Thursday, September 15, 2016

Being Borderline: Recovery Exercise 1

A few months ago I started seeing a therapist who said I have Borderline Personality Disorder, which, frankly, I have been thinking since middle school.

To recover, she recommended I buy The Angry Heart and follow the exercises in it. I bought it, read part of the first chapter, and then lost it in my hoarder-esque bedroom.

Then I found it, and lost it again. I think my therapist, I will call her Camilla, is disappointed in me. I would be too, but hoarding can be a part of Borderline Personality Disorder, right?

Anyway, she gave me a copy of the first chapter so I could finish it, do the Recovery Exercises, and maybe even start a Recovery Journal.

Dealing with all of this is why I haven't been writing blog posts lately, but I think I would like to transition the blog from just a place to post silly things about my life to my Recovery Journal as well. So, to help myself and maybe even help someone else, and because I don't like keeping too many secrets locked in myself, but at the same time I don't like telling people I actually know, I am going to use some blog posts for my Recovery Exercises and Journal entries.

From The Angry Heart, here is Recovery Exercise 1.1:  Beginnings

To focus on other times in your life when you started something new, and what it means to start a self-help program.

I am supposed to talk about some of the significant beginnings in my past, and what I hope to achieve by reading this book.

1. I hope to find the damn book again, but reading it made me angry, because apparently I have a naturally Angry Heart.

2. I don't think I have ever cared about a beginning, ever. High school, community college, four-year college, job:  all of this was just what I was supposed to do, and they were a natural progression of life. I think if I had liked my location better, I would have cared. But I never did. I think if I had done something other than this natural progression, I would have cared, but I didn't.

My parents wouldn't let me move out when I started ICC, so I didn't care because I wasn't allowed to be my own person. I was still getting yelled out for staying out too late, which I almost never did, except once during community college for my best friend's birthday, or slamming the door too loudly.

The only good thing about college, besides classes, which I always liked, would have been moving out, living on my own, getting a boyfriend and keeping him away from my family, and having sex. I wasn't allowed any of these things, except I did get a boyfriend. I wasn't very fair to him, though, because I was still mad at my parents for letting my sister take away my first boyfriend. I can explain more about how my sister took away my boyfriend later.

The only important beginnings I can think of was when I got out of the hospital the first time, when I was four, and began physical therapy. But I don't remember it. I had to learn how to walk all-over again. It was the beginning of a lifetime of me learning something, then forgetting it, and stumbling around the floor like a baby. (This is figurative, I know how to walk now. I just forget other things I should remember, like riding a bike.)

Recently I started yoga. If that helps me, I suppose it will be an important beginning. Even though it's free, I think I care more about doing yoga poses than therapy.

But I didn't have time to do yoga yesterday. My sister kicked me out of the basement.

3. I just wanted to be less angry. That and I was worried I would kill myself.

Recover Exercise 1.2:  My Genes and Me

To help understand the role of genetic inheritance in who you are.

In this book, the piecing together of one's genetic code is described as a "microcosmic dance."

I imagine the dance would look like a seizure, because my uncle used to fake seizures. Don't ask me how that's possible, but we know it is.

It would look like a seizure because I had seizures and that's why I can't drive away.

It would look like someone sleeping on the floor or slumping on the wall, because no one in my immediate family is very active. My mother comes home and lies on the couch, watching TV. I do the same. My sister locks herself in her room, but is active when she's not home. My brother goes on the computer. My dad is constantly disappointed that no one ever wants to do anything.

It would look like someone going to one side of the room, stopping, staring at something curiously, and then going to the other side of the room and doing the same thing. No one really knows what our genetics are made of. Here's a short list:

  • German
  • Irish
  • Swedish
  • Scottish
  • Polish
  • English
  • French (maybe)
  • Native American (supposedly)
When I was at community college, my mother told me that my cousin Alex had her father's (Mom's brother's) Native American nose. I told her, Mom, that's not a thing, we aren't Native American. She said, Yes, we are. And I was flabbergasted. Native American! That explains why learning about Native Americans was one of the only things that ever fascinated me about history! It was Native Americans, Salem Witch Trials, and the Holocaust that I cared about.

Before I knew this, when I was in high school, I wanted the freedom to not celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn't refuse to go to my great aunt's house (I actually think this ended up being the last Thanksgiving before her Alzheimer's took over), but I didn't want to eat. I thought continuing to celebrate Thanksgiving was cruel.

When I was really little, I had a large tunic I thought made me look Native American. I would braid my hair, put on the tunic, and celebrate Thanksgiving the way I thought it was meant to be celebrated. Then I realized, when I got older, that was racist. Oops.

I was not allowed to not celebrate Thanksgiving. My mom wouldn't even listen to my reasons. She just told me to stop. My parents didn't care how I felt because they, apparently, never cared about anything as teenagers.

The dance would look like someone being slammed against a wall and staying there.

It would look like someone having a ball, and then stopping, mid-dance. They forgot their dance, they forgot their life.

Recovery Exercise 1.3:  Defending Your Life

To understand the role of denial and other defenses in daily living.

The book says: Painful feelings and memories may be replaced by fantasies.

That is definitely true. I don't even live in the real world. My head makes up scenes of everything that is going to happen to me, everything that has happened, and everything that won't happen. I see it acted out in my head like a script, and if one of these fantasies particularly interests me, I will replay the same one, maybe expand on it, for hours. Weeks. Months.

I also actively dared myself to become an alcoholic. My uncle was, so I thought it was in the family, right? I'm not supposed to drink—I could have a seizure. Well, I don't care. When I was 23, I finally tried some margaritas and other mixed drinks and ... I hated them. 

Who would combine fruit with alcohol? It tastes like the cold medicine I drank so, so, SO regularly as a child.

So I tried beer. I like it better, but still, it doesn't taste like much. I could never be an alcoholic.

Another thing I could never become. (This is bittersweet.)

Recovery Exercise 1.4:  Needs

To understand something about what you needed in the past and how your needs have changed over time.

  • I needed someone to give a damn about my opinions, but I got over that. There were people who cared, but my sister, with the help of my parents, took those people away from me and said I couldn't see them ever again.
 How are you trying to satisfy your unmet needs today? How has this changed over the last few months? How do you think it will change over the next few years?

  • I don't know. That's why I see a therapist. Isn't Camilla supposed to tell me this?
  • Right now I just need to focus on my need to write a book or publish my work. It's almost impossible to get noticed today if you don't write action or suspense, it seems.
  • Maybe I'll write something like Girl, Interrupted. I'll call it On the Border, or Growing Up Mad.
  •  I don't think I'm good at this exercise. I think I need to move on.
Recovery Exercise 1.5:  Changes

To get in touch with how you have tried to change in the past.

Two steps forward and one step back, that's corny, but here I am!

Write down as many positive steps as you can that you have taken to change your life.

  1. Yoga (This is new, and inconsistent, but I'm most proud of it. Even though my sister mocks it. Not real exercise, let me know when you want to do real exercise.)
  2. Writing more
  3. Helping others publish their writing
  4. Reading more
Things I can do in the future:
  1. Eat better
  2. Spend less money (I spend so much, my addictive behavior)
  3. Take more vacations (Counterproductive to spending less money, but a good use of money)
  4. Dress better again
  5. Watch more Saturday Night Live when the new season starts (Yay—but it doesn't help with my habit of escaping into fantasy life)
Recovery Exercise 1.6:  Breathing to Relax

I'm going to be honest, I think breathing exercises are stupid. I believe in yoga, I read Chopra, but I hate being told by others to do breathing exercises. I hate the one-on-one. If I read it in a book only, maybe I will do it. Maybe I will feel a sense of achievement when doing it, but when someone like a therapist, doctor, or my mother tells me to breathe, I don't want to breathe.

The book tells me to use their Nose Breath if I feel stressed about writing this. I don't feel stressed, I am a writer. I'm just stressed my mother will read this and cry. Even if she treated me differently than my sister and brother, and still does, it doesn't mean I'm angry at her about it. My parents clearly aren't abusive people, they just had trouble raising three kids when the youngest has Asperger's and the middle (me) always had one health crisis or another.


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