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!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sanguine Saturday: Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas everyone!

And will you look at that? I actually remembered to post this on time this week. ;)

First of all, I'd like to thank my friend Sonya over at My Verse who blogged a Great Things post last Saturday. (Probably not in response to my post, especially as I think hers was posted before mine, and she often posts them regardless, but definitely smile material for sending the positive side out into the world.)

Gold stars also to Sairs, eternally_damaged_butterfly and bpdisme who all left a comment on my last SS post with their own positives/achievements. Go and read them here, and then blog your own to be linked in next week's Sanguine Saturday post!

Success Stories:
I dealt with the panic and horribleness associated with the aftermath of the dentist visit.

I managed to "stay with" some difficult emotions and allow them to exist without trying to force them away.

Carol and I posted my informal police report. It was a very emotional journey to write the form (it took 3 separate versions before it was ready to send), and it was incredibly hard to let that information go out in the world... but it's done.

I faced my fear and wore my fancy top and pretty skirt out shopping. Did people stare? Yes. Did the world end? No. Did I get a great photo with Santa that got me several compliments? Oh, yes I did! And most important of all... did I feel pretty? Beyond all words. I call that a huge success, personally. ;)

4.5 weeks SI and alcohol free.

My cola intake is continuing at no more than 2 or 3 glasses a day, and there have even been several days where I've only had the 1 glass!

I spent some time working on craft projects.

I got my room a little bit more presentable.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Having two beautiful women tell me to "stay pretty" until they got home so they could see... and then having them appreciate 'the pretty'.
My new Cuttlebug! (Christmas present from everyone in my family!)
Giraffes and giraffe earrings.
Time spent with my nieces and nephew.
The anticipation of my mother's best friend opening the first few layers of his gift and realising just how many there are. (To give you an idea -- his present stands as tall as my knee... and he's getting a gift card.) ;)
Seeing you guys post your positives and achievements last week.

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to feel pretty. It's okay to think I look pretty.
I don't have to try and change every difficult emotion I face. Sometimes it's okay to just allow the emotion to exist within me. Attempting to fight off difficult emotions usually only makes them stronger.
I am safe. I lived through the experiences in my memories already; if I survived the experience, I can survive the memory as well.
Whatever I feel is okay, and it's okay to feel more than one thing at once.
I cannot change the past, I can only work to make the changes I need to make the future brighter.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way. And don't forget to blog your own version of Sanguine Saturday this week! ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sanguine Saturday With A Challenge For You

It's been a pretty big week for me. I had a couple of appointments, a pair of wisdom teeth removed, then my mother went in to hospital for an angiogram and discovered she has a leaking valve which needs to be replaced. She also let me know that her kidney is "packing it in" as well.

Anyway, just before today's Sanguine Saturday post, I'd like to invite you all to join in. I want to see your successes, I want to see your grattitudes and positives! And if you have any cheerleading or challenge statements that're working for you at the moment, or that you need to work on at the moment, I want to see those too! When I write next week's Sanguine Saturday post I'd love to have a link of your happy things to share, so get writing and comment with your post's link!

Success Stories:
I went to the oral surgeon and had my remaining two wisdom teeth out. I didn't handle the situation as well as I'd hoped to, but I did survive the experience.

Next Tuesday makes a month SI free; but definitely also worth noting is that it's been a full 12 weeks since the last time I burned.

Next Tuesday makes a month sober.

I've continued to keep my cola intake down at 2-3 glasses a day, with meals.

I had my final appointment with Michele this week, and although I didn't expect it and was very sad, I'm proud of how well I coped with it. (Although, to be fair, I've been referred to another counsellor at the same place until after I move rather than removed from the service.)

I've worked really hard to "keep on trucking" and not give up on long term goals in favour of short term relief.

Was able to spend some time making cards/card-toppers for mum, and getting some craft projects done.

I actually updated my craft blog!

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
My wonderful friends. <3
My nieces and my nephew.
Kitty snow prints!

Challenge and cheer-leading statements:
I am an okay person.
Not SIing doesn't mean I'm not allowed to hurt. It just means I'm choosing to not SI.
I'm an adult and that means I have the power to make choices over my own life.
Whatever I feel is valid, real, acceptable and okay.
Choosing to live better doesn't mean that the hurt that was there didn't really exist.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way. And don't forget to post your own version of Sanguine Saturday this week! ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sanguine Sunday (Oops)

Sooo, once again I'm posting Sanguine Saturday on Sunday because I got distracted. ;) Apparently the hardest weeks to remember are the ones where I'm jumping out of my skin ready on Friday!

Success Stories:
I bought myself a ticket to a The Whitlams concert in January! I've only ever been to two concerts (The Whitlams once and Kenny Rogers once) so it's pretty exciting for me -- and it'll be the first time I've ever gone alone!

I'm three days off three weeks SI free.

I'm three days off three weeks sober.

Went to an appointment I was a bit anxious about.

Told a support worker honestly how I felt about a situation, and what it would mean for me! It was a hypothetical situation, but it was one that really bothered me. (This should have gone in last week's but I forgot it. But I did a very similar thing this week as well.)

Spent time working on some of my goals.

I have seriously cut down the amount of Coca-Cola I drink. Like, from 2 litres to 2 glasses kind of cut down. (I'm not super strict on the number, but the idea is for me to drink soft drink at meals only.)

And... I went to the dentist! And not only did I *go* to the dentist, when they said they couldn't do anything about the one I wanted them to deal with, I agreed to return and see the oral surgeon, and I had them do some of the desperately needed fillings in the meantime.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
My hilarious and wonderful friends.
Sarcasm and cheekiness.
Music and singing.
Zuma has come to FaceBook!
Plants vs Zombies.

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay for not everyone to like me.
It's okay to ask people to treat me with basic respect.
I'm an okay person.
Happiness is an emotion - it doesn't matter whether it's "deserved".
Not everything is my fault or my responsibility.

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conquering The Need To Please

Anybody who knows me at all, knows that I am, possibly above all other things, a people-pleaser. As a child, it was a necessary part of my survival - as an adult, it was, I believed, the only way I would ever be liked, let alone loved. So for a long time all of my value came from having others like me, from doing and being everything everyone else wanted me to be. I was a chameleon and I wore whatever skin I thought the other person wanted to see.

If (I thought) you wanted someone to listen, that's what I'd do. If (I thought) you wanted comfort, that's what I'd give. If (I thought) you wanted advice, I'd offer it. If (I thought) you wanted to hear you were wonderful, that's what I'd say. Everything came second to that need to please - everything. I would stay up all night to support an acquaintance; give money away to anybody who asked, if they said they needed it; drop everything for everyone.

And it worked. I had a knack for it. I was good at being what everyone else wanted me to be - too good. Somewhere in all of that, I lost who I was. I lost who I wanted me to be. I lost my substance, and all that was left was the need to please everybody else. And I was fine with that because, you see, most people did like me... to a point.

People loved that I would do anything for them. They valued that I would value them so much... but they, for the most part, didn't have a lot of respect for me. Why should they, when I so clearly had no respect for myself?

2008 was the beginning of a turning point. In 2008 I came face to face with the concept that although most (real life) people "liked" me, nobody actually particularly cared about or for me. I was everybody's friend, but nobody counted me as theirs; as far as they were concerned, I was a hanger-on, an amiable and pleasant caricature, but I was not and had never been, any more than that.

Even after I recognised that, though, I didn't connect the dots. I couldn't understand how everybody could like me so much and not actually like me. (If you're confused, perhaps thinking of it as the difference between an acquaintance and a friend may help.)

And even when I did connect the dots, when I finally made the link, I was too afraid to do anything about it. My entire worth as a person hung on whether others liked me; if I started trying to worry about how I felt about things, everyone would see that there was nothing worth liking in me. So I didn't change much. By this stage I'd agreed to do DBT because that was (I thought) what my case manager had wanted for me. I stayed because (I thought) that was what the group coordinator had wanted.

I dropped everything when (I thought) somebody wanted me to or believed they needed me to. Even as I recognised the re-emergence of my self, my needs, my wants... I put them aside for others. And generally not selectively, either; there was a level of hierarchy, but for the most part, anyone who (I thought) wanted something, got it.

And then... something changed. I don't know if it was gradual, sneaking up on me, or if it was fairly sudden, but I do know that something has changed.

I've started to speak out. I don't just tell people what (I think) they want to hear, these days. I tell the truth as I see it - I try to be compassionate and diplomatic about it, but I'm still learning how to balance that with being true to myself. I'm still learning what it means to have a self to be true to.

I'm interested in helping people, in offering more than a virtual snuggle; I want to challenge people because we cannot grow without challenge. I'm not interested in walking on eggshells for the rest of my life. I'm not interested anymore in putting aside everything I need, everything I want, everything I am, to please somebody else.

Unsurprisingly, I'm less liked now.

Surprisingly, I don't mind nearly as much as I thought I would. It still hurts a lot, and it's very hard, still, to say no to my desire to please someone else. I don't always choose to do it, even when I know I 'should'. It's a learning curve, and this is just the beginning of another journey.

I used to think the world would end if I upset others, if I put myself first, if I failed to please someone...

Let me tell you, the world hasn't ended.

Yes, I'm less 'popular' now, but I feel, in some ways, like I am much more loved. People I truly admire -- people who are imperfect but never give up; who are good, kind, thoughtful people who have learned or are learning to respect themselves and put themselves first sometimes; who understand the value of change and challenge; who aren't afraid to give and take -- have noticed the change in me, in a good way. I feel like I have earned something much more valuable to me than mass outward approval - I feel that I have earned, dare I say it?, the respect of people I look up to. And I have earned something else, somehow, too, because I discovered something when I realised how much I have changed.

Not only would I would much rather have the respect and love of five* of those people than be universally liked; I'd rather respect myself than be universally liked, too.

*(I just wanted to put a number here and since I prefer numbers to be in multiples of 5...)

Cheer-leading / Challenge Statements:
It's okay to be proud of myself.
I don't have to be perfect.
I'm an okay person, and choosing to look after myself and my needs first doesn't change that.
I'm not responsible for other peoples' emotions.

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sanguine Sunday This Week

Man, I don't know how, but I forgot to do Sanguine Saturday yesterday! And it's funny because I was so excited on Friday I wanted to do it early!

Success Stories:
Absolutely no self injury all week.
Absolutely no drinking all week.
Called and re-made the appointments I needed to make.
Have been making the effort to wear my pressure garments - even the really uncomfortable ones.
Spent some time working towards goals.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Having Christmas lights up. (We're adding to them pretty much every day.)
My 'It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas' singing bear.
Good TV on DVD.

Cheer-leading statements:
I am an okay person.
It's okay to say that I am an okay person!
It's okay to put myself first.
I have as much right to be treated well as anyone else.

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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Very Late Sanguine Sunday

I've been enjoying beautiful Noosa since Wednesday, so please forgive the very lateness of this 'Sanguine' post! I hope you'll also forgive my not following along on blogs very well lately.

Success Stories:
Spending some time honouring my daughter, and not actually going completely loopy on her anniversary (even if it was kinda close).
I faced my fear and did a few very scary things; including (but not limited to!) dealing with groups of strangers, meeting my English friend who has been in Australia for a few months now, eating in front of someone in my "scary to eat in front of" group, and not entirely bowing down to my mother's wishes. Almost all of them worked out well for me (and all of the ones I listed worked out very well).
I practised a form of photography I'm not very good at -- holiday snapshots!
I haven't burnt in I'm not sure how long (at least 5 or 6 weeks?), I have no current stitches, and I haven't had a drink since last Monday night.
I made really good attempts to not get sunburnt over my graft sites.
I made a decision about lunch today!

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Meeting Kate!
Above and beyond service! (If anyone's interested, I definitely recommend staying at Chillout Noosa, run by Nic in Noosaville.)

Cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
Whatever I feel is okay.
No, really. I am not a bad person.
The best way to honour my little girl is to get on with my life. It's not disrespectful to live.
It's okay to put myself first sometimes.

Alright, I admit it, I stole these from Tuesday's post - I'm just so tired and I need to go to bed as I have a very early start tomorrow. That's okay, they're still relevant.

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Five Years Ago (Lyssi's Anniversary)

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the loss of my daughter. I was 22 years old and after a year of trying to conceive, we'd finally managed it.

Her father was less than impressed, but I was over the moon. I had so many hopes and plans for this baby, but because her father wasn't so keen, we hadn't discussed names yet. I lost her at about 8 weeks gestation, and some time much later I chose her name based on some of the few discussions we had had.

I'd always wanted my children to have unique names - my birth name was so common that I actually knew another girl at the same school as me whose name was *exactly* the same... right down to middle name! It bothered me a lot, and I vowed that my children wouldn't be in that situation. My husband, unfortunately, had a rather common surname as well, and wanted to name our first daughter after our grandmothers.

That wouldn't have been a problem, except his grandmother was Emily Elizabeth and mine was Amy Rose! I had always loved Rose, but my brother's wife had used that in my niece's name a few years before, so it was automatically disincluded from my list of possibles, leaving Emily, Elizabeth and Amy.. all far too popular to go with a common surname!

By this stage, my husband and I had separated (in fact, we separated about a week after I miscarried the baby), so I wasn't in a position to get his input, but I still wanted to honour him somehow within our daughter's name. Playing with the names one day, I came up with the perfect mesh of his grandmother and mine. That left her middle name, and that one was easy.

Without ceremony, on a day I don't even remember, I announced her name. Elyssami Faith.

Always, when it comes to November, my heart breaks with the ache of not having her. Spending time with my nephew, whose mother joyfully announced her pregnancy at the same event I tearfully whispered of my miscarriage and my marriage breakdown, becomes almost impossible and yet is craved beyond all things. I find myself thinking of all the things I wanted to have with her, for her, and wondering who she might have been. I know I need to let her go, but I'm still not sure if I'm ready yet.

'Lyssi, I love you, my little butterfly, my beautiful girl. I will always love you. I will never forget the little life I carried - your little life. I will do my best to honour you, today, tomorrow, and every day, until I can hold you again.

Cheer-leading / Challenge Statements:
It's okay to grieve for her. It's okay to be sad about the things I wanted for her.
It's okay to spend time doing things other than focusing on her for the entire day, too.
Falling in a heap and being an emotional wreck doesn't honour her. Living well, finding happiness, overcoming, THAT honours her.
Fighting my feelings will only make them stronger and lead to them lasting longer.
Letting go and forgetting are two very different things. (Thanks Ghost Whisperer!)

Tomorrow Erica and I are going to do something together to honour my little girl. Ideally, I want to spend some time doing something that I would have done with four year old 'Lyssi, were she here, and I'd love your suggestions! Even if it's too late to do them this year, we could always try for next year.

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Up Late Sanguine Saturday

Oops. Time got away from me.

Success Stories:
Made it through some tough days.
Told Erica something that was really hard to share.
Have been trying really hard to put myself first and not let outside things get in the way of that.
Made some decisions to not have certain conversations on days that I wasn't really capable of interacting appropriately.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Knowing I get to meet my Kate really soon.
Friends with wise words, friends with comforting presence, friends who just are.
Great TV shows on DVD.

Cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
Whatever I feel is okay.
No, really. I am not a bad person.
The best way to honour my little girl is to get on with my life. It's not disrespectful to live.
It's okay to put myself first sometimes.

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Today Is Sanguine Saturday!

Today I'm going to start my day with this.

Success Stories:
I was able to take some time for myself when my brother brought the kids over. I love spending time with them, but sometimes I do need breaks, especially at this time of year.
Managed to actually make it to three of my four appointments this week.
Cancelled the write-in I was supposed to enter so that I could stay home and look after myself because I woke up ill, instead of pushing myself to go and having the stress make me sicker.
Negotiated and made future plans with a friend.
Have been still trying with my NaNo story, even though I am quite far behind where I should be.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Generally, giraffes.
My nieces and nephew.
Christmas carols.
Kittens riding tortoises.
And my top thing for this week (turn your sound up):

Cheer-leading statements:
I'm doing the best I can.
It's okay to grieve.
I don't have to buy into my thoughts. I can acknowledge them, thank my mind, and let the thoughts go past.

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

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Sanguine Sunday

I don't know why I didn't write/post this yesterday. I guess I just got caught up in my NaNo writing.

Success Stories:
I'm still here. I'm still alive, I'm still fighting.
Rhi and I went along to the Brisbane NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party. It was great!
Went along to Karakan's Melbourne Cup thing, even though Erica wouldn't be there.
Even though I desperately wanted to burn after talking to my father, I didn't. I also didn't overdose (even though I really wanted to).
Even though I had a drinking binge, I contained it - it wasn't a binge followed by "screw it, I'll keep going...", it was one night of drinking that ended after six drinks.
I kept my appointment with Michele even though I really just wanted to hide away.
Instead of going straight home (bad idea), I made the choice to go to CASV afterwards. I even got to talk briefly to my ex-counsellor there, who left a message for Carol to give me a call (she did).
Even though things have been hard, I've been able to stay fairly on track (word count) with my novel for NaNoWriMo.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Friends with wise words, friends with comforting presence, friends who just are.
Melbourne Cup.

Cheer-leading statements:
In a choice between a rock and a hard place, I am doing the best I can to make the best possible decision. Sometimes that decision looks or feels horrible; sometimes that decision is horrible; and sometimes I get it wrong. That's okay.
I don't have to buy into my thoughts. I can acknowledge them, thank my mind, and let the thoughts go past.
I'm doing the best I can.
Not burning doesn't mean I'm not hurting, it just means I'm choosing a different path for myself.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Situation Coathanger (WARNING: SA)

WARNING: This post talks about sexual assault.

Once there was a little girl with a mummy, a daddy and two brothers. From the time she was born, her daddy loved her very much, and paid her more attention than he ever paid her brothers. Her mummy didn't like that very much, so to make up for it, she spent more time with her two sons. When the little girl's daddy started to be inappropriate, her mummy didn't notice. Eventually, the mummy got tired of the daddy never paying attention to anyone but his little girl, so she got a divorce from him. Every second weekend and a share of the holidays, the mummy sent all the children to spend time with their daddy; and later, with their daddy and his new wife. When the children visited their daddy and stepmother, they were usually not treated very nicely, not even the little girl, and the whole time, the daddy was inappropriate with the little girl, and so was her new stepmother.

When she was 12, her mummy kicked her out and sent her away to live with her daddy. After two years, her daddy didn't want her anymore either and he sent her back to her mummy's house. For the next few years, when she went with her brothers to visit her father and her stepmother, he wasn't inappropriate in that way anymore. When the girl got old enough, she moved back out of her mother's house and got married. That didn't go very well for her, either, but her father and stepmother knew they couldn't touch her while she was married. When the girl's husband wanted a divorce, she found a new boyfriend to keep her safe, but when that ended, she had to move back in with her mother.

The little girl's mother wanted to prove that she was a good mother, so even though the girl was now a woman, she had to call her father on special days and wish him nice ones, because if she didn't, her mother might kick her out again, and this time she didn't have anywhere to go...

I am 27 years old, and even though I have tried to cut contact with them; if my father and stepmother want to contact me, all they have to do is ring my home number, and I am bullied and/or tricked into talking to them. I am 27 years old, and whenever I am bullied into seeing my father, he still assaults me.

I am working on getting out of here. I have been on the housing list for a year, as the highest priority. I am in the process of moving interstate so that I can be and feel safe. But in the meantime...

In the meantime, my younger brother came down to my bedroom on Wednesday night, and asked me whether I was doing anything on January 8. I didn't even look up from what I was doing, I told him I wasn't sure but presumably I had no plans. As he said, "good, then you're going to Dad's", I looked up and saw the phone in his hand. My father had to have heard everything. My brother walked away, triumphant.

Ten minutes later, he returned and handed me the phone because my father wanted to talk to me, too.

There is no such thing as safety in this house, not for me. He can get me anywhere. He can come after me at any time, and my family will just hand me over.

This is always a difficult month for me, for unrelated reasons, but right now I am a mess. I am in the process of trying to quit alcohol as a coping/destruction mechanism; I am trying to organise things for this move; I'm in the process of reporting the assault when I was 15; I am trying to fix the friendships that fell apart when I came back from a holiday three months ago; there's a few other things going on that I'm not able to talk about right now; and I am trying to deal with everything that November means for me... and now this.

I want to say that I can't do this, that I don't have what it takes to live through this, but I know that if I choose to, I can and I will. I'm struggling, though, to want to choose to. Until I can get out of here, this is what my life will always be. And that's hard to know.

I know I am walking into a situation where I am going to be assaulted. I know that as much as I have been trapped into it, that doesn't stop it being a choice. And that means that I am, by definition, choosing to be assaulted. And that's where it gets too hard. Because I do not want it, but I am choosing it. And if I am choosing it, I deserve it. If I am choosing it, when it happens, it will be my own fault. It would be different if I didn't know, if I thought there was even a chance I would be safe, but all of my precautions come to nothing, every time. And I still go. I do have reasons for why I make the choice I make, but I cannot shake the belief, the knowledge, that this is my own fault.

This coat hanger binds me too tightly, I can no longer breathe. I wanted to challenge these thoughts, but I don't know how.

If anyone out there has any suggestions, they would very much be gratefully appreciated right now.

Cheerleading/Challenge Statements:
It's okay to do things to look after myself. It's okay to be a little bit gentle with me right now.
Even if it feels like the rest of my life will be like this, it won't be. Eventually something will change.

*Explanation on title: Carol and I were discussing this sort of situation after my call to dad for Father's Day. When she asked me to give the situation and the feelings associated with it, a shape, it was very clearly a coat hanger.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sanguine Saturday Falling On Sunday

No blather today. Hope everyone's well and happy.

Success Stories:
Two full weeks alcohol free.
Finally got hold of one of the two people I've been trying to get hold of, and although the conversation was difficult, I asked for what I needed and I kept asking despite the other person's misinterpretation of what I was asking for.
I continued the work on my anonymous report.
I was very honest with Carol last week when I was doing the form with her and it actually led to things that could well go very positive places.
I took part in Brisbane's Reclaim The Night march, and this year I even chanted/shouted some too, and was very brave about the police presence.
I have worked hard to challenge thoughts and feelings and to not act on destructive urges.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
NaNoWriMo (at least for the next half hour.. :P)
Crafts and craft supplies
Dressing up in costumes

Cheer-leading statements:
I am safe.
I have the right to ask for what I need. I have the right to ask for what I want. I have the right to ask for clarification when something is unclear to me.
It's okay that I exist.
Even when it feels as though I have no control over my thoughts/feelings, I am still, at the very least, in control of my behaviour.
However I feel is okay.

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trusting My Intuition

Intuition. Going with your gut. I wonder if that's a concept that others with Borderline Personality Disorder commonly struggle with, as well. I can see how it could be tied into various aspects of living with BPD; the lack of belief and trust in yourself, the lack of (knowledge of) a self to trust in... I can see that.

If you'll forgive my segue into something that may (at this point) seem completely unrelated, I remember once reading that people who have Borderline Personality Disorder are particularly sensitive to the moods of others. By that, I hasten to add, I don't mean in terms of the well known Borderline hypersensitivity to rejection; rather, in terms of recognising general emotions in others, and being able to identify when others are being false about their emotions. I wish I could find that article again because it was fairly interesting, even if, at the time, I disagreed with a lot of what was said. I mention it now because a recent situation in my life has given me cause to really ponder some of the ideas behind that.

You see, when I came back from Canberra, I sensed that things in my circle of friends weren't 'right'. Something felt off. I told myself that I was just being paranoid; that I was misinterpreting the situation and that I was being silly.

My friends started doing more and more things without me; things we had previously done together. I felt excluded, but I told myself that it was just that they had made the plans when I wasn't there, and just hadn't thought to let me know/invite me; or that they were preparing for my intended move; or that they were giving me time and space to prepare for the move.

When we did hang out, I felt waves of dislike coming from my friends, and especially from one friend in particular. I told myself over and over again that I was just projecting my own dislike for myself onto my friends. I told myself that they wouldn't invite me to hang out with them if they didn't like me, if they didn't want me there. I tried to talk over the top of the little voice in my head that suggested that maybe I was right, maybe something really was wrong in these friendships.

I spent three months in this daily fight with myself, trying to drown out that "unhelpful voice" that was telling me that something wasn't right. I wasted three months. Eventually, something happened and a conversation occurred between one of my friends and I. I told her how I had been feeling, she told me what had been going on. It turns out, you see, that I wasn't just paranoid. My initial thought, my recognition that something wasn't right, turned out to be spot on. Something really had been going on in my friendships, and I had wasted three months telling myself that my recognition of that was wrong, that it was the unhealthy and unhelpful voice of paranoia.

Things with some of that group of friends are back on track, now. They're not back where they used to be, but I'm more okay with how things are. That first friend I talked to, she apologised. I apologised. There were a lot of miscommunications; a lot of misunderstandings and, yes, plenty of mistakes... on both sides of the coin. And the day we started to talk about it, we both began to heal those wounds. It was not an easy day for either of us; but (and I speak here for myself, only, I cannot say whether these words ring true for any other people) I think it was certainly a worthwhile one.

I wouldn't wish for it to happen again, but there was value in that experience. I learned some very important things that I would not otherwise have learned yet.

Not only did I re-learn the importance of honesty and clear communication in my friendships, but I learned that my "unhealthy voice of paranoia" is my own intuition; insistent but unpracticed and generally unrecognised. I learned the importance of trusting that intuition and of acting on that in responsible ways.

I also learned that maybe there is something to the idea that, as someone with BPD, I might be more sensitive to mood changes in others. It makes sense, after all. As a child, my survival depended on being able to judge a situation or a person's mood, it makes sense that as an adult, I am still able to tap into that skill; however unintentionally or subconsciously I do it.

The trick, then, in understanding how such a concept might work, came in recognising for the first time that being able to detect changes in another person's mood, means just that. It doesn't mean I'll get it right every time; it doesn't mean there won't be misunderstandings. In fact, it is probably this sensitivity that leads to those misunderstandings, such as in the following scenario:

We are walking together and as we walk, we chatter. Suddenly, you see a car go past that reminds you of your ex-husband's car. Your mood drops.

I notice that your mood has changed, but I might decide that it's because I've said the wrong thing, or that you are wondering why you hang out with a loser like me. My intuition has recognised that change ... but my disordered thinking has misinterpreted the facts.

I can trust my intuition! It's necessary to remember not to blindly act on the specifics of it, but if I sense something change, if it's important, it's okay to trust my intuition and check in with the other person! In fact, it's more than important, it's downright essential.

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keeping Up With Sanguine Saturday

Today it is a real struggle to try and get words together. My body feels restless and full of energy; but my brain feels sluggish and confused. Disoriented. I have little recollection of much of the past week. I do believe this is mainly fallout, this is my brain and my automatic coping mechanisms protecting me, and I am trying to be okay with that. It does mean, though, that I'm not keeping up very well with all the blogs I usually read - I am reading, but commenting seems beyond my ability just now. I'm still here, but I'm somewhere else, too.

Success Stories:
As of waking up tomorrow morning, I will be able to say that I have not touched my alcohol in a full week.
I faced my fears yet again, in relation to an ongoing situation.
I have been chasing two people I need to talk to about something that is very difficult - and in both cases, the fact that I haven't talked with them yet is out of my control.
I allowed myself to be vulnerable in front of my alcohol counsellor.
I took the first step filling out an anonymous report for the police, about the assault when I was 15.
I have accepted an offer to sell the 'epic dreamcatcher' I made for CASV's art exhibition, and even more significantly, declined the one that was less money than would pay even for the materials used to create it.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Small moments of beauty
Coca cola
Precious friends

Cheer-leading statements:
I am only responsible for my own thoughts and emotions, not anybody else's.
I have the power to choose the path I want to walk down.
I am an adult, I am safe, and unless I tell him, he will never know what I have done unless I choose to tell him.
It's okay to feel what I feel.
It's okay to accept money for my art/creations, and to place value on the things I produce. It's okay to say "I made this thing and it has value".

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I did something pretty scary today, but I'm too all over the place to write about that just now, so instead, here are some statements from the little affirmation-y type cards that my counsellor shared with me today.

* It is safe for me to speak up for myself.
* I stand on my own two feet. I accept and use my own power.

* I am not responsible for other people. We are all under the law of our own consciousness.
* It is no fun being a victim. I refuse to be helpless anymore. I claim my own power.

* Everyone in my life has something to teach me. We have a purpose in being together.
* As I change my thoughts, the world around me changes.

* Each day is a new opportunity. Yesterday is over and done. Today is the first day of my future.
* I know that old, negative patterns no longer limit me. I let them go with ease.

* I have the strength to remain calm in the face of change.
* I am in the process of making positive changes in all areas of my life.

* It does not matter what other people say or do. What matters is how I choose to react and what I choose to believe about myself.
* I take a deep breath and allow myself to relax. My whole body calms down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Learning Experiences: Lies and Omissions

Lately, life seems to be throwing a whole bunch of pretty big learning experiences my way. They're not always pleasant; in truth, most of them have been very unpleasant; but viewing them as learning experiences makes it easier to bear the uncomfortableness.

I've had the opportunity to learn about life, people, and most of all, to learn about myself. Today I'd like to explore something I started to write yesterday...

Is it ever acceptable and okay to lie? Certainly a large part of me doesn't think so, but my instinctive reaction isn't always in accordance with that. Case in point, this morning. I got up and got myself ready at the dawn of stupid o'clock, ready for my morning appointment. As I was leaving, my mother saw me. Once I had confirmed to her that I was headed to the hospital, my mother followed it up with, "done it again then, I take it?"

I won't go into all of the thoughts and feelings a comment like that brings up for me (that would be a post all on its own, I think); but I will say that before I'd even properly taken in the question, before I'd even properly understood what she was asking, the word "no" was already on my lips.

I ask myself again, "is it ever acceptable and okay to lie?", and this time I begin to speculate about abusive situations. What do I really believe? Is it okay to lie if you're going to be abused if you don't? Is it okay to lie if telling the truth endangers your life? I'm still not sure.

I read The Kite Runner not so long ago, and one particular paragraph from that has truly stuck with me:
"There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft....When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness."

I don't feel okay about lying to my mother. Technically I told her the truth; I had my appointment when I did because that was when the OTs would be working. I also omitted a large portion of the truth - I had "done it again", (although it was three weeks ago). I didn't lie for gain; I lied for my emotional well-being and her protection... but that doesn't make it right. Is stealing someone's right to the truth really any better than stealing someone's right to be safe? I still don't know.

So now I ask you, is it ever acceptable or okay to lie? How much (if any) omission makes something a lie?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sanguine Saturday Has Come Again

Some of you may notice that I've added a little bit on the side with three links. After some encouragement, I decided to open a crafting blog (Little Bloo Creativity) and a photography blog (From Another Angle); and the third link is my Writers Cafe profile. The new blogs are, obviously, new, but I invite you to check them out if you're interested.

Anyhow, house-keeping aside, it's that time of the week again! And this has been another eventful one, that's for sure.

Success Stories:
Getting my room tidied in time for the house inspection.
Getting my exhibits in on time for the art exhibition at CASV.
Doing some work towards a long-term goal of mine.
Going to the Mental Health Week 'celebrations' by myself until my friends arrived.
Talking with one of my friends about something that's been going on for a long time. Two down, one to go?
Attending the opening of the art exhibition and forcing myself to talk with a few people (though I regret that I wasn't brave enough to start a conversation with any of the 'strangers').
Crying in front of Carol. (Doesn't sound like an achievement; didn't feel like one, either; but I'm recognising it as one because it shows that I chose not to avoid something that was incredibly difficult to talk about.)
Lighting my candles last night for the Wave of Light (pregnancy and infant loss awareness day). It was hard, as it is hard every year, but I am glad that I honoured my son and my daughter (and a few other children that were lost too soon).
Spent some time yesterday scrapbooking so that I wasn't sitting around feeling bad all day. Although they're pretty simple layouts, I'm pretty okay with them (especially since I've not been scrapbooking very long).
I'm learning to accept compliments.
I've had a couple of alcohol free days, no major binges (10+ drinks) and I've managed to keep track of how much I've had every day.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
My new blogs!
Making my sanguine Saturday post every week.
Art and craft.
NCIS (especially Abby).
The opportunity to honour my children.

Cheer-leading statements:
The only way to find out what's been said and what the motives were is to go to the source.
It's okay to feel the way I feel, whatever I feel.
Feelings are not facts.
Not self harming doesn't mean I'm not hurting, it just means I'm choosing to make healthier choices for myself.
It's okay to be proud of something I did, even if others don't think it is "good" or "worthy".

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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sanguine Saturday With A Question

I need this so much right now that I'm doing it even though I'll probably need to go back and fix it (check things and add things etc) later.

Success Stories:
I get up every day.
I've had some days where I've chosen not to drink, and some days where I've simply chosen to drink less, and I've agreed with Michele to at least be aware of how much I am drinking. (Who knew a single serve of vodka was so little?)
I did the right thing and showed the hospital the new burn.
I went to the candle lighting. I read my poems. I stayed (mainly) present for the whole thing.
I talked a little with Carol about some sensitive subjects and made a plan to talk to her next session about my son (because the candle lighting bought up a lot to do with him).
I supported a friend who needed me.
I talked with someone about an issue that's been going on for a long time and made a plan to talk to others next time I see them. Not only is this facing fear, avoiding avoidance and using my GIVE skills, but I DEAR MANd (kinda).
I've been getting work done for the exhibition I've entered some work into.
I've been practicing my mindfulness even more.

This week I'm grateful for:
My new blue shirt with a giraffe on it.
My camera.
You. (And a couple of other people who don't read this, as well.)
Craft and beading supplies.

Cheer-leading statements:
Even if it's true, she's not disapproving of *me*. (Thanks, Kate!)
Just because 'the crazy' says something, it doesn't make it fact. I can choose not to listen to that voice.
It's okay to feel the way I feel, even if it doesn't seem that way.
Other peoples' judgements of me do not define me.

This week I'm going to leave you with some questions that came up for me with my cheerleading statements: if other peoples' judgements don't define me, what does? How do you define yourself? How would you teach someone else to define themselves? Are they the same?

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Lighting Of The Candles

Every year, as part of their Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM) campaign, the Centre Against Sexual Violence (CASV) runs a Candle Lighting event to honour survivors.

Last year was my first time attending it, and although it was very powerful, it was also a very difficult experience. I had been invited to include some poetry to be read by my ex counsellor, and by the time the poetry reading occurred, I had completely dissociated. TJ, I believe, saw far more of the event than I did. I do remember lighting the candles towards the end, one for Myki' and one for "all survivors", but most of the day is a blur to me.

This year, they held the candle lighting at the centre. It was a much smaller, more personal, gathering, and (despite recent misgivings), I am in a more stable place with regard to this sort of topic.

This year there were two survivors who gave a short speech; another woman who gave a longer talk and spoke about how she came from being a victim to a survivor to a "thriver"; a poetry reading by me (!) and two young ladies who performed a song they had written. There were also speeches given by the CASV staff and Margaret Keech, the Labor state member for Albert.

For me, there are no words for the experience of hearing another survivor share their story. It is both heartbreaking and inspirational, and the courage of all of the women today astounded me and gave me hope; for myself and for every woman who experiences SV. That said, it is hard to hear. There were tears. I did dissociate some. It did bring back memories of my own. But it was worth it.

And, d'you know what else was worth it? Standing up there, facing my fear, and reading my own two poems to that room of people. It wasn't the public speaking part that bothered me - if I didn't have to write it, I could fairly easily deliver a speech. That taps into my love of performing, reminds me of dramatic readings done in English in early high school (and I always performed well). But to stand there and read something that I wrote? Who wants to hear that? And, the biggest thing for me:

Reading my own poems about SV meant announcing, albeit indirectly, that I had experienced it.

I was terrified. I doubted my ability to do it. I was so afraid that people would think I was pushing my writing on them when it's not really all that wonderful. I was horrified at the idea that everyone in that room would know my "dirty laundry", and I was frightened that word would get back to my abusers. (Actually, to be honest, I'm still afraid of that!) I was afraid that this room of people wouldn't believe me, and I was afraid that they would.

But I faced those fears. I prepared myself as best I could and when Rachel got to me, I walked to the front and stood at that microphone. I opened my paper and I read the words that I had written. I read the way I had written, from the deepest part of my heart, and I read well. (That's not me big-noting myself, that's what I was told afterwards! The words "confident", "composed", "powerful" and "commanding" were also used.)

True, as soon as it was over I practically flew out the door to get some air, but that's okay. I gulped at the air like it was... well, air, but for a drowning person.

Later, when we lit the candles, I said quietly to myself,
this candle is for my friends, and this is for all of the survivors everywhere, but most of all, this is for you, Myki, and for that little girl who wasn't ready to be your mother.

(For those of you who haven't seen them, these are the two poems I read):

At Least It's Not A Revolution

On your first birthday you reached
forward, you used to tell us,
leaned forward and held on
though the candle burnt your fingers.

Your father comforted you
but he wasn't interested in his sons.

By the time you were 3
his hands were turning the nights to secret places
and painting you into a desert.

It was in that year your Daddy walked away
and you knew (in the way that children always know),
the glue that was you wasn't enough.

He wasn't interested in his sons,
and that, too, was down to you.

Where are you now?

When you were 18,
on your niece's first birthday,
she reached forward,
leaned forward and held on
though the candle burnt her fingers.


Your body on the bed, his silhouetted,
above. Your only avenue for escape
is this - pull back.

Slide away, let the scents recede,
disappear. Forget the terror -
leave it behind when you go. You are
no longer the girl on the bed.

Unattached, you are genderless -
no longer a girl, a woman, you are

You are not what you were, you are
something but nothing; you
are that speck upon the wall.

Strange to see the detail in
the husk beneath the silhouette;
blank, unfeeling.

Strange to feel nothing, but those
are not your wounds, anymore. Those
are not your limbs, are not your breasts,
are not your bruised lips.

When it is over you will return to that body,
you will scrub away the skin left behind. You
will turn yourself inside out trying
to turn yourself whole.

Let yourself return. Let yourself feel
what it means to have a body
again and maybe,
just maybe, you will slowly reclaim
what it means to be a woman.

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

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Sanguine Saturday (Anyone else get Cat Stevens stuck in their heads after that?)

Hey look, it's Saturday again. I've been having crazy mood-swings today. It's interesting. With the way things have been in my head the last little while, crazy mood-swings are an improvement because at least with those there have been ups!

My 'count' of success stories this week is drastically low, but I was very physically unwell at the start of the week, and have been in extraordinary amounts of physical pain, so I'm going to be gentle with myself over this.

Success Stories:
Again, I've had a couple of days alcohol free. And days where I've chosen to drink but have been aware and careful about how much alcohol I've consumed.
I sought medical attention for things that needed it.
I sought medical advice when I wanted to confirm whether I was only suffering from an infected wound or if there was more to it (turns out, there was).
I rescheduled two appointments in order to look after my physical needs, but I was careful to not cancel the one with my alcohol counsellor.
I asked mum to get some juice with the shopping so that I'm not just drinking Coke/soft drink.
I did a few things I was avoiding.
I got in contact with some friends I haven't really spoken to in a while.
I did some DEAR MAN.
I've spent some time doing craft and I did some reading for Carol.

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
Skyping with my best friend.
Craft and my epic dreamcatcher.
Soft and fluffy things.
Pictures of raccoons and squirrels.
Little teeny tiny monkeys!

Cheer-leading statements:
Feelings are not facts.
It's okay to feel the way I feel.
It's okay to ask for what I need.
Moving is a big thing. It's okay to feel a lot of feelings in relation to that.
Not everybody is going to react like my mother does.

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sanguine Saturday Again

Success Stories:
I've had a couple of days alcohol free.
I've gotten up every day. Some days I've even achieved a little more than that. ;)
In session with Carol, I was honest with her about what's going on for me - including discussing something that was terrifying for me to admit to. (Facing fear/avoidance)
I also told Carol I would read my poem at the candle-lighting and even said I'd read two, and any others that people don't want to read themselves, if they want.
I followed medical instructions on care for my graft, even when I didn't want to. (PLEASE)
I made attempts to include positive experiences in my week as well as practicalities. (Emotion regulation)
Faced my fear enough to send off a few emails that needed to be sent.
Have continued efforts to get my stuff sorted for moving. Sometimes that means something as small as taking out the trash, other days it's been as big as cleaning off my desk.
I attended a workshop for Reclaim The Night (though I won't be going to RTN this year because I, hopefully, will no longer be in Brisbane by then).
Supported causes that are important to me - by wearing Red for Ruby yesterday, and writing "love" for Australian TWLOHA. (And yes, anyone who reads this who doesn't have me on facebook is welcome to add that account.)

Gratitudes/things that make me happy:
My lovely friends.
Enterprise themed household goods.
Canberra zoo.
Pretty flowers.
Taking photographs.

Cheer-leading statements:
Feelings are not facts.
It's okay to feel the way I feel.
I deserved better and it's more than okay to acknowledge that.
It's okay to ask for what I need.
I am not a bad person. Not because of x, not because of y, and not for any other reason, either.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Father's Day Phone Call

Nightmares are, for me, a regular thing. Generally, assuming I sleep, I have at least one nightmare every day. Every so often, a nightmare will be particularly powerful, and it will leave me feeling off kilter (or worse) for the entire day. Last night, I had a nightmare like that, and it has served only to highlight the fact that I really need to sort my head out about my father.

My father's birthday falls right on the tail end of August, and I made the decision not to call him and wish him a happy one. I challenged my guilt and refused to bow down to it, but when Father's Day came around a week later, I didn't keep it up. I gave in to my fears, to my guilt, to my desire to be viewed as a "good" person-- a good daughter.

I think, above all, that's what I wanted. I want(ed) my mother and father to be pleased with me, to be pleased and proud and to tell me I was good. Silly, isn't it? Rationally and logically I am aware that neither of those was going to happen.

In fact, what happened is that my father and I discussed my move. (Since my stepsister found my old Facebook account and messaged me about the impending move, I knew he would already know.) I expected he wouldn't be pleased. I expected to hear how irresponsible I am and so forth, and I expected anger at the fact that I am moving so far away -- far enough that I will finally (I hope) be safe from him. What threw me was the hurt in his voice.

I've heard other survivors say that hearing their person sound afraid or hurt in that way was quite healing for them - it helped them see their attacker as human and infallible; it gave them a sense of power over the person who had hurt them. I didn't feel any of that - I felt, I bet you can't guess! - guilt. Deep, burning guilt.

I had hurt my daddy's feelings so deeply that it showed in his very voice. How dare I? Who am I to hurt my father that way?

And more than that, I felt deep guilt/shame for feeling guilty over hurting him, because, after everything, shouldn't I be glad about it? (And if I'm not, then maybe it provides more evidence that I deserved it, that it was all my fault.)

I have struggled daily with both lots of this guilt ever since, though I have tried to challenge the thoughts and use my skills to handle this situation and these emotions. I have tried as much as I can to take myself out of the situation ("what if [acquaintance] felt this way?"). Unfortunately my counsellor has hurt her back and has been unavailable since before Father's Day, so I haven't been able to discuss it properly, but I have been trying very hard to keep this from becoming an implosion.

I believe in the power of words, the power of visibilised thoughts, so in the absence of Carol, here are some challenges and the like to the situation/emotions.

Who am I to hurt my father? What about who was he to hurt his daughter? I may have hurt his feelings by planning to move, but I might not feel the need to move so far away if he was a safe person to have in my life! At least I can say that my actions (moving) weren't done with intent to hurt him. I wonder if he can say the same?

As for the second half...
Feeling guilt for hurting someone's feelings just indicates that I'm compassionate - it definitely doesn't mean that I deserved what happened to me as a child. And how I 'should' feel is however I do feel!

Challenges/cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
It's okay to do things that are for my health and well-being, even if those things do upset others.
I'm not responsible for another person's emotional health.
All emotions are okay and valid, even the ones I don't like.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Sanguine Saturday

No babble today, just going to jump straight into it.

Success Stories:
I've managed to go through my bookshelf (all except the bottom row that I can't actually get to properly yet) and pulled out about a third of the books to definitely go in the garage sale.
Posting my Sanguine Saturday every week.
Talking to the doctors at the RBH into letting me have a different type of dressing so I only have to go there once a week instead of twice.
I've been doing some serious walking (distraction & PLEASE) and trying to eat better (PLEASE).
I put in the entry forms to enter some of my creations (4 photographs, 3 photo & writing collaborations, 2 craft items and a collection of writings) into an exhibition at the women's violence centre (CASV).
My Centrelink social worker (Gail) and I tried to contact the psychologist my GP referred me to a while ago. (It turned out that she is no longer working though, so I definitely won't be starting with her before I go to Canberra.)
I have decided that I would like to read my own poem at the CASV candle-lighting ceremony this year, and in order to practice, I read it for Gail.
Even though the idea of going into MH with a dressing still on my leg terrified me, I faced that fear in order to ask Cameron about the art workshop that I had written down for Friday. (Unfortunately, he'd had to cancel due to lack of numbers.)
Faced my Fear about talking on the phone and called a friend who needed someone to talk to.
I used a little bit of planning skills and forward thinking when I paid my phone bill so that I won't need to pay it next month when I'm moving.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
My friends.
Being creative.

Cheer-leading statements:
Not burning doesn't mean I'm not hurting, all it means is that I'm choosing to make better choices for myself.
It's okay to be who I am rather than who someone else wants me to be.
Whatever I feel is okay.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moth To A Flame (Lunch With The Ex-Husband)

Sometimes I get too caught up in trying to write well and don't end up writing at all. For days I've been puzzling at a few things I've wanted to write, but perfectionism has reared its ugly head so much that everything has been deleted instead of posted.

Have I thought a lot about why I made the choices I have, lately, in regard to my ex-husband and my father? Yes. Have I come to any helpful conclusions? Not so much.

I knew, from the moment I arranged to see my ex and meet his daughter that I was going to do this. I knew, also, that it was probably not in the realms of the smartest idea I'd ever had. I remember saying to a friend what my plans were and she told me straight up, "cancel it". I rationalised all the ways it could be good - and I think we both knew that's all it was. Rationalisations. Cancelling just wasn't on the cards.

So why not? Why, when I know the kind of person he is, when I know that the situation is a tricky one for me, did I do it?

Curiosity certainly played a part. I wanted to know what his child was like. I wanted to see for myself whether she was cute (she is), what kind of a father he made (a good one). I have a lot of unanswered questions about the way things ended up - part of me hoped that if I asked my questions (I didn't), he'd give me those answers (he couldn't).

He treated me much the same as always, though I admit he was quite toned down. For my part, DBT has obviously influenced me as I called the shots a bit: I chose the area we met in and when I didn't like the restaurant he chose, I asked for us to go somewhere else. Otherwise, I slipped fairly well back into my old role (I'm working on it).

What did I get out of the experience? A heightened sense of guilt. I'm not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not good enough... and I never was. Sadness for what was, what could have been... what has been lost. Anger. He has re-written our history in his mind so that he doesn't have to feel bad about what he did. He repeatedly tells me that I left him, and while this is technically true, he ignores the fact that I seriously contemplated staying, after everything, until he left me stranded in the middle of a breakdown and lied about why. His staunchest supporter took me home to her place that night and told me that I was an idiot if I so much as thought about staying with him.

Did I get anything good out of it? I'm sure I must have. I believe that there is good to be found in every situation, but sometimes it's very hard to see. I haven't seen it yet in this one. I wish I could say that, at the very least, what I got out of it is a renewed determination to stay away from him, but it would be a lie. Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to him.

Still, perhaps next time I will be able to stand more in wise mind. Even the moth has a choice...

Cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
Every day is a new chance, new beginning.
Criticisms levelled at me without constructive intent say a lot more about the other person than they do about me.
It's okay to feel whatever I feel.
The world doesn't have to be divided into black & white.

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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sanguine Saturday

Woah. Big day today. For my niece's birthday, I asked her if she wanted to go to DreamWorld or if she wanted a toy, and - big surprise - she wanted DreamWorld. It's been months, but I finally got to take her today. She's a great kid.

I didn't manage to meet the two challenges I set for myself this week, but I've decided to go easy on myself about it. It's been an extremely hard week. This new week is a new chance, and I'll keep taking it a day at a time and putting one foot in front of the other. I do believe that I'll see the other side of this tunnel, and I'm trying to keep going in the best way I can so that when I reach the light, I can still walk towards it under my own steam.

Success Stories:
Asking for things a couple of times.
Even though I didn't do something towards moving on every day of the past week, I did actually manage it on most. Challenge set again for the upcoming week.
I've been trying to do the right thing re sunscreen and zinc cream in regard to my burn scars now that I know why it's important not to get them burnt.
On Monday, when I heard that an appointment I was counting on had been cancelled, instead of falling apart, I decided to follow through with my plan to talk to Centrelink about my situation.
On Thursday, when things were collapsing around me at the shops, I kept my cool instead of turning to avoidance behaviours. (Yes, I know it didn't last after I got home, but I'll take anything I can get.)
When I recognised that I'm struggling a lot, I tried to do the right thing and make a phone call asking for more mindfulness that might help.
I have worked really hard to be sensible with my self harm, so that even if I am self harming, at least it has been controlled self harm.
I faced fear a little bit to take my niece on a ride at DreamWorld that she wanted to go on. (So what if it ended with me crying and my niece playing the adult telling me it was going to be okay!)

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
New Terry Pratchett novels!
My beautiful nieces and nephew.
Knowing that my niece is a beautiful, compassionate person who knows that her aunt loves her.
Wise friends who, instead of just giving me the answers, help me find them for myself.

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to ask for help when I need it. It's okay to ask for help even before things are "out of control".
I'm not perfect and I don't have to be.
I am not a bad person.
When someone says something about me, it says a lot more about them than it does about me.

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Taking A Look At My Choices

The last few weeks, and particularly last weekend, have been an uphill battle for me. In many ways, I can see how I am a world from where I was; in others I seem to be running headlong down the trail to where I was. I've made some good decisions that have worked out, some good decisions that haven't and some really phenomenally poor decisions (that, unsurprisingly, mostly didn't work out well). I'm learning that all of those are okay.

So, in the interests of being honest with myself on where the decisions I've made lately lie...

Healthy decisions/actions (whether or not they worked out in the way I had hoped):
Putting an online acquaintance on psuedo-ignore.
Not calling my father on his birthday.
Putting Serenity on to distract myself.
Going to Riverfire with some friends.
Working hard to do healthy things (like drinking lots of juice and having vitamin C tablets) to help my body heal faster.
Posting my regular "Sanguine ..." post, even though I think it was painfully obvious that I wasn't doing very well at the time.
Going in and talking to a social worker at Centrelink.
Asking the hospital if I could make my visits less frequent and get my nurse to do dressings in the meantime.
E-mailing a domestic violence place in Canberra about my options to gather information for when I move.
Getting my nurse to sort out a dressing and check out some things.
Having an apple and a banana instead of chocolate.

Unhealthy decisions/actions:
Calling my father on Father's Day.
Arranging to meet up with my ex husband so I could meet his daughter.
Not turning Serenity off after it became clear to me that it was extremely triggering.
Putting Law & Order SVU on after calling my father.
Reasoning that because I'd had an apple and a banana I didn't need breakfast or lunch.

Uncertain decisions:
Not talking to people about how I feel.
Not asking for support.

(I know these two seem to be clearly in the unhealthy decisions 'box' but due to circumstances I can't seem to word coherently, I'm not sure that applies in the instances this refers to. For example, if I know or should reasonably know that you haven't been trash-talking me, I don't think it's necessarily healthy for me to tell you I feel betrayed; or if someone else's support needs are higher than mine, it's not necessarily a healthy or fair decision for me to request support at that time.)

Having done this, I'm surprised there are so many healthy choices on the list! It's a nice surprise, though. I think I want to look in more detail about why I made the unhealthy choices I did. Some of them are easily explained ("I wanted to self destruct more than I wanted to get better" or "I'm feeling too lazy to be sensible") but things came of a couple of the things on that list that I want to explore in more detail. I think I'll make that my goal for this week. At the very least, it'll give me something to discuss with Carol!

I'm going to make one other goal for myself this week; and that is to do something related to moving house every day. Even if it's something small (like sending an e-mail or finishing some paperwork that needs to be done). I'll check in on Sanguine Saturday with how well I've gone with this one!

Cheer-leading statements:
My emotions are valid and acceptable. Even the ones I don't like!
It's okay to make healthy choices.
It's also okay to make unhealthy choices sometimes - they give me a chance to grow and learn.
My past doesn't have to define me. My present doesn't, either.
I'm not responsible for anyone's feelings or actions except my own.

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

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sanguine (Sun)day

Please forgive any abruptness. I'm exhausted, I have a cold and this weekend is full of some pretty large events/triggers.

Success Stories:
Getting angry about the way certain people have treated/are treating me. It doesn't sound like a good thing (or, come to that, feel like one!), but I think it is actually a step in the right direction.

Trying to make the right choice, even when it turns out (through coincidence/bad luck) to be just as triggery as if I had deliberately made an unhealthy one.

Even though I met with my ex husband and his daughter, I made attempts to use DEAR MAN and other skills instead of just letting him call all the shots. I chose the location and when I didn't like the restaurant he chose, I spoke up and asked if we could go to a different one. We did.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Pretty fireworks (like these, these and these).
Getting some photos that I was okay with (like this one).
Fresh squeezed orange juice.

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to feel whatever I feel.

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When The "Good Parent" Isn't

This has been rattling around in my brain for several weeks now. I'm not sure whether there's any value in it or not, but I'll leave it in hopes that writing it is another way of working towards acceptance of the truth.

This post may trigger, it contains references to various forms of abuse.

In the year my older brother was 3, my parents decided that they were ready for a second child; in January the following year they bought home their first (and only) daughter. Less than a year after I was born, my father forced himself upon my mother while she was too ill to get to the shop to buy contraception... I was 18 months old when my baby brother came into the world.

To hear my mother tell it, from the day they bought me home, my father doted on me. I was Daddy's little girl, his pride and joy; when he got home from work, he'd come straight in to check on me and ignore my brothers. She cites this as one of the primary reasons for their separation (before my third birthday) and divorce. What my mother doesn't know, or doesn't want to know, is that by the time they separated, my father was already molesting me.

As I grew up, I saw my father every second weekend and the abuse continued, escalating. Under his care, the three of us would be left in the car while he went into the shop; or if we were taken in, we younger two would be left in the care of our brother. He began to date, and eventually married, the woman we were to come to know as our stepmother (s). Briefly, I thought things would surely improve, but it turned out that she was just as bad as he was. (S) was living in a house that had an unfenced, in-ground pool at this time, and though only my older brother was able to swim, we would often be sent outside unsupervised; locked out or thrown into the pool. We would be regularly belittled and harassed for our appearance, personality, behaviour, abilities... anything and everything, basically. I can't speak for what abuses my brothers endured in private, but I was subjected to several kinds of violence on this weekends. I spent a lot of time honestly believing that I could very well die.

My mother, on the other hand, hit us only very occasionally, usually when we were acting like savages. She told us, as children, that we could be anything, do anything, that we wanted. She would tell us that our looks were fine; it was okay to have stuffed toys, to play with trucks, to play with dolls. She wasn't all roses - she'd favour my brothers over me; constantly lay the blame on me for things; call me names as I grew older; be overprotective to the point of controlling...

Small things.

I think it was for this reason that coming to terms with even the idea that my mother is abusive has been, in many ways, even more difficult than coming to terms with the idea that my father was.

In my head, my parents were divided into the 'good' parent and the 'bad' parent. My father, as the one who was more distant, who neglected my brothers, was clearly the bad parent; this left my mother in the 'good' parent role. And, in comparison to my father, she was certainly the better parent. I still believe that whatever damage she's done, she was doing the best job she knew how; she was trying to be a good mother. In truth, the knowledge that she did the best job she knew how to do has been one of the biggest blocks in accepting her behaviour as abusive.

Too, I am able to place more distance between myself and my father. While he is now a figure I see perhaps twice a year, my mother and I live together. I lived with my father full time for just under five years of my life (the first 3 and the two years between 12 & 14), so he remains vaguely a stranger. I lived with my mother for 16 years as a child/teenager, and another 3 or 4 as an adult -- I know her. I see her every day, and I have interactions with her that are positive, and I have interactions with her that aren't.

My mother's abuse is more subversive than my father's, in general. There is more distance. There is a "good parent" block. There are more positive interactions to draw on that hide the abuse. For whatever reason, it blends better; blurs the lines more on what is actually abuse.

It's still so easy to slip into denial. "Of course she's not abusive, I'm just twisting everything she's ever said. It's not abuse if she's right..."

Except that she's not right and it is abuse and it's not acceptable.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.
As hoped, I was released on Monday and have been continuing to recuperate at home, mostly on a mattress on the floor (not comfortable at ALL). I'm back on my bed now, though!

Success Stories:
Negotiating a time with my friend to have him finish fixing my laptop (installing the new keyboard) -- even though it was instigated by him, and we ended up going with the time that he originally suggested and I felt guilty because he was the one doing me the favour.

Even though I'm having no success, I'm practicing my skills as I try to talk to my mother about my plans to move.

Instead of fighting against my thoughts and feelings, I'm actively working on accepting them and trying not to attempt to talk myself out of them.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Working internet.
Bejeweled Blitz.
Scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies.
....and not to forget, just for Sairs, giraffes!

Cheer-leading statements:
It's okay to not take on board the things my mother says about me.
I do matter, and what's more - I'm allowed to matter.
I am not a bad person.

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things To Remember Every Day

I stole this from a handout Carol gave me a few weeks ago. I think we can all do with reminding ourselves regularly of at least one thing on this list -- whether we are women or men.

What it means to be a woman:

* I have the right to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, at all times.

* I have the right to make my own decisions about the course of my life.

* I have the right to have dreams - and to work toward making these dreams come true.

* I have the right to feel good about myself as a person and as a woman.

* I have the right to choose who will be my friends, whom I will spend time with, and whom I will confide in.

* I have the right to make mistakes.

* I have the right to change my mind.

* I have the right to be happy.

* I have the right to ask for what I want.

* I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

* I have the right to express all of my feelings, bo9th positive and negative (in a respectful way).

* I have the right to say no.

* I have the right to determine my own priorities.

* I have the right not to be responsible for others' behaviour, actions, feelings, or problems.

* I have the right to my own needs and personal space and time.

* I have the right to be in a non-abusive relationship.

* I have the right to change and grow.

* I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.

* I have the right to be uniquely myself.

Since this entire post is pretty much cheer-leading statements, I won't include those here, but if I post my homework later tonight, I'll include some separate cheer-leading statements there.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sanguine Saturday In Hospital

Because of the depth and location of this graft, I've been holed up in hospital longer than expected. In fact, very little has gone according to my expectations this time around - I was taken into theatre on Monday morning and on Monday afternoon woke up with two grafts, one of which was attached to an odd vacuum dressing machine that sucked all the gunk out of the wound. The vacuum dressing remained for the first three days and during that time I was not allowed to place any weight on the grafted leg. The day after the dressings came down and the staples were removed, I was allowed to begin taking small walks (such as to the bathroom).

People-wise, I've got good company in here. The fellow in the bed beside me (we'll call him B10) is a real character and has me in fits of laughter a lot, which is good because emotionally I'm generally doing pretty badly. He has some great stories and today he took me to see and feed the feral kitty downstairs (who unfortunately didn't put in an appearance... maybe tomorrow!) There's a lady (B9) opposite him who seems nice, she joins in the joking sometimes but keeps to herself a lot as well, and beside her/opposite me is an elderly man (EB8) who joined us a few days after I did. Before EB8 was in, bed 8 briefly housed a younger fellow who actually went so far as to do a bunk! Just up and disappeared, taking all his belongings, and didn't tell anyone where he was going. B10 of course made the whole situation quite funny.

I am slowly recovering and hoping to go home next Monday.

Success Stories:
Even though it's been difficult, I've been following medical advice, and even agreed to stay in hospital although I could technically have discharged myself as of this morning. (It was "suggested" that I remain, but as I am considered well, it was not enforced.)

When I messed up and almost ran out of internet, I used my skills to ask my brother to use his credit card so that I could recharge it.

I used my skills to ask for a couple of things that I needed here in the hospital which due to one thing or another, I either didn't have or had lost.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
The internet.
Being able to walk.
Bejeweled Blitz.
Precious friends.
Good painkillers!

Cheer-leading statements:
This, too, shall pass. All things pass when we let them.
I do not have to apply black-and-white thinking to my life.
Just because my mother is nice on one occasion does not override the times when she is not nice, and vice versa. She can be both.
Making some bad decisions doesn't make me a freak or a failure, it just means that I am still learning.
It doesn't matter how many times I fall down - as long as I always get back up one time more than I fall.
I am not a bad person.

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

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sanguine Saturday

My nephew turned four this week. Happy birthday, little man. And I go for another skin graft next week - planning to take my laptop, this time, but I don't know how much internet I'll end up using.

Success Stories:
I could have chosen to ignore health advice and not consented to a skin graft, but instead, I made the choice that looks after my physical health needs.

I've done a little bit more sorting through of my things.

Even though I haven't much felt like it, I've been doing some Pleasant Event scheduling.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Scrapbooking supplies.
All three children told me today that their favourite animal is the giraffe. (I've taught them well!)
Terry Pratchett.

Cheer-leading statements:
Just because something isn't possible right now doesn't mean it won't ever happen.
It's okay to take baby steps. Baby steps are still steps!

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sanguine Sunday

I had every intention of getting this posted up yesterday but with one thing and another, I found myself really struggling to present a unified front to the world. I'm a little better again this morning, so here goes nothing.

Success Stories:
I've spent a bit more time going through some of my things and sorting out what I'm keeping to take with me and what I'm selling/giving away.

Even though I haven't been following my PLEASE skills as well as I perhaps 'should' be, I'm trying to be a little gentle with myself about it.

I went to the dentist (major trigger) to get one of my many dental problems sorted out.

I'm still struggling to make the right choices all the time, and I'm still falling down a lot, but I'm also still trying, and that's worth quite a lot.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Good friends, both near and far.
It's Ekka time again!
Chai tea, and watching my friend's face when she experienced her first taste of it.
All the little notes etc around my room, because they remind me of the people who gave/sent them to me.
My necklace, because it has a heart & flower from my best friend, a heart & flower from one of my closest offline friends, and a giraffe. It also used to have a memento from the lovely River, but I fidgeted with it so much that I broke that off.

Cheer-leading statements:
It''s not disloyal to admit that my family are abusive.
It's okay to feel the way I feel.
Having a hard time doesn't mean that I'm a bad person.
If it's not okay for someone else, then maybe it's not okay for me, either!
The butterfly and the caterpillar don't make liars of each other.

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Returning To Sanguine Saturday

So apparently I'm not going to post about what's going on before I do this, so I'm just going to do this. I've missed two? three? weeks now in a row, and that's not good.

Success Stories:
I asked for (and got) an increased dose in my medication when it stopped being effective.

When an acquaintance online made a comment that was incredibly unfair and (I feel) unacceptable, I was able to use my skills to handle both the discussion and my distress in an appropriate manner. I also referred the matter on to get the opinion of appropriate afterwards about what to do if a similar situation ever reoccurs.

I am beginning the process of recognition, labelling and acceptance that my mother is abusive, which leads me to my next achievement...

I made what is possibly the second biggest decision of my life... I'm moving to Canberra!

I'm learning that "responsibility" does not equate to "fault". I have a degree of responsibility for the interactions I have as an adult - but that doesn't necessarily make it my fault if those interactions are negative!

I was able to sort through some of my belongings and separate a large group for an eventual garage sale - an achievement both as a step towards my end goal (moving) and as an overcoming comfort zones thing (I am a hoarder... I *hate* getting rid of anything!) Apparently a third side of this is that I am saving money by taking positive action - which is a mini achievement in and of itself.

While I was in Canberra, when I discovered that I had accidentally brought a tool, and I couldn't guarantee that having it wouldn't mean using it, I was able to do the right thing and give the tool to my friend so that I wouldn't give in to temptation.

I was able to reach out during some really rough days.

I may not always make the best choices, but for the most part I'm making better ones than I was doing this time last year (and maybe that's good enough, just now).

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
I got to feed a giraffe on my holiday! Several times!
I also got to pat a dingo; feed otters, a tiger, a white lion, a snow leopard and an eland; have a European brown bear lick my hand clean of food; and my inner children got to hold a snake.
Seeing snow and sledding and making a snow angel.
Great friends, both old and new.
Being included in my friend's role-play games.
Being able to have a face-to-face chat with Kelly.
Crazy cookies, because they're a reminder that I can still see the lighter side of things.
Giraffes in general.
Music and the soothing feeling of typing out lyrics as the song plays.

Cheer-leading statements:
A hiccup is just a hiccup. It doesn't have to be more than that.
I can tackle this moving thing just fine! If I start to feel overwhelmed, I have lots of skills I can use to manage that.
I can make choices for myself that will lead to the things I want out of my life.
It is okay to look after myself.
It's okay to feel however I feel.

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

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oops (Or The One Where Chrysalis Does Something Stupid)

In fact, oops doesn't even come close to doing my blunder justice. I came back from my holiday a bit mental. Well, to be honest, I came back from my holiday very mental. All the strides I'd made seemed to have disappeared, and I knew that it was at least partially due to my medication no longer working, but it didn't seem to matter.

At that point, nothing seemed to matter.

My holiday had been wonderful. Things weren't perfect - I was still me, after all, with all that that entailed - but I was living life and I was enjoying it. I was tackling my life at a pace that suited me. And almost overnight I went from "okay" back to "very unwell". Despite my mental state, I continued fighting to turn things around. I used the support and encouragement offered by the friend I was staying with, in order to do that.

I should have listened when she suggested I go to the doctor, but I allowed my fear to get in the way. "It'll be okay," I told her. "I'll go when I get back to Brisbane".

The day after I arrived home, I was supposed to go to the art gallery and meet up with friends. Instead, I stayed in bed. That night I started drinking but I went to bed before I threw away my SI-free time. I stayed in bed the next day and most of Sunday as well. I already know that doing that kind of thing is my fast track to misery, but I couldn't bring myself to care. By Sunday night I was a mess. I told myself I could get through this, I could keep it up. I spoke about a decision I was trying to make and I made it, without even realising that's what I was doing. After dinner, with the guilt eating away at me, I started tipping back the vodkas.

While drunk, I managed to pour what must have been pretty much an entire glass of Coke/Red Creaming Soda and vodka into my laptop's keyboard. Unsurprisingly, Lappie was particularly unimpressed and decided not to work for me any more (hence my complete absence for the past week). I got lucky. I've got a friend who fixes laptops as his job - he took Lappie away a couple of days ago and my 'baby' has a new battery and keyboard on order, and a new hard drive installed.

After the escapade with the vodka, I didn't have a choice but to see the doctor on Monday. He prescribed a higher dose of Lexapro and told me he would be away and I should see another doctor this week and he'll see me next Monday.

I've just barely held myself together all week. I didn't go back to see another doctor. I did spend the week trying to get hold of my old DBT coordinator (which I finally managed yesterday) and calling my friend in Canberra.

My increased dosage is now starting to work. I feel myself getting on a more even keel again. I'm crying a little less every day. Once again, I can even believe I'll be okay, I just have to hold on long enough.

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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Slacking Off

I know I've missed the last two Sanguine Saturdays. I hope to do a Sanguine "some other day" this week to make up for it, but there's a few things I want to sort out or write about or talk about (or do something with!) before I do.

I've been in Canberra on holidays for two weeks, and I want to do all the processing and sharing about that before I really do my SS post. And there really is a lot to process. I had a great time, but it wasn't all fun and games. I've a lot to think about, a lot to talk about, a lot to process, as I said.

There's so much I want to write, but I need to talk to a couple of friends, and to Erica, first.

I also need to see my GP as I suspect my medication needs some adjustment, and I desperately need a dentist right now (but will have to put that off a few more days regardless).

But... I'm back. Sort of. I don't think I have the energy to read back and comment on all that I missed, but I'll try at least to pick up from where people are now.

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