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.  
Advertisements

Sabotage!

The other day I saw this list of Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms & Associated Features. A few of them I’ve talked about already, but I found others fascinating.
(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
(B) Some individuals develop psychotic-like symptoms when under stress:
(C) Individuals with BPD may feel more secure with transitional objects than in interpersonal relationships:
(D) Premature death from suicide may occur in individuals with this disorder, especially in those with co-occurring Mood Disorders or Substance-Related Disorders.
(E) Physical handicaps may result from self-inflicted abuse behaviors or failed suicide attempts.
(F) Recurrent job losses, interrupted education, and broken marriages are common.
(G) Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separations are more common in the childhood.
I want to talk about a few of these over the next few days or so. So let’s begin shall we…
(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
Ex.
         dropping out of school just before graduation
         regressing severely after a discussion of how well therapy is going
         destroying a good relationship just when it is clear that the relationship could last
Stopping short of a major goal: I remember studying my ass off at University for weeks, only to ‘burn out’ the week before a major exam. I couldn’t look at the material anymore. I’d work myself up so much, convinced that ‘if I didn’t already know it, I wasn’t going to get it’. I’d create some mental excuse or justification for why I couldn’t study anymore. Inevitably I wouldn’t do as well as I had the rest of the Quarter. This ‘failure’ would work to kick me in the ass again and I’d redouble my efforts to get back on track for finals. It was a constant rollercoaster. Or I’ll slack off and push off completing a project until just before it’s due, practically setting myself up for a negative review. I’m almost asking to be fired. Except I’m not, and nothing could possibly be worse.
Regressing severely after an accomplishment: This. Is something I’m concerned with. I’ll be doing really great with, say, healthy weight loss, but as soon as someone recognizes this or we talk about how well I’m doing, I take a major fall back, nearly destroying all the progress I’ve made.  It makes me wonder if therapy is good for me or not (I know it is). I honestly have no idea why this is. Except that maybe I’ve been working for something for so long, wanted a goal for so long, that when I accomplish it, and it’s recognized, now there’s all this additional pressure to continue performing at this heightened level and if I don’t I’m going to inevitably let someone down. It’s that pressure I can’t stand the thought of. It’s suffocating.  
Destroying a ‘good’ relationship: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived through this. This was like every good period with Evil-Ex I ever had. Or every good period with any person really. Granted with Evil-Ex that was in no way entirely my fault, but I’m sure I sabotaged myself repeatedly.
Sabotage. Yes. That’s the word I want. This is self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actions that create a roadblock to success by working against your own self-interests.  It is when we consciously want something but subconsciously we make sure we don’t get it.  When we say we want something and then go about making sure it does not happen. Ultimately it’s due to a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.
Fear of success.  Deep inside, there can be numerous reasons you do not want to succeed.  These are referred to as limiting beliefs.  You must overcome these limiting beliefs and break free from your fear of success.
         I found a really interesting article on the psychology of Fear of Success. Maybe I’ll post that as it is very relevant to BPD.
Unworthiness:  is the belief or feeling that you do not deserve success.  This is due to low self-esteem and or a poor self-image.
People with a Borderline Personality Disorder often have such an unstable sense of self that it’s impossible to believe well of oneself because they don’t really have a good sense of who they are to begin with.
It takes a lot of effort to keep in mind that you are not only worthy of success, but it is your right to live in abundance and pursue happiness.
Lack of belief in abilities.  Not believing you have enough education. Not enough experience. Goals are too farfetched or unrealistic. You must do everything on your own or it won’t be your success anyways.
This is something I struggle with constantly. I need to remind myself that I do have the background, education, and experience to do what I am doing. I have to force myself to remember that no one knows everything. Not even someone in their established field of decades. Life is a learning experience and all aspects of that are a continuous learning process. It’s ok to not know everything, not be the best at everything, as long as the determination to improve and push yourself forward are there.
Working against true desires.  Unfortunately a lot of people don’t know what they want to begin with. Or work towards what someone else wants instead of their own desires.
This is so often the case with BPD. I have a terrible time making up my mind. I am constantly asking people for what they would prefer, or for opinions to help. Too often I do things that other people would prefer than what I might want. Then again, I don’t always know what I want so does it really matter if I do something I know someone, anyone, will appreciate.
Amusingly I can get a million opinions and which will help me make a decision, but it’s often not the majority opinion and does come back around to what I may want. Like, I need to exclude options for various reasons to narrow it down. If there’s one thing I like, but it doesn’t seem popular, but I’m still drawn to it despite it not being popular, that usually means to me, that I like it and that’s the option for me. Or if I really can’t make up my mind, any decision is better than no decision and I might as well go with the majority opinion.
Often though, I do things because I know other people will like them despite not having the time for my own stuff, resources, or whatever. I put my hopes into making someone else happy, and even if they are, I’m left with something of an empty victory because I’ve reached my goal, but there’s really no personal satisfaction.
Looking for approval from outside. Instead of being able to accept me and my abilities I often find myself looking for outside validation. This can have either/or/both the same reactions as asking for opinions. It’s really just an extension of that b/c it’s asking for opinions on me and my abilities. I can either go with it, rail against it, or flounder somewhere in indecision. No matter which way the thing to remember is that the only truly important opinion is our own. We need to develop the ability to like who we are on our own.
Basically, self-sabotage is like a game of mental tug-of-war.  It is the conscious mind versus the subconscious mind where the subconscious mind eventually wins.  Welcome to Thunder Dome. Two Consciousness Enter, One Consciousness Leaves! The conscious mind can carry out actions and work toward a goal, but it will not be long before the subconscious mind reveals the true feelings and beliefs and takes control over actions.  The key to eliminating self-sabotage is making sure that your conscious and subconscious mind are in harmony.  This is much easier said than done, and I don’t have any failsafe advice on this. It helps me to write down positive affirmations and keep them with me though. Since I have such a hard time internalizing things, having something that I can reference whenever I need to is very helpful.
For someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder these successes are often in the ability to maintain healthy, functional relationships. They are absolutely not limited to this though. Obviously.  

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-21268009-4’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Letting Go

I think I’m actually afraid to lose my BPD. It’s what I’ve always known. I don’t know what it is to be anything else. Yes, it completely sucks, it drives me crazy, I drive me crazy, but it’s familiar. I haven’t been without it since I was very young. Who will I be without it?
I think this is one of the reasons I’m worrying about my medication. On the one hand I want to get better; I want to not feel so turbulent all the time. On the other hand I’m afraid of losing the only way I know how to be. The thought of having to figure out who I am is like walking blind through a door when I don’t know what’s in the room.
I’m prepared for the way I deal with things now. Granted they may not be healthy ways of dealing with things, but at least I know. What if I don’t recognize myself? I already have a hard time looking into a mirror and knowing that the person staring back at me is actually me. A reflection of my Self. Will I be able to recognize myself when there’s someone different staring back at me?
It shouldn’t be, but it’s scary.
If I stop my medication it will probably be a big step back. A way to self-sabotage my progress. I’ve done this a lot. Sabotage what I have in order to push it away. What’s more, I know I shouldn’t do this, but I still want to, still have the urge to.
I have this need to do it now, before it’s too late, before I’ve let slip who I’m used to being because the person I might become won’t feel the need to do this.
Even when I’m not so crazed I’m still not right. I go numb and dissociate from my sense of Self. During these times intense anxiety is often what I’m riddled with but I don’t feel in my own skin so it’s manageable.
I don’t know what it is to live without this. I can’t actually tell you what it’s like to feel happy, not for more than a few days before the grip of fear and anxiety take over again. I know I shouldn’t want this. It is exactly what I’m trying to stop. I’m not sure I want to stop now. Abandoning part of who I am. I don’t want to lose me.
This is causing me a lot of anxiety. The stomach knotted into my throat kind of anxiety. I’m afraid to let go.
Will I still be me?

Will it?