July 2, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~Day 7… Scars…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:53 am by eddejae

A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. ~Carly Simon

I remember one morning, about two and half months ago, that I stood in front of my closet staring at the long row of twenty-something sweatshirts. Even though the the weather was starting to get warmer, calling for shorter sleeves, until that day I had refused to show my arms because of my many scars. I was ashamed of them, not wanting to be stared at or judged. I was deathly afraid of being asked questions and hated feeling self-conscious. Hardly anyone in my life knew I was a cutter, and the scars were too deep to use  the “cat-scratch” excuse. So I used the easy way out and just pretended I was cold-blooded.

However, something changed that morning. For the first time, I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I had finally gotten to the point in my recovery where I was open enough to accept myself with my flaws and let people think what they may. Perhaps it might even give someone else the courage to not be ashamed of their battle wounds either. I made the decision that morning to love my scars. I closed my closet, walked over to my chest of drawers, and pulled out a t-shirt. That day, I walked around with bare arms, my struggle with depression and BPD exposed to the world. Sure, I got a couple of glances, I was a bit uncomfortable, but in the end… I was ok. No one asked any questions. I didn’t break down. I didn’t panic. The world didn’t end. I was fine. And everyone else was fine. I was just me.

Perfectly imperfect me.

Now, my scars have faded quite a bit, but they’re still there. I’m getting married tomorrow. They’re not that noticeable anymore, but I will still have to use some cover-up for pictures. But I’m fine with that. To me, they are just indicators of where I have been and the things I have overcome. They are my battle wounds…markers that I have fought… And that I have won. That I am a warrior. The most important scars are the ones you don’t see… The emotional scars. And I am happy and relieved to say that those have been healed. Through therapy, time, commitment, and love… Those have been healed. And that’s all that truly matters. It IS possible. I can testify of that.

Healing is possible.

Hope is real.

Love is attainable.

Believe in yourself…

Keep fighting your battles.

And be proud of your scars.

They mean you’re strong enough to survive it all.

Advertisements

March 30, 2010

Tug of War

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:14 pm by eddejae

It was an interesting day… I feel a bit uncertain about it. Some parts were fabulous, some parts not so great. It may be just the fact that I am becoming more acutely aware of my quickly changing emotions and what brings them on, or perhaps today was just particularly emotionally volatile…. But whichever it was, I felt like someone was playing “tug of war” with my mind. I felt great this morning. I woke up early to help out with a service project at my church. It was so great to do something “outside” of myself, and I felt more comfortable around other people than I have in a long time – probably because I was thinking less about being watched and judged than I was about getting the project done. It was a nice change.

However, it seems like Newton’s Third Law of Motion – every action has an equal and opposition reaction – is actively at work in my life. As soon as I had come down from the “high” of the morning, painful thoughts began to push and shove their way into my mind. How frightfully inconsiderate! Here I was, having an near perfect day so far, and then my mind takes a 360 on me! Even my mom (who was with me at the service project) noticed a change. I had developed a bad case of what I call “Velcro mind” – when thoughts get “stuck” in my brain and drive me to the point of despair and/or neuroticism. I did my best to fight it despite my stomach knotting and anxiety threatening to creep in. I tried listening to some upbeat music, but it didn’t help. Baking is an effective distraction for me, so as soon as I got home, I went straight to the kitchen. Desperate to keep myself from slipping, I vigorously whipped up a batch of snickerdoodles. I don’t think anyone has ever baked cookies with such great drive and purpose I did today! I wound up with about four dozen to, and baked goods are a dangerous thing to keep around the house, so I decided to share the bounty by delivering most of them to friends (which activity also helped me escape from my mind, at least for a while). I owe a lot to those little savory morsels of buttery, cinnamony sweetness…

So everything was again right with the world. My mom, my sister, and I ventured to Coco’s for dinner. I decided to let myself splurge a bit and ordered shrimp pesto pasta with garlic parmesan bread. It tasted so good and before I knew it, I had completely obliterated the thing. Almost immediately after putting the fork down, I was hit by a tidalwive of shame and self-loathing. Even though I had decided that I wasn’t going to purposely “diet” today, I still felt disgusted with myself, and that familiar gut-wrenching anxiety set in full force. Every sound in the restaurant seem amplified, and the lights much too bright. I covered my eyes and tried to breathe but the feeling persisted until I was back in the car. Thoughts of self-harm fought for dominance, and I was tempted to just give up and give in to the negative emotions sweeping over me. Instead, I asked my mom if we could stop at the bookstore. One of my favorite hobbies is creating collages from pictures I find in magazines, so I thought that working on that tonight might help keep my mind off what I was feeling.

Now what I’m dealing with is a guy that just won’t get a clue. I started to talking to him on Facebook (big mistake) and became so fed up that I literally screamed with frustration. No matter how clear I have tried to make it, no matter how many times I have said, “Sorry, I can’t see you” or “Sorry, I can’t talk” or “I really need some space right now,” he has kept pushing and pushing and pushing… Finally, he said something tonight – the straw that broke the camels back… “So, when are you coming to visit me in San Diego?” EXCUSE ME?! How dense ARE you?! Then he started to say how he’s tried to be understanding and be a good friend even though I kept pushing him away, etc. Now, this is a person that I became “friends” with during a time in my life where I was completely fake. I put on a different mask for each person. So the girl he got to know is not the girl I am today. I said right out “I don’t know how much more clear I have to be that I’m not interested. I’m not the person you once knew. I have changed. I have different desires, a different direction, and a different outlook on life. I really don’t believe we have much in common anymore. And I need to stop being pressured. I need to move on. This will be our last conversation.” As I wrote it, my heart was pounding and my anxiety level through the roof. Confrontation and directness is the hardest thing in the world for me. It makes me feel like I’m somehow “bad” or “mean” or “unfair.” But something inside me snapped. I couldn’t take it from this guy anymore. NO means NO! For so many years I have let people walk all over me. Rarely have I ever stood up for myself. But I did. And I know it was the right thing to do… But I still feel so awful. The voices in my head are saying “You were too harsh,” “How could you be so mean to someone who tried to be so nice?,” “You can’t even have a normal friendship,” and “There’s something wrong with you.” I feel like crap. Did I do the right thing? Did I handle it the right way? …

Why does this keep happening to me?

How did I develop so many unhealthy and even poisonous relationships?

Am I right in eliminating them now?

Who do I let in, who do I keep at bay, and who do I shut out forever?

Am I thinking black-and-white again, or is this simple self-preservation?

I can’t handle this right now… That one conversation shot me down into a complete emotional mess… I feel sick…

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.

March 1, 2010

Mad World, Part 2 – My Experience with Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:23 pm by eddejae

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post are very personal and the purpose of writing is it cathartic. While I do not intend to divulge any sordid details of my childhood experience with molestation, some things here may still be disturbing, and possibly triggering to someone who may have gone through something similar. However, I find it necessary to share that I may finally give a voice to what has been silent so many years.

The night after I talked with my therapist about my childhood, I went in my room, closed the door, and wrote everything I was feeling. I’m going to share part of that now, here.

January 28, 2010

I know I have to do this no matter how much it hurts. And it does hurt. Excruciatingly. Rooting up and exposing feelings I’ve suppressed and avoided for so long. But I have to do it if I’m ever going to heal and move on. If I’m ever going to get past the child mentality I’ve lived with my whole life, with all of the problems accompanying it.

Today in therapy we went back to when I was molested at 4 years old. My issues with my body and self-esteem stem largely from that. I wouldn’t say all of my issues, but the ones that have to do with my loathing for my own body, my deep down abhorrence for anything carnal or sexual, my disgust with my own physicality and the physicality of others. My feeling of victimization and lack of control. My lack of assertiveness. The shame and guilt that plague every waking (and sleeping) moment.

Until that moment, I had no idea that I shouldn’t be trusting of people. No idea that people could and would take advantage me. I know why I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I still believe it was partly my fault. No, I didn’t force his hand… I didn’t even know that was a possibility. But I’m the one who shut the door. I shut the door. I asked him to read to me. I sat in his lap. I got close. I set up the situation to be hurt. Innocent as I was, trusting as I was, I set up the perfect circumstances for him to hurt me. And I hate myself for that. Even at four years old, shouldn’t I have known better? Shouldn’t a gut instinct have told me to do otherwise, to protect myself? No. I didn’t have that. I was four years old. I had only been in the world four short years. How was I to know what perverseness and evil lurked? Especially in someone who had gained my trust, who I looked up to as a brother? I couldn’t even fathom that anyone would hurt me. I didn’t know anything but how to trust. And still I am plagued by that voice that says “You should have known, you should have stopped.” You should have stopped him. Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you run away? I think I might have said “What are you doing?” I just watched it happen and didn’t protest. I didn’t understand what was happening. What was he doing? Why? Did I even feel it was wrong then? Or only later, when I had time to think about it? I must have felt something was wrong about it, or I wouldn’t have told my parents later. Why didn’t I do something about it then? And after it was over, his reaction to me? “Ew. Gross.” And that is how I have felt about my body since. Ew. Gross.

He was reading out loud to me, holding me, being nice and then… that. And then, “Time for ice cream!” And I was off. Like it never happened. Either I hadn’t processed it yet, or it was too much for me to deal with in the moment. And then when I did deal with it, when I told my parents, I pretended like it was all a big joke. When they confronted him, it was a big joke. I think I did that because I knew it would hurt my mom, and I didn’t want to see or feel her hurt and pain and disappointment. I was making her hurt. So I was going to act like it didn’t bother me. It didn’t affect me. It didn’t change me. It was just something that happened. And I had to tell her and dad because… well, didn’t I have something to do with it? I must have felt responsible, I must have felt guilty, or I wouldn’t have said anything. It was my need to confess. A confession. Mommy. Daddy. He touched me. I’m sorry. I know that even at that young age I blamed myself. I was very smart and, by looking back, I could see how I could have stopped it from happening. Ever since then, I have been paranoid about being in rooms with people with the door closed, no matter who they are. I feel it’s fundamentally wrong. And you don’t sit on boys laps. And you don’t let anyone touch you. And you don’t trust men. You should have known better.

Then came the question of why? At that age, I couldn’t understand why someone would do that unless I did something to deserve it. I must have brought it on somehow. And I would punish myself for it. And anything else that I perceived as my fault. Or any thought that was dirty. Or any behavior that was sinful. Punish yourself, exonerate yourself, get rid of the shame. But the shame and the guilt never go away. And the things to punish yourself for never go away either. The list keeps building and building, and yet you’re not finished clearing yourself of the previous “sin” yet. One on top of the other. Loads and loads on your back. Crowding your heart, your mind, to the point where you can’t breathe because of the pain, the ultimate pain caused by guilt and shame.

I repeat that exact same scenario over and over and over again. I set up the situation. And I let it happen. Give up my power. A compulsion to repeat the trauma. Again and again. More to punish myself for. Building up and building up.

To the point where I’m ready to end my life.

I hate my body. I hate everything to do with sex. I hate my sexuality. I hate men. I hate being close. I hate intimacy. Or rather, the inability to have it.I hate myself for the things that I have done.

I hated myself at 6 and 7 for allowing the victimization again, this time with my cousins acting out their own sexual trauma on me.  I hated myself at 10, when, after 3 years of suppressing the guilt, trying to punish myself and redeem myself from what I had done. I hated myself at 12 for the sexual thoughts that plagued me. Even acknowledging body parts filled me with disgust. Imagining naked bodies filled me with horror. I punished myself. I was racked with guilt and torment. I trained myself to push away those thoughts. I had to, or I would have died of utter shame and self-hatred. I kept that up for 8 years. Even now, sometimes I wake up at night, with just one old plaguing thought, and a wave of shame washes over me once again. And I push it away. I can’t feel that again. But it comes back in other ways. I do whatever I can to avoid it… Even if it means desensitizing myself to it. And so life becomes a game of “How far can I make myself go?” My body and sex disgusts me. So I’ve forced myself to desensitize my mind and body to it. So I don’t react with so much shame and guilt. Now I don’t care. I don’t care what happens to my body. I hate it. It is merely a tool of destruction. I use myself to destroy myself. And to repeat the trauma because… well, don’t I deserve it, especially now? Haven’t I asked for it?

I’ve asked for it. Bottom line. I felt like I asked for it at four, though I really hadn’t. So let me recreate the situation and then, for real, ASK FOR IT. There. I’ve made an illogical feeling an actual reality. Now I DO deserve it. Now the confusion is gone. You’re hurting me because I’ve set up the situation for you to. See? I’m in control now. I’m hurting MYSELF. You’re not hurting me. I’m doing it myself…. Who is hurting who now? Are you hurting me? Who are you anyways? And why are you doing this to me? Oh,  I must deserve it. I must have done something wrong… Oh I DID do something wrong. I came here. I closed the door. Brain turns off, victimization mentality kicks in. I don’t want this. I don’t want you to do this. I hate this. I don’t want you to see my body or touch it. Are you going to say “ew. Gross” too? Are you? If you won’t, I will. I’m apologizing for my body. I’m thinking, I’m too fat. I’m too this. I’m too that. I’m not good enough. Nothing you can say will make me think otherwise. Go away. Leave me alone. Don’t touch me. Please.

As a young child, I couldn’t understand the things my body felt and did. And I hated it. I couldn’t understand this THING I was living in that wasn’t me, but controlled me. That others could so easily control.

At some point I disconnected myself from my body. I wasn’t my body, my body wasn’t me. As such, I stopped responding to its needs and it stopped responding to mine. I think that finally happened after I broke my collarbone at 15 and for a while, lost control of it completely. That was the last straw. I have been disconnected ever since. No wonder I feel outside of myself, looking in. I’m watching myself do things, never fully part of what I’m experiencing. My mind is out here somewhere, my body is down there, being stupid as usual.

I wish I liked myself. I wish I felt like an integrated, whole person. I wish I was comfortable with my body in all its physicality and sexuality. I wish I was comfortable with the physical presence of others. I wish I was ok with being touched and being close. I wish didn’t loathe myself. I wish I cared about my health and well-being. I wish I could stop taking out my anger and hatred on myself.

It’s almost as if I resent my body. Maybe if I hadn’t been so small and vulnerable, if I hadn’t been so cute and pretty, this wouldn’t have happened. Even now I think, if people didn’t think I was so pretty, if men didn’t find me attractive, they wouldn’t touch me. Yet, at the same time, I don’t believe I am pretty or attractive. I hate it when men give me compliments. They make me feel like, once again, I’m just a body that can be used and objectified regardless of how it may make me feel.

A body. That’s all I am. Something I loathe so greatly. That’s all I am. No wonder I disconnect myself. I’m split. There’s my body. Then there’s my mind. Then there’s this in between place where everything is lost and dark and confused. Where’s… ME? Lost in some kind of strange limbo and I don’t know exactly where she is, where she fits in, where my body and mind play into her being. I feel like a hollow shell. Nothing filling me up inside. That thing that should be filling the space should be ME, but I don’t know who she is or where she is. There is this empty shell. Then there’s my mind, hovering. Then… me… where?

Even now I’m still in denial, trying to downplay what happened as a child so I can PROVE once and for all that all these things I’m going through are MY fault and in no way connected to those experiences. I keep thinking “Oh, you’re making this seem worse than it really is.” Or “This happens to lots of kids.” Or “You’re going to start using this as an excuse now, are you?” Even now in my mind I’m making excuses for him, astonishingly Downplay. Downplay. Downplay…

Since I wrote that, I have come to terms with the fact that the abuse I experienced did, in fact, affect me and some of the symptoms I deal with today. I have accepted that it was NOT MY FAULT. I realize that there is no need to feel such guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Now, knowing this intellectually and knowing this emotionally are two very different things. I have developed habitual ways of thinking about myself that are hard to break, but I am getting closer. I can now talk about and face what I experienced. I have allowed myself to bring everything out in the open. No more secrets. And I can recognize that those negative thoughts about myself are not warranted, that I do not deserve to feel that way. It will still be a while before I can truly feel wonderful about myself, but at least I know that I don’t need to feel this way. I don’t need to keep punishing myself for something I had no control over, and that I don’t need to repeat the trauma.

I’m starting to learn how to love myself and my body again. And to stop hurting it. It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, but I’m determined to do it. I want to know what it feels like to have high self-respect, what it feels like to love myself. Someday…

Mad World, Part 1 – My Experience with Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:18 pm by eddejae

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post are very personal and the purpose of writing is it cathartic. While I do not intend to divulge any sordid details of my childhood experience with molestation, some things here may still be disturbing, and possibly triggering to someone who may have gone through something similar. However, I find it necessary to share that I may finally give a voice to what has been silent so many years.

A few weeks ago in a session with my therapist, I talked about what had happened to me at 4 years old for the first time in 19 years. No one but my parents knew about it. In fact, I hadn’t talked about it with my parents at all since the incident occurred. Now, finally, I felt that I could finally let out the thoughts, feelings, and fears that I had kept in so long. As I did so, the “whys” started to come to light and things began to click. With the help of my therapist, I started to understand the root cause of my self-hatred, skewed body image, and victimization behavior. It all went back to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child, which was not limited to the experience at 4 years old, but continued in various forms and by various individuals until I was about 8 years old. I began to understand my lingering disgust with my body and with sex. I began to understand why I was continually being taken advantage of by similarly abusive men during my college years and my lack of empowerment and sense of control.

After my meeting, all I could do was cry. I had unearthed so many emotions that had been buried beneath the surface for years but that had exerted a tremendously powerful force on my thought patterns and behavior for so long. I carried so much guilt, self-loathing, shame, and self-blame because of these things that happened when I was just a little girl. I began to understand why I suffer from excessive guilt, even for things that are not my fault, and why I constantly feel the urge to punish myself. As a child, I felt that there was something wrong with me, that I was “bad”. And I was constantly trying to “atone” for it in some way. I was also terrified of anything that had to do with my body. During my early teenage years, I obsessively avoided any thought of sexuality and would punish myself if such a thought crossed my mind. The guilt I felt was like a tight hand constantly squeezing at my heart. It was painful. I would have night terrors, and become hysterical to the point where my mom would try to talk me out of it for hours at a time before I could finally fall asleep. It was a living hell. I also stopped eating and, as a result, my body stopped developing. I wouldn’t have a period again for the next two years.

The bizarre thoughts, behavior, and guilt subsided during my first two years of college. I had my first real boyfriend who genuinely loved me, which helped ease my sense of self-loathing. Plus, I was more focused on him than on myself. I can honestly things were a lot easier during those couple of years, due to keeping myself very busy with school and with my relationship.

However, after that relationship ended, things started to go downhill. I had undergone a surgery which kick-started my development again, and at the age of 19, I went through puberty again. As my body grew rapidly, my psychological and emotional health took a turn for the worse. I became caught in a series of unhealthy relationships and encounters with guys who victimized me. That is when my bulimia, depression, and anxiety really started to take their toll, and my borderline traits became more and more pronounced. It would take a book to describe everything that happened over the next few years… But, to put it shortly, it was the darkest time of my life. Granted, there were moments of positivity and growth, but they were few and far between. I felt like I was in a blur of rollercoaster emotions and confusion until everything came to a head and I wound up hospitalized (as I further explain in “My Story”).

Continued in Mad World, Part 2

(This song communicates perfectly the thoughts and emotions associated with my painful memories. I listen to it a lot… Not because I’m trying to relive the memories or depress myself, but because it’s a way I allow myself to accept my feelings and cope with them..)

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.