Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges.

Knowing

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T S Eliot 2

I sent my therapist a link to my post on my uncensored, jumbled thoughts after last week’s painful session. She replied, and said that she was very much aware of my current struggles and that sometimes therapy can hit hard stretches where it feels very confusing and hard to work out what is happening. She said that my post reminded her of a line in the T.S. Eliot poem ‘East Coker’: “And what you do not know is the only thing you know”. 

She first mentioned the poem to me more than a year ago, when I was caught up in a different but still very intense struggle, wondering whether to leave therapy because I didn’t feel cared for or understood. At that time, she spoke about the importance of ‘waiting’, and quoted from a slightly earlier section of ‘East Coker’ which I then shared in a blog post. Those six lines on ‘waiting’ have been hugely important for me and I keep coming back to them. At first I did not really understand or accept them – but the longer I have been in therapy, the more I have come to understand their wisdom and to see it played out in my own life, both within therapy and outside it.

I think a similar thing will come to be true of the lines above. The first three lines make me smile, as they make me think of the number of times my therapist and I have talked about the process of therapy; the fact there is no ‘wrong or right way’ of doing things; and that there is no ‘should’ when it comes to therapy. She has said it before – and I am sure that she will say it many times again. These days I try and pre-empt it by saying “I know you will say there is no ‘should‘….” to which she replies “good” or “you are listening” with a mischievous smile on her face.

At the moment, therapy certainly feels like a ‘way wherein there is no ecstasy’, but much pain. It certainly feels like a ‘way of ignorance’ and a ‘way of disposession’. And the only thing I know is that I don’t know how therapy is supposed to work, and I don’t understand how I’m supposed to ‘own’ the therapeutic attachment in a way that heals, but also in a way that accepts that I can never actually ‘own’ that type of relationship outside its limited experience in therapy.

I love the way that my therapist acknowledged my struggles. I love the way that she pointed me to a poem; one that she knows already means a lot to me and which I relate intimately to therapy. And I love that having pointed me to the poem, she said this about it: “It probably makes it no easier to bear…but it is a route forwards, not backwards and it doesn’t negate what has gone before. It is new territory and it will feel strange at first.” 

It does feel strange – but she is in my corner. And that makes both the waiting and the not knowing, much easier to bear.

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11 thoughts on “Knowing

  1. Staying with and tolerating those unknown and ambiguous feelings is really difficult; I commend you on your perseverence and strength.

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  2. I’m glad you have such a great therapist who makes the waiting and the not knowing so much easier to bear! Keep strong, you’ll get there!

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  3. “It probably makes it no easier to bear…but it is a route forwards, not backwards and it doesn’t negate what has gone before. It is new territory and it will feel strange at first.” You are in good hands.

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    • Thank you so much for the affirmation. I feel so so very grateful for those good hands, particularly after all the uncertainty, confusion and painful feelings of the last few weeks. Her email, which included those lines, completely transformed how I felt over the weekend….I feel very fortunate indeed. Thank you for all your support and for reminding me of hers…

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  4. After reading a lot of your posts, I would agree that you are in excellent hands and I’m very happy for you. For me, it’s very important to have a good and understanding relationship with one’s therapist or the sessions won’t be as meaningful or helpful.

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    • Thank you so much, I really appreciate the affirmation 🙂 I really agree about the importance of a good relationship – and I think the only thing I would add, from my experience, is that our perceptions of that relationship can change frequently, based on so many factors, many of them completely unrelated to the therapist themselves, but much more related to our projections onto the therapist. This doesn’t mean the relationship has ceased to be good, meaningful or helpful, and if we can continue to engage at those times, the proof of that will be what comes out of those therapy sessions in the long run…..I used to struggle so much (and still do on occasions, particularly recently) with the fact that my view of my therapist could be so variable. Being able to maintain a consistent view of the strength of the relationship in face of those changing thoughts and feelings, has been a difficult but very rewarding struggle! Thank you again for your thoughts 🙂

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  5. “but she is in my corner.” I wish I could say I feel I have someone like that. Glad you do. 🙂

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