I need something different

Dear L,

I’ve been putting off writing this for awhile, just like I’ve been putting off talking about it, because I really didn’t believe that doing so would make any bit of difference.

You’d probably think differently, or at least you’d probably want the chance to try for a better outcome than I’ve dreamed up.

I wonder: do you think differently? Have you even noticed me putting up walls and purposely holding back from making any real connection?

It’s hard to imagine you haven’t noticed, because we both know that try as I might it’s pretty challenging for me to pretend nothing is wrong when I’m feeling otherwise. But if you’ve noticed, you haven’t said anything at all.

Maybe you really haven’t noticed though, because I find it hard to believe you’d recognize a blip on the radar of our relationship and not call any attention to it. It’s not in line with the person I know you to be or the experiences I’ve had in the past.

I don’t know and there’s only one way to find out, but I’m scared.

I guess I should start by saying that I’m angry with you. Not a white hot rage kind of anger, just the kind that’s been simmering just under the surface. The kind that slowly creeps up on you and then is just suddenly there.

First, let’s talk about the things that can’t be changed. The past-focused anger. You might be expecting it, but I don’t think I ever resolved the feelings I had around you missing session because of the baby and then going away on vacation. I know it’s within your right to do those things. I know I’m supposed to just accept that you being a mom means these things are going to happen sometimes.

Maybe I haven’t even accepted the idea of you as a mom. It reminds me of something J said once right before we terminated. She called her practice her “first baby.” In a way that didn’t seem right because why would you abandon your baby as she did. Still, I got the point she was trying to make. That was the first thing she put her heart and soul into nurturing, her first calling. And so now when I think about you, I apply the same line of thinking. Your career was your first calling too, but now you have another one that takes priority.

I know you didn’t make the same choices J did, I know you “want to have it all.” You’re doing your best to manage both, and sometimes it’s like nothing has changed, but overall it’s still hard for me because I know who you’d choose if it came down to it, and I know that’s not me. I’m not saying it should be either, but the constant remembering of that is truly a gut punch each time.

God, I hate that I sometimes resent your daughter for existing. For being more important. That makes me sound like a child.

So yeah, I’m still angry about that I guess. That’s not the only reason though, and it’s taken a lot of parsing out for me to really understand where the rest of this anger is coming from.

I need you to be really careful in how you respond to all this, because as much as I may be saying it, there’s still a huge part of me that’s fighting reality. A step in the wrong direction will likely lead to me feeling rejected, even for something as simple as you jumping on board and agreeing with me. I know that doesn’t leave you with many options, but this is the whole reason I’ve been keeping me mouth shut in the first place.

The truth is, I think the lines have blurred in our relationship. Where there was once an obvious line in the sand it’s smudged now and that’s making a lot of things unclear. We’re both to blame for this. We’re obviously comfortable with each other and we both let the boundaries loosen. I visited your instagram before it was private, I bought you that sign with a quote I knew you loved for no other reason than I thought you would like it, and then I bought the baby an outfit when I couldn’t figure out any other way to use my expiring reward points. Yes, I did all of that, but you let me. If you felt unsure about it, you never voiced it.

And now, I think I’m a little bit angry that you let me go so far. I think I’m angry at the fact that it’s coloring my perceptions of our relationship, that it let me feel closer to you than is typical.

I realize that things are muddier than they were when I was texting you on the regular for reassurance. Then, there was still the obvious power imbalance at play, still a concrete sense of what was okay and what would mean going too far.

Now? It’s not so simple and for that reason I’ve stopped texting you at all, feeling like any form of contact is asking for too much after overstepping the way I have.

I’ve also stopped letting myself connect in session, because it’s too confusing not to know where things stand. Rationally, I know my role and I know yours, but we went into unfamiliar territory to the point that now I’m not sure what’s okay and what’s not.

And I’m mad, because this doesn’t feel safe.

When I think about it, one huge difference between you and J is that she always very much limited her self-disclosure. It made it hard in some ways, but in others I knew it was important for the stability of our relationship. I never questioned where I stood.

I know you like to be human and let pieces of yourself out and I’m okay with that in small increments. I am. I just don’t think I’m okay with the level of sharing that we had progressed to.

I have to say it: We’re not friends. We can’t be, not if we want to maintain the sanctity of our actual therapist-client relationship. And it sucks, because I think you would be a pretty killer friend. But both fortunately and unfortunately for me, that won’t happen. Fortunately, because I wouldn’t change the therapist-client relationship we do have. Unfortunately, because you matter to me and it’s hard to admit the truth when it stings like this.

That’s a huge piece of this too, but again it’s not the only other contributing factor. Something else that’s related to me holding back is that lately, I don’t feel like you’ve really been hearing me.

I’m not sure when this started, but I think the most clear point for me is somewhere in the period of when I came back after the session where I cried to you about wanting to die and feeling so low.

You were excited, then, as you often are, for how quickly I turned things around. But you forgot, in your excitement, that me making good choices didn’t just eliminate all the dark feelings. The suicidal thoughts. They’re still there, just as intense, and right now I feel so alone in them.

You’ve asked about them here and there and I’ve been honest, even in a that nonchalant way I’ve been trying to pull off. I act like it’s just a fact of life and you go along with it. You don’t dig any deeper. Maybe that’s my fault, because I should put emphasis on what I want to talk about. I just don’t feel like it is even helpful to do that because all you focus on is the positive.

Lately, you say to me “this is great” about a lot of things and I don’t know how to tell you that it’s not great. I know you’re trying to appreciate my progress and yes sometimes that’s absolutely what I need. I know you see growth where I see dirt. But I feel like you’re clinging to the positive above all else and missing the fact that I’m still really in a lot of pain.

That makes me wonder: am I not supposed to talk about it anymore? If you’re just going to try to turn it around and make it positive, why would I bother?

I could go on, but I think I’ve reached my full point for this letter. I’ve said as much as I can bear to say right now and I’m trying to live with the fact that this isn’t a perfect recounting of all my troubles. It’s incomplete and that has to be okay.

We’ve always worked everything out and you’ve never given me a reason to believe that wouldn’t be the case here. I guess I’m just so unsure of what I even really want from you in some ways, that it feels like this will never get better.

I get scared you’ll think we’re no longer compatible to work together because of the things I said, the way I feel. It’s silly, but is it really?

Our relationship is so significant to me, I want to work through this. I want to go back to real laughing instead of the fake giggles I do to distract you from my discomfort. I want to stop having to control my face all the time and focus so hard on making good eye contact. I want to stop pretending.

Please help me do that, please help me alleviate this anger and whatever is hiding beneath it, because I don’t know any other way forward.

Cycles

I think I’m mad at L right now.

Well, I know I am. I’m just not entirely sure why. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last couple days, since I’ve spent two sessions actively avoiding connecting with her. We joke and laugh, I share my feelings, but I put all my effort in to pushing the urges to attach down down down.

I think she’s fooled and thinks things are okay. Usually she’d be calling me out on it if she thought otherwise. It’s been truly difficult because it’s meant holding eye contact even when it’s uncomfortable and trying like hell to control my face. But somehow I’m managing.

Truth is, I want to be mad. I’m not enjoying it, but I’m getting something out of it. Maybe it’s just the protection of not connecting; if I don’t let myself feel how I care, it won’t hurt when it’s time to leave or when things inevitably get cancelled.

There. That’s part of it. I’m still reeling from session getting cancelled unexpectedly a couple weeks ago after a dreadful attempt at session where the baby took up most of the attention. She apologized for that, and explained it was why she cancelled the following session in the first place. It stuck with me though, that this was the first of who knows how many times she’s going to cancel because of the baby.

I wish I didn’t resent a five-month-old so much. What kind of person is like that?

Dr. N wants me to talk to her, but I plan on doing no such thing. Especially since she’s going on vacation for a few days and missing session on Thursday. I’m not bringing anything up that would have to wait a week to get resolved. Plus, I just don’t feel like going there. I won’t lie, but I won’t tread in those waters and I’ll do everything I can to keep her from noticing something is wrong.

She’d probably be fine about it, or mostly fine. The last time I brought up my jealousy, she went defensive at first and told me jealousy was a useless emotion which did nothing about the fact that I am in fact quite jealous. Of her marriage. Of her child. Of her ability to go on vacation. Of having a job she feels she’s good at. Of a lot of things.

She gets so excited for me when I do something minor to get my life together. Really, she only sees the positive. While that’s nice sometimes, when I’m feeling this down and depressed, it’s not helpful. Or it wasn’t helpful this time anyway. Because as she’s sitting there going on and on about the reasons my actions were productive and helped me make progress, we’re ignoring all of the other lingering shit. We’re ignoring the fact that everything in my life is still exactly how I don’t want it to be.

That’s probably on me. I could make a bigger deal about it I guess, like I did when I was crying about wanting to die the week before. She was so excited that I’d turned it around so quickly I didn’t know how to tell her that I didn’t rid myself of the suicidal thoughts and the darkness was still looming nearby.

I think that’s another piece of it. I feel like she forgets about all that

Am I mad because she’s happy when I’m not? Like, she can say she’s excited I did something stupid like wrote some words in book but it doesn’t change my situation at all and she gets to walk out of here and go back to her perfect life. So good for her, she’s happy. I’m not. I’m tired of hearing “we’ll get you there” and still feelings lightyears away from “there” when I get like this.

Of course, that’s probably on me too. I’m the one who is supposed to be doing the work. I’m the one who is supposed to make myself happy and I’m failing. I should be doing more.

This is probably all on me honestly. I don’t feel like I have legitimate reason to be mad at her and it’s just the BPD in me acting up. She’s doing everything right and here I am searching for justification for a feeling I shouldn’t have. I just want to say horrible things about myself and my disorder but that seems too dramatic and attention-seeking. Which, undeniably, is another part of my freaking disorder. It’s a cycle.

Maybe this is just therapy now, feeling like something is off. Feeling like I want to withdraw and keep my mask on. Pretending.

I don’t know. I’m so deep into my darkness that nothing feels like it will ever be good.

I know what L would say. These feelings are temporary and will pass, but that isn’t helpful either. Great, they’ll pass. Right now, they suck. I think I’m mad at the world because I have to experience this so fucking often and others don’t.

I’ve lost motivation for writing so I’m just going to post this now.

Feeling Down

I’m not sure what is with me today, but I’m not feeling great.

Almost every week when I see Dr. N, she likes to ask me how many days in the last week I’ve felt down or depressed, for what percentage of the day, and how severe.

In the last couple weeks, it hasn’t been so bad; 1-2 days, 30-40%; 5-6 out of 10. But today has knocked that off kilter for no discernible reason.

Today I’d rate these feelings an 8.5 and they’ve been present for a good 75% percent of the day: as I tried to workout and settled for a walk instead, reading some professional literature, cleaning the house, making a dinner that I’m not going to eat because I ended up ordering out tonight. All of it, really, with some breaks in there to love on the cat and enjoy being out on my balcony which is my current safe space.

I’m not really sure where this post is going or when it will end, so if you’re along for the ride, it may be a short one or I could be here typing for an hour. There’s no telling.

It has been a hot second since I’ve been markedly suicidal and wanted to plan my death. Three months since I’ve actually done it, which is the type of data Dr. N likes to keep. Today I wanted to break that streak, but I haven’t let myself go upstairs where my letters are stashed. I’m glued to my chair outside.

The fact that I’ve managed to stay plan-free is what is keeping my score an 8.5 instead of a 9.

It’s not as bad as it’s been before. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I can feel it physically as an ache deep in my stomach. The suicidal thoughts can be tangibly painful if that makes any sense. Like they are definitely making sure I know they are there.

This time around I simply just can’t fathom why or how anyone does day to day living and actually enjoys it. What would it be like to go to work and feel excited instead of anxious? What would it be like to feel confident that the people in your life really liked you and wanted you around? What would it be like to actually enjoy the idea of being alive instead of treating it like something you do out of obligation.

Because it is an obligation right now, isn’t it? Or at least, it has a lot of obligations in it. Political nonsense. Trivial conversations. Pretending to be happy. I’m not seeing past any of them to the things that spark joy. There aren’t enough of those moments to make it feel worth enduring so much obligation.

I wish I could pinpoint where these feelings came from. Part of it is still a vulnerability hangover from the other night. Part of it is having too much time on my hands and too much space to think. Spring break was welcomed, but when you’re spending 90% of that time alone, it doesn’t bear the healthiest fruit.

Yet as I sit here and ponder going back to work next week, I don’t imagine I’ll feel any better. I’ll be stressed and overwhelmed. Right now I’m lonely but at least things are calm.

I think I keep coming back to this truth that I’ve made so many mistakes in my life that have led me to where I am now socially and I don’t know how to undo all of that. Every damn time I try, I’m blasted in the face with the icy fears I’m prone to from my mental illness or my introverted nature or who knows what else.

What if they don’t like me? What if I’m annoying them? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I can’t think of anything to say at all? What if I mess everything up? What if they’re just being nice to be polite? Who would actually want to spend time with me?

And so for each moment I think “I’ll just fix my life, there’s still time” I keep running up against and taking cover from these thoughts that come my way like darts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. No transition into that one, just going with my brain tonight. Death just seems to be everywhere. I watch a lot of crime and medical shows where some big characters have been killed off or murder is the central theme of the plot. I read about it in the news all the freaking time as of late because we in America can’t seem to get ourselves under control.

I don’t so much think about the after. The being dead part. I think about the right before. I think of how unexpected death is and how in those last days or hours or minutes, the person often doesn’t realize that they’re about to not be here. They’ll just be doing some laundry or taking a walk or having dinner with the expectation that there will be a tomorrow or next week or next month. And then there isn’t.

That’s what I think about though. I think it especially gets me with all the shootings that are happening. Anything violence-related. To think of a person who just wanted to go to the nail salon or the grocery store, who was busy planning for what comes next, and then they never get there.

And for someone who thinks about wanting to be dead – or at least not wanting to be here – it’s crazy how scared I am of the concept. Maybe it’s because I don’t so much not want to be here as I don’t always believe I deserve to be here. I don’t believe someone with such faults, who is so noticeably less of a person, can be deserving of other people’s care, love, and time.

I don’t know. I just want to go to sleep. It’s early, but it would probably be the best thing to start shutting myself down. The longer I still to mill through the day, the more these thoughts are going to get at me.

It’s just…a lot.

The L Word

For the first time in a long time yesterday, I cried in session about missing J.

When I say cried, I mean full on crocodile tears, runny nose, and bright red eyes. I was fully in my emotion and it was taking charge of me.

It started off actually talking about some of the difficulty I’d had with seeing L’s baby during my session last week. I was reluctant to bring this topic to the table, but L encouraged me to try. Somewhere along the line, we got from feeling like my time with L was interrupted to how much I really miss J.

I think it went like this: Having L cancel our session on Thursday, despite the justifiable reason, threw me for a bit of a loop. When I thought about her canceling because of the baby, it made me wonder if she’d be cancelling often for this reason. That made me think about J, who cancelled everything indefinitely to be a mom to her kid(s). So there I sat thinking: What if L finds figuring out this whole process to be a pain? What if she decides she’s done trying to fit in work?

It’s not the most rational thought, because I’ve been assured otherwise multiple times, but it’s one that nagged me nonetheless. I even ended up texting L on Friday night asking just that: “Are you leaving me?” Not even an hour later, she replied with a “No ma’am!” I wish that had helped more.

Anyway, I guess one situation triggered awful memories of the other. Being without L in that uncomfortable way brought up the reminder of J’s absence and how painful it was to sit with and then to discover she wasn’t coming back. And that just reminded me that I miss her.

My thoughts don’t go to J as much as they used to, but I’m still drawn that way more often than I’d care to admit. Most often, I’ll think about her while I’m out walking, when my mind is given free reign to run around like a child at recess. These walks are where I relive all my worst moments too, so J is a comforting thought I can use to push the bad memories away. Mostly, I think of pivotal moments in our relationship, I think of what she might say to me now, I think of what it might be like to be in her presence again if even for five minutes.

Like true grief and loss, the longer time elapses between last July and now, the more I begin to forget the little things she would say or certain mannerisms. It’s so hard, because it’s not like she’s really gone. She’s out there, living a life, and it’s not one that includes me.

Thankfully, I’m not 100% cut out of that life, and emails are still allowed. Still, the invisible but obvious boundaries surrounding that (not emailing too often, not sharing too much, not asking too many questions) keep it from measuring up sometimes. For example, I really wanted to email her yesterday after session but it hasn’t even been two months yet. I usually aim for three or four in between emails; anything more seems like it would be bothersome.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year now since our final session. I remember back before she was ever pregnant, when there was no immediate leave on the horizon, but I used to agonize over the idea of being without her all the same. I used to think that some day there would come a time where she wasn’t in my life and I wouldn’t be able to picture it. I’d have to shut down because wondering how I would approach that situation brought on too much distress. It was that foreign and that painful of an idea for me.

And then it happened. I had no choice and here we are. L spent so much time right in the first months after trying to convince me of my resiliency. She pointed out how me living and thriving even within my pain was a sign of what I could handle. If this really was my worst fear coming true, then I was surviving it.

So I survived it. I continue to survive it. I even told L last week that sometimes I’m grateful things worked out the way that they did, that I think there was a reason J exited my life when she did, to make room for L. There was a time I’d never have been able to say that, let alone believe it. But it’s true; I do think sometimes of J’s shortcomings. It’s amazing I can admit she had them with the way I revere her now, but I haven’t totally forgotten some of the pain of feeling not quite understood, like there was a hole that she couldn’t seem to fill. I remember that frustration and how it sometimes escalated into intense anger.

I’ve told L this many times before, and probably posted it here, but I’ve never once been angry with her to the same degree that I was with J. If you were reading back when L first entered my life, to help me deal with my J drama in the first place, you know I was deeply entrenched in what felt like an unwinnable war with her. My anger skyrocketed a little more each session as I felt our relationship fray further and further at the edges. I was highly considering giving up on my relationship with J when I sought out L.

She was the person who helped me see reason. She was the reason I stayed in the fight that ultimately brought J and I closer than we’d been previously. And maybe for that reason, or for the fact that she confronted the attachment stuff with such understanding, my anger never got there with her. Sure, I’ve been angry, but never the slam-the-door-scream-in-my-car kind of anger that would leave me equal parts wanting to see J and also never see her again.

L has provided her own reasons why she thinks the situation is different. I can’t remember all of them, but I know one musing of hers was that I went through some of the most significant changes with J. Going from no therapy to therapy is stark contrast and that’s an intense experience. J did lay all the groundwork for a lot of my initial insights about my patterns of thinking and behavior. Maybe L’s right, but I happen to believe some of what I’ve gone through and am going through with L has been even more transformative. Yet, no scathing anger. Just trust, connection, and the occasional frustration that is always talked out within the next session.

I certainly don’t believe it’s because I cared more for one than the other. I definitely used to put J on that pedestal, to say that no person could ever compare. Even now, as I’ve told J through email, there is something that makes our relationship not able to be duplicated or replaced. However, as L and I have built a strong relationship, she’s risen to quite the same level.

Once, D asked me what I would do if I had to make a choice between then. It had been something I’d struggled with before I knew J wasn’t coming back: how did I go back to J when things with L were so solid? I remember consistently trying to convince L it would be a good idea to see both of them, because I wasn’t ready to let her go. When D asked, I told her that I’d probably go back to J, but now I’m not so sure. She could definitely provide me with a lot and there’s so much comfort in just talking to her, but the value of L’s expertise is also unmatched.

If I ever have to confront that problem, it’s likely years (and years) down the road, so I shouldn’t worry about it at all. I mostly don’t, until J comes to the forefront of my mind again and I start imagining what it would be like to be back with her. When I say these things in email (about what it might have been like if she had returned), she doesn’t acknowledge it, which can be hard. But I think maybe sometimes, as happy as I imagine she is, maybe she thinks about it too.

The point is: L did what I didn’t think anyone could do. She taught me that I could form a solid relationship with someone else that really mattered. Of course, now there’s literally no other person I’m interested in doing that with that isn’t her. So that backfired a little bit.

Before L came back from leave, we talked (or rather she gave me absolution) via email about me not going back to her and instead sticking with D. As I told L when she did come back, there was never a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d pick anyone else but her. It wasn’t like the J vs. L dilemma; this one wasn’t even close.

And so all this crying about J yesterday and missing her ended with me telling L something I’d been wanting to say for weeks. Something I didn’t dare utter aloud because I didn’t want her to think I was weird or creepy or stupid, but a feeling that had been growing each week she matched all of my feelings with her gentle, yet oh so direct, compassion.

It began with J, which felt much safer to say since she wasn’t in the room. I loved her, I cried, looking L right in the eye.

I know, she said. It makes a lot of sense. Then a little bit more about how our relationship naturally grew to love and how the therapeutic relationship wouldn’t be quite as powerful without that. Always normalizing for me.

I didn’t say what I really wanted to say in that moment and we talked a little bit more. Then I must have done something with my face: closed my eyes, or sighed, or shook my head or maybe all of those things. But L looked at me pointedly and asked what I had just shut myself down from saying. Even though I’m pretty sure she knew exactly where we were headed.

I paused, looked away, was quiet a few more moments but I finally said it. I love you too.

I never ever dared to say that in person to J, although . I remember once, earlier in our relationship, I said I hate you jokingly in response to something she’d done or said. Then I of course took it back, told her I was kidding. I said something like It’s the opposite. I mean I don’t love you, but I like you a lot.

Yeah, J agreed then, it would be weird if you said loved me.

Reflecting on that, no wonder if I was so scared to say it to L. I’d been set up to believe I’d been labeled as creepy client years ago, even though I’m sure J’s intention wasn’t to shame me.

There, L said immediately, not deterred or grossed out, you said it. It’s out.

She didn’t say it back, and I think part of what took me so long to admit it was preparing for that exact response, but her eyes said a lot. Her words didn’t have be explicit for me to know that she cares deeply, and maybe even loves me too. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

I don’t know how a post that was initially meant to be about J morphed into one about L, but isn’t that just symbolic of my entire existence with them?

Today I have a vulnerability hangover. It started last night with another text to L: Are we okay? I feel like I ruined everything. Her response: We are safe! You didn’t ruin a dang thing.

As I sit here, wanting to curl up in shame for all the feelings that I’ve had about my therapists, the intense desire to be with them and talk to them and receive their care, I try to hold on to that. But mostly I’m just wondering if L is lying for my benefit and it would have been better to have left things unsaid.

Relationship Woes

Somehow, it is April already, I’m not exactly sure how that happened. But here we are, all the same. Spring is here (sort of) and I’m still plugging along, trying to but never quite finding the time to write. It takes so much mental energy these days.

Last week though, I accepted an assignment from Dr. N to begin writing after I saw my family, even for only if for ten minutes. We’d talked about how sometimes when I was around my parents I felt a little suffocated. It’s like there’s no fresh air to breathe, all of it is stale and lingering as quietly as the conversation is going. Because really, when my mom comes over, we have so little to talk about these days.

We just had dinner last night, myself and my parents. This post was started then but finished the following morning. Anyway, I invited myself over for pizza and spent an hour there. And it was fine, it was. There were no blowouts or anything, and there haven’t been for awhile. This is all because of how calculated I am, picking and choosing what I say trying to avoid a negative reaction. It’s exhausting to feel constantly like you are walking on eggshells around your own parents, but some days I feel exactly that. They just feel so strongly about things, especially my mom, that are so different from the values I have. And I feel strongly when any type of conflict arises.

Years ago now I wrote about how I incorrectly associated disagreeing with conflict. I know now that people can have different opinions about things and it doesn’t mean they are in battle over it. So in theory me being such a far cry from my parents in terms of well…everything, shouldn’t be such a big problem. But that’s what it has become in my eyes: a gateway to conflict. I worry that they’ll feel like I’m disagreeing with out of spite, just because I can. It will morph into a personal attack and become heated. I’m reminded of a time my mom asked me “why do you always assume I’m wrong?” when we were disagreeing about something COVID-19 related, before she stormed out of my house. I just don’t want that kind of relationship with my parents.

So we talk about the cat and TV shows and other things. I’m always on edge though, wondering if what I say will somehow start us down a path that I don’t want to travel. For example, if we talk about my job, I’m careful with what details I allow because I know they have strong opinions about the kids being in school. I’ve gotten better at asserting how I feel in a non-threatening way but it’s still quite a challenge.

Even tonight we were watching a TV promo for this upcoming show where an actress is playing a boy. My dad was seriously confused by it and asked multiple times for confirmation that the actress is a woman. And I just held my breath hoping that it wouldn’t progress into more that than, some kind of ignorant diatribe. It didn’t, he was just curious, and I kept my cool.

I guess I need to learn to steel myself a little better to their remarks. I know full well that just because they think one way intensely doesn’t necessarily mean they are right. I know it’s not a personal attack against me, but sometimes their opinions make me uncomfortable. It’s that whole them being so right-wing conservative (so Trump brain-washed) that eats away at me because the views they espouse are like night and day from how I feel. And sometimes I sit there wondering how could they really think that?

Really, I try not to judge. I try not to judge anyone for their beliefs. I like to believe they have a good reason for feeling why they feel. Yet when those opinions come with such hate and anger towards so many people, that’s when even tiptoeing into that area makes me want to duck and cover.

Sometimes I wonder how they feel. I know my mom holds back from me too; she doesn’t talk about the political stuff anymore (thank god) because she knows how much 1. I don’t agree and 2. I hate politics. Is it so uncomfortable too? Does she think less of me or judge me for my personal beliefs?

I miss when everything wasn’t cause for this division that exists now. Even with the vaccine it rears its head and now it’s going beyond my parents and extending to my relationship with my grandfather.

I initially succumbed to pressure from my mother not to get the vaccine and I knew it was out of real concern on her end. But eventually, for multiple reasons, I did end up getting vaccinated (halfway so far anyway). I told my mom I’d be doing it and she begrudgingly told me “it’s my choice,” which was code for “I don’t agree with what you’re doing,” before we quickly shifted gears.

My parents aren’t the only ones who don’t trust the vaccine. My aunt on my father’s side has some crazy conspiracy theories about it (I don’t listen long enough to be able to tell you what they are). So when I got the appointment I figured I wouldn’t say anything to my family unless directly asked. I didn’t want to hear it.

Low and behold, last week my grandfather asked me if I’d gotten the vaccine. I’m not a liar, so I told him yes. Not twenty minutes later, my aunt calls and while they’re talking, decides to tell her right out of the blue how “I went and got the shot.”

I was so angry. Probably the angriest I’ve been with my grandfather in awhile. There was no reason to bring that up at all, it wasn’t relevant and it wasn’t her business. Thankfully, probably because I did blow up and she could hear it, my aunt didn’t push the issue. But grandpa and I had a talk about boundaries after that, where I told him I’m not a point of gossip in the family.

Unfortunately, my grandfather couldn’t see my perspective, because of course it was different than his own belief that one person’s business seems to be everyone’s business. He asked why I was being so uptight about it and implied that it was the same thing as “telling people I got my toenails cut.” Only when I reminded him how controversial this vaccine is did he let up a little, but of course still didn’t apologize.

Usually grandpa and I can disagree, even loudly, and I still feel like things are okay. I’m somewhat accustomed to his outdated views, but this made me really resent him. I haven’t wanted to talk to him much since, which makes me feel bad. And I can’t even complain to my mom about it because that would mean bringing up the vaccine, which would likely just make her go all quiet.

I never got a chance to write about this encounter last week because I went and took my anger out on my wallet. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. In the last month I’ve spent countless dollars on things I don’t need, namely clothes and pins, which I collect. In fact last week after a whole mess of back and forth with L about our session, which wasn’t happening and then did half-happen, I went and dropped $300 at a clip trying to soothe myself.

Now that it’s April I’ve got myself back on a “no spending” policy and I’m hopeful I’ll stick to it.

If you’re wondering about the session with L, she got exposed to COVID and had to cancel session to get tested. I was upset by the situation and trying like hell not to be because I’d love to be at a point in my therapy where a missed session doesn’t throw everything off-kilter. No such luck though.

She cancelled on Sunday and then texted me Monday to change her mind because she got a negative result. But at that point, she had no childcare, so my only option was telehealth. I work five minutes from her office, but I live 25 minutes from my job. When you get out at 2:45, there’s no making it home for a 3:00 session. That left me doing session in my office at school.

It was hard, because two things were true as we often say. I was very grateful that she cared enough to make the time for me even if it meant juggling home and work, but I was also put off by seeing her home life. It came to the point that during session she was bouncing the baby on her leg.

A few things would happen. I would feel a sting of jealousy at the little bundle she was lucky enough to have. I would also feel a little hurt, wondering how she could possibly be hearing me when her attention was split between us. It felt a little like the baby and I were competing to see who could pull her attention more.

Of course I want this little being to have her mother. She didn’t do anything wrong. But I yearn for my therapist just as badly and I only get two hours with her a week. That kid gets the majority of L. So to have her interrupting my time was frustrating.

L didn’t miss a beat the whole time we were in session, and she admitted that she felt horrible things worked out the way that they did. So I didn’t say anything. The reminder was clear though: You don’t come first. And now you’ve slipped even further down the totem pole.

I feel like a child writing this. I know I don’t need her, but at the same time, yes I do. So when she cancelled on Thursday, it really hit me like a ton of bricks. I could tell she felt bad because she offered to let me email her, but it didn’t really matter. My fear that her having a child would mean cancelled sessions was coming true, just like when Dr. N had to shorten our sessions for three weeks because they didn’t have childcare.

I don’t know how I’d ever bring this up to her. She’d be so good about it, I know she would. She reassured me Monday that I was allowed to be upset with her, that she wanted me to have all my feelings and stop suppressing them. Plus, as much as I’m getting on her case about the baby interfering, I do ask to see her and ask how she’s doing. It feels like the polite thing to do, and part of me does really care, even when doing so hurts me.

It’s not just the baby. It’s COVID. First we had to get through me being exposed to someone positive and waiting five days (!) for a negative result. Then barely after that it’s her. This is the one place I can’t bear to have things be interrupted.

Because I didn’t have therapy on Thursday, I didn’t get a chance to muse further on my relationship/non-relationship with a new guy.

D and I met on a dating website, which is where I meet all of my potential relationship partners. I was iffy about even seeing him the first time, but L encouraged me to go and feel it out. The first couple dates that we had went pretty well. We have a lot in common and the conversation was pretty easy. I liked him enough to keep exploring, so that’s what we did. We had pancakes. We went bowling.

As things began to get more intimate, I increasingly wanted to sabotage and run. I may want a relationship badly, but I rarely feel emotionally ready for it. I admitted to him on our third date that I take awhile to warm up with the physical contact, and he said he’d “picked up on that.”

Then on our fourth date, things took a weird turn. First we went out to dinner and that was fine, there was some playful banter. He talked about wanting to kiss me later and I didn’t mind that. Then we moved on to this hole in the wall brewery owned by his friend. That’s where I started to feel uncomfortable. First off, my inner-introvert was screaming “that’s enough! go home!” because I was just tapped out. I tried to push through, but all of the sudden he wanted to sext simultaneously while talking to me and his friend.

So, a couple things here. It really felt like he was moving kind of quickly, especially after being told that I’m a slow to warm kind of person. Even at dinner, he’d admitted that a lot of his last dates had turned into sexual conquests. To which I told him that he shouldn’t expect the same from me. He acts like he’s all good with that, but then he starts with this. I tried to play along but I wasn’t super into it.

Second, the topic of sex is really shameful for me. I don’t know why, I don’t have a history of abuse, but I’ve always been very easily bristled by talk about sex. It makes me want to be swallowed up by the ground kind of shame. I’m not comfortable with my sexuality and never have been.

We ended up in the back of his car making out like teenagers. I didn’t so much mind that, although it didn’t do much for me. Again, I need to be more emotionally intimate before the physical ever gets brought to the table. Part of me wants to hold that boundary and part of me knows it might be a deal-breaker for some people. (But so what, right? Aren’t I supposed to do what’s right for me?) Either way, the kissing and groping was fine, but then he started to go further.

With M last year, I let myself get sucked into having sex pretty quickly and our relationship kind of devolved from there. I told myself I’d give it more time with the next person. While I didn’t feel taken advantage of, I did feel like I let myself go further than planned and I didn’t know how I felt about that. At one point, he asked me if I trusted him and I said yes, even though my insides were screaming “No!! How could I trust you after only knowing you for barely a month?”

Oh, and at one point he tried to choke me. I guess that’s a thing some people like, but it was very off-putting. I immediately put that to an end, and he listened, but I still felt the discomfort of how quickly things had escalated. He was being kind of pushy and not being sensitive enough to my needs I felt.

I don’t know, I could tell he was trying, and I must be different from everyone else he has ever been with. Maybe other girls have said one thing and meant another, but I certainly haven’t.

I really feel like something is wrong with me that I can’t just let go and be romantically into someone. I’m always in my own head, always uncomfortable, and it ruins the whole experience for me. Plus, it certainly doesn’t make me want to go down that road any sooner.

We were supposed to meet up again last week, but he cancelled at the last minute. I pointed out that I wished he had told me sooner so I didn’t spend the morning getting ready for nothing. By the time he texted me, he was already at this other engagement. There was time to let me know sooner.

Anyway, this week was his spring break and while I knew he was away, I heard absolutely nothing from him. I suppose I could have texted, but I felt like the ball was in his court after cancelling the last date. So yesterday when he finally texted me almost a week later, I didn’t know how to feel.

I want to call him out on it, but I don’t want to seem clingy (which in reality, I know I’m not, because it didn’t bother me to go a couple days and not hear from him, just to go like 6 days and hear nothing). I’m not sure how he’d respond, although I guess that would be a worthwhile test wouldn’t it? Not that I should be testing him, but I think it’s important to see how he handles potential dissent like that. Still, I’m not sure what to do.

I have an appointment with Dr. N in a half hour, so I guess I’ll ask her advice then, because I haven’t responded to him yet.

There’s more I could say, but this post already ended up way longer than I intended it to be, so I think I’ll stop here and update more soon. But that’s where things stand as far as my life right now. How is yours going?

What I Wish I Could Say

To the mother of H & S, the two kids I used to babysit,

This letter is definitely one that has needed to be written for awhile. I’ve been carrying around a lot of anger and hurt that you’re at the root of based on some choices you made that I think should have been considered more carefully.

The anger isn’t good for me and it’s burning a hole in my heart as I continue to pine away for the things I didn’t get that I feel I was owed. The lack of communication, and the way that I internalized it.

For three years, I made your family one of my top priorities. I was there nearly every time you needed me to watch your girls, do the laundry, put the dishes away, let the dogs out, clean the basement, and so much more. I did it all with a smile because I loved being a part of their world, I loved being their babysitter.

You knew it too, you knew just how deep my love for them ran as you watched me plan scavenger hunts and make photo books and bake cookies and cupcakes. I’ve told you more than once how important they are to me.

So I have to ask, why did you handle things the way that you did?m

When we spoke in July, you sounded like you wanted me to come back. You alluded to it more than once. That was the future I was preparing for, another school year with your kids, even if it didn’t look exactly the same.

But the first day of school came around and I didn’t even know about it until you sent me pictures later. Like I was an afterthought. That’s when I realized that I probably wouldn’t be babysitting for the kids after all this year.

So I asked you and you told me you honestly didn’t know. You hadn’t even thought about it. You said we’d give it a couple weeks and you’d get back to me. We’d talk about it then.

That in itself was pretty insulting. I know that you had plenty on your plate, but as my employer, I shouldn’t have just slipped through the cracks. There should have been some shred of consideration about how to handle our working relationship.

And over a month later, I’d never heard back. I never did hear back either, not about that. The next time you texted me, it was to invite me to a soccer game, and we never talked about it.

You never officially told me I wasn’t coming back. Not even when I outright texted you looking for some type of answer weeks later. I just wanted to know for sure that I’d been let go. It was time to be done holding onto hope and just accept reality. But you couldn’t even give me that. You denied letting me go, blamed the virus, said you’ve been busy.

Nothing. Never the simple words that “We don’t need you anymore.”

Here’s the thing: I always knew it was coming. I knew that the girls were getting older and they’d soon outgrow me. It was something I’d feared for a long time because a part of my identity was being their sitter, but it was something I’d accepted was coming.

If you’d just said that at the outset, if you’d placed any value on the job I’ve done for you or the person I am in your life, it would have been hard, but it would have been honest. I would have handled it, dealt with the feelings, and let them go.

But I never got that, so I’m still holding on. Not to the idea that I’ll ever watch the girls again, but to the anger I have at you not communicating that to me.

If that wasn’t enough, now there’s more. A level of hurt I didn’t think I could feel, but here we are.

You wanted me to watch your dogs while you were on vacation and then those plans changed. That’s fine, life happens. It’s the conversation that followed: you asking when I was getting my vaccine and me admitting that I wasn’t for personal reasons.

Your response? Wow, really sad. We’d love to see you.

You couldn’t even tell me straight up I wasn’t allowed to come see them. You had to dance around it.

Now don’t think that I’m hurt just because of that decision in isolation. You’re more than welcome to protect your family, that I understand. I’d understand your hesitation if this rule was applied uniformly across your life.

But it’s not.

Like I said, you were planning to go on vacation. To travel to a totally new place where you’d no doubt interact with people, some of whom may or may not have gotten the vaccine.

Even if you tell me that you were vacationing in isolation, there are still other things that bother me. You send your girls to school. They are in sports. They are having play dates. They have a tutor. How much interaction are they having with other people who may or may not have the vaccine?

So what’s so different about me?

And why was it okay that I watched the girls without the vaccine all summer long when you needed me? No mask, all the hugs, and no problem.

Why was it okay to be around the kids when I was bringing kids for their birthdays or Christmas? Then I needed a mask, but I was allowed to be there.

What has changed? And why is it not the same for everyone else?

It may not be, but it feels personal. It feels like you don’t want me to see your kids, like I’m being kicked out of your life. Coming from people that felt like were family, it’s painful. It’s like I’m only good enough when I’m needed for a service, otherwise I’m easily expendable.

And that just makes me so sad. It makes me feel like I’m losing the girls even more than I already have.

There’s a strong likelihood you didn’t mean to hurt me, I see that. Maybe it’s because you care about me that you couldn’t relay these important messages in a different way. Maybe you do want to see me, but I feel like the one thing you can control in all this. I don’t really know.

I don’t want to be angry with you, I don’t want to feel this hurt. Even now that I’ve changed my mind about the vaccine, I don’t feel any motivation to reach out to you because I see how quickly you’re willing to cut me out compared to the others in your life that serve other conveniences. I’m still so hurt and I want to burn the bridge.

I won’t, because I adore those girls, but I want to.

You’ll never actually read this, but it needed to be said. I needed to get it out. Because I know you’d never understand if I actually tried to have a conversation with you about it. As close as we’ve been in the past, this has never been an area of strength for you.

So I’ll keep these feelings to myself and wonder what turn our relationship will take next.

Poison

I’m really tempted to text L right now and ask if we’re okay and if she’s mad at me. Not for anything that she said or did. In fact, we laughed a lot through my session today. No, this is all about me. I’m projecting, because I know she’s not mad at me, but I think I want to be mad at her.

I wish I could understand where this feeling is coming from because it’s not entirely clear to me. I’m not even totally sure I’m angry, but that’s what seems to make the most sense. When I have trouble identifying a feeling, it’s usually anger driving it.

I’ve scoured my mind for different things she might have said or did that would upset me. I came up with a few, but none of them are particularly striking. Still, I suppose they’re worth exploring.

I feel angry, and perhaps a little scolded, by the way she responded when I admitted to her that I was feeling jealous of her little family. That wasn’t an easy truth to share because it feels shameful to have such feelings. I don’t want to have them. She told me that jealousy isn’t an emotion she can get behind, and that it’s better just to be happy for the other person or something like that. So quickly it shut the door on the topic and I was left feeling like I’d said something wrong. It made me feel like I couldn’t talk about those feelings anymore.

I’m angry, and confused, because I feel pressure not to send her texts outside of session. Granted, there has always been a boundary, which I have always been careful, I thought, not to overwhelm her. The Sunday before she left, I asked for and received a phone call because I was uncontrollably crying thinking I was about to lose my whole support system for insurance reasons. The next day, she made a comment about how that was the level of distressed she thought I should be to reach out like that. She briefly glossed over the idea of me becoming less reliant on her. It was the first inkling she’d given that maybe I was asking too much and then I didn’t get to talk to her for three months. It made me feel like, upon her return, I had to stop completely because otherwise I would be too bothersome.

I’m angry that when I told her how I was missing J after emailing her, she suggested cutting off that contact in the future, closing the door for good. I don’t think I even need to explain why that sent me spiraling. Imagining a life that doesn’t include J in a small way is not a thought I can tolerate.

I’m angry that I don’t have access to her instagram anymore. It’s honestly probably for the better, because it was fueling the jealousy, but I still feel like I’ve been rejected even though I’m not the reason for the change in settings.

Part of me knows that if I brought these topics to her, she’d happily dissect them with me. Part of me knows that that’s the right thing to do.

Yet whenever I’m in session, I can’t bring this up to her. It’s just blocked. Even when she provides me the perfect segue, I stall, I tangent, I try like hell to control my face not to tip her off that something’s wrong. Because I don’t feel like these are real reasons to feel anger.

Let’s be real. I’m really, above all else, angry that she left me. Though I’m over the moon that she’s back, though I feel tons of positive feelings towards her, it’s hard not to hold on to the latent anger.

It’s like I feel she shouldn’t get off so easy. Like she shouldn’t be allowed to just slip back into her role easy when those three months were as difficult as they were for me.

Oh, there’s that. I’m still angry that when she left me, she left me without stable help from a compatible therapist.

Whether it’s anger or not, something else I’ve noticed is that I’m holding back from allowing a connection with her. There is one on the surface, but it’s fairly shallow. I’m so in my own head, oversensitive to every little thing she says and does, that I can’t relax into a session.

I’m spending so much of my energy concealing what I feel like are inappropriate feelings. L would probably disagree, she’d probably find some way to excuse them, but since that isn’t for sure I just continue to stuff them. I guess I feel like the parameters of our relationship changed with the instagram freeze out and the no-text-boundary and like I was censored for the first time ever with the jealousy comment.

Maybe (probably) I’m reading way too much into this. I mean, let’s think about this further. She never said a lot of the things that I’m inferring from more ambiguous statements. Maybe none of her statements meant what I perceived them to mean. It’s not like I don’t have a habit of assigning myself the most negative messages possible.

Do I talk about this? Do I see what time does?

It’s that situation where the holding on to the poison is killing me, and it will degrade our relationship if I’m not careful, but I refuse to let it go and just focus on healing.

I’m Using My Providers for Social Interaction

I always have a hard time when the clock strikes the hour or the half and my therapy or my psychiatry session is up. It’s been more noticeable to me in the last couple weeks since L returned. There’s just an overwhelming feeling of…I don’t want to say loss, because that’s not what it is. I guess maybe the right word is emptiness. I feel a hollow in me as I shut the screen or walk out the door and realize I’m on my own again.

It’s easy to blame this on my attachment issues, to say that the reason it’s so hard to separate is because I have an insecure attachment style. L and Dr. N are the targets of that attachment. That part is true. I’m a classic anxious-preoccupied style of attachment and I seek frequent reassurance of our “closeness” or of the care evident in the relationship.

Sometimes I wonder why did I pick these specific people? What is it about them that created the attachment in the first place?

I used to think it was just anyone who would listen to me because of how quickly I attached myself to J. I know now after playing musical therapists that I won’t latch on to just anyone. Even people like L and Dr. N took a wealth of time. But there was something about them. Something that filled in all the gaps of my mental functioning and inspired trust.

I think about my relationships with my providers constantly, L especially now that she’s back. There’s been a lot of yearning for interaction and connection. I’m back to measuring time with the therapy clock – the one where I survive by calculating how much time until I see either of them again.

On the session days, it’s much easier to get up and get motivated. Because really, they are my favorite people to talk to. I used to tell J that all the time and it hasn’t changed. One might argue that’s because it’s all about me and not about them. I’ll never know our relationship any other way, so I can’t deny it. I’m sure that plays in to it.

But I think beyond that they are filling a very important position for me right now. They’re involved in the majority of my meaningful social interaction. In a pandemic, and for a socially anxious introvert, that’s a pretty big deal.

There has been a deep feeling of emptiness or loneliness in me that’s completely independent of my relationships with my providers. It ebbs and it flows, but I’d say it happens at least once a day. I don’t know when it’s coming and then when it does I to play chase, running after the feeling trying to seem threatening enough to make it go away or to simply bait it with a distraction.

The point is, when I’m in that place of feeling lonely, when I’m looking at my life like its an empty shell of relationships that involve true emotional connection, all I can think about is what’s missing. I ruminate on prior friendships lost, inconsistency of my current friendships, and the futility of picking up any new friends.

I see people at work, where my relationships are always precariously close to dropping off the ledge when I have to share some information they don’t want to hear. I talk to friends occasionally, usually responding to a text. Otherwise, I go home at the end of the day and I’m alone from the time I walk in the door until I lay my head down on the pillow.

The one social constant I have are my visits with L and my telehealth with Dr. N.

Like everyone knows, we’re in a pandemic. Social interaction isn’t exactly the top priority on the world’s list these days. It makes it that much harder for me to take any steps forward in the way of cultivating new relationships. People are hunkered away in their houses hiding from the virus and even if they aren’t, I am. Although, should I really use the virus as an excuse or should we just be honest and blame my anxiety?

Truly, anxiety is what stops me from putting myself out there, even with people already in my life. I constantly fear my friends will want nothing to do with me because I’m a faulty human not worth anyone’s time, so I don’t reach out or try to make plans.

L tells me to stop setting other people’s boundaries for them, but it’s challenging for me to see past my own fears and insecurities.

In fact, lately when I’m around anyone my anxiety is through the roof. I get so fixated on what to say next, which little detail I should expand on or a good question to ask that shows I’m not an idiot. I’m trying to engage, but usually I’m in my own head so far out of the present moment that words fail me. So I quickly wrap of the conversation and go back to hiding in my condo or my office or wherever I can get that I’m alone.

For example, I was talking to a teacher the other day who stopped me as I was walking in. She was making lots of different points, sharing her opinions, and I stood there mostly echoing back whatever she said because I couldn’t think of anything to contribute. I stood there, anxious and trying not to show it, until my first opportunity to flee.

When I’m around people, I have to constantly be on. It’s exhausting, donning my ‘happy’ or ‘confident’ mask and trying not to let what’s underneath be exposed.

With L and Dr. N, I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. I can drop the act and completely be myself. It’s because of that I am able to bypass the anxiety and let myself be vulnerable. It’s why I get to have real, honest conversations.

Yes, I pay them to listen, for the conversation, but I don’t pay them to care in the way they both obviously do. These are relationships where I’m accepted unconditionally. You might argue this is part of a therapeutic relationship, but from my experience not all therapists get the memo not to judge or look at with disdain.

My providers aren’t my friends, but they are currently my most consistent and valuable social interaction. They are my one chance to enter into a conversation without overwhelming anxiety and the constant mental nit-picking everything I say.

I deeply look forward to our sessions, for those conversations. With L especially, it gives me hope that maybe I do have hope for emotional connections with other people. So when that respite is over and done with for the day, the lonely nag returns. I’ve gotten a taste of what I desperately want in my real life, feeling comfortable around other people, and I’m reluctant to part with it.

I desperately want to be more social, I want those fulfilling relationships, but they seem so far away. It feels difficult to achieve when my social anxiety blocks me at every turn. I often feel like I’ll never get there.

So I’m leaning on L and Dr. N probably a little bit to much. Using them for all meaningful conversation at this point. I don’t know what to do about that. I’m not saying I want to lessen my relationships with them. To fix this social interaction bullshit swimming in my head I’m going to need them and obviously the fact that we have a strong rapport will help with reaching those goals. I wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to take social risks without having them as a safety net.

I just want to expand my circle of friends and other positive relationships and feel as settled talking to one of them as I do my providers. I want to be as excited (or at least content) to be in a social situation as I am with them.

I don’t even know if this post makes sense, but it was begging me to write it because it’s a thing that I’ve noticed. A thing I’ve pondered over. Something that at least makes sense of why I finished my very helpful session with Dr. N today and immediately was overcome with the emptiness.

My OCD Experience

Before D and I finished our work together, she advised me about a book she thought would be fruitful to my healing process. It’s called the OCD workbook and D really talked it up, she said it was one of her favorite resources.

So of course, being the suggestible and eager-to-please-all-therapists person I am, I bought the book. I’m still near to the beginning of the book right now but it’s asking me to write out what my experience with OCD has been thus far.

I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in May 2019 at my first psychiatrist appointment with Dr. N. She was going through literally what seemed like symptom checklists and apparently felt that the problems I was describing were similar enough to OCD to warrant the diagnosis.

I didn’t believe her at first because I’m not one of those people who needs to wash my hands 14 times a day or check 22 times to make sure the stove is off. I don’t worry about being contaminated or causing someone else harm. These are the most common examples of OCD in it’s primal form.

Although I still wonder sometimes if I really fit the bill for an OCD diagnosis, because my symptoms vary greatly from those above, I have come to accept it as part of my being. D really seemed to believe in OCD was my biggest enemy right now and that the borderline personality had faded into the background. Personally, I still feel a lot of the effects of BPD: the fears of abandonment, black and white thinking, racing emotions, and the unstable sense of self, so I don’t know if I quite agree, but let’s just go ahead and pretend she’s right.

My OCD manifests such that I have obsessions surrounding the need for perfection and my compulsions are things aimed at perfect order and structure. Keeping things orderly is one of the forms of OCD, with a need to have everything “just right.” That feeling is very familiar to me, so that is one reason I agree with my OCD diagnosis

I strive for the just right feeling all the time. I’ve talked about before how I’ll spend endless time cleaning my desk at work or going through my emails. It’s a compulsion that makes me feel more in control and sometimes I do it at home too, but with wanting to de-clutter. I’ll get this feeling that I need to go through my desk or my closet and organize it, only stopping when I feel that internal satisfaction.

It happens with these posts too, where I want every word to be just so and I can get my point across in the exact manner I wish. I know when a post feels “done” and when it doesn’t. It’s nothing I can explain, just this feeling that comes over me.

My perfectionism knows no bounds. It soars sky high whenever it damn well pleases. I’ve done things like rewritten an entire batch of notecards because the color-coding wasn’t matched up or refused to write in my planner until I have the purple pen because I don’t want to mix ink colors. It’s just this little need I have for everything to fall into it’s place, to look and be perceived as perfect.

I don’t know what I fear will happen if it’s not perfect. I don’t believe it will cause someone else harm. I don’t believe it’s going to ruin other people’s lives. I just get this lingering and bothersome feeling that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be.

The need for perfection extends into the social realm too. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing all the time. Just earlier today I was thinking about how I might respond to a student in a scenario that differs from how their teacher does and fretting over the differences. In my mind, there is a “right” and a “wrong” thing to say and if I don’t match the other person, my answer is automatically wrong. To me, perfection is responding to a situation exactly the way others would.

By the way, I know perfection is impossible. When I’m performing these compulsions, I know it’s not going to make things any better, but it’s what keeps the anxiety down and there’s where I see the OCD.

The compulsion I find with my obsession with social perfection is a need to be reassured. I’ll go about achieving it in various ways, such as the indirect “I’m sorry,”the self-deprecating comment that I hope they’ll refute, or straight up just asking whatever the question is. This morning I did it with a colleague after I ran one of our meetings, asking her if she thought I did a good job. It’s so hard to rely on my own inner standards, I’m too busy trying to perfectly meet everyone else’s, which means asking them to confirm I’m on the right track.

I did this with L for months with the are you okay, are you mad at me questions. No matter how much time passed, I needed that reassurance.

My symptoms tend to ebb and flow. In times where the demands are high, I feel the OCD in my trying to poke to the surface. That’s probably why I notice them more at work, where everything feels like anxiety, than I do at home.

OCD is a tireless fighter and it keeps me in the arena trying to kick butt. I’ve long had difficulty trusting people, which strays to fear of rejection or abandonment, which ultimately leads to me pushing them away with my behaviors. It’s probably as much to blame for the lost relationships as my BPD is. It’s almost like they team up together trying to destroy me.

My intrusive thoughts make it so that no conversation is just a dialogue between two people, there’s always the voice in my head contributing some anxiety-ridden statement that keeps me second guessing pretty much everything. Just once I’d like to be able to have a conversation with a colleague or any other person without going over and ruminating on every single thing I’ve said or will say.

I can’t imagine what my life would be without OCD. It’s tied so closely with my other diagnoses that it’s almost become like a part of me. An extra limb I carry around, not functional but very obviously there.

I wonder sometimes when my behaviors step over the boundary line and become dysfunctional. Certainly the fact that my clothes are lined up in color order isn’t detrimental to my mental health, but I would feel frustrated and uncomfortable if I was forced to switch that up. So does it count in the growing list of OCD traits? I’m not sure.

Either way, it would be nice not to be so wrapped up in the little details, to be able to see and exist within the big picture anxiety-free. I don’t know if that will ever happen to me, but I can surely hope. Maybe I’ll be less tired from trying so hard to win this never-ending game I play. Maybe I’ll have an easier time getting tasks accomplished. Maybe I’ll just feel more content without the anxiety weighing me down.

All I know is that this is my experience.

Setting a Boundary

This is going to be a short post. It’s mostly just practice to complete the homework I was assigned by Dr. N last week. There isn’t much I have to say, but I want the words to be right.

I work very closely with a colleague who has a lot of experience. We share an office, we collaborate on various cases, and we work together on various other tasks. Thankfully, we get along well. She generally looks out for me and she takes the difficult cases.

I go to her with a lot seeking advice or just to vent. What I’ve noticed though is that in the last couple weeks she’s been giving me unsolicited advice. Telling me what she thinks about my cases out of the blue.

Here’s the thing: While the advice is unsolicited, it can be helpful. But it’s difficult to receive because she’s often planted an idea in my head without me having the chance to mull over options by myself.

I’m torn. I’ll never improve at this job if I don’t have a chance to make my own decisions, but I don’t want to deny a child the right solution to a problem by being stubborn. So after talking with Dr. N, she suggested I find a way to have both things: my own space with the suggestions sprinkled in.

I’ve wanted to talk to you for the week or so. Lately, I feel like you’ve been telling me to do a lot of things related to my cases. I know I come to you for advice a lot and I really appreciate your insights and suggestions, because a lot of times you give me solutions I haven’t thought about. However, when you tell me what I should do with my cases without me asking , I feel inadequate and it undermines my confidence. Is there a way we could change things up? I don’t want you to never share your opinion, but I would like some room to make my own decisions too. Maybe we can find a time each week to chat about things like that?

To me, this seems completely reasonable. It gives me a chance to think things through a little bit more but still have that safety net.

Even that small bit I’m already nervous about saying. I don’t think she’ll take it in a negative way, but it’s not often people react to me setting boundaries with flowers and sunshine.

Wish me courage.