April 6, 2010

Cleaning Up the Mess

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:17 pm by eddejae

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” ~Jim Morrison

Last week I had particularly upsetting experience with a so-called “friend” who, after being rejected in the potential-for-romance department, ripped off the “I’m such a nice, caring guy” mask and revealed himself to be a self-centered, arrogant, and back-stabbing jerk.

Well, it happened again. Different guy, similar situation. Thankfully I wasn’t cussed out or called names this time, but his main complaint was that I only engaged in “small talk” with him and wouldn’t divulge all of my thoughts and feelings to him on a continual basis. He was puzzled by the fact that I had become “distanced.” He kept asking over and over again when we were going to hang out, why I had stopped talking to him on a regular basis, and I kept making excuses and avoiding until the truth finally came out.

Unfortunately, similar to the previous guy, he got to know me during a period where I took masks on and off as quickly and easily as I did tying and untying my shoelaces. The girl they knew was a personality specifically formed for them, who made them feel like they were her best friend in the entire world. Desperate to somehow alleviate the deep loneliness inside, I recklessly formed relationships with anyone and everyone and clung to each of them as an ultimately futile way of forming an identity.

I gravitated towards unhealthy individuals who tolerated my lack of boundaries and enjoyed their egos stroked. As I am becoming more integrated and unveiling my “true self” underneath the layers of false identities, I find myself drifting away from these people, seeing them for who they are. There are certain people I simply do not wish to have in my life anymore. They only serve to bring me down, and out of respect for myself and commitment to my recovery, I cannot allow them back in. I am now reaping the consequences of what BPD led to me to do and attempting to clean up the mess, if you will. It has not been easy or fun.

However, this time around, I was stronger. Even though, in the end, this guy “disowned” me as a friend simply because I was honest about my illness and straightforward regarding my new boundaries (which he refused to accept), I simply wasn’t as upset as the last time. I didn’t cry myself to sleep or have urges to self harm, which I was so relieved about. It just didn’t seem to be as emotionally devastating this time around, probably because I have gradually gained a better grasp my personal “Bill of Rights” (see March 28th post) and my definition of the title “friend.” In my world, a friend is someone who allows you to be yourself at all times, accepts you with all your weaknesses and imperfections,  doesn’t expect to “get” something from you, and respects (even loves) your boundaries.  To me, that is a true friend.

Anyone less than that is merely a poser, an abuser (heaven forbid), or simply someone who lacks the emotional maturity or skills to engage wholesome relationships with others.

After this experience I was overcome by a fit of “social spring cleaning” – I purged my Facebook friends list, going from 693 friends to 211. Most of those I deleted 1) I never talk to anyways; 2) probably don’t even remember who I am; or 3) have played a negative part in my life. All that remain are my family members, fellow church-goers, and my REAL friends. It was a cleansing process for me, and proof that you can take a distressing situation and use it for a good end. (*NOTE: I am not referring to the Facebook profile connected to this blog, which is merely for networking and advocacy purposes; rather, I’m referring to my personal Facebook page.*)

Speaking of Facebook… Why oh why did I have to be introduced to those horribly addictive Mindjolt games? Talk about time suck! In fact, I think I’m getting carpal tunnel playing that stupifying “Bouncing Ball” game. MindJOLT?? More like MindNUMB!!

I’ve been in a strange mood today – a little laissez-faire with a splash of awkward goofiness. I can’t say I’ve been particularly productive, but I haven’t been especially bored either. The day has flown by, but I can’t really tell you anything that I did! Am I having a brain lapse? Probably.

Lastly, I watched the movie “Girl, Interrupted” last night. My many and varied thoughts on it tomorrow… I reached the peak of my brownie-sundae-explosion-induced sugar high about five minutes ago and I will now be experiencing a crash in 3… 2… 1….

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March 5, 2010

The Social Hiatus… Coming to an End?

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by eddejae

I am sitting in the café at Borders bookstore on this cool, crisp Friday evening. Lately I’ve been doing my writing in public places such as the library, Starbucks, and bookstores as an effort to get myself out of the house and around people more. Though I’ve always struggled to some degree with social anxiety, the problem has intensified over the last few months with the depression. My therapist suggested that I start introducing more “social” back into my life, starting out by doing solitary things in public places (as I am now) and maybe doing something occasionally with just one friend. Though it’s not easy for me, I’ve been doing my best to ease back into interacting with other people. Even shopping at a store makes me nervous, and I almost threw up with anxiety before a scheduled lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago… But it gets a bit easier each time. My social anxiety has kind of come and gone in spurts throughout the years, and if you were to meet me right now, you’d probably never guess that I was shy or nervous. When I need to be, I put on a very good act, and you’d never know that my heart was racing and that I was starting to sweat underneath my collar. Hopefully that will subside with practice though… I don’t want to be a social hermit forever!

I do have to say, however, that taking some time away from people (though it should never be a permanent way of life) has been more positive for me than not. For a while I had been feeling overwhelmed with people constantly vying for my attention, whether it be through incessant text messages, phone calls, or pleas to “hang out.” It got to the point where there was barely one minute in the day when I wasn’t feeling pressure from someone. I could barely think my own thoughts. I could be at a party having a real conversation with someone, and having five text message conversations happening at the same time. It drove me insane!

After my last hospitalization, I quickly realized that if I was going to recover, I was going to have to cut all this craziness out of my life. I took a huge step and basically told everyone (nicely) to back off. I took text messaging off my cell phone plan (which lowered my monthly bill by $20 by the way), let people leave voicemail messages if they wanted to get a hold of me (for me to return or ignore at my discretion), and stopped going on that accursed Facebook (a.k.a “stalkernet”). It was the best decision I have ever made. Suddenly, I had peace and quiet. I could actually sit down and think, read a book, or carry on a live conversation without someone bombarding me with texts! I also turned down a lot of invitations to various social gatherings, not merely because of my social anxiety, but because I knew I needed to give myself time and space to heal. I mean, despite my nervousness, I could have made myself go out (as I have many times before), but I realized that right now isn’t the time. In order to restore some level of sanity to my chaotic world, I had to scale back on the amount of social pressure and unnecessary outside input (including certain people’s opinions on what I should be doing with my life).

So now I’m trying to find some sort of a balance. I feel like I need to introduce a level of social interaction back into my life… slowly, and carefully, so I don’t overwhelm myself. I still refuse to text, and I go on Facebook maybe once a day but merely to respond to important messages. I’d like to get better at returning people’s phone calls… which I rarely do (I get very nervous on the phone as well). I’ve also been able to hang out with a close girl friend of mine about once a week, which has been nice and not too stressful. Spending time in the library, bookstore, or grocery store is also helping me get used to being around people again. And, I went to church last Sunday again for the first time in quite a while… And though I felt like I sort of faded in the background, I was able to handle it well and was happy to see some very wonderful people I’ve missed.

What’s next? I don’t know. I think it will be a while before I feel comfortable hanging out with groups of people or going to any parties or the like… That still scares me… But I’m taking these little baby steps, so I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m not worried about it. I know that as I get stronger and healthier, I will become less self-conscious and concerned about other people judging me. Hopefully as I start to feel more comfortable with myself, I will be able to feel more comfortable and confident around other people. One day at a time…