Pride Deserving of a Gryffindor

Today, I’m proud of myself.

Now, that’s quite a rare one, isn’t it?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’d know that I have a high level of self-shame, self-hatred, and I find it hard to self-love.

Lately however, I’ve been coming to terms with how I feel about myself and learning what it means to self-love.

I said to S today, “Part of me can’t believe that I got to the realization that I need to cut off ties with my ex in order to heal in just a matter of days…” (I had come to terms with my decision early this week since having made said decision just a few days prior) and he said something that I’d known in the back of my mind but never really paid much attention to.

S said, “I want to challenge that notion that seems to undermine the amount of work you’ve done here. We’re coming up to 2 years of working together, and in that time, we’ve been dealing with the same things over and over again. You’ve worked incredibly hard!”

I thought hard as he said that and I realized that he was right.

Come April, it’ll have been 2 years of therapy. It’s almost unbelievable how long I’ve been grinding away at this, and how much I’ve worked. It still feels surreal. How could we have known each other that long?

Is that why I could just saunter into CAPS and say hi to everyone there as though I’ve been buddies with them for ages? I walk in through the doors and just casually say, “Hi D! How’s it going this week?” or “Hi K! Whatchu up to?” (K is the new receptionist that was hired to deal with the increasing demands of front desk work)

Is that why I could plop myself down in S’ client couch and just lean back like I was very comfortable? And is that why I can now ask him questions more plainly without having to ruminate over them for months before I bring anything up?

Wow. I don’t know why I am thinking like this is such a big deal – I mean, sure, I’ve been there almost 2 years now, so what, right?

That said, a part of me recognizes just how important this is – how important this journey has been thus far.

I keep undermining my efforts because I’m so short-sighted – I only see what’s immediately in front of me. S, on the other hand, had the privilege of being a third party observer who has his own informed perspective to use.

He said, “I don’t want you to sway you to my perspective but that’s how I see it. I see it as you, having put in so much time, energy, and effort into this recovery process, that it took you only a few days to come to terms with your decision because it’s been a long time coming. All those months of work have prepared you for this. You didn’t just wake up one day and decided that you were over the divorce…”

As I chewed on his words, I realized that I started to feel the warm feeling of pride inside. I started to realize how strong I’ve been – despite all the batterings I’ve endured last year, I emerged through that alive.

I started to realize that I am proud of myself for all that I’ve achieved.

I told S that. He beamed and assured me that I completely deserve to feel that way. He also told me how impressed he was with my ability to pull myself out of a suicidal thought 2 weeks ago.

It had been a rough time for me and I had reverted to the old habit of self-punishment, and suicidal tendency. I wanted to kill myself – I was triggered by my ex, and was led to believe that I was crap. That I should just die so that I didn’t have to feel the awful way that I do. I had also hurt Cherie’s feelings – something that I couldn’t believe I would do. I felt worthless.

While beating myself and telling myself that I deserve to hurt myself again, another voice chimed in. It was a different voice this time – it sounded nothing like the critical voice that I was used to hearing. It was a strong, confident, pleasant, and kind voice.

The voice said, “No! You’re not worthless. Why do you have to hurt yourself? Why do you have to die? If you do that, he wins. If you let him get to you, he wins. You’re better than that, Jules. You’re stronger than that! You’re worth more than what you’ve ever been told. You are too valuable to have to resort to self-harm, and suicide. Punishing yourself doesn’t do anything but hurt you more. You’ve already hurt enough”

When I had shared this with S last week, he had beamed so brightly, and told me several times how happy he is to hear that, and that I was able to get there. Today, he told me that he was impressed with my positive self-talk. He said that in the past, my pattern had been suicide –> self-depreciation –> worse thoughts of suicide –> visiting CAPS for emergency sessions –> have good sessions –> leave feeling better –> if lucky, the good feelings last for a couple of days –> get triggered again –> suicide –> rinse and repeat.

“So the fact that the affirmation didn’t come from me, or anyone here at CAPS, but rather, from yourself… That is very strong. It makes me happy to know that you’re reaching a stronger point”

I was already proud of myself but hearing his words made me even more proud. It added to my affirmative feelings and validated me.

This, I believe, is my first step toward breaking more bad habits, and being a stronger individual. I know that I will regress – as S kept reminding me, “Progress and recovery is not a straight line upwards. It looks more like a zig zag upwards, where there will be times when you will slip. But that’s okay. All that matters is that you keep going”.

Pretension and Denial

I think I’m kidding myself and I’m pretending when I’m in front of everyone else.

I don’t think I’m as well as I want to feel and just because I’m not thinking of something, doesn’t mean it’s not in my mind.

I’m trying to be patient and when in times of loneliness, I’ve sought out the company of friends. I don’t think it’s really helping or that it’s really working.

I thought about S and though I don’t want to let him down, sometimes, I feel like just like in my marriage, I’d just been making promises I can’t keep. I promised him that I wouldn’t hurt myself or go and buy a knife – though I haven’t broken those promises, I feel like at any moment, I could.

My anxiety has been increasing because it’s only 8 days until school begins again and I don’t know if I can handle all the responsibilities that schoolwork will throw at me while working 4 full shifts at the restaurant, working 12 hours at the Math Assistance Center, and contributing my time and energy as a Peer Educator, all while trying to keep my mental health in check. I know something has got to give. I fear that my education might be the thing that gives. That, or maybe I’ll lose my job. If I do, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to financially support myself.

I tell myself I’ll be fine. But I can’t believe it. I know people believe in me and I know that they care.

Yet, at the same time, I can’t stop myself from wishing that nobody did, just so I can leave this existence without hurting anyone but myself. I’d rather that nobody cared at this point because I just don’t want to keep going. Having people care means that I can’t hurt them by leaving their lives so suddenly.

Even in all my pain, I keep thinking about how many people I’ll hurt if I take my own life. A part of me, the child most probably, hates that because I care about others more than I do myself. I think the child wants me to care for myself. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to care about me. Is it because I don’t feel like I’m worthy to have such care? I don’t know.

At the moment, I feel hopeless again.

Recently, a coworker had messaged me and told me some very inappropriate things – it made me feel violated and uncomfortable. Initially, when he told me how he felt and what his thoughts had been, I had told him that though I was flattered, I wasn’t interested. Then his words started gnawing at me and I felt more and more uncomfortable as the days passed. Today, I told my GM about it and he took it very seriously – he told me that he and the management team has my back fully. That if the coworker seeks recourse in any way at all, he will be terminated from his job. So I’d been struggling with that too – feeling awkward around said coworker, still feeling violated and somehow naked, feeling really unsafe and insecure.

When I reached out for comfort and protection, I got none. I wanted to talk to S on Friday because I felt so bad but he wasn’t in that day. I didn’t think that what the coworker had said would affect me so much but I guess it had affected me more than I would allow myself to believe.

I guess at this point in time, I just don’t know how to deal with life.

Thoughts From Therapy – #75 – Relinquishing My Weapon and A Change of Style

The session with S went well enough… At the start. Near the end, it took a turn for the worse because the child was craving more attention while the adult wanted to keep us safe.

So the adult said to S, “I didn’t want to tell you this….” I paused because the child started to protest. After a few moments of hesitation, the adult regained control and continued, “I actually bought a knife…”

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Change Is Paralyzing

Change is terrifying.

I think anyone and everyone can attest to this.

No one likes change (not initially anyway) and for someone like me, who has been through a lot of traumatic times in my life, who struggles with separation anxiety disorder and a deep sense of abandonment through various periods of my life, change is downright debilitating. At times, I am so overwhelmed by the sheer notion of change that I am paralyzed with fear.

I don’t fear death. I don’t fear injuries. I fear change. I fear abandonment. I fear above all else, the sting of loneliness that no physical presence can cure – the kind of loneliness that happens only when no one cares about you.

So with the change comes all those fears.

Whenever something in my life changes, I fight tooth and nail to hang on to what I know to be familiar.

Lately, familiarity has been forcefully thrown out the window as a result of many changes in my life. I know as a Christian I should rely on God as my rock but a lot of times, He feels so intangible that it’s hard for me to cling on to him. So instead, I cling on to things I can see, feel, hear, touch, smell – I know it’s fallible, yes, but it’s all I have right now so I’m going to have to go with it.

For one, S has been on vacation for the past 2 weeks and I’ve been really missing him. In his stead, he had appointed J to help mitigate my emotional instability. Last week, he helped me reason through my suicidality and this week, he helped me realize something important about the dependence I have on people (he helped me see that just because someone is no longer there physically in my life, that it doesn’t mean that they don’t still care for me, and that they don’t still have a connection to me – this was very important because lately I’ve been feeling like I’m unimportant in everyone’s lives because I can never get a hold of someone when I really need them. That my messages are often not responded to). Despite having J’s help, I really need S because he provides the familiarity that keeps me functioning despite my emotional instability.

I told J today that in an analogy of a someone trapped in a raging river that’s threatening to sweep them away, that S is actually like the rock in the middle of all that that the person can hang on to. In that analogy, I’m the person that’s trapped in the raging river – all my emotions are threatening to sweep me away. Most times, I contemplate suicide over facing these overwhelming emotions because it’s so much easier to stop feeling. Being swept away would mean giving up – letting the current take me. Having S keeps me steady. I slip time and time again but even if I still have on finger on the rock, I’m still hanging on. S is my rock. And having S on vacation means that temporarily, I have no rock to hang on to. I’m slowly getting swept away. J is like the errant vine that I hang on to temporarily while I try to get back on solid ground. Solid ground will be back next week – familiarity that I need. Every Wednesday, at 10am, I spend an hour with S. I watch him react to what I say, hear his words echoed in my head, feel his warmth and compassion, enjoy his attention and care.

I’ve been packing my things into boxes and I’m overwhelmed by the number of things that I’ve amassed in 4 and a half years of being here in the States. And these are things that I’ve already condensed from my previous moves. So for me to still have boxes upon boxes of things really irks me. I am agitated by the amount of things I have to consolidate – my mental energy being expended on nostalgic reminiscing, and into trying to organize and decide what to keep and what to throw.

I’m going to lose this familiarity pretty soon. I know it’s for the best. I am mature enough to realize that change is good. Yet, the child can’t. The child hates it. The child rued the day she moved from the home she grew up in and lived in for 6 years. She rued the day she moved from the second home she spent most of her childhood and teenhood in. She rues every single day she has to move. She is so deeply dependent on familiarity that any little thing that changes it upsets her greatly.

Anyway, I’m going through a lot of changes – things that I wish could slow down a little so that I can take a breath of air but the river doesn’t flow like that. The river is relentless and if I don’t learn to tread water, I’ll surely drown. I’m learning to tread water. Slowly, little by little, I’m gaining the strength to climb up onto the rock. Eventually, I’ll have enough strength to swim against the current and go to shore. Eventually, I won’t need the rock to keep me afloat any longer. Eventually, the rock will be the very thing that will help me gain enough footing and strength to leave it.

After my conversation with J today, and after learning that people are still there and they still care for me even if they haven’t talked to me for a while because there exist genuine connections between myself and these people, I was able to come home and start packing. I’ve been putting it off for 2 and a half weeks now.

I packed 3 boxes full of school material and books that I can’t get rid of, and now I’m taking a respite from the overwhelming emotions I’m experiencing. I had a moment of tears when I found the farewell card that my brother had written me 5 years ago when I left Malaysia – my heart felt torn to shred as I read his sweet words – but that was it, just one moment. I know I’m getting stronger. I can feel myself getting stronger. I am crying less lately. I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did 2 weeks ago. The desire to end my life still lingers and comes out fully when triggered.

Yes, I did cut myself again this morning but that was after an intense trigger and I’d just reached for the hunting knife I’d kept in my pocket. I’d like to believe that I have more sense now – especially after speaking to J. This had happened at 11am this morning. Had I kept my appointment with J at the time that I was supposed to at 10am, I wouldn’t have done it, but because I had to push my appointment back to 4pm, I had no buffer for my sudden fear/anger/sadness. So I reached for the knife. Oh child, I wish I’d paid you more attention. I’m sorry that you felt like you needed to hurt me to get my attention. But it’s okay now. I’m listening. 

I have a much clearer state of mind now. After realizing that things with JS (Ex) were never meant to work out the way I had wanted it to (happily ever after), and that it’s ok that it didn’t, I’m much calmer. When J pointed out that it’s not his presence that I yearn, but rather the connection, and that his connection with me as the greatest friends anyone could ever have is genuine, I realized how selfish and blinded I’d been all this time.

I wanted him to be around – even if it meant that both of us were miserable in the process. That was what happened for years. I refused to acknowledge the fear that I had that was keeping us together. I refused to allow anything other than the notion of happily ever after to exist – even when it wasn’t happy. For the most part, it wasn’t ever happy. I lied to him. I lied to myself. I thought I was happy. I couldn’t figure out why I was always angry. Now I know.

It’s because change is paralyzing. Anything other than the notions that I’ve constructed for myself, I had nothing else going for me. Without this happily ever after, I was just a person struggling with her sexuality and her faith, I was just a shell of a person, I was just the person that tries hard to live up to everyone’s expectations and fails, I was just me. Without JS, I was just sad, and broken me.

I see now that my worth is not tied to anyone. That his worth is not tied to mine either. That just because our relationship didn’t work in the form of marriage, that it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work in other forms. I have learned in the past few months that we’re better friends than we ever were as a couple.

I have also learned that just because I was married to him, it doesn’t mean that it took away all my struggles with my sexuality. In fact, it amplified it and made it all the more apparent that I was merely struggling to appear “normal”. If I could turn straight, I would. I think it’s what I’ve always wanted. To just fit in. To just be normal. The more I realize that I can’t do that, the more distressing it is. Believe me, no one wanted this marriage to work more than I did.

Change has come upon me and I need to accept that I can either be dragged away by it, kicking and screaming, or I can be cooperative, and have a good time with it, while learning important life strengthening lessons. The adult needs to convince the child that it’s ok to choose the latter because the people who matter the most to me, will still be there for me because of connections that are genuine.

The child needs to also realize that her favorite person in the world, S, will be back next week. So calm the heck down, child!

Thoughts From Therapy #70 – The Rageful Child

**Note: This was supposed to be published last Thursday but I got too busy to finish this uber long post so now it’s out of place.**

S and I make a great team. I’ve known that for a while now because of how almost effortless it is for us to hash things out and to come to well founded conclusions about my psyche.

Today’s session though, completely confirms that notion that I’ve always had about us. We had a huge breakthrough – a huge win that I have been desperately needing since my world came crashing down a couple of weeks or so ago.

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I haven’t stopped crying since Monday and yesterday’s session was just me fighting through my tears to speak. I was crying so hard and so much in S’ office yesterday that I was shaking and my voice was so cracked and shaky that it was hard for me to even say words.

Today’s session was accompanied by some tears but I was completely rational, heck intelligent even, in my analysis of things and my ideas about myself. I shed tears when we were at certain points that elicited some strong emotional response but overall, I’d say that I was pretty collected for the most part.

This, like all my other “Thoughts From Therapy” posts, will be a long one. But boy, what a win! I was so excited because I felt, for the first time in a very long time, light. Sure, I was still carrying all my burdens but somehow, I am able to carry it better this time. I don’t know how I’ll feel later in the day or even tomorrow but for now at least, I’m stable.

I felt so light that while I was waiting for my Starbucks order, I couldn’t stop the H in my ADHD from being out of control. I kept trying to talk to the barista who obviously didn’t want to talk. I was hyper. I bought 4 Green Tea Lattes – one for D, the receptionist, one for S to thank him for his efforts and support, one for me and one for my friend, CG, my coding buddy and the first friend I ever made in college who believed in me so much that he never stopped bugging me about joining him in Computer Science.

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