So another sinus infection stakes it’s claim on my face. The locum reckons it’s going bacterial but my enthusiasm to take antibiotics again is negligible. I’m run down and tired and already have thrush so thanks but no thanks! I’ve cancelled work for the next few days as I’m developing signs of a chest infection too. Have to be well enough to drive to Melbourne for the hearing voices congress next week!
Rose has also been sick with gastro, mercifully brief but horribly unpleasant, so we’ve been unhappy comrades in arms for a few days. She’s also been under a lot of badly timed job stress. Yesterday I spent half of it winning medals for being the most useful and supportive girlfriend, and the second half winning medals for being the most overwrought and unhelpful girlfriend. Dammit. Oddly enough when I crashed she rallied in that funky little see-saw turn taking thing couples can do. Thankfully!
My life only tends to work out in small windows before the next really bad thing happens. This makes me pretty anxious and reactive to a whole bunch of triggers suggesting a new crash is about to happen. I once went to see a shrink for help to make new friends. I knew I had DID but wasn’t out about it to anyone, rather was deeply deeply afraid of anyone finding out. I talked with this shrink about how lonely and emotionally unstable I was. We talked about a common painful dynamic for me at the time – having a moment of really good connection with someone, perhaps a new acquaintance, and going home feeling like things are looking up! Excited about my future, really happy with how the conversation went, reassured that I would make new friends. And then the dawning realisation over the next days of weeks that this wasn’t the case. The wonderful day was not the start of a new life, not a sign of good things to come. It was an exception. That friend would be busy for the rest of the year. The acquaintance wouldn’t come back to uni. The compliment from the boss didn’t mean I was going to be rostered on for more shifts.
The shrink advised me to live entirely in the moment. To take everything at face value only and stop hoping that life would get better. It’s the hope that makes you unstable she advised me. Stop thinking about the future. She was right, of course. Her solution was a bit drastic. At the time, without hope that life would get better, I would have killed myself. The instability was painful but worth it for me.
Narrative therapy is a fascinating field I’d love to know more about. A kernel of an idea about it is this : the stories we tell about our lives and who we are are profoundly powerful. In my life two stores compete for my attention. One is a story of hope and acceptance. That how others have hurt me is not my fault. That it is not a failure to be poor, or sick, or hurting. That life can and does get better after awful things have happened, that scars and hearts heal and love and joy live alongside anguish.
The other sorry is darker. That I am broken. Fatally flawed. Doomed. That nothing I can do, not my best efforts, all my strength, all my love, can stop the dark. That nothing works out for me. Life requires risks and my risks send me tumbling into ravines.
This story has weight for me, a lot of evidence behind it. It becomes something I watch for, signs my world is ending again. A dark foreboding. A quiet despair in my heart. So I make plans, wonderful plans for my life. And I have nightmares, where Rose dies, where our child is terminally ill, or abused, where we both end up homeless with little kids in the back seat of the car. The dark eats my dreams. A little voice inside says if you’re thinking of having kids soon, you’ve got a shrinking window in which to kill yourself before you leave them with the burden of a dead mother.
This is horrible and people are often horrified when I talk about it. They try and reassure me that life is better now. But once bad things have happened to you, you know in your bones, they can again. It haunts me. In a weird way it’s a relief when they do happen and I can stop waiting for them, stop being encouraged to believe in an ideology about good things happening to deserving people that I know is mostly an illusion.
That relief reminds of the cycle of domestic violence. You get the slow building tension, then the rage/abuse/violence, then the honeymoon period where everything is wonderful. Then the tension builds again. People get so stressed and exhausted by the tension building stage, the paranoia it inspires, the knowledge that violence is inevitable, that they sometimes deliberately act to trigger it.
So, I’m in a DV cycle with the universe? (Is that what the crisis driven aspect of Borderline Personality Disorder is about?)
Last night, sobbing hysterically as Rose sang to me and rubbed my back, I understood how hard I work to keep believing in hope. Not a pollyana hope, a darker kind of hope. That my life, even with pain, will have meaning. That choices I make count. That I have some power to bring light into my life. That I can build a philosophy that understands loss, death, and failure, so that they wound but do not destroy me. That I can live in today, and dream, and if the sky falls tomorrow I can howl then. Keep building the ideas of failure and tragedy into my world, into my hope, into my love. Keep chasing freedom when the trap closes about me. Get help to hold back the dark. Someone to hold me when the nightmares come.