me.

She said something again about being led by me and I said something like “but I have told you before that I sometimes find your emails lacking warmth and a bit cold and clinical!” and she said it was quite a while ago and said “lets not get too carried away, it is only an email sign-off, you do FEEL my love in many other ways – I know you do and I know that you have the capacity and capability to feel that love. Some people cannot feel it and need me to speak to them in different ways, in ways that might help it to get through to them. You feel my love here”.

Hmm…something about what she said made me feel ashamed. It felt as though she was saying “Jesus Christ, it’s a bloody sign off on an email!” and so I said that I understood that it was stupid and I was being irrational but she butted in and said she doesn’t think that for a single second, she said how much she understood the pain was very deep. She said every therapist’s favourite line… twice “This IS the work” with extra emphasis on the IS. I had to try not to chuckle.  She then spoke about “the frame” which I took to be a reference to the therapeutic frame, as in the guidelines or something? She said that it is expected and normal for me to want to bash the frame about and hit it and try to change it and it is her job to hold steady whilst I did that.  This gave me an image of a toddler who wants things it can’t have and kick and screams for them all the while the mother is calmly saying “no” but not shaming the child and, perhaps, validating the child’s pain? I don’t know, I could have this entirely wrong. I need to do some reading about the frame to fully grasp this I think.

[What I need to write next may offend/upset/annoy or possibly trigger those who have D.I.D or parts – I am not sure but I want to be cautious so consider this a warning if you want to continue reading].

T said that the person who the text was actually for was much more dissociated than I am and she said that sometimes she “doesn’t even bloody know I am here at all! I have to fight to get through to her to know I am there for her!”.  She then said I wasn’t that split and dissociative and that I did know she was there – that she only had to say something gently and I knew it, but that the other girl didn’t.  She said that working with parts was an entirely different way of working but that I wasn’t that split-off. She said that I was integrated.  (I questioned how true that was as she said it..).  She later said that the work I was doing was entirely different and that we were “nowhere near each other” whatever that meant.

I told T that I always secretly hoped I was her youngest client and that it made me special to her somehow.  She told me that it didn’t matter whether I was the youngest, oldest, prettiest or whatever.. that I was special to her just for being me.  She said that I didn’t need to “jump through hoops” for her.  I cried as she said this even though it felt a bit of a cliché you know like “you are special just the way you are”… but I think I believe her….. I think.  She said that I was working “beautifully” and was doing very well and that she admired me said I had plenty of courage even if I didn’t feel I did at times.  She said something along the lines of how the other client was in a very difficult place and that therapy was very difficult and unpredictable for her but for me, I may be struggling but i am progressing along very well.  I have mixed thoughts about this.

She told me that there was a space inside her that was just mine and that nobody else could ever take or come near because it was just for me and then said that she wondered if it felt a bit like finding out you were going to have a sibling when you were a child – others – someone else to share mum’s love and being really angry about it.  She said she wondered if it reminded me of when my sister was born?  I admitted when my sister was born I was terribly upset and jealous, having been an only child for 7 years, I was used to that and when I already had no love or affection another child surely meant I would have even less?! I’m not sure how accurate that fear was because it made not difference to the lack of love I got but it did result in lots of other feelings of insecurity and being forgotten or left-out.  It set me (and my sister) up for years of competing for her attention. The ultimate power-trip I guess. MEH.

She told me she had a lot of love and care for me and she said if I wanted her to sign her emails off “with love” from now on, that she would. I felt immature but thought to myself that it really isn’t the same when you ask someone is it? LOL and then she said …. I try to match your style in your emails to me… and I interrupted her and said, I had thought this only today.. when I re-read my emails to her, I always signed them off “Thanks, TT” and admitted that was rather formal, especially for me! I said I had done that because I was copying her style and she said she was following my lead!!! I did laugh at this.

I guess the main things I took from the call were that she thinks lots of affectionate words and gushing love is NOT what I need, even if I think I do… that she thinks I have the capacity to feel her love in many other ways and that some clients do not and that because I am in a constant state of hypervigilance, looking for perceived proof of being rejected or abandoned, that is why this hurt so much.  It did tap in to some very deep wounds of mine, mainly being unloved/unloveable and not special.  She said once or twice that I did not get to experience the good enough mother and that I was not taught that was allowed to feel angry and resolve something with her and that her love did not change for me if I did have those angry feelings.

Right now I have lots of words and thoughts and reactions to sit with and work through but I do already feel heaps better.  She reminded me that each rupture we get through is helpful and will build a deeper level of trust.  She said with each rupture that we successfully repair, I will gradually remember that things can be survived no matter how hard they get between us. I understood what she meant as she said this because the other day it seemed insurmountable and now it doesn’t.

Right now, believe it or not… whether she signs an email “with love” or just her name feels wholly insignificant… isn’t that funny? Or perhaps makes me a little crazy! Perhaps her reassurance has helped me to come out of my triggered place and back into a more rational and adult place? I’m not sure.  I feel hopeful but yet the remains of some sadness lurk below the surface, a bit like when you’ve got back together with an old boyfriend and you are glad but you feel a little fragile and kinda nervous and careful? on guard perhaps?? I dunno, it’s hard to explain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft letter to T

I’m sure you already know what’s going on for me, you probably guessed pretty instantly but that actually made it worse because if you did guess, why didn’t you do what you usually do and ask if it upset me or ask if it hurt or angered me? It felt as though you skirted over the issue and that made it worse.

When I read the text you sent me by mistake it felt like a kick to the stomach. I was already having a particularly bad few days and that day was horrible, reading your text just felt like the last straw. I couldn’t take anything else that day.

I have a lot of probably childish and irrational and dramatic feelings about that text. I’ve struggled with the feelings for the past 8 days and honestly all it makes me want to do is never come back to therapy,

You know by now that I’ve never missed a therapy session in 3 years, but last week I never wanted to come back again and unfortunately I still feel like that.

Reading a message from you to someone else, clearly another client, was just horrible. Obviously logically I understand you see many people, not just me… but I don’t have to face up to that reality because I don’t have to see it.

Reading that text changed that for me. There are two reasons it hurt me:

1) Some of the words are the same as you use with me – the words I refer to as “therapisty” like “bring it here” etc…. and that made me feel like I just get the same crap as a million other people. And then the complete opposite that

2) SHE got soooo much more warmth than I get. You called her “dearest”. Ouch. You later said “much love”… honestly I don’t have the words to explain how this made me feel but without sounding like a petulant child, you don’t use words like that with me do you? I don’t get that level of warmth and affection and I’ve told you before that I feel your replies can be cold and clinical and sometimes have made me angry as I’ve felt like I mean nothing. Sometimes I’ve poured my heart out to you and received a reply like “we will talk about it. Kind thoughts” and it’s like the equivalent of telling someone you love them for them to reply “thanks”. It’s painful.

So I’ve told myself that it’s the way you speak to all of your clients! That it’s some therapy rule or some code of ethics or something: keeping professional or something I don’t know….. but clearly that’s not true because SHE gets warmth and affection and terms of endearment that I don’t get and that makes me feel utterly rejected I guess. I feel unimportant, less liked, not loved… it makes me feel like I’m a chore and just “a job” and that clearly triggers me for very obvious reasons.

It makes me question everything. It makes me want to leave and stay away. Why is that? I guess it’s because without feeling like I am really important to you or liked or loved by you, that I am somehow special, what’s the point? I wish I could be more mature and accept that I am in counselling and I’m an adult paying another adult, a professional, for a service and that be that…. but clearly I don’t work that way. It goes way deeper than that for me and I feel it’s now one-sided and feel embarrassed for that.

I don’t see what you can say that would make me feel any better about this. There is nothing you can say about why you are so much more affectionate with her than with me that would make me feel any better.

So yes, you’re right, I AM running away but I’m running away because I just don’t see a way of repairing this rupture in a way that doesn’t mean everything from here will be different. Ruined. I don’t see how I can trust you the same way or be as open and vulnerable now. So what’s the point?

For Christmas I chose a special present and card for you. It really was chosen with a lot of thought and love, it wasn’t about money or anything. It felt special to me, I was giving you something symbolic of my love and it feels like perhaps you were laughing at me because you felt so very differently. Maybe you felt just like she did when I gave her special presents for Christmas that ended up in the bin.

I feel so unloved and so insignificant and like a chore and a job. I feel “less than”. Rejected in comparison and stupid for ever feeling anything else. Foolish.

I don’t need to tell you why those feelings are raw for me, having to feel those things AGAIN but because of you is hideous.

Perhaps the more time that passes the less hurt I will feel, but for now, I don’t know what else to do or say. I know you sent the text by accident and that if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t even know these things but that just adds to me feeling foolish.

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!

Back to therapy tomorrow 

I’m back to therapy tomorrow night after 2 weeks and 3 days and I feel…. absolutely nada. In fact, I forgot until earlier today when I remembered and had absolutely no feelings about it at all. No relief and no anger or apprenhension…. nothing! 

I actually feel a little mean that I have so easily “forgotten” her and the good feelings I get when I’ve seen her. I have no doubt they will come flooding back tomorrow but it’s weird, like, where have they gone? It’s a bit unnerving that I can do easily do this. 

Tomorrow she will ask me how I’ve been and I will tell her I’ve been fine… she will laugh when I say fine and ask where my anger is.. if I am angry with her and when I say no, she won’t believe me. I will secretly get angry but I won’t say anything koz, well what’s the point? (Also that’s twisted isn’t it? I will then GET angry and she will think she’s right but she’s not). 

Then we will talk about my redundancy application, my new job and me dropping a session. My guilt around that and all that stuff. I should tell her that her reaction disappointed me, that actually everyone’s reaction has dissapointed me (apart from my fiancé and you guys)…. but I probably won’t and even if I do, she will probably explain and I’ll feel as though I’m being stupid.

The tone to this actually sounds a little aggressive doesn’t it? Which is odd koz I don’t feel it! Ha.. mental. 

It’s not about the therapy break!!!!

I was pretty desperate for last night’s session to come. I had stomach issues all day Monday and Tuesday and after spending all day Monday crying in the toilets at work, by last night I was really in need of some T time.

I walked in, sat down and brought Frank out of my bag. I sat him on the sofa and T commented on the fact I had him with me. I told her that as it was our last week before her 2 week holiday, I wanted to bring him with me to keep her “fresh” on him somehow. T used the subject of her holiday to tell me that she thought my email to her on Friday may have actually been an attempt to “keep her good for the break”.  I didn’t write about that email, but for background I had emailed her Friday morning to tell her I felt some sort of shift in my recovery and said that I felt very strong, optimistic and thanked her for making it all possible.

I kind of internally rolled my eyes when she said this and thought to myself “why can’t I just have been happy? Why does there have to be an unconscious ulterior motive?” but I didn’t say anything. T said she thought that perhaps if I let her know I was feeling good and was thankful to her – then the break would be easier and I wouldn’t worry about her going away and potentially not coming back if I was angry with her.  I told her that I didn’t think so, no. I genuinely felt very happy at the time. She said she didn’t doubt that possibly I did in that moment, but that similar to a bipolar episode when you are that “up” you can’t feel anything low at all – it keeps anything sad, hard, tough etc well and truly away and that it is often short-lived. She said she thought that when she read my email but thought to herself “let’s see if it holds”.

I jumped in here and said “and then you got my email on Monday” (the one where I said I was extremely sad post mother stuff). She laughed.

T said a few more things and then said she thought that potentially my mother got me in touch with my anger and that perhaps it was aimed at her for going away. I told her no, it wasn’t. I told her again that I felt okay about the break and that right now I was just preoccupied with the mother/narc stuff that was going on.

She said something else about the break/how I was probably angry with her… and I could feel myself getting a bit wound up. I looked away and thought to myself just grin and bear it, she will move on soon… I clearly can’t persuade her its nothing to do with the break. With that she said “what’s going on right now?”.

As soon as she said that I felt something in my body, it was quick and I’m not too sure what it was although on reflection today I think it was frustration. She said “are you angry?”… I paused and then said, I’m just upset and then began to cry a little.  I think looking back I was getting angrier and angrier because I felt like she wasn’t listening to me. I had said it wasn’t about the break over and over again and yet she seemed determined it was. I am always open-minded when she makes suggestions and she may even be right somewhere unconsciously but what am I meant to say if I can’t feel it??? It was irritating me because I felt like I was holding in sooooooooo much stuff from the weekend and needed a release so badly that this was wasting precious session time.  I think that perhaps I also felt like the blog I sent her Monday about how utterly sad I felt, how disappointed and how much grief I was feeling wasn’t being respected or acknowledged or something..

I can’t really remember what I said or what she said and the order of things but we discussed what happened with my mum Saturday night and I told her how the evening played out. Thankfully we moved on from the bloody break-anger at last. A while later I found myself really crying my eyes out with T encouraging me to get it all out and feel the release.  I cried a lot, I felt totally exhausted and wiped out.  I told  T that I just “hate it. I hate her sometimes so much” in a small, childish voice.  She said “of course you do, that is normal, that is okay”.

We went over lots of mother stuff and she told me that I would never win with her or with a narc in general and that the only way to stop this happening was to not engage. She acknowledged that it was understandable that I got sucked back in and suggested that next time I go to give a boundary away (like when I changed my mind about her birthday weekend which I am now regretting) I listen to the other voice in my head that says to hold off and wait and see for a while longer. I told her that I actually did have this voice in my head at the time and that I purposely went against it. I told it to be quiet. She looked sad for me and said that perhaps next time I would listen to it more, that it would be stronger.

She told me to keep myself safe during her break meaning don’t see my mum. I told her that I won’t and that the next time I will see her is the dreaded birthday weekend away. We spoke about that for a while and she suggested some ways that I could make it more manageable. She also told me that I did not have to go but clearly I feel like I do have to.  We spoke about that for a while and T said “you are so scared of her” (not in a mocking way) and I thought to myself how I hate it when she says that because I want to tell her she is wrong, but that I knew she wasn’t.  See, I can be objective!

I told T that I was worried whilst away on her birthday weekend she would invite people to our wedding in front of me again and that I had very nearly sent her a text yesterday to say I did not like what she did at the party (inviting people in front of me). I told her I didn’t send it but that I had wanted to.  T said perhaps wait and see if she does it again or that perhaps it should be done face-to-face.  T also suggested if she did it again, I should aim my response to her and say something like “Mum, the guest list is up to me and fiancé, thank you” but I said that would make me look bad and embarrass whoever the other person was.  I said it would also show her up and she would hate that. Hate that I wasn’t complying with her and hate that I would show her up and looking “rude”.  T suggested I spoke to her before that weekend and said to her ahead of time please do not do that so that if she did, she already knew what my response would be.

Conversation moved on to work and I told T that I had found out that redundancies were going to be announced this week for my job role and that I had found out they were considering accepting voluntary applications. I told her I suspected the announcement would be Friday afternoon as that seems to be the way they do things that might cause a reaction, they tell you and then send you home so that you don’t cause too much disruption to the firm. She asked me how I was feeling about it and I said I was anxious and couldn’t decide whether I wanted to apply for voluntary redundancy or not.  I told her my reasons for and against it and said that obviously a huge pull factor was escaping Tina.  It really would sever the contact between us for good. No need to see each other anymore at all and that was very attractive to me.

When I drove home I had some tears in my eyes as I thought to myself how kind, soothing and maternal I found her. How I wish when I looked in my mother’s eyes I had that same warmth instead of such an evil, coldness.  Her eyes pierce my soul sometimes. I thought to myself how much I love it when T laughs – like really laughs, sometimes she laughs loudly and throws her head back and it makes me warm inside.

So, I now have one final session with her, tomorrow afternoon and I have no idea what I want the focus of that session to be but I am not looking forward to it if she talks about the fecking break. I keep questioning myself is it that? Am I in denial? But its infuriating when you aren’t in touch with something that she so clearly thinks I am feeling – what am I meant to say to that?

I worry she is right and that it will all hit me as I leave tomorrow’s session. I know it sounds rather dramatic, but right now I am not at my strongest emotionally and I feel drained and I need tomorrow to be good, to be connecting and I absolutely can’t handle that pain of leaving her that sometimes kicks in on top of everything else. Perhaps I am compartmentalising I don’t know.

Oh and on a totally different note, I wondered to myself today if I sometimes self-sabotage. I was thinking that on Saturday when I decided I quite fancied some drinks that evening (with mother), I did have a voice in my head that said “you are really strong right now, you’ve just had a big shift in your therapy and the day with the kids has been great – why potentially ruin all of that?” and I just ignored it and said back to it that it would be fine (because I am so strong ….) Gah.  I also thought to myself that this has happened several times. I get to a good place and then I make contact to see her and it ends in tears – this is half the reason I was so annoyed with myself for falling into her trap again..  I have the knowledge there, I have that voice there trying to make me question my motives and I sometimes go against it.  I wonder why I do that.

Anger, Sadness, Confusion and Misattunement

I can’t cuddle Frank right now. Actually I can’t even look at him so I threw him off the side of the bed last night. My boyfriend said, “ooh is someone angry with T?” Yes. Yes I am. He asked why but I felt far too vulnerable to tell him. Poor innocent little Frank though.

I am feeling angry but I’m also feeling hurt and misunderstood and rejected although I’m not actually sure why I feel rejected! On top of that I feel some guilt because (and as a reader pointed out earlier) I have a suspicion in the back of my mind that my anger may be disproportionate and misdirected.

Here’s what happened from my perspective:

I left T yesterday and felt instantly uneasy. I felt a mixture of sadness and anger. I later managed to write and realised the feelings (which were quite young) were that I felt I hadn’t “had enough” of T yet before I had to leave her again and be without her for another 5 days.  I cried quite a lot and was really in touch with the sad feelings.

I then decided to reach out and email T to tell her this was how I was feeling. I felt vulnerable doing this because there was a risk that she may think I was being over the top and extreme – it is, after all, only a few days. But I did it anyway and I really hoped she was going to reply and say she understood that it felt it wasn’t enough, that I didn’t want to leave, that I would miss her and that I would soon be back…or in my fantasy that she would tell me to come back on Saturday or something and that she missed me too (obvs I know that wouldn’t happen but a girl can dream!)

BUT

But what happened was that she replied nicely, very kindly – but in my eyes, to me, about the wrong thing. It felt she got it wrong and the anger that brought up in me was pretty scary. I was so angry that she hadn’t “got it”.

It wasn’t about the child bit not having been tended to in session (as she said) it wasn’t that! It was just that I didn’t want to leave her again. I didn’t want to have to go away from her. I suspect there is some transference going on here – perhaps I am feeling something from my past or whatever, perhaps its an emotional flashback.  It feels to me that it is about the break and about missing her and being left alone again already or something. Perhaps I am scared she will be gone too long – I don’t know but what I do know is that it isn’t that the child bit didn’t feel it got what it needed – it wasn’t that. It’s just that I will miss her.

I got so angry because I felt so unseen and T has never made me feel like that before. I felt so much anger that she missed the point – that she had read my writing and was being so misattuned to me – that was so painful. She’s meant to be perfect – she’s meant to be a mind-reader AND she’s meant to just get it and make it feel better but she didn’t and that felt horrific. She made it worse and now I hated her for that. I felt so disappointed.

I shouted “no!!! no!!!!” out loud through my sobs to myself – no, please don’t get it wrong, please don’t make me feel worse, please don’t be imperfect, don’t let me be angry with you. Because she is the only person that I’m NEVER angry with you know? She is the safe person, the safe place. She is the good mother and I don’t want to turn her bad.

 

T has said to me in the past that sometimes in therapy our psyche can distort things to get us to where we need to be. So with that in mind, perhaps I have “made” some anger at T as I need an excuse to direct my anger somewhere? But obviously if that is the case it is unconscious and so it doesn’t FEEL like that.

It could be misdirected and actually be about anger I have towards my mother (I will call her bitchface from now on I think).. but that hasn’t been my style before, so why now?

OR it could be that being angry with T is easier than having to feel that horrible, painful longing for her that I was feeling before she “got it wrong”. I don’t miss her now I’m angry although I am desperate for this to be resolved.

Who knows.

That now leaves me here and wondering what to do for the best. Half of me wants to contact her again, take another risk (although that feels very scary). I half want to tell her that I’ve felt angry since she replied yesterday because it feels she didn’t “get it”. To tell her that it triggered a strong reaction in me of anger and that I’ve felt uncomfortable about it since. To tell her that my response was typed very bluntly (but I wasn’t sure she had picked up on that or not) and as she then hadn’t replied it felt even worse (hello, why aren’t you a mind-reader??).  Oh and that kind regards, best wishes and all other sign-offs were pissing me off too because they felt cold and clinical and that her name and a kiss would feel much warmer (LOL).

Or do I just sit with it and wait until I see her next Tuesday night?

That is potentially safer in that there can be no more misattunement – no more understandings and therefore no more potential anger or sadness to have to deal with BUT the likelihood is that I will push it all down and away and come Tuesday I will feel as though I am “over it” although I probably won’t be and I won’t tell her because I won’t feel it necessary and then and even if I did, the feelings would be removed and it would all feel rather unimportant and small. That doesn’t feel particularly healthy or productive.

What is best, not risking more misattunement and not getting anything resolved or risking more misattunement and more anger but getting some reassurance?

I hate it when these things crop up at the end of the week and then you have to go into your Friday and weekend feeling confused and hurt and upset and rejected. I don’t want to have to carry that all weekend and i don’t seem to be much good right now at “holding” it (if I ever have been).

T has said to me in the past that when my anger comes I may find her emails set me off and that we can’t deal with the anger via email because it can make it worse – she said it almost becomes a case of damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t in regards to responding to a client in that situation and that she may have to reply to say we would speak about it in session – to “bring the anger into the room” – and can you imagine if she did that? IF best wishes set me off, what would that do?

Is there a chance that T IS right? am I misunderstanding my own feelings? Because if I am, then clearly I do not want to be telling her all of this and then look like a total tit! My gut is telling me that she isn’t right but I am now so confused by everything I am doubting myself.

Yeserday in session T said how there will be a part of me that is still hoping my mother will change and I said no there isn’t. She said there will be even if I am not consciously aware of it and I said again, no there isn’t. Not any more. I felt a bit of resistance in me. A little tiny bit of anger I guess – NO I DON’T!!! but I imagine that could be because she is right and I am wrong. Is this the same? I don’t think so, but???

WWWWWAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

 

Ps, bitchface text me about ten minutes after T’s response – can you believe that?

 

 

 

FFS

Read previous blog first or this won’t make any sense

I’ve never felt anger towards my T before. Never. Not consciously anyway.

Until just now.

I emailed her to tell her how upset I am and why. I even put in quotes the sentence about wishing I could sit on her lap for longer etc.

She replied just now, it’s a very kind and gentle reply but she didn’t understand. She said how tough it is for me that my child part didn’t get tended to today because I only ever take my adult self on a Thursday. But that isn’t the problem!

I know this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to people but I felt so hurt and upset and disappointed and (I can’t believe it but..) angry!

I burst into tears and said out loud “no, no!!!”.

Now I wish I hadn’t told her! Now it’s worse.

I replied quite bluntly (another first!) and said it wasn’t about that. It was the break stuff. I don’t think she will reply because I kinda closed the convo down but maybe if she picked up on some anger somehow that would help? But why would she pick up on anger – I didn’t tell her I was angry. Clearly she’s not a mind-reader!

Oh also. What’s with fucking kind wishes or best wishes or whatever – why does that feel so horribly cold and professional?!

AGGHHHHHH!!

I Haven’t Sat On Her Lap For Long Enough Yet.

When I left my session this afternoon I walked to my car and felt like I had a heavy weight inside my chest. It was heavy and strong. I knew that meant  that I was upset, that I needed to cry.   I got in the car, started the engine and put my seatbelt on and then I just sat there for a moment to see what was going on.

My eyes filled up with tears but it didn’t feel like I could get in touch with these feelings sat outside T’s house and so I drove off.  A few more tears rolled down my face a few minutes later. I tried to figure out what the tears were about  and a fleeting ‘voice’ in my head said it was because I was driving away from T’s. I quickly rejected that thought, nah, it couldn’t be that.

I drove to the gym despite the fact I really couldn’t be bothered to go. I thought that perhaps I could run it out. Usually it helps to release some tension but it didn’t because I couldn’t catch a thought long enough to use it fuel me.

I left the gym and drove home. On the way home my road rage found its way out again, I found myself screaming “fucking go then!!!!! IDIOT!!” and could feel how wound up and tense I was.  I questioned myself – am I angry?

That didn’t feel right either (although the road rage clearly is an anger release). I WAS angry but I was also other things. Anger was too simple.

I got home and went and had a shower and then I sat on the bed and burst into tears. Ah thank God. That release was sooo needed. I remembered to be nice to myself and I tried to talk to my inner child (in my head) asking what was upsetting her , asking what she needed?

Some fleeting thoughts came and went and they seem to be a mixture of  a reaction of the material I spoke about in therapy and leaving therapy today.

Why am I upset about leaving my session though? I haven’t worked this through properly in my head yet but the thoughts unfiltered are something like this: She only just came back and now I have to leave her again. I want her to stay for longer. I wish I could have stayed for longer. I haven’t had enough yet, it doesn’t feel like I should have to go away again yet …… [insert floods of tears here – hang on….].

Okay.. that got me.

I shouldn’t have to go away again yet/already – SHE shouldn’t be gone away again/already….

I know logically of course that she is now back from her break. That we are back to normal sessions but something about leaving my session has set me off. I don’t know why.

If I try to liken the situation to a real-life past event I can think that my mother regularly went away on holiday and then when she came back I would see her for a day or two before being shipped back off to someone else as she went out clubbing etc. Is that what I am remembering/feeling? Perhaps somewhere inside it feels as though I’ve seen her a little bit (but not enough) and now I am going to be away from her for another 5 days. 5 days feeling like forever right now when in fact it isn’t a long time and factually speaking it’s 4 days as I see her on the evening of the 5th…

I just feel I haven’t had enough yet. I don’t feel like I’ve made the most of her – I haven’t absorbed her enough yet. Her face and voice feel a bit faded at the moment.  It isn’t quite strong enough yet. She doesn’t seem “here” enough yet.

I haven’t sat on her lap for long enought yet to be able to go off and play happily. I still want to sit there and I want to cuddle her and smell her perfume and take her in for a bit longer before I have to leave her again. (Metaphorically speaking.)

I’ve had tears running down my face the whole time I’ve been typing this – they haven’t eased off yet.

I feel I have not had enough yet. I shouldn’t be back on my own again yet. It isn’t fair. She is too far away already and again and it hurts right now. It really, really hurts like hell.

Reaching Out Or Self-Soothing? 

Would reaching out to T actually help? 

I’m torn. Do I try and handle this by myself and prove to myself. and to T, that I am able to regulate myself and hold it in her absence? Will she be proud of me if I do? 

I want to give her a break – that’s what she needs. It’s why she’s taken time off. 

Yet at the same time I’m thinking that she’s always encouraged me to reach out when I need to and encouraged that I don’t go into self-sufficient mode as I always did as a child. 

I think she would rather help to regulate me than hear later that I struggled with it alone. Wouldn’t she? I don’t know. 

I don’t want to isolate myself through shame. I’m trying to fight that pattern. 

I’m okay. I’m surviving it. Like it’s painful and I’m sad and I was thrown into an emotional flashback for sure, BUT I’ve made sense of it now and I’m allowing the sad feelings to come. I’m allowing myself to cry and listen to the child part talking. I’m not falling apart. 

What could she say that would help? She would probably validate my feelings but I’ve already done that for myself (and so have some kind readers) so I don’t think I need that. 
Then there’s the issue that as I don’t know where she is, she may not read or reply to me for hours and hours and that could potentially throw me into abandonment stuff which I don’t need right now. 

She may even reply kindly but it may set off the feeling it’s “not enough” again and so perhaps I’m safer staying at a distance and handling it myself?