Trigger #2millionfourtytwo.five:

How am I:

I’m either in crisis, incredibly scared and shaky and just barely staying out of the hospital right now OR I’m doing more wonderful than I’ve ever been. Coming to bloom in the garden of life. Experiencing enlightenment. A bright shining light of inspiration and wisdom. Enjoying summer and friends and my happy new home.

On Friday, I began the day by reaching out for help in the face of having been distracted by increasing thoughts of how to kill myself, feeling hopeless, that no one was ever going to get me. Coming up with a plan for how to stay alive over the weekend, alone in the house with my roommate gone. It was an accomplishment that this was taken seriously and I received the caring I needed in order to have a re-do.

That the doc was not treating me less seriously than the ones who act out instead of hold it all in. That I need to feel the depth of these feelings in someone else’s presence, and how hard that is. Finally, I felt got!

I went for a walk with a friend that afternoon, mentioned nothing to her of my morning or what was going on. Took her lead instead to speak about writing and indulge ourselves in simple time together in the sun by the river, feeling peaceful and content and having good conversation about creativity and healing. Feeding the creative muses in both of us.

I got home, thawed out some home-made chili from the freezer, ate it, and went to my ACA meeting.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was struck by the feeling of not knowing how I was – was I in crisis, or was I enjoying the fruits of my labour in life? I honestly did not know.

This confusion was (is) so terrifying for me that I went into shock. I felt the Dead Feeling in my body and face, barely able to rouse a facial expression, sitting slumped in my chair, unable to look at anyone. Managing to read aloud my part in the opening to the meeting, managing to function just barely enough to not disrupt the meeting or draw attention to myself, and meanwhile sliding further into shock and the Silent Panic.

By the end of the meeting, it was so intense that I reached out for help, and concluded with a close recovery friend that I should not spend the night alone, and should go to the hospital if I couldn’t get a hold of anyone else to stay with.

The recovery friend went back into the meeting room for the second part of the meeting, and I moved to my car with my cell phone to find a place to go that night. I finally cried and shook when she hugged me good night. I was really scared and not in control of myself – not myself, and feeling exposed in that state, unable to think clearly and make decisions.

I couldn’t get a hold of anyone on the phone, so I decided to show up at someone’s house. But it was near the hospital too, so maybe I should just go there. I turned around several times, driving back and forth between the person’s house and the hospital, eventually up to the hospital. But then I realized I was almost out of smokes, and didn’t want to spend the night in the emerg room without smokes. So I went home and continued my phone search. By this time, my abdomen was in pain, enough for me to be slightly doubled over and moving quite slowly. I equate this with emotional stress, as that is where it tends to be stored in my body. I spoke with a couple other recovery friends, telling them what was happening. But they were unable to put me up for the night. I had never reached out in this way before.

Finally found someone who could. As soon as I left the house, on my way to be with someone in my time of need, I felt calmer, and began to come out of the shock and panic.

By the next morning, I felt like myself again. I invited some people for a potluck, made soup, and went for a hike and a swim with the same friend as the previous day.

This friend had no idea that my visits with her had been sandwiched between near admission to the hospital.

Is this real yet? What will it take for my Child to believe that her pain is real, her feelings are real, her distress is valid. What has been happening to me?

Does this not sound insane?

It scares me that I have this range, and the capacity for such extremes.



1 Comment

Trigger #2millionfourtytwo.four

Your leg’s not missing; you just need to think more positively.


Of course your leg is missing; everyone’s leg is missing, so buck up and suck it up, also like everyone else.

“I’m broken Dale” — that’s not a cry for pitty and love; it’s one of confusion.

It’s like having had a missing limb, and people continually telling you that it wasn’t missing. To a degree that created permanent confusion.

I’m constantly wanting to prove to you how broken I am, so that I can change my confusion around whether or not it is real. So you can say, “Yes! I see that!” Oh, what glorious words to me.

It’s soothing when circumstance brings the brokenness to show without my control, and in a way that is undeniable to others, in a way that confirms the missing limb, without any doubt or questioning.

There was a moment in our last session. I was telling you about the two ways I presented myself at the party, and when I spoke about the presentation of a successful career woman, you were saying that it’s not confusion, because I know that that presentation is not true – that I am not a successful career woman. You said that, looked at me, and added, “Right?”

I actually felt an enormous amount of relief when you said that. I was relieved that you weren’t saying “Yes you are; you will recover to being that. You will eventually be success that way. You are too talented not to eventually find your way back there. Don’t start selling yourself short in the world. Don’t underestimate yourself.”

I felt that you were admitting that aiming to be that may not be realistic with my injuries in this moment, but that I may get there in a much more unique and authentic way.

When I make the wound real, I can find the healthy loving response; if it’s not real, I can’t respond, and then that part of me is abandoned again. That part of me has had a lifetime of abandonment.

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For Carl

my new private balcony

my new private balcony


A new era has begun in my life, with a move from the place I moved into 2 months ago, to a place that is … well, it’s a little piece of heaven, with a fellow recovery woman.

It’s on a river. The sound of the river permeates the entire property and house. My room is on the 2nd floor, with my own private balcony. The house has several skylights, wood floors and trim throughout.

The property has several gardening areas for vegetables and flowers, grassy nooks with chairs, fruit trees, and a gazebo on the river. There is also a workshop and an art studio.

Both my roommate and I feel that this is a place that wants to be a vessel for healing. It wants to provide a safe, affordable and soul-nourishing haven for people who need it, in order to do our work, the work of the soul and spirit. The rent is super cheap, and the location is a few minutes walking to down town. We want to host healing circles and various healing modalities here.

My arrival here happened suddenly, removing me from the danger inherent in living alone. I had been isolating and not eating, in and out of various states of dissociation and paralyzation. A friend of mine asked me why i was remaining in this harmful situation. I realized I had not made it real in my mind that it was a harmful situation. I was still holding on, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t happening, that really, I was fine; I was just thinking I wasn’t. When the landlords there gave notice they were returning to the Valley, this new place emerged. After my friend asked me why I was staying, I checked out moving earlier, and was given the green light. I moved the next day.

The previous roommate here was a beautiful, bright, gay man who was the keeper of the space and property, loved gardening, home repairs and landscaping. He also lived with OCD and Bipolar Disorder. He chose to leave this world by suicide last month. As he had promised to his friends, he waited until he was happy for several months before leaving. He sorted his things and arranged for them to be dispersed, cleaned the house, made soup for the woman who is now my rooommate. Everyone knew that his leaving was imminent, and when he was all set up to facilitate his departure, he emailed my roommate, who was out of town at the time. It took him two consecutive attempts to leave.

His body was found in his room. He died a happy, loving and giving spirit; at peace in his surroundings and with his friends in this life. His passing has brought me here, and so I write this as an offering of gratitude and appreciation. I feel his presence, and that he is a kindred spirit. I regret that I did not get to know him while he was still here.

For Carl. For all your journeys, sorrows, joys, achievements, struggles, and losses. And for all the great love you gave to this world. May you be in peace in the afterlife. May your spirit soar on, always and forever free.

beside my pillow, the sound of the river surrounding.

beside my pillow, the sound of the river surrounding. words and cards by a fellow aca member. amethyst heart stone from fellow coda member, crystal from dear friend in my previous city up North. I am not alone on this journey.


embracing the self-saboteur


Subconscious (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

I asked a friend of mine over email today if there was a subconscious place in her that believes (one thing or another) and that holds her back from achieving or manifesting what it is she truly desires. It’s funny how particular people in our lives can shed light on things in very particular ways some times.

That question to her lingered in my mind when I pressed send, and I realized that I’ve arrived at a different place with such questions. I used to hear them with a should in them. Like I should be able to go, “Oh, it’s my subconscious, and this is why, and now I get it.” I used to hear it like someone saying, it’s easy to change the subconscious once you become conscious of it. That awareness (not time?) can heal all wounds.

When I ask this question to myself (what subconscious beliefs am I holding on to that are sabotaging my life?), I now simply remove the expectation that it is easy to change these subconscious beliefs.

There are those with mental illnesses who are unable to become aware of such subconscious beliefs, and there are those who are able. I think what defines a mental illness is that in either case, these core beliefs have such adverse affects on our lives that they are significantly and chronically compromised; and changing these core beliefs is a miraculous and sometimes impossible feat.

It’s not a case of choosing to focus on the negative, or a lack of self-discipline, or a resistance to change; it’s a chronic mental-emotional condition with grave effects on a person’s life.

I’m not saying it’s not possible to change on this level — every person’s journey is unique, and good psychotherapists are out there (even if there’s no funding for them here in BC). I’m just saying that it isn’t as easy as pop psychology / new age self-help philosophies seem to claim. We cannot simply ‘choose to be happy.’ We can respond to the intensity and the range of emotion with as much compassion and understanding as possible, continue to learn from it as much as possible, and live our lives accordingly to the time, space and energy this requires. We can stop trying to fit in with the status quo who do not understand this reality. We live on a deeper level of challenge and humility that is, as I have so often said on here, as much a blessing as a curse. If, in this society, I must be labeled as disabled in order to live the lifestyle that allows me to be at all functional, then a) that says something about this society, and b) so be it. Call it whatever you want to call it.

While it may be nearly impossible to change them, it is still worth trying, and continuing to strive for at least a greater degree of understanding that allows us to be compassionate towards ourselves and others, and make healthy decisions for all involved.

When I spoke the question to another, I realized that I spoke it with this new understanding. I did not mean to come across as if it were easy to change the self-saboteur, but to convey and encourage curiosity and compassion for this human condition that affects all of us to various degrees.

Thanks L 🙂


inwards vs. outwards: no one is better, no one suffers more

I came across a bdp discussion forum last night discussing the notion of the Quiet (or Inwards) Borderline. A post there expressed disagreement with bdp subtypes, and criticism of the notion that Quiet Borderlines either a) Suffer more than “outwards” and / or b) Are somehow less ill or easier to deal with.

painting by tammera

painting by tammera

Some of my writings here on this blog might inspire similar reactions, as if I am demonizing outward bdp and making saints of inwards.

I don’t think it’s useful in any contemplations of bdp to compare levels of suffering — that is completely subjective, and impossible to ever really know or compare.

I think there are indeed many outcomes of the underlying patterns that define bdp, but those underlying patterns are the same in all of us, and we all suffer greatly with them.

Some of us turn our suffering inwards. In my case, it can be impossible for those around me to know what is going on for me until I become desperate enough to let it show; and in my case, I must decide to do so. Consequently, I often feel like I am a fraud, “dramatizing” my feelings in order to receive support that maybe i don’t deserve. Am I over-dramatizing or minimizing my experiences? It is a different reality in every day, or every moment at times. I feel the chronic aloneness, emptiness, self-doubt and fear of abandonment of any borderline; and my sense of confidence, status, personality and role in the world are as unstable. I am inconsistent in mood, energy and personality; which is often devastating to my relationships, and perpetuates my aloneness, self-doubt and abandonment fears in an endless cycle.

In my experience of being an inwards borderline, no one would say that I am a difficult person. I think what some might think (though they would never say it) is that they do sense something a little unsure or unstable, something i am hiding from them, and they therefore do not deem me trustworthy, and are not very comfortable around me. There is a sense of caution, like there is something dark and scary beneath the surface that is scarily subtle and ominous enough as to make people quietly and sneakily distance themselves from me. No one would think that I am mentally ill and may just require a little extra patience, support and encouragement; they just think i’m a little “off” and aren’t really drawn to get to know me too well. Some of my friends are probably saying this is a load of crap, but my recovery depends on my own ability to validate this experience I have, intentionally let it show and receive the treatment that I need around it. I have to choose and work at living more honestly in the world to escape the endless isolation that swallows me whole. It is the degree of this, the intensity to which i feel it, and my ability to hide it that qualify this a dangerous, precarious and pathological reality. The hardship of this outcome of bdp, and the common misconception on the parts of friends and mental health professionals, is the assumption that because I can control what I show, I cannot truly need treatment. This leads me to thinking that I am a fraud, until I read about others this way, and the term “quiet borderline.”

compassion painting

the heart of the matter of living

While the quiet borderline (in my experience) experiences subtle social isolation, invalidation and abandonment by the mental health profession for not being “ill” enough; the outward borderline, it seems to me, experiences overt social isolation and abandonment by the mental health profession for being “too ill to treat.”

Both borderline outcomes end up feeling the same thing–isolation, hopelessness and unworthiness. Both suffer. Both require and deserve radical acceptance, compassion and support. One is not “better” than the other; and one is not more treatable than the other.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Please comment!

Love, HJ


i feel like screaming today

why do people suddenly stop returning messages. why do people suddenly shut me out. i wish someone would tell me what i have sticking out of my nose. deep breathing. stretching the bones. raging child, raging child. left in the dark again.

when i was in my late teens and first started exploring my “inner child” i wrote about her:

quiet child sits alone inside the fire cold

rage and death can look the same, when the rage is so intense it shuts you down.

i feel like screaming today.


CoDA 12-Step: My own criteria

I never posted this here, but I think it belongs, in my effort to collect all the ashes:

CoDA 12-step program — Step One: What is Unmanageable

• Desperate need for validation & feedback
• Chronic loneliness & low self worth
• Inconsistent personality & mood, dependent on external people and events (contexts)
• Need and ability to impress, like an autopilot function
• Forcing things to happen by working harder & longer
• Compulsive working, getting carried away in the vision of how good it could be and what a great thing I could do. If I could do something really great, I would finally be loved and all my problems would disappear. Maybe this time … Over and over again.
• Sense of faking it till I made it; pretending I wasn’t desperate or unstable, having it leak out uncontrollably and unpredictably and feeling rejected and abandoned as a result, then hating myself, progressively more.
• Memories of tiny moments that haunt me, causing me to relive the humiliation of the moment with a visceral and physical reaction. Moments that really devastate me emotionally, cutting me down like a reed.
• Growing sense of overall humiliation in life from the lack of lasting relationships and professional endeavors. All the starts and stops.
• Progressive shame, embarrassment and exhaustion over the degree of chaos and instability in my life, and the lack of social support I had to help me deal with the chaos. It was so much for so long that it became too embarrassing and awkward to talk about.
• Alone in these feelings cause no one would OUTWARDLY believe or admit that I could possibly really have problems. People were trying to be supportive by continuing to tell me how brilliant and intelligent and capable and special i was. They didn’t realize how alienating these words felt to me because they denied and invalidated the internal experience I was having. “I must be even crazier than I’d thought, for thinking I’m crazy in the first place.”
• Most recently, feeling these things while having to keep the face of extraordinary leadership. The ship finally broke in two.
• My whole life seems like a bad memory; i would wipe it out of my brain, but then i’d have no past, no roots, though now i have been describing my past like decapitated limbs floating around inside me. Where’s my continuity.
• The feeling of hopeless isolation; after all the personal growth work i have done, these things continue.