Category Archives: verbal and physical abuse

Identity Disturbance…

Identity Disturbance is a relatively and equally fascinating new term to me and since I haven’t researched it to my satisfaction to be able to write about it, I thought I would begin here by re-blogging this article from The Bernard Bert-A Borderline Adventure.  This author did a great job of streamlining and breaking down the components of this condition.  Hoping this continues to shed some light on the many shades of mental illness and reduce the stigma attached.~~Thanks!  Little L~~

broken heart

 

Identity Disturbance, November14, 2013

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.

“Identity disturbance has many different aspects/features making it a very complexed issue even if it is a lone problem, but with the added factor of other BPD symptoms, it can be an overwhelming and complicated thing to understand and deal with!

In a 2000 study of patients with identity disturbances, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, and Drew Westen identified four types of identity disturbance:

Role absorption (in which patients tend to define themselves in terms of a single role or cause),

Painful incoherence (a subjective sense of lack of coherence),

Inconsistency (in thought, feeling, and behavior),

Lack of commitment (e.g., to jobs or values).

A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future.Identity is quite broad, and includes many aspects of the self and is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles.

A healthy identity includes the ability to choose an appropriate avenue for industry, achieve intimacy with another, and find a place in the larger society by having developed a sense of continuity over time; emotional commitment to a set of self-defining representations of self, role relationships,and core values and ideal self-standards;development or acceptance of a world view that gives life meaning; and some recognition of one’s place in the world by significant others.

“Who are you?”  – If asked this question, many people with BPD would be unable to answer and will only be able to reply with – “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure” or “It depends on who I’m with.”  This uncertinaty makes them feel empty and lost, confused and lonely.

Considering that identity is comprised of stability, continuity, understanding and acceptance of ones self over time, it is painfully obvious to see why this doesn’t happen in the self identity of someone with BPD.Nothing is stable, everything is changing and totally reactive; all that is left is a fragmented self left with a chronic feeling of inner emptiness caused by the inability to integrate into a coherent sense of self identity.

These unanticipated changes can range from relatively minor things, such as changes in appearance, to aspects central to the life of the individual, such as gender, sexuality and life goals.

People with Identity disturbance may experience:

Experiencing frequent changes in sense of self-worth.

Difficulty committing to roles and occupational choices.

Feeling conflicted or unsure about own gender or sexuality.

Feels as though he or she is a different person depending on who they are with.

Does not know who own self is.

Tends to feel empty inside – hollow, something ‘missing’ and a desire to fill the void.

Who they would like to be are unstable and ever changing.

Views & feelings of self change rapidly or unpredictably .

Has memories only available under certain states sometimes feels unreal.

Tends to feel like a “false self” whose social persona does not match inner experience.

Some of the noticeable changes for those who know the person with the identity issue are:

Lack of consistently invested goals, values, ideals, and relationships.

Their personality changes dramatically periodically.

They are “chameleon-like” depending on who they are with.

Values tend to change frequently / does not seem to have a constant set of core values.

Difficulty choosing and committing to an occupation.

Beliefs,actions and behaviors often seem contradictory.

Has trouble committing to long-term goals or aspirations.

As a way to ‘fit in’ they may:

Identity seems to revolve around a “cause” or shifting causes.Defines self in terms of a label that provides a sense of identity.Depend on relationship to a charismatic other. Tends to be in the orbit of a strong personality.People with BPD can be very “chameleon-like” in an effort to integrate.

The tendency to confuse one’s own attributes, feelings,and desires with those of another person, especially in intimate relationships, means that when a breakdown in a relationship occurs it can lead the person with BPD to fear a loss of personal identity.

The large inconsistencies in behavior,over time and across situations, lead to difficulty integrating multiple representations of self, a lack of a coherent life narrative or sense of continuity over time;and a lack of continuity of relationships that leaves significant parts of the BPD’s past “deposited” with people who are no longer part of the individuals life , and hence the loss of shared memories that help define the self over time.

One contributing factor to borderline identity disturbance is dissociation.  When we compartmentalize our experiences rather than integrating them into one meaningful whole, our sense of self fragments causing  us to feel lost, empty, and confused.

As this empty feeling and loss of inner self becomes more problematic and chronic (in some cases) a refuge world or fantasy self can at times take the stage by means of dissociation from the painful reality the BPD is forced to live in if they remain in their current state consciousness/awareness – making it similar but not the same as DID  – Key points of difference are that those who suffer DID (dissociative identity disorder) usually remain unaware of their other fragmented selves (referred to as alters) which are more concrete, unique individuals, accompanied by blacked out memories/loss of time, whereas BPD’s remain more coherent through their changes in persona.

Identity disturbances in individuals with BPD usually reflect efforts to preserve a sense of self-worth in the presence of interpersonal turmoil.

Because of the inconsistencies in what the person with BPD is doing and saying, non BPD’s may accuse them of “faking it” “Lying” or “putting it on” but this really isn’t the case, they just may not be aware of it and by saying these things to them may actually hinder their progress in changing thier behaviour by making them doubt themselves,their worth and their relationship with you and others.

Other issues that may arise are eating disorders, substance misuse or reckless/impulsive behaviours, (these may also a seperate issue for people with BPD regardless of whether or not the have identity disturbance); all which may feel like a form of control over their lives that they are lacking in other areas.

If you have the associated,emotional instability,impulsive behaviour and black and white thinking of BPD you may have difficulty forming a coherent sense of self because your internal experiences and outward actions are not consistent. In addition, many people with BPD come from chaotic or abusive backgrounds which may contribute to unstable sense of self. If you determine who you are based on others’ reactions to you, and those reactions have been unpredictable and/or scary, you have no framework for developing a strong sense of identity.

However, it’s not all bad, on the positive side of things not knowing who you are allows you to start from scratch, experiment, explore and to build yourself up into the person you want to be!

So how do we tackle this issue and find out who we are?

Treatment/therapy with a trained professional is the most highly recommended way to deal with these issues as they can help to guide you through the process of self discovery; but there are also things you can do yourself too.

One way is by observing your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, in addition to others’ reactions to you.

Questions and reflection on things like:

How do I want to be seen by others?

What are the things most imporant to me?

Who do I admire and what positive traits do they possess that I respect and could incorperate into my own life?

What am I passionate about?

What talents/attributes do I have?

Another way is to try and work out which areas you would like/need to focus on by writing a list which includes:

Intimate

Relationships

Parenting

Family

Friendships/Socializing

Education/Personal

GrowthCareer

Recreation

Spirituality/Religion

Physical Health

Helping Others

Goals

Values

How would you like to act/react to each section? What can you do to make this possible?

These are the things that help to give us identity and allow us to form a more stable sense of self. Due to the complexity of the issue, the road to ‘finding yourself’ is a life long journey of discovery and one which may take you to some upexpected, intense and even pleasurable places emotionally!

No one can tell you who you are, they can discribe you but ultimatly it is up to you, you are the one who can make the changes, the one who can decide as to how you act and what you believe and stand for.  Who/whatever you decide to be/do, remember that you are worthy of love, to be treated with respect and to live a life that you want and deserve.

I hope that this helps explain a little of what and why we feel this way and, fingers crossed, we can start to finally build the jig-saw of ourselves that has been in so many pieces for so long! ~ Emma.”

The Bernard Bert

 


this is where i sit tonight….eyes down, no one daring to look….

Worldly Winds

Broken Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

Shhh, don’t tell

don’t let on

that you’re in hell

hush now

 

Your lips are pursed

don’t tell the doctor

or the nurse

eyes down

 

What lurks within

can’t be without

masked by a grin

and bear it

 

So well hidden

the mortal sin

guilt well ridden

(Angels don’t sing)

 

The mask of norm

slips on by

distorts the form

stiff upper lip

 

Word to the wise

soured apple

of your eyes

windowless soul

 

Darkness falls

eclipses all

no voice can call

chin up

 

© Eyes Down 07.03.2013

by Alexandra Carr-Malcolm

Broken Reflection (Photo credit: shinealight)

 

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pushing through

Heartbreak changes peopleAlthough I’m borrowing this phrase from a fellow blogger, I’m going to let her story speak for me today.  How long have I just been pushing through?  A day, a month, a year?

Over a year ago, I lost a situation that was pure joy for me.  I lost it due to my emotion regulation problems that are a result of abuse.  My lifeline of joy that fed and distracted me from the pain is gone.  I’ve not been successful at replacing it yet although I do try each day.  I push through.  Just like my friend  A Heart of One does in her blog post.  The particulars of her life are a bit different yet the result is the same.  Our hearts are broken and we just don’t know how to fix them.  That’s all there is everyday….heartbreak….

     All of my life, I’ve been pushing through…pain, grieve, exhaustion, lack of supports.  I’ve made it work, kept going.  Do or die.  If I felt myself getting sick, I’d will myself to not be sick, keep going, don’t have time to be sick, take a rest, stay home, do nothing.

     I tried to push through today, still want to on some level.  I tapped into a painful memory last night.  Curled into a ball, on my side, clenching my bottom, mouth shaped into a scream, eyes wide, head jerking back, shaking all over, then crying.  Me, but not me.  A past me.  In pain, terrified.   He did not care about pain he caused or the fear that I felt.  It was a moment of complete horror.  I lived it and lived through it again.

Full article at http://aheartofone.blogspot.com/2013/01/pushing-through.html


“the boy” drunk dials me….

“the boy” called me today which he does periodically.  The younger generation call it drunk dialing but I know this pattern from a historical perspective and know he just needs to make contact with a person from that time who understands him.

Certain phone calls I rarely answer but his I do every time.  This was the first time that he was stumbling, almost incoherent drunk and to top it off, he was driving.  After extracting the information that he was minutes from home, I kept the conversation light until he reassured me that was in his driveway, out of the car and inside his house.

“When are you coming home?”, he slurs into the phone.

His voice was an immediate shock of familiarity even though its been a year since I’ve heard from him.  His pleading words took my breath away.  I didn’t expect him to call let alone ask me this tough question.  He misses me, he says.  He doesn’t want anything, just to visit with me.  Even now as a full grown man, his deepest wishes are to have companionship, connection, family.  Our sober conversations where his feelings are sufficiently stuffed down, wouldn’t have revealed his pain. But today, his emotions unleashed and fueled by alcohol, they came tumbling out.

My heart is immediately beating with his. The rhythm synchronistic and strong.  We are small children again marking time as the cycle of physical, emotional and sexual abuse alters us forever.  It changes who we might have been and steals all opportunity for joy in our future.  We are branded, he and I, with trauma.  Deep, imprinting, searing scars.

I tell him that I’ve been taking care of myself and that I miss him too.  I hear relief in his voice at my words that I’m doing good.  He wants to know that I’m okay and that I can always call him for any #%&!ing thing I need.  His voice is urgent as if he’d been thinking those thoughts all afternoon at the tavern and had to purge them quickly.  His courage coming from cheap rum and cokes.

As children we were there for each other.  We were handed a situation that no child should ever have to deal with.   5-yr olds should never have to know how to defend against raging, drunken, ignorant adults wielding their pathology on them, but this is, in fact, is what we had to do.  We became expert ninja fighters at a very tender age.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fighting.  The sensation of burning slaps, welts and impact upon our small bodies is a feeling that has always been present.  Back to back, we would stand, flailing hopelessly against people 10 times our size.  But we always, always tried.  Defending each other was the only dignity we had in that cruel world we grew up in.  An earlier post tells a more complete story. https://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/boy-torture/

I tell him that soon, I promise, I will come visit him.  I do not ever use the word home as it is not.  My home is where my beautiful husband and daughter live with our dogs, our garden, our family here.  But I know what he means, he’s asking me when am I coming back there to help him defend against the demons that are in his head.  The ones that huge amounts of alcohol consumed in the middle of the day can’t even come close to drowning out.  He wants to know if there is any peace beyond the crazy, futile gyrations that he takes himself on.  He wants to know, what Van Gogh perhaps imagined when he created the series of paintings near the end of his life.

Van Gogh’s image “Worn Out”

Vincent Van Gogh, himself,  wrote in Van Gogh: The Life. VanGoghBiography.com

I was trying to say this in this print — but I can’t say it as beautifully, as strikingly as reality, of which this is only a dim reflection seen in a dark mirror — that it seems to me that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of ‘something on high’ in which Millet believed, namely in the existence of a God and an eternity, is the unutterably moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man like that, without his being aware of it perhaps, as he sits so quietly in the corner of his hearth. At the same time something precious, something noble, that can’t be meant for the worms. … This is far from all theology — simply the fact that the poorest woodcutter, heath farmer or miner can have moments of emotion and mood that give him a sense of an eternal home that he is close to.”

This is what “the boy” wants to know in his moments of emotion and mood.  Where is his eternal home?

And reaches for the closest anchor he can think of.    Me.


the littlest L

 
so tiny and little  
the smallest of small  
barely a faint beat of a heart   
almost non existent, trying not to be  
too small to know how to stop her life  
mustn't make noise shhhh   
stay still, stay frozen 
don't need anything, anything at all   
she tries not to breathe or take up air  
barely tolerated when invisible loathed when seen   
she won't eat for fear of prolonging her life 
they tell her not to feel, cry, be   
she mustn't ask for anything 
kill her hearts desire for love  
she aches for comfort, people, laughter, relief  
but knows she isn't one of God's children deserving of these gifts   
she feels the tears but won't allow them to come  
they are not acceptable feelings show her humanness 
she despises her feelings they are wrong, always wrong   
shamed and beaten for them she hates herself more  
its better this way 
must remain frozen to keep the pain at bay   
her skin screams for sensation she won't give in  
cutting, slicing would allow her to feel 
thrusting her again to the place where she is hated  
turning to her refuge, she rolls into a ball and slips toward sleep   
her respite  
wanting the angels to visit her in the solitude of sleep  
praying the angels see her  
begging them to take her home

boiling frog

I had been carrying the Patricia Evans book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” around with me in my purse, it being my current bible that I poured through, reading until I assimilated her thinking as my thinking.  I was doggedly determined to end this cycle of abuse with me.  This short but incredibly powerful story was one that shocked me out of my stupor, nudging me toward the next step of leaving an abusive relationship.

If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.

This passage knocked me senseless as if I’d been punched in the gut. Oh my God, this was me!  I needed it spelled out in graphic details to get it to sink in.  So far everything Patricia Evans said made so much sense and felt right so I put my head down and never looked back. That was 15 years ago.

The passage came back to me recently because I feel my stepson is slowly being boiled to death.  I’m not sure what I can do about it, he is allowing himself to be conditioned, relegating his happiness to someone’s else and she is abusing him and his good nature.  I’m seeing him in a tranquil stupor, lolling around in the increasingly warm water, not aware of warning signs going off all around him.  

So, its  the age old parental dilemma, when do you jump in?  How far do you go with your child that is post college age but still could require some parenting.  I do know, that when I almost boiled to death, I would have appreciated some intervention.  When we talk to him this weekend, we hope he appreciates it too…


The day child

We will call her the day child…a child who only has conscious awareness of herself during the day, the fractioned piece of her total self. Her transition from night is slow and very unsteady. She knows the process of waking which comes to her first through sound. She hears house noises, the air conditioner running, her dog snoring beside her, very faintly the school buses heading down the hill to empty the children into the playground. Great care has been taken to soundproof this room from the outside world, there is no room for intrusion on any level. She must know everyone’s whereabouts and location at all times, if she doesn’t she will vigilantly check and scan the room for anything that looks or feels amiss.

Vigilance is hardly the word to describe her behavior, it is more like hyper vigilant, obsessive and panic driven, energy funneled completely into the one thing she seeks more than anything, which is safety. She is exceptionally bright and visually a master at observation. Nothing can or will ever go unnoticed in her environment or it might lead to danger. An impending assault, an unwelcome visitor or simply the men noticing and starting to sniff her out.

Sometimes the sound is completely muffled by the earplugs which are to her the greatest invention ever and her constant companion. They numb and muffle much better than alcohol or pot which in her experience just make you not care if someone is stalking you and that’s the last thing that’s true for her now is that she doesn’t care.

As usual, her eyes are squeezed shut as tight as they can go and she feels the familiar twinge of a headache as a result. Its the price she pays and actually has grown accustomed to the familiar process of willing her eyes open, one at a time for her first glimpse of the day. So far, so good. She hears nothing unusual and sees her bedroom, just as she remembered it from the morning before. It is at this point that she can let her body uncurl, pulling her arms and legs from the fetal position and gradually unfolding herself from her nightly protective stance. She creaks and pops as her shaky muscles aren’t as forgiving as they were in her youth. They want to snap back into the contracted position held in the last 8 hours. Its always at this point that she wonders how long her body will hold out, what is the limit of torture that one can physically take?


he cut my hair

March 2, 2011

today after spending the whole day really happy, running around with one of my high school girlfriends and her husband, going to the museum and out for dinner, i came home and was working in the kitchen.

husband was at the computer reading about the recent abduction of Alisa, a four year old girl who was kidnapped from her front yard by a registered sex offender. husband came into the kitchen to tell me some of the incidents leading to the police going after the guy after the girl was released and home safe. the little girl recognized her abductor on tv and even pointed him out saying “thats the man who cut my hair“.

when husband said those words out loud to me, the hairs on my arm stood up literally and i shivered…i even remarked back to him “that made me shiver“. within minutes i was wheezing and coughing. after a few minutes of trying to clear my throat and breathe, i used my rescue inhaler for relief, …as i regained composure, husband casually stated that he believes i reacted to the information about the sex offender…and it hit me like a ton of bricks…i was fine until i heard the words that came from a 4 yr. olds mouth, “he cut my hair“. he was right and i was learning the impact of words and how quickly they transported me back to my own childhood horrors.

this child’s story had mesmerized me during her disappearance as most kidnapping stories do for me. usually, i can’t think of most anything else for days and thank goodness in this case she was returned very quickly. i felt almost giddy when i heard she was returned…but when i replayed that scenario and pictured that little girl recognizing and verbalizing those words, i came unglued. my heart started racing, i got dizzy, my throat closed up, my lips were burning…lots of reactions…those words were so familiar, why did i keep replaying them in my head when it occurred to me that i had said those same words in regards to my father who angrily cut my hair…i went to my journal and on 9-30 was my notes about the dream that i had and i woke up with the words running over and over in my head….he cut my hair, he cut my hair, he cut my hair…and he did!  that mother fucker grabbed me in anger by my hair and chopped it off and i have the picture to prove it. long hair in kindergarten and short, chopped, seriously uneven hair in first grade. this washes over me so fast that i have to stop and sit down…

i am gasping, i’m so instantly and completely full of rage…looking at this innocent child and picturing myself the same way made me even angrier. what kind of freaking monster would assault a child sexually and then hold her down and cut her hair as punishment for fighting back and resisting. i hate you so much, you fucking monster…so now i remember and now i will tell, you are dead but i will kill you again for good measure in my mind and then i will tell some more. you can’t keep me quiet any longer and guess what, mother fucker, i’m growing my hair out…

PS–i’m grateful to my husband’s insight and willingness to point it out to me so we could clear the negative energy from that incident while i still have the awareness and presence of mind…i must remember that violence especially to children takes me to a place where i am so fearful and frozen. i must be gentle with myself and this child reassuring her that i will protect her and we are now safe. i take the rest of the evening to wrap myself in blankets and pray to feel safe again in my own skin.


realization…

yesterday, i did meditation and EFT tapping to rid myself of the sheer  terror and anxiety that i feel.  i need to write and i need the block to be gone, i have to speak regarding the past and the sexual abuse.  hopefully we are lifting the veil.  last night i slept some but woke up with that nightmare feeling, the screaming in my head.  i definitely remember dreaming about my dad, fighting with him, in a physical sense of fighting, aggression toward me, i’m little, maybe 4, i’m physically fighting, screaming, making noise.  that same scenario repeated over and over but that where is everyone, where’s my mother? my dad was forceful, unrelenting, out to get what he wanted, i was raped i know that.  i now know that i was raped a lot.


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