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.


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Memory Monday – “Selective hearing – and all that jazz”

I’m not digging that deep into my archives for Memory Monday this week – this post is only five months old. However, it is so incredibly apt for where I am right now (again), that I could not ignore its call.

https://lifeinabind.com/2014/09/12/selective-hearing-and-all-that-jazz/

I have found it difficult to settle back into therapy since the Christmas break. I went from feeling completely disconnected, to feeling overwhelmingly reconnected, to feeling resentful and distrustful of the process. I thought I’d made progress in terms of understanding and accepting why my therapist might not always give reassurance, or why it might not always come in the form of words. But in my last session I found myself back in that old familiar place of feeling desperate for explicit verbal reassurance and validation, and feeling resentful in my perception that what I needed was being withheld.

One of the things that has changed, I think, since I wrote the original post, is that my therapist and I know each other a little better, and she is more openly challenging than she was. She pointed out to me that it seemed as though I thought that she was not providing me with something I wanted – but that there could be another explanation. That I was not receiving it.

In my post, I wrote that “I am the one who needs to be receptive“. In its conclusion, I noted that “perhaps for me, in therapy, I should be thinking not so much ‘what am I expecting to hear?’ but ‘what are the words, at this moment in time, providing for me, that I am missing?’ “.

I’m sure that my therapist is right. I’m sure that for a number of reasons – including perhaps a ‘push-pull’ reaction to my intense feelings for her following a recent difficult, but intimate and safe session – I was tuning her out, in every way. Her words were not being heard in the present or remembered from the past. Her actions were not being noted or were being misinterpreted.

If I can remain open to the possibility, I could go further than I did in the conclusion to my post. My therapist has talked about finding reassurance and caring in the ‘ordinary’ things. Perhaps I should be thinking not so much ‘what am I expecting to hear?’, but ‘what could I be receiving from the world around me, including the actions as well as the words of others, that I am missing?’

 

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Why I won’t be writing a blog post this weekend

[Quotes are from ‘Love the way you lie Part II’ by Rihanna, featuring Eminem]

“On the first page of our story
The future seemed so bright
Then this thing turned out so evil
I don’t know why I’m still surprised
Even angels have their wicked schemes
And you take that to new extremes
But you’ll always be my hero
Even though you’ve lost your mind.”

For three months I listened to no other music but this song. I listened to it on repeat – hundreds, thousands of times. It was my break-up song – the break up of a long-standing friendship that was an almost-fatal casualty of BPD. But not just my BPD – hers too.

Until two years ago she knew nothing of my mental health difficulties. Until two years ago, we were fine. And then I told her, and we were no longer fine. For six months we were caught in a constant cycle of push-pull on both sides, which fed off itself like nothing else, as we constantly triggered each other. To add fuel to the fire, I developed an obsessive attachment for her, and that fanned the flames of our already destructive relationship. I experienced frequent ‘splitting’ towards her – she was perfect, she was evil. She told me she could cope with that – she lied.

“In this tug of war you’ll always win
Even when I’m right.”

In the end, it wasn’t the ‘push’ that pushed her away, it was the ‘pull’. I killed her with kindness. I sent her so many friendly, caring, overly affectionate messages, so many messages asking her to visit and talking about all the things we would do when she did – that she felt pressured, persecuted and manipulated. The longer she stayed silent, the more persistent I became. I can’t deny that somewhere deep inside I knew where this was going; that part of me was steering the ship towards the iceberg that would quicken its sinking. On some level, I’d known for months that this was coming. On many occasions, I had been desperate to cut her out of my life completely; desperate to escape the feelings of powerlessness and dependency that she triggered in me.

“And it’s sick that all these battles
Are what keeps me satisfied.”

This song is about domestic violence. I never laid a finger on her, except to hold her, crying, in my arms. But I felt every inch the abuser; the emotional abuser. I was guilt-ridden and tormented by the thought that the part of me that was addicted to intensity had been feeding off the emotional storm of our relationship. That part of me had been sustained by the energy of the roller-coaster ride, though it turned our lives upside down and made us sick with pain.

“So maybe I’m a masochist
I try to run but I don’t wanna ever leave
‘Til the walls are goin’ up
In smoke with all our memories.”

Thankfully, the waters of our friendship ran too deep even for obsession and BPD to suck them dry. Or maybe we were just lucky that having faced only six months of hell, and both being supported (by this point) by caring therapists, we were able to slowly start to rebuild our friendship and talk about where things had gone wrong. I am no longer attached to her in the same way, and our friendship will never be quite the same again. Maybe that’s a good thing –  but I also think that we will always, to some extent, trigger each other.

The last time I saw her, around four months before we ‘broke up’, we spent a whole day closeted in her flat, engaged in intense and sometimes distressing conversations. On the one hand, seeing her was wonderful. But it was also one of the worst weekends of my life. I was full to the brim of emotions that were there but that I couldn’t connect with, couldn’t feel and couldn’t express. I desperately needed to cry but no tears came. I had an overwhelming desire to self-harm, my frustration levels were through the roof and I felt as though my insides were one massive itch that I could not scratch. By the end of the weekend I wanted to die and it was all I could do to stop myself pulling over on the car journey back home and ringing another friend to tell her that I felt like driving  into the central reservation.

She is coming to visit me this weekend. It will be the first time I have seen her since things went so horribly wrong. The first time in eighteen months.

Wish me luck.

 


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Guest Post by Clara – Be gentle with me…

Sometimes I write poetry of dubious quality. As a teenager, and in my early twenties, I did it a lot. In those days, they were of even more dubious quality because some of my favourite poets were from the late 19th/early 20th century, and I tended to use the same sort of language, which made them a hideous combination of old and new. I have a tremendous fear of sharing my poetry with others – somehow, much more so than writing a piece of prose, it feels like complete nakedness and vulnerability. As a teenager, I wrote a poem about how scary it feels – it was in the style of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. It wasn’t quite as dubious in terms of its quality, as some of the others. But today I’m taking a leap of faith and sharing this one. It feels odd to be reblogging my own guest post from this fantastic site, but I’m not that hot on blogging ‘etiquette’ or conventions! This was written before I became involved in blogging, hence the different ‘name’. Enjoy, or not, as the case might be – but don’t tell me if you don’t…. 😉

Day in the life of a Busy Gal...

FRIENDS FRIENDS (Photo credit: [Share the Word])

Fellow High-functioning BPD sufferer Clara was inspired by my recent poem Finger on the Trigger and decided to write her own poem using the format I had used. I offered to share it here for her as she does not have her own blog but wanted to know what I thought of her poem, I loved it and I’m sure you will too…

It’s about the painful push-pull that you can get in friendships between two people who both have bpd, something I’m sure a lot of us can relate to…

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