Friday, August 26, 2011

No expectations, no disappointments

I'm completely stressed out. Next week, I'm supposed to be spending the entire week up at a cottage with my bf and his entire family. They do this every year, although last year was the first year I joined them (I had just recently come into the picture). Anyways, I remember it being pretty fun. Lots of time to relax, spend time outdoors, read, swim, and just be in good company. This may sound a bit strange, but although my bf and I had only been dating for about 6 months, I felt like a part of the family.

That was then.

Last fall, when my depression and BPD reared their ugly heads, my bf and I made the decision to tell his family what we were going through. Although I wasn't comfortable with the idea, we were dealing with a lot back then and needed more support than what we could get from just each other and the few close friends we had confided in. So, we told them everything...about my severe depression, my nightmarish experiences with various anti-depressants, my going on sick leave from work, my BPD...and although they didn't fully understand what all of that meant (most of them had never been exposed to any mental illness before), they seemed rather understanding. It was nice. I felt like we had their support and that we could count on them to not turn their backs on us (as other people had done).

Next came our discovery about the birth control pill and the role it had played in all this. We told them all about that as well. The thing is, though, my relationships with a few key people in his family somehow haven't been the same since. Its like they are keeping me at arms length, and aren't quite sure of what to think of me. (I'm the crazy girlfriend who could snap at any moment.) I'll admit that I am very insecure to begin with, and I know I have the tendency to over think things. But something just feels different. Like I used to be treated like part of the family, and now I'm just treated like my bf's girlfriend. It's difficult to explain...but it hurts like hell. Last year (pre-depression) I could see such a wonderful and positive future ahead of us. Our relationship was solid, his family was encouraging, and things were just great all around. Now after everything we've been through, its like everything is completely messed up and will never be as good as it could have been had I not been the way I am. Whenever I think about it, its like a knife twisting in my heart. I haven't yet figured out how to be ok with that.

So that's how I'm feeling about my relationship with my bf's family. And now I get to spend a whole week with them. Although I'm trying not to think about it too much, I am preparing for it to be very different than last year. I am not the social butterfly that I was back then, and don't really care to put myself out there to people who I don't feel are receptive to me. So, I'm bringing lots and lots of knitting supplies and books. The weather is slowly starting to cool off and I need to start knitting my doggy sweater inventory for the fall anyways. On the upside, it should be a productive week as far as my business is concerned :) And as long as I remember not to have any other expectations, I can't get hurt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My emotions are out of control today. I had a complete meltdown this morning, and I don't even know why. I don't think I slept very well, and I woke up with my mind in a fog -- I couldn't think, or see straight, or control my behaviour. I just didn't feel like myself. And then, everything erupted. My bf is angry, unhappy, and stressed to no end. And its because of me. I literally want to crawl out of my skin, and will claw my way out if I have to.

My relationship is suffering greatly because of my apparent inability to regulate my emotions, and I'm so scared of what will end up happening to us because of all this. I know that by worrying (aka panicking) about what may or may not eventually happen, I'm only making things worse, but I don't know how to stop. I'm stuck.

I'm in the process of learning about distress tolerance in the DBT group I'm in, but nothing was able to help me this morning. And now, I am overcome by embarrassment, guilt, and shame for putting my bf through another episode. I don't know what to do next. I feel as though nothing I try is helping. And its scaring me to death.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Mom, I will never be Shirley Temple"

What's in a name, anyways? Is your name your identity? Does it act as a way to tell people around you who you really are? Or is it, just simply, a group of letters strung together that act as a random identifier?

I've never felt like a "Shirley", nor do I like where my name came from. My narcissistic mother wanted more than anything for me to become her Shirley Temple. In her eyes, I was supposed to bring her fame, money, and probably a whole lot of attention. But that's simply not me. I will never be my mother's own little version of Shirley Temple.

Last week, I sent in my application to legally change my first name. Once the paperwork goes through, I will no longer be "Shirley". Instead, I've chosen a name that actually means something to me, and which I can identify with. As it stands, every time I say or hear my name, I don't just hear "Shirley". Instead, I hear "Shirley-as-in-Shirley-Temple-which-is-what-my-mother-wanted-me-to-be-but-which-I-can't-be-because-I'm-not-good-enough-and-that's-why-my-mother-doesn't-love-me". I'm tired of it.

I've mentioned this to a few friends already, mostly to gauge reactions, and so far they've been positive. I'm still very worried about judgments and about what people will say about me behind my back. (I've never been good at not caring about things like that.) But at the end of the day, I need to do what's best for me, which is to focus on re-building my life the way I want it to look, as opposed to how I think everyone else wants it to look. I know that this will not be an easy task, since I've spent my entire life trying to be whatever I needed to be to make other people happy. But one thing I've learned is that trying to be whatever I think others want me to be never works. So, its time for a different approach.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Relationship struggles

Here we are...another day, another fight with my bf caused by my own insecurities and lack of self-esteem. What a wonderful way to start the day.

We were supposed to have lunch with "our" friends today. (I say "our" because they were his friends before we started dating, but have become our mutual friends by virtue of our relationship.) This lunch was planned a few days ago, when one person decided to send out an email to "the group" to set up a lunch for today. I was not included in that email. In my mind, that translates into them wanting to have lunch without me. I'm sure that I would have been welcome to join and nobody would have said anything about it, but the point is that I wasn't asked directly...and to me, that means that they didn't expressly want me there. That in itself is a good enough reason for me to not want to go.

Of course, my bf doesn't understand my interpretation of the situation. In his view, they are "our" friends, I am always welcome and wanted, and by them asking him if he wanted to have lunch, it was implied that I was being invited as well. I'm not so sure I agree with that, mostly because there are other times when I am included in group emails by those same people. Either way, the result is the same. My bf and I fought. I cried hysterically. He got incredibly stressed. And now there's uneasiness between us. Again.

So, this situation got me thinking about my "friends" in general. As I mentioned in my last post, I feel like the only time I get to see people is when I chase them down and make plans with them. I think that's what got me so upset this morning...the feeling of being left out of today's lunch stirred up my feelings about being left out of almost everything. And in the end its my relationship with my bf that pays the price.

Here's the thing: I'm over-sensitive, I lack self-confidence, and I feel like an outcast most of the time. None of this is new. What is new, however, is that my bf simply doesn't have the patience anymore to deal with me and my distorted thinking. I blame myself fully for this. I truly believe that the relationship struggles we are facing now are a direct result of my inability to pull myself together and just be a "normal, happy person". I can't even fake it for a day, for goodness sake! And believe me, I have tried. (Actually, I think I start almost everyday by thinking "OK, its a new day, time to pretend to be the strong, confident, happy person my bf needs me to be. If I can do that, then everything will be fine.") But each time I fail, I hate myself for it, and end up making everything so much worse.

My bf has been saying a lot of things lately like "I just can't be the rock I used to be" and "I feel like I can't do or say anything anymore". He's been breaking down a lot, and I am the cause. I hate myself for this too. He says he doesn't want me to leave, but I can't stand seeing myself put him through all this pain and misery. It's like watching a horrific car crash happen over and over again. If I can't be the happy stable person he needs me to be, and I can't figure out how to fake it, what am I supposed to do?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nobody cares, so what's the point?

I feel like a total outcast. I don't seem to have a single friend (other than my bf) who actually wants to see me. No one reaches out to me and says "hey, do you want to get together and do something?" If I make plans to see someone, its because I reached out to them...I chased them, and I suggested plans...and as good as things seem when we get together, no one ever gets in touch with me to set up another get together. It doesn't help that my bf's friends get in touch with him all the time to make plans, which seems to validate my belief that its me no one cares about. And if nobody cares, then what's the point in chasing them to make plans at all? I'd might as well just stay in my apartment and live a quiet life, and not bother seeing people that apparently don't care whether they see me or not anyways. The problem is, I hate being alone.

When I wrote about how the birth control pill caused my severe depression and heightened BPD traits (here), I failed to realize at the time that getting my life "back to normal" (working, socializing, managing my emotions) was going to be so much more difficult than simply going off the pill. Think of my mind as a Pandora's Box, and the pill as being what caused the box to open. Now that the box has been opened, even though I have stopped the pill, I (clearly) can't just shove everything back into the box and close it again. Whether I like it or not, the issues I have been repressing all these years (quite successfully I might add) are now out in the open and need to be dealt with the hard way.

I had a very traumatic childhood. Unfortunately (or fortunately??) I don't actually remember any of it. My memories quite literally start somewhere in my mid-teens. What little I do know of my childhood is what I have been able to gather from other family members: my mom (who really is a horrible resource for this, as she is a narcissist, an alcoholic, and the source most of my trauma), my dad (who I don't think was ever really around), and my step mom (who presumably got all her info from my dad). But they did tell me things like how my mom used to hit me whenever I made a mistake playing my instruments, or how every picture of me as a kid was manufactured (no pictures could be taken unless my hair was combed, my shoes were shined, and I was wearing a pretty dress), and how she used to threaten to kill herself whenever I did something she didn't like (she still does this, actually). She also named me Shirley after Shirley Temple, because I was supposed to be her little star (singer, dancer, whatever), which kind of explains why she put me into everything as a child (swimming, skiing, skating, roller skating, dancing, music, etc. etc.) and why every time I stopped an activity, she would tell me that "a part of her died".

I am a very sensitive person, and I have a tendency to take a lot of things very, very personally. I have also lived most of my life doing things that I thought would make my parents (mostly my mom) happy, and as such never really learned how to think for myself -- to think about what I want. It makes sense, then, that if I spent my life doing what I thought would make my mom happy (like spending the last 12 years in a career I hated to try to win her over), and she would still tell me that I kept letting her down, why I feel like I can never be good enough, for her or for anybody else. That belief is so deeply ingrained in me that I haven't figured out how to shake it yet. I wonder whether I ever will.