I can’t seem to stop crying the last couple of days. Or rather, I can keep it together really well during work hours, but otherwise I seem to be quite fragile. It’s not ideal but it’s not the the worst thing in the world. Sometimes my BPD can make it so that I don’t feel anything. It makes my nervous system involuntarily shut down. That is awful. This is just sadness and loneliness with a tinge of insecurity. I suppose I find this more bearable because this way I’m still right here–I’m not gone or absent.
I feel needy but I’m not disowning the neediness. Yes, that too is right there: the desire for hugs and companionship and affection. I want to stand on my balcony and scream out “Gimme love everyone!” This probably means I have to give myself love. That’s rarely easy for me.
Changing subjects (yes this really is just a random journal entry that I’m sharing because I feel a bit lonely), I realized yesterday that I generally work well with clients who are counter-dependent; that is, clients who are so deeply sensitive that they have learned to disown their vulnerability and their needs; those who see themselves almost exclusively as strong and independent.
A twenty-some year old client said to me yesterday , “I’m a chill person”. I looked at her and said, “I understand why you’d say that. But the truth is more nuanced. I think you are sensitive and feel intensely. I think you are profoundly deep. You learned to disown all of that. Well done surviving. But I want you to know that I see how much you have going on in there and that I’m ready for whenever it’s ready to come out.” The client immediately grew tearful and said, “Damn….okay yes.” I asked her what it was like to hear what I said and she replied, “Hard but I also feel a lot of gratitude”. She felt loved. I could tell. And, in that moment, it was true: I was loving her with all of my heart.
The thing is…that’s easy for me. Or rather, my work self has a much easier time of things. It is easier for me to be loving toward my clients that it is to be loving toward myself. When I’m with clients some of my own adaptations come in handy.
For example, the radar I have developed to read people can often hurt me so much in my day-to-day life because it can trigger me into painful narratives. I think my radar is quite refined but somewhere between the radar and my brain the message gets distorted. But at work the information the radar sends me is usually full of clarity and insight. Thus the narratives I write for my clients are more accurate and helpful than those I write for myself. At work my radar is like a super power. I put it to good use there. It’s one of the reasons I’m such a good therapist. I sometimes see things they haven’t seen yet. Or at least things they turn their backs on. And I usually get away with confronting them with it because I say things from a calm loving place. No, I’m not perfect and sometimes my timing is off or sometimes my motives are off but guess what? Work-Me is very forgiving. That is, I don’t tend to beat myself up for mistakes there.
It’s not ideal that my work life is where I feel like my best self. I mean, I’m grateful that I have place where I can utilize my traumas and my life experience in a way that is generally beneficial to others. It means the world to me. But I’m also aware that part of what allows me to be my best self there is that while it’s a very intimate sort of relationship I don’t see it as a place to get my needs met in a direct way (in an indirect way it fills all sorts of needs, to be sure) so I don’t get triggered. There I can’t be abandoned. There I can’t feel the intensity of my original trauma.
The self-judgment just came up for me right now. About this entire entry. I’m calling myself self-indulgent for talking about myself in a way that isn’t especially creative. Who am I to take up this space? I’m telling myself that it’s okay and that I’m a lovable person to counter that. But then tears come to my eyes again. Yup, the tears are streaming down.
It’s funny though, if someone said to me that the tears would keep coming for the rest of my life and that I would never again feel numb I would take it. I would say, “Yeah, maybe that’s okay.” I’m not saying that it’s what I want. I would like to feel lighter and happier more frequently. But between the two extremes of crying-fragile vs. numb it’s no contest. At least from here I can talk and get some catharsis. Here the river flows even if the river is full of tears.
Well, it’s time to rest and have a snack before my last three clients. If nothing else I’ll get a little break from the tears during those three hours. And I have a good film waiting for me to finish. Soulful. Smart. Beautiful. That feels good too. In fact, I’m willing to bet I’ll shed a few tears while I watch. Shocking, I know.