Anger with my therapist leads to deeper reflection

I found myself feeling a lot of anger towards my therapist, Kat yesterday.  The intensity of what my body goes through on any day and any night as a result of having recently had this tooth removed on the back of a traumatic head injury at occurred after a time I so needed family support and was once again denied it at the end of my marriage bites me hugely.  I feel like I have giant incisor like wounds from that bite lodged in my psychic flesh and over the past few nights of the eclipse I have been bang awake between 3 and 5 with all these powerful sensations coursing through my body as my mind has struggled to make sense of the tangled up jigsaw pieces of the past 17 years of struggle to find and make sense of my true feelings and find a centre of self in the messy conglomerate of energies within and without which like wild currents and eddies swirl this way and that, at times setting up huge surge like storms of ‘meness’ and then at other taking me down with the powerful centrifugal undertow of black inky sludge drowning me completely and making it hard to draw a free breath!!!

I am angry that Kat didn’t seem to even remember the piece of writing I actually read to her last Thursday, I had to read it all over again and I was feeling so tired,  she is my fucking therapist why can’t she remember, why doesn’t she take the time to read my blog before I go to a session so she can help me a bit, for fucks sake its only one hour and reading three or four blogs to catch up is exhausting because often when I write the feelings are there simmering away under the surface and only emerge when I read them in session which now that I write it just goes to show if she did read it then that wouldn’t happen so why am I getting so mad?  I still am because I have to work so fucking hard at times and there is so much to get through in session.

I do know why I am angry though.  This is old anger.  I have had fuck all help in my life in the way that really mattered.  I didn’t need money thrown at me, I needed a parent who got me, and was there emotionally not one who consistently abandoned me and then told me I was a late developer when I shared I got into sobriety.  Yeah Mum it was all my fault that I drank in a situation in which so many painful feelings were going down that I didn’t know how to deal with in the absence of support, after a major traumatic injury at 17 that I never got any help to deal with later only to be followed six months later by even less care available due to my sister’s aneurysm occuring with all the complications that followed all at a time I was trying to develop and mature.  Fuck That!!!

Yet even as I write this and consider my last post about the poor fit between a mother and child that leaves the child, lost, confused, split off from her body and feelings and lacking self containment and integrity of being I realise that I must accept my mother went through the same with her mother and so just passed down the wound. The anger is understandable that I feel but it wont help me unless I use it to drive a deeper understanding and also to set boundaries so that I don’t open up and share intimate emotional stuff she is likely to dismiss, deny or be confused about herself.

So its probably not really even my therapist I am really angry with but with the entire sad history of a child who came to not be able to understand, express, or even tolerate her own feelings and then became an addict, only to get sober and be told it was the result of ‘character defects’ which just reinforces the scapegoats idea fixee of being the ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or damaged one, inherently flawed in some way.

I don’t actually remember in the rooms of AA being given any help to understand my own feelings.  I do remember sitting there in meetings and crying my eyes out as other’s shared from such a damaged split off place, full of self blame and self denigration.  It broke my heart in two.  And then in Al Anon meetings I got the askance looks from those trying to whip alcoholic loved ones into shape with their own self righteousness not getting for a moment the suffering or deeper dilemma the person concerned was going through.   I remember not being hugged after a meeting or reached out to after I shared from a deep well of pain.

I know it probably wasn’t their job but I do feel that once our buried feelings begin to open up in sobriety we need some form of encouragement and affirmation from others to assist us and yet even that hope or demand has hidden deep in the centre of it a hope or demand that is loaded with the sadness and longing of deep needs of long ago for the parent’s unconditional love, understanding, mirroring and acceptance of feelings; needs we never got to fully understand or contain.

In the end, as I was discussing with Kat yesterday, perhaps no one now can give us enough to make up for what we lost or never received in the first place.  Such an empty void or space in the place where we most needed to be met, filled up, affirmed, received  must be acknowledged, deeply understood and grieved.  And then we must meet the challenge of finding ways to fill our lives with the good energy of connection and love, learning how to understand, feel and tolerate all our feelings.   Being or becoming the good loving mother and father to ourselves so that ultimately we don’t end up re-enacting our emptiness, wound or anger on others or keep ourselves lost and trapped inside the deep dark desolate place of that emptiness.

I do wonder now, though, if we end up alone with no life partner and disconnected from so many friends due to the wounds we have carried driving so many away from us in misunderstanding how sweet can life be?  Can we really fill ourselves up from the life font or spring of spirit that was meant to flow within and through us and can that be enough?

Its obvious to me now that the hyper sensitivity that so many of us feel who were not met or received in the needed ways, grew larger in the absence of such love and care.  The burden of our so called ‘over sensitivity’  needs to be understood and we need to make sure that we don’t blame ourselves while at the same time learning to take responsibility for the wound we carry in terms of taking care of ourselves, learning to be open, vulnerable and honest to ask for what we need rather than demand it or get shitty when it doesn’t just come automatically.

We also need an awareness of the real failures of others which came from the limits of their own capacity to be fully embodied themselves, a wound that seems to plague so many in a technologically driven modern society that has grown increasingly removed from the natural and soulful elements in vibrant earthly life.   To begin to feel that love means that we open ourselves body and soul to the soft caress of the sun on skin, to the luxuriant feeling of sea water on flesh, to the sheer love that shines in our dog’s eyes as he runs to great us, to the joy of feeling our free spirit express its bounty through dance, movement and song.

It surely means we open up again to try to find the love and containment we missed from a loving mother’s arms in places and spaces where it does exist.  And it also means that we as ones who have been damaged and know the cause and consequences of such disconnection and damage make a stand in a world where sensitivity and depth is so often not championed.  For the pain our souls have suffered has perhaps highlighted for us how essential such an earthly connection to life, feeling and nature is and to the deeper realisation that the wound to the mother that leads to severing from body and deep feeling is one we end up enacting on the earth and ourselves over and over again if we don’t fully face, feel and speak for the painful and agonising consequences of its loss or absence.

Understanding the wounds underlying borderline reactions

I often struggle when I read that people with so called BPD are struggling with being able to understand that what seem to others to look like ‘over-reactions’ are actually grounded in past experiences of not being met, responded to with empathy or sensitivity or being given what we truly need.  As a result we tend to carry a lot of inward frustration and what I would called ‘historical suffering’ which can get triggered in the present by either perceived abandonment or invalidation which we then project and can tend to respond to in ineffective ways.   Our reactions may seem out of order and beyond context but we do need to understand that they do make sense once our true history is understood.

Core wounds and old pain act in many ways like black holes of suffering that can be triggered in the moment and then suck us down.   Dialectical Behavioural Therapy was developed by Marsha Linehan a sufferer of BPD who found she needed help with thinking about her thinking and responses to current events when old pain was triggered.  From what I understand DBT involves finding ways to reframe our reactions to triggers and soothe distressing painful inner self talk which then promotes us to over react to current situations in which some old wound, pain or sensitivity is then triggered.

I am often wary about the diagnosis Borderline Personality.  Most so called ‘borderline’ individuals started life as highly sensitive beings who were supremely in touch and high wired in terms of respondability to external stimuli.  As babies they required a high level of attunement, mirroring, empathy and sensitivity to their cues, hungers and needs from caregivers and often they find themselves born into environments ill equipped to deal with and respond affectively and effectively to them.  As a result they often are not soothed adequately and also do not manage to internalise the messages of adequate self soothing and self care which would enable them to mother themselves effectively.

When such a conditioning occurs it leaves a deep wound or hunger in the soul.  The borderline or highly  sensitive person is highly attuned and intelligent.  They notice things that others don’t.  They may try to point out things others don’t see or do not understand and they can then be abused or invalidated for such perceptions, seeing or understanding as adults and also when young.  They can then internalise this kind of abuse or misunderstanding coming to believe ‘there is something inherently wrong with me’.

They may then try to adapt to what is expected of or projected onto them, rejecting themselves in the process.  They may also lack the capacity to understand the very real limits and different ways of reacting of the non highly sensitive individuals around them, getting angry or flying off the handle when empathy is not shown to them.   The realistic truth if understood by the borderline/sensitive would show that the less sensitive were only reacting to the highly sensitive individual out of not understanding a depth of feeling, particular perception or way of being which varies greatly with their own, rather than this being a sign of something ‘wrong’ with either person.

Such an understanding for the so called borderline or highly sensitive individual requires a high level of inner work as well as a detailed unpacking of ways in which the nurturing environment failed to respond in empathic ways, leaving key wounds or perceptual distortions kicking around inside the borderline or HSP.  Arming ourselves with such deeper emotional understanding involves work with an empathic person who can help us with this process.  Then and only then can we begin to work effectively with extreme feelings or so called ‘over reactions’ to outside events which are really just triggers.

I have only ever read books on DBT and my understanding of it may be limited but this is my understanding of how it works.   It works by helping us to correct our thinking and as a way of helping us to self sooth and not attack ourselves more with painful thoughts and feelings which in belonging to old events may be re-experienced in the present moment and projected leading to confusion and distress for those around us who do not understand our trauma/disconnection history.  In the end we must understand in a way others who do not suffer could never possibly understand unless they lack that empathic framework.

When I read the blogs of borderlines I see how much self judgement they have.  We self judge because we know how extreme our behaviour can be at times and we can often feel shame.   Unlike narcissists who in many ways are full of a shame they buried long ago and often will not face, Borderlines feel our shame over and over and over and can almost drown in it.  We are often scapegoated and we so often need to break that identification and projection because the original shame was never ours to own,  our responses came out of finding ourselves in consistently disabling or unempathic environments in which we struggled, pure and simple.  Certainly we do not have the right to enact our rage at a lifetime of frustrations, misunderstanding and invalidation on others, we need to understand where these feelings comes from and feel them and transform them rather than act them out.  This I guess is where DBT can help us teaching us ways to talk to ourselves compassionately and with empathy to pour balm on burning wounds that so often can flare up in the present.

Decisions, boundaries and self care

It was a tough therapy appointment yesterday.  I am really regretting having my tooth out.  I don’t seem to feel any better at the moment and not being able to chew food well is really affecting me.  I am aware that I need to be patient as what I am going through is as huge adjustment but I just wish I had stuck with the crack in the tooth as I am not really sure it was giving me an infection, as my body is still full of phlegm and gunk.  I also felt very disappointed in my therapist and wanted to throw the whole therapy over yesterday but at the same time I was aware of the state of mind I am at and it was poisoning my right view of the value of what Katina does give to me.  So I just went to it and fully expressed all my feeling to her.

She was amazing, she sat there and empathised and then apologised for influencing me because she had said to me several times “if you do have an infection it is probably poisoning your entire body”.  I am not sure that is really what has been happening, the poison is the anger I sometimes feel that I don’t use effectively to assert boundaries at times.   Anyway we discussed it all and I left the session feeling a whole lot calmer basically because of the empathy Kat showed to me.  And I am adult enough to know no one has the answers always for me.  They may be able to understand or empathise but they may not know how things will turn out for me if I make a decision and they can advise but they don’t have to live with the consequences which is something my niece and I were discussing the other day.

Have you ever decided you wanted to do something that may be good for you, but when you mention it to others, they try to dissuade you or pour cold water over your decision?  I think it happens a lot and its something we were also discussing in therapy yesterday, how do we know who to truly trust with our decisions?  After all no one else has to live our lives.

I have been on the end of discouragement when I have asked for advice on doing what would have ultimately been good things for me.  I look back to those times and see I didn’t stay strong and own my own power.  And afterwards I felt resentment but also had to accept I was responsible for the decisions and choices I make.  As a people pleaser it is sometimes hard for me to say I wont do something that I think may bring joy to another person or to take care of me when you are hurting or in need.  As I shared the other day, when I have the energy to give to others, I will give it, naturally it is what I want to do as an empathic person.  But there are times I just need to take care of me.  And I guess that is where discrimination comes in as well as a good sense of connection to my inner energy levels, feelings and needs.   What I am talking about here are boundaries and on some level we can say that on the spiritual plane boundaries don’t fully exist as we all come from the source, that grander sphere where we are connected to each other beyond words and other human constructs and as our egos form we learn what is ours and what is not ours if we are lucky enough to have good help to build healthy egos but if not we can be in trouble.

And that is why empaths and highly sensitive people can struggle a lot.  We instinctively feel the feelings of others and want to reach out and to do so is natural and good most of the time.  When others have defences against us though we suffer.   I heard a saying a long while back and its a major lesson that I learned in my last intimate relationship that a person can never reject you, just a part of themselves they see in you that they have not befriended in themselves.   This is the defensive ego that may want to reject you if you are feeling sick or vulnerable.  This is the protective ego that doesn’t want to see that you may have hurt and a deep longing for love hidden beneath anger. For if you think about it if we get rejected for anger the person is not seeing that on some level we felt hurt and are trying to get that hurt addressed.  Then the hurt has no where to go,  and we are left holding it and then as someone asked me the other day “where do I put this anger?”.  I responded by suggesting prayer.  It seems to me the only thing I can do when my anger gets too much, I pray to my higher power for help with it.  And if someone won’t address it with me and I see that my anger is justified I have to beware of how I relate with that person in future.  I may need to forgive so I don’t keep holding onto the pain and hurt myself more, but I may be better off not having that much to do with them if they express no concern for how their actions affect me.

It can take a long time for some of us (like me) to see we have the right to set this kind of boundary if people have blown us off before for expressing how we feel.  And we also don’t have to take every hurt we feel to someone else, for in the end its really up to us to care for ourselves and protect ourselves and we all have the right to do this .

If we were sensitive and hurt a lot in childhood.  If we were teased, humiliated, made to feel small, gaslighted or invalidated developing the wisdom and power to develop and set boundaries may be a process fraught with peril.  If we were led to believe that emotional abuse was not emotional abuse we may be very confused as to our boundaries.  That is why we absolutely need an empathic person to go to, to express our truth with and get a reality check.  And we need power and strength to know we have the right to take care of ourselves and that we are not bad or wrong or selfish for doing so.   And some of us can keep chosing to love even when on the end of shitty behaviour from others once we have learned to practice self care, we can learn to positively detach not with hatred and anger but with love, a true honest love that comes out of respect, maturity and a deeper empathy for suffering.

Tears of becoming

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This will just be brief as I have to go to an appointment soon but I wanted to get this down as lately I have been crying so deeply and sharing with my therapist yesterday, after reading a blog I wrote yesterday but did not post to her she said to me.

Deborah, I think these tears you are crying are actually tears of becoming, they are the soul’s expression of grief for your lost self, sadness from the real self that never got to fully birth but is birthing now.

WOW!   It made so much sense for me, yesterday the post I wrote and will post today was about the missed opportunities and how disappointed I am in myself but in the session we spoke of how the second accident coming at a pivotal time when I was trying to emerge at the end of my marriage echoed the earlier one that happened when I was on the brink of opening to my being and sexuality and self.  It was a full scale onslaught that tore my flesh apart and ruptured me, taking me into hospital, an enclosed womb attached by pins to a pully and bed for three months.  I carry the deep echo imprint of that.

Katina said to me.  I want to say this, please take care now as you are on the brink of emerging again and the traumatic imprint could be retriggered.  It scares me but birth is also a kind of death a death of the old self we have to shed like a skin that has grown too tight for us.  Shedding it leaves us open, raw, vulnerable and naked for a time very exposed, shedding so many tears.  Tears of becoming.

 

You were there

Mother-holding-childs-han-001

You were truly there for me

You listened to me

In a way I was not listened to before

You validated how I felt

When I was tempted to be hard and punishing with myself

You showed me a path to self acceptance, compassion and love

  Your love was not conditional

On me being or not being a certain way

Your unconditional loving presence

Gave me the most powerful gift

This afternoon I cried while I tried to express in words

Exactly what you give

And have given to me

In many ways you remind me of my beautiful sister

I lost

And I will always be so grateful

For the day you came into my life

Thank you so much

For all you give to me

For being fully present

For this unconditional love

More precious to me

Than gold

 

(For Katina)

How traumatic imprint overwhelms our brain and what happens when we begin to process it : Boundary Ninja

But when trauma occurs, we get overwhelmed, and the part of our brain that they believe “processes” our experience, goes off-line so we cannot understand or assimilate the experience or feelings that it invokes. This creates a traumatic memory which present research believes is both stored differently and in a different part of the brain, then our biographical memories.  Traumatic memories are raw and unprocessed. I call it God’s Tupperware. The experience, intense feelings and all, would be stuffed in, and then the cover burped, after which I would shove the container on the back of a high shelf, to be left for years. So when I finally got around to opening a particular container, there it would be in all its glory, intense feelings and all. That is often why when we start talking about the past in therapy, it can often feel so intense, because the feelings come back with an immediacy that we do not usually experience when remembering. And it can feel overwhelming, because it WAS overwhelming at one time. So we learn to avoid anything and everything that might call up these unprocessed memories so that our life becomes circumscribed by all the things, events and feelings we MUST avoid. We dwell in a cage of our own (unconscious) making.

What we do when we heal, is to finally allow ourselves to experience those feelings, process the experience and make sense of what happened, to fit the event into our narrative so that it makes sense, and we can obtain a coherent picture of who we are and how we got that way. When we do this, we convert the traumatic memory to a biographical one. We can recall it; we may feel an echo of the sadness or pain, but it does not roar back at us with the immediacy it once had. I actually remember when I hit the point that I looked at the Boundary Ninja and said “I’m not quite sure when it happened, but what happened to me has become part of my past instead of something I’m still enduring.”

Source :  https://boundaryninjatales.com/2011/10/25/why-your-therapist-seems-cruel-but-really-isnt/

How unbearable it felt as a baby : insights into the power of abandonment depression.

I just read part of a reblogged post on someone struggling with deep sadness and fear of being excluded from her therapists life.  There was a sense that the person fell into the darkest hole with recognition and realisation of how powerful her unresolved longing was to be the one total focus of her therapist’s life and the agony of feeling cast out into the wilderness when it was revealed all so painfully that she was not.

Such powerful feelings make little sense in the light of an adult frame of reference, but can we allow ourselves to feel how it was a tiny baby or young child needing the attention and mirroring and holding of our parent and not getting it when we were struggling with huge feelings and being left wanting?  Can we allow ourselves to imagine how painful that might feel?  And can we be compassionate enough to know that as extra sensitive little ones the intensity of our feeling may have been totally overpowering?

Therapy for the borderline person needs to be one that offers a consistent and intensely available therapist who is able to mediate for the client those huge emotions as well as the powerful defences and fears that go along with this kind of ego structure.  I was made clear about this after my first therapy undertaken in 1999 blew apart just over 2 years later when my therapist went on a month long break and left me with no back up.  I eventually aborted the therapy which took place overseas and when I managed to reconnect with a therapist here in Australia and told him about what happened he said to me “Deborah that kind of broken connection is not adequate for someone with your level of wounding.”   I am very grateful that this particular therapist had so much experience working as a psychotherapist,  He was able to validate how hard the break had been for me and how necessary it was when I next chose a therapist that they have empathy to be emotionally available in a more consistent way.  The most challenging thing for those of us who have borderline traits is that at the time certain damage or lack of holdings occurred for us we did not have a sufficiently formed ego structure to make sense of them. So as adults we are left with all kinds of deeply embedded and powerful feelings that we cannot fully access on the mental realm but may be felt only on a bodily level leading us at times to feel we are going insane or will explode when old abandonment pain is re triggered.  It takes a lot of time in therapy to develop an embodied awareness of how our souls suffered when we were left all alone without support or were subjected to overwhelming events in baby or childhood that over took us and left us feeling abandoned, alone and over exposed.

The truth is when we struggle with lack of consistent mediation, affirmation and mirroring in our early years we are left with gaps or holes.  We suffer for things that are beyond words and it can take years in therapy to get a handle on them as so often we develop powerful defences against this kind of knowing which may open for us old tender raw wounds.

My heart so went out to this blogger, when I read her post.  So many others commented on the post and it was obvious it touched a raw nerve for so many.

What I also thought when reading it was something my own therapist reminded me of when I shared about how I felt I would literally die whenever I was exiled from family or friends in the past after an emotional outburst.  She explained that as humans we can carry primal imprints of how it was to be exposed or left alone years and years ago when our survival depended on being protected by the tribe.   Without that protection we may have been born apart by wild animals.  What we may not know now is that in such a situation where we cannot have empathy for how we truly suffer our own feelings can become exiled and turn against us and threaten to tear us to pieces like wild animals too.  If we cannot have empathy for how and why we truly suffer in this way we can be lost.  We may abort a therapy or opportunity for connection due to the triggering of old abandonment depression and fear we are not fully conscious of.  Such awareness of how life threatening the abandonment depression can feel is pointed out by Pete Walker in his book on Complex PTSD.   It is very painful to suffer and we need recognition of its power if we are to grow in compassion and heal.  We also need to make sure we are working with a therapist who understands this need for consistent holding so we can heal the lack of trust issue that is triggered and in time learn to unpack the dread and demands which have powerful and very deep roots in our past unconscious emotional history.