I am almost done with the book I am reading for my feminist book club and while I don't think it's quite as well written as our last book, Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, it does have some passages that resonate with me. Here is one:
"Besides, my words were weak and petty, and did little to help Mary. I left the shop red-faced, and it was made worse by the laughter that followed me. I wondered if I would ever be able to speak up for myself without feeling an idiot."
Amidst the story about the friendship between two fossil collecting womyn is the theme of standing up for yourself. Elizabeth Philpot, even though she is the older of the two, feels much more self-conscious than Mary and struggles with standing up for herself-perhaps because she is of a higher class and so is under greater scrutiny. I can definitely identify with that, as I also have a lot of trouble with being assertive, especially with it comes to the people closest to me. A large part of the reason is my Borderline. People with BPD often have an intense fear of abandonment-I certainly do. Sometimes this fear makes it hard for me to be fully honest with a person or to truly share my feelings with them, even if they really want me to, because I am afraid that if I do that they'll then become angry with me and leave me or yell at me. For that reason, it can be hard for me to develop deep relationships with people, but it is something I am working on. Last Monday I had a conversation with a friend where I was very triggered. After I got off the phone with my friend, I had a bunch of emotions that I needed to get out of my system. I tried calling my sponsor and my therapist, but neither of them picked up the phone. Instead of acting out, I got my feelings out by writing a poem. I hadn't done this in a while, but it really helped. I would share it with you, but I let my writing get as depressing, graphic, and gory as I was feeling and I wouldn't want to trigger anyone. I looked at it the next day when I was feeling better and I almost laughed at its melodramatic, super suicidal quality. I had let myself get incredibly self indulgent, but I figure it's better to write out my triggers, urges, and impulses than actually act out on them. After writing the poem, I then took a long, hot bath. I let myself zone out and just feel the hot, soothing water on my skin. I was using the DBT skill of "improving the moment" through relaxation and it worked! After my bath, I was tired and so I was able to go to bed without having hurt myself-something I might not have been able to do a year ago! The next day I was able to talk to my therapist. I ranted and raved and got all my emotions out, which gave me a sense of relief and release. The outpouring of so much emotion had exhausted me and so I went to sleep. When I woke up, I felt peaceful and I had a little bit of pride for being able to take care of myself.
Yesterday, I impressed myself by even being able to have a conversation with the friend that had triggered earlier about it. She wanted to know what she done that was so triggering and how she could help me in the future. I shared that this was a hard conversation for me to have and she assured me that she would not abandon me or become angry no matter what I said. She said she wanted our relationship to go deeper and that that could not happen without me sharing my truth. We were then able to discuss our feelings and set some boundaries. It was an important discussion and afterwards we both felt good about it.
This Sunday I am going to a meeting to pick up a one-year chip. It marks a year since I have been hospitalized and a year since I self-harmed. I must say, I feel very proud of myself. I think I have grown a lot this year and I am confidant that this year will see a lot more growth. I have learned how to use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and how to be more honest. I have practiced putting myself out there in different social groups, which have helped me conquer my social anxiety and have helped me connect with more people. I have started volunteering with organizations that I am passionate about and I have even started my own feminist book club, just because I wanted to and I have seen it grow. Thank you, Recovery!
And thank you, flabulous fatshion. Here is a picture of me before doing an In Our Own Voice program a few months ago:
Surprise, surprise-it's leggings and a big shirt! Oh well, I like it. (shirt: Cato; leggings: no idea; shoes: Rack Room; cami: either Torrid or Target; necklace: JCPenney) I think it's proof that leggings can be dressy. I'll have to take a picture of the outfit I put together for Sunday's recovery celebration.