July 2, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 7… Closing Words: Part 1…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:14 pm by eddejae

It is hard to believe that just eight months ago, I truly thought my life was over. That there was nothing left for me to live for. That I was worthless, used up, incapable of ever being happy again. After years of struggling with debilitating depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and what I later found out to be Borderline Personality Disorder, I was tired of trying. I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to give up the fight. Over a two month period I attempted suicide three times and overdosed on at least five other occasions. I coped with the pain of past and present abuse, trauma, guilt, and self-loathing with binging, purging, cutting, alcohol, drugs, and victimization. In order to survive, I either disassociated from my surroundings or changed my entire personality depending on where I was and who I was with. I didn’t know who I was from one moment to the next. Most people didn’t even know everything that was going on with me, because I was very good at putting on a mask. Life was chaos. Chaos was life.

I failed therapy after therapy. Medications made me even more suicidal. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder that things started to make sense. However, it still took me a little while to accept my diagnosis and to make the decision to change. It wasn’t until after my third hospitalization that something inside me snapped. I realized that if I didn’t commit to recovery now, I never would, and I would be miserable the rest of my life. It was a decision I had to make on my own. No one… not my family, not my therapist, not anyone… could make it for me. It was a deep, inner choice and true dedication to becoming healthy.

I am convinced that the one deciding factor to my success in recovery was my commitment in that critical and pivotal moment to becoming better.

Without that, nothing would have worked. Not the best therapy in the world, not the most perfect combination of meds, not even the most loving relationship. No…only that commitment that remained even in the most difficult, heart-wrenching moments when those voices screamed at me “Give up! Give up!” …that one small voice of commitment inside that remained, that whispered… “Remember, remember…” That is what made the difference.

My current state of happiness and healing did not happen all at once. It is a result of a lot of hard work, of a long and painful process. Healing, progress, recovery… They are all a result of a series of small, but very important, choices. Really, there is no such thing as a small decision. Every choice you make has vast consequences, no matter how insignificant it may seem at that moment. Remember that when you when you try to get down on yourself when you think you are “failing”… give yourself credit for the tiny successes…. They make more difference than you realize….For it is those seemingly small victories that accumulate and create something magnificent in the end.

Another thing that has greatly helped me in this process has been getting outside myself. The more I reach out to others, the happier I am. The more I isolate myself and retreat inside my own little world, the more depressed I feel. It is hard because I struggle with social anxiety, but just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you get and the easier it becomes each time. One thing I love to do is bake, especially at night when I can’t sleep. But I don’t just do it for myself, I do it for my friends and family… There’s nothing more fun and rewarding than seeing the joy on someone’s face when you show up at their door with a plate of fresh-baked cookies. Talk about endorphin rush! Believe it or not, it’s little things like that that can really lift you up out of a rut. Try it. Experiment. Can’t hurt, right?

I also had to decide, at a point, to let myself be happy. For most of my life, whenever I started to feel happy, I would immediately begin to feel guilty. For me, I never felt I “deserved” to be happy, because only “perfect” people deserved to be happy. And since I was never perfect, I could never be happy. Took me a very long time, well… my entire life!… to realize that: 1) I am never going to be perfect, and no one is; 2) There is no such thing as “deserving” to be happy; and 3) I can (and should) be imperfect and happy simultaneously. Once I could accept that, emotionally as well as logically (and I still have to work on this daily, as a lifelong habit is hard to break) I was able to do things like enjoy the little things, be in a relationship, and get married (tomorrow!)

Something else I’ve had to learn and work on is boundaries, especially when it comes to helping other people at the expense of neglecting myself. I’ve always had a bit of a “savior” complex, partly out of a genuine compassion for others, but also as a result of low self-esteem. I need to love, but also be loved, as much of my self-validation comes from others’ approval. As a result, I tend to give everything I have to others, whether they deserve it or not, and am often left empty. I give others validation instead of encouraging them to validate themselves.

Over just the last couple of months, I have learned (the hard way), that unless I am taking care of myself first, I am not good to anyone else. I had to learn to step away a bit and focus on my own recovery, otherwise I was at risk of breaking down again myself. One day, when things have settled down and I am comfortable and strong in this new chapter in my life, I will return to helping others in their journey – it is part of who I am and always will be. I love helping others – listening to them, comforting them, being a help and support wherever I can. But I always need to be sure I am in a good place myself first, before I can be a strength to someone else.

The best thing I can offer the world and others is myself – healthy and whole, with a voice that is clear, strong, and true.

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July 1, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 6…Beautiful History…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:17 pm by eddejae

This song has gotten me through a lot… Want to share it here…

Remember that you are always writing your story, and every chapter is unique and amazing – the happy chapters, the frightening chapters, the sad chapters, the emotional chapters, the healing chapters. Every moment is another sentence, another word on the page… And it is important, and it is beautiful. Tell your story. I guarantee you it will touch another’s life in some way, and it will help to you realize that nothing you have gone through has been in vain.

Everyone has a history…Lessons they’ve learned and wisdom to share.

Let your voice be heard.

Begin to speak today.

Not only will you change someone else’s life…

You will forever change your own.

I have made mistakes
And I have been afraid
I have felt alone
Then you called my name

Things were crashing loudly
Happening all around me
But your still small voice
Was all that I could hear

I am here
I’m holding you
You’ll make it through this
I am here
I am here

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke of
The pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history

Well I have been such a fool
When I have known the truth
I’ve wasted so much time
Doing what I want to do

I’ve been living solely
For myself and myself only
But your still small voice
Is whispering

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke
Of the pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history

I toss and turn and scream
I try to do everything
With two feet on the ground
I just keep falling down again

I feel so far from home
Completely all alone
And then I hear you say
“I am here, I am here”

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke of
The pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history
A beautiful history
A beautiful history

June 29, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 3…Inner Quiet…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:47 am by eddejae

As the days pass, I am surprised to find that no words are coming…

A surprising lack of emotional outpouring.

It seems perhaps I have said all I have needed to say.

If not here, in other places.

Perhaps, this place has served its full purpose…

And these last few days are for me to reflect, to offer my last thoughts of hope, of encouragement, of love…

There are some things I wrote that I never published which I most likely will in the next few days.

But as far as new content, there really is not much more for me to say about my past, about my demons, about those things that killed me inside for so long.

It’s almost time for me to say goodbye.

A bittersweet farewell to be sure…

This has been the third day of sunset…

June 27, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 2… The Woman I Want To Be…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:06 pm by eddejae

Over the years I have developed a picture of what a human being living humanely is like. She is a person who understand, values and develops her body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate to what is new and different, keeping that part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not ~Virginia Satir

This has been the Second Day of Sunset…


Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm,

but to add color to my sunset sky…

May 11, 2010

The Broken Road

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:46 pm by eddejae

For me, this song has more than one meaning. Not only is it about finding true love after a series of disappointments… It’s also about coming to a point in your life where you look back and realize that everything you have gone through has made you the person you are today…

And that you wouldn’t change who that person is for the world.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

March 24, 2010

The Path Unknown

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:53 pm by eddejae

The road stretches endlessly before me,

Infinite beyond the horizon where

The half-circle of blood-red sun hangs suspended,

Neither setting nor rising – no,

Whether it is dusk or dawn I cannot tell –

Casting a soft glow reflecting off the

Dusty road, making it glitter like

A million diamonds free for the taking.

Barefoot and broken, bruised and battered,

I stand at the starting line, shifting restlessly

From one foot to the other in nervous anticipation.

Behind me stretches another path,

Long and winding, serpent-like,

Threatening to coil and spring, swallowing me whole.

I take a step forward, hesitant, then one more.

As the dust settles around my feet,

I look over my shoulder at the path left behind.

From the darkness looms a vision,

A memory – resurrected as a nightmarish scene –

I see my heavy, fragile heart slipping from my chest

And shattering onto the cold, hard concrete.

Vultures emerge from the fog, brutal and mocking,

To steal the shattered remnants of what

Was once alive and beating.

Shivering, I turn back to the glittering path before me.

Another unsteady step, then another, and yet one more –

Further and further from that long night in which

I had grown so pale and weak.

The light from the half-submerged sun burns

Against my skin as I close my eyes to the glare.

Exhaustion overtakes me – I stumble and fall.

Discouraged, frightened, and distracted by my pain,

I draw my knees into my chest with my back to the sun.

Through my tears I look beyond the patch of luminescent road

I had traveled and into the dreary wasteland yet again.

A grand performance has been prepared in my short absence –

Familiar characters and scenes from my past

Are being played out before me –

I cannot shut my eyes to the horror,

And I am once more witness to it all.

In the middle of that stage in the distance stands a girl –

She looks like me, yet, is not me.

Laughing, beckoning, “Return, return –

You know us here. Put on a mask,

Any one you choose, and play with us again.

We will rape your heart and shanghai

Your identity – But is this not the game?

Who can guess to what strange land that

Glistening path will take you –

You do not even know if the sun is coming or going –

Why take such a risk? Come back to us –

Here you can be someone else –

Or no one at all –

Find refuge inside your fears, your insecurities.

At least here in the darkness, you cannot be seen.

At least in this place of pain, you can hide from the

Light that reveals all imperfection –

Come. Come back to what you know.”

Grinning, she turns her back to me, and

Blends into the ensemble of masked mimes,

Despondent clowns, and demons spewing forth

Clawed derisions threatening to tear at the

Fragile fabric of my mind.

Ripping my gaze from the hypnotic chaos before me,

I rise to my feet and consider the scene.

I close my eyes, and breathe in slowly,

And feel the sun’s warmth upon my back.

I turn around, and put one foot forward…

March 18, 2010

Blast from the Past

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:54 pm by eddejae

I have been putting off writing this entry all day. I didn’t feel emotionally capable of writing anything yesterday either, which is why I resorted to posting a song (which is one of my favorites). I’ve had a lot of different emotions coursing through me, many thoughts twirling around in my head… But I’m having difficulty putting a name to them or defining their source. I have that trouble sometimes. I will be feeling a certain way and I can’t figure out why.

For example, when I have my “homesick” feeling. It’s not an actual homesickness – that is just how I described it as a very young child. It is an acute, throbbing pain somewhere below my heart but above my stomach (I actually think this is called the “solar plexus” if you want to get technical… I just learned that term a few days ago haha). That’s the physical aspect of it – the accompanying emotion can only be described as a deep “longing” of sorts. I remember first experiencing this when I was three years old, lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It still persists, and I have yet to figure out exactly what it is and where it comes from. It strikes at seemingly random times and is the worst feeling in the world. It almost feels like I’m sinking rapidly into a never-ending pit. I’ve just come to accept that it happens… I just wish I understood it.

Anyways, I just feel kind of melancholy today. Not a depressive melancholy… more a contemplative one, where I just feel mellow and thoughtful. Though I can honestly say I haven’t thought very about much today… Well, not purposely (there’s always an inner dialogue going on in the background of my mind which can be either so loud as to drown out everything else or as quiet as a faint whisper…depending on the day). I almost feel like my thoughts and emotions are “digesting” today, if that makes any sense. But I’ve been avoiding writing, probably because I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s going on in that unpredictable brain of mine, and I’m worried about what might come out once I put my fingers to the keyboard.

Well, as you can see, nothing too drastic has happened yet, but it might soon once I finally do what I avoided doing last night – writing about an experience I had stumbling upon something from my past. I was going through my documents on my laptop, cleaning up and organizing, etc. I came across a folder called “Received Files” that I had never noticed before. Another folder was stored under that one called “History.” Hm. So I opened that one to find the entire transcript of a very long instant message conversation that took place a year and a half ago with my boyfriend at the time. Against my better judgment (maybe), I read it. All of it.

It was painful. So painful in fact, that I spaced out for several minutes and freaked out my mom a bit. It brought back a lot of thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. that I had been feeling at that time in my life, most of which I understand now to be the symptoms of BPD raging their ugly heads. The pain I felt as I read it was from utter disgust with myself. Well, disgust is probably too strong of a word, but I was in complete shock with the things that I said in this particular conversation. And this was but one conversation. I could recall many similar conversations, some much, much worse, in which I had taken one little thing this guy said, misunderstood or twisted it (unintentionally, mind you), and then strongly reacted to it. The poor guy hadn’t even said anything out of line, but it seemed I took it completely the wrong way and fought tooth-and-nail as if it had been a giant monster ready to devour me. As my eyes scanned the words exchanged – him trying to explain what he had meant and reassure me, with me simultaneously accusing him of not loving me and threatening to call everything off – I was stunned at just how obvious my insecurities and fears are, how terrified of rejection I am. I took one perceived criticism, saw it as a very real threat of abandonment, and lost grasp of all reality.

After reading this, I felt incredibly ashamed, and sorry for what I had put this guy through. Then, I realized something very big and very important. I was seeing it. I could see where I had misunderstood. I could see how I reacted. I could see that the way I was talking and behaving was irrational (though at the time, it was perfectly rational to me). I could see my struggle with BPD being played out right in front of me. This was a major sign to me that I have come far since then, that I am much more in touch with reality now that I can identify my own problematic behaviors. I could never have seen it back then – the pain, the fear, the insecurity…that was my reality in the moment. Now, I can see what actually happened in that conversation. Things are a lot clearer.  And even though while reading it, I could still feel the intense pain that the conversation caused, I understood more of where it was coming from and that it wasn’t me. It’s not my fault that I behaved so irrationally and hurtfully. Now, I’m not saying I shouldn’t take responsibility for what transpired, but I understand that the root cause was my disorder in all its complexities, not some fundamental flaw in me.

Now if I can only look at other things that happened in my past in that same light… I might be well on my way towards forgiving myself, for not hating myself, for not acting out the loathing I carry deep inside for the mistakes I have made and for the people I have hurt. That’s going to take a long time… Even after that breakthrough in separating me from my illness, I am still going back and forth in my mind about it… That voice in my head that tells me I’m a horrible person and that I should feel ashamed for everything, ashamed for even being alive, is so loud. Maybe that’s what I’ve been fighting all day, and just didn’t realize it. In any event, I think this was a very important step, regardless of whether my mind and emotions want to accept it yet or not.

Well, I did it. I wrote about it. I did what I’ve been running from all day.

I guess it wasn’t so bad in the end.

February 25, 2010

A Wound Reopens

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:45 am by eddejae

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. ~Sylvia Plath

Well, I took a small step backward last night. I won’t go into what triggered the self-destructive behaviors… But, basically, I was in so much emotional pain that I regressed into cutting myself again. However, I have to give myself some credit, because after just a few pretty minor scratches I realized that, as horrible as I felt, I didn’t want to go down this road again. So I took the knife to my mom and begged her to stop me, but then experienced a full-blown panic attack. I was pretty much hysterical and it took me a long time to calm down. I hadn’t felt that way in weeks… It scared me. The events that triggered felt traumatic and overwhelming at the time, and I went right to that automatic coping mechanism, both to numb the emotional pain and act out the self-hatred I was feeling in the moment. I guess it was just proof that I still have quite a ways to go before I don’t regress to that place in my mind again. It was awful… For a second I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital again. In fact, I think it was that thought that ultimately stopped me and made me force myself to calm down. I could not go through that chaos for the fourth time… No way.

Again on a positive note, my anxiety attack could have turned into an all-night binge-fest… But it didn’t. I was actually able to calm myself down much quicker than in the past, and though I cried myself to sleep, I was able to sleep. So although I do have a ways to go, I have made some significant progress. And I’m going to keep it in my mind that next time I feel this way, I will find some other way to relieve the emotional pain I’m feeling… Maybe finding someone to talk to immediately, or even just letting myself cry until the pain subsides. I don’t know… At this point I’m really not sure what my alternatives are. Of course I know there are other and much healthier ways I can cope besides cutting, binging, overdosing, etc… It’s just hard to think of anything else in the moment, when I’m in that self-loathing, overwhelmed mindset.

However, in order to make this a “fall forward,” I need to come up with a plan for the next time I’m feeling self-destructive. And as hard as it might be, I also need to deal with both the events that triggered the attack and the resulting thoughts and feelings that overwhelmed me.

One of the thoughts and that coursed through my mind, almost as a plea, was “This is not who I am. This is not who I am…” Last night I had been made to feel like the borderline symptoms I struggle with are a part of my being, are who I am at the core. That hurt so much because I hated those things I used to do. They were not me. THEY ARE NOT ME. Borderline personality disorder does not define me. How could it? I know myself better than anyone… And I know that the real me is above and beyond the illness I deal with. It is so painful to be misunderstood. I already struggle with shame and guilt, both for things that weren’t my fault and things that were… And I am trying to overcome them and make them better, and work through those things that happened. To be told that I would always be this way was like a stab at my very core. I couldn’t handle it. I know I can overcome this… and I am desperately clinging to that knowledge. I know I have made mistakes and I am not perfect. But certain major mistakes I made, I am confident I will never make again, because I have learned from them. As I work through therapy and make healthy choices, I know I can get better. I have to. I want to be me again… Or rather, be that real me I know is inside and that I am discovering more and more every day.

Another thing that consumed me last nightwas looking at the past and some of the poor decisions I made that hurt both myself and others, and wondering… What was me and what was the illness? That thought tortures me because while on the one hand I can’t bear to think that some of those things I did were brought about because of my own weaknesses and negative things about me, separate and apart from my disorders, on the other hand I want to take responsibility for my actions and make reparations. What should I feel guilty for and what should I accept as an aspect of my disorder? Or does it even matter?

After my panic subsided, I came to the conclusion that in the here and now, it doesn’t matter. Moving forward, it doesn’t make a difference. Guilt and blame shouldn’t even be playing a part in this. What happened, happened. The mistakes I made, were mistakes. I hurt myself. I hurt other people. I got myself in situations that were dark and destructive. I can’t torture myself over whether it was a completely conscious decision, or something brought on by the mental state I was in at the time… If I’m going to move forward, I can’t think that way. I am making amends to myself by getting therapy and practicing making healthy choices. I can make amends to those I hurt by apologizing and then just being the best person I can be. I can’t change the past. I need to look forward towards full recovery and put the past behind me as best as I can…even if that means finally dealing with the unresolved, painful memories and feelings so I can lay them to rest forever.

I think, all things considered, I can look at last night as a “fall forward.” Though I regressed in some of my behavior, I was also able to de-escalate fairly quickly, identify the triggers, and deal with the overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, I was able to regain control and move on. And I am proud of myself for that.