Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

 

Yesterday was a productive day in therapy I think. I was in definite rapid cycle mode shift. I didn’t really feel like sharing anything, didn’t really know what to talk about, tired, irritated, hopeful, pleasant, irritable, angry.
She keeps telling me I have a healing, peaceful energy that I bring with me. That people are drawn to my natural ability to heal and ground. That I really have a wonderful influence and role model. Everytime she says things like this I get angry. I don’t see it, I don’t believe it.  
She was creating an assignment for another bulimic client of hers. She said this girl reminded her of me and in creating this assignment for her she was heavily influenced by the things I do to center myself. She handed me the assignment. As I read it was a wash of peaceful, calm, creative outlets to focus energy towards. Healthy things, not destructive. I could easily see how most of these things were influenced by me and my interests. I had these small flashes of, maybe I’m not so terrible as I think, maybe I do have redeeming qualities to offer, maybe how other people see me {positively} is not so inaccurate, not just a lie to make me feel better or manipulate me.  These small flashes were fleeting but they were like little mental peeks into a pretty part of my self-perception.
She’s very concerned about my bulimia. I only had the one incident this past week, despite wanting to more, so I say bravo for me. We’re working on why I feel the need to do this.
Triggers: The state that I am most likely to do this is when I am more stressed than usual, more emotionally taxed.  The times I am most likely to do this is when I am alone, when someone has just left.
Sometimes I think this is just practical. When I’m sitting down to a meal with someone I moderate myself easily and don’t binge. When I’m alone I have no moderator. I lose control over what I take in and then panic in a need to punish myself for this loss of control. Control is clearly an issue. Again she believes this has to do with the Punitive/Critical Parent schema.  She asked me if I believed this personality schema was all bad? I said no. There should be a part of your brain that lets you know when you are doing something wrong or detrimental to yourself or others. It’s normal. It’s when it takes over in an exaggerated, hurtful, debasing, demeaning manner that it becomes punitive and is no longer healthy or normal. This is the part that I need to work to correct. Sunday I wanted to binge after I left Friends and came home to my empty apartment, but I managed to stop myself. I was able to talk myself into just going to sleep. Ireminded myself that if I were to eat, I would feel guilty (I’d had a healthy lunch and a good dinner, no starving), eat more, and need to purge. Instead of indulging the cycle I convinced myself to lie down and just go to sleep. It’s not easy.  Not easy at all. I had to walk myself step by step through what I would end up doing and reiterate every sentence and reason for why I shouldn’t or didn’t need to; why just going to bed would be better.
NOTE: I should write out this process. Write down the feelings that come before the cycle starts in order to recognize them. Write down each action that would typically follow. Then write down a sentence to counter each action in order to bring me to a healthier conclusion. That way I have an established tool when this happens.
I showed Therapist my paintings and she was really impressed. She even wanted to give me a homework assignment having to do with expressing myself through painting. I can’t. I just can’t. She first suggested creating a picture of the Critical Parent when we talked about the unrelenting pressure I feel from my father. This idea immediately filled me with dread and anxiety like a sucker punch to the gut. I practically panicked when I told her I wouldn’t. I immediately thought of my dad and I don’t want to paint him. Especially since he is actually impressed with my painting. He thinks I have some talent here. Thinks I should look into taking some formal art courses (which I’ve never had) and pursuing this further. I don’t’ want this to be homework or a chore. I have so little time free to follow my love of this I just want to enjoy myself and let my ideas flow where they will. She tried to suggest another painting assignment but I’m not turning this into homework. I won’t.
Foreign relationship dynamic. I mentioned I don’t feel very connected to Lady Friend yet. I don’t know if it’s because it’s still early in our relationship or if it’s because when I first meet people I tend to actively keep myself held back. I don’t actually know her well and I’ve been so badly abused I hold myself at a distance. No one can plant a knife in your back without you first allowing them within arm’s reach. When people get close to you is when they can hurt you. It’s only been a month of casual dating though and she does seem to be very into me.
Therapist’s first question was: So when was the last time you had a healthy, nurturing relationship like this? Blank. I honestly cannot remember. I’ve had a lot of long, emotionally unattached/unhealthy relationships or very short relationships that I’ve either bolted from or set on fire and burned to the ground. But not healthy, nurturing relationships. Therapist thinks that part of my problem may be that I simply don’t recognize this feeling. Since it’s not fraught with conflict and upset it’s such an unfamiliar concept to me that it doesn’t register with me as what a relationship should look like. Just let it flow as it will and try to be receptive to where it goes without putting pressure or expectation on it.
Future consideration: Telling Lady Friend about my BPD. I haven’t really dated seriously since my diagnosis {having been very involved with Friend for so long and he knows} so I haven’t had to have ‘a talk’ about my BPD with someone. I don’t know how much to tell her. When is appropriate to tell her? What will happen if I tell her? Or if I even want to tell her at all? Honestly I think she’d probably take it in stride. I’ve mentioned things like my past OCD, anxiety, and my issues of object constancy; sort of bringing up pieces when the conversation is relevant. I don’t know though.
Holy crap let me tell you how freaking irritated I get with Therapist. She talks so bloody much it drives me insane. And she gets on this one topic of inter-subjective fields that I want to gag her. I know her perceptions of inter-subjective fields and how she wants therapy to be a safe space for me and how since I’m very perceptive that she doesn’t want her life or the spaces of her other clients to interfere with my space because therapy is just about me and she doesn’t want these other influencing spheres to cross any boundaries. I drift off and cannot focus on a word she says. Or if I do I just get so irritated and angry I don’t want to listen to her.
Especially since I don’t think I have boundaries.
She asked me what I meant by this. I don’t know honestly. It seems to me that I’ve always held such rigid beliefs, hid so much of myself away, feared embarrassment or humiliation for so long – very, very rigid boundaries… then after living with Evil-Ex, he would take every little piece of ammunition he could gather against me and if he perceived a vulnerable point in me or an opportunity he would use what he had against me to humiliate me. What strikes me is my reaction or lack of reactions. I have almost a casual resignation to these experiences. They happened. There’s nothing to do for it now. I believed I would feel a certain way, that my world would be impacted in a way that was so detrimental, and yet, it wasn’t, nothing that I believed would happen, happened. In fact, probably no one cared at all. Just me. So if all these rigid ideas and beliefs that the thought of having them crossed created so much anxiety in me, if they’re not what I believe they are, is anything I believe what I think it is. Is any of this imposed rigidity necessary? It seems to me that regardless of whether I believe I need these things, when I’m presented with a violation of them, I continue on anyways. Move on. Nothing stops. Nothing ends. Do I need these concepts of boundaries at all if they aren’t enforceable? They no longer seem to be there anyways.
In a way this may seem very Zen. Therapist is pretty adamant that boundaries are necessary to establish for oneself. I can see how this is unhealthy for me because in regards to myself, I’ve let things like rape and assault wash over me. I detach, dissociate, repress, and continue on, but I don’t devastate. In the moment, maybe, but it doesn’t last for long. If it doesn’t last, than are they really hurtful? If I pull myself together and keep going was it really so traumatic? Would having boundaries have helped me out of these places or prevented me from being there in the first place? Probably. But not having boundaries didn’t kill me. What doesn’t kill you and all… but do I really want to continue to test that theory? No. There absolutely are things that are inappropriate. Violations no one has a right to breach. Just because I got through does not mean that I no longer need to build these back up; reestablish what is acceptable for the future. Having gone through it before, lived through it before, does not make it okay for it to happen again, even knowing that it is survivable. Should be more than mere survival to really live.
Around and around my ruminations go.  
Homework: Create a space within you in order to establish boundaries which you believe are acceptable for your life.

Borderline Narcissism

Narcissism by definition is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. The narcissist is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.
This, however, is not Borderline Narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both Cluster B grouped Personality Disorders (as relevant as that is) but they’re far from being the same thing. As is common with most Personality Disorders there are some overlapping characteristics between the two. How these characteristics present vary in severity and manifestation.
Let’s refresh yesterday’s point: Entitlement or a ‘Sense of Entitlement’ is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
   In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations…arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate’.
Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Belief in the special, exceptional nature of ‘narcissistic entitlement dictates that the patient has a right to life on his own terms…Such narcissistic entitlement plays a central role in borderline pathology, since the borderline sees himself as a special person with special rights and entitlements, such that any frustration of these entitled desires tends to undermine and often shatter the patient’s self-esteem’.
In the wake of Kohut’s self-psychology, a valorisation of narcissistic entitlement might be said to have taken place, as ‘the age of “normal narcissism” and normal narcissistic entitlement had arrived…[a] child’s right and entitlement that its parents are obliged to proffer at the least the minimum requisite “self-object” soothing…to allow the infant/child to develop a sense of self-cohesion’.    
For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder narcissism does not manifest as a belief that we are actually better than anyone else. (At least I don’t generally feel superiority over anyone.) It’s more a sense that our emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to see past our own scope and sphere of influence long enough to take into consideration the needs of others.
We may not consider ourselves ‘special’ consciously, but we do have an emphasis on our emotional needs that does drives our lives in a way that is of priority or deserving specialized treatment.
Unlike for the narcissist, for the borderline, when this favorable treatment is not met it does not necessarily feel like an attack on our superiority. It feels like an attack on our self-esteem and sense of self-worth.   So while the trigger may be a little different, it’s still a trigger, and can often lead to frustration, depression, upset, and rage.
Hm. Back to yesterday’s post, “Because of the elevated highs and lows in mood that people with personality disorders often experience, it is not uncommon for them to attach elevated sense of importance to their own emotional needs. They may appear at times to care only about their own desires and needs at the expense of other people around them or they may habitually prioritize their own needs above those of others.”
To me, this is what Borderline Narcissism is.
Depending on the Borderline this may be severe and ever present or more situational, as is my case. There’s no denying that I fall to feelings of self-centeredness especially when I’m so emotionally wracked I can barely crawl out of my own head. What other people need simply have no room in my mind when it’s all I can do to claw my way out of my own destructive thoughts. It’s not that I don’t want to think about other people, the torrent of emotion, doubt, anger, frustration is an utterly overwhelming deluge.  I don’t live in a perpetual state of this though.
The sense of entitlement comes from this aspect of narcissism that since we have put such an importance on our own emotional needs, that we may expect that others also hold our needs with the same priority. Especially when we’ve invested so much of ourselves into someone else we would automatically assume that they would give the same exaggerated emotional investment back. Even demand it. And when that demand is not met, the frustration is exceptional.

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

 
Yesterday was stress beyond reason; read to quit my job, quit engineering, become a librarian, or a personal trainer, open a yoga studio, ANYTHING, that was not the pressure I have at work.  I looked into certification programs and e-mail department heads about enrollment. I couldn’t see the point of continuing on. Everything I’ve done until now, pointless, useless, futile. My LIFE is pointless. Not worth living or having if I can’t do this {one} thing right. I grabbed at options, ideas. Even as I did so I realized just how much is required to achieve those and I know just how I’ll be able to do it all but it all seems to big, too overwhelming. I see all the obstacles, I have no sense of time…I can see how long it will take, but the dread and anxiety of not having it achieved, the uncertainty, is paralyzing. I don’t have it done now so it feels futile. Like I’ll never get there before I even begin. Fortunately I’m not so out of control that I quit things on the spot.
I can’t say I’m not still thinking about finding a new profession, but I’m less stressed out today.
Let’s go back shall we. The focus of yesterday’s therapy session was my anxiety attacking about work. I am the newest engineer on my team. Everyone else has been here for years. I hired in a couple years after the project began. Everyone knows more about this project than I do. I feel incredibly behind in my knowledge. I’m afraid that I won’t measure up to the demands that are required of me because I don’t know everything already. I’m afraid this will reflect poorly on my ability and on my intelligence… because somehow I have not jacked in and assimilated all prior knowledge generated on this project. This fear paralyzes me. I can’t move forward. I’m mired down in the belief that I’ll never be good enough because everyone else will always know more, have accumulated more, knowledge. I don’t have the history of collection to be of a standard proficiency for what I perceive is my position.  
Once I’m stuck, I beat myself down harder into the muck. I’m afraid to even open drawings and my design programs for fear that I will look at it and have no idea what is required of me. Like suddenly everything will have changed and become completely foreign; every e-mail will be a judgment or termination.
I want to flee from the potential failure into something I won’t be so open to criticism with.
Therapist brought me around to things I might enjoy doing. Her immediate suggestion was to pursue costume design. Find a theater company and hire on to create costuming. I immediately slammed my foot down on this. I’m not a professional seamstress. I’ve never had schooling for fashion. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to live in the city.
Why didn’t I go to culinary school… b/c I’d have to do this, and it would make me hate that, and I wouldn’t have the freedom to do what I really love about cooking in the first place,…  
Stop.
I mire myself in all the details. Bombard myself with the ‘why nots’.  I see the end before anything has a chance to even begin. I psych myself out of ever beginning. If I don’t start, I can’t fail. Can’t let anyone down.
Therapist asks who I’m afraid I’ll let down if I don’t succeed? If I were to choose a different career?
Myself. My father. My friends.
Everyone jokes around about my genius; they introduce me to new people as Haven the rocket scientist, etc etc. I hate it. It just feels like more pressure to be something I don’t believe I’ve earned. Don’t believe I’ve earned <~~~ is a problem all of it’s own. I have multiple engineering degrees, was the sole female graduate in my Master’s program… and yet, I still don’t believe what I do is good enough. More specifically it’s my father. I’ve mentioned before how critical my father is, even though he was not actually discouraging. He never said anything like ‘you suck, you can’t do that, you’re not good enough”. It was always, everything I did could be better. Nothing was ever perfect, or just good on it’s own, or good enough. It was “that’s good, but here’s what you can do now, or should do next, or how it can be improved, how it can be better”… how you can be better. I don’t believe I’m good enough at anything. Everything about me is flawed. As a result everything I do is somehow deficient. I enter into everything believing that I won’t be able to do it good enough, that I won’t be good enough.
Trigger. Therapist made a point of recognizing that this is something that triggers me severely. Specifically my Unrelenting Standards schema.
Unrelenting Standards Schema: The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hyper-criticalness toward oneself and others.  Must involve significant impairment in:  pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
Unrelenting standards typically present as:  (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm;  (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.
When I’m met with any kind of criticism or something I perceive as criticism I freeze. I set my standards so high, put so much pressure on myself, that when anyone presents me with any though/critique/opinion in opposition or enhancement to what I’ve done, it feels like an attack on the rigid standard I’ve set for myself. I destroy myself, debase my accomplishments, and my immediate response is “I’ll never be good enough, I should quit now before everyone sees how incompetent I am.” When in reality this is not true. My Punitive Parent kicks in and I mentally and emotionally punish myself.
Punitive Parent – The Punitive Parent schema mode is identified by beliefs of a patient that they should be harshly punished perhaps due to feeling “defective”, or making a simple mistake. They may feel that they should be punished for even existing when “punitive parent” takes over the psyche. Sadness, anger, impatience, and judgmental natures come out in “punitive parent” and are directed to the patient and from the patient. Even a small and solvable issue or unrealistic perfectionist expectations and “black and white thinking” all bring forth the “punitive parent.” The “punitive parent” has great difficulty in forgiving oneself even under average circumstances in which anyone could fall short of their standards. The “Punitive Parent” does not wish to allow for human error or imperfection, thus punishment is what this mode seeks and what it desires.
Lesson: Recognize triggers!
I was ready to quit my job, sink to devastation about disappointing everyone in my life, lose hope and hold on my life completely. Recognizing the things that trigger me is so crucial in order to gain control of them. In recognizing them I can work to prevent their reoccurrence. Even when I can’t prevent them entirely I can work to form strategies for dealing with them. Therapist wants me to make sure I don’t let the Punitive Parent reign. I need to take a step back and remind myself of all the things I have accomplished, that I am good at, that I am skilled with. I’m the only one that sets my limits. In second guessing myself, berating myself… I, I, am the one that holds me back and keeps me down. No one else believes these things of me. Hell, most everyone else probably has a clearer picture and better appreciation of my skills than I do. They don’t limit me. They aren’t keeping me down. I am.
Homework: Work on silencing the inner punitive voice that constantly demeans me. Counter the self-doubts with positive affirmations. This! This, is not a quick process. This is in fact, one of the major overarching goals of therapy for BPD. It’s good to know your goals though =)

…but beautiful.



For the record. This morning I kicked myself in the ass. Opened up my software and had the first analysis model done within an hour. The second I will have completed by the end of the day. I have no one else to remind me that I’m competent. No, I don’t know everything. It is impossible for me to know everything. In fact, no one expects me to know everything. Not even everything about all the things I’m assisting in. I put this pressure on myself. Life is a learning process.
Note: Sleep on it. I was much more rational in the morning.
And as a more pleasant aside. Went on a date with my new Lady Friend last Saturday. She bought me a book – a mix of Sci-Fi, humor, and Eastern Wisdom. I’m seeing her again this weekend =) It was a really, really nice night. I was all butterflies and nervous. The hostess thought we were the most adorable things ever.
I’m seeing Psychiatrist next Tuesday =P

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – 4

Monday was a good therapy session. Again, not one I got incredibly worked up over but productive none the less.
We talked about how my recent trip home to see my family affected me, how it triggered me.
My mom especially. My dad doesn’t seem to have an incredible interest in what’s going on with me. He really doesn’t engage me or start conversations with me unless I start talking first. I wonder if this is because my issues make him uncomfortable. Hm, I’m actually just realizing this as I type. My mom however starts talking to me the second I’m within sight and does not shut up. She automatically inspires the most irrational anger in me. I know this is a byproduct of my growing up and probably because she was so ‘interested’ in my life. Instead of talking to me, she’d search for my journals and read them.  I don’t trust her at all. She’d then talk to me about it, tell me of her disapproval (to be fair a lot of that disapproval was justified) and sometimes ground me for things that I did, instead of talking to me and helping me go about things in a better way. Act more appropriately. It cultivated my mistrust of her. That she takes such an interest in my life now still makes me very angry, because it feels intrusive to me even though I know she just cares. Trigger.
I was very closed off to them, to everyone. I refused to talk about my feelings, I refused to ask for help, I refused to get help. Since I was 12-ish for sure. Even before this though I was afraid that asking for help would mean I wasn’t good enough, would be a sign of weakness in my abilities. This is a direct result of how critical my father was. Anytime I did any kind of art he would ‘critique’ it. Not in a mean way. It was always directed as a means to help me ‘improve’, but I get overly happy when he does praise me and I need to keep inspiring this so I push myself harder.
This translates into how I am now. How I need to do things for other people that make them happy, that they’ll praise me for. It’s why, despite the fact that I can be mad at Friend, and really don’t like wife, I continue to cook for them because I know it’s something I’m good at and they’ll show their appreciation for it. This is especially necessary for me because my father was such a picky eater. He only likes a few select foods so when I would make new things that I liked and the rest of my family enjoyed he would either not try it or only try a little bit and let me know that he didn’t like it. I’ve always told myself this was simply because he didn’t like a variety of things, which he doesn’t, but he has never been encouraging. Even when I make new things when I visit he always comments on how ‘it stinks up the kitchen’. Those few times though, those few rare amazing times when he has liked what I made were my proudest moments. Since he was so critical, he never just placated me, I absolutely believed the compliments he would give.  Especially when I cook, when Friend or my other friends tell me they really enjoy what I make I am filled with an extraordinary sense of happiness that I am appreciated, while at the same time I don’t necessarily believe them. Amusingly the only one I really believe is Friends wife. I ask for criticism or how I can improve on some things (I cook meat dishes for people even though I’m strict vegetarian and have no idea what meat tastes like). She’s the only one that critiques me, though she is also very impressed with my abilities and has enjoyed everything I make for them, but she’s also one of the only people I believe. (She often tells people that ‘Haven makes vegetables taste like food’ or ‘Make whatever you want it’s going to be good.) Heh, but that I seek criticism and that’s the only thing I truly believe is obviously a direct result of how my father raised me. Trigger.
We didn’t talk about my brother. That my sister is the only one in this world that I truly connect to makes her my strongest base. I was horrible to her. I took out a lot of my anger on her and she was afraid of me. Until one night I came home and saw that she had been cutting as a direct result of the pressure she felt from our father. My entire relationship with her changed that night. She was afraid to talk to them about how she felt. She was always the angel, I was the devil. As a result she felt overly pressured, incapable of doing things that would possibly make them mad. I fought with them constantly and ‘didn’t need their approval’. Clearly I rebelled against them, but they’d never abandoned me for all my horrible behavior so I was able to convince her to at least sit down and talk with them so they could understand that she needed something different. Which she was able to do. We bonded over  something so ingrained in us, understood each other on a different level than we had before and realized that we could lean on each other when we needed help. She’s my best friend in the world and I would do anything for her. I love her with everything I have. I mistrust my parents, even now.
I get incredibly anxious when my sister is late getting home. I need her to be there to feel grounded. Safe. To the extent that I don’t want to go back, be there at all, if she’s not there.
Therapist doesn’t seem to be worried about the fact that I needed to have a couple drinks to deal with the barrage of questions and interest in my life that the rest of my family inspires (holiday gathering at my relatives – all of my relatives, both sides of my family). I see my family so rarely that when I do it’s practically nonstop questions and explanations. Fortunately ( I think?) my mom’s side of the family isn’t very interested in me. I was always so rebellious, so different, that they never took an interest in me. I don’t think I talked to them at all except for my aunt telling me I looked really good and lost a lot of weight (she hasn’t seen me since I was on the Symbyax that made me gain weight).  That was nice. The rest of my family though is very interested in my new job and my mental state. I can only deal with so much. So much attention is overwhelming. So I have a couple drinks to calm down. I knew before I went over that I’d be drinking though. Therapist is much more worried about my bulimia. I’m usually very good at keeping this under control. Until the holiday gatherings start. I’ve never had trust issues with my dad’s side of the family. I actually think I connect to them better than my parents. I’m  really not sure what the exact trigger here is. My parents? My mom’s side of the family? The questions? My bulimia has always been a form of control for me, so I know it has to have something to do with feeling out of control. Why the rest of my family would make me feel so out of control is still a mystery to me currently.
Note:  Identifying those issues that trigger me is the first step in figuring out how to avoid them and control them in the future.
Emo moment
Then we talked about my Abandonment issues and why Friend going out made me so ‘unhappy’  (read: hurt, anxious, depressed, jealous, left out, unnecessary, afraid). The real problem here is that I do feel like if he has more people around he won’t need me as a friend anymore. That I won’t be so important to him. That he’ll reject and abandon our friendship. Therapist is beginning to worry that our friendship is holding me back. That he triggers my abandonment issues is not healthy. I cling to our friendship too strongly. I do forsake going out on my own to meet new people because if I do I won’t be able to spend more time with him. If I go out more our friendship won’t be as strong. He will find other people. I’ll be replaced. She wants him to tell me that he doesn’t want our friendship to end, that he won’t leave me, but he should encourage me to form new, healthy relationships outside of our friendship.  That {six} years down the line we’ll still be friends. I have no way of believing this though, because I’ve never had close proximity friendships that have lasted this long in (though I have had friendship that lasted much longer than this).  I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready to open myself up to anyone new yet. I’m tired of being hurt. I don’t think I can do that again right now. Therapist thinks I should though.
Homework: Stop being a hermit. Get out more, outside of going to Friends’. Cultivate new relationships.
Therapist also breached the topic of wanting family, what I thought motherly qualities should be. Not that I want to have kids, but what qualities do I believe a mother should have, and how would I display these. If, if, I were to have kids, how would I demonstrate these qualities, blah blah blah.
Point:  It’s a helpful exercise to understand where I think my family failed. How I wish they had done things differently with me. 
Finally she asked about what I’d been drawing lately. Mostly I’ve been drawing my next tattoo. She was a little concerned about this because it’s so large (will hit me under my breast, down my entire right side, and over my hip). She asked me if we needed to talk about it in further sessions. I told her ‘no’ I would get it regardless. She laughed at my ‘rebelliousness’.
Update on this Friend Abandonment issue; when I was over Monday out of nowhere he did say that I should pick up the activity and join them in the future. This made me too happy and my mood improved for the rest of the night. Then my paranoia kicked in that he’s reading my blog which would make me incredibly unhappy and probably (probably? Geezus) pissed off. Bleh. I want him to include me because he enjoys my company, not because he feels obligated to me. Then I remembered that he made this offer before I’d posted about it, so my paranoia is completely crazy and entirely composed in my own mind, but that still didn’t stop me from having a small anxiety attack.
So yeah, productive day in therapy. Long, long post. Again, sorry about the day switching for this.

Pulling the trigger

Unfortunately I have a lot of these.
– Being alone when I need friends (specific friends) – my loneliness is the worst trigger I have.
– My best friend not texting or IMing back – feeling ignored, abandoned, automatically thinking I’d done something wrong that caused this lack of attention.
– Seeing women that I wish I looked like.
– A friend sending me artistic nudes – reminding me of how I used to look or thinking that since I don’t look that way I am not good enough in his eyes.
– Seeing highly stylized clothing that I love but can’t yet pull off.  
– Going over my calorie count for the day – loss of self imposed control .
– Clothes not fitting right – remind of control lost.
– Not getting enough sleep.
(I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting)
– Finding something from friends lost. Thoughts/situations that remind me of them…  
Causes me to drink. Causes me to eat more. Causes me to obsess about my weight. Causes me to indulge my bulimia (purging and exercise). Causes me to feel like I have failed myself. Lost control of the structure I’ve imposed on myself to fix my body image. Making me so self conscious of my mistake that I can’t bear to let anyone else see me. Compounding my loneliness. Restarting the cycle. Once I’ve lost control for the night, it feels like the entire day has been ruined. That there is no point continuing to try. I might as well continue to indulge the spiral. Spinning down into the dark recesses of my mind. A black hole of cyclic thinking. Nothing solid to hold onto to pull myself back from the horizon of events about to unfold. Sucking me into a vortex from which there is no escape.
I drink to escape my own mind. I want it to dull the racing that pushes me towards the edge faster. I’ve begun to realize that this has exactly the opposite effect. It may slow my thoughts, but it doesn’t change their nature. Knowing this, I’ve been able to suffer this less often. I look to more healthy means of escapism (discuss more here) to distract myself.
I don’t weigh myself everyday or almost ever. I can’t bear the thought of the scale. I measure my waist. I go by how my clothes fit. If they don’t give me what I want to see, I obsess. Every time I renew my promises to work on it. My dedication is restored, but in the mean time, I am more depressed because I’ve let my goal slip from my grasp. I work on it, but everything seems hopeless. Failure.
I have the unfortunate tendency to see myself as either all good, or all bad. If I maintain my structure for the day I have done well. I am good. If I’ve slipped off the path I want to travel I feel worthless. Lost my control. I don’t even have the strength to get through one more day on track. I am bad. I am either white or I am black. There are no shades of grey when it comes to myself. This something my therapist has me working on. I remind myself that one day does not destroy the progress that I’ve made.
I’ve learned to look at every day as a new opportunity. One day does not determine the rest of my life. Does not end my world. I may not have been exactly what I wanted the day before. I may have messed up, but the next day is a new chance. I remind myself that if something is really important to me, I have to work on it. I have to put in real effort. There is no immediate gratification when I am trying to change my lifestyle. For as much as I want change right now I need to remind myself that some things take time, but as long as I am willing to push myself, I will reach my goals. There’s always another opportunity to reaffirm what I want for myself, and to work towards it.  
It also helps me to set longer term goals, giving me something to aim for. This allows me some room to be more flexible, to be less rigid in my thinking. Less black and white.
– Seeing bloody images.
– Friends complaining about tiny injuries.
– Beautiful scars.
– Needing attention – Being so alone, removed from the world, that I can’t/won’t be out with friends.
I also have a tendency to punish myself. To remind me that what I did was not acceptable. Traditionally this has manifested as self harm or damaging thoughts. Over the last few months though these thoughts have disappeared. Self harm is almost always on my mind even though I very rarely act on it. My control has gotten very good and I only act on it maybe a couple times a year. But the thoughts are always there at the back of my mind. Until a couple months ago. That I haven’t had these thoughts, is something new, something good. I didn’t even realize that they were missing until yesterday. I felt I messed up, but instead of wanting to punish myself I reminded myself that I could start again in the morning. That this one incident wasn’t a permanent mark. At least, not as long as I didn’t leave one (I mean this figuratively as much as literally). I still feel like yesterday was an all bad day for me, but I have hope that today will be better. That I can have the will power to set me back where I want to be.  There are still days I’m so lonely and really need friends, but the other three no longer seem to hold any power of me. That’s an accomplishment all on its own.
If I can overcome some of the more destructive triggers I have, there’s hope that I can overcome the rest.  

What is a Trigger?

 The dictionary will define this as: anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
Pulling the trigger on a gun causes the release of a bullet. Hitting a button on a machine sets it into motion.
For someone with BPD anything number of things can set of and emotional chain reaction. Something big or something done as an afterthought can be emotionally triggering. It all depends on your deeper afflictions.
For someone that self harms it might be pictures of wounds or scars, a preferred knife, the departure of a friend and a return to loneliness, some criticism thoughtlessly given making the person feel worthless, deserving of punishment.
For someone that is eating disordered it might be a picture in a magazine, hanging out with a friend that has a more idealized figure, indulging in a treat that was off limits, a comment made about how someone else is lovely {in a way they don’t feel about themselves}.
Etc.
Whatever the thing is, a trigger is something that initiates a series of destructive thoughts or tendencies; whether it is a simple demeaning thought, or a spiral down into self perpetuating cycles of destruction. The trigger may be innocuous but the result can be emotionally devastating. Setting off feelings of not being in control. Something that creates a need to control themselves, mentally correct a loss of control in some situation. Harsh reminders that they are not good enough, that they could be better, different. Leading to punishment in order to regain a sense of purpose, focus, and control towards becoming the more idealized picture of themselves that they hold.
Whether the thought is acted on is almost irrelevant. If something provokes an internal response, that thing is a trigger.
Tripping a trigger is not anyone’s fault (unless they happen to know what someone’s particular triggers are and push them intentionally). It’s not even the person suffering with BPDs fault. Even people without BPD have triggers. It’s a symptom of a larger problem and it’s very common. It’s almost impossible to avoid them completely but there is hope. 
It’s important to recognize what your personal triggers are. Recognition allows you to step back and begin to process rationally. From here there are a couple things you can do. First, once you understand what causes particular responses, you can learn to avoid situations that create these problems.  At the least you can let those around you know that these things are hurtful to you and ask them to be mindful. Second, even if you can’t avoid all situations you can recognize that the trigger is not healthy, irrational, and begin to work through it in a constructive manner. Once you know what triggers, it is possible to look for alternative means of dealing with it. For example, instead of going to a restaurant which may cause binging and then purging, it is possible to preemptively ask for smaller portions and make plans to exercise.  Be proactive in a way that is not harmful.
Learning what triggers you is important for taking care of you.