Yesterday, the internet was down alll day. I had written a raging blog post about my Sunday, but never got to post it. At this point, I no longer feel rage about Sunday, what I feel is more like heavy defeat and numbness. The rage post no longer fits, so I am shelving it.
What I will post is something about Polly and then an assignment I was given yesterday regarding Sunday and how I responded to it.
So first…..Polly. Polly and I were talking yesterday and I said that I had mentioned to Meg something about the table that Polly and I sit at as our “Station.” And when talking to it to Polly, I referred to it as her table and she countered, “It’s not my table.” And then she went on to say that she had only started sitting there a short time before I arrived at Hilltop. This gave me a moment of thought. Polly was the first person I was friendly with when I got here and part of it is because I inserted myself on the other half of her table. And then we slowly got to be friends across the tops of our laptops (or at least as much of friends as you can be in treatment.) I briefly pondered the fact that Polly moved to the table in time for me to share it with her. The AT might point out that that sequence happened for a reason…And maybe I might agree. Or maybe it is just a coincidence and means nothing.
The best part of our station is that it gives us a vantage point of the whole place. Actually Polly has the best/safest spot at the table, .but i often turn so my back is against the wall and thus I get a good view of everything going on. It’s a safe spot.
I don’t know where I am going with this….I just like Polly and am glad that she accepted me crashing her space.
You know, the other person I have become really friendly with (and she often comes and stands at our table and chats) is a woman who I was convinced I would never like. I had heard she is very judgmental and compares like crazy (which she actually does). And of all of us here she is the most overtly entrenched in her ED symptoms. Basically, I gave her a wide berth because I didn’t feel safe around her. But, being social by nature, I chatted pleasantly with her several times and started to like her. Yup, her ED has a strangle hold on her (just like the rest of us) and yes, she struggles and struggles. But she is actually pretty nice and so I have developed a comfortable rapport with her.
The one thing about my snap judgments of people…Sometimes, I am wrong.
Okay…now that homework assignment:
When I look behind me, I see that I am being trailed by years of stuff. And this stuff weighs me down….no, it doesn’t just weigh me down, it is like an anchor on an elastic band. It drags along behind me and the band stretches and stretches and I have to work sooo hard to keep moving forward, but I am making progress. Yes, the progress is slow and the band sometimes pulls me back, but I am still moving. But every once in a while, that anchor slips up out of the dirt and the elastic ker-twangs it right at me. And it hits me and I can’t help but be hurt and overwhelmed and doubled over in pain. But I can’t make the pain stop and the anchor just keeps bouncing on that elastic and hitting me again and again. Sometimes, I just lick my wounds and keep on moving and other times, I can’t cope and I have to do anything I can to stop the pain.
Sunday morning, my anchor came flying at me and I was not able to cope.
When I have situations in which I feel unheard, brushed off or not believed, I get really, really upset. Therapist #2 had a lot of concerns about my reactions to not being heard but we didn’t really ever get to address it in therapy as at that point, I was nowhere near being able to talk about trauma. Even just skipping across the top of the topic was too much for me. And being unheard is a trigger that will totally unravel me.
Being unheard was pretty much the story of my childhood. No one heard me. No one helped me. No one acknowledged me. Here’s what I wrote about it for my agenda on being invisible: [This refers to a prior assignment…They call assignments ‘agendas’.
I felt invisible when I was growing up. No one really saw me or heard me, no one was aware of my needs and struggles and desperate wants of love and attention. I was just a nothing and a no one. I never even had my own identity, I was always my sister’s little sister. I didn’t even have my own name. There was nothing about me that was remarkable enough for people to remember. Maybe I was never remarkable enough to remember. Heidi was nothing.
When this not-being-heard happens I end up in a kind of a freeze. I just shut down and enter this deep state of hopelessness. I am guessing the shutdown looks like helplessness to other people, because I stop standing up for myself and/or advocating for myself and I withdraw. Sometimes, I withdraw really deeply into myself. But it is not helplessness. It is hopelessness. I just get so mired in the hopelessness that I can’t see any way out of it and I stop trying.
This emotional re-run plays out in the moment of being unheard and then keeps replaying in my head. I engage in punishing behaviors, I perseverate, I feel hurt and angry and like life is unfair. My core beliefs that I am bad and broken and worthless get reinforced. And I withdraw more into my dark place. And I punish myself more.
Depending on how the whole thing plays out, I either eventually get over it or I have to make it stop. Making it stop involves self-harm.
When I self-harmed here on Sunday night it was the first time that I actually self-harmed in residential treatment. I am not even sure why I did it. I just was at the end of my rope. I know that there is support staff here to help me, but I evidently am not smart enough to reach out to them…Another failing on my part. And I knew it was a failure. Which compounded my pain.
I did not engage in particularly significant self-harm and since I don’t really care about my body ultimately it doesn’t matter if I self-harm or not. But I did the most benign form of self-harm that I engage in and pinched a little patch of skin between my index fingernail and my thumb. And then I counted slowly to 100. I did it 3 times. Honestly, it didn’t hurt enough to satisfy me. It was sort of a tentative trial. I now know that I can self-harm in res.
For me, self-harm is not about making the biggest gash and the most gore…All I am after is the pain. I probably would have been more satisfied with the more severe (most painful) kind of self-harm I engage in…but that also leaves the most mark and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.
Oh…and Meg wants me to talk to the anxiety therapist about my counting to 100 because the number 100 is involved in all of the self-harm I do and Meg want me to explore the ritual aspect of that.
And I got my second non-compliance for the week. Yup, you get a non-compliance for self-harming. Go figure.