I start my DBT group classes this Thursday and I am terrified, every time I think about it my heart starts to palpitate. This is the first time I will openly be with a group of people who are not connected to me that will know I have a mental illness. I realize that in itself there is nothing scary about this, no one is going to jump out and say boo, but in the 10 years of knowing what I have, I am stepping a foot outside of the closet.
I have always lamented that the people I love can never understand how I feel, they love me but they cannot fathom living with a hole inside of you everyday, that even when I am happy I still carry that ache that needs to be contained and when I am sad it’s excruciating pain. I hope I make a friend, I have never been good at having women friends unless they have known me from my younger years, it’s hard to bond a friendship when more than half of you is sheltering a secret. Part of me has the anxiety of maybe being strange, odd, different, the new kid in class feeling.
Then there is my fear of failure, I know there are no grades but what if DBT doesn’t help me? I so want to learn how to approach conflict and putting myself forward better without my BPD crippling me. My triggers strike like burning arrows when conflict, disappointment or any negative personal meeting arises. Hugh asked me the other day how I could be forceful with some people and face certain situations but not others and I thought about it this weekend and realized if I have no emotional investment or I know I can walk away and not interact with someone anymore, my triggers may tweak but they don’t burn. If I could have never seen my horrid co-worker again the burning flesh would have been a 1st degree burn not a 3rd degree. Personal interactions, the arrows not only pierce they stay burning under my skin till I can drag my hose and put them out one by one. I have been waiting for DBT training to come here for years, the next step in my journey, and like an over hyped movie in my mind, I don’t want my expectations to exceed my results.
Of course, there is relationships, which I too thought about this weekend. I always ascribed in my mind that the part of BPD that affected my relationships was that I would leave before I was left to avoid abandonment. As I wrote my relationships down, I came to realize it was a two fold curse in almost all of them, an inability to leave when I should have left coupled with abandonment (classic I love you I hate you). Each relationship came down to a point where I should have left months if not years earlier than I did, hanging on with crippling fear that I would, yet again, not be able to make one work, that no matter who was at fault, I had to fix it (which has caused me debt, abuse, suicide), till there was barely a dying gasp of emotion in me. I had to have all emotion bleed out of me, worked out of me, to leave because at that point I would not feel the abandonment and failure of leaving.
I have been working very hard on the relationship aspect with my psychologist and with myself since returning. Since then Hugh has said he doesn’t want a relationship (good timing for DBT training) and that was a hard pill to reconcile as I had made the commitment in my heart and mind to make it work, which internally shattered, and through the conversation was like razor blades running under my skin and a burning in my head, I wasn’t sure if I was crying from the internal pain or the words. Surprising to myself, I managed to hold onto my shimmer, it is shaky, no doubt, but still shiny and the days are good, as I said, surprisingly so. I keep looking over my shoulder wondering if someone is going to push me down the black hole. If I was going to get the push it would be from Hugh. I suspect branching out is part of the no relationship, though he never said it, I surmise he wants to date other people and that burning arrow is still burning in a contained place within me, which twists every now and then. I am blindly blocking it and mentally clenching through the flame to hold it back which I know is not the right technique at all but all I know is to contain it as best I can and hope no other trigger lands in it to ignite it further.
Hopefully DBT will teach me how manage myself and myself within a relationship because I am not sure how to handle his lack of faith in me and my lack of faith to trust that he would not leave and go each time he found fault in me. Also to find the tools to explain DBT, which when asked I cannot articulate the DSM description in laymen’s terms, nor explain it logically, because if it was logical then it wouldn’t be a problem. How can I have the emotional capacity of a child yet be a grown woman, explain me that? The intense hollowness and ache every single day that you fight for happy, that it’s not just there when you wake up. My splitting mind, Amanda and I, that I lock up in times of stress so I don’t hurt and let her take over, how do you explain her? When I write it down it sounds like a bad movie that no one would believe. I should be more understanding when people don’t get my actions, can’t imagine, or believe, because would I believe if someone told me that? Likely not, I’d think they were weak or exaggerating. So, DBT, help me find the words to explain who I am and what I am, that we do get better and live healthy lives.