The recommended treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy… A year into the treatment which has had a massive impact on my life- I’m still not entirely sure what the dialectical means!!!! But I’m very slowly growing in my understanding.
Black and white thinking can be an indication of BPD… Everything has to be all or nothing… One thing or another a twee example: I hate the rain…I love the sun… DBT tries to help sufferers find the middle ground… Sometimes I hate the rain, but I love waking up to see the green luscious grass… The dialectics is that two apparently contradictory things and emotions can exist at the same time. Penelope my therapist refers to it as finding the grain of truth in something.
Richard Rohr the theologian refers to it as dualistic or non-dualistic thinking. When we view God in boxes… He is this…. He is that… I used to find this kind of thinking safer- because I couldn’t deal with ambiguity or uncertainty. Someone loved me or they hated me… I couldn’t understand why someone could love me but still hurt me… And in my child like state of protectionism I categorised.
I’ve blogged about finding wise mind (another DBT skil) before… Emotional mind tells me that I will never get better from this surgery- I will always feel this rough… Reasonable mind tells me to get a grip and get on with it. Push through. Wise mind tells me that I’m feeling unwell at the moment as I’ve had surgery- but it will not last forever. The more care I can give myself now the better- and will most probably speed up the recovery. The middle ground. The validation of emotions but the steadying of taking into accounts the facts.
Being physically poorly has seen me retreat more into my previous patterns of black and white thinking. In my bid to be more mindful and inspired by Anne if Green Gables! I’ve been studying the flowers and trees in my friends garden.
These beautiful peonies in particular have caught my attention.
I have looked at them and marvelled at their peace at just being a peony. They seem quite content at being a peony. They aren’t trying to be a daffodil, or a rose- they are peonies. But in my vulnerability I’ve taken these observations and turned them into judgements. I must get better at just being me… Stop trying to be something different etc…
This confusion was confounded when I saw this picture of Facebook. (Photo at bottom of article- couldn’t seem to insert it in the right place afterwards!!!!)
The confusion was that my heart beats a little faster when i see a multi-coloured zebra. i know it should be black and white- but the joy of being different is attractive to me. The strength of being different… Defying convention… Colourful… unusual… I loved it. And many ways it captures an essence of who I am. On my car I have stickers of Elmer the elephant. I love the story of Elmer. I love colours… Part of me relishes in being different… Part of me likes to stand out in the crowd… Part of me wants to defy the constriction of ‘normal’. I want to belong but I want to be colourful. I certainly don’t want to be dull. I want to love others and be loved regardless of whether I fit in or not…
And that’s ok. My desire to be like the peony- content, satisfied, not striving, just being can co-exist with the multi-coloured zebra traits in me.
I used to get so confused with those personality type of questionnaires… I would be reduced to tears because I couldn’t tick a box that said extrovert when sometimes I’m very extroverted but sometimes I like nothing more to be by myself. What I perceived as contradiction in myself was a source of pain for me. Sometimes I’m very industrious- sometimes I stay in bed for days… Sometimes I’m loud- sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I love speaking in front of crowds- sometimes I find it hard to leave the house.
And I’m growing in my acceptance of me. All those dialectics can live in harmony together. Before I became a Christian one of my favourite songs was ‘I am what I am’ from the musical cage aux folle’. As a new Christian I thought a song referring to transsexuals was most probably not the best anthem… And I was delighted when I read in the book of Corinthians- the apostle Paul says “I am what I am by the grace of God’ (paraphrased from a rusty memory!) I now sing the song with the grace of God infused in every line.
I am learning to love the peony and the multi-coloured striped zebra. And the grain of truth is that both can live together in harmony.
In the words of Anne Shirely(!) ” there’s such a lot of different Anne’s in me, I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Sounds good to me.
Thanks for listening.