In my last post I talked about how much separation is still a trigger for me, and always, always causes problems any time Therapist takes a break. We discussed this a lot yesterday, and she outlined how I typically react to this separation. I’ll save you going back to look for it, here’s what she said I do:
‘I’d shut down, agree I’d be fine for the few weeks then spend those weeks desperate to speak to her. The closer we got to a session, the angrier I’d get, and I’d bounce back and force so much about whether to cancel or not that by the time I was actually sitting in front of her I’d be too angry to speak. I’d stew for most of the session, then 30 seconds before it was time to leave, I’d spit out the problem, but, we wouldn’t have time to address it. She’d have to give me a few extra minutes to calm down, boundaries blurred all over the place, and by the time I saw her again, I’d be too embarrassed to talk about it. It would eventually come to a head after a few weeks when I’d be able to admit how much I struggled while she was off, and all the associated shame/guilt/rejection etc etc.’
What struck me then, and has stayed with me since writing the above, is what an incredibly manipulative way this is to behave, which, of course, is another hallmark of bpd
. Fearing rejection and separation, people with borderline will often resort to drama, by whatever means necessary, to keep someone from leaving, or in this case, to allow me to have just a few more minutes of her time, and push the boundaries of the relationship way, way harder than I should. I said this to her, how it sounded like incredibly manipulative behaviour. She argued that it wasn’t, rather it was a way of coping with emotions that I couldn’t handle. I don’t know, looking back I certainly wasn’t consciously behaving that way, but the end result was the same. Somewhere, however much I didn’t/don’t want to admit it, I knew that falling apart the minute she called time on a session would mean she’d have to give that bit more of herself, look after me and bring me back to reality. I feel sick just thinking about it.
It’s the same with this profound sense of rejection I have every time she suggests a break – I phrase questions in such a way that she has to reassure me that she’s not rejecting me. Except last night, she indulged that for only a few minutes before pulling me up on it. It’s not helpful for me, and it keeps me in the cycle of dependency. What I have to do now is hear her, and actually believe her when she says she’s invested in this process with me, that she’s not pushing me away, that me learning to reassure myself is what’s best for me and what will ultimately help me to move past this particular issue. Otherwise? Otherwise I will keep falling into this trap every single time she can’t be there when I want her to be.
It’s hard, and it feels absolutely horrible. I hate to think that ways I’ve behaved in the past have been manipulative (and at the moment I’m only able to think of the therapeutic relationship. There’s no way I can look further than that right now but if it showed up there, then it’s likely it showed up elsewhere too. I’m nowhere near ready to look at that yet).
So I’ve got two weeks to get through. I’m still feeling a bit shook after last night’s session, and thinking about the above hasn’t helped a whole lot. But again, no more than anything that’s come up this last while, it’s all starting to make a bit more sense. I know I’m getting a handle on this. Understanding helps. Downside? Every new piece of the puzzle shows me just how big and all encompassing this has been, and how much work I have to do to keep it from taking over again. I’m tired today and that’s a little daunting.