Month: May 2016

No hands,  no feet on earth but yours – these broken paths

No hands, no feet on earth but yours – these broken paths

On my way home from work I cross a park. The other day on the footpath, I noticed that the little cracks in the path’s surface had curved round to form a heart shape. (Hopefully you can just about see in the photo.)

There are plenty of breaks and cracks to stumble through on our lifes’ paths and there’s no escaping the hurt. Yet I try to remember, we need not fear the pain and confusion and our weakness. When we look back at what we have travelled through and what we leave behind for others, perhaps we will see it was love that remained through the very hardest times, love that grew in our hearts and that we left in the good we did, unknowingly.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” – St Teresa of Avila

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I wish we knew we’d get to the end of this together

I feel so sad today. Too many people are leaving in all areas of my life.

Someone has left our therapy group and will not be returning. I can’t post too much about it so as not to break confidentiality. I’m scared for her. We don’t know why she left. We did not get to talk with her about it because she stopped coming suddenly a few weeks ago and then the therapists told us today that she isn’t coming back. I miss her. Already. She saw herself as so bad but clearly had so much good about her. I really really wish we could have helped her. I’m scared for her – for what will happen to her, where she’ll get help and what she may do. I felt a lot in common with her. Often she spoke what I was too afraid to. She had been so so hurt by terrible experiences in her life. I so wanted to keep her safe but feared she was so hurt and kept running into so many circumstances of further pain and not being able to trust people, that she would not be really happy this side of heaven. I have to accept her decision and know I can only give her into Our Lord’s hands and pray for her now.

In the last couple of sessions people have been leaving group early because it has been too distressing or unhelpful for them. I panic when someone leaves. Or people withdraw and don’t want to talk anymore. Again I panic. I don’t want anyone else to go away. So often it seems to be my fault and so often I’m flashing back to being a child and my mother threatening to go away because of me or that she and my dad would be taken away because of me. ..or to the times she stopped speaking and I couldn’t elicit any response or her “absences”… and I wish, please please don’t go away. I wish we knew at least in group that we’d all get to the end of the course together.

I miss N, I miss two other people I thought were close and I’ve lost in the past weeks. I miss the hope there was in the existence of that relationship that I could do some good for them or be needed. I miss what little sense of safety there was that I wouldn’t be left that time and wasn’t doing harm.

I miss any sense of there being a few narrow circumstances at least, where I could think I did a good job or the right thing. The last part of that was lost with my failure in my last job and the loss of so many important relationships.

I cry and cry again but it doesn’t go away.

Ginny xxx

“Have you ever thought of getting a cat?”

I think I’ve officially entered crazy cat lady territory đŸ˜‰ !

I’ve been trying for months to get to meet up with a friend who lives just the other side of town from me. She’s never free as her time is completely taken up with home schooling her three children and many voluntary activities at her church like teaching marriage preparation courses. I’d stopped asking for a while but thought I’d try again and said how much I missed her. She emailed me back, again declining and asked me if I had ever thought of getting a cat! (Or a hamster or some such.)

As it happens I have been considering getting a guinea pig but I think possibly her response is further evidence that my friends find me too needy. Time to get a cat instead. … bitterly I have to laugh đŸ™‚ I’ve nothing against cats, actually I love them and hope one day to get one (maybe rehoming a rescue cat), but I’d kinda still like some contact with friends as well! Hoped I had a while yet before becoming crazy cat lady but who knows.

So much has happened lately to tell me I’m too needy. Losing N. especially, and what I learnt about my former relationship with my ex. I know I haven’t posted much about that yet and I want to soon. Sorry.

I miss my friend above. I miss N, my ex, I miss (though it isn’t really miss but long for,  as I don’t think I ever had it) being able to trust someone and know they will not leave; being able to know (this is only in my dreams) I will not do them harm, will not be too much for them, they would see the worst and most broken of me and love me still and more importantly still allow me to love them; I wish the relationship could be to them what it is to me.

I miss my friend and I know now that to her as well, I’m too much and our relationship does not matter as it does to me. It does not bother her that we do not meet and live so close but see each other months apart when someone else chances to invite us to the same church focused gathering. It does not bother her that we no longer share in each other’s everyday lives or know what each of us is facing or feeling; it does not matter that we’ll grow further apart as you can only be so close with occasional emails and texts and more major events and more daily but significant experiences go unmentioned, unshared, unspoken. She has no need of me, no desire to share or talk or find support.

Her life is full. She takes on great commitments not only to her family but to her church and community, teaching courses, volunteering, looking after other people’s children for weeks at a time when they are going through a rough period, traveling all around the county and further to meetings and activities and retreat days. In no way do I fit. To come over one evening even though it’s just across town, or meet up just briefly one day, have a coffee for a few minutes, or me go over to see her – that would be far too much. Although she takes on so much for everyone else it would be too much to spend a few minutes with me. Whether it were because I need her or for me to help her or just for fun, for no reason, to share a bit.

I do not fit in her life and it’s no loss to her. I have nobody who needs me. I have nobody close to me who would come and be there when I need them. (With the notable exception of my friend L. however she lives a long way away so cannot be in touch face to face ever so often.) That hurts.

Ginny xx

 

Sad for what we cannot heal

I don’t watch the news very often. I feel bad about that. I worry it’s irresponsible, running away from the world, detaching or not caring enough. I think lots of people would say I need to be more engaged. But in fact the reason I can’t watch is precisely the opposite of not caring enough. When I watch all I see is danger, anger, loss, violence, threats, pain, instability…. all I feel is dread, fear, sadness, grief, shaken, panic, disintegrating… and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to carry the feelings, or what the proper response is. What do we do with this hurt we can’t heal and trauma we can’t stop?

I don’t know if the world is on the whole becoming a more dangerous place. On the one hand I can’t say there’s no hope. Our God has assured us of His love for us and that no war, disaster or loss can separate us from Him. There is always something in this world to give hope. I think there’s always somewhere in each crisis where you can find some tiny piece of good. On the radio a while back I heard someone say when we are afraid of the bad things we see happening, look for the people who are trying to help and do good because they are always there somewhere.

On the other hand, there does seem to be more and more danger, terrorism, violence and unrest. What was once distant and occasional now seems a real and present danger. So many people are suffering and afraid and trying to escape threats to their homes and their lives. The scale of it scares me too.

Other people sometimes say, we have come through worse and we will get through this. Especially people who lived in the Cold War era. Perhaps it’s a great difference of perspective.

It all still leaves me with the question of what to do. How are we supposed to respond when fear seems to be taking hold and when we see so much suffering that we can’t do anything directly to heal? How do we cope with the scale of such unrest, when we don’t know what good we can do and it feels so out of control?

These questions really shake me at the moment.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland #12: 5 4 3 2 1 steps

A family member gave a women’s wellbeing workshop recently. I wasn’t able to go but I helped her look over some of her materials. Many of the daily challenges she suggested to improve our wellbeing incorporated elements of mindfulness  (in a loose sense at least – I’m not yet very knowledgeable about mindfulness so you may correct me). For example, becoming aware of our emotions, or being curious about our environment, perhaps taking a little time to be present in each moment and noticing new things in places that are familiar to us which we might often pass on “autopilot”, such as the beauty of a tree coming into bloom on our route to work.

I came across The 5 3 1 Technique to improve your daily wellbeing, of which you can easily find various versions online, for example here *. All credit for the idea behind this post goes to that technique. I do not know who first invented it and I’ve seen a couple of different versions.

Inspired by this, I developed my own version, which I’m going to try to practice daily. I’ve called mine simply “5 4 3 2 1” (this being more memorable than 5 3 1, perhaps?!):

FIVE – the original 531 technique suggests 5 minutes of meditation at the start of each day. I think starting each day with meditation or prayer is a great idea but it can be really difficult if you have never done it before or if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. I find it helps to give the time more structure, for example, finding 5 things or people you are thankful for and thinking about them for a minute or so each. Or you could write a list of 5 things that happened in the previous day that you enjoyed or are thankful for. I’m Catholic and another way I sometimes do this is to pray a decade of the rosary really slowly. On each bead, I say the prayer in gratitude for a particular person or event, trying to be open to let the thankfulness fill my heart. This can be a good way to calm down when I’m feeling very anxious or a good way to pray when I’m struggling to be still.

FOUR – find 4 ways to connect to the outside world. For instance. … Go for a walk. Write a letter to someone. Pray for someone. In your work or chores, find a tiny way to do something with a little more concentration than normal, or with a little more care than normal. The simplest task done with love and attention has value and grounds you in the present moment, turning your thoughts and energy outwards rather than inwards to anxiety and fears.

THREE – notice 3 things in the world around you that are different or beautiful. It could be something new you’ve learnt, a conversation that made you think, something beautiful in nature, a sensory experience like a soothing scent or touch, and so on.

TWO – look in the mirror and tell yourself 2 good things about yourself. For example: you are beautiful; you are loved; today you are going to help people; you deserve to take care of yourself… (wow, for me at least it’s incredibly hard to come up with these things for myself đŸ˜‰ !)

ONE – do one small act of kindness for another person. This need not be a big action. It could be simply smiling at them, allowing them to go before you in a queue, or asking them about their day and really listening. Just something to make them feel valued.

All these steps are intended to be small things which all work towards grounding us in the present moment and increasing our sense of wellbeing. I’m giving it a go. ..

Ginny xxx

*I have not followed up all the links on the mindfulness site myself so am not advocating their contents / saying that the techniques or information there will be useful for everyone. I just intended it as a description of the original 531 Technique.

So much I can’t get out

This hasn’t been a great week. There’s so much I want to write but can’t get down. Two really important relationships have turned out not to be at all what I thought they were. The two people who ever made me feel a little bit like I might not be all bad inside, told me what they thought of our relationship and of me. .. and these only relationships and only people told me I was a drain, resented, to be run from, too much, dominating everything,  nothing, not wanted, nothing had ever been shared.

I want to write but the words spiral through my head and get lost and I feel as if I’m spiraling too, falling uncontrollably away from my last hope of belonging or doing good, full of pain and doing only wrong, or dissociating and watching numb actions from a distance. I try to give my feelings a name but somewhere between the hurt, the fear, the spiraling thoughts and the words, it all gets lost. In any case,  I’m scared to talk to anyone and do not want to even step outside but at the same time I’m desperate for someone to hold me.

What do you do when you find out the most important things you thought you shared with those you cared about most,  were not shared? When the people who gave you hope tell you what harm you’ve done? When you trusted someone enough to tell them the most shameful, painful parts of your story- then they leave,  or tell you you had no close bond at all? And they walk away and you never do, ever.

xxx

BPD and “Warhammer 40k”

I have a colleague who is really into the science fiction fantasy board game, Warhammer. It’s his main hobby. I can’t even begin to explain how the game works so, thanks to Wikipedia:

“Warhammer 40,000 (informally known asWarhammer 40K, WH40K or simply 40K) is a tabletop miniature wargame produced byGames Workshop, set in a dystopian science-fantasy universe. Warhammer 40,000 was created by Rick Priestley in 1987 as the futuristic companion to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, sharing many game mechanics. Expansions for Warhammer 40,000 are released periodically which give rules for urban, planetary siege and large-scale combat. The game is in its seventh edition, which was released on May 24, 2014.”

My colleague has gradually assembled a collection of the figures / characters used in the game, building and painting each one. Apologies to readers familiar with the game as I’m sure “figures” isn’t the proper term. It’s a very detailed game which I understand is played across the world.

I have never played Warhammer and it is too much based around war and combat for me personally to enjoy. However, as my friend told me about the game, I was interested by the premise on which the universe and how the characters originated. I’ve long been attracted to the way fantasy world stories and games allow us to explore emotions and values that may seem both threatening and fundamental in every day life. I think that’s why I enjoy the Divergent trilogy, the Hunger Games series and Harry Potter.

In Warhammer, as I understood it at least,  emotions like rage, anger, depression, lust, and so on take on a monstrous form and inhabit their own plane that was somehow separated from the world we live in. However they can sometimes get through the division between the two planes, into the world, as monsters and destroyers, and attack or take possession of people.

I thought that was quite a vivid description of the emotions that we fear. Sometimes I dissociate and cannot feel. It’s as though the emotions are supposedly safely shut away in the other plane, leaving absence and numbness, but still draining and hollowing me out so I no longer know who I am. The veil that keeps them shut away is increasingly unstable. It shifts and weakens and then with horrifying force, the violent and monstrous emotions burst through back into my reality. They attack. They hurt. They scream fury or whisper paranoia and guilt. They cling, unbearable and foul. They consume me, control me and wrap themselves so tight around my insides that all I sense is pain and I lose sight of everything good. Hope and empathy seem to have fled. I do the terrible things I most fear.

Sometimes I worry what the creators of games like this have been through to come up with these images! Or perhaps it only reads this way to people who think like me đŸ™‚

Ginny xxx

Hi there little ducks!

Hi there little ducks!

Sometimes I like to go for a walk along the nearby river. This mother duck was just bringing her ducklings for a dip as I passed. They were remarkably sociable and very cute and fluffy! It seems quite late in the year for such little ducklings, don’t you think? I’m not sure but I’d have thought they’d have hatched earlier.

(It was not easy to get a good photo as they swam so fast.)

Ginny xxx

A shaky week

This week I planned to get all caught up here on comments and visiting your blogs. However as so often happens, things took a different term and I seem to be as useless as the proverbial handbrake on a tortoise. And moving at a similar speed too!

This hasn’t been a very stable week. I had a meeting with my new support worker, a difficult consultation with my GP, two relationships breaking down very painfully, an important but emotional group therapy where something that occurred brought flashbacks of a frightening incident in my childhood for which I feel responsible. Also I got some very unexpected news and had a conversation that seemed to throw everything. I’ll post about it in due course once I’m more able to cope.

Not big things in the grand scheme but I’ve got behind again. So once again, I’m sorry for being so slow to answer messages. I care and I’m praying for you and I’m sorry for how I struggle to write.

Ginny xxx

A walk and talk with S

I went for coffee with my friend S this morning. We went for a walk along the river, watching the swans, mooched round an antique and bric-a-brac store and a couple of charity shops*,  and had coffee in a sweet cafe with dressers displaying vintage china teasets.

S was my boss in a previous job and we have kept in touch. I have always respected and liked her very much and actually we get on even better now than we did at work. With the exception of my friend L (my goddaughters’ mum) and her immediate family with whom I lived when I needed support years ago, and those work colleagues I get on with but would not yet consider close friends, S is possibly the only friendship I’ve managed to sustain for several years – and I mean a meaningful relationship, sharing honestly how and who you are. It’s a friendship very precious to me. First because I care about S and think she’s a lovely,  interesting, empathic, fun, genuine and… I can’t think of the word. ….she has strong beliefs about what’s right and important and is very dedicated to doing the best by everyone, if that makes sense. When we talk she often brings perspectives I’d never thought of. We share a similar sense of humour. Secondly, it’s precious because she doesn’t judge me. She cares about keeping in touch and continues to share her life and thoughts with me, whether I’m in a good or a bad state with my mental health. She doesn’t judge and doesn’t dismiss me as unable to cope or engage, and doesn’t push me away if there are certain things I’m finding hard or not always able to be “normal”. Thirdly, she doesn’t require me to be in a particular state or way in order for us to be in touch. That is a really rare gift. There are few people I can say that about and that I’d trust as I do her.

I do have the same fears about losing her, being too much for her, harming or hurting her without knowing it, as I do with other people I care about. S and I don’t get to meet that often, maybe every couple of months or so, and it is often in my mind that if we saw more of each other I’d be too much for her just as I have been for everyone else. However my relationship with S seems more stable than most of my other relationships. I’m not sure why. I’ve wondered if it’s because she’s particularly empathic and she has previously worked in mental health, as have I, so she’s very reflective and has also got more understanding than many of us (me included) may be in a position to have about how PD and mental health conditions in general affect us. She’s also older than me. Or I wonder if it’s to do with having come to know her gradually as a boss first. Perhaps all these things help. I think it’s also an important fact that when I’m more ill, she doesn’t treat me as if that makes me useless or not able to participate in anything and she doesn’t require me (implicitly or explicitly) to be in a different state than I am.

I would think some of the difference must be down to me as well, though I do not know what I do differently with her from in relationships I’ve lost and/or discovered they were not at all for the other person what I thought they were – usually because I’ve hurt them or they resented me without knowing. I probably should try to figure out what I do differently!

Anyhow, this was a nice morning after a very sad, low, shaky week. Tomorrow I am going to meet with L and my goddaughters and the family, as it was my eldest goddaughter’s birthday this week. I’m very anxious about the travel there as unfamiliar or unpredictable places, routes, timings and so on are hard for me; I’m also feeling overwhelmed because there will be 8 of us in total. I don’t want to dissociate, get anxious or get upset which could harm the children and spoil it for other people. Whenever I go to something like this, the thought repeats in my head that I must not let my problems take over everything for other people and they need me to be more together. I was once told by someone I care about that this is what I do, when actually I was doing everything I could to hide what I was going through and self harming repeatedly to deaden my feelings. Now it’s a big fear that I ruin everything.

However, the only way forward is to do it. I really care about L and the girls and their family and it’s worth all the anxieties to get to see them and celebrate with them.

It’s a blessed weekend.

Ginny xxx