The newest affirmation

Came up with it at 4am Veterans’ Day Monday after that awful text message exchange with Double Take(more about him in an upcoming blog)and the long night of tossing, turning, and thinking. Took myself on a mental journey through my mind(which is still vast but getting mapped in more detail every week)and charted a pattern of major players in my emotional life. Then the realization hit me like electricity through a key on a kitetail.

Unstable personalities bring out the borderline in me.

Time to recognize, recover, refocus.


A few weeks ago, I scared myself. For the first time in my life, the borderline symptoms that occasionally wreak havoc in my personal life carried over into work. My work situation is far from awful but now it is different. Gone are the days of pranks, inside jokes, and banter. Instead, there is an increased level of responsibility and underlying fear.

That afternoon, I felt the frightening rage build. I stomped in and out of my office, threw myself into my chair, and flung a handful of pens across the room. For an awful five seconds, I considered destroying my office—and my stellar professional reputation. I refocused on my DBT distress tolerance strategies and let the moment pass. In therapy, I expressed my fear that my symptoms were now being exacerbated by the one area of my life in which I have always had control. A week later, I had a similar incident in which I slammed a clipboard onto my desk. That night at group, I wept and said the time had come to voice my anger and concerns. I know too well what can happen if I don’t express my negative feelings. I know too well how quickly I can go from being compassionate, strong, and capable to cruel, weak, and incapable of maintaining civil communication. And so I spoke out. In my own gentle way, I aired my grievances and resumed control of myself and the situation.

I can’t change ineffective co-workers or lessen the workload expected of me. But I can change how I handle these difficulties. I can be the leader so many loved ones and mentors believe me to be. This week was exhausting, but no longer emotionally draining or scary. More importantly, I am aspiring to see the effectiveness and stability that has made me excel at work begin to permeate my entire life. I deserve that. I can make that happen.

Progress report

“Yo sé que estaré bien,
Los gatos como yo caen de pie…” Shakira, “Te Dejo Madrid”

I’ve had a lingering cough for about 4 weeks and a nasty bruise on my left leg for over 6 weeks. Recovery can be a slow process and is often as painful as the original illness or injury sustained. But the body heals. As does the mind, the heart, and the soul.

Next week will be my final session of intensive introduction to DBT. Our doctors commended us on our progress last night as we planned our final class and “graduation” celebration. It gave me reason to reflect on the last 11 weeks and my own progress.

When I was first assigned to DBT, I was terrified. I remembered looking around the room during orientation and fearing “the others.” Other Borderline Personalities. They seemed scary: some fragile and wounded, others aggressive and enraged, all of us messy. But with time, our group pulled together. We became individuals. We became human again. Now I rarely think of the label that classifies a cluster of our behaviors and thinking patterns. Now I can laugh and relax. I have learned. I have started to heal.

DBT consists of four modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each module calls for specific skills and strategies. All interweave to facilitate the decrease of negative urges and actions and to increase awareness and stability. Jargon aside, it has helped me function so much better. I have never felt more effective or more validated.

So I will catch colds and have accidents. My heart may be broken again. And again. But I am learning to land on my feet.

A Monday that needs more mindfulness

One of the core principles of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is mindfulness. It facilitates experiencing moments more fully and releases emotions from taking too much control of a person’s thoughts and actions. It is a skill I am practicing daily, even on days like today that feel negative.

What follows is an edited transcription of an audio recording I made on August 18, when mindfulness was relatively new to me:
I’m watching my dogs. They’ve treed an animal. Talula is sitting patiently, looking up into the tree. Lucky is lurking around the tree, in the shadows of the low-hanging branches. He stands up on his hind legs, moves his snout up, wags his tail. This is how they work together.
Lucky’s reddish blonde fur in the sunlight. His shadow on the grass. Curled tail. Tongue lolling out. Breathing in and out. Lavender, hot pink, purple blooms. Green grass. It’s beautiful in my garden. It reminds me of the monkey garden described in The House on Mango Street.
I love my dogs. Their life is so simple. I want to be that mindful where all of life is sunshine, work, and play instead of all this sadness.
It is so perfect I let myself cry. I’ve cried for the last few days. These tears are for the black and white dog with the pink collar staring up into the tree, never moving, never wavering, waiting.