When something comes up that causes involuntary reactions, that triggers us, we need to be able to step back from the incident and determine why it occurred. More often than not, something in our past imposes itself upon the present, and pushes us to act in defense of a perceived threat.
I mentioned in a previous journal entry that I tried to start dating again too soon. I’ve been trying to determine what it is I actually want in order to feel like I’m moving in a positive direction towards the future. I’ve had some conversations that have lent themselves to considering second dates, future encounters, and even the possibility of a match, a coupling, a relationship.
That’s when I get fucking terrified. That’s when I get triggered.
The very thought of something approaching a partnership or relationship with someone has triggered many involuntary reactions. I tense up. I feel my jaw tighten. A particular email from months ago shows up in my head, almost word for word, whispered into my ear without my consent. My instincts tell me that I’m going to cause another disaster, that I am setting myself up to fail. I get scared. Outwardly, I either push away and shut down, or I start running off at the mouth about my reactions and their causes, which is selfish and unfair to whomever happens to be speaking with me at the time. Those conversations tend to end badly for everyone involved. That, in turn, leaves me feeling broken and alone all over again.
Especially when most of your self-care and theraputic training has been in CBT (cognative behavioral therapy), you can spend a great deal of time, as I’ve put it, chasing the rabbits in your head – my head weasels, as I’ve called them. For me, a lot of them disappear down into the warrens where I keep my past, my secrets, my pain, my failures. The last few months have seen me ruminating on what went wrong before. I took the admonishments against me to heart, tried to read between the lines when information ceased or was no longer available, and looked deeply for things within myself to correct. Aware of the fact that I’ve been cast out by many, villified by others, and left to my own devices regarding my wounds, I’ve disappeared down those weasel holes under the ruins many times.
I can still see and smell the smoke from all of the burned bridges of my recent past. The water hoses near my feet lay leaking and ineffective. It’s so easy for me to fall into patterns of thought like that, and visualize what happened in such maudlin terms. I’ve spent so much time in my past all but destroying myself over my mistakes. I’ve made a ruin of many situations simply because I have been so aggressive in punishing myself. While I have worked hard to be more forgiving of myself and imagine myself complexly, at times I still fall into the unfortunate habit of seeing myself not as an individual of merit who simply has flaws, but rather as a violator of some code of conduct where punishments begin at public flogging in the square and escalate to summary execution.
After all, that’s what I did to Josh-that-was.
I’m trying to push myself through this. I’m on the right medication for my bipolar, and I’m trying to work with therapists on my borderline. I’ve had some give me recommendations of books to read and basic exercises to follow. But this in and of itself is fraught with obstacles. Group DBT therapy is prohibitively expensive and, as far as I’ve discovered, not covered by most insurances. The path to establishing one-on-one work with the right therapist is labyrinthine and tangled in red tape to a degree that would make a shibari enthusiast blush. And as patient as I can be, I tend to have more impatience with myself and my emotional progress. This leads to frustration, which in turn can lead to irrational anger, itself part and parcel of borderline personality disorder.
At least CBT allows me to recognize those things.
The thing I am trying to keep in mind is that we are as defined by our failures as we are by success. In fact, we learn more when we lose than when we win. As Bastille says, we need our flaws “to be who we are, without them we’d be doomed”. What isn’t letting me fully embrace that concept and move forward into a future that I feel can be a happy one for me is the fact that my flaws are rooted in so many failures in my past. I want to make sure I do not repeat my mistakes, hurt anyone else I care about, or put myself in a worse position than the one I already occupy (which is difficult to imagine at times). To do that, I need to study the past. I feel I need to step away from good things I’m trying to cultivate and foster, and turn towards the ruins, covering my hands in cold ash rather than warm topsoil.
I don’t want to romanticize any of this. I’m not plunging into forgotten tombs in a weather-beaten fedora cracking a bullwhip. I’m not deciphering hidden messages that were left behind as some sort of treasure map. I’m not putting together something shared between myself and another individual in the hopes it’ll be like it was before.
I’m sifting through these ruins to understand why everything was destroyed, and why everyone is dead.
My only real hope is that the dead have something to teach the living.
I’m once again being forced to move and that’s brought along with it a whole lot of tension and fear and doubt and bad memories. It’s really fucked with me. Add a computer crash to that and you have a recipe for a wonderful environment for nothing creative to happen.
I hope to start writing and vlogging regularly again soon. Thank you all for your patience.