The Buddha & The Borderline

Several weeks ago I became interested in Buddhism. Long story short, all the various types of meditations and mindfulness practices my counselor had spoken with me about months ago seemed more appealing to me now. One of them, walking meditation, I continued to do on a fairly regular basis. So I was kind of looking online for “other tips” or other practices when I somehow stumbled upon a review of the book “The Buddha & The Borderline” here. This led me to purchase an online course to learn about Mahayana Buddhism from The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). It is a two year program that is meant to be a way of life, not to study academically.

It is just what I needed and falls in line with what my counselor and I were discussing in our last episode. I may not be able to make this internal chaos go away but I can recognize it and make it bearable. Recognizing it is what I am currently attempting to do in therapy and meditation and contemplation…”looking within” as she once told me is one way to achieve that.

Strange that Buddha means to be fully awake. Made me think of a song by Katy Perry, so I added below. The song can be interpreted many different ways. But as for being awake, I have just realized that I am asleep.  And so here is to my journey…

-Shadow

Know your why

I went to see my psychiatrist and told him about my father’s death and how I do not know what I am feeling. It seems as though nothing is there. He asked “Do you think your medication is working?” I responded, “medication is 10%, and the other 90% is up to me, isn’t it?”

I am always trying to fill myself up with something so I do not feel the emptiness. It has been a constant feeling throughout my life. That is where addiction comes in, doesn’t it? I don’t choose drugs anymore…now I seek more…”legal” addictions like spending sprees and cycling through religions. Although whether the former is always “legal” is questionable.

So several weeks ago, I decided to take a different approach and began listening to Gregorian chant (again) to help reduce anxiety. Now I have a routine of listening to it in the morning and again in the evening. I do not know what they are saying as it is in Latin but it does not matter. The tone is soothing and I have found it to be beneficial.

For months my counselor has been talking with me about mindfulness and meditation. Both of which I was completely uninterested in until recently. I have engaged with mindfulness before…several years ago and the forms of meditation I have tried to engage in seemed to be fruitless. So, I decided to take a different approach with that as well. Just sit in silence for 5 minutes everyday. I have found that incense helps.

I have the Meditation Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest that has also proven to be useful. The first thing it suggests is to “know your why”. Why do I want to do this? I want peace, that is all I seek. I once told a counselor that I don’t have good days and bad days, I have good hours and bad hours. If I am going to be on a roller coaster because of some illness, I want to make peace with that. If there is just one small chance that I can change it and have more control over the internal chaos and find that sense of peace, I want it. That is my ultimate goal. Before I can acquire this, I must be able to know what I am feeling. To know what this internal dialog is like. What is it saying? Why is it saying it? (Sorry, it is a habit to separate me from my emotions. Separating different parts of me is how I make sense of it.)

So these are the things I have been doing since I wrote last. We will see if I am still doing it in June. It is up to me, isn’t it?

In other news, my long distance friend contacted me today for the second time in… I don’t know how much time has lapsed since I last contacted her. She is the one I mentioned before under Disappearing. Why did I want to abandon her? Because I am afraid. It is easy to never give others a chance to abandon you by abandoning them first and devaluing them makes it easier to walk away. If I am to be totally honest, she has probably been a favorite person for a long time and I didn’t realize it until today. I don’t know how people become favorites, they just do. And when I realize it, it makes that fear of abandonment that much more terrifying.

-Shadow

In chains

My life spinning out of control

Feeling nothing but pain

Giving it all, body and soul

Locked up in these chains.

 

Feeling like I can’t break free

Not wanting to say good-bye

Eyes clouded, I cannot see

Always being high.

 

Living life day by day

Going through the motions

Slowly turning into clay

Engulfed with emotions.

 

Beginning to see the light

Giving me wings to fly

Always feeling in flight

Then taking away the sky.

©Shadow

Disappearing

Several years ago, I began a correspondence with a pen pal via email. I was pretending from the very beginning…wearing one of those masks that I mentioned before. Early on I think I became more attached that I should have. But that is what I do, right? Idealize only to devalue later. I shared some of the most intimate details about my life with her. Some of it was even true but intertwined with so many lies it is hard to tell what is what now. For a long time she was my best friend…my only friend. But now that has changed.
Lately, I have felt dismissed by her. Ignored. Unimportant. I don’t know what I was expecting really since she lives more than 12 hours away. I am even uncertain of what I wanted or needed. And so now it is time for me to do what I do when my “relationships” with others become uncomfortable or too difficult to maintain…or if I think they are getting too close. I must disappear.
And this decision comes at just the right time. A time when I am moving to another town without leaving a forwarding address. So any snail correspondence she sends will not reach me. Only time will tell if I will feel guilt over this matter.
-Shadow

“Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot

Moving in and out, then facing a fear

I took some time off from work, packed up my things and got ready to move into my new apartment.  I was excited about getting my own small place. I moved everything by myself, with no help from my brother although he assured me “family comes first” and he would help me.  But he only likes to talk about how he “takes care” of his younger sister.

In any case, I got everything moved in and everything went downhill from there.  I was awake for the next three nights unable to sleep because the place was so fucking noisy.  Primarily from my upstairs neighbor. It reminded me of when I was once chased by a bull. It felt like the ground beneath my feet was shaking.  This is what the upstairs neighbor lady was doing to my walls and ceiling. Running, jumping, blasting music…sometimes it sounded like she was skating on roller blades and that she was actually in my apartment.

I have suffered from chronic insomnia all of my adult life.  Historically, I had been prescribed various psychotropic medications to help alleviate it.  But I quit taking them a few years ago when I convinced myself that the pharmaceutical companies had a conspiracy to keep me sick.  Since that time, I have cycled through various over the counter sleep aids…some more effective than others. None of them were effective in this case. Every night,  I ended up taking 150mg of diphenhydramine, using a box fan for white noise, and noise canceling headphones that played sleep music and hoping I would get some sleep. The lady still kept me awake until 2am and I had to get up at 5am to get ready for work.  This went on night after night. And during the day, my head was in a haze from all the sleep aid I had taken the night before…and the sleep I didn’t get.

After about a week or two of this, I became severely depressed.  It quickly turned to anger and then I sat down to make plans. I tried to come up with a way to make her have a very unfortunate accident…I’m not really a planner though…I respond mostly to impulse…I could just shoot her, I thought, but that scenario wouldn’t end well for me…I found myself fantasizing about this day after day.  It consumed me. I wanted to watch her, learn her habits, see who visited her…but because she lived above me, it made it difficult to do this.  So instead, I impulsively left.

I packed up a few items and went back to my father’s empty house where I slept on the floor for the first week.  I was so excited about the silence that I sat there for hours doing nothing but listening to the silence. It was wonderful.  I was happy to be in quietness again but it was short lived.

I went to see a psychiatrist for the first time during my treatment that’s been going on for over a year.  Background: I have been in and out of therapy a lot since I was 17. I must be addicted. In any case, this time around I had refused treatment from the psychiatrist because I fear them.  I told my counselor it’s because, they prescribe pills and keep me sick. But the truth is, they see through my bullshit and that makes me uncomfortable. Why does it make me uncomfortable?  Because I want people to see whatever I decide to let them see. And that doesn’t work, if its a good psychiatrist. Why am I in therapy then? Because I have no friends and we all need someone to talk to.

Anyway, back to my visit with the psychiatrist.  So I go into the room and there’s the psychiatrist on a video chat…on a very large TV screen.  I sat in one of the two chairs in the room…the one closest to the door of course. First, he asked why I was there.  “Because I feel like killing my fucking neighbor. I need to sleep and my mind needs to shut up, it’s like a radio without an off button,”  I tell him. Then he begins to ask a series of questions that I can only assume it is to get some background information. He wanted to know about previous psychiatric diagnoses, if I had every been confined to a psychiatric unit, etc.  Then he begins asking a series of questions to see if I meet criteria for Borderline. This wasn’t my first rodeo, I knew what he was doing…he suspected Borderline and that’s why he was asking those questions. But I answered all of his questions anyway as if I was under some kind of spell.  That is what happens when my shield is down.

Clever, I later thought, a video chat with a psychiatrist makes people feel more comfortable because the psychiatrist is not physically there.  So I had my guard down, less likely to lie and more likely to talk openly. Very clever and I didn’t see it.  Eliminating Borderline from my psychiatric history failed.  Why do I want to eliminate it? That is good question. What is my problem with this term that has plagued me for years?  It’s definitely questions I should explore further.

-Shadow