What These Islands Have Taught Me

That I am whole. That all my experiences – good and bad – make me into one.

That things pass and change, the clouds I saw as I did yoga on the beach this morning are gone, moved on to another island. Like our thoughts move and land somewhere else. We acknowledge them, and move through. 

That I love to swim, I love to hike, I love nature. I need more of it.

That I want to fly a helicopter.

That having social media off my phone is an incredible gift I gave myself. And that I’m going to keep it that way when I get home.

That life and therapy – everything really – is a process. That the best thing to do is surrender to that process and accept that doing the best we can has to be enough and the universe is going to take care of the rest. 

That I am deserving of some real love and kindness.

That I kind of like who I am. 

That I remain way too affected by the words and actions of others – my hypersensitivity to my environment means I can’t be rooted in my own sense of self… yet. 

That I hate running and I’m going to stop doing it simply because everyone else does. 

That I love yoga, and swimming, and traveling.

That my husband is my best friend and quite simply one of the greatest gifts life has given me.

That having faith doesn’t have to equate to adhering to a specific religion. To have faith is to believe with all of you in something. 

That this journey, my life, has been really hard at times – but that I’ve also come really far. 

That Lu and Dave are very important people to me. 

That this world is so much bigger than I am.

That operating heart first, showing compassion first to ourselves and then to others, may be the key to happiness. 

That I am allowed to have needs.

And that grilled pineapple is hella good on a cheeseburger.

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Time For A Break

If I’m being honest, which is what this is all about (honesty and growth, right?),  yesterday shook my (very newly formed) confidence.

Nothing like pouring your heart out into a post, sharing something vulnerable, to have people comment without thinking (and without reading past posts for context) and take that safety of your ‘space’ away from you. I’ve been lucky enough to have a very supportive community here, both of silent (I see you and love you!) visitors and a vocal crowd of commenters I love dearly.

But every once and a while a comment catches me off guard and I internalize it and will agonize over it and carry it with me for days… and that makes me wonder – do newer members of our community really understand the etiquette around commenting when it comes to mental health blogging? I generally don’t publish these comments, and there are more than a few that have come up in the last while.

These recent incidents have done three things for me.

1) They have made me miss Rachel on a deep, emotional level. She had always jumped to my defence whenever it was necessary but in the quest to educate, not demean or degrade. And she often said so much of what I was thinking. A few of my comments recently have been borrowed from ones she had left before – I went in search of a very specific post of mine where I remembered she had jumped to my defense, and I borrowed her calm, wise-minded words that I still have yet to find for myself. Rachel, if you’re somewhere silently reading along know I miss you and think of you often. And hope with all my heart you’re doing well.

2) If I’m being honest, these comments have made me question what was already a fragile blooming attachment. They’ve made me withdraw from the relationship I’ve been trying to get to with A. Which, honestly, fuck you for doing that. Intentionally or not. Because this shit is important and I have been trying to get here for months and although I hate it and I know I’m “letting it happen” you ruined it because I admittedly do not know how to separate what you said from what I believe. I am not strong enough in who I am as an individual, apart from my codependent family or a crowd, to really know that it’s okay to have what I feel be separate from others assumptions. That it isn’t punishable to go against the grain. A comment by a thoughtless commenter will now put me back. And this, in turn, has made me carefully consider my comments because God forbid I am that person for someone else (if I have ever, ever, upset any of you with a well meaning comment I sincerely apologize). It’s also made me realize that while I have come a long way I still instantly internalize the words of others. And it makes me really consider my role in this. I put these words out in the world. I am as much at fault if not the only person at fault here. I allow comments. Is it wrong of me to expect a certain amount of respect afforded to me when I’m posting in a public domain? I honestly don’t know the answer.

3) Finally, it has shaken my feeling of safety in posting here. What was my space to express my thoughts and to be me has now been tainted a little bit. There is a person behind these words. A real person who is struggling with some very real issues. Additionally – how harmful could these comments, if I allowed them, be to people who come here to read and get hope? Or to find someone who maybe is further along than them and be inspired but instead maybe also feel unexpectedly sidelined.

And so we have reached a point that was coming naturally anyways. I am travelling soon, and would be taking a break regardless, but as of right now I need to retreat and gather myself. The comments (more than one guys, I declined the majority of them) in question had an impact on me – more than I care to admit. And I’m still not 100% sure what role I play in that (because I do play one, I’m the person writing this for goodness sake), and what safeguards I should take moving forward. 

So I won’t be posting for a while. This won’t be the end though, because I’m not going to ruin something that I’ve been told gives back to so many… but I need a break. I need to figure out how to not take comments from strangers so personally. I need to spend my time away on vacation being away, on vacation. I might need to get through this really young attachment phase first, and then write about it.  Or maybe I start writing some private posts and give the password to those I trust most. 

Know that I’m fine, I really am. For the majority of the time I’ll be lying on a beach, or surfing. The rest of the time will be spent writing and reading and considering what the rest of my year of deep healing looks like. I have gotten so busy and deviated from the path of regeneration, and restoration, that I should be on. 

I want those of you who comment and read often to know that I so value your comments. They often come at the right time and present options or challenges or make me think or make me feel less alone. When I say to think before you comment, I am not talking about you.

But to those of you who haven’t mastered the art of commenting in the mental health blogging community – think before you comment. You may really seriously damage someone who is already emotionally fragile, and just not know it. 

And to all of you, be well for the next few weeks. I’ll be back — after soaking up some very much needed space (I’m unplugging, completely!) and vitamin D, and snuggles with my husband, and sunrises above the clouds, and surfing and swimming with sea turtles and dolphins. 

Yea, I need this. 

See you in a while –

Love, PD

This insane attachment

I’ve been quiet since Tuesday. If I’m being honest, it has been a really stressful week. Financially, at work, in general. I’m exhausted. And I have to work all weekend. I’m really quite done. 

I knew that there was a red flag both last night, when I wrote out a whole letter to A, which I will share… but also today, when I highly considered jumping in front of a car. Not because I was suicidal, but because the idea of being immobile in a hospital with someone to take care of me, was better than living. 

Alright. I’m doing too much. I keep promising myself I’ll simplify. I’ll stop. I’ll slow down. I will rest. I will invest in my health and healing and save money and stop having sleepless nights because I can’t afford the one thing that keeps me sane.

At least, on a positive note, I’m embracing this crazy attachment situation I’ve got going on with A. I’m attached, there’s no point in denying it any longer. So instead of being ashamed when I’m so angry because she isn’t available immediately to meet my every need, I observe it, and recognize it for what it is, and honestly kind of laugh (because I wouldn’t call ANYBODY at midnight unless it was an emergency let alone my therapist)… but I’m trying to be alright with it. I’m trying to be alright with the fact that all I want is her at my beck and call 24/7 and SO what if that is unrealistic to expect of anyone I want it and I WANT IT NOW SO GIVE IT TO ME. 

This is what I wrote as I cried myself to sleep late last night: 

Nighttime is the worst. And it’s really hard to imagine you care because in my head if you cared you would be here or let me call you. And it sucks, that that’s not a thing I can do. It sucks, that I can’t just text or call you and have you show up. I want to know you’re always there and I just don’t trust that. I don’t. I don’t trust you. I’m really struggling with things right now, and I’m not letting myself feel them but they’re there…

I can’t trust [redacted] anymore, I’ve realized, nor [redacted], so I’m back to two. I can’t help but feel I’ve made a horrid mistake. My husband hates my mother. My family hates my husband. My brother hates me. 

I’ve torn it apart… what have I done. Is this really better for me?

I liken where I am attachment wise to where I should have been as a healthy three year old. So aware of when my caregiver is/is not there but also so ‘independent’. So “I don’t need you” in good moments but “where are you and I’m mad that you aren’t here” in my bad moments.

In that regard, I think I’ve finally accepted that I’m exactly where I should be. I’m where A is encouraging me to be. I am growing in my attachment and trust and… eventually… I imagine that turns into a more solid and stable foundation, or nest, I can return to. I would still love to rid myself of this sticky shame, but I recognize that maybe it, too, is part of the process. 

But it isn’t easy. After living in a constantly shaking world, for so long, I get nervous when things are still. 

It’s okay, small doses, as long as it takes

I haven’t been this anxious going to see A in a long, long time. It felt first-month esque. I sat down and right away she said “it feels like you’re really distant from me right now.” And I was like “wow, that was fast”. She nailed it right away.  I told her that, too.

She patiently waited, and I was pretty silent. And then she asked what was behind my tears (I was crying, I rarely cry in front of her), and she guessed at shame and anxiety and then she said “but I can’t know unless you help me.” And in true A fashion she busted out some education about attachment (one of two ways I open up, the other is self disclosure). She talked about my difficult weekend, about how from an attachment standpoint how I’m feeling made perfect sense. That it’s a combination of “I want to see you, but get away from me because I’m angry but wait, no, stay.” And I told her she got it right. And then I said “just so you know, you used education to get to me right there. It’s one of two secret weapons you have. But they’re not really a secret.” And she smiled. That’s how she’ll talk to me about my defenses.

And eventually I said everything that I had been thinking about (including the part where her hugs withholding felt like a punishment even though I knew that was out of care, but I did not talk about the Google incident). And I (through some sobs and not eloquently at all) got out almost everything that I needed to say. And she was everything I needed her to be. And I told her I needed to hear her tell me she wasn’t going anywhere and that I wanted reassurance and she said “definitely, what do you need to hear” and I said “that – that you aren’t planning on leaving me” and she said “I am not planning on leaving you. And that is so easy for me to tell you.” And I told her “no plans to move” and she said “nope, this rainy city is home.” And I asked her if it ever gets easier and she said “first, I want to reiterate a few things. One – that I enjoy our time together. This is healthy and helpful for me, too. Second – that I welcome attachment. I encourage it. It’s the goal, you attaching and working with me in that attachment. And third – no, not really. I’m at the point where I’m afraid my therapist is about to retire.” 

I told her at one point “I get so jealous of your children, for having your attention. Because I get that you aren’t perfect but you are a hell of a more attuned mother than I ever got. And then my critical voice jumps in and is like ‘thats ridiculous, being jealous of toddlers'” and she interrupted me and said “no, that’s awesome, this emotion, this raw “fuck this shit” you brought here today, this is what I want. This is you letting me in.”

And then I told her “you don’t think I’m dirty or wrong or bad or needy or too much?” (It took a long time for me to get out the word dirty) and she chuckled till she realized I was serious and then she was like “look at me” (in her commanding mom voice) and I did and she was like “I want you to look at me and hear me when I say this. There is nothing wrong with you.” And she paused, I looked away again, and then back, and she went “PD. There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.” And I cried and we talked from there, and went over the fire and how angry I am that my parents weren’t able to listen to me or be there and how sad I am that I can’t get that now and she was like “it really makes it so that my care and empathy is so intolerable for you, doesn’t it. But that’s okay, small doses, as long as it takes.” And then we kind of wrapped up and I told her I felt so ashamed and she said “no, PD, this is awesome. You were here with me, we were connected, and you let me in and felt some really real things today.” And she was like “I want to leave you with this, and you may not be able to hear it yet, but all this pain, it turned into something beautiful for me. I get to witness others stories, like yours. And your pain is a gift too, and you’re already impacting so many people. So when you get tired, think of me, and think of your gift.” 

I don’t wanna and you can’t make me.

I am VERY child like today, very teenage “I do not want to so you can’t make me”. I’m thinking about adult things too, though. About money and time commitments to therapy. About how I don’t feel super safe in my therapy relationship right now. About giving up. 

I’ve realized I need to cut my therapy expenses at least in half, possible more. So this means not seeing her every week. Which also means dropping down to an hour every once and a while, maybe forever. My new therapy budget is $500 max a month, and I need to figure out what that looks like.

I can tell you what that looks like, it sucks. 

I think I’ll stick to me every other week plan of an hour and a half. Also, I find it ridiculously amusing that I definitely DONT want to go today but am lamenting giving up time with her. 

WTF self, can you just sort yourself out please?

Limited Capacity

I forget how much being sick affects me. I have no capacity for anything. It’s taking all I have in me to even get up for tea. Although I am slowly feeling better. I have antibiotics and I’ve slept a lot. I simply hate the forced rest. I find my mind wanders and gets out of control.

I am all over the place in terms of therapy right now. I don’t know what to do. I’m still so sick that thinking about it takes all my brain power. I can’t find most emotions, other than shame in general. Shame related to searching for her and her family. Shame related to everything I’ve told her lately. Shame over even thinking of asking her to accompany me to my pap (seriously, how could I have done that!). I’m back to living every day feeling like I deserve to be punished… and I’m also so confused as to why she isn’t punishing me. Like it must be coming. I felt this way all through high school. I couldn’t cope with it then, and I’m having trouble coping with it now.

My own fronting perfectionist is here and has taken over if I’m forced to interact with other people. I have no emotions, other than shame and just fucking being tired. I don’t really care about anything. I haven’t been able to eat, really. I haven’t been sleeping. And to top it off (which escaped me until I looked at a calendar today), it’s an anniversary week. ***trigger warning*** Eight years ago this week I helped carry a young boy who had just lit himself on fire in a suicide attempt out of a building and watch as the whole thing burned down. I can still smell burning human when I think of it. I guarantee that’s part of why my sleep was so awful and it will probably continue to be an issue this week.

And I’m railing against boundaries. I want to call her now, while I’m sick and curled up on my couch. I want to be able to email her everything I’m thinking. I hate that I’m not allowed. It makes so much sense but right now I’m just angry. I’m. just. angry. And I don’t know why. I don’t think she’s done anything. All A has ever done is love me and meet me where I’m at and unfailingly be here for me. But I’m convinced that’s a lie. Because it’s so weird. Who does that. Nobody does that.

I think my instinct to quit is a “I’ll get you before you get me”. I don’t think I’m lovable after all I’ve told her – I just hear my mom and dad and other therapists saying I’m high maintenance, and that nobody will ever make me happy, and I’m so needy, and I put people in impossible positions, and I drain people of their resources. So before I drain her of all her resources and before she gets a chance to tell me how awful I am, I need to leave. I need to get out before she does. Then it’s in my control.

So at least I have an idea of what’s inspiring this whole spiral but I also don’t trust her right now. And maybe I need to start there, with, “there is a lot I need to share with you, but I don’t trust our relationship right now. I’m hoping we can work on that for a little bit, because I am starting to self sabatoge and getting in the mindset of “she’s going to leave me so I need to leave first.” And I don’t know what to do. But I need reassurance. I need to know that you don’t think I’m bad, or wrong, or needy, or stupid, or too much.” 

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll throw that out there and see what she does with it. At least it’s accurate. 

Google Shame

I did it, I went down the Google hole with my counsellor.

I know way too much now, and I am positive I violated her trust. To be fair to me, I was googling to see her picture because sometimes I do that when I’m trying to decide to quit or not. And then this time a news article popped up about someone with her name. And I clicked it. 

And I read it. All of it. I didn’t stop once I found her wife’s name and place of work or her daughter’s name or a variety of other things that are very personal and things I shouldn’t know.

And then, because apparently I can’t follow the rabbit hole just that far, I Facebook stalked her partner, who really needs to improve her privacy settings. 

I am horrible. There is NO way I can go see her now. I should definitely stop. What an awful series of decisions.