The after

In the last week I’ve experienced a shift in the way I’m coping with the break up. I’m starting to challenge feelings and thoughts and believe that there is actually an ‘after’ him – and most importantly of all, want it.

In the first couple of days and weeks it felt like the world should have stopped. Mine certainly did. Everything felt fundamentally altered. Like it had been broken. I had definitely been broken. It was almost cruel how things kept happening around me. I had a job to go to. I had friendships to maintain. A family to see. An online SIM game to keep up with. I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t understand how life could just keep going when we weren’t anymore. I became a spectator.

And this is where I made the first important choice. I began to seriously practice mindfulness and chase presence. Everyone kept telling me to just distract myself and I started to understand that the ‘distractions’ I needed most were just moments of complete presence and participation.

I fail at this constantly. My thoughts turn to him constantly. I’m still untangling the part of my mind that has dedicated itself to him and ‘us’. But there is nothing more grounding than trying to notice unconcious motions. On the days my mindfulness struggles the most, I challenge myself to notice myself standing and sitting. It’s amazing how such an integral motion goes almost completely unacknowledged, even when you’re consciously trying to find it.

So I’ve meditated daily for forty-three days and try to ground myself through each day when I find myself getting lost in what was, what is and what could have been. The other great healer has of course, been space and time and with both of those at my disposal I’ve started to let go of the emotional attachment and the unconditional love and start to see again.

I am not over him. If he turned around and asked for a second chance I would sit down with him and talk it out. Because I am reasonably certain now that there will always be love and care for him. He changed my life irreversibly for the better. Conversely, I have begun to see the reasons why we shouldn’t try again. Because I deserve so much more than someone who put me last and still couldn’t treat me right after leaving. I’ve started to look for myself. I find myself telling my friends that I want to ‘be me’ again. And I know that I’ll never again find the girl that I was for two and a half years, or even the girl I was before him, because she’s gone. She was permanently altered when he said it wasn’t right anymore and I am working towards letting both her and him go.

These past seven weeks have felt like the longest seven weeks of my life. My bruises are fading though and I’m looking for that ‘after’ now. One that I know exists.




A Borderline’s journey

A few weeks after I graduated my Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) I was invited back to talk to the group about to enter the program.

I remember meeting the woman who did this as I was about to begin my six months. She was honest and happy and listening to her made me believe that I could be better. That this might actually work. I was very surprised to have been invited back as a “guest speaker”. There were people who did better than I did during group, who took on the teachings more freely and who turned up each week ready to get stuck into it. I’m thinking of one man in particular who radiated healthy emotionality at our graduation. For him, DBT had explained and helped him unravel over fifty years of confusion and grief.

I tended to turn up a little grudgingly, gave my one-to-one therapist approximately twenty minutes of good therapy time and simply not do the homework outside of the diary card. I spent entire days drawing and colouring spirals on various pieces of paper. At one stage in the middle of my second cycle I and everyone else involved (they made sure they told me, after the fact) believed I was going to drop out. I’m not sure whether my own guilt or the guilt tripping by those around me ultimately won out, but I am proud to say that I completed the course.

After recovering from my initial shock, I wanted to give this new group a similar impression that this woman had given me. I wanted to tell them all that if you put in the effort (possibly a little more effort than I did at times) that you could feel better. That you could be a more rounded person with more typical emotions. That you wouldn’t need to be a slave to hyper experiences of everything. That being rejected by someone you loved would no longer feel like the world ending. That you will find peace within yourself and that it’s so, so possible to just feel like a person. Things can and will feel right rather than wrong. That there’s a whole spectrum of greys where we all thought there was just black and white.

After I gave my little talk, the group was invited to ask questions. And there’s one question that I am still considering some six months later. One girl asked me if I still felt I fitted the diagnostic criteria – did I still feel I was a borderline?

And it stops me now in the exact same way it stopped me then. Because I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. From reading I can see there is a lot of conjecture about whether the disorder can be “cured”, whether people simply grow out of it or whether it’s just a matter of learning to cope with the way the trauma makes you. The latter being the exact purpose of DBT.

The latter has definitely happened to me. With my ex-boyfriend I would often (half) jokingly say that I saw killing myself as a medium-term solution. A friend who shares many mental health problems with me just the other night told me she was coming to my state so we could enact a suicide pact and I realised there in that moment that I was actually quite recovered. Because I didn’t see the appeal. Rejected by my ex, and still crying about it six weeks later I didn’t see suicide as any kind of solution any longer. Similarly, I don’t entertain cutting myself as a solution to anything either. I believe it’s possible to live a life without suffering. There is pain, certainly, but suffering is self-created.

Other things are harder though. My emotions often still feel extreme and I don’t know if that’s because I am continuously pitted against extreme circumstances (my former psychiatrist certainly believed this to be the case) or that I just haven’t gained any sort of handle over them. Which is a self-slight on my own progress because I am experiencing the best emotional health of my lifetime. I am self aware now, I see myself sinking into dangerously bad feelings in the same way I see myself getting drunk on dangerously good ones. I experience a great deal more introspection than ever before and can nearly always effectively name and justify an emotion. And in the situations where they are unjustified and invalid, challenge them and my thinking.

I think that I will always consider myself borderline. The label formed a crucial part of the healing of my identity and I still use it now to help myself (and some others) understand things that I do, say and feel. When discharged from the care of my psychiatrist five months ago, I continued on my mood stabilisers indefinitely. My emotions, while much stabler and controlled, still go off the charts at times. I am mindful, but still get lost in my head and lose precious moments.

Living with this disorder is something of a journey. It will always be a part of me, but I don’t believe that I still carry it as a “sickness”. That part is curable.

Dedication To my Ex

I messaged you last night to ask you to leave me alone. And you didn’t reply so I can only assume it got through to you.

I know that I agreed we should keep talking. I wanted you close to me in any way possible, because for two and a half years there hadn’t been a day of silence between us and I didn’t know how to live anymore.  Our first post break up conversation was so soothing for my soul. And it made me believe that it was really over. So much so that I fucked someone else, hooked up with another and had lunch with another still.

Those days and experiences made me feel alive and desirable, all the things you stripped me of on January the 4th. But the come down was brutal and I rapid cycled through emotions so viciously that I opened my DBT notes to work out how to care for myself most effectively. I haven’t done that in months. These men weren’t you and when the attention I craved and received faded away I pined and grieved for the comfort of what was between us. I wanted to contact you again, but I don’t get to do that anymore and you didn’t seem at all pleased to hear from me the first time. I cried as hard as I did the day you left me and was shamed into blocking you on my socials (Facebook excluded).

I am a masochist at heart and check on your Facebook now and then (I unfollowed you the day after you left, a move that was apparently all show). The other day I was greeted with a status you’d been tagged in by the girl you wanted more than me in the end. The one who said some of the nastiest things you can say about a mentally ill person. The one who’s words are branded to my mind harder and hotter than anything – loving or spiteful – you have ever said to me. The one you called ‘hot’ long after you stopped acknowledging my attractiveness. The one who declared I’d ‘never help [my]self’ until you left me.

She invalidated all the work I did on myself to be a better person. The borderline personality diagnosis was challenging for me, and often still is because I always stop and consider which parts are me and which parts are the disorder and even which parts are permanently a mix of the two. I worked so hard to be discharged from the care of a psychiatrist. I took my meds, kept every appointment and did six real (and difficult) months of group therapy. Especially when I didn’t want to. You used to tell me that you were proud of me and I wish that was what I would remember, but you like the girl who believes I’m a sick and crazy person more than me now.

You never defended me when she attacked me. I’ll never forget that.

Reading that status sent me sky high. I needed to see it because I didn’t want to believe that you were a low key arsehole – it turns out you’re a high key arsehole. You’re keeping me around to lead me on and in case you need a fix from the person who is still (shamefully) wrapped around your little finger. That status demented me for a full day and one night. I had such a disgusting dream that I woke up angry and I never recall dreams. And then you had the gall to text me ‘Hey.’

I messaged you back eventually and it was a stupid conversation filled with stupid games that I don’t understand the point of. I am incredulous that you still haven’t told your parents that you’ve left me. Your cowardice seems to know no bounds. But above all else I was genuinely surprised to hear from you and you said that you ‘meant it’ about keeping in touch and that ‘two years shouldn’t just end’.

So I casually replied ‘you still low key want me, hey’.

And just like that you were gone again. And I had another fucking terrible sleep and my head’s been demented and busy again. So I followed up with you the following night just to say a few things. To talk about that status and how the disrespect was too fucking much and that I wasn’t playing this game anymore where you stalk me online and reach out to me just to remind me that you might be interested in me still.

The hopeful part of me, that part of me that wants the sweet boy who used to text me on the day we first met to remind me and the passionate boy who never used to be able to keep his hands of me back, wanted you to reply and chase me. To apologise, say something. The rest of me is pleased you didn’t.

Because I deserve so much more than to be with someone who always put me last.