The Borderline’s Dilemma: Don’t Fight the Calm Waters in Life

I am generally one to exaggerate any given idea, event, moment, description, but it is truer than true that my life is really pretty darn okay right now, and has been for a little while.

Yes, there are bumps in the road, but I am using skills more frequently (and without overthinking) to get through the bumps, and the bumps pass much faster than they ever used to.

For once in my life, I can say that my stress level is relatively low, and while that is super and great and amazing, the mental health issues I deal with can make me take calm and serenity and throw it out the window, to replace it with something a lot more familiar, like drama.

Yes, I am saying it:  My life is good right now and it is a daily, sometimes moment-to-moment struggle to not sabotage the hell out of it.  I have my slips mostly with LarBear, and he is very forgiving and never holds those little fits against me.  He knows what is going on, just as I do.  Things are good, and it is hard sometimes when things are good, because that is just so unfamiliar.

 

I laughed when I saw this post on Facebook, but there is such a grain of truth to it.  How many days in the last five years did I basically not get out of bed, or get up and get showered or dressed?  A lot, y’all, too many to count.  I spent months at a time not even leaving my house.

Now that I have regular activities like church and social whatnots and am exercising at the local pool every day, I am finding that I actually LIKE being out and about.  I don’t like to be out all the time, but I like it more than I ever thought I would.  Because things were the opposite for so long, sometimes I start to fall into a pattern where I ignore my social obligations, my appointments, the pool, these new people I have met, but I find myself turning the mind quickly back to this semi-stability that I have gathered (through a ton of hard work).

 

After years of angst, I finally have the people in my life that I need and deserve, and I have enough self-respect to cut ties when things are toxic or harmful in some way.  I still give people far too many chances, but I rarely let another person really harm me without slamming the door in his/her face.  I truly believe that the church family that has come into my life recently was meant to be, that the people in my exercise classes and at the YMCA were meant to be in my life right now for specific reasons.  I especially see now how my relationships with family members have changed for the positive, and how it could not have happened before.  And of course, some may tire of hearing it, but LarBear was certainly paired with me by something more purposeful than chance.

I really think that the key to my happiness now, and the methods that I employ to stay that way and to avoid fighting the peace within and without, is that I am doing things in my life every day that I love, with people that I love, with intention and purpose.  I have an amazing amount of love in my heart that is poured in by others, and my heart is full enough to pour into others, as well, which makes my heart even fuller.  Being positive and doing what is effective, is what works.  Keeping a close eye on your mood and your thoughts and your feelings, is very important.  I think so much of it just boils down to paying attention and to living a life you love.  That may sound oversimplified, but that is my sound bite.

Ten Things of Thankful: Blessings Beyond Measure

It has been such a long time since I have written a “Ten Things of Thankful” post.  I was a bit worried the group had broken up, but it makes my heart happy to find that the same core group exists, and they even have their own webpage now (which you can access by clicking the above link).

Someone once said that there are so many flowers at a funeral is because people have more regret and guilt in their hearts than gratitude.  I don’t believe that is true, but I do believe that people, in general, including myself, specifically, don’t always access their gratitude to the same degree that guilt and regret can be at the forefront of the mind.  To make things even more complex, there are some circumstances or people or events or states of being that people feel both regret or guilt for, yet are intensely thankful for this particular item in their life.

One of the often-mentioned “thing of thankfulness” is a person.  I know I am incredibly grateful for the different people in my life, but I also have great amounts of regret and guilt about how, perhaps, I have handled some of the situations I have found myself in with certain people.  It follows that my feelings towards some people are a mixed bag, just as my feelings toward certain events are mixed, are a sort of paradox.  How dialectical, right?  (Ok, Ms. DBT, we get it!)

In no particular order, I am currently, at this moment, crushingly grateful (and sometimes regretful of certain bits) for:

(ONE)

LarBear continues to be my daily rock.  Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we even have harsh words with each other, but we always come back together, stronger than ever.  We don’t ever let an argument or disagreement last very long, and we are both keen to point out to the other just how much we love each other, just how good we are together in so many ways, and how any negativity that might exist between us is always overcome by a sincere appreciation for the love and caring that we have for each other.  I had to kiss many frogs (toads, even) to meet my prince, and I don’t think my life would feel complete without him in it.

(TWO)

There are the obvious people in life that I am thankful for, namely those people making up my inner circle (when added to LarBear).  I have to say that I am happy with the relationship I have with QoB and Mikey Mike, moreso than ever before.  I feel like we all understand each other better than at any other moment in time, and also feel like I have been able (with some prodding) to step out more into my own life and not rely so heavily on them, but know that they are still available, and still right there.  My  dad is also a great support, and is often “the one” who gets selected to talk me off the ledge, if you will.  He can, at times, insert such compassion and common sense and reason into a conversation, that he can truly set my many anxieties aside.

(THREE)

My sister, Ab…wow, I am just so proud of her, for the great mom that she is, for the amazing things she has done with her life, for her accomplishments professionally and personally, but mostly I am proud of her because we have worked and worked at building a relationship and I feel like we are really getting there.  She is teaching me things about life that I never knew, never appreciated, and I would like to think that she is realizing the things that I have to give to the relationship that are of value.  I am very thankful for my network of online friends.  While there is only one or two people that I “speak” with on a regular basis, it seems that I can return to these relationships after months of being “gone” and things can be picked right back up.

(FOUR)

My mental health treatment team is pretty amazing, and I was lucky enough to be in touch with Goddess of Mindfulness lately, and that just made me realize how far I have come in so many different areas.

(FIVE)

I haven’t been in the crisis center or the hospital for just over one year now, with my last stay being in April of 2016.  There have been several times when nurses, therapists, family have wanted me to go, but I have (stubbornly) resisted and here I am, still standing and doing pretty darn well.

(SIX)

My jewelry is starting take off at the gallery, after nearly a year of it just kind of sitting there.  I am getting better at my craft, and taking more pleasure from it.  Like my original art therapist said, take pleasure in the process and everything else will fall into place.

(SEVEN)

I have managed to get into an exercise and nutritional plan that works for me.  There have been tweaks along the way, but I am seeing some success and I am staying away (for the most part) from any eating disordered behavior, and I haven’t been able to say that for ages.

(EIGHT)

I have found a new friend, and she has introduced me to a new church.  I am taking things slowly, but it feels good to be back in a church and I really am enjoying the people in this particular place.

(NINE)

Kizzie and Lucy continue to keep on keeping on, even though now they are considered to be something of “senior” dogs.  They still play and want snuggles and pets and pretty words and treats, and I plan to just keep enjoying every moment we have with them.

(TEN)

Last, but certainly not least…I have a new niece!  Miss Adelaide Louise was born to my sister and her husband earlier this month and she is sweeter than sweetness itself.  More to come about her and my nephew, Oscar, who is now THE big brother!

Emotion MishMash Equals Anger, Rage, Panic

Image result for quotes about anger in bipolar

Sad, angry, happy, irritable, hostile, giddy, appearing stable, sad, lonely, panicked, giddy, irritable, hostile.

Mad, sad, crying, hysterical, eerie calm, thankfulness, slow descent back to an impressive depression, then just a big solid block of sadness, quickly surpassed by feelings of irritation at every spoken word, movement, gesture, genuinely baffled by how ugly people can be.

All of this turning into genuine anger, first directed at the self, stabbing words into my skin as if with a knife, getting myself so unsettled again that I go through crying, more anger, hostility, to anger at other people/things/objects/ideas, and again circling back to hating everything about myself and secure in the knowledge that I am ruining the life of myself and everyone in it.

This gets old and it gets tiresome and it gets lonely.  My feelings all are over the place, some of which I am accustomed to, but the anger, the hostility, the sharp tongue — I never get used to that.  I never get used to the piece of me that can and will tear another down with words, hurling just the right ones in the most sensitive spots for maximum damage.  The difference between before and now, is that I am depressed enough, I don’t really care that I am hurting other people.  That is not good.  Every jab looks to land a mat-dropping blow.

I can control it to an extent, but there are times when I feel so bad, that I don’t control it and I let my mouth run wild and I hurt people.  For the most part, it is brushed off because the other person knows it isn’t really the Rosa inside who is saying these things.  Sometimes it doesn’t get fixed that easily.

I deleted over thirty people from my Facebook over the last week, because I am convinced someone is leaking information about me to my ex step-father.  To be clear, I am done, done, DONE with that relationship and any relationship I may  have ever had with that ENTIRE side of the family.  It’s a shame, because there was one or two people that were somewhat decent, but for the sake of my mental health, I can have NO contact.  I want him to forget I exist.  Let him think I went to Alaska to can salmon or something.  Rosa, disappeared from his world, never ever again going back.  I have my reasons, many reasons which are really not worth spelling out here, because I don’t care to embarrass anyone, but done, just done.  Goodbye.  Again.  Stay gone.

I started this post shaking with anger, and that was after I wrote a long, ranting email to a friend of mine.  I need a way to get over this anger, to make it stop, to do something productive with it, if it isn’t just going to go away nicely.  Suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments.  And even if I get mad about a comment, I won’t attack anyone, and that is a promise (that I feel that I can keep right now at 9:45PM on a Friday night).  That’s the best I can do for now.

 

 

 

Chop, Chop — A Post About Cutting Ties

Image result for one of the hardest things to do is grieve someone still alive

My mom has always said that it was in her 30’s that she really started figuring out what she would and wouldn’t tolerate in life, and who she would let in her life and who she wouldn’t.  My 35th birthday was August 11th, and I have been thinking about those things.

I have been thinking about family members, about casual acquaintances, about the people I surround myself with.  I have been thinking hard on all of this, and I can see clearly that, sometimes, I have given a person many more “chances” than they deserve.

I wouldn’t say my romantic relationship, that with LarBear, is totally perfect, but it is pretty freaking amazing and wonderful and altogether positive.  Almost two years now, we have really started to figure each other out, can anticipate each others’ needs and wants, we know each other well.  We know how to cheer each other up and what to do when things get rough.  I am completely satisfied with this relationship, and I fully believe that it will continue long into the future, as long as we stay true to who we really are, which we do on a day-to-day basis.  I can say with full confidence that LarBear is “the one,” and there is no doubt in his mind about it, either.

So, having the romantic relationship thing finally figured out, that leaves me with bunches of other relationships that need tending, need mending, and, it has finally struck me, that need ending.  I have tended and mended a few here recently, and today, was struck by a ton of bricks about how I REALLY feel about a person who has been a key figure in my past.

I’m not trying to play armchair psychiatrist, but this person is a classic narcissist.  And he has been, my entire life — I have just been blinded to it.  I don’t want to trash-talk this person, but he doesn’t read this blog and he isn’t a very big player in my life anymore, and now, I’m deciding, he will play an even lesser role.  I am not going to let my ex-step-father (is that a word?) rule over me with his manipulative tactics any longer.

Without going into detail, I (and my mom, and my sister, and everyone he comes into contact with) have long suffered from his toxic character, and now it is going to stop.  I am also going to cease contact with his side of the family, because, with the exception of a very small handful of people, they are just as, if not more, toxic, than he is.

 

 

 

 

Making Choices About Who to Give Love and Time To

At some point, I made up my mind to stop projecting my thoughts of self-hatred onto other people.  I mean, I’ve made up my mind to do that a few times within the course of my life, but I have really committed to it, at this juncture.  I had grown tired of feeling belittled and invalidated by the comments of others, and found that, while sometimes the other person was at fault, sometimes it was all in my head.

Even keeping this in mind, there are times in our lives when we have to go through the people in our circle, and evaluate who is helping us and who is hurting us.  Sometimes it is the person we least suspect who is actually hurting us.  Often it is a person we don’t think of often, who we don’t talk to much, or just aren’t that close to anymore who is injecting poisonous and negative thoughts into our lives at every random encounter.

This has been the case with my life, I have found.  I have shored up my defenses and boundaries, where it really was lacking and was necessary, but found that I had a few little relationships with others here and there, some I thought very important, some not so much, that I have recently realized that I would simply be better off without.

Last week, I went about the process of figuring out how to terminate the peer mentor process that I have been going through.  After examining what happens at our appointments, thinking about what positives this time-consuming activity brings to my life, I realized that this program is not a good fit for me.  Very little productivity comes out of these meetings, and it is all too clear that my peer support person is working on nothing with me, and is in fact harming me with some of her suggestions.

She suggested I quit DBT groups.  Wow.  Really?  I mean, yes, they drive me crazy, but they are one of the main things keeping me going.  She doesn’t take medication, and is somewhat anti-medication, as well.  She has a negative view of LarBear, and is very opinionated and judgmental.  I just don’t feel I am getting anything positive from the relationship, and in fact I generally feel more anxious and worse in general (about myself) after I see her.

So, I made the decision after speaking with my DBT therapist and my regular therapist, and QoB, LarBear, so on and so forth.  I am no longer going to subject myself to these appointments just because I feel like I *should.*  I am also not willing to be in contact with someone who is flailing along, while trying to help me.  If you are a peer mentor, you should have your life at least somewhat together, you shouldn’t be laying out all of your own problems at each meeting, and I shouldn’t feel like I am the one giving you advice at all times.  I don’t feel comfortable in this relationship at all, anymore.  It is therefore over.

And that is exactly the problem I am having with a few of the smaller, more acquaintance-type relationships in my life.  As if I have explained myself over and over, and the other person isn’t willing (or able) to change.  And in some cases, I just feel like the other person doesn’t care, and I tire sometimes of chasing my tail to make other people happy.  I need to chase my tail to make myself happy, not to benefit other people.  Sometimes there is only so much you can give of yourself to others, and if they don’t give a little back, you can’t keep giving yourself, over and over.

One of the biggest parts of my mental health road right now is to surround myself with people that nurture me, not those who hurt me.  I am putting distance between myself and other people for a reason, and one of the biggest things, is if you never reach out to me, I might just stop reaching out to you.  What happens then?  Change has to happen, is what happens then, and if no change happens, then I might have to give up on some things that I thought could be good, because it turned out that they couldn’t.

 

Reflections on an Imperfect Time

peace

I am currently in a place I never thought I would be.  I did not believe in the recovery model for mental illness even a few months ago, nevertheless thought I would be in a place in my life where the “recovery” stage would be very real and tangible in my day-to-day existence.

I never thought I would have any extended time of peace, and I never thought I would define peace as the picture to the left does:  “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I am there, hallelujah, amen, thank you.  There is chaos all around me, but my heart is calm, it is steady, it is beating strong.  All of those thoughts I had of giving up, have vanished.  Those thoughts of giving up that I had almost constantly through every day of the last several years of my life, the ones I didn’t *know how* to get rid of, the ones that kept me cycling through the hospital and the crisis residence and at the mercy of people (supposedly) saner than I on the other end of a phone line…gone.

I have been through months of adversity without losing my steadiness, and there are even more big changes to come.  I am ready.  I know how to climb the mountain and I am familiar with the path and the twists and turns, and I know it will be hard as Hell and that the Devil himself may stand in my way, but I know within myself that I am ready for this adventure.

selfish

QoB is moving away, and my contact with her is sure to greatly decrease.  I am learning that my mom is not the young person she used to be, and that it is time for her to turn her thoughts and her activities and her energies into herself, her new relationship, and into being a cherished Abuela.

It is hard to let her go, to stop calling her so often, to not count on her for every little thing, to really *grow up* here at age 34.  I have had my mom by my side my whole life, she has gone to bat for me countless times, and now, I need to go to bat for myself and count on LarBear to be my touchstone.  This doesn’t mean the relationship I have with her will be any less special, it just means that it is time for me to learn to count on other people.

I *DO* have other people I can count on in this life, and she deserves all the happiness available to her, and if that happiness is retirement and open prairies and big blue skies, then I wish all that for her and more.  There is such a thing called a telephone, and it isn’t like I will never ever see her.  It will just be less.  It is only within the last month, I think, that I would ever have been able to accept this for what it is.

With QoB moving away, retiring from the life here, comes the need for LarBear and I to move.  Physically move, that is, into a new home.  Of course, this creates stress and upset and all of the above, but we need to start living within our very own means, and know that we can still be okay.  We don’t have a terrible income, and it is enough that we will be able to find a nice-enough place to live.  Of that, I have no doubt.  I only wish the process were speedier, more certain, less of a time-suck.  I am ready to find the place and get the stuff moved and BE THERE.

what everyone is doing

The part of the recovery model I am most focused on now, which is also part of DBT, is that I am building A LIFE WORTH LIVING.  The past several years, I have been eking by, and I’m done with that.  I do not want to define myself by my mental illness, and I don’t want others to identify me that way, either.  I am a strong woman and I have a good man by my side, and I honestly feel I can tackle whatever is around me, that needs tackling.

I have even more support outside of my relationship with LarBear, whether it is the constant support of my mental health center contacts, or my Dad, or the Big Dawg.  I have places to turn to.  More than anything, I want LarBear and I to build a beautiful life together, and we are well in the process of doing that.

I don’t want to be “the crazy one” forever, and I tire of being looked at that way by family, acquaintances, the like.  I believe that I am even *more* sane and well-balanced than the average bear, because I am insightful into my life and I *do* examine my own thoughts and behaviors and I also spend great gobs of time practicing DBT and going to therapy and the like.  Practicing my skills isn’t something that anyone should look down on a person for.  Chances are, some of the skills could work for you, or for you, or for my mom or for LarBear or any number of people.

I have more skills in my toolbox than most people, and I think that is wherein the true advantage lies.  I have those skills and I am in touch with different things that help me to feel better, such as writing and making jewelry, and I do not let a single day pass in which I do not create something, anything.  It is so very important — not the product, but the process.  It doesn’t matter if you try a new recipe or build a Lego village or paint a picture…the creativity that dwells within us, heals us, and there is a multitude of proof or evidence out there that healing can happen, no matter how desperate you feel your situation is.  If I can do this, you sure can, too.

live beautifully

Feelings of Okay-ish-ness

capable

I think this is part of the human condition, rather than a function of mental illness (or wellness, for that matter).  We try so very hard to maintain a baseline, and sometimes it floats away from us, due to circumstances not within our control.

Let’s face it…very little is within our control, and especially others’ behavior and inactions and lives — those are exquisitely beyond our control.  And that little fact can drive me a bit mad.  I have the tendency to want to loop my lasso over the horns of every bull and drag it to the ground, and this is simply insanity and I cannot sustain it over the long haul.  I can (and do) work on my own issues, but I cannot *fix* or even (in most cases) alter the path of others’ behavior.

I have been quiet for the past couple weeks, simply living life, and struggling to live it on the terms which are required of me.  There is so much suffering around me and I want to reach out and heal it, but when I do, I often leave myself with scars.  I cannot help you, without being affected myself, and I am not always in a position where I can afford to be affected by anything other than my own complicated existence.

In the past few weeks, my focus has been on living in the moment, general mindfulness, willingness, practicing opposite to emotion.  In other words, Rosa is doing some hard work right about now, and sometimes when I am doing that, I have to disappear a little bit.  Because words are hard to come by, and there have been other challenges that I haven’t wanted to put a spotlight on — very real, very concrete and physical challenges that I don’t know how to wrap my own tired mind around, nevertheless explain them to someone else.

I miss blogging when I don’t do it, but it is necessary for me to shut down, or maybe even reboot my brain every once in awhile.  I haven’t been talking about it, but in the past month I have been dealing with a new mental health diagnosis, the confirmation of a new chronic physical illness, a septic system that is no longer working, the death of an aunt, worries about family members, and with all the recent rain, a basement that is full of water and must be pumped every couple of hours (and the ruin of my HVAC system and hot water heater, with the first wave of rain).

A lot going on, yes, but I am managing because I am living in the moment and not allowing myself to think too far outside of where I am right now.  I also don’t want to feel like I am complaining, because I really do have a great deal to be thankful for.  The challenges keep pouring in on my head, but I continue to have hope and faith that things will work out for the best.  That fact, that I still have hope and faith even with the storms of drama around me, is near-miraculous, as my general tendency (once-upon-a-time) would be to catastrophize and live in panic.  I don’t want to do that anymore, and I actually refuse to do that anymore.

some days are betterwill write more about the new physical and mental health diagnoses at some point, and at another  point I might take a moment to complain about my failed septic/HVAC/basement disasters.  For today, though, I just want to be grateful for things like my LarBear, family, friends, and for my new-found sense of hope and ok-ish-ness.