I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to address in my session today (my post on sexual boundaries) but ended up getting into things that have been happening at work. It’s nothing major but recovering from bpd is like a baby learning to crawl and then walk, you have to start small. I feel like this process has been one of starting from scratch, I am literally learning how to live.
My reading now is going to be taking the direction of boundaries, assertiveness and then practicing this in my life. I have to get more uncomfortable or I’ll stagnate. My therapist made the very real and valid point to me today that if I don’t practice in situations in my life now whilst I’m stable then when a demanding situation does come up in my life it’s likely to blow up in my face because the new, effective behaviour will not be familiar to me. We do what we know.
I just wrote out what I’m going to say on Wednesday to handle a situation at work where I need to assert myself. In short, a supervisor assumed I’ve made a mistake which I’m about 70% sure isn’t the case and when my colleague told me about it today I was getting upset that the assumption was already there. I want to get to a stage where I’m able to in realtime communicate in a structured, assertive way (because making a written script for the rest of my life is not the way to go) but it doesn’t come so naturally to me yet. There is still irritation and defensiveness. I want to be able to put the defensiveness aside (I take my mistakes way too seriously and personally, as if they mean something about me, which I know is a lot of BS but hey, old thought patterns die hard) and yes, maybe some irritation will be there if I’m taken by surprise with it, but I’m not rude about it so I can live with that. I am grateful that life presents me with opportunities to practice, if nothing ever comes up then I can’t use these skills, so it is a good thing in that sense.
Sometimes therapy just kicks you in the ass when you go in with one issue and come out realising you have another one to add to the list. The added item on today’s menu was: separating ‘my stuff’ from ‘other people’s stuff’ (by ‘stuff’ I mean emotions, reactions, interpretations etc).
My therapist picked up in my frustrations with certain people and interactions I’ve described that I have difficulty in separating myself, I kind of intertwine the two as if I’m mentally ‘merged’.
I can behave in a certain manner, even if it is effective and healthy but that doesn’t necessarily mean that other people will react in kind and that is basically, their shit to deal with, not mine. I get a little tangled up and the lines are blurred for me. I feel way too involved with their reactions and take it onto myself or try to control it, or feel responsible for it. So for my supervisor what happened in her brain was A+B = mistake. That’s on her and is her perception, it’s nothing to do with me. I didn’t tell him but I thought like this in the morning as well. In a meeting with my boss she asked me how my work on a project is going, I explained that some parts are busier than others but I have other things to do so I am busy. She then said, if things are quiet then I can ask other colleagues who have extra work and I can support them. What did I think as soon as I left the meeting? ”She thinks that I’m not busy, maybe she thinks I’m sitting around, I didn’t say enough of the right things to give the impression that I am really working as much as I am” and got worried. After the session I can see so clearly now how I took that onto myself. – Even if she did interpret it that way, that is her interpretation in her mind, it’s not mine, it’s not up to me to control that, to feel responsible for that, to worry about it.
Let’s take another cliche (imagine that’s the right e please, I’m too tired) example:
Guy texts on his phone and laughs. Girlfriend asks to see, he says it’s private. Girl thinks he’s texting his secret girlfriend, he’s cheating on her, how dare he (sorry guys, had to) she’s now upset. Instead of the guy thinking, well it was just my friend, I told her that, she doesn’t believe me that’s on her, she’s choosing to see it that way, he instead starts worrying and panicking, oh now she thinks I’m cheating, I have to prove I’m not cheating, oh how can I get her to believe me. Putting it in this example makes it so obvious to me it’s a little laughable, but that is actually how I feel in those moments. I feel like I have to do something to control how they feel, are reacting or thinking, when apart from expressing the facts, it’s not my job to do that, nor do I need to. Nor do I need to take on their feelings and feel bad or guilty or worry, but I do. There’s that space I need to learn to start developing.
If I can get a handle on this one it’ll make my interactions so much easier and less exhausting.