Saturday, July 11, 2009
No More Guilty Left To Pardon
I was browsing in a bookstore on Friday night, after a difficult and tiring week, when things became even more hideous. I saw my father. He was pretentious and fancy-suited in the literature section, looking at Joan London's "The Good Parents". Okay, I didn't really see the book he was holding, but afterwards (during the vomit/rant/vomit phase) I laughed to myself that it was probably some such thing. Thankfully, although he glanced my way (and I was only 20 feet from him), he didn't recognise or acknowledge me and I was able to slink away, shaking and feeling the Black Empty invading my insides once more. I haven't seen him, or contacted him, in eleven years yet I knew without a doubt who he was - a visceral reaching out that surpassed any negativity or memory. Part of me felt like the four year old he walked away from and didn't contact again (until forced to 14 years later). Part of me wished I resembled the semi-confident, only partly-mental 28 year old I was the last time he hurt me. But most of me just had to run away and throw up the lovely meal I'd had with work colleagues, and then sit shaking and enraged on the train home.
A few people looked at me as if I was on drugs, and catching a glimpse of myself in the window I could see why. It's weird how emotional and mental challenges reflect in the physical being. I was pale, shivering, fighting back tears, wanting to smash something, desperately desperately wanting to EAT (even though I'd been throwing up into a trash can just moments earlier). I managed to get home without incident, and was fairly composed by the time I got here - rather than ranting or screaming I just made a passing comment to Mom about this small-town-city, and how I'm lucky to have not run into him before now. She, in Queen of Denial mode, said something like "Oh, you shouldn't let people like that upset you". No kidding LOL.
Seeing him, and then in the hour or so coming home afterwards, I could feel the Great Unravelling start. I'd already been having a stressful week (divorce papers, tax returns, pain-in-the-ass work colleague, hormones, yadayada) and I clearly saw looming the coming apart of all my hard work, and my hard-won stability. And you know what, I thought
Excuse the profanity all! But I truly thought to myself, Lil, this can go either way and you get to chose where you end up. So I practised some DBT (Self-Soothed, Distress Tolerated) and talked myself down from the anger. I simply REFUSE to let him hurt me any more. This episode showed me that techniques like Mindfulness and the Non-Judgemental Stance have become comfortable for me, as they came into my mind fairly quickly when the Emotion Mind started to create havoc. I know a lot of people question DBT, and consider it to be jargonistic and over-simplified. I've read some criticism of it, and a lot of praise, and the praise seems to come from people who have used it to become well. That's enough for me, I suppose, and I think it's the best recommendation - people who are managing their Borderline Personality Disorder are often doing so by using the skills of DBT. That's what I want more than anything, to be well and healing. It was a rough couple of days this week, but (as I've said before) those are the ones that really test us - right?
The photo at the start is one of only three or four photos I have of myself with my father. I think I could already tell he was an imposter. My expression certainly hints at it...
(*Post title is from Iron & Wine's song "A Book Unfinished")