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 under the name Clara Bridges.

The Ideal

11 Comments

I went to my bookcase, opened it, and for no apparent reason pulled out a slim book of poems I hadn’t looked at in close to twenty years. The volume was called ‘Out of Danger’ by James Fenton, and opening its pages was like rediscovering an old friend. More than that, it was like rediscovering a part of myself and an influence that I had completely forgotten existed. The first page of the book was signed; I had bought it at a poetry reading by the poet himself. As I read, the words were not just familiar, though long unremembered; I could also hear James Fenton’s voice in my head, as he read them – the rhythm, the musicality, the pace. And as I read, I realised what an enormous influence he had had on my own poetry writing. Poems of my own from that time started to come into my mind, as his words, rhythms and rhyme schemes acted as a trigger and a reminder. All of a sudden it seemed strange that I could have forgotten that book and his poems so entirely, and along with it that part of myself that loved that poetry reading so much – but I guess it got lost in one of the several inventions and reinventions of myself that followed.

One poem in particular struck me as I read it this time around, and I think it is because it chimed with the reading, thinking and writing I have been doing recently about my ‘inner child’ and transactional analysis. It’s about respecting the past and acknowledging and accepting who we were and are. The words run counter to the feelings I have about my own ‘inner child’, who, in as much as I think about her, seems more worthy of discarding than of respect. But the words of the poem are, in its own words, ‘the ideal’, and that ideal ‘is hard’. And yet, perhaps the following words from ‘The Games People Play’ by Eric Berne can provide encouragement to aim for that ideal, as a goal worth striving for: “…the Child is in many ways the most valuable part of the personality, and can contribute to the individual’s life exactly what an actual child can contribute to family life: charm, pleasure and creativity.

the ideal

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11 thoughts on “The Ideal

  1. Reading your recent posts has made me realise how much I feel completely unable to love the child I was, or feel compassion for her, maybe more than I struggle to care about myself now (or, at least, than the extent I am consciously aware of). I realised that I see her, as well as myself now, almost entirely through my mother’s critical eyes. I see both parts of me as dull, uncaring, incompetent, weak, stupid, and worthless. And I have no idea how to challenge it, or to root it out.

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  2. Interesting that Fenton found no contradiction between the recovery of an ideal and that the recovery (or is it the ideal) that is “hard.” If, on the other hand, he is saying that it shouldn’t be hard, I’m not sure why he would think so. We have the notion that things “should” come easily. Looking around, I find that belief hard to sustain, either for individuals or groups. Just my opinion.

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    • I must admit I didn’t read it as thinking it shouldn’t be hard…..I think I saw it more as a statement of fact – it IS hard almost impossible sometimes. Which in some ways isn’t surprising – striving towards something which is a much better situation than the one we’re in, something close to an ‘ideal’ way of thinking (though this has its dangers), is often difficult. For me it feels comforting rather than coming across as aggrieved that things aren’t easier – it feels like recognition of how very difficult a thing it is to do to accept what one has been and what has shaped you. I think I’m being a bit dense as I’m not sure I understand what you mean by a contradiction…..I think there’s something I’m not seeing…..

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  3. I love your posts…they usually remind me of how or what I was doing in a specific moment when my life was going through very emotional shifts!!!
    This post reminds me of a book I was really drawn to when I was in my 15th year. It was called “Neurosis Is a Painful Style of Living”. I was looking for myself in those pages trying to figure out why I felt so bad and weird and sick in the head!!
    I never, ever, put two and two together and figured out it was the sexual abuse at the hands of my father for (what would end up being 18 yrs but at the time of reading this book 5 or 6 yrs)!!! I just knew I was different and felt bad to the core.
    Your post (sitting here reading it) helps me to envision my 15 year old and feel a bit of compassion for what she was going through to have to feel so ill/sick in the head to feel some solace at finding a word for how I was feeling!!! Neurosis!!!
    Now of course in my 50’s, I realize that my illness/sickness of thinking etc are directly attributable to that abuse.
    I was thankful at the time to read that little red book (over and over again) because it meant I was not alone…there were others who thought and felt like I did. It was a relief.
    Thank you once again for posting…it forces me to not only try to acknowledge the story of me and how and why I am here but to have compassion for what she went through to get here…and maybe, just maybe I am not that sick/ill or bad anyway.
    Take care

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  4. The contradiction would be that an “ideal” is commonly thought to be some state of perfection and that perfection is just “perfect,
    a state beyond easy or hard. I don’t think you are dense. I actually have doubts about my interpretation. I think you’ve got it right.

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  5. Glad his poems touched you again after so long. Its great when we find things from long ago that meant so much to us and still do now today too. XX

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  6. I thought I had posted a comment but I guess I did not click post…
    Here I will try again…
    I read this and it brought me back to when I was 15yrs old and I found this book called “Neurosis, a painful way of living”, and I read it cover to cover several times because on those pages it described how I felt and thought (very depressed, negative, anxious and alot of self hatred).
    I found it comforting to see that I must not be alone in how I was feeling because they actually wrote a book on this. I did not realize at the time that I was feeling “crazy” because I had been and was continuing to be sexually abused by my father for what would end up being 18 yrs. This would explain all of my negative feelings and moods and how I isolated from people.
    Now at almost 53, I continue to have alot of the same issues but am working on them in not only an intellectual way but a much deeper emotional way.
    Your post about the book really reminded me about my teenage self and how to this day, I still do not treat her or my inner child with much compassion. This is the biggest lesson I need to learn if I am ever to truly move forward.
    Thanks.

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    • Hi so sorry I thought I’d clicked ‘Approve’ on the last one, but I guess that hadn’t worked! Many apologies! It’s not always clear, on my phone, whether things have worked, as my phone is incredibly slow these days…! Struggling a bit at the moment with tiredness and lack of concentration, but will reply to comments as soon as I can….many thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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