I had a productive emergency therapy session today. My therapist was kind enough to rearrange his schedule to see me today, due to all my BPD/C-PTSD symptoms being re-triggered because of the ugliness and emotional abuse I’ve been exposed to following my dad’s death last week.
I thought I’d sob all during our session, but that was not to be. However, I have spent the past two days crying alone–and there’ve been a lot of tears. Not tears of grief over losing my dad, because I have not been allowed to properly grieve due to my being subtly (but clearly) “un-invited” to my dad’s memorial service as well as the high probability of being disinherited. But that’s another topic for another time. I cried because I feel so unloved and rejected by my own family. I cried because I’m so damn angry. The tears were mostly tears of rage, and grief for everything I have lost over the years due to my status in the family as the scapegoat and handy receptacle for all the family shame.
I didn’t quite cry in session but I did come close, and my therapist knew I’d cried a lot at home because I looked like a raccoon with a bad case of pinkeye. I’ve had to wear sunglasses when I’m out in public because I look just terrible (I’m not a pretty crier). I’ve also gone back to an old habit of mine: gnawing at the hard skin on the sides of my nails, sometimes pulling the skin away in painful strips and sometimes causing my cuticles to bleed. I’m actually sporting band-aids on two of my fingers right now. But it’s alright. I’m glad I’ve been able to feel all this emotion, as unpleasant as it is. As most of you who read this blog know, I’ve had a problem now for a long time being able to access my feelings; now they’re right on the surface and are almost too much to cope with. I’m a stew of conflicting and confusing emotions, and my therapist knows it.
I realized while talking about this whole mess just how close I am now to the void inside me, the emptiness caused by rejection and abandonment when I was very young. It’s like a Pandora’s box has been opened, and all this rage is coming out now. The rage masks the grief I really feel for all that’s been lost. I told my therapist that as painful as these feelings are, that it’s a good thing because it means now we can do some real work.
I’ve been circling the maelstrom now for some time, but never actually jumped in. I’m like a little kid standing by the deep end of a pool, wanting to jump in, but frozen in place due to fear of something bad happening. There was always an invisible but strong emotional screen that held me back and kept me safe from falling into the deep. It looks like now that screen is gone and I have no choice but surrendering to the void.
My therapist once asked me what my favorite books are. I remembered one of them was Dante’s Inferno. I must have read it 20 or more times back in my high school and college days. On some level I could always relate to Dante’s trip through the levels of Hell. The first line seems to mirror the state of my own psyche at this moment:
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
And with this sudden upwelling of uncontrollable emotion bordered on all sides by righteous anger and shimmering, electric rage, the warning too is loud and clear: “abandon hope, all ye who enter.” But there is much hope, even in Dante’s hell. I’m both terrified and excited. My therapist asked me if I have some sort of amulet for protection to take with me during this treacherous adventure and without hesitation I replied, “You. You’re my Virgil.” And of course, God, an intangible presence who is always there. With my Virgil and God guiding and protecting me, I feel ready to dive into the maelstrom of my disordered mind and explore its terrors and wonders. With any luck, if I make it all the way through, I’ll be able to say, as Dante did at the end of The Inferno, “Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.”
In an important sense my father’s death and the rage I feel right now is an enormous blessing. It’s triggered my original abandonment depression and allowed me to experience painful emotions that had long been kept safely inaccessible to my conscious mind. The triggering events have opened a cauldron of roiling, long-repressed emotion containing enough raw power to blow away the psychological wall that was keeping it all trapped inside and unable to erupt. Now I’m diving into the void, instead of merely circling it, but it isn’t really a void at all because within it are the answers I need that have always eluded me.