DeJa Vu Too

Today is also the day of the DÉJÀ VU Blogfest.

Basically everyone who signed up will repost an old blogpost that they think hasn’t gotten enough attention, is helpful, or that they just like a whole bunch. I know a lot of bloggers put out a lot of really good material when they first start blogging but don’t really have much of a following. This is sort of a chance to highlight some of that stuff. I honesty couldn’t decide what to choose. For a minute I thought about talking about my latest tattoo, but I’ve received a lot of e-mail and thankful responses about the post that I finally decided on.
It’s also something that I think is good for people to remember about me. I have a:
Lack of Object Constancy  ( <—- Original post – Go Ahead. Click it! )
“Borderlines have problems with object constancy in people — they read each action of people in their lives as if there were no prior context; they don’t have a sense of continuity and consistency about people and things in their lives. They have a hard time experiencing an absent loved one as a loving presence in their minds. They also have difficulty seeing all of the actions taken by a person over a period of time as part of an integrated whole, and tend instead to analyze individual actions in an attempt to divine their individual meanings. People are defined by how they lasted interacted with the borderline.”
Object Constancy – They may have problems with object constancy. When a person leaves (even temporarily), they may have a problem recreating or remembering feelings of love that were present between themselves and the other. Often, BPD  patients want to keep something belonging to the loved one around during separations.
My therapist tells me I have a lack of object constancy.
Out of sight, out of mind: For me, I don’t believe people hold me in their memories. If I’m not around, or I am not in some form of contact/communication with them, I don’t exist in their world. I have an extraordinarily hard time holding onto the thought that people remember me, hold me dear or care for me when I am not in their physical presence. Out of sight, no longer connected. I’m sure to most people this is not how they perceive relationships (be it friendship, dating, familial). I think it should be a consistent progression of emotions and experiences that build together to form a deep bond. I also have a hard time holding onto the strong emotions I feel for those I care about, and when I do manage to I also manage to convince myself that I am the only one that feels this way and no one else could possibly share my depth of emotion though I desperately hope they do. This creates a feeling of panic and loss for something that may actually be there and I need to find a way to reaffirm these feelings in myself and others every time I am back in contact with them. It’s a maddening cycle of doubt, loss, connection and disconnection.
Holding Time:  I have a hard time holding together one event after the other. I remember events just fine, but holding onto the sentiment of events in series that something is bound. It doesn’t always feel to me that everything is connected. One thing may happen after another, but it does not seem like things hold together in essence after the former has passed. Like if I’m gone too long, that I was there before will cease to be relevant. There is no continuum of events. Everything is like a single instance in time and I have to completely reestablish how I am connected to the event, the environment, the people every time.  It’s very difficult for me to remember that everything is NOT a series of individual events. They ARE a continuum. The attachment of one event bleeds into the sentiment of the next giving life to yet another. That continuum is what binds memories, sentiment, and relationships. Yes? At least that is what I imagine it should be. I imagine so, I don’t feel it.
I often have terrible anxiety when people leave. There’s a desperate need to understand how others feel about me, hold me to them, our connection, because I can’t hold onto this concept myself. On the other hand, when people do leave, abandon me, never to return, after a while it’s as if they were never in my life. I have memories of experiences with people, but no emotional connection to the memories. It’s like I’m remembering a story someone else told me. Sometimes this happens immediately, other times it takes weeks of panic at the loss before I break from the emotional attachment I’ve been able to build. Lately though, I notice this happening more and more quickly, with less time spent obsessing over every instance that lead to the break.
My dissociation helps me here because after the initial fear and anxiety, my emotions deaden. I become numb to the experiences I have just been through. I feel detached from my own body and it becomes logical that others wouldn’t be attached to me when I am not even attached to myself.
How attached are things, moments in time, events, really? How does it feel to be so strongly bound by sentiment that you feel indefinitely connected by a series of things? I simply don’t know.

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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?

Life, Death, Rebirth and Renewal… Tattoo

I got my new tattoo this past Saturday. I got to the shop around 1p, left around 7p. Total time spent working on the outline was 4.5-5 hours. Keep in mind this is only the outline. It will be fully colored but the outline needs to heal first, and I will most likely have to do 2 more sittings of similar duration to complete the color. A lot of the color will be freehanded so there is no outline for that. The depth and shading, the fire aspects, none of which can be seen now, though hopefully you can see where this is going.  It did not hurt at all. Currently it itches like mad. I always forget what the healing stage is like.  I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this post public as I feel like I’m basically naked on the internet. I also can’t take a picture of my back so you can use your imagination to fill in the rest of the wing going up my back.


Tattoo:
This is a Skeletal Phoenix. It is a marriage of two concepts that have been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember; the Phoenix and Death. What they represent to me is something I need to keep with me. I tend to lose my ability to hold onto things, people, concepts… and this is something I need to never forget. I need to constantly remind myself so that I do not fall to hopelessness with I am prone to. Talk about a need for some permanence.  
Every year, or two, or three, my life starts over. I crash, or burn, or both and I have to pick up and begin anew. Each time a little different than the time before, but it keeps going.
Phoenix – Phoenix imagery is just that: renewal and rebirth from the ashes of the past. I can never fully forget my past, but I can learn from it; leaving the char behind me and hopefully heal into a better place than I had been before.
Death – I’ve also been constructing my own Tarot deck. Meditating and drawing each card. While working on my Major Arcana, I got to my Death card and {a variant of} this image came to me immediately. I sketched the basic idea the minute I thought of it and knew I had to have this as a permanent reminder for myself.
If you’ve ever studied the Tarot you will know that Death, is not representative of physical death. Interpretations vary slightly by deck but some of the meanings include:
Ending of a cycle – Loss – Conclusion – Sadness – Transition into a new state – Psychological transformation – Finishing up – Regeneration – Elimination of old patterns – Being caught in the inescapable – Good byes – Deep change.
Typically it implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness. An opening of new opportunities from the ending of those previous. When one region in your life empties, there opens a space to allow something new to replace it.
The banner the Firebird holds says ‘ Bás ’ which is Gaelic for ‘Death’.
The Death card is generally depicted as skeletal so the combination of this imagery along with the phoenix inspired this idea of a skeletal phoenix.
In my struggles with my BPD, my life, becoming who I will become, the nature of life in general; it is strikingly obvious to me why all of these things are a part of me.  This is a card of change. Transition. In the death of one thing springs the potential life of something else. Endings are not only endings, but also beginnings. Endings bring change. In change there is hope. With hope there is the possibility for a better life. A life worth living.
So here you go.


Understatments understate

“Your risk for relapse of symptoms of borderline personality disorder is greatest when you feel threatened by being left alone (abandonment).”
Relapse – is the reappearance of or increase in symptoms in a person with an illness or disease after a period of improvement
Saw this statement over at Health.com.
I’m so amused. As if the symptoms of BPD aren’t expected to reoccur. As if they ever go away in the first place (without treatment).
OMG Don’t leave me!
Maybe we should try a twelve step program. Personality Disorders Anonymous or PDA (Public Dispalys of Affection are acceptable for the Histrionic). Eh, hem. Step #1, “Hi, my name is Haven. I have a generally untreatable personality disorder but I hope by sitting with other emotionally volatile people I’ll be able to stop being emotionally volatile.” What? This may help if Step #2 comes with a straight jacket and step #3 is a lobotomy. Not that I haven’t considered lobotomy a viable option on occasion, but even I think that’s a little extreme after a couple hours.
Heh. Treatment for BPD is difficult,  though certainly, not impossible. The outlook is actually getting better and better every day, but relapse is going to be part of the process. Relapse is going to be a very common part of the process. To say that the risk of relapse is greatest when threatened by being left alone:
1.) There is no consistent cause for what sets us off.  
2.) Does not automatically imply abandonment.

Being abandoned does mean being left, but being left alone does not necessarily mean abandonment.

Or maybe it does but it’s a mild form of it.  Personally I need to be in a relationship for the thought of being left (not necessarily alone) to make me most crazed. That’s the kind of abandonment that would set me up for the greatest relapse.  Left and removed from someone’s life forever, abandoned to the ether to never be seen again. This does not mean just anyone leaving me alone.
I’m alone a lot. I live with one Roommate who has a boyfriend so she’s out of the apartment all the time. I’m very happy for her. She deserves someone who makes her happy. She’s one of the best people I know. Some people might consider this statement as me Splitting her into the all good category. She’s never let me down though, and until she does she’ll stay right where she is. I’ve known her for years. Hell, my very first memory of significance concerning her was of her taking care of me after I unintentionally gave myself alcohol  poisoning on vacation (I didn’t know I was drinking Everclear – never again). She didn’t know me and yet she took care of me. That’s not something that is easily overridden. Years later and she still hasn’t let me down in a way that people inevitably do. That said, I have begun to notice that I drink a lot more when she isn’t in the apartment. Drinking takes me out of my head, even just a little bit so the emptiness isn’t so bottomless. As I type this I wonder if part of it is some subconscious connection to the fact that my first strong memory of her was of her taking care of me because of alcohol. I digress.
I do have a pretty severe intolerance to being alone. I have a lack of object constancy. If you’re not with me, I lose my connection to you. What’s more, if I’m not with you I cannot internalize the thought that I am still a part of your thoughts or your life. How can I be an part of your life if I’m not doing anything with/for you? You’re gone. I’m gone. I don’t know where I am.
What also gets me is the statement of ‘after a period of improvement’. What improvement? I’m far from healed. I’ve just begun this process. Just because we’re not in a constant state of suicidal ideation or ripping open our arms doesn’t mark a period of improvement. It marks a period of lessened triggers. My symptoms don’t go away, they just aren’t as apparent.
As mentioned, I’m alone a lot. And yes, some of the absolute worst times for me have been at the thought of being completely abandoned by someone. Even someone I didn’t really care for. Take a look at my trip to the Psych ER. I didn’t even like Boring-ex. However, relapses are relative. My being alone when Roommate is gone is a pretty mild ‘relapse’, though frequent. When I was at University the stress and anxiety cause by the course load I took on, the fear of failure, the need to punish myself for lack of perfection drove me to some incredibly traumatic tailspins. I had a nearly complete nervous breakdown when I received a ‘B’ in a class. Keep in mind that my major was considered one of the hardest majors to complete. The pressure I put on myself was unreasonable, but it had nothing to do with being alone. All relative.  
There are so many things wrong in this write up. Maybe I’m nitpicking. Maybe I’m just rant-y. Bad article. All bad.
I guess my amusement comes from the incredible understatement of this sentence. One sentence. Totally enough to sum up BPD abandonment implications. Right.

Angry penguin is angry

Quotes from the Borderline

“To grasp life and meaning, we assume constancy where it does not exist. We name experiences, emotions, and subjective states and assume that what is named is as enduring as its name. Human beings blessed and cursed with consciousness – especially consciousness of their own being – think in terms of names, words, symbols.”
     ~ James F. T. Bugental
 

 


… But what happens when you no longer connect to the terms you think with?

Lack of Object Constancy

“Borderlines have problems with object constancy in people — they read each action of people in their lives as if there were no prior context; they don’t have a sense of continuity and consistency about people and things in their lives. They have a hard time experiencing an absent loved one as a loving presence in their minds. They also have difficulty seeing all of the actions taken by a person over a period of time as part of an integrated whole, and tend instead to analyze individual actions in an attempt to divine their individual meanings. People are defined by how they lasted interacted with the borderline.”
Object Constancy – They may have problems with object constancy. When a person leaves (even temporarily), they may have a problem recreating or remembering feelings of love that were present between themselves and the other. Often, BPD  patients want to keep something belonging to the loved one around during separations.
My therapist tells me I have a lack of object constancy.
Out of sight, out of mind: For me, I don’t believe people hold me in their memories. If I’m not around, or I am not in some form of contact/communication with them, I don’t exist in their world. I have an extraordinarily hard time holding onto the thought that people remember me, hold me dear or care for me when I am not in their physical presence. Out of sight, no longer connected. I’m sure to most people this is not how they perceive relationships (be it friendship, dating, familial). I think it should be a consistent progression of emotions and experiences that build together to form a deep bond. I also have a hard time holding onto the strong emotions I feel for those I care about, and when I do manage to I also manage to convince myself that I am the only one that feels this way and no one else could possibly share my depth of emotion though I desperately hope they do. This creates a feeling of panic and loss for something that may actually be there and I need to find a way to reaffirm these feelings in myself and others every time I am back in contact with them. It’s a maddening cycle of doubt, loss, connection and disconnection.
Holding Time:  I have a hard time holding together one event after the other. I remember events just fine, but holding onto the sentiment of events in series that something is bound. It doesn’t always feel to me that everything is connected. One thing may happen after another, but it does not seem like things hold together in essence after the former has passed. Like if I’m gone too long, that I was there before will cease to be relevant. There is no continuum of events. Everything is like a single instance in time and I have to completely reestablish how I am connected to the event, the environment, the people every time.  It’s very difficult for me to remember that everything is NOT a series of individual events. They ARE a continuum. The attachment of one event bleeds into the sentiment of the next giving life to yet another. That continuum is what binds memories, sentiment, and relationships. Yes? At least that is what I imagine it should be. I imagine so, I don’t feel it.
I often have terrible anxiety when people leave. There’s a desperate need to understand how others feel about me, hold me to them, our connection, because I can’t hold onto this concept myself. On the other hand, when people do leave, abandon me, never to return, after a while it’s as if they were never in my life. I have memories of experiences with people, but no emotional connection to the memories. It’s like I’m remembering a story someone else told me. Sometimes this happens immediately, other times it takes weeks of panic at the loss before I break from the emotional attachment I’ve been able to build. Lately though, I notice this happening more and more quickly, with less time spent obsessing over every instance that lead to the break.
My dissociation helps me here because after the initial fear and anxiety, my emotions deaden. I become numb to the experiences I have just been through. I feel detached from my own body and it becomes logical that others wouldn’t be attached to me when I am not even attached to myself.
How attached are things, moments in time, events, really? How does it feel to be so strongly bound by sentiment that you feel indefinitely connected by a series of things? I simply don’t know.