Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Abandonment Trauma

First I’d like to say Hello to all the new followers that have joined me recently! ::waves:: I hope you like it here, or at least find it interesting here. Say hi, leave me comments, or yanno, keep lurking. Friday is my on-going series that I call Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy. I discuss and dissect the things that I have been going over in therapy. That said, let’s get to it.
Yesterday I saw Psychiatrist and Therapist. No new developments in my meds. I’m happy with the Pristiq. Still going. I told her I had a meltdown the night before. It hasn’t happened in a very long time though. She said things like that will occasionally happen along the road to recovery. It doesn’t negate the progress I’ve made so far.
Therapy. I don’t know how to describe how I felt going in to therapy.   Resigned, I guess. I was so exhausted and so emotionally drained that I don’t think I had room for the anxiety or worry about disappointment.
She asked how things with me and Tech Boy were going. I told her about my meltdown Wednesday night. I told her how he told me he was going out of state this weekend and that I snapped (not at him). I was frustrated and disappointed and just broke down and cried. She asked me why I got so upset. I told her I guess it was because I was more attached to him than I thought and for once I’d like someone I invest in to invest something in me.
Then I told her how I finally yelled at Friend.
When I was done she clearly had an “Ah, ha” moment.
What Tech Boy did triggered me, but who my real anger was directed at is Friend.
Trigger. I have abandonment issues. Surprise!
Therapist said that she’s been wondering where my anger has been for a few weeks now. I’ve been avoiding, I’ve been repressing, I’ve been bottling and trying to not let anyone see what really bothers me.
Last week when I was at Friends’ house. After his wife went to bed, we were sitting on the couch watching bad movies like we always do. I stretched out as is usual for me. He started rubbing my leg. Running his hands up on down my calves. Gave me a foot massage. It got late and I sat up to leave, he leaned his head into my neck and just hugged me. I haven’t let this happen in months. I’ve very purposely been maintaining this boundary between us. I was lonely. For an hour it felt good to have someone pay attention to me. To be close to me. I wanted that again. But it brought back all the pain of the last year from the ending of the more intimate aspects of our relationship. And how ultimately, he abandoned me emotionally when I was in a very vulnerable place. With no warning. With no regard for how devastating it would be to me. Instead of talking to me about what was going on, explaining, he dropped off the Earth, quit talking to everyone, including me, for a week. No texts, no communication, nothing. While I was extraordinarily confused and in pain. He just left me like that with no consideration.
Yes. I am angry at him. I’m pissed. And then on top of that, afterwards while I’m working on trying to maintain our friendship and heal, every week after week he rubs it in my face that he’s working on his failed marriage. In front of me he acts all cuddly and kissy and ‘I love you’ with his wife. Rubbing it in my face is tactless and not okay. Especially when the utter indifference is so clearly written all over her face and body language. Not to mention she’s told me directly that she is traditionally a very selfish person with no regard for how anyone else feels, including her husband. So yes, that hurts. I finally told him so.
Therapist thinks it was about damn time too.
I’m so afraid of hurting him, and losing my friend, that I’m hurting myself and losing my mind (ok maybe a little exaggeration there).
I have a lifetime of abandonment trauma. From my parents not being there, from moving, from friends moving, from people dying, from friends that I thought I could trust doing unspeakable things to me, to losing people that I cared for and loved deeply.
None of this has anything to do with Tech Boy. He’s just a guy. A guy I like and is fun to hang out with, but he’s not the love of my life or anything like that. The problem with triggers though, is anyone can set them off. He doesn’t know my issues and did so accidentally. Hell, I’m still working on how to sort through and connect all my issues. None of this really has anything to do with him though. It has to do with my fears and my trauma… and a lot of anger that I have towards Friend and the people that have abandoned me in my life.
Therapist introduced me to a new concept this week. It’s the concept of having a Healthy Adult, an Inner Child, and an Outer Child. We all know the Healthy Adult is the fully functioning, responsible person that we are supposed to be. The Inner Child is the part of you that is vulnerable, that is all about feelings, and craves safety, security and wholesome, loving relationships. The Outer child is the self-sabotaging nemesis of your personality. Therapist gave me a book to read called “A Journey from Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson.
Imagine a parent leads a child into the woods. In the woods there’s a rock. The abandoning parent tells the child to sit on the rock and wait until they come back and get them. The parent never returns. The Inner Child does as she’s told, waits and waits and waits, vulnerable and exposed to the elements. Scared. Feeling. Alone. The Outer Child, however, refuses to stay on the rock. Outer climbs down, picks up a hatchet, and goes on the warpath.
Here’s a blurb from her website about the Outer Child.
Outer Child acts out your inner child’s feelings – especially your abandonment feelings – without giving you, the adult, a chance to intervene. When you feel hurt, angry, or insecure, Outer acts out these feelings in ways that sabotage your relationships. Outer works like a bungling undercover agent in trying to protect (overprotect) you from abandonment. Stealthy, quick, and misguided, it intercepts love before you ever know what happened.
Outer is the impulsive, obstinate, self-centered ten-year old within all of us. Outer wants what Outer wants NOW, and overrules you, the adult, in getting it. Outer prefers to binge on candy when you are steadfastly sticking to a diet (or so you thought). Outer says yes to a third glass of wine when you, the Adult, had decided on a two drink minimum.

Outer child is born of unresolved abandonment. It wreaks havoc in your relationships when it acts out your inner child’s primal fear of abandonment. For example, it aims its emotional suction cups at our prospective partners and scares them away.

Outer fights change – especially change initiated by you, the adult. Outer balks at doing the right thing and only wants things that are bad for your health, figure, or bank account. By bringing Outer out of the bunkers and into the daylight, you get to subvert its mission, rather than let it subvert yours.
Outer is fueled by emotion. Take anger. Outer either overreacts or under-reacts to your anger. For example, abandonment survivors tend to be too insecure to risk expressing anger or assertiveness to someone because they fear it might break the connection. Outer takes advantage of this fear and gets you to take your anger out on yourself, damaging your self-esteem. Conversely, Outer takes your anger out on innocent bystanders and makes you look like a monster.

Outer is the “yes but” of the personality. If you let it, Outer ties your life up in knots.

Outer child likes to play games, especially in relationships. It wears many disguises including “hard to get” and “Florence Nightingale” (where Outer panders for ‘love-insurance’ by over-caretaking). It poses as your ally, but is really your gatekeeper. Its covert agenda is to maintain your patterns – albeit your most self-defeating ones. By deconstructing your Outer Child defenses, your Adult Self has the opportunity to guide your behavior, rather than remain driven by your hidden nemesis.  

For the past few weeks, maybe month or two, I’ve been rooting pretty firmly in my Outer Child. I’m indulging my Outer Child with Tech Boy. He likes to drink, and gamble, and is all about in the moment gratification. I’m letting myself get swept along with these things, rushing physical intimacy, doing what feels good RIGHT NOW, instead of what is healthy for me in the long run.
Surprisingly she doesn’t think I need to stop seeing him. But I do need to change my approach with him. Start over in a sense. Really take time to get to know each other. Do healthy, adult things, not just uncontrolled indulgences. Make healthier choices and base my actions off of those. I won’t see him this weekend, I won’t see him next weekend (It’s Christmas, I’ll be going out of state to see my family). It’ll give me time to take a break and figure out what it is I want to do.
I love my Therapist. I’m starting to believe she really does know me.
Homework: I’ll be reading this book this weekend. You’ll be getting a book review when I’m done as well. I’ll post the Outer Child Inventory a little later. I find it enlightening.
We didn’t talk about what I should do about Friend. I have no intentions of talking to him right now though.  

Lucid Anlaysis – Trials in Therapy : Healthy Seperation?

Therapy was neither good nor bad yesterday. Mostly we talked about how distraught I am that my co-worker is leaving. He’s seriously like THE PERFECT PERSON to work with and have as a mentor. I’ve never really had a mentor like that before and the experience is invaluable. Therapist thinks I’m in shock right now from the suddenness of the announcement. It’s clearly triggered my rejection and abandonment issues. Ultimately she does think this will be a good opportunity for me to grow in healthy way. I’m angry at myself for allowing myself to rely on someone. I’m angry at him for up and leaving. My gut reaction is to pull back and put as much emotional distance between myself and the entire situation as I possibly can. Therapist thinks I should do the opposite.
!?!
She thinks that instead of pushing away I should take the time I have left with him and get to know him better on a personal level. Get closer. I told her that sounded scary. Why would I want to invest MORE emotionally when I know for a FACT that they’re going to leave?  Isn’t that like emotional masochism?
She says ‘no’. This is a normal process in life. Jobs change, people move, and since there is no aspect of this that is my fault it’s unlikely that I will internalize it as something to punish myself with. Plus, he’s a mentor. He’s been a positively influential role model in my life and that is precisely the kind of healthy relationship I should continue to cultivate. I know him, his wife, his kids, even on a social level. Just because he is moving physically does not mean the personal/professional aspect and bond that we have created will disappear. This will be an excellent opportunity for me to experience a healthy a separation and work to maintain a connection throughout the process of changing locations, not abandonment. Therapist actually believes that this is affecting me is also a good thing. It means that I’ve begun to internalize someone. It’s something that’s extremely important for someone like me that has a complete lack of object constancy. I don’t believe that he’ll remember me once he’s gone, and I don’t understand how I can still be a part of his life if I’m not around, but if there’s anyone that I think will welcome remaining in contact, it would be him. We’ll just have to see. I’m taking it one day at a time, and frankly, trying to avoid thinking about it.
My goal is to learn as much from him as possible so that I gain even more confidence in the job that I have so that I do not feel so lost when I no longer have a mentor and role model to rely on. Therapist thinks this is actually a very good plan.
We talked about this more than I wanted to.
She asked me about Tech Boy and Friend. How things were going with them? Things with Tech Boy are going really well. He’s going out of state this weekend so I won’t be able to see him, and I have something I’m doing with Roommate next weekend so I don’t think I’ll be able to see him then. This is creating a massive amount of anxiety in me. I told him I hope he has a lot of fun at his event this weekend though I kind of wish I could see him. His reply, “It’ll be a blast, but we’ll hang out soon, I promise.” So that’s at least a little reassuring. I’m just afraid that two weekends in a row is going to be too much. I can’t shake this mentality that if I’m not giving myself in some way sexually than he won’t maintain an interest in me. On the one hand, if that’s true than he’s just another jerk and I shouldn’t bother, but I also know that I need to feel like I’m doing something, providing something, taking care of something, for other people in order for them to need me. I need to know there’s a reason they stay, otherwise I don’t understand how there will be anything to hold them to me. Like me for me? Just for my personality? And because I’m apparently a good, loving person? Psh. Whatever. I don’t believe it’s enough. I need to DO something to make someone stay.
I know he likes me though. It’s really not hard to make me feel good or reassured. I see him at work quite a bit, but as a group we all have breaks at the same time and spend them down in the shop together. I was really busy yesterday afternoon (and honestly feeling really self-conscious to the point where I couldn’t stand the thought of being where people could look at me) so I skipped break. Right afterwards he texted asking me why I didn’t show up. Aws, he missed me. He texts me randomly so I know he’s thinking about me. And lately it’s become a habit to text each other right up until we’re falling asleep and tell each other good night. It’s adorable.  
Things with Friend have been improving too. I still have a lot of anger and resentment, BUT, it’s definitely diminishing. There are times I actually feel fully engaged in the ridiculous conversations we have. Romantically my focus has almost fully shifted to Tech Boy, so I don’t have the same kind of obsessive ruminations that I used to. His wife still makes me sick to my stomach but I expect that will always be the case. She’s an ugly person. And it’s still a thorn in my side that he would prefer to be with someone so hideous over someone like me. Whatever buddy, his loss.
Did I mention Lady Friend got ahold of me? On Halloween she was travelling and texted me around midnight saying that, “There are so many things here that remind me of you. I just wanted to see how you were doing and try to reconnect…” I was really surprised. I ended things with her very abruptly and just stopped talking to her. I was a complete mix of guilt and relief for weeks, but I felt paralyzed to even read the e-mails she sent me. I still haven’t read them. But she got ahold of me anyways and I would like to see her and catch up. Here’s something that I think is a Borderline issue. I actually don’t think we ended badly. We didn’t have any big fights or anything, I just couldn’t do it anymore and kind of, disappeared. ::hugs:: ::kisses:: “I missed you”. Gone.  The chemistry wasn’t there for me at all, but she really is a wonderful person. Some part of me knows this wasn’t an appropriate way to end things, but it doesn’t seem terrible to me either. I drop off the face of the earth with people all the time. I wonder how this will go.
My body dysmophia is killing me though. I want to see everyone. I want to be with everyone. I want to go out and do things. But I can’t stand the thought of people looking at me right now. It makes my skin crawl. I quit smoking, for real this time. It’s been a few weeks and unfortunately I have gained like 5lbs. I’m absolutely disgusted with myself. I’m kicking up my workouts and reinstating the food diary to keep track of everything I consume. Surprisingly, I’ve been in much better control of my bulimia. I don’t even remember the last time I threw up! ::pats myself on the back:: I also gave up one more major addiction (one that I haven’t mentioned before) but that’ll be a post for another time.
Therapist completely forgot to ask me about the Homework she set for me last week but I’ll share my answers with you anyways.
Homework: What positive things have I taken from my relationship with Friend?
         I’ve seen that it’s possible to find someone that I share so much in common with.
         I realized that even after having so many devastating relationships it’s still possible to open up and connect with someone.
         I have someone to watch endless amounts of bad horror with.
         There is someone out there that understands and appreciates my wacky brain.
         For all the emotional ups and down, pushing and pulling away, he never left, never threatened to leave. Shows me that it is possible for someone to stay regardless of how much I lash out or am hurting. For all the emotional turmoil he has been a stable presence.
Homework: What do I envision for a healthy relationship?
         Acceptance.
         Mutual respect.
         Someone I am comfortable being with and sharing with.
         Not being afraid to be myself.
         Not being afraid the other person will leave if I go out with or make new friends.
         Someone that wants to be with me, not other people also. < —— This is a change.
For the Healthy Relationships question I feel like there should be more. I just don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like though. I keep wanting to list things I want in a partner or am most attracted to in a partner, but even thinking about some of the things makes me wonder if what I look for is healthy at all so I don’t put that stuff down.
Relationships are hard.
Therapist thinks I’m making amazing progress though. It’s not like I’m all recovered or anything  but my responses and reactions are steadily becoming more appropriate/less extreme and I’m beginning to think about things differently. And she continually reassures me that I’m a joy to work with. No joke, therapy is not easy. Some days I can be in a great mood, and leave therapy feeling very heavy hearted. Some days I can be in a terrible mood and leave therapy feeling worse. I always leave therapy feeling more aware though, and like some part of my burden has been lifted. Less confused. It’s not easy confronting your issues on a weekly basis. It takes effort but I really think it’s worth it.
Sometimes writing this blog is hard. So many people, Borderline or not, are not very self-aware and do not often analyze themselves or their motivations. Every day I write this blog I’m forced to face some aspects of my history and my disorder. I’m hyperaware of my problems. On the one hand this is good because it reminds me daily how I need to tailor my mask and my actions to fit into my environment in an appropriate manner. It forces me to look at my life, consider where I’ve been and where I want to go. On the other hand sustaining such a heightened sense of Self is exhausting. I over analyze everything. It does seem to be paying off though.  

Unintentional Abandonment. Never even saw it coming.

I am officially on information overload. And trying to stifle the sheer panic I feel. One of my coworkers just told me he is leaving to take a better position in California. I’m devastated. He’s the guy that was really able to pull me out of my shell and is always dragging me off to this and that. He has an incredibly wonderful way of making you feel included and is always interested in everything you have to say. His constant good mood is contagious, and not in an obnoxious way. He’s also one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing (and I’ve know a lot of brilliant people). He has the exceedingly rare quality of being both a genius and incredibly personable. I don’t know about you, but I deal with a lot of genius types and they tend to run the gamut of anti-social, socially clueless, or condescendingly asshole-ish. He’s definitely one of my anchors here who’s helped inspire my confidence and make me feel like I am contributing as an integral part of the team.
He’s leaving.
I’m crushed. And panicking. I’m terrified by the thought of him no longer being here. Somewhere over the past few months without me even realizing it he became something of my anchor here. A steady rock solid source that I could rely on if I came up against something that I hadn’t encountered before. Which is a lot. This is actually not me second guessing my own wealth of knowledge. I changed engineering fields with this job so there’s a vast array of new information, skills, and techniques to take in. I’m learning, growing, and expanding my own abilities at an astounding rate, in large part because of the guidance I’ve received form this guy. He’s definitely my mentor here. He already said that any time I had questions I can call him or e-mail him and he will be happy to help out, but it’s not going to be nearly the same as being able to walk across the hall and sit down and figure things out in a hands on way.
My mind is reeling from the thought of not having his support.
And then I want to kick myself for letting myself rely on him or anyone else at all! Everybody leaves! But I never even saw this coming! Never suspected! Everything seemed so nice and stable and everything was working out so well! Out of nowhere. If I had just stayed more to myself I wouldn’t be so devastated at his departure. At least this doesn’t feel personal to me. I’m not internalizing it as my fault. Of course, it won’t actually happen for 3-4 months so I may just not be processing it fully yet.
In the mean time I’m spending as much time as I can just listening to him. The amount of knowledge he imparts in only 5 minutes of conversation is enormous and my brain feels like it’s ready to burst, but I have to soak it up to prepare myself as best as possible for when he actually goes. For my job and for myself. I’m hoping that the more I can learn and understand, the more confidence I will have so that I will reach a point where I do not feel the loss so deeply.
If I can push myself to learn more, be better, than I won’t need him. ß—- As I write this I’m looking at it and my schematherapy is smacking me in the forehead. See, I do learn.
::sigh:: I’m just so sad. And angry. And lost.
My mind just runs down these paths of destruction creating worst case scenerios where I get fired for not knowing everything that he knew. I feel like I should somehow already know the 20 years of experience he’s had dealing with this specific field and because I don’t I’m in danger. I know this is irrational, I was hired knowing that I’d never done quite this kind of thing before and that it would be a learning experience. The FEELING is still there. That I should know everything already. Where’s my matrix hook up? Jack me in. Upload. Bam. Done. I should know everything. Fuck.  

How do you prepare yourself for something you don’t even see coming? My crazy relationships I can at least mentally prepare for usually. Not this. This was so normal! If even the normal things can change and leave so suddenly, how can I have hope that anyone will ever remain solid and in place?  I know this is life, and things like this happen all the time, but it doesn’t make it any easier to process.

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

The Relationship Issue.
Right away Therapist said I looked centered and happy. She asked how things are with Tech Boy and all that. Good. Cute. We’re texting and talking all the time. I feel silly and cute (read: euphoric and high).  She asked me if I think this is on track to being a healthy relationship.
::crickets::
How would I know?
I’ve never had a healthy relationship. Surprise! Don’t look at me like that. That’s not saying they’ve all been bad, just not healthy. I dated a couple guys in college that were really great guys, but I felt no emotional attachment to them. For all intents and purposes the relationships were ‘normal’ but emotionally void b/c I was cut off from feeling (Boring-Ex can basically fall into this category as well except of course, that ended with me in the Psych ER). Unhealthy. My relationships with women were often more affectionately intense, but shorter lived as I would freak out at the speed of closeness. And then, there were the notable abusive messes that have hallmarked my existence. I fail at relationships. I think people are crazy for wanting to be involved with me. I actually TELL PEOPLE that I’m a terrible girlfriend and that they shouldn’t want to date me. I come with a disclaimer ß——– This is a common phrase.
Or like this morning when Tech Boy and I were going out to my project site he was like… “You carry my equipment, drive me around, you’re just a generally good person ::insert cute smile::” To which my immediate response was to laugh that off and say “Clearly, you don’t know me that well”. I’ve tailored responses like that to sound joking, even though I mean it whole heartedly.
Therapist doesn’t see a bad person in me. She sees someone that has had a lot of bad things happen to them, but that doesn’t mean I am bad. I still feel bad. I feel like I’m going to destroy everything I touch. Which is awful because I want to touch things. I want to be touched.
Not literally. Don’t get too dirty on me there. Ok, maybe a little bit literal. Ok, a lot.
I mean I want to be with someone in a meaningful way. Therapist asked if I felt Tech Boy was someone that I felt I could share with? I want to be the kind of person that can be open and share myself with someone in a healthy way. But I have so much unhealthiness in my past. I told Therapist I’m not sure I can be open with Tech Boy (not just him, anyone). What right do I have to dump all that trauma on someone? How can I expect someone else to be ok with the things that have happened to me? That I’ve done to me? How can I expect someone to see all of this and not judge me and think I’m a terrible person? A damaged person?
I have to hide it all. It’s what I’ve always done. Eventually though, when people push to get closer and the walls begin to come down it all eventually comes out. Once my walls start to slip it’s hard for me to maintain that mask that I’ve kept in place for so long. It’s never quite the same.
The first thing people usually ask me is about my arms. For the first time I’m starting to dread this explanation. Therapist was like, well, maybe he won’t think they’re unusual. What? I don’t think she’s ever really taken a good look at my arms. I showed her and she had to admit it was pretty obvious. It’s not like Tech Boy hasn’t seen {some of} them. I don’t hide my scars, but it’s not the kind of thing people ask about in a professional setting so no one has ever brought it up. Then again, maybe I can assume that he’s noticed, and decided that it doesn’t matter, as he clearly has a thing for me.
Aside: When I say ‘clearly’, this didn’t stop me from freaking out about him not being able to see me last weekend because he broke his freaking ankle. I was actually paranoid that this was just an excuse to not see me at first. Yeah, I know. Don’t start.
Also, I don’t assume. And even if I did, I would ignore the assumption and think the worst anyways. I’m just going with it.
Coming back around to my point, I don’t need to unload all of my past at once. That should come slowly over time. I feel like I’m hiding who I am though and thereby not being honest. Bleh. I’ll figure it out.
So of course we ended up talking about Friend. I’m having a bizarre sort of mashup between Splitting and Abandonment here. I can’t let go of my friendship with Friend. I don’t want to. I can’t. I can’t even think about it. But he’s like a disembodied character to me. Every time I see him it’s like I’m seeing someone new that has all the characteristics of the last Friend I talked with. As soon as Tech Boy and I started getting close, my feelings snapped off for Friend (unless his wife is doing something to rub things in my face, then I just want nothing to do with them at all). I split from the love and hurt I felt to utterly neutral and not needing to be around him, or even talk to him anymore. I’m cancelling plans, changing dates, breaking my structures I built with him… in favor of something new. I still have a lot of anxiety about this, but it’s not for fear of his disapproval so much as for fear of breaking what’s familiar and fearing that I won’t be able to maintain that familiarity.
Therapist thinks I’ve done a remarkable job holding onto this friendship. What I went through with Friend and his wife was incredibly hurtful. She still thinks it was healing in many ways though. She asked me what kinds of things I want to remember from my relationship with Friend.
::blank::
I couldn’t think of a single thing. I am completely blocked and dissociated from the feelings that I had. I only remember the bad, the hurt. I don’t even want to think about writing my letter to him. I don’t want to think about him like that. Split. I’m thinking about someone else now, I don’t want to think about what I felt before. What did I love about him? About us?
Homework: What positive things have I taken from my relationship with Friend?
She thinks this would be good for me to remember because I have such a hard time holding onto people. My lack of object permanency. I feel like I’m not a part of people’s lives if I am not in their immediate presence. If I can write down the things I valued about him, that I believe he valued about me, and relate that to how it is still displayed in our current friendship, maybe it will help me hold onto the idea of fluidity through time. It will also help me recognize the things that I want in a future relationship, that I should hold onto, and not allow myself to settle for things that don’t meet a healthier standard.
We’re really trying to work on forming new, healthy, relationships now. She’s very proud of me for taking all the safe risks I’ve been taking lately. She’s trying to caution me to think further into what it is that I want exactly, instead of just throwing myself into the moments.
Homework: What do I envision for a healthy relationship? (I remembered this week!)
I don’t even know. What do you think is part of a healthy relationship?

You know I won’t leave you – Abandoment

Hello and good morning! I can’t believe it but I actually kind of look forward to coming in to work. Craziness. Sheer craziness. I’m productive. I enjoy my co-workers. I’m awake and alert. I really think this Pristiq is helping me lift my mood enough that my life feels more easily manageable.  This is just, unheard of. I’m kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop but for now I’m just going to try to enjoy feeling reasonably decent for a change.
Alright. I wanted to get back into my discussions of SchemaTherapy. I’ve introduced you to all the difference schemas, coping styles and modes, but there’s still a lot of depth and useful information. Over the next few weeks I want to take a detailed look at each of the schemas, go over behavioral pattern breaking, look at some easy exercises to increase introspection and self-awareness and a plethora of other things. For now though, let’s start with detailed schema treatment strategies. Each of these will have a pattern of Typical Presentation of the Schema, Goals of Treatment, Strategies Emphasized in Treatment, and Special Problems with This Schema. I just want to emphasize that I’m only presenting information as I’ve uncovered it. There will always be facets and exceptions that I miss or am not aware of. I can’t diagnose or treat anyone.  Strategies that work for some people may not work for others. Etc. My goal is to present as much information as I can and hope that it enables self-reflection and understanding. I also find it reassuring that there is proof that people have found ways of successfully dealing with so many of the issues that we struggle with. So here we go. Let’s taking a deeper look at one of the core issues of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Domain I: Disconnection and Rejection Domain
Abandonment
Typical Presentation of the Schema
These patients constantly expect to lose the people closest to them. They believe these people will abandon them, get sick and die, leave them for somebody else, behave unpredictably, or somehow suddenly disappear. Therefore, they live in constant fear and are always vigilant for any sign that someone is about to leave their lives.
The common emotions are chronic anxiety about losing people, sadness, and depression when there is an actual or perceived loss, and anger at the people who have left them. (In more intense forms, these emotions become terror, grief, and rage.) Some patients even become upset when people leave them for short periods of time. Typical behaviors include clinging to significant others, being possessive and controlling, accusing others of abandoning them, jealousy, and competitiveness with rivals – all to prevent the other person from leaving. Some patients with an Abandonment schema avoid intimate relationship altogether, in order to avoid experiencing what they anticipate to be the inevitable pain of loss. (One patient with this schema, when asked why he could not make a commitment to the woman he loved, answer: “What if she dies?” Consistent with the schema perpetuation process, these patients typically choose unstable significant others, such as uncommitted or unavailable partners, who are highly likely to abandon them. They usually have intense chemistry with these partners, and often fall obsessively in love.
The Abandonment schema is frequently linked with other schemas. It can be linked with the Subjugation schema. Patients believe that if they do not do what the other person wants, then he or she will leave them. It can also be linked with the Dependence/Incompetence schema. Patients believe that if the other person leaves, they will be unable to function in the world on their own. Finally, the Abandonment schema can be linked with the Defectiveness schema. Patients believe the other person will find out how defective they are and will leave.
Goals of Treatment
One goal of treatment is to help patients become more realistic about the stability of relationships. Patients who have been successfully treated for an Abandonment schema no longer worry all the time that reliable significant others are about to disappear. In object relation terms, they have learned to internalize significant others as stable objects. They are far less likely to magnify and misinterpret behaviors as signs that other people are going to abandon them.
            Their linked schemas are usually diminished as well. Because they feel less subjugated, or dependent, or defective, abandonment is not as frightening to them as it used to be. They feel more secure in their relationships, so they do not have to cling, control, or manipulate. They are less angry. They select significant others who are consistently there for them, and no longer avoid intimate relationships. Another sign of improvement in patients with this schema is that they are able to be alone for extended periods of time without becoming anxious or depressed, and without having t o reach out immediately and connect to somebody.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
            The more severe the Abandonment schema, the more important the therapy relationship is to the treatment. Patients with BPD typically have Abandonment as one of their core schemas, and, therefore, the therapy relationship is the primary source of healing. According to our approach, the therapist becomes a transitional parent figure – a stable base from which the patient can venture into the world and form other stable bonds. First, the patient learns to overcome the schema within the therapy relationship, and then transfers this learning to significant others outside of therapy. Through  limited reparenting,” the therapist provides the patient with stability, and the patient gradually learns to accept the therapist as a stable abject. Mode work is especially helpful (I’ll talk about this some other time). Through empathic confrontation, the therapist corrects the patient’s distorted sense that the therapist is constantly about to abandon the patient. The therapist helps the patient accept the therapist’s departures, vacations, and unavailability without catastrophizing and overreacting. Finally, the therapist helps the patient find someone to replace the therapist as the primary relationship – someone stable, who is not going to leave – so the patient is not dependent forever on the therapist to be the stable object.
            Cognitive strategies focus on altering the patient’s exaggerated view that other people will eventually leave, die, or behave unpredictably. Patients learn to stop catastrophizing about temporary separations from significant others. Additionally, cognitive strategies focus on altering the patient’s unrealistic expectation that significant others should be endlessly available and totally consistent. Patients learn to accept that other people have the right to set limits and establish separate space. Cognitive strategies also focus on reducing the patient’s obsessive focus on making sure the partner is still there. Finally, cognitive strategies address the cognitions that link to other schemas – for example, changing the view that patients must do what other people want them to do or else they are going to be left; that they are incompetent, and need other people to take care of them; or that they are defective, and other people will inevitably find out and leave them.
            In terms of experiential strategies, patients relive childhood experiences of abandonment or instability in imagery. Patients re-experience through imagery memories of the parent who left them, or of the unstable parent who was sometimes there and sometimes not. The therapist enters the image and becomes a stable figure for the child. The therapist expresses anger at the parent who acted irresponsibly, and  comforts the Abandoned Child; then, patients enter the image as Healthy Adults and do the same. They express anger at the parent who abandoned them and comfort the Abandoned Child. Thus, patients gradually become able to serve as their own Healthy Adults in the imagery.
            Behaviorally, patients focus on choosing partners who are capable of making a commitment. They also learn to stop pushing partners away with behaviors that are too jealous, clinging, angry, or controlling. They gradually learn to tolerate being alone. Countering their schema-driven attraction to instability, they learn to walk away from unstable relationships quickly and to become more comfortable in stable relationships. They also heal their linked schemas: They stop letting other people control them; they learn to become more competent in handling everyday affairs, or they work on feeling less defective.
Special Problems with This Schema
            Abandonment often comes up as an issue in therapy when the therapist initiates a separation – such as ending a session, going on vacation, or changing an appointment time. The schema is triggered, and the patient becomes frightened or angry. These situations provide excellent opportunities for the patient to make progress with the schema. The therapist helps the patient do so through empathic confrontation: Although the therapist understands why the patient is so scared, the reality is that the therapist is still bonded to the patient while they are apart, and the therapist is going to return and see the patient again.
            Alternatively, patients may be overly compliant in therapy to make sure the therapist does not ever leave them. They are “Good patients,” constantly seeking reassurance or cling between sessions in order to reconnect. Avoidant patients may miss sessions, be reluctant to come on a regular basis, or drop out of therapy prematurely because they do not want to become too attached to the therapist. Patients with the Abandonment schema may also repeatedly test the therapist – for example, by threatening to stop therapy or accusing the therapist of wanting to stop. (Eventually I’ll go back and talk more about how therapists address these issues for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.) Briefly, the therapist approaches the problem through a combination of settling limits and empathic confrontation.
            Another risk is that patients with the Abandonment schema may make the therapist the central figure in their lives permanently, instead of forming stable, primary connections with other people. The patient never terminates therapy, but just o continues to let the therapist be the stable connection. Becoming dependent upon the therapist becomes the unhealthy solution to the schema. The ultimate goal of therapy is for patients to connect with others in the outside world who can meet their emotional needs.
I may change up my writing strategy of these schemas as I go along. These posts are pretty darn long and I have so much I want to interject and expound on.  Regardless, I think there’s a lot of good information here. I recognize so much of myself in this. For me at least, when I can recognize my behavior as something that’s defective, it makes it easier for me to recognize it when I’m living my life and try to remember to act differently. After all, how can you fix something if you don’t know it’s broken, right?

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy : Moving on

So I’ve been pretty bummed out by the prospect of Roommate moving. We haven’t talked about it since because I haven’t seen her but we will.  I’m sad, I’m disappointed, I’m…. upheaved. Roommate has always been one of the few points of stability that I have. She’s a good friend, one I have a considerable amount of trust for and we’ve never had cause for any real turbulence between us. Therapist recognizes that this is very triggering for my Abandonment issues but she wants me to try and look at it from a place of growth. We’ve lived together for a year and a half without any major problems and that’s a big accomplishment. She’s trying to pull me away from internalizing the reasons that Roommate wants to move. It’s not my fault, her life is just evolving into a different place. I even asked Roommate if it was anything I did and she said no it wasn’t anything like that. Her boyfriend has been hinting at wanting to move in together, but she’s never lived on her own, with full freedom of her own space in its entirety and she feels that’s something she needs to experience.
I’m just. Selfish. I guess. I don’t want another roommate. I LIKE her. What’s more. If she were to move in December when she originally said she was thinking… how freaking awkward a time of year is that? It’s in the middle of winter which would make it difficult to physically move stuff with snow. It’s a financial sink hole with all the expensive holidays and travel unfolding. No one is looking to move in the middle of family holidays so it would be incredibly difficult for me to find a roommate. I can’t move, I just can’t, I need some place to stay that is safe and familiar. If I can’t find a roommate right away that means I would need to shoulder the full expense of rent and utilities by myself and I can’t think about starting to take classes that semester because I simply won’t be able to afford it. If she waits to the end of this lease period which is March/April I’ll have time to really save money in order to juggle all things at once. Spring and fall seem to be the times of year that people and rentals are really opening up to finding a new place too, so potentially it would be more convenient for us both. I need to talk to her.
This whole thing sucks.
Therapist recognized that I went into shock and dissociated mode when Roommate told me. I was at an utter loss for what to say and when she said things like, “this really sucks, I kind of love you and I feel terrible but it’s something I need to consider”… I couldn’t connect to her words at all. Total disconnect. I have a friend telling me she really cares about me but I’ve retreated so far inwards that it’s like she’s talking to a stranger. How can she love me? How does she feel any attachment to me at all? How much does she know me? Does she know me at all? All these questions are silly because she knows me very well, but in that moment I felt like I was a complete stranger eavesdropping on the words of an intimate friendship. I don’t even know how to accurately describe the feeling of not understanding how people can form a connection with me when I can barely feel a connection to myself. Therapist tried to make me focus on the truth of her words though. I have a friend that cares for me, and she’s telling me that she is not leaving for anything I’ve done but because her life is continuing to grow.
Bah, if anything it’s her boyfriend’s fault, not mine. That sucks because I actually like him, but he’s trying to take my roommate away.  I should be happy for her that she has a guy that loves her and wants to be with her so much. I think about me though and it seems like no one else does. What right do I have to expect anyone else to put me ahead of their own desires though? None I guess.
I love her and I don’t want to lose her. I’m afraid that we will fall apart as friends and I won’t see her once she goes. Somewhere I know that our friendship won’t end. It’s just a shift. But it’s still an unknown.
It’s just one more thing on top of a thousand other unpleasant things that I’ve had to deal with since moving to NY. It seems like every day I have another reason to hate it here more and more. I want to pack up and move back to where my sister is. Nothing turns out right, everything changes and I’m left alone again. I don’t even want to try anymore. I recognize this as my Abandoned Child mode coming to the fore.
Abandoned Child – The “abandoned child” is a schema mode in which a person may feel defective in some way, thrown aside, unloved, obviously alone, or may be in a “me against the world” mindset. Feeling as though peers, friends, family, and even the entire world have abandoned a person are the things which live within this schema mode. Abandoned child is a self-defeating mode as a whole. The person feels defective and abandoned, thus may abandon their own self and choose to remain “abandoned” as it is what they believe they know and therefore comforting.
(I’ll talk about these modes next week)
I have to actively resist the urge to give into this. Therapist wants me to feel my feelings about the whole thing, don’t ignore them, don’t bottle them up, FEEL them, let them run their course and then move on. Life changes. Things will always change. She believes that I’ll be able to work through this. As evidenced by my ability to continue developing a more healthy relationship with Friend she thinks I’ll be able to take what I learned from that period of time and pull myself through this even faster since, as a whole, my entire relationship with Roommate is a healthy one.
::sigh::
I’ll deal with this too. I always find a way. Life keeps going and so do I. Truth be told I feel alright today, but I’m also not really processing the issue. I’m not sure it will be real for me until it’s time to start packing boxes.
Once again, it’ll be me and my cat. HE won’t leave me.
Geezus I’m sick of hearing myself whine. Something good!
Well, work has been stressing me out like mad. So much so that the prospect of working on certain projects has hit me with an almost paralyzing anxiety. I beat it today though and pushed myself through it. I have so many things to juggle and work on I’m actually feeling very productive and I have to admit it’s a really nice feeling to have. I’ve even been more social with the guys at work. I won’t say I feel like I fit in, but when I’m out in the shop I’m starting to feel more included like one of the guys, at least until one of them swears and apologizes to me for their language. I’m just going to have to start cussing like a sailor to break them of the habit haha. I really need to be dragged along consistently to feel like I’m a part of a group and not just an outsider tagging along. Fortunately the guys are pretty good at it. It’s like they actually like having me around. Crazy.

Nothing good can stay

 Nothing good can stay. Everything changes. Everyone leaves. That’s all there is. All there ever seems to be. Roommate just told me she is thinking about moving out. Not for anything I’ve done. She’s just never lived on her own before and her boyfriend has been hinting that he wants to move in together so she wants to be on her own for awhile in her own space before anything like that moves forward. I asked if it was anything I’d done and she said definitely nothing like that. I just, can’t help but feel like I wasn’t a good enough roommate. If I was more fun, or more talkative, or more outgoing or more…SOMETHING… she’d stay. I’m heartbroken. I never should have moved here. It’s been one upheaval after another after another.  I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was trying so hard not to cry, to be strong so she wouldn’t feel guilty, but I couldn’t stop the tears even as my teeth were set. All I could say was “You have to do what you need to do, we’ll figure it out”. I’m never going to be good enough for someone to stay with. Not ever. I know it. It’s always this way. I was beginning to feel steady. Like I had something that wasn’t going to up and change. As soon as I let my guard down though, even a little, something comes out of nowhere and takes my head off.  Fuck this not drinking. Fuck this not smoking. I need to take my mind off things. I don’t know how I’m going to look at her and not feel sad now. I don’t want to lose my friend. I don’t think I will. It’s just so devastating. I feel like my feet are crumbling out from under me. I can’t move again. I don’t’ want things to change. Everything always changes. Nothing ever stays the same.  I never should have moved out here. I never should have left my family or my sister. Never.  Never. Never. I’m going to have to start all over again. I don’t know if I can do it. It’s too much. It’s all just too much. I can’t move again. I just can’t. I need to find a new roommate but I don’t even know where to look or who to ask. She was like my savior when I needed to move away form Evil-Ex and away from her douchebag ex and now she wants to move away from me. I don’t want her to feel bad. She needs to do what’s best for her but no one does what’s best for me and I’m left all alone.  I just don’t know what to do. My head hurts. My eyes hurt. My heart hurts. 

Make up of Your Mind – Part 1

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the background out of the way let’s take a look at what each of the schemas actually is. We’ll do this in two parts because there are a lot.
Domain I – Disconnection and Rejection: The expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner.
1.)    Abandonment/Instability Schema – This schema is the perceived instability or unreliability of one’s connection to significant others. Patients with this schema have the sense that important people in their life will not continue to be there because they are emotionally unpredictable, they are only present erratically, they will die, or they will leave the patient for someone better. It involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable, unreliable, or present only erratically; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the individual in favor of someone better.
2.)    Mistrust/Abuse Schema – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”
3.)    Emotional Deprivation – The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
1.      Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
2.      Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
3.      Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.
4.)    Defectiveness/Shame – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).
5.)    Social Isolation/Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated for the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of or like they belong to any group or community.
I feel all of these in various degrees. The most prominent for me are definitely Abandonment/Instability, Defectiveness/Shame and Social Isolation/Alienation. Defectiveness/Shame has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, clinging to my skin my entire life. Abandonment/Instability and Social Isolation/Alienation I am so familiar with that I may have resigned myself to them. If Defectiveness/Shame is the wet blanket clinging to my skin, these are what actually compose my skin. These are the vital organs that my blood pumps through. Emotional Deprivation…. I don’t believe I have any right to deserve or expect any of these things. I can actually see where and how people do give these to me, but it’s as if I’m watching them give them to someone else. Thinking about being able to accept these things feels foreign to me like I wouldn’t know how to accept them even if I wasn’t deprived of them. The Mistrust/Abuse Schema is a lesser schema for me. Remember I mentioned that schemas can prevent to various degrees. The ones that ingrain themselves earliest in life tend to be the stronger, more pervasive schemas, while the ones that occur later in life or not so entrenched. This is one of those for me. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of abuse, but this came later in my life. Some days I believe that because I’m so unavailable on most other levels that any abuse I’ve taken I can almost shrug off. I expect it to happen, but since I do expect it, I don’t allow myself to open fully to it and it therefore can’t affect me or I don’t hold on to it like I might have.  
Domain II –  Impaired Autonomy and Performance: Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully.  
6.)    Dependence/Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (ex. Take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.
7.)    Vulnerability to Harm or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fear focus on one or more of the follow:
a.       Medical Catastrophes like heart attacks or AIDS
b.      Emotional catastrophes like going crazy
c.       External catastrophes like elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.
8.)    Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents) at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by or fused with others or insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and foundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.
9.)    Failure – The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, lower in status, less successful than others, and so forth.
Failure. Despite all my achievements and actual, physical proof to the contrary I cannot shake this sense of failure. Nothing is ever good enough. I am never good enough. So I push myself continually onwards, being harder and harder on myself. Vulnerability to Harm is something I recognize more when I’m very stressed out. Airplanes, car crashes, driving myself insane create an almost paralyzing anxiety. Enmeshment is especially true when I’m in a volatile relationship. The world feels like it might end and all hope of happiness hinges on it. I’m actually what most people consider counter-dependent though. I couldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help, if my life depended on it. I feel like even more of a failure if I seem to be in any way helpless.  So hey, where one schema takes over it prevents the creation of others.
Domain III – Impaired Limits: Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals.
10.)                        Entitlement/Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; or an exaggerated focus on superiority in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward or domination of others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.
11.)                        Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or over exertion at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
Of all the Domains this is where I am least affected. I’m probably the opposite of Entitled and Grandiose and I’ve had self-control and discipline beat into my brain since I was very young. Though I do recognize the milder form of discomfort avoidance in myself readily. I love nothing more than to lock myself in my little worlds of escapism to take my mind away from the realities that surround me. Nothing can touch me when I’m lost in the illusion of a good book or so preoccupied with creating an elaborate meal.
So involved. So complex. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

Yesterday in therapy felt pretty useless to me (though after finishing typing this up, clearly it was not). We talked about the fact that I don’t attach to my mother and that my abandonment issues may have begun from the fact that she went back to work too soon after I was born (my mom was the primary provider. My dad worked hard, but it was my mom that had the traditional 9-5 job, or 10p-6a, as the case maybe). That I was displaying abandonment issues as early as 2.5 years old when my mom went into labor with my brother and I was inconsolable because I was afraid she wasn’t coming back. Of course when she did come back I was fine, and promptly asked her to return my brother…. I wanted a sister. That didn’t pan out (at least not for a couple years).
Therapist tried a Role Playing technique today. We were talking about my trust issues with my mother and why I don’t connect to her. The missing connection probably stems from what I just mentioned. When I was older, around 12/13 years, she began violating my privacy and reading my journals. Not even my thoughts were my own. What should have been a completely safe space for me to release my mental workings, turned into a vessel that was used against me.  I’ve never trusted her since.
Therapist: I want you to think of reasons your mother would have done this.  Why would she have gone this route to find out information about you.
Me: Well, she was asleep or at work all the time when I was awake so she didn’t see me much. She missed out on a lot of my life because she was providing for our family. By the time I was 12/13 I was already beginning to shut down towards my parents. Since I was incommunicative and it was probably becoming increasingly obvious that something was wrong with me, it was the only way she could think of to find out and understand what I was going through.
———————
She would read my diary. Yes, I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done. Smoking, drinking, messing around with guys/girls, sneaking out, vandalism, shop lifting, eating disorders … I wasn’t ashamed of what I’d done. I was ashamed of my thoughts; that I would think to do these things that weren’t ideal. Weren’t perfect. I didn’t think my actions were wrong, I thought there was something wrong with me for wanting to do these things. I tried even harder to hide all the bad parts of me, bury them inside where no one else could see them. When other people saw these things, there were repercussions, disapproval. Things that weren’t acceptable. I, wasn’t acceptable. I couldn’t stop how I was, so I hid me instead. Unfortunately this had the same effect as compressing a carbonated liquid. At the first good shake I was ready to explode. Eventually I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
If I was having problems, it meant I wasn’t perfect enough and nobody could see my imperfections. Those were their own shame. She violated my privacy and saw that shame. I still feel this. The act of making me feel ashamed for my rebellious nature, instead of trying to find a more constructive solution, left me with a complete lack of trust towards her, and towards myself. I already knew I couldn’t trust my own behavior. Now I knew I couldn’t trust hers either. She needed to let me come to her. Of course, I wouldn’t have. Catch 22.
I believe I should be perfect. I believe everything I do should be perfect. Or at least the best that I can do. Anything less means I’m not trying hard enough. I’m not doing well enough. I’m not good enough. And that means that I have something to be ashamed of.
I don’t know how to change this thinking yet.
—————-
Me: She didn’t mean to do this. She cared about me. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t in danger. That I was okay. Which I wasn’t. But she went about it in the wrong way.
I think it’s actually a pretty neat exercise. It’s very much, putting yourself in the other persons shoes and trying to come up with a perspective that they might have had. Put in this way I can understand what would have motivated her to do this. It doesn’t make it ok, but at least there’s some understanding.
Therapist is really positive. She keeps telling me what a joy I am to work with. How thoughtful and self-aware I am. I, don’t handle the praise well. I grin and bear it, but I don’t like it. I don’t believe it. It’s embarrassing to me. I don’t know why doing a good job, being what someone considers ‘good’, is shameful. I’m just going to let her down I think. Or since I know the extent of my inner nature better, she just doesn’t know how rotted I am inside. She’ll find this out eventually and be disappointed. It’s easier for me when she doesn’t praise me. It makes me want to pull back to a place where I can’t let her down. Which is too bad. We’d actually been talking about my blog and my process for many of my posts. How I’ll read or research something, write out my thoughts on it, write out how I relate to it… is a very insightful process. She’s proud of me for putting so much effort into understanding myself. She even said if there was such a thing as a prognosis for personality disorders mine is very good.
We talked about my bulimia more, which frankly I’m tired of talking about it. I did manage to stop myself from binging and purging after Lady Friend left Saturday. That was a good moment. However, I made dinner for Friend and his wife on Sunday and I couldn’t control how much I consumed.  I was fine the whole day, relaxed, gave myself time to get stuff done in a stress free time frame… until the end and I started to skew my timing when I had to run out for an ingredient I forgot, then it pushed back the baking time, which pushed back the dinner time. Time, time, who’s got the time? He helped me fry some stuff up while I got the rest of my prep done which helped. Of course this also means that I don’t feel like the dinner was entirely mine. Stupid, stupid. Only one minor glitch in the outcome of the whole meal, which was wonderful,   and I still was so stressed out thinking that it wasn’t good enough. Despite the praise I get from them and that I can taste for myself that things turned out deliciously. I think I take too much on. Instead of doing 4 courses, next time maybe I’ll just do 3. I’m not superwoman. I need to remember this.

Security Blanket

Next up on my look into some more Associated Features of Borderline Personality Disorder:  
(C) Individuals with BPD may feel more secure with transitional objects than in interpersonal relationships:
Ex.  a pet or inanimate possession
I love my cat. He loves me. My cat is the only man that will never leave me. I honestly believe this.
First off, I am not a cat person. I grew up with giant dog breeds. It wasn’t until I rescued my cat while at University that my appreciation began to change. That said, if you come between me and my cat, say a bad word against my cat, attempt to harm my cat, I will come after you and at the very least give you a verbal lashing enough to flay your spirits.
It sounds a little obsessive. Maybe it is. I found him just before I began grad school. I rescued him from boys with a golf club, this starving skin and bones stray. For 3 days he didn’t leave my lap, no matter how hungry he was, he wouldn’t eat unless I was next to him. He’s been with me through grad school, through graduation, moving upstate, out of state, all over NY, through boring relationships and bad… he’s just about the only constant I’ve ever had in my life. And he loves me. Is my attachment to my cat unhealthy? No, I really don’t think it is. It’s not like I’ve given up my life in order to cater to my cat. He’s a cat. He’s pretty self-sufficient in that puppy-like way where he greets me at the door when I come home and sleeps at the foot of my bed. Not even kidding.

He’s a comfortable, familiar, stable presence.

People let you down. People leave. He hasn’t. He doesn’t. He won’t. He depends on me and in a way, I depend on him.

That’s really the heart of it I think. It’s the idea of a security blanket. Mine just happens to be a cat.
A comfort object, transitional object, or security blanket is an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations. This is common with children. However for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, quite often there is a deep seeded abandonment issue rooting back to that crucial period of time when these transitional objects were so necessary. Where a more neuro-typical person eventually develops beyond the need for such stabilizing objects, the person with BPD has not.
Here’s a psychological approach explaining WHY comfort objects are useful.
When the young child begins to separate the ‘me’ from the ‘not-me’ and evolves from complete dependence to a stage of relative independence, it uses transitional objects. 
An infant sees himself and the mother as a whole. In this phase the mother ‘brings the world’ to the infant without delay which gives him a ‘moment of illusion’, a belief that his own wish creates the object of his desire which brings with it a sense of satisfaction. Winnicott calls this subjective omnipotence. Alongside the subjective omnipotence of a child lies an objective reality, which constitutes the child’s awareness of separateness between himself and desired objects. While the subjective omnipotence experience is one in which the child feels that his desires create satisfaction, the objective reality experience is one in which the child independently seeks out objects of desire.
Later on the child comes to realize that the mother is separate from him through which it appears that the child has lost something. The child realizes that he is dependent on others and thus he loses the idea that he is independent, a realization which creates a difficult period and brings frustration and anxiety with it. In the end it is impossible that the mother is always there to ‘bring the world’ to the baby, a realization which has a powerful, somewhat painful, but constructive impact on the child. Through fantasizing about the object of his wishes the child will find comfort. A transitional object can be used in this process.
            (- Or what should be a constructive impact on the child. I suspect for those with BPD this was an experience more traumatic than is typical and from here defense mechanisms begin to form.)
The transitional object is often the first ‘not me’ possession that really belongs to the child. These could be real objects like a blanket or a teddy bear, but other ‘objects’, such as a melody or a word, can fulfill this role as well. This object represents all components of ‘mothering’, and it means that the child himself is able to create what he needs as well. It enables the child to have a fantasized bond with the mother when she gradually separates for increasingly longer periods of time. The transitional object is important at the time of going to sleep and as a defense against anxiety.
In a later stage of the development the child no longer needs the transitional object. He is able to make a distinction between ‘me’ and ‘not-me’, and keeping inside and outside apart and yet interrelated. This development leads to the use of illusion, symbols and objects later on in life.
Now the problem is. Someone with BPD may not have been able to make that full transition to the later stage of development when the transitional object is no longer necessary. I would hypothesize that this is at the core of most abandonment issue explanations.
My security blanket growing up was an actual blanket. A yellow blanket. I loved this thing to death until I think my parents threw it out without telling me.  My mother also, was not around much when I was growing up. My parents believed that one of them should always be home for us at all times so that we wouldn’t be left alone. Sounds perfect right? Maybe. Maybe not. My dad worked days. My mom worked nights. Which meant she was sleeping during the day and awake when we were asleep in order to provide for us.I only ever saw her for an hour or two at dinner. She would have loved to have spent more time with us. THAT I know, but the way my parents decided to do things this was just the nature of our reality. My dad was always the one to get us ready for school and home when we got back. I’m much more connected to my father. Are there psychological implications to this? Probably, but I’m sort of just figuring this out as I type so it’ll be something to bring up in therapy tonight.

Growing up everything I had, was shared. My room, my toys… later my siblings were a constant study in lack of privacy, stealing clothes & my stuff (typical younger sibling antics), and having my journals and diaries violated by my mother. Even my thoughts weren’t my own. I have NEVER recovered trust towards her for this. What this means to me, is that nothing has ever been just mine. I hold to some things very hard because I feel a definite lack of having anything that belongs to me. Or that I belong to. Everything is separate while I have an intense need for something to be connected with.
I buy a lot of things. I spend a lot of money. I, have a lot of things. Now. I wonder if this has anything to do with the psychological reasons behind impulsive spending as well. Surrounding yourself with possessions as a means to create a protective den of stuff that is yours and will not leave. Hm.
Anyways.
Having these objects or pets… they don’t let you down the way that normal relationships always do. They’re comfortable and stable. Something easy to hold on to because they’re not going to suddenly change or decide they want to be different. They provide a reassurance that we need and don’t otherwise feel we have (usually). At least, that’s what I think.
*My thoughts are a little disjointed today. I just had a major design review and presentation at work.

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