Yesterday was a relatively good day, although I did feel pretty anxious about my upcoming birthday celebrations this weekend. I was upset about not being able to find anything to wear that I felt confident in, but also scared that people wouldn’t show up, in particular The Suit.
This morning I awoke to a message from him, asking how I was. I replied that I was feeling anxious, he asked why, and I explained. Then, for a while, no reply. I got scared. Immediately I began to think he was trying to find a way to tell me he couldn’t come to my birthday. I was right. He asked, “was I okay with that?”
No, I was not okay with that. And so, another melt down. I phoned and texted and phoned and paced, and finally he responded. I screamed at him down the receiver. I needed him to come. I couldn’t let him off the phone until he had assured me he would come. Which eventually he did. But after admitting to me several days ago that he would say anything to calm me down and keep me safe, I no longer trusted his word.
I saw my psychologist today and we discussed this. We discussed the thoughts I’m having behind the intense emotions that I feel. We have been discussing starting schema therapy, and how when someone disappoints me in this way several schemas are triggered in me: abandonment, distrust, and emotional deprivation, or a feeling that I’m not being valued.
Forgive my lazy copy-pasting, but I’d like to put down here what schemas are, as it is a fairly new approach for me:
“[Schemas are] an organized pattern of thought or behavior. It can also be described as a mental structure of preconceived ideas, a framework representing some aspect of the world, or a system of organizing and perceiving new information…[it can also] refer to early maladaptive schemas, and are defined as “self-defeating life patterns of perception, emotion, and physical sensation”…For instance, a person with an Abandonment schema could be hypersensitive (have an “emotional button”) to their perceived valued to others, therefore being prone to leaving them which in turn could make them feel sad and panicky in those relationships…
If basic emotional needs are not met in childhood, schemas, coping styles, and modes can result…For example, a child with unmet needs around connection, say from parental loss to death, divorce, or addiction, might develop an Abandonment schema.
The goal of Schema Therapy is to help patients get their core emotional needs met. Key steps in accomplishing this involve learning how to:
- Stop using maladaptive coping styles and modes that block contact with feelings
- Heal schemas and vulnerable modes through getting needs met in and outside of the therapeutic relationship
- Incorporate reasonable limits for angry, impulsive or overcompensating schemas and modes
- Fight punitive, overly critical or demanding schemas and modes
- Build healthy schemas and modes”
When I come up against a disappointment I feel a deep sense of loss and grief. As it is happening it appears to be a permanent change; I am losing something of great value to me. My psychologist asked why it felt permanent, why did a temporary disappointment mean the end to me?
The reason is that when these things happen I feel I have lost all control, and in order to get that back I do the only thing that gives me back some control; either end the relationship permanently, or attempt to end my life. I feel pushed to end the relationship as a way to show that I don’t accept the way I’m being treated, and then in turn feel a deeper sense of loss and fear that I am losing the one thing that means so much to me; and then to end my life because I cannot bear the intensity of my emotions and the perceived permanence of them. A disappointment that would be shrugged off by someone else can appear as a life or death situation to me.
So, it makes sense that my reactions are so extreme, but it doesn’t make it okay.
I think that’s all I have for now. We will begin schema therapy on Monday.
I just have to get through this weekend.