Consumed By You, Consumed by Me: Engulfment

Love vs. Obsession. This may be where I confuse the two. I didn’t have a term for it before, but Engulfment seems to fit with Borderline Personality Disorder, many Personality Disorders actually.
Engulfment – Engulfment is an unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a spouse, partner or family member. It’s a distortion of reality in the mind, in which the status of a relationship takes an inappropriate level of priority over the every day, physical and emotional needs of those involved. A level of crisis is inferred on the status of the relationship and a “fix-it-at-all-costs” strategy is deployed to deal with any weaknesses in the relationship – real or imagined.
There is often immense pressure placed on those being engulfed to behave in ways that put them at the center of the PD’s world. They may demand time, resources, commitment and devotion beyond what is healthy. Relationships with outsiders, family and friends may be seen as threats and be frowned upon, resulting in Alienation. Even normal habits or routines, such as work, hobbies, interests which take a Non-PD’s attention and energy away from the PD-sufferer may appear threatening. Acts of independence by that person may be met with begging, argument, threats, even acts of retribution and violence.
People who are on the receiving end of engulfment may find themselves compromising other relationships or competing interests in order to “keep the peace” with a partner or family member who is embroiled in engulfment. They may fear the consequences of displaying independent thought or action. They may fear violence, intimidation or rage if they do not give the person what they want. They may long to leave the relationship but be afraid of the consequences if they do.
I’ve only really done this twice; with my high school best friend/boyfriend (whom I won’t talk about) and with Evil-Ex. With Evil-Ex it went both ways. In the ebb and flow of our dependence and counter dependence; the emotional highs and lows, it would be one or the other of us that tried to hold on. The more evasive and subversive he was, the harder I would hold on, trying to fix everything, trying to compensate for anything that I perceived as needing to be fixed; the more I would try to engage him in our relationship. When I had enough, or needed my own space to find myself, when I was my typical strong assertive self, in other words, when it appeared I didn’t need him, the tables would turn and he would try to engulf me. It was a game for him. For me it was like oxygen. I needed him to keep breathing normally. He needed me to assuage his own ego.
When things were rocky it was like someone clutching my heart in a death grip and drowning it in a bath of ice. My lungs would constrict and I couldn’t think of anything but making whatever wrong I had done, right. It was unendurable panic. All I wanted was for things to ‘be back to normal’. The more he would sneak around; the more he would try to make me feel crazy, jealous, worthless, the more I wanted to prove him wrong. To prove him wrong, I had to fix whatever little flaw I thought he saw. My self-worth rode on the approval I received for doing something that brought back the balance. What I couldn’t understand at the time was; there was never a balance in the first place. There was only him driving me to madness and me wrapping the insanity around me like a shroud.
That’s what being engulfed in someone feels like. It’s an obsession. A thick fog of madness clouding your mind where the rest of the world becomes occluded in the mist and you can only see the figure you focus on two feet in front of you. Nothing more, nothing less; nothing else matters. All the while trying to maintain a grip on who you are. Wanting more than life itself to have the person you love, love you back, treat you well, do you right, without having to lose who you are in the process. Except exerting who you are, who I was, was exactly the thing he did not want to see. He wanted me to be the ideal picture of a hot brainiac gamer chick that was utterly devoted to him. Anything other than that; having anything in my world other than him, was proof that I was out to do something against him. If I wanted to have my own friends, it was because I wanted to cheat on him. If I wanted to stay in and watch a movie, it was because I wanted to keep him from his friends. Just small examples of his logic. To be honest there were times I didn’t want him to go out without me. Though in my defense, often I knew when he went out he did it with the intention of cheating on me, or playing games with girls to boost his own ego. I should have left, but I couldn’t, so I went crazy instead.
Everything he did was ‘for’ the relationship or for tearing it apart. Or so it seemed to me. Even when they were simply everyday things that had nothing to do with anything. All actions felt like they had impact on ‘us’.
My world became filled with self doubt. I would compromise anything that I wanted simply to keep some stability and ward of retribution as he was a very vengeful person be the slight real or imagined. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t make him happy? What was wrong with me, that he would do these things, look for these things elsewhere, instead of with me? The honest answer: It was him, not me. Oh yes. I acted in ways to hold onto him that were less than acceptable and no, I couldn’t extricate him from any aspect of my life, but not until he had burrowed himself in and pushed my buttons so far inside of me that I didn’t know how to trip the switch to my own sanity.
Of course, my ex was a malignant narcissist. Not exactly the pinnacle of normalcy in his own right, which probably contributed to why our cycles of love and hate perpetuated as long as they did.
The real bitch of it all… I rarely felt so alive. All the craze, all the torture, all the heart pounding highs and crushing lows, I knew, without a doubt knew, what it was to be living again. He’d taken away the numbness I felt, the empty hollow life I had been living and filled that shell with something so devastatingly exhilarating that I was afraid to stop feeling again. Despite the fact that what I was feeling was making me fall freely to my own early grave.
I knew this and I would assert myself once more. This only worked to make him angry, worked against me. He couldn’t control me directly, so he worked to control me in other ways. Had I been a weaker person and allowed him to mold me into the placid plastic doll that he wanted me to be, I could have saved myself so much heartache. I wouldn’t allow it. I won’t allow it. No one will ever tell me who I am allowed to be, who I’m supposed to be. If I choose to change that’s one thing, but it will be my choice, or at least, doing by my own hand subconscious or otherwise. There are times I would be what he wanted me to be, but I wouldn’t give up myself completely. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. I knew this. It would have ended things sooner had I given in, given up; he’d have gotten bored. So would I.
No matter the trauma and abuse, I fought. I fought for him, or I just plain fought him. That’s how consumed I was with our relationship. And nothing anyone could tell me could make me feel that this was not what I wanted, despite the fact that cognitively I knew, I TOLD myself, that things were not okay. When you’re engulfed by someone, with someone, there’s no logic, there’s only the feeling of utter consumption.
Engulfment is the loss of self through being controlled, consumed, invaded, suffocated, dominated, and swallowed up by another. Fortunately it is possible to extricate yourself. It’s not easy, but eventually there comes a point where you just can’t take anymore. One person or the other needs to take a stand.
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Medication, Obsession, or Insomnia?


Alright I lied. I’m posting. I’m exhausted. I’m  rambling.

Can’t sleep. Can’t seem to balance. I think I’m falling to the artists’ obsession with their medium. I would love nothing more than to quit my job and stay home painting. I stay up painting as long as I can, wake up and instantly my mind is on my palatte.  I can’t fall asleep. Can’t stay asleep. Wake up early. Can’t fall back to sleep with the thoughts of color combinations, shading, lining, running, racing through my mind.

Or it’s my meds, or the weather, or maybe I’m anemic. Saw Psychiatrist yesterday. He was welcoming as always despite being upset with me last time. That was a relief. I told him that I’ve been incredibly fatigued and not sleeping.  I have Trazadone for sleeping. If I take too much I’m hung over and groggy all day. If I don’t take enough I either don’t fall asleep or don’t stay asleep. I also suspect that it slows down my resting metabolism when I’m asleep. It’s just a theory.

Last night I woke up at 230a… around 330a I took about a quarter of one just to help me fall asleep again. I woke up before my Cantina Band alarm went off and preceded to Snooze it once it did. Dragging myself out of bed is ridiculous. This never used to  be my problem. I was never a Snooze button person. Regardless of how little sleep I get I always just got right up. Everything feels heavy and slow. My brain feels thick. I hate feeling like this.

Therapist thinks it’s the new meds. Friend thinks it’s the weather and/or just need to give side effects a chance to pass. Psychiatrist isn’t worried at all and doesn’t even feel the need to see me for another month. So I’ll be continuing with 5mg of Abilify for the next  month. I’m going to try my damnedest to really limit, if not eliminate, my drinking. I’ve been doing really well with this.

I also realized that the only iron I’m probably getting is in my multi-vitamin and really you only absorb a fraction of what the label says.  Might explain the nosebleeds too. Time to invest in an iron supplement I think.

NAP. Nap. nap. Zzzzzzzz……….

Love or Obsession

Not a bad day at all.
Very productive day at work. Even though my mind kept flitting around. I’d start a design project, look back at the clock and it would be an hour later, my mind lost in day dreams and fantasy (you don’t want to know. Or maybe you do).
The night is winding down, or should be, and my energy is ramping up. 2 hours of sleep last night. Too little sleep. Too much energy. Too many thoughts. Too much to say. up, Up, UP. Everything moves too slow. Can’t keep up with how my brain bounces back and forth. 
I think I finally tossed my therapist for a whirl tonight. She asked me about Friend and how I was dealing since I stopped talking to him. I’m fine. I freaked the hell out the night I released my thoughts to him and told him to stop contacting me. I woke up the next day, and everything was different. I felt practically nothing. For the next few days I didn’t look at my phone, didn’t turn on my instant messenger, didn’t worry, had no anxiety at all about not speaking to him. I felt almost at peace. By Friday I’d turned my IM back on but other than a few hours of mild anxiety knotting in my stomach for fear he’d IM me, I was fine. Though in all honesty I turned it on so he’d see me and remember me and know that it was my choice to not speak to him. Miss that, fucker.
Which apparently he did.
Finally started speaking to him again. I feel nothing. It’s familiar, but I have no hopeful anticipation. No missed longing. He told me flat out he still desires me the last time we spoke, but I made my choice and now I feel nothing in that regard. My therapist says she’s not questioning it. It’s pretty obvious I’ve dissociated from the entire thing, but in a way that is almost contented. Hey, it’s a defense mechanism, let it get defensive. As long as it works.
It’s so weird. I’ve been insane, emotionally wracked and destroyed. For months. I make a decision… and it’s done. Like breaking a spell.
This made me giggle
It makes me question: Do I fall in love? Or do I fall into obsession? 
My emotions are so extreme, so volatile. I can’t stop thinking about things, creating scenerios, paths that actions could take, how I want things to be, how they should be…. Convince myself that I’ll never be happy unless I have exactly that…. Until I no longer want it.
I think the uncertainty is the most maddening. With no clear decision, there is no clear way to be, to act, to identify. Lost in the confusion the madness takes hold and spins me down an endless spiral of depression and anxiety. In making a decision, I can regain my composure and sense of self.
It took me all of two days {less really} to remember that I don’t need him, or anyone else, to hold my hand and walk with me through this life.
It took me weeks, months (this after years), to remember that I would be fine without Evil-ex*** and I lived with him. I know my feelings for him were tragic but I was beside myself with fear and anxiety that I would be without him. My life was consumed with him and everything we did was entangled. More so that I would have to face him and not be with him. Until I remembered what life was like without him. Fun, easy, comfortable, not filled with tension and horrible, but it took some time. Maybe not much, a couple weeks, but there was a period of adjustment.
I was starting to feel this way with Friend, this fear of not having him. I finally forced myself away and as soon as I made the decision, it stopped. The craze, the madness, the rumination, the obsession. Gone. That there was no transition period, no getting used to this new state, no time of adjustment, and now no feeling… it’s disconcerting.
Do I understand myself at all? If I shut down and turn off like this, were the things I felt before even real?
I have no personal attachments now. In a romantic/sexual sense. I’m calm. It’s not until I get involved, emotionally, with someone that it drives me crazy. I should take note of that.
My therapist was utterly thrown. I could see it in her eyes and the way she wavered. Especially when I actually said I wasn’t sure if I knew the difference between love and obsession. Sometimes I think she’s too positive. She wants the best for me, but maybe at the expense of seeing me as I really am. I haven’t been seeing her that long though. I’m just starting to really open up in ways she hasn’t seen yet.
She thinks now that I’m in therapy I’ll be able to make better choices into the future. That I’ll be able to learn from this. See the things I want, not settle for the things that I don’t. Choose the ones that are better for me. I told her I’ve seen these things before and yet… I still make shitty decisions. I still make the same mistakes. I want to see what I want to see, but it’s only a mirage. I need to be able to see what is actually there and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to.
I’m a little drunk currently, but I want to remember to look more into love vs. obsession later. 
*** Of course, he finally broke down and begged me to come back, which I did like a fool. Obsession goes both ways.