This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Butterfly Does Not Make The Caterpillar A Lie

Today I made a discovery. In all my years in and out of therapy, in all my time spent working on "this, that or the other" issue, something went unseen, unrecognised and uncorrected. Let me back up a few steps with a story that is fairly vivid in my mind. It's not an especially distressing memory, nor is it particularly unusual for my life, but for some reason, it's something that has remained quite clear.

I am thirteen years old, it's just after school and I've missed my bus. I know my stepmother's going to be angry with me, but I haven't any other choice, so I walk to the office and I call her. That conversation is lost to the 27 year old I am now, but I do remember knowing she wasn't happy she'd have to fetch me. She doesn't ask why I have missed the bus and I don't volunteer. By the time we are home and she wants to know, I cannot for the life of me remember. This is nothing unusual as I often forget things or share things that don't "tally" with what someone else thinks has happened. I am used to it, as is my stepmother. Unfortunately, as much as she is used to it, she despises it. She fires questions at me, shoots accusations that are baseless and unlikely: I didn't forget, I had a detention and didn't want to admit to it. I was down the back kissing a boy. I was in a fist fight. I was redoing an exam. I was caught breaking school rules and having a chat to the principal. In the midst of these accusations, I suddenly remember what I had been doing, why I had missed the bus. A friend who had been having a hard time had asked me for support in doing something. We'd both expected I had plenty of time, but over or under estimated somewhere. Why I couldn't remember this earlier, I don't know. But I did remember it now, and as my stepmother threw her ideas of where I'd been at me, I tell her it wasn't any of those things. Her lip twists into a sneer and she tells me I wouldn't know, since I can't remember, and I tell her, "I do remember, now" and she doesn't believe me. She tells me that I can't 'not remember' before and remember now.

I learn that if the situation changes, the past is a lie.

That is not the first time I received that message, and it wasn't the last, and in 27 years, nobody's ever thought to tell me any different. I didn't challenge it because I didn't see it as anything but simple fact... until today.

Just as the butterfly who emerges from her cocoon does not make the caterpillar a lie in fact, nor does it do so in metaphor. If who I am changes, if I adjust my coping mechanisms; if I move beyond my past, that does not make the past a lie. Future change does not make now-me a lie or a liar!

I can use this on so many levels.

Today's cheer-leading statements:
I don't have to take on my family's judgements about me.
I am not a bad person.
Change does not make the past a lie!
Avoidance doesn't make the problem go away.
I have the tools and the strength to handle anything that comes my way.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.


  1. Hi, I just found your blog through a Google search. I am also a 27 year old, living with BPD. I have just begun my own blog as a way to help myself deal with my problems. I am interested to see you have been through DBT, as I have looked into doing it myself. I have been advised against it at this time though, due to being pregnant. I will follow your blog with interest :)

  2. So true. We change a lot over a lifetime. Just because I can handle something now doesn't mean I could handle it as a child. Just because I'd be capable of keeping someone from abusing me now doesn't mean I was able to when I was a child. We have to trust in ourselves that at each point in our lives we've done the best we knew how based on our experience and maturity at the time. Things are easily understood in retrospect.
    I hope I'm getting your point here.

  3. I am doing DBT right now with my psychologist and have been on this road since I was 21 years old. I am now 35. I am still living with BPD but I have a lot less traits that I did at 21. My main struggle is with Bipolar disorder and an eating disorder that pops up when I am stressed. DBT techniques are really great and I just realised in saying this that I forgot part of my homework that I was given yesterday. OOPS! Mindful breathing, I must say I don't like it but hey, if it helps and it does when I try it but I need to practice to stop the craziness that has been the last few weeks. I like your blog, you write well and I would like to hear more :-)

  4. Sorry I've been a bit lax in replying to comments, guys! Anyway, thank you all so much for your words.

    Hi A Lost Alice, and welcome! Congratulations on your pregnancy, how exciting! I wonder why that means you can't do DBT at the moment, though. I suppose it's probably because DBT is generally run as a 12 month program and they figure when your little one is born, you'll have your hands full dealing with that. I hope you get a chance to do DBT soon, though. It's not perfect, and it doesn't work for everyone, but even I can see that I've come a long way thanks to the work my therapists and I did during the program. :)

    Stacy, this isn't quite where I was at in my head on the post, but it's just as valid, and a way I hadn't actually 'got to' yet. For me, I think I've been getting stuck on the idea that "if I one day am capable of something, then I am always capable of that. If one day I'm not, then either the time I'm not is a lie, or the time I can is a lie. Since I know that the time I can isn't a lie, the time I can't obviously must be, therefore I should push myself harder...". For me, it also ties into the belief that if my husband can leave me saying he doesn't ever want a child, and three years later be engaged again and the father of a little girl, then he must have been lying when he said he didn't want a child. I'm not sure I'm making much sense, trying to explain it better! Either way, your point is certainly very true as well!

    Hi Sairs, welcome! I'm glad to hear that your BPD traits have lessened with time! Do the DBT techniques help you manage your bipolar disorder as well as your BPD symptoms? I know that they can be of use with eating disorders, and I think I do remember hearing someone say they're also good for managing bipolar. I know what you mean re Mindful Breathing. I was so resistant to mindfulness in the beginning! I still struggle with a lot of aspects of it, but it definitely has got a lot easier over time.