Life in a Bind – BPD and me

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


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Memory Monday – “Inner child and past child”

It’s almost a year since I first watched the video for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and first heard the song; and though I have played other music since, and continue to do so, there are still some days (or even weeks) when I play it on repeat. The video had such a powerful effect on me that I wrote this post at end of February 2015, in an attempt to try and figure out why it had such an impact:

https://lifeinabind.com/2015/02/28/inner-child-and-past-child/

I realised that part of the video’s power was that the images spoke to me of the child part of me and of childhood – inner child and past child – and it was revealing in that it demonstrated the extent of the distortion of the lens that I use to view myself. At the end of that post I wrote that the song and video were proving to be a goldmine of therapeutic material, and that I thought I would be exploring that goldmine (or indeed, that minefield) for some time to come.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t know how to ‘go deeper’ into a subject during therapy. I will spend a session or two talking about something and then come to a point where it doesn’t ‘feel finished’ but neither do I know how to go on. My therapist often says that if a subject is important, it will come around again, and we will ‘get another bite at the cherry’. This has proved to be true for a number of subjects, and is proving true again, which is why I have chosen ‘Inner child and past child’ for this ‘Memory Monday’ post.

Since Christmas, my therapy has focused primarily on my relationship with my husband, and it has been very painful. Trying to honestly examine past and present patterns of relating which may be destructive, and talking about sides of me that I would rather deny, brings up not just feelings of guilt and shame, but summons up the parts of me that are resistant to the therapeutic process and that believe it is impossible to change.

I have also been reading some challenging books that are helping me to re-evaluate some of my attitudes to relationships, including a couple of books on Transactional Analysis (which I will write more about, shortly). In that context, I have once again been thinking about the ‘child part’ of me – how I view it, and the ways in which it influences how I view the world and others, and how I behave. Thinking about ‘the child within’ has brought me back around to thinking about ‘Chandelier’, and though I haven’t watched the video since last March, I feel drawn to it again. I wonder how it will feel to watch it, but with an added year of therapy ‘under my belt’ and with hopefully a modicum of deeper understanding and self-awareness.

I am constantly amazed at the way in which therapy uses the unexpected and ordinary events of our lives to illuminate the different parts of us; and how the same threads come back at different times and in different guises, simultaneously peeling back another layer of our defenses and adding another layer of richness to our understanding. Like the lines from T.S. Eliot on ‘waiting’ that are so important to me and to my therapy and which I keep reinterpreting and using in different ways; this song has become part of the fabric of the way in which I try to understand myself and a core part of my ‘therapy vocabulary’, and I’m looking forward to exploring it further.

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Intensity

I feel as though I must have been living under a rock not to have come across this song until now – which was released in the UK in June 2014 and is still in the UK Official Singles chart. What I find just as unbelievable is that I had also, therefore, never come across the official video for the song – which has been viewed more than half a BILLION times on Youtube.

I watched the video for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ for the first time a few days ago, and I was bowled over. It completely blew my mind. It felt haunting, disturbing, desperately sad. The words, the music and the dance came together to create a powerfully moving experience. But it wasn’t just an experience about a girl in a song, or a girl on a screen. How can you explain it when you know that what you’re feeling is profound and significant but you don’t understand how? That the song may not be directly about you, but your experience of it and response to it could reveal so much?

I watched it again and again and again, absolutely hooked, feeling completely taken over by the experience. My emotions were building, and pushing against my chest wall to get out. But it wasn’t until I read a beautiful and revealing blog post on the subject of trust, that all of a sudden a switch was flipped, and a torrent of emotions started to swirl around and flow out. The song and the visuals had tapped into something – but the written words connected to it, magnified it, and set it free.

Looking back, it all feels somewhat unreal, and I’m still unsure of its meaning. All I know is that as I sat there with tears pouring down my face, in the middle of an emotional storm, confused about what my emotions were – I also felt grateful for the intensity. Grateful that I felt as though I could hardly contain the waterfall of emotion that wanted to pour out. Grateful that I felt full – however much fullness felt like hurting and despair.

At times like those, I wish that I could instantly transport myself to therapy, where it would be safe to fully experience those emotions, and to explore their meaning. I can’t help feeling that had I been able to do so, something significant, something ultimately healing, might have taken place. Instead, I tried to contain the tears as best I could, conscious that my husband was in the other room and could come in at any moment. And now, I don’t feel I have easy access to that place again. I can think about my response; I can try to understand it. But the emotion is no longer accessible to me.

When I write about songs that have had an impact on me, I sometimes quote lines from those songs. In this case, I want to quote quite substantially, because for me, so much of the power of the dance is in the way that is combines not just with the music, but with the words. It sounds obvious – but I often find myself listening to music without really hearing the words, and in this case, the words are vital. How many of us can relate to trying to numb the pain, to pushing it down? To that desperate sense of holding on for dear life? And how many of us feel so very young when we experience those things? As young as the twelve-year old child in this dance?

With apologies to Sia for a slight re-ordering of verses….

“Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, they’re ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink

Throw ’em back, till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight….”

[Sia, ‘Chandelier’]