Monday, April 27, 2009

Not the post I planned on

Last night as I went to bed I thought I might really be ready to starting writing my post on parenting. But today did not go as planned, so I'm writing about procrastination instead. It crept up on me, and I just sort of tweeted it without much thought, but it's actually a bit of a break through, to be able to concisely identify the problem. The tweet:

a) doing things for pure enjoyment = guilt; b) doing things b/c I 'should' = rebel/not do. a + b = "procrastination" or "paralysis"?

And this is really the crux. I think of something to do. If its something that I just really want to do, with no productivity/health value, then I'm guilted right out of it. So I either just don't do it, or try to think of ways it's productive. Then I don't want to do it because it's a 'should'. Example : sometimes I really feel like doing yoga. Then my brain starts going "yeah, you really should. You should do it every day." Then it becomes a 'should' and a life-long commitment. So it's overwhelming and makes me want to rebel. Why I rebel against things that are good for me is another issue, I may get to it tonight, maybe not. Ok then there are things that are just plain shoulds so I just plain don't want to do them. Then there are things that I just hate doing, but must be done - the MUSTs, like dishes and laundry. Eventually I get to those, when I get so fed up with the dump I'm living in. I actually avoided going outside this week, partially because I had no clean clothes. But that didn't get me to do laundry until I actually had some energy. I tweeted how relieved I was that I could do dishes and laundry again, and I had somebody respond that it really changes perspective, because he spends all week trying to get his kids to do those things. Here I am fighting with my illness AND my self-defeating tendencies, as well as the fact that those things are just not great fun. When I write it out, the anger I feel towards myself starts to fade as I realize that most people don't have the same huge obstacles I do. I'm just used to judging myself by healthy people's standards, because that way I know how they might judge me. Yeah they don't know how sick I am, but sometimes they judge anyway, and that negative thought bothers me. [Here we are back to why I can't stand having people hate or dislike me]. I've spent my whole life trying to be perfect and it's never enough, mostly because the people who are judging my perfection don't have the whole picture, and they never will, and I can't expect them to. So, I should (ha) just be okay with what they think? with being misunderstood and having negative energy sent my way? I'm not so good at keeping negative energy out. I'm only just learning how not to keep creating it within myself.

So guilt. I'm just going to brainstorm reasons why I might feel guilty for doing something for pure enjoyment, to just make myself feel good etc.
  • obviously, enjoyment and feeling good are not high on my priority list. Which is ridiculous because feeling good would mean less stress and thus less symptoms. But getting better apparently isn't high on my priority list either, though you'd never know it by the way I talk.
  • i don't feel like I deserve to feel good or enjoy things
  • doing things for fun is a waste of time that could be better spent
  • fun isn't allowed until everything is clean and put away and in order - only that never happens because I don't have enough energy for that so =>
  • the limited energy I have should be spent on cleaning/chores/other people first
  • basically everything is a derivative of "I should be doing something else, something better or more important)
  • fun isn't important - intellectually I don't believe this
  • i haven't EARNED the right to enjoyment
  • free time should be spent paying back what I owe
  • I'm afraid of losing myself in the moment and missing something - safety & security issues, hypervigilence, control, might forget something - e.g. appointments, calling friends i.e. obligations
  • I don't feel allowed to be that happy. Happy in spite of is okay, happy because is not.
  • self-actualization needs are on the top of the heirarchy (Maslow's) and I don't feel my basic needs are being met yet, so those take priority
  • the unfinished projects hanging over my head should be finished before starting anything new, but I don't enjoy the finishing process
  • expectations of others - can I show them what I've done with my time? is my living situation (apartment cleanliness etc.) acceptable to them? are they going to think me lazy, selfish, self-indulgent?

I also turn "play" into "work" by making commitments to people - offering & promising to make them stuff, or do other things for them. Then I feel it's a "should" and it takes the fun out of the idea of it (I enjoy the doing, if I can get myself there). This also prevents me from doing something completely 'me' - allowing complete creativity and artistic process.

So I need to work on not feeling guilty by 'indulging' in activities for pure enjoyment, to get it into my cells that these things are necessary too, and deserve a place higher on my priority list. Replacing a set of core beliefs like this is a long, difficult process (most of the time). I wish for an epiphany like the one that changed my belief that I was a bad person.

Well I want to write more but my back is crying out for prone position. Damn back.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

More things I need to get off my head

They're not on my chest, so whatever.  Gratitude.  Charge: I come into someone's house and make demands.  I've never demanded anything of Jt in my life.  I rarely even ask for anything - I just wait until it is offered.  This is almost the most ridiculous thing she said.  What demands? Charges dismissed for lack of evidence.

Jt was so sick she had stopped making jewelry for a long time.  She didn't even want to think about it, the thought of it scared and overwhelmed her.  It was only through my patient, compassionate, tactful encouragement that she started to consider it again.  And my enthusiasm for beadweaving got her interested in it, so one day I sat down and showed her how to do a spiral weave.  I calmed her when she got frustrated, reassured her when she thought she'd screwed up, helped her find ways to make it easier.  And now she is selling spiral weave necklaces for $100 each.  She knew no other people making jewelry, so there was nobody to inspire and encourage her.  She didn't care a whiff for beadweaving until I told her how much I loved it.  She was petrified of even looking at her supplies.  It is safe to say that I am majorly if not entirely responsible for her return to craft and the subsequent money she is now making - though I fully recognize she had built up her own client base on her own.  If it weren't for me, she'd still not be crafting.  There's been no recognition of this whatsoever.  I admit I was envious when I heard she was selling these necklaces, and for so much money, when I was the one who showed her how to do it and prevented her from giving up.  Now I'm just pissed off that she's calling me ungrateful.  I don't know anyone who shows more gratitude to their friends' generosity than I do.  I say thank you more than everyone I know put together.

This is really eating away at me again, when am I going to have had my say?  When can I put it to bed?  I'm starting to think the best thing for me to do would be to walk up to her and actually punch her square in the face, or kick her in the stomach - because kick me in the stomach is what she did to me, that's where and how I felt it when she betrayed and attacked me.  And left me stunned, in real clinical shock.  When can I stop hurting and being angry about this?  I hate being angry, and that just makes me more angry.  Honestly I realize that anger is alerting you to the fact that someone is violating you or your boundaries, that you are being hurt.  But I got the alert, stop beeping already!  Anger is more than an alert.  It's torture.  Torture you don't deserve because you didn't ask for it.  Anger cannot be used productively by someone like me, anger just makes me sick and paralyzed.  And I'm taking it out on everything around me, my poor dog and cat, the people who walk by me on the street (if I have to go outside at all). Her hate makes me have hate, and I do not want hate.  Her hate is contagious and uncontrollable and unjust, it explodes into the world and makes everybody a hater or a hated. Or, like me, both. Hate is completely useless, anger is completely useless - I can be alerted by one kick in the stomach, not recurrent kicks for weeks on end, thank you very much. Hate and anger make me almost convinced its okay to punch people in the face.  Righteous hate (hate that is 'deserved') is no better than bigot-hate.  It's just as damaging to everybody involved.

I went to the library and experienced social anxiety-type thoughts.  I'm annoying people and making them work harder.  I'm disgusting because I'm sweating like a pig (from the medication, but nobody knows that).  People think I'm the weird girl.  What I'm wearing makes me look ridiculous.  The teller is analysing me based on what books I'm borrowing.  I didn't say a sincere or grateful enough thank you to the people who helped me get the prize I won in the customer appreciation draw.  I didn't apologize well enough for not calling ahead so they'd have it ready and not have to bring it up from the basement.  Note that the library was dead and these people weren't really doing much anyway.  Tellers hate me because I always have a lot of holds and they have to take the papers and elastics off them and it takes longer (even though there was nobody in line behind me).  On the way home I'm angry because I feel stupid and ugly and I hate life because it's colder than I want it to be.  I hate Thursdays because it's supposed to be my favourite day of the week, but this week it really let me down.  I'm feeling really down on myself.  I think about the fact that i haven't received an email back from a girl who I thought I might be friends with ever since I told her I'd struggled with mental health and rambled on about the noise around here.  I thought 'it's okay, I shouldn't have friends anyway'.  I think maybe being a selfish bitch is one of those qualities you can't change. 

Then I thought, I'm selfish because I have nothing.  But here is a belief I'm discovering I have: there is no excuse for selfishness.  So those two thoughts are having it out in my head, in my gut.  You'd be selfish and always looking out for yourself too, if you had nothing.  It doesn't matter what you do or don't have, selfishness is always bad.  And it is really hard to lose that belief because whenever I do assert my needs - just my needs, forget my wants - people don't react very well.  People reject it. People do not want to accomodate me, and it seems like its just me that they resent accomodating.  Why is that?  What is it about me that is so off-putting?

Jt said in her letter that R told her she was sick of me copying her.  I'm guessing she meant how I tried the same crafts as her.  She painted houses, so I gave it a try.  She started sewing, I got excited and wanted to sew.  Geez, sorry for taking an enthusiastic interest in what you're doing, friend.  I guess she thought I was trying to compete with her, and maybe I was.  Her houses were so nice.  But I started painting before or at the same time as R.  I didn't do houses, but I did decorative painting and ceramic figurines, the latter of which is pretty friggen similar to the houses. So that's not really a stretch.  It's my nature to want to learn how to do everything I see.  Look at how many beading techniques I've done, and I'm still planning on the rest.  Did I copy R when I went back to school and got my degree?  Hmmm, no, I seem to recall her taking a few courses after I did that.  It's not copying its general interest, and a desire to SHARE something.  Did I copy R by getting sicker and needed ECT? Nope, I got better as she got worse.  What did I copy so much?  She got married, I stayed single.  She watched television, I can't afford cable. She's into buying clothes, I'm not. Look, I'm not blaming R for this. She never said that to my face, and she was sick when she said it. It doesn't matter because we're no longer friends and I can't copy her anymore.  Does it take something away from a friend if you join in their pleasure?  Not a friend, not a real friend.  If I got into gardening, I don't think Jd would be anything but pleased. I'm not angry that she's taking up geocaching after I started to with my mom. I guess it boils down to how strongly you identify with something, and if you are using it as an attempt to compete and differentiate with me.  And if you do that, you'll probably also assume that I'm trying to steal it from you if I take it up too.  Maybe I should tell Jt that I resent her for 'copying' me and taking up beadweaving.  Of course, she can counter by saying I took up jewelry making to copy her - actually it was my cousin N who encouraged that interest, and she doesn't resent it one bit.  Cuz she's not fucking CRAZY. I guess all my insecure friends wished I could've just stuck to knitting.  That's supposed to be my thing, I guess.  How dare I change?

So if doing and asking for what I need makes me a selfish bitch, I am just going to have to get used to being a selfish bitch.  I don't see any way around it, because I can't continue to spend my energy trying to be selfless and nice. It hasn't gotten me anywhere, saved any friendships - Jd was my friend when I couldn't even pretend not to be a selfish bitch - But the truth is, or what I am afraid is the truth is, that taking care of my needs will leave me nothing whatsoever to give to others.  I know that if you 'fill up your cup' you're supposed to be able to give, but I don't think my cup can get full on what I've got left.  So maybe I can't have friends at all.  Maybe I can't be anything more than a leech or a charity case.  Maybe everyone in my life is going to see me as a selfish bitch and that will be that. Is that kind of life worth it?  Is that all I get to be, a selfish bitch?  Is that all I'm going to amount to?  Well here, here's your answer, D.  If I'm not helping it means I'm a selfish bitch.  Having someone hate me is evidence that I'm a selfish bitch.  Selfish bitch is the default, and I have to work to convince people I'm otherwise.

So where did I get this idea that I'm a selfish bitch.  Originally, obviously, from my childhood, feeling like asking for anything at all meant I was asking for too much.  Feeling like I really shouldn't want or need more than what I was given, and that even asking for something - not getting it, just asking it, was taking.  My existence, my needs, my presence - all of it was taking from my mother.  Taking energy that either she didn't have, or that she wanted for herself.  Taking what I didn't deserve.  The feeling of taking something that wasn't willingly given is painful.  And I had no control over it - I had to take, I took as little as I could, but it always felt like mountains too much.  And so I spend the rest of my life trying to repay.  I can't repay my mother, because she doesn't need it anymore.  I took it and can never give it back.  So I have to find other people to pay.  Because not paying it back is just plain wrong.  It would turn me into that spoiled, selfish, entitled girl that Jt wants me to be.  And every dime that gets put on those mountain tops is just one more mountain to pay back.  It makes me weary.  I've been made to feel I have to earn my existence, even though I didn't put myself here.  I didn't create me in the first place, but I damn sure am going to pay for it.  Intellectually I believe that parents are responsible for providing their children with everything they need (not want, need), and to give it freely, without resentment or feelings of being owed.  I felt resented, though.  I felt in the way.  I felt that everything I was given was a huge sacrifice for which ever parent gave it, and they let me know it.  Whatever I got came with a side-order of guilt.  And they worked so hard and long to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, that should be enough for the ungrateful brats. They want love now too?  Please.  I've given enough.  I've done enough.  I work hard enough.  They want me to spend time with them and be interested in them and enjoy them and like them?  Gimme a break here, I'm an adult.  I spent all day working for you, the least you can do is let me have an adult life.  Whatever parents don't get from their own folks should NEVER be taken out on their children.  "When I was a child, we'd get beaten" and what is implied is, you should be grateful that I don't hit you and not ask for more than that.  If a parent feels like they are providing a smidgeon more than what they got, they think its good enough, even when it's shit.  You're not supposed to compare yourself to your children and tell them they have it so good because they have food and shelter and something you didn't.  You are supposed to give them everything they need, not just more than you got.  And don't be envious or resentful. You brought them into this world on purpose, you owe them to fulfill your responsibility. Doubtless when you were expecting, you told yourself you were going to give them everything everything!  But then reality sets in, and its not as easy as you'd like, and so rather than do the right thing, you make your children suffer for it. 

Okay this diatribe obviously assumes a lot, and I don't know a damn thing about how my mom was raised, or what she was really thinking when raising me.  And I never will because she's conveiniently forgotten that time.  The only truth in what I've written is that that is how it FEELS to me.  That is what I grew up feeling. Like a burden, like I drained so much life out of her just by needing food and shelter and rides and clothes, that I daren't have asked for love too.  And so I didn't. I tried to earn it by being perfect, but perfect is so far from impossible when you are a child.  You have to make a lot of guesses about what's right and what will make them happy.  And to be unseen and independent and not to ask or take, to be invisible, well, that just makes your failures to keep it up stand out even more.  The guilt, my god, the guilt of being alive and needing.  The guilt of costing money.  The guilt of standing in a place you didn't know they wanted to be, and so being in the way.  The strain of guessing and anticipating and watching and observing and the effort of controlling and holding in and holding back and not talking not expressing not moving.  And the guilt of failing.  They say it takes 5 encouragements to make up for every criticism.  And criticism comes in the form of that devestating look of disappointment, or that one of exhaustion, or the one of annoyance. No words need to be spoken.  What does an encouraging look look like?  What does my mother's face look like when she's proud of me?  I honestly have no fucking idea.  But I can see that disappointed look like its always watching me, its always available in Blu-Ray Hi Def and so much like being there it'll blow you out of your seat, or crush your soul when you're 34 and thinking about it.  And it still comes out all the time in real life.  Even when you prepare for it and ask specifically not to see it, it comes.  Example - I was having a really tough time, something bad had just happened, and I bought a carton of ice cream, and I asked my mom not to say anything please, even if I ate the whole thing.  And boom, there it was. "The Whole Thing?" she said. Somewhere between jaywalking and shoplifting belongs Eating The Whole Thing. 

So apparently, today is not a Thursday, it is a blogday, and this entry is never going to end.  I'll be back when I have some more stuff to get off my head.
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And so it goes

I'm due to have one of those angry 'fuck it' moments and start all over again from scratch.  I'm so frustrated, I used to think my life was ruled by fear, but frustration has taken over the reins.  I should change my name to perpetualfrustration.  I can't do a fucking thing anymore.  I'm that tired.  And here I am just making it worse by trying to ignore it, by comparing myself to everybody, anybody, who are living a different life and not mine.  And just pretending like it's not a big deal.  Pretending that it's not that bad, that I can do more than I really can, I'm just not doing it.  The truth is I haven't done much of anything lately and even that is kicking my ass and making me worse. 

I hate crying.  I hate it with a passion.  Not because it's weak.  It hurts.  It hurts my body and my soul to cry and let all those feelings move around, even if it is up and out.  Lately when I cry I sound like a really little kid.  I sound just like my nephew when he was about 1 1/2 years old.  What happened to me then?  Was I not allowed to cry then?  I'm this infant trying to make it as a grown-up, trying to act even more mature than I have to, because my soul is old enough for that.  My psyche can't catch up with my soul, I guess.  I'm trying really hard here.  That was another charge.

Charge:  I say that I'm working on myself, but how?  I blame my mother for everything that happened to me, but I still use her.  Jt wrote that she hoped I shared this email with my therapist since I pay her (barely) to be nice to me.  First of all I think my therapist has too much integrity to lie to me, to pretend she likes me when she doesn't.  I don't even think she'd take a client if she didn't really want to help them, if she didn't genuinely feel like she could relate.  And she certainly wouldn't lower her prices for someone she just pretended to be nice to.  It wasn't my idea to give me cheap phone sessions.  She felt it was worth it to work with me despite the fact that I can barely pay.  Jt is directly disrespecting  my therapist here, never having even met the woman, and that is just fucking shitty manners.  Furthermore, Jt doesn't know what my relationship with my mom is like now.  She makes it sound like I don't even like my mother and only spend time with her so I can get stuff.  I don't get nearly as much from her as everybody seems to think I do.  Plus, I actually like spending time with her, hello? and am working to make our relationship better.  I can't do that if I disown her.  Just because Jt didn't get to make amends with her mother before she died doesn't mean my attempts to work this through is lame or wrong.  Jt could be very jealous that I even have a mother in my life and have the opportunity to create a better relationship.  But don't take that crap out on me.  My mother is not like your mother, and me having a relationship with my mother doesn't mean anything about you and your mother.  Its like she thinks that since I can be with my mother, I'm judging her for not being able to be with hers.  But my mother wasn't a viscious fiend like hers.  She didn't do things to me on purpose, she didn't beat me or tell me I was ugly or send me to live with other people.  She didn't single me out for abuse among all my siblings.  My mother now is my mother now.  Most of my issues are with who she was 20  years ago.  Jt must think I hate my mother, just like she hates hers.  The point is she has no idea what really goes on between my mom and I and its none of her business.  It's not my fault your mom was a crazy bitch.

All of Jt's paragraphs in that hate-mail started with "You think". How does she know what I think?  Is she psychic?  She can read my mind?  How f*ckin' dare she tell me what goes on in my own head.  Lady, this is all about what YOU think. And most of it is what you think about yourself.  It sickens me that you have these thoughts about me, that you can be so wrong and blind and hateful.  It scares me and sickens me and angers me.  You've been added to the list of people (now 2 people long) that I enjoy imagining punching straight in the face.  Because you are so fucking wrong. 

So why then?  Why does it bother me so much that she hates me?  The simple answer is that because it means I'm hateable.  Now, with people like her in the world, i.e. with BPD and other distorting illnesses, anyone is hateable.  Apparently anyone who doesn't worship science as the only way of looking at the world is hateable.  But just in general, if someone hates me, it means I'm hateable.  And I'm already unconvinced I'm loveable, or even really likeable.  I know she hates me, she's demonstrated that undeniably, so I'm definitely hateable.  Not only that, but I'm contemptable, pitiable, and disgusting. Nobody's ever looked at me with a mixture of anything and disgust before.  It is shocking, to say the least, since hours before that I was golden, pristine, and untouchable.  No one has ever been able to convince me they love me as clearly as she has convinced me she hates me.  Or what she sees as me, because she stopped seeing me the moment she was triggered.  It doesn't matter that it is not really me, because she's out there, hate-directing my way.  She's out there, possibly thinking about how much more she wants to hurt me, possibly conniving ways to do that.  If I bump into her, what is going to happen?  Tuesday I was at College Park Dollarama - a place she frequents, and I kept preparing for her to come up to me and snarl "nice pants" - because I'd put on the hot pink comfy pants I bought on Spadina at Dr. Saul's office after my appointment.  I was tired and wanted to be comfy and didn't care.  So I was ready with "Nice attitude", or "thank you God bless you" which would have tore her up because, well, she hates God, and she hates me because she's convinced herself that I love God.  Yeah, I think she really hates God, despite adamantly insisting he doesn't exist.  I didn't bump into her, but next time I might.  I'm not going to let the threat of her stop me from going wherever the hell I want.  Part of me even wanted a confrontation with her, so I could maybe finally score one back at her, since I let her say whatever horrible things she said to me without fighting back.  I even imagined gushing at her "Oh, you were so right, you are so smart and perfect and successful and happy, I should never have said what I said.  You are far far better than me."  Fuck her.  And I think she enjoys having people hate her.  It serves a few of her purposes.  Poor me.  People are dumb ignorant assholes.  I'm superior.  She's happy about that.  Me, I mourn every reminder of stupidity and ignorance.  I'm embarrassed to death of the less intelligent and humane and polite and self-aware members of the human race.  I can't watch.  It's the real reason I've never watched Trailer Park Boys.  It's embarrassing.  I guess that means I have some pretty unrealistic idea(l)s about humans, and maybe it contributes to my being unable to believe people can be so warped and cruel.

It's just wrong that someone out there hates me.  I don't deserve it.  I guess it mucks up my 'belief in a just world'.  It taints the earth.  It's a black spot on what I considered the world of possibilities.  A do-not enter, a you-don't-qualify, a never-gonna-happen.  The door has been closed and there's no chance of it being opened - that would require her examining and realizing and taking responsibility for what she's done, not just to me, but to everyone who's been a victim of her rage.  She's never going to be well enough for that, not in this lifetime.  And so, because of it, my own world is not quite as pure and free. I have a real reason to watch my back, a pin-point for my usually generalized anxiety.  That's the only way I can answer this question right now. 
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Perfectionism 2.0 & Thoroughly Embarrassing Self-Pity and Bitterness

Too much to write about, I just can't remember it all, so let me start with some more of the charges laid against me, cuz they are still pissing me off. I talked to my therapist about finding the new hate-mail, and she sympathized with my inability to believe that anyone can be so ... pick your adjective. Unbelieveable!

Charge: I am a bad Buddhist because I'm 'supposed' to love everyone equally, but I admit that sometimes I hate people. Ok, I'm a Buddhist, not a Buddha. Loving unconditionally is a goal of buddhism but I defy anyone to say they can actually accomplish this. I'm working on it, and the first step is recognizing there's a problem. I'm not proud of hating people, it bothers me a lot, but at least I admit it. I have to start where I am. Geez, Jt, you read one book about Buddhism and you think you know everything. Well, you are wrong. If loving everybody was a requirement to call yourself a Buddhist, there would be no buddhists, am I right? F*ckn-A. Charges can't be dismissed because they don't make sense in the first place.

Did I talk about the one where I have this grandiose sense of entitlement? I think I did, talked about that one with my therapist too. How I spent my whole life feeling like I didn't have the right to take up space, had to apologize for my existence and take only what nobody else wanted. That sound like entitlement to anybody? Charges ridiculous.

Crap I can't remember the others I wanted to mention. Fibrofog...too much other stuff running around in my head. Maybe they'll come back to me when i write the next piece, Perfectionism 2.0. My therapist left me with this question this week: Why can't I stand to have anyone hate me?

I thought I was making real progress with my perfectionism. I don't get mad at myself when I screw up stuff - I let it slide, or just get mad at my life situation (being ill, no energy, poor, alone) instead of myself. I don't blame myself for things that aren't my fault anymore. Except. Except when it comes to people. I still have to be perfect. I have to be a perfect friend, perfectly polite, perfectly chipper and positive. I am convinced I have a tendency to be self-absorbed, so I make a herculean effort to compensate for that in my friendships. I feel like I 'owe' my friends that have been generous to me. I can't do enough for them. Well, really it's only Jd left that I feel this way about - she feeds me, pays for movies sometimes, buys me coffee most of the time, spends her gas picking me up from Kitchener and driving me all the way back to Cambridge. What do I do for her? Babysit occasionally. So in a way, maybe this is one more reason why I feel I can't unload or vent my problems to her - I'm already enough of a burden. I already take more than I give. She denies this of course, and I believe her. I do believe she does not feel like I drain her, take too much or owe her. But I can't help it, and I'm constantly anxious and on the lookout for ways I can pay her back, to restore some kind of equilibrium. The problem is, how do I know when I get there? Is it possible to ever get there? In two ways - in terms of resources, am I ever going to have enough to give to make up for what I've been given? And psychologically, is there any guarentee that its possible for me to feel like things are even if I can give enough? What is enough? So here I go pretending again. I'm terrified that I don't care enough, to I fake it til I make it - I watch myself and push myself to be more patient, a better listener, less negative, more helpful...and honestly I never questioned whether this was a good thing to do or not until now. Because what is it taking from me? I can't relax. I'm not allowed to be myself, self-absorbed or no. I can't be completely honest, I can't take the rest I need. Here is guilt motivating me still. Jd never sits down, she's always cleaning or folding laundry or making dinner, and I feel like I should help more, but the truth is I came over there to relax. I've always had this struggle defining the difference between laziness and the need to rest. (there's another charge - I don't clean my apartment properly because I'm lazy. Has nothing to do with how sick I am and the fact that, oh, I don't have a partner to help me out with the housework). Is it weird that she never really sits down to hang out with me? Sometimes I'm following her around the house just to talk to her. I know her temperment is different, she's an active person, she's not sick, and she feels she has to do that stuff. And after the kids go to bed she does sit down with me. But most of the time she's doing stuff and I feel like a lazy couch potato. She says she doesn't mind me hanging out while she's doing stuff around the house or in the yard. But hanging out while she's doing stuff isn't the same as hanging out with her. So I force myself to try to help even if I'm totally exhausted and really should be laying down, just so I'm with her, or, often, because I think if I help it will give her more time to spend with me. But she always has more to do - it never ends. A woman's work is never done. And honestly she likes it. She doesn't complain. And maybe that makes me jealous. Anyway, I feel like I can never be a good enough friend.

My cousins are also very generous to me - when I visit them they pay for everything - all my meals, and we are always eating out. Once again, they say they think nothing of it, but god, how much do I owe them? And sometimes I start to feel obligated to acquiesce to K's opinion because of that. I'm not allowed to disagree because how ungrateful that is.

I can't screw up, I can't be selfish, because people will only put up with so much and then they dump you. That's the belief behind Perfectionism 2.0. It's about people, and keeping them happy with me. I don't have to be a high acheiver or be good at everything, just a perfect friend. I have this nagging feeling all the time that people have just about had it up to here with me, and one more thing will be the straw that broke the camel's back. And that's a misunderstanding, in a way. All the things that I assume people find annoying about me aren't really what I'm meaning. Maybe I talk like a know-it-all, but I don't feel that way, and I don't mean to sound like that. Maybe I'm too sarcastic, but it doesn't mean I think I'm any better - I say the same sorts of things about myself, and I'm well aware of my own faults. Do I come of as arrogant anyway? So here I am, thinking I'm being genuinely me, when actually my efforts to 'be a better friend' are leading me back into pretending. Is anybody going to accept me the way I am, self-absorbed and impatient and sometimes just too tired to care about little things in life that people complain about? I try so hard to muster up compassion for that stuff even when I have no energy for it. I've got to say, being a better friend is a worthy thing to shoot for, but there is such a thing as trying too hard - when it costs me so much. When it interferes with my health and my enjoyment of our friendship. But I'm so afraid of being seen as a selfish, difficult person, and no matter what I do I'll probably be seen that way anyway because it's just the truth. Is it? I don't know. I'm afraid I don't care enough about other people. I care about humanity in general but individually and in the moment, well lets just be honest. I have my own worldview, and my own ideas about what's really important, and the things that most people bitch about most of the time are not on my list. So I really don't care a lot of the time. And I feel like that makes me a bad person, a bad friend.

Let's be more honest. I feel so deprived that the concerns of people that have enough money and enough love and enough health just piss me right off. You tell me about a real loss - you get sick or are in pain, somebody you love dies, etc. I'll give you so much compassion, I'll cry with you, because I feel that. I get that. But I really don't give a shit about the other stuff, the petty annoyances. Everybody has that, it's just life. Suck it up. I understand that you are all busy and stressed out, but you've chosen to say yes to all those things, to take them on. Don't keep complaining and not do anything about it - take responsibility for your limits and have the courage to say no. I can't pity you when you've got too many lunch dates to find any time to yourself. I can't say 'poor you' when you've bought something that's defective and have to jump in your car to return it. Is it wrong of me to get pissed off about these things because I can't even go out for lunch once a month, and when it takes a whole day's energy for me to return something that is broken? I don't want pity or to be felt sorry for. I just want people to recognize that these things that you get so frustrated about are actually not that big of a deal. That it could be so much worse. That you shouldn't look to me for sympathy about it because I can't even feed myself properly, and you want me to feel bad because your $100 haircut isn't quite right, or took too long? Know what I mean?

Ok, call me bitter, judging mind. Inner critic. Whatever it is in my head that is telling me I'm a bad bad person for this. This is where I'm at. It's easy for people who have their basic needs covered to say "want what you have". We aren't talking about want here, I'm talking about need. There are a lot of women out there who think it's essential to good self-care to get manicures and pedicures and buy some nice clothes every month. There are a lot of people out there who think spending $7 on a piece of salmon is par for the course, and healthy, and just do it. It is not until recently that I started thinking they might be right. That maybe I deserve to eat salmon and have some clothes too. That maybe it is just good self-care and healthy. But that just makes the fact that I can't have those things even worse. It makes me miserable. It makes me hopeless. People tell me, oh, you must have to budget really well on your income, and I tell them, I don't have enough to budget with, and that is the truth. If I spent what an average healthy eater spent on food in a month, including meals out, that would be all I could buy. No shampoo or soap, no toilet paper, no phone bill, no dog food. No bus tickets. No therapist.

So I'm fucking whining. So I'm a hypocrite, complaining and doing nothing abou t it. What can I do? Can't get better and work. Can't figure out how to live on pittance. Can't find a sugar daddy to pimp myself out to so I'll be taken care of. Can't lower myself to beg on the street. I'm trapped here people. So maybe being a good friend shouldn't be a priority right now. Except everybody needs to feel like they are loved and belong. Except even though I do have friends I still don't feel that way, so what is the point of working so hard to keep them? And if I'm trying too hard, isn't that going to make them go away too? God I make myself sick sometimes. I hate this blog entry and I hate myself for writing it. I hate the noise outside that is driving me nuts and I hate that I'm hot and sweating even though my feet are so cold they hurt, and I hate that I'm cramped with too much shit in my apartment and no fresh air and no direct sunlight and the NOISE, and I hate that my apartment is so dirty and that i have no energy to clean it and no energy to make healthy food that might make me feel a little better and am wallowing in my own fucking filth because I'm sick and have no help. Fuck being a good friend. I've got to just give that shit up and start being a good friend to ME first. Bring on the devastating loneliness then. I guess it's unavoidable. I might as well face it. What the hell did I do wrong? I don't deserve this life. And now I'm ashamed of my...everything.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day In Toronto Point Form

  • spent day in Toronto
  • saw therapist and pain specialist
  • good session & adjusted meds - hopefully now can sleep and stop bad symptoms
  • weather was nice for part of day, unexpected
  • got cute pink outfit $10, enjoyed Spadinatown
  • total exhaustion, so glad to be home
  • bed straight-away, tho wish I could catch up on Twitter, FB & email
  • fuller account, maybe, tomorrow
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The Issue that started it All

The Great Chasm between Jt and I started with (what I thought was) an innocent remark of mine that "Of course, science isn't everything." What I'm able to clarify now is that of there were a unified theory of physics, this argument would never have started. To explain.

The great goal of physics -- a ''unified theory'' -- ... would resolve contradictions between Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles. (from a news story about Stephen Hawking's current health crisis http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/04/20/world/AP-EU-Britain-Hawking.html?_r=3&hp )

- and it both disgusts me and strikes me as funny that I got to this link through a re-post on RichardDawkins.net, the very reason Jt is fanatically atheist and believes science is everything in the first place. Except to her, 'science' only consists of one half of the above-mentioned dichotomy - Relativity. When she asked me to explain what I meant when I said science isn't everything, I replied (still having no idea that what I'd said and was about to say were the most vile form of blasphemy in existence) "Well because there are no absolutes, right?" Further explanation was required, so I tried to explain it in terms of quantum physics - that at a deep level, you can't pin down anything, since you can't know both where a particle is and where it is going at the same time. (This explanation later led to the comment that I read one book on quantum physics and think I know everything. Huh?) I thought that she, being an informed and intelligent citizen who loves science, would have known that already and been able to follow my logic. Wrong assumption. This led to a really condescending remark towards me and since I feel like my friends should respect my right to believe what I want, I questioned her about why she made such a remark. And then things escalated, spiralled out of control, and ended in the ridiculous venomousness that is a full-blown BPD rage. Apparently, an explanation of one's current scientific viewpoint and knowledge is an attack on someone else's personal worth. So if there's a unified theory that explains and encompasses both the quantum and Einstein's theory...perhaps she would have recognized that I wasn't actually saying anything against her and her personal beliefs. Of course, the whole thing could also have been prevented by her being not crazy.

Awhile ago I thought of a really good reason why we should not put all our eggs into the science basket, but I can't quite remember it now. It was something like, 'if science can't tell me ....., then how can it be so great? " You could insert anything there, like 'how to cure cancer', but the one I had in mind was something actually ridiculous that science should but didn't know. Maybe it was 'figure out how to make fat people skinny'. Because when you think about it, it should not be that difficult. Science (as far as I know) is getting clearer on the brain mechanisms and hormones and genetics that affect weight, but where is the practical application of this information? Why isn't there something out there that makes me just not want to eat? We can clone sheep and send telemetry back from ex-Pluto and have a video chat simultaneously with a hundred people on the opposite side of the planet (and the inernational space station), but you can't figure out how to make me stop eating milk chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches. What good is all the gadgetry when we are too sick to even enjoy the simple pleasure of existing in our own bodies? Not everyone is, but an increasing number of people, including me, are. It is literally physically painful to be alive. No matter where I am and what I am doing, whether I am marvelling at an image of four cluster galaxies colliding all at once or doing my dishes or thinking about how nice it would be to get laid, I am in pain. Pain is pain. Anxiety is pain. Uncertainty is pain. Guilt and shame and watching the news and wanting better and listening to my inner critic is pain. All life is suffering. For all the so-called progress science has made, for all the 'knowledge' it creates, are we as a species happier, healthier, safer? Fuck no. We are sicker and more miserable than ever. Even knowing that there is so much I don't know is painful to me. I know this is my own stupid issue, but I feel guilty for having not completed the impossible task of reading every book in my library.

*takes breath* The 'condescending remark' that was made after I'd explained my belief that there are no absolutes was this: "Good luck being happy that way." Inner GUFFAW. Accepting the uncertain nature of reality (or as the Buddha says, the three characteristics of existence - specifically that nothing is permanent) is quite possibly the ONLY thing that has ever made me step over the suicide line into personal happiness. And the person who made this remark? Constantly contemplating suicide. Constantly miserable. Constantly suffering and beating herself up. Who is she to judge me? This is the person who regularly had me on a pedastel (which I didn't like either, by the way) of admiration while we were 'friends'. Actually, Jt, I'm happier these days than I've ever been in my life. I have peace and faith and joy (from my blog you might not know it - however the capacity to feel deep sorrow is also the capacity for joy, and one does not exist without the other). I actually kinda like myself, a lot. I'll take self-like over feelings of superiority any day and every day. Superiority has a sharp edge and a foul after-taste, don't you think? And while I sometimes enjoy it as the only sort of vengeance I find slightly not immoral, like NOW, I make a strident effort to keep my will to superiority (a la will-to-power in the nazi-sense) in check because I know its the cheapest of thrills, karmically indebting and very inferior (hah!) to just being okay with me and okay with you. Like that - superiority is inferior?

The first time I was tormented by the emails I received from Jt (and the incident and abuse itself), I got over it partially by considering and then dismissing each accusation in turn (as I did yesterday to the recently discovered charges), and then all I did was return to thinking, "God, she's so wrong. It's just all wrong." This was not an affirmation, but a repeated realization. All the things she said about me were just plain wrong. I'm not in denial, I'm not saying they are wrong because I don't want them to be right. I actually thought carefully about whether she had any valid points, and - nope. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. So here I am again, thinking over and over, 'she's just so wrong!' It is always hard for me to believe - to really grasp - it when things like this occur. Something in me just does not want to accept that people can be this way, ever. And then live with themselves and not know. And then I wonder why in the hell I spent my entire life wondering if I was a good person or not. Because I couldn't come up with the idea of doing such things, let alone have the...um...whatever-it-takes (balls, evilness, self-importance, rage, lack of control?) to do them! Well I guess Jt is stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy, acting out her belief that she is bad... but not as bad as me? me who didn't even call her a bitch though that's understating how she behaved, me who tried desperately to untrigger her, to speak with respect, to first repair and then end things politely? I think the worst thing I said to her in all of this is that she was a scary woman. Which is the truth, cuz she scared the crap out of me.

The very last message I was sent was just a subject line - since she knew I wasn't reading the emails - that said I was a terrible person and that I was only upset because I got kicked out. Wha? First of all, doesn't getting kicked out necessitate an unwillingness to leave? Because let me tell you, her apartment was the last place in the world I wanted to be after she verbally assaulted me. I stayed in my room until I was told that I would be provided a way home, and then immediately packed my bags and left. No resistence. I almost grabbed all my shit and left the night before, knowing I'd spend the night on the streets of Toronto. I almost called my cousin to come and pick me up. I should've done. Anyway, that clearly does not qualify as a kick out. Further, I was upset waaay before I left her place. Leaving her place was the only thing that wasn't upsetting to me about the situation, yet she wants to think that its the very reason I'm upset at all. Ya.

Why do I continue to write about the specifics of this crazy business? To help myself move through it again, to help myself believe that yes, this did happen, and yes, it is as ridiculous and horrible and crazy as it seems. She was very sensitive about anything I said about her husband, and yet would lure me into saying things to the effect that he wasn't perfect, and then throw it in my face. The truth is, I never liked her husband at all, but I did my best to get along with him because she was my friend and I respected her. The only things I ever said against him were just in agreeing with some complaint she had about him. The week before I visited she'd been thinking about leaving him, but how dare I agree with her suggestion that it was a bit odd that he didn't help her with heavy bags knowing she has fibromyalgia? (not taking into account that I also said it was understandable because he must have been as anxious as we were to get home). Her marriage was either utterly divine and perfection itself or just about to end (hmmm, BPD black & white thinking perhaps?). After I read this 'found' email, I was mildly tempted to write to her: "I don't like your husband, I have never liked him, and I have even less respect for him now that I know the kind of abuse he sticks around for". Because she's confessed to me many times how she'd flown into a rage at him, and I can only imagine it to be as bad or worse as what she did to me. He means well, but he has all the behavioural qualities that irritate me the most. And she was so desperate to get me to like him, always making excuses for him even though I never said a thing about him that wasn't in agreement with her own complaint (aside from the time he let my beloved baby dog wander off and get lost in the middle of downtown Toronto). The point is, she said in the last email that they would be spending the evening laughing at me and loving it. And my point is, why should that bother me when I have no respect for either of them. You enjoy your folie a deux and be grateful that there's a person in this world who can put up with you and your abuse. That doesn't make you better than me either, it just means you found someone that you allow yourself to abuse. Truly it's safer for the world if you stick together, because then you're less of a danger to the rest of society. You think you're so unbiased but you still buy into the idea that being married makes you somehow better. One of the reasons I've been single so long is my concern that my 'issues' would hurt the person I was with. Obviously that is no problem for some people.

So maybe this bothers me more than anything else she said. I am sensitive to the stigma of being single. Singlehood can mean a variety of things, and most of them aren't of the "you're not datable" type. In my case it means my priorities are different. That I believe a quality relationship is better than being in a crappy one just so a) you feel special/superior/not lonely or b) you look 'normal'.

Maybe I've respected Jt for so long that I can't just disregard her words even though I know they are all wrong and said out of spite and illness. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be ripped up by anyone, friend or foe or stranger or otherwise. I just can't believe people can say such things and forgive or live with themselves. Well, she's already unable to do that, so I guess a few more evil deeds aren't going to make a difference to her. I just didn't deserve any of it. Not that anyone ever deserves to be verbally abused. But I really didn't deserve it. I tried really hard to be a good friend to her, I never put her down (unless you count commiserating with her over her slow computer and similar things to be personal insults - she did), I propped her up, I was openly and frequently grateful (some times to the point of tears) for her generosity, I empathized with her about her pain and suffering, and I even worked through a MUCH less violent but similar BPD episode in which she took offense to something I did that had nothing to do with her. I guess in a way that was the point - if it wasn't about her, then that's insulting too. She managed to find a million faults in me anyway. And really, all I did was accept her generosity (with obvious gratitude that she magically managed to forget - yet another charge), and spoke too much about certain things for her liking and in a way that triggered her.

Ok, you ask my opinion, and I give it and I want to make sure I'm understood, which makes me talk longer because I'm so often misunderstood, and yes, I have a way of speaking that can sound like I'm surer of what I am saying than I actually am. But I always say 'maybe' when I'm guessing - why don't people hear that? They only hear what comes after the maybe and then get this idea that I think I know everything. I'm going to start wearing 'maybe' and 'I don't know" and "its only an opinion" and "it's only what I've read" t-shirts and jewelry and hats. Fuck.

Yeah, she was always asking my thoughts and to explain them, and then told me in her rage that I never let her talk. I honestly thought she took pleasure from my musings, because she certainly responded that way - sometimes asking for more, sometimes complimenting me on something...I don't know exactly but she really made me feel like she liked hearing me talk. BIG shock to find out she didn't give a crap what I thought. No, I don't believe that. I know that when she was triggered she did a 180 and whatever she used to genuinely feel about me went right out the window (or over the balconey as it were), and was immediately replaced by how much she had always hated these things about me. She never did answer my question of why, if I've been so terrible from the beginning, she stayed friends with me for so long. She really re-created me, our relationship, and our past experiences together, from 'scratch' in one split second. I don't know how she reconciles the monster I've always been with how much time she spent with me, even if she's replaced all our memories with new ones.

Oh, I know, I tricked her! I used her and duped her into thinking I was wonderful and made her give me stuff and made her be nice to me. Cuz I'm a con artist. That's what I'm all about. This whole journey into authenticity I've been on since the day more than 10 years ago when I decided to stop pretending, that's all a big set-up so I could get stuff from her. And I chose her because she was sick and weak and desperate, oh poor Jt. I began conning her in 2000 when we were in that group therapy program together (which means I conned everyone else there too), and then 8 years later when we re-connected, I followed through with my cunning plan to rob her of what precious little she had. That about right?

Can you tell when I'm being funny-cynical as opposed to bitter-superior? Maybe there's no difference. Look, inner critic taking on the persona of a judging reader, I have to make light of these things eventually or they will eat me alive. What I just did there in that last paragraph - that was freeing and clownish, not bitter and vengeful. I shift from one to the other like magic. Yeah, it's a coping mechanism. Whatever. :)

Lesson: Never, ever, tell anyone who owns the Richard Dawkins DVD collection and suffers from BPD that 'science isn't everything'. And no, I don't really think a unified theory would have prevented this. And yes, I realize that science hasn't made much practical progress in the way of medicine because the capitalist pigs are making too much money peddling SlimFast, face cream, and belly-dancing DVDs. What a world.

And another thing. While I have THE highest respect for Stephen Hawking, I have to point out that the article I linked to in this post kept repeating that he is very ill and very unwell. Um, and I feel really bad saying this, but, what else is new? The man has been ill and unwell since he was diagnosed with ALS at 24. IMHO, the reporter should have said 'his health is much worse' or something. Hey, why not go crazy and say what he's actually suffering from (on top of the ALS). The vagueness of internet news is annoying as hell. What current news did we get from the article that was not in the headline? Don't get me wrong, this particular story gave me a fantastic prompt and quote for my completely unrelated blog entry. But in general, isn't there a way to waste less of my time if you don't really know anything about it? Just send me a tweet that says "Stephen Hawking in hospital, unwell and undergoing tests, that's all we know". Fuck the link. In fact, I'm going to tweet that right now.



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Monday, April 20, 2009

Guess it can happen to anyone

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/usa/article2382104.ece

Even beautiful, skinny, blonde, talented, amazing famous people can get slaughtered like I did. I wonder if Gwyneth is on Twitter? We could bitch about our friends-turned-rabid-dogs.

Thanks to Niki for this link :)
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Must Say SOMETHING!

This week I've been getting acquainted with Twitter (and the great people on Twitter), so I don't know how much process/progress I've made. I have periodically thought about the fact that I can't seem to find a way to help people in any consistent way - after realizing (well, being smacked in the face with it) that verbally offering tactful insights into other people's personality is always unwelcome, no matter how much they might learn from contemplating a suggestion, I asked my cousin Kn, who has taken a course in reiki, about sending people good energy instead. She told me you aren't allowed to do that unless you've been trained, and never without that person's permission (apparently it can be psychically given). So, back to square one, after my misery forced me to say "I guess I will just keep my shit to myself then". But I just can't believe that there isn't a positive way I can share my gifts. The thought of taking on a role like 'counsellor' to specific people is too much for me right now, so does that mean I can't be of use? I ache to help people wake up, and people call me a shit-disturber. Well, it is true, but do you really want your 'shit' to remain undisturbed? Let's unbury it and start getting rid of it altogether! Nope, nobody wants to hear what I have to say. I make them uncomfortable. People want to change (or not) at their own pace, and if I want anyone to like me, I have to stay out of their process. It's so hard for me to do, to hold my tongue, which kinda makes me think its there in my mouth for a reason. Certainly a lot of it feels 'given' or 'channelled' if you can deal with that term. So I'm frustrated knowing one of my best gifts is going to waste. Of course, flip it around (my therapist will anyway) - maybe it's only there to teach ME a lesson, like how to shut the fuck up, suck it up. Right speech? Apparently Right Intention does not automatically ensure Right Speech, and in my case, quite the opposite. Yeah I'm bitter, because I feel like no matter what I do, nothing good happens. And what's funny about that is that I barely do anything at all! I was a misfit when I pretended to be something I wasn't, and I'm a misfit when I'm genuine too. Yeah, I want to give up. Yeah I'm compelled not to by guilt and inadequacy.

Today I ran across the last responses to the email-off I had with Jt - an email that should have been blocked and deleted long ago, but somehow managed to stick around lurking in a back folder on the web. One that I didn't know existed, and one that I didn't read more than the first paragraph. Well I read them and they made me feel horrified all over again. Despite the fact that this is over, that I'd managed to discount this person's opinion of me. I re-read several times to make sure she didn't have any points, that I could defend her accusations. Once again I realized that she was talking about herself - nearly everything she said about me could easily have been said about her (by someone with no compassion or perspective). So she was still using me as a place-holder for her shadow. But this email reminded me so much of the letter I wrote to her but never sent her - a therapeutic exercise for myself that I use often these days - that I wanted to dig it up and send it to her anyway. I guess I still can't believe that she could become so crazy and mean and unable to consider my perspective. In my last reply I said nothing but compassionate things, wishing her well and apologizing for triggering her, and she still wrote back that I was 'a terrible person'. She used every personal confession I'd ever made to her and turned it around on me as evidence of this. Like she's never had a selfish thought in her life. Yet she ended her email with PS your hair is ridiculous. How petty! I never made one remark about her appearance or personal habits whatsoever, only her behaviour. I know I shouldn't let this upset me again, I'd made peace with it (or a kind of peace, so I thought) and moved on.

I have always had trouble with wanting people to like me, and at the same time, always considered myself a bridge burner. I really wanted to change all that, wanted to manage my relationships maturely so that even if they ended, they ended respectfully and never gave anyone fodder to hate me. Yet this was the most explosive ending I've ever had! And I know that she will actively hate me for a very long time, because that is the type of person she is. I guess I thought I could avoid being on her wrong side, but inevitably everyone seems to end up there. This 'new' email makes me want to rant and rave about its particulars again, because it seems very important to me to invalidate each of its charges. So I will a bit. Not being able to have friendships for more than a few months? Let's see, I have a friend I've known for 15 years and going strong. I was friends with R for 8 years. Another friend - 15 years off and on. Charge dismissed. Charge: I am a spoiled brat and feel too 'entitled'. Let's see. I live on disability, with occasional loans from my mom which are expected to be paid back. I don't ask for handouts and I don't expect them. I've been to the food bank once, and that was years ago. I 'wish' life was easy and things were handed to me (who the hell doesn't?), but I don't 'expect it'. Ya, I complain about being poor and not having anything. Yes, it makes me envious of other people. Yes, I've accepted gifts from friends and family, when they've been offered. None of that makes me spoiled, it makes me a human being who lives in poverty. Charge dismissed: Charge: I'm 'convinced' I'm completely disabled. Well, it depends on the definition of completely. I'm not convinced I can't get out of bed in the morning and need people to wipe my ass and hand-feed me. But I am convinced that I am too sick to work, and hey, so is the Ontario Disability Support Program. Charge dismissed. Charge: I got a university degree on Jt's (and other tax payers') money, and now think I know everything about everything. Well, I still have a loan to repay, yes. I'll repay it when and if I have the money to do so, just like the thousands of other people who have OSAP loans. I also pay taxes, though not as much as people with more income. And, I've never claimed to know everything about anything. If you read that into my tone of voice or way of speaking, that's your problem. Anything that comes out of my mouth is either a) an opinion or b) a guess (which is why I always preface it with 'maybe' or c) what I can recall learning somewhere. None of which claims to be the truth. Charge dismissed.

Why do people think whatever they put into a relationship is somehow 'owed' to them whenever that relationship ends? Do you really think money is the only thing ever 'given' in a relationship? What about the fact that you insisted on giving it at the time? Should I have held on to it in case you wanted it back? I make it known in every relationship that I have no money to give, but that I give my love, energy and care - the only things I have - freely and with vigor. And it suddenly becomes worthless in the face of the end. There is no thought to the sacrifices I make in order to give those things - and yes, they take a great deal from me, a lot more than a few dollars does from you. I hate feeling like a 'sponge', and I hate having to let people pay for me, but I hate it worse when it's given as a 'gift' at the time but then held over my head later. Jt is not the only one to have done this to me lately. That money was spent in the same spirit as the energy and love I gave, and it's just as gone - so why don't we cut our losses and move on with our lives. When a relationship ends, both people lose. So there's no point in one crying to the other about what they've lost. There's no sense trying to tally-up who gave what and who now owes who. If you do that, you turn the whole experience of a relationship into a commodity and cheapen it.

Yes, I've chosen the wrong friends for myself. I've opened my heart to people who were sick and expected it not to get vomited on. I admit it. I learn from my mistakes. But I'm still angry at them for letting their illnesses ruin our friendships. It didn't have to be that way. But I guess it did. I hope they've learned something too.

I didn't get to all the charges, but enough that I feel satisfied that I'm not the monster I'm accused of being. I'm too sensitive to other people's opinions about me. I know what's in my heart, and it's a good heart. All I wanted from Jt was to have my rights respected and to be her friend. Too much to ask from someone with such severe BPD...And god, even after I told her that she'd really hurt me she continued to abuse! Done. I'm done talking about it.

What else? What else have I been working on (or failing to work on)? The whole question of autonomy is becoming vague again. How to live my life for myself? Why am I worthless unless I'm helping others? I had some answers, but they've faded now. I really hope I didn't miss the boat on this one.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maybe I should just live in total silence

I listened to HayHouseradio.com again today. First of all, it made me feel better to hear that being an emotinal caller is not unusual, and doesn't necessarily make someone pitiful. I still may have sounded pathetic and pitiful myself, but I don't feel quite so bad about things. Secondly, I listened to Caroline Myss's Sacred Contracts show, and something she said upset me. I wanted to write her an email to ask her about it, but I couldn't find a way to contact her, so I joined a forum on her website www.myss.com, to at least get some feedback from her followers. Here is the original post before I edited it extensively, since it was too long and starting to go off on a tangent:

I was listening today to Carolyn's radio show on www.HayHouseradio.com, and she said something that really hit me hard, made me think, and eventually made me kind of upset. She said, "A person's life should never be about themselves." The context is somewhat irrelevant here, since this is a generalized statement. It struck me deeply: it has much to do with the work I am doing with my therapist right now. Since I was a child, my life has always been about other people (mostly my parents), trying to live up to expectations, trying to be perfect in order to earn love and approval. I was conditioned to believe my needs were less important than anyone else's. But living for other people has only made me sick, mentally and physically. I have chronic physical illnesses and a history of emotional suffering as well. I am on disability, and I live alone, without support. I must spend any energy I get taking care of my very basic needs (nutrition, hygiene, etc). My therapist is helping me to believe that I am worth caring for, that my needs are as important as anyone else's, and that I deserve to make myself and my healing my priority. To hear Carolyn state that my life should not be about me just reinforces that I am not important enough. If I continue make my life about somebody or something else, won't I be further abandonning myself? There is no one but me to make sure I survive. And I know many other women struggle to take care of themselves and are stuck believing their lives should be about other people or other things. I think to make the statement "a person's life should never be about themselves" is potentially damaging to those who rely on Myss' words and wisdom to guide their lives. I don't really think she beleives that we should neglect ourselves in favour of others, however, I'm personally finding it difficult to reconcile what she said with where I am at in my own journey. It made me question the autonomy and self-care I am working so hard to achieve, and strongly reinforces the cacophany of voices in my head (super-ego, etc.) that paying attention to myself and making myself a priority is selfish, unspiritual, and undeserved. How can we truly hope to help others if we are coming from a place of such deprivation? My healing could take the rest of this lifetime, but ultimately my goal is to be well enough to make a positive difference. I found Carolyn's statement to be really invalidating towards my journey in this life, because at the end of it, I may not be able to say that it wasn't about me. Everything I have must go into healing my body, mind and spirit, but that may not be enough. Does that mean I'm living a worthless or selfish or spiritually repugnant life? And regardless of whether someone is sick or not, isn't it enough to just be who you are, without having to make your life about someone or something other than yourself? I understand that service can be helpful and fulfilling to a lot of people in a lot of situations. Many times it has been suggested to me that to overcome my depression/anxiety, I should volunteer. I have tried it several times, and found it made my health worse, and added to my guilt about not being able to live up to expectation or be perfect. Sometimes people don't need to be pushed so much as to be truly accepted for where they are at. I've found that simply having my limitations validated actually freed me to begin to recover - once I was able to let go of the "you shoulds", I was released from my paralysis.

I wanted to keep going but it was at that point I realized how long the post was going to be. I also refrained from using the strong language that I would have used if I'd just wrote it as a blog entry or journal-letter (one that is never intended for sending). The truth is, in the context in which she said it, it wasn't so bad, but it was still wrong. And the way she phrased it made it a generalization. And made me feel very judged, and made me question the direction of my current therapy work (I don't work on this stuff solely during the hour-a-week therapy session I have - I work on it as often as I can, literally every day). I've gotten or put on hold dozens of books from the library in an effort to make my life about myself. Now that I've thought about it, I can't imagine that anyone who knew my story would insist I make my life about anything other than healing myself. Any scrap of energy I give away takes something vital away from me. Something I really shouldn't be without, something I deserve to have. Any energy I give away either regresses my illness or post-pones my recovery. I have a right and a desperate need to conserve it. Myss also said that when your life is about you, all you focus on is what you don't have. I can see how that can be very true, especially of someone who is clinically depressed. But normally I don't spend my time thinking about what I don't have. I think about how to manage what I do have, and how to get what I need. But mostly I don't think about want or need so much as just being mindful, or wondering, being curious, learning, doing, processing, discovering etc. And once again I feel misunderstood and ignored. Like nobody knows I exist. And maybe they don't, and that's not their fault. I somewhat assumed that the people Myss deals with on a day to day basis are further developed than average, and that may be true (it certainly sets them apart that they are dedicated to improving), but it doesn't mean they are like me at all. I'm just on a fast-track. They all still have lives that distract them from doing this work, whereas it's pretty much all I do. I've always been like this and this nature has helped create the situation where it gets the most attention. I'm just doing what I must, really. Again, I just wish it weren't so lonely and painful.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What was I thinking?

Well i think I have sunk to a new sort of low. I am so desperate for help that I actually called a radio show, hosted by Cheryl Richardson, coach and author of the book I just finished, the Art of Extreme Self-Care. Her radio show is on HayHouseRadio.com, a talk station focussed on self-help and living better lives etc. I really liked Cheryl's book, and I thought, what the heck, I will call her and ask her about the trouble I was having with completing her First-Aid Kit questions, particularly the question "Who can I turn to for support when I'm afraid? Who comforts me, makes me feel safe, and allows me to have my feelings?". The only person who qualifies is my therapist, and I can't just call her up whenever I need someone like this. So I asked Cheryl how to I find people like that or create that in the people who are already in my life?

Cheryl said that was a good question and described for her viewers what the exercise in her book was about. The information I ended up giving her throughout the call: I am 34, my parents never gave me that kind of support; that I've never really had that in my life; that I've tried to talk to my oldest friend but "she doesn't respond and doesn't seem to understand"; that I had recently lost a friend who was supportive and had no one to talk to while suffering that loss. I almost started crying about that, and I am so humiliated, I sounded so pathetic and not at all like the strong person I really am. How could I expect a decent answer with such limited knowledge of my situation, my level of development, the amount of therapy I've had. She suggested that I explore this issue with my therapist (I have brought it up but never focussed on it exclusively). She also suggested that I'm making assumptions that my friend doesn't understand because I grew up being told that nobody cares or understands. Or something like that. I actually kind of contradicted this, because I have had supportive people for short periods of time, but truly the only person I ever trusted to understand me enough to support me was the person I recently lost. I know it doesn't matter what other listeners think of me, but I'm so embarrassed. I realized how desperate and pathetic my situation sounds, and must be, since I do feel like there's no help to be had, and am desperate enough to call a radio show, grasping at straws. I don't understand how my life has been and still is so devoid of guidance. It's like I've been set up to have no one to turn to but myself.

A few minutes after I got off the phone, I began bawling just as hard as I had a few weeks ago when the shit all hit the fan. I stopped myself by writing this. I am not sure what I was mostly crying about - was it because I was humiliated and traumatized by this unfullfilling experience - one more attempt to reach out and failing to get what I need - or because it just highlights how hopeless and sad my life is. I don't feel that way most of the time, only when I have to crystalize things for other people and it comes out to be such a horrible story. My intention was not to be pitied, but I feel like that's what anyone who listened to it is going to feel. I really just wanted some guidance, and I wanted to sound strong like the rest of the callers. Because I am strong, but my story is just so pathetic, no amount of strength could have prevented me from sounding pitiful.

I know I'm making assumptions and judging. I'm worried that she found me a 'difficult' person, because I contradicted her. How could I expect her to understand what I needed in 30 seconds? Obviously I don't blame her for that. I just wish I knew where to go for help. I guess I can check out her website, I wanted to do that anyway. There have been a couple times lately (since I 'came back' from my crisis) that I've all of a sudden felt so overwhelmed by the number of difficulties I face. I usually don't let myself think of them all at once. I don't go cataloging all the problems I have each moment. I think this is the reason i don't keep any activity or mood diary or anything like that, even though it is so often recommended. That way I don't have to face the reality of all the small and large obstacles I face every moment of every day. I don't have to acknowledge how many times a day I start but don't finish something. This is not 'denial', it is self-preservation. If I had to see that I would give up. I would be constantly paralyzed and overwhelmed, depressed and helpless. So I live in the moment, and only think about the obstacles I need to deal with right now. I immediately let go of the thing I started but can't finish because I'm too tired, whether it's five minutes in or 5 hours in. What else can I do?

I realize these emotional outbursts are occurring because I am so sleep-deprived. It's been about 3 weeks of insomnia now and I remember thinking earlier today that I'm starting to worry because I don't feel that tired today, even though I should. I should've keeled over at least twice by now. I don't know what kind of energy I am running on. All I know is that the other day when I looked up my newest symptom, excessive sweating, and discovered there is no viable treatment option for me except switching meds, it utterly deflated me and I was angry and felt hopeless, helpless, and doomed. I'm living amid multiple Catch-22s. Can I really blame people for not understanding me? Nobody can imagine what I deal with, go through, think about. Nobody I know has a life that resembles mine in any way at all. Am I being ridiculous and arrogant thinking it's heroic that I'm even still getting up in the morning? That despite everything I generally enjoy my life, and can say I am happy? How is that possible? I say it is because I focus on feeding my curiosity, am always looking for ways to improve and that means I have hope and it creates more hope. Right now I feel like wearing a sign that says "if you knew what I my life was like, you'd call me a miracle" or something. Because I haven't managed to solve many if any of my problems, I've only learned how to accept them and cope with them, and I'm well on my way to knowing how not to create more or make the ones I have bigger. I have to live in the moment, it is the only survival strategy that makes my life worth surviving. Yes, I see, I am the one who found myself pitiable, I'm the one now feeling sorry for myself. I just wish people would see how hard I work and be able to appreciate that my attitude (most of the time) is rather amazing, considering. Considering how much I suffer, have suffered, and forced to do it all on my own.

Books I'm currently or shortly reading:
Finishing "Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired"
"If You Had Controlling Parents" (I would never have called my parents controlling - overtly they were the opposite, but there are many ways of controlling, some extremely subtle...either way, I fit with the 'results' and can see this book is very relevant to me and my current work).
"The Identity Code"
"Who Am I?"
"How Then Shall We Live?"
"Unattended Sorrow"
"Honoring the Self" - after reading the introduction, this book struck me as extremely relevant and potentially very helpful

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Big Question

Now that I'm done my 3 month adventure in trying to have a love/sex life (for awhile), the focus shifts to some questions asked by my therapist, which seem to me to be at the 'core of the onion' right now. Which means, it's the main or one big thing left standing in my way to the next stage of my life, or so I intuit. The question was posed (in the context of a therapy session): "What would you do if you had ALS or a similar disease, and could not help others, and needed to be cared for by others". My immediate answer was that I would kill myself. I said I could not stand to live like that. The issues at hand are feeling like a burden, how to live my life for myself and not for others (specifically how to feel okay about doing things just for myself, and taking truly proper care of myself, and not feeling guilty about it), worthiness and deservedness, the ethics of 'selfishness' and 'altrusim'...and so much more.

I've had over a week to think about the question of why my life is not worth living unless I can help other people. I haven't been able to write about it until now because I have been very ill, very weak, very sleep deprived, exhausted, nauseaous etc. Today I finally have a tiny bit of something I think I recognize as 'energy'...so I thought I would at least make a start by presenting the topic. My thoughts about this issue have, over the last week, become rather like a brainstorm balloon exercise, something that looks a bit like an explosion of ideas from the centre topic on the centre of the page. With interconnections between most of the derived ideas. This is a huge issue, and one that only a few months back I remember being a question alone on the page without any ideas at all. Just a lonely, helpless question with no answers whatsoever. The fact that answers are now coming from everywhichway (I say 'answers' though obviously none are definitive), means, to me, that I am ready to start working on this problem, that it is now possible to work through this issue, this 'core belief' that is really the basic thing that is keeping me from taking on any long-term project, including starting to do the things that I need to do daily to take care of myself (meditating, doing yoga, keeping a cleaner apartment etc.) This is the cause of what I see as procrastination, self-defeating behaviour, and all things unhealthy that I do. It is also the excuse I use to keep doing these things.

I've run out of energy for now, so I will have to continue later. My plan is to first write out where I think this comes from, what ideas have occurred to me so far, and then to explore further...there are a number of books I got from the library to help me think about these things, so I'll probably be mentioning those too. For now, I've got to eat something and rest.

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Disclaimer

I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.