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.

Progress in therapy – being ‘all in’

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Therapy is a mysterious process – more an art than a science. Full of twists and turns, blind alleys and mountaintops, dark pit and revelations. Sometimes change is incremental; progress happens by stealth. At other times there are massive strides, great leaps forward all in one go.

And sometimes the ground shifts right under your feet and you’re looking at a new landscape –or at the same landscape, in a different way. A therapeutic paradigm shift.

When I said last week that I was struggling to write, it wasn’t because I was feeling particularly unwell. I was struggling because I simply could not keep up with everything that was going on inside. I didn’t have a hope of giving it all expression, let alone coherence. I didn’t really understand how it had all come about, but since just before the Easter break, things have felt different. Things have been different. It seems as though it started with the wonderful session before the break when my therapist connected with the different parts of me, including the ‘child part’, in the one conversation, in a very powerful way.

In some ways, every change that I have noticed over the last four to six weeks deserves a post. Maybe one day – but right now, things are still developing, still changing, and I need to stay with it and move forward, rather than capture what’s happened. It’s as though I suddenly woke up one morning and realised that it feels okay when my therapist doesn’t understand me or forgets something I have told her, because I know that says nothing about how she feels about me; or that when she questions me or my motives it’s not because she’s being critical but because she’s trying to help me explore something and understand myself better; or that I no longer hate my inner child, despite the strength of my previous feelings against her. That last one is a big one – I’ve gone from wanting to ‘eliminate her’ to having conversations with her. And those examples are just some of the things I have realised (or realised that I’d internalised), over the last few weeks.

One of the forms the paradigm shift came in, was a new sense of commitment. I have always insisted to my therapist, including when she spoke about my ‘resistance’, that I was committed to the process. I was committed, in the way in which I understood the term. I always prioritised therapy, I tried to push myself to talk, to trust, to be open, to let change happen. I was committed – but was I all in? No.

I was committed to taking part and to trying to change, but on my terms and in my ways, and worse of all (though I didn’t realise it), on my own. Every-time there was a roadblock, a problem – I pushed away and tried to figure it out alone. And if I came up against wrong turns and dead ends, I blamed them and retreated, or tried to break through them with a sledgehammer. A couple of weeks ago when I felt as though I was repeatedly getting ‘knocked back’ because there was something I wanted in therapy that I didn’t feel I was getting, I sent my therapist this picture of a maze, to show her how I felt.

heart mazeBut being ‘all in’ means accepting that I have someone with whom to navigate the maze and share the headache of bumping up against brick walls, as well as the satisfaction of making progress, and the companionship of the journey. Being ‘all in’ feels like another level of trust, and openness and vulnerability, but without fear. Or rather, braving the vulnerability, even when there is fear, because the trust is there. On the one hand being ‘all in’ feels like being free – on the other hand it feels like wanting to draw a circle around me and my therapist to tightly circumscribe us; like wanting to build a blanket fort with her and disappear beneath it to do our work, letting no one in or out. It feels strongly as though the next phase of the work is for us, only us, together, and that is a big part of why I’m struggling to write.

Since feeling ‘all in’, I have had some wonderful moments of happiness. And also some intense moments of pain. Because here’s the paradoxical thing about being ‘all in’; you can’t actually be all in, and enjoy everything that involves, without at the same time accepting that ‘all in’ leads eventually to being ‘all out’ – to growing up and ‘moving out’ of that warm and secure blanket fort, and to making your own way in the world.

 

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15 thoughts on “Progress in therapy – being ‘all in’

  1. I love your blog! You have some really good writing. Keep up the good work.

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  2. Wow! Wonderful news. Hip, hip, hoorah!

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  3. This is really powerful. I’m still in my “blanket fort,” telling myself I’m “all in” but at the same time 100% resisting therapy; resisting change. It’s a painful yet comfortable place to be, and it crushes me that I am not making the progress I wish I was (even if that level of progress is unrealistic) – but I am SO glad you are moving forward!

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    • oops – I meant I’m still NOT in my “blanket fort” because I simply don’t trust my therapist enough to be! that probably didn’t make any sense the first time around – sorry about that!

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      • No problem, I know what you meant, and can completely sympathise with how you’re feeling. It has taken me two and half years to trust my therapist enough, and that’s seeing her more than once a week. Open-ended therapy is a long-haul experience, and it takes time to build up trust and a strong bond – I remember my therapist saying to me, when I was eight months in, that our therapy was still in its infancy, even though to me it felt as though 8 months must be a long time!

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    • Thank you for your lovely words 🙂 I think sometimes a lot of work and hard slog needs to happen before substantial progress takes place. But also sometimes I think we just don’t see the progress or realise something has changed, until later….wishing you all the best with trying to enter the blanket fort 🙂

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  4. I can relate so much to your comment about being all in means there this will eventually mean all out…. It scares me that the more I allow myself to be all in removes the shroud and mystery around that which I hang onto – the idea of having those things which I can never have. Reserving a bit of yourself means you can keep that hope that those needs can be met… It scares me too of when a time will come when I chose to be out because i have got what I needed.. Its a very painful process to be close. You are brave

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    • Thank you so much – what wise and true words, completely spot on and descriptive of my experience too…..it is absolutely painful to be close – I think partly because of the fear of what being close will mean and how our openness will be received…..you are brave too – even admitting these things to ourselves is difficult. Take care….

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  5. Another great post. I’m going to go “all in” too. 🙂

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  6. I love this – have read it several times in the past few days and shared it in session with my therapist this week. Going through a similar thing right now – my therapist questioned my being all in (not using those words) and I realized that it was true – I wasn’t, and have never been. For now taking a leap of faith and trusting in the process and in her. Thanks for writing.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post. I really liked it and I feel you…
    Being in that nest of therapy can be very comfortable and heart-warming. The feeling of being understood, validated and liked for the person you are and still becoming is a wonderful feeling. It’s like a little bird, waiting and finally starting to trust that its mom will be there to warm and feed it, when it needs it. But as nature wants birds to grow, one day its warm nest gets too small… And when you realize that leaving it for the Big Blue out there is an option……
    My God this is a scary option.

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  8. Pingback: Communicating with the inner child: dreams, stories, songs | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

  9. Pingback: Memory Monday – “Progress in therapy – being ‘all in’ “ | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

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