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.

To my therapist – the roads half-taken

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I told you during sessions last week that I had an image in my mind of what the last few weeks of therapy have felt like. I tried to draw it, but I can’t draw, and so I gave up. You asked me to describe it in words, but giving it expression didn’t erase the image from mind. And so I have put it together from some pictures that I found, so that I can show you how it feels. But I still don’t think that it will go away.

If I had to summarise the last few weeks of therapy, I’m not sure what I would say. My memories of them are patchy and I really have to reach to pick out the various threads. I have experienced an internal inertia to writing things down. I’ve had a large number of dreams that felt interesting, relevant and significant, but again there was the same inertia to trying to record them. It feels as though so much has faded and been lost, and all that is left is a sense of having gone down many paths, but stopping on each, part-way. I get so far, and then another occurrence, another topic, presents itself – uppermost for discussion. We change course, and it feels as though things have been left hanging.

I know we’ve spoken before about the fact that if things are important, they will inevitably resurface, perhaps in a different way. I’ve seen it happen, and I know it’s true. But it feels as though the number of ‘loose ends’ and the number of paths traveled down, is overwhelming.

And at each part-way-point, it feels as though I leave a hurting younger part of myself, with no resolution. A part whose presence I acknowledge, but only briefly before I have to say ‘wait here, I need to go and attend to something or someone else’. Often I will divert onto another path, where I leave another mourner. Sometimes, I am the mourner – when the path leads to the raging inferno of turbulence and anger in my marriage; or to what feel like the dying embers of its future. I feel as though I’m either firefighting (or in some cases, fire-starting), or chasing down rabbit holes. Sometimes it even feels as though I have nothing to say – until I find myself, for a time, on another path to….where?

I feel as though I’m crying out for a thread to follow, for some sort of coherence. I want to look back over the last few weeks and be able to see a journey that I’ve been on; a journey that makes sense, with milestones that I can cling onto. I want to see the progression from the ‘me-then’, to the ‘me-now’. And yet my own actions have been working against me; the lack of a written record, a smaller than usual number of blog posts, hardly any dreams recorded or discussed. I have reinforced this lack of coherence, my self.

***

Somehow this all reminds me of the discussion we were having last week, about wanting to know, and to be known. It feels painful when I ask questions about you, that you refuse to answer. It feels painful knowing there is so much about you I don’t know. And you were absolutely right when you said that there is far too much that goes on in my life and in my head, to be able to make all of those things fully known to you within three hours per week – and that is very painful too. You spoke of the difference between knowing a person and knowing things about them; the former being an experience, and the latter being a collection of facts. I think you wanted to reassure me that I can be known even if you do not know everything that happens in my life; and that I can know you despite knowing relatively few facts about you.

And yet I have a strong desire to know some event-facts and some feeling-facts about you, and in particular about the time in your life before you trained to be a therapist. I want to understand who you were as a teenager and young adult; I want to know how you felt, what experiences you had. If there was one big question that encompasses all of the others, it is this: what happened to you and in you, what did you do, in the journey of your own becoming? What has made you, you? How did you travel, emotionally and physically, from you-then, to you-now?

My first ever blog post was about the moving experience of reading Susan Hill’s ‘Howards End is on the landing: A year of reading from home’. It is an autobiographical tour through Susan Hill’s personal library – a memoir hung on books, using her discovery and rediscovery of her collection to tell of the stories and memories they evoked. . What made the book powerful for me, was the compelling idea of being able to look back on a what seemed like a coherent life; the sense that the same person (albeit perhaps with different characteristics) travelled from one point in life, through such-and-such set of formative experiences, to arrive at another point – changed. But still, in some mysteriously fundamental way, the same.

***

The only thing that ties all of these meandering thoughts together, is the sense that I have no origin, no coherence, no permanence through time. No wholeness. It’s why I was fascinated, recently, when I had a long email conversation with an old school friend I hadn’t spoken to for twenty years, to hear her accounts of us as children, and her view of me then, which persisted for her, now. She had numerous memories and I had virtually none, and it was like hearing her talk about a different person – save that some of her recollections of my words and actions, rang very true.

There are things here I cannot yet grasp. Confusion about origins, about identity, about being and coming to be. And it feels as though all of my actions over the last few weeks- the jumping from path to path, the lack of a written record – have been half-consciously aimed at reinforcing or acting out those confusions. There was an incident recently, where it felt as though my reactions to a difficult session were like a greatly fast-forwarded version of a way of reacting to (or guarding against) events, that probably took years to develop as a child. In some ways, these last few weeks feel like a sped-up replaying, a mirror, or a condensing, of life as it has been over the years. It’s my way of showing it to myself – and this is my way of showing it to you.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “To my therapist – the roads half-taken

  1. Confusion can be a very good thing in treatment. It suggests the possibility of change and a reformation of the self. That may be true, but it is not to discount the pain involved in lacking certainty. As to a therapist’s life, it only becomes coherent (and understood as coherent) upon looking back from a stable moment. Most of us went through periods of incoherence. Our friends might have had a very different sense of who we were then we did (just as your friend does of you). In any case, your path is not your therapists path. I spoke with a long time friend and colleague last week who described herself as having been “so young and so naive” when we began work together many years ago. She is my age and would not have said this even five years ago. Although it is trite to say this, you must be patient with the process, choosing one or two paths (at most). You’ve come a long way. I can only imagine your frustration at not being in a better spot just now, but that doesn’t discount what you’ve done. Some issues — the most painful and difficult ones — wait until the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much….Ironically, given your comment, one of the things that has resurfaced is a renewed painful awareness of the fact that therapy will end. And having been in a place where I knew that I must face it and tried to open myself up to it, it now feels again quite unsurvivable – as though I cannot and I will not face it. But of course I must, even if at the moment it feels like I cannot bear what’s coming….I also cannot quite bear myself at the moment, but that’s another path entirely !

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  2. Thank you for sharing x. You inspire me and teach me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did several workshops with Jungian analayst Marion Woodman over the years. She did share parts of her experience. She shared stories from her childhood, stories of what took her into therapy, stories of that journey and some of her dreams. It was a profound gift, demonstrating how to speak one’s truth from a place that was contained and responsible, yet also fully connected to feeling and to body. I did not grow up knowing how to do that. Experiencing Marion Woodman share herself in that way, gave me a model. It wasn’t that I would do it the same way as Marion – but rather it planted seeds in my psyche that it was possible to do.

    Knowing some of the actual steps on Marion’s journey was also hugely healing. It left me feeling less alone with what I’d lived. It inspired me. It helped me to keep hold of hope when things were impossibly tough, because I knew it was possible to find a way through. Yes, I’d have to find my way, not Marion’s, but here was a woman who had found new ground, so if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, then may i could do the same.

    I also wonder whether there isn’t something rather artifical about so much of the therapist’s life being hidden from clients. In traditional societies, the shaman and healers are part of the community. The same person who you go to for healing will also be the person who is part of your everyday lie as you go hunting, gathering or collecting water and firewood. S/he will live in your village and you’ll see him/her with his/her spouse and children. It would have been similar for the priests, imans, rabbis and local doctors who ministered to communities before the age of modern transport. The healer would have been part of the community. Of course, today’s world is different. Our lives are atomized and lived in isolation from our neighbours in nearly every aspect of daily life. We each get our own food, we cook independently, etc. etc. But this is very new.

    That said, there is a profound difference between knowing facts ‘about’ somebody and knowing somebody – but often the two do complement each other. It is human to want to know about people who are incredibly important to us.

    http://www.danielasieff.com/
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  4. This is so painful. I hear how tough things are the moment for you with regards to therapy. I’m also at that place. Wanting to tie up “loose ends”, but something, another topic, gets in the way. It feels unsettling. ❤

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

  6. I totally get what your saying… I’ve been feeling similar now for weeks with my therapy but last week my therapist dropped a bombshell .. she’s leaving in 3 weeks so now I don’t know what to… I feel I will never get there now.

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