While discussing the caravan with Penelope in a DBT session- 2 words became a common theme.

1) Haven and

2) Contamination

The potential of a haven. The lure of a sanctuary. The place of an oasis.

Thelma (as my caravan is currently called) has already been and hopefully will continue to be all of these, as well as a lot of fun!

However, so has contamination already been and will continue to be unless I change my behaviour. One of the DBT modules is ‘Interpersonal Effectiveness’, the ability to say no, to ask for what I need and maybe even shock horror to ask for what I want. It is in many ways the module I have had most difficulty with. And I know that until I change and do things differently the same patterns will keep recurring.

Contamination 1.

The contamination started almost immediately. I have a wonderful 83 year old neighbour. She is special to me, she is also declining rapidly with dementia. I go in every day and sit and have tea and crumpets with her while watching The Chase quiz show. However, I have known for a long time that she becomes increasingly cross if for some reason I cannot make that visit. I have also felt increasingly under pressure to make sure I’m home in time for 5 pm or if I’m not, ringing her to let her know. I am at the point that if I am home at 5 pm there is absolutely no way I would feel able to not go in and see her.

My first weekend at Thelma’s (the caravan) I didn’t want to go in to the whole facts of my exclusive rent- I just said I was visiting a caravan with a friend. She immediately responded how much she loved caravans and wished she could get away. I shrunk a little inside, feeling automatically that I should invite her. I didn’t.

The following weekend when I went again, her response was a little more aggressive and I am shrivelling out of guilt. She now tries different approaches- slight aggression, pointed sarcastic comments and blatant emotional blackmail. And I am holding on with dear life not to give in and invite her. (mainly because I know I shouldn’t to protect my safe place but also Penelope would go mad!) I really wouldn’t mind a day visit, but it is too far for me to do just for a day. Having her stay over is a liability that I just don’t want to do. I also know, that just like The Chase, I could so easily set myself up for a routine that I then feel unable to break. There is part of me dreading telling her I’m off again this weekend. But it is me that has to change not her.

More contaminations to follow… but it’s coming up to 5pm and I have to go next door!

Thanks for listening


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