As much as I find therapy taxing at the best of times, I do appreciate that I now have a pretty good therapist. For example, she’s the first person out of half a dozen mental health professionals to:
a) Actually recognize the problems, rather than the symptoms, defining my BPD;
b) Actually attempt to treat/resolve said problems rather than simply experience them;
c) Realize the importance – the paramount importance – of constancy in any BPD-related treatment program (abandonment is pretty much THE recipe for disaster).
She also has a fairly mind-blowing treatment approach which I’ve described before called “part work.” The idea is that the damaged mind/psyche is fragmented, and the fragments (i.e. experiences/memories/feelings too intolerable to be properly processed) need to be reintegrated (pulled forward to the frontal lobe of the brain, to be exact) in order to rebuild a whole and complete mind.
Kind of actually makes sense, right?
As a result, we spend a lot of time doing some very weird mental exercises that involve communicating with inner parts. It feels like schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder treatment (and maybe it is, I’m not sure) and can be quite terrifying to even acknowledge that there really are parts of yourself you might not have much control over.
As an example of how incredible the human mind is, I thought I’d share the following journey that mine took me on.
After pulling up my “safe room” with all my inner parts around a table, I asked (mentally) if any of them had anything to tell me. After waiting a few minutes and after a few dozen invalidating, automatic reactions from my conscious mind (“This is stupid; I’m crazy; Why am I doing this; This lady thinks I’m nuts” etc.), one of my parts came up to me.
I call this part “Love Slave.” She is me a few years ago and she will do literally anything to be accepted and loved. She lives for romantic attachment and the lure of unrealistic, all-encompassing, perfect love. But she knows it will never happen so she throws herself into a kind of tragic acceptance of love that hurts and turns her into a slave – hence the name.
Anyway, this Love Slave led me out of the room and up a rocky path to the edge of the waterfall. I looked down and realized I had a wooden bucket I was supposed to fill (I don’t know how I knew this – it was kind of like a dream, with its own logic, by this point). I realized I was thirsty and the water looked glacially cold, clean and beautiful. I kept holding my bucket under the water but every time I brought it back to drink from it, it was empty. Soon I discovered why: there was a roughly hacked hole in the bottom. Looking from the waterfall to the bucket to the Love Slave, who was watching all of this, something in my mind clicked suddenly.
The waterfall was love. The bucket was me. Until I fix myself, all the love in the world isn’t going to fix me. It’s just going to drain through me and leave me emptier than ever.
Did I mention I was in no way on drugs during this episode? Wow.
Of course I knew that someone else was never going to fix these problems – but I didn’t really know it deep down. Now I know and accept that no amount of “outside” love is going to fix me.
These are the kinds of things that your own mind knows. These are the kinds of things that heal you from the inside out.
This is the first therapy I’ve encountered that really delves deep enough to let you be the healing force – not the therapist, not the therapy itself, not the meds. The real healing in this method comes from coming to realizations that shift your entire perspective in a way that puts you more in touch with who you really are and what you really need.
Pretty cool, huh?