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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kam kam, ruz be ruz

Today's title came from my dear friend Sonya. It's an Arabic saying that means "little by little, day by day", and applies primarily to this first section of today's post.

During a discussion about self harm (expounded upon in the bottom half of this entry), my friend bought a quote by Chuang Tzu to the metaphoric table:

Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy. Continue easy and you are right. The right way to go easy is to forget the right way and forget that the going is easy.

I got confused attempting to follow it, but once my friend explained that it was about finding your authentic flow (aka "your true gut knowledge") and going with it; and that when you authentically struggle (as opposed to superficially struggling), it means you are headed in the wrong direction.

It's an interesting idea, but requires you to be able to hear your true gut knowledge -- and I'm just not there, yet. I'm still trying to get to know who I am at all. I get lost on where I begin; I struggle to identify what is fundamentally 'me' and what is merely a by-product of the answers I give to please others or get urges/desires/'needs' met.

And, as Sonya pointed out, maybe that's what I need to be focusing on at the moment. Instead of trying to be this incredible, wise, "together" person, maybe I just need to take it little by little and concentrate on finding the basics of who I am, and once I know that, then I can refine who that person is.

As for the second part of my post, I'll spoiler this here and now. It is self harm focused, quite frank and mildly graphic.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was a difficult day. For the 4th time in just over a week, I needed stitches: my doctor was, understandably, not very happy with me. For the first time in his treatment of me, he spoke to me only twice. The first time, he asked if I was planning to do more to myself "at the moment"; the second, all he said to me was "remember what I said last time?", then he turned to the nurse and continued, "if she needs anything tomorrow or in the next few weeks, call Holly". He stitched me up without another word to me then walked out.

I admit, I don't generally interact a whole lot with my doctor at the best of times, and I've never actually 'needed' him to warn me that the anaesthetic will sting; or to check that I'm not feeling anything as he puts the stitches in... but he's never before neglected to do either.

I felt rejected, betrayed. I felt abandoned. My head understands that he needs me to get used to seeing other doctors, but all my heart saw was that he has effectively dropped me because I 'failed'. I recognise that my heart and my head are in contention, and I recognise that the truth lies far more in my head than my heart, but I still need to go that next step and bring the two to alignment. I need to find Wise Mind.

After I got home, I had a very interesting discussion with two of my good friends. We have talked before about my self harm, and my inability (unwillingness?) to admit that it is "severe". At this point, I'm uncertain about why I still do it - most of the time it brings little relief and I already know that it creates more problems than it solves. And still, I do it anyway.

I have learnt to reason my way out of almost anything, as long as others aren't involved. During DBT, my therapist and I butted heads over the self harm thing time and time again. She couldn't get her head around why I would seek medical attention if I didn't view my self harm as severe; and I do understand that to a point. On the other hand, though, I have seen first hand the effects of a nasty Staph infection -- and how easily it spreads. I'm not at all bothered by the idea of having such an infection myself (apart from the thought of the resultant antibiotics!). What I'm not comfortable with, though, is the thought of being responsible for someone else contracting it. And that, purely and simply, is why I show up time and again to get my wounds taken care of - because I know that if I don't, I do get infections.

But I digress; I was talking about severity and self harm. I justify it to myself, telling myself that I don't really "need" those stitches. I have never had a wound so deep that to not get stitches would endanger my life. I tell myself that my burns can't be all that terrible - after all, I've never required a skin graft. I've never broken a bone through self harm, I've never given myself concussion, never actually required immediate first aid. My head tells me that, the way things stand, my self harm cannot possibly be 'severe'. And yet... my heart says, "this isn't right".

If I don't feel pain, it's because (to my mind), I obviously haven't done enough damage. If I do feel pain, I am weak and pathetic - "anybody else wouldn't even blink at this". Somewhere in me I know this is wrong. I know that if you don't feel anything from a wound, it is generally a sign of nerve damage or at least of dissociation/disconnection from the body. I know this... but I can't get myself to see it as applying to me.

My head and my heart are in contention again, and ironically, if my friends' perceptions are accurate, this time it is my heart that is right. How did I get so desensitised? What will it take to open my eyes?

Today's thought challenges/cheer-leading statements:
If my friend chooses to remove me from her life, it does not necessarily mean I have done something wrong.
My doctor has not abandoned me.
I am not a bad person.
All things pass when we let them. This will, too, as long as I choose to allow that.
I can't change things I may have done in the past, but I can make different choices in the future.

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


  1. technically, "little by little, day by day."
    may i suggest... your heart seems to be generally more reliable than your head. what would happen if you created an experiment... for say, 24 hours... or even one hour to start, you obeyed only your heart instead of your head. just to see what its like.

  2. I relate on several things. For one, I always think that the harder of two paths must be the wiser path. That the more difficult option must be the better. This is often true but it sure makes life hard. And I don't know if it's always true. I think you may be right. Maybe sometimes it's just better to be in the moment and take things more easy.

    Also, in our DBT group (and in most I think) the therapist don't want to hear from you after you've engaged in your target behavior. Of course they're behavioral therapist. It would be reinforcing to engage in support of us after we'd self harmed. And their rational is that if we've already hurt ourselves then we've already delt with our stress that way so we shouldn't need to talk further. Maybe your doctor was just doing what he's been taught. Maybe he was wishing so much he could show you some compassion but cared enough about you in the long run that he didn't want to do anything to reinforce your behavior. I know, it just sucks big time though doesn't it? In the past when I've done self hard in that manner it's always so very lonely afterward.

    And I can so relate to feeling "conflicted" as I always describe it to my therapist. Especially when I'm depressed and going around in my head about self harm or suicide. So much conflict in my head. It drives me crazy. Oh yeah, never mind, I'm already crazy!

    Take care of you!

  3. being present and in the moment is always better, imo. and, in the grand scheme of energy, its a lot easier, too! i know certain chrysalises wont believe me on that. but i am right. totally. ;)

  4. Mm, this chrysalis half agrees with you, actually, Sonya. ;) From where I am currently standing, I don't think it's easier energy-wise, but I think that once I hit a point where it's more practiced, it becomes more energy efficient.
    Re: the saying -- oops! I didn't realise I mixed the two around. I'll fix that as soon as I post this, thank you!
    Your experiment sounds interesting, but I want to give it a bit more thought before I try it. I know me -- and I know I have a teeny, tiny tendency to take things to the extreme ;) so I want to make sure that in doing this, I won't end up going "huh, that worked well, screw my head, I'm just gonna listen to my heart from here on out") which I think would be ultimately just as problematic.

    Hi Stacy, thank you. I see what you mean re the doctor, but I don't think that's the case here -- he's just a general practice physician and knows very little about BPD, let alone DBT! It wasn't that we didn't discuss the stuff behind it or anything like that, because I don't do that with my GP at all - it's just that those little "proofs" that he recognises that behind the self harm there's a person, those things were missing. He passed me while I was waiting for the nurse today, though, and said hi so maybe it was just an off day for him.
    I think you're right that the most difficult path is not always the 'right' one. And maybe sometimes even the 'right' one isn't the right one.