Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.
First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming this situation must be for you. You are using all your internal resources just to maintain any equilibrium given all the trauma and difficulties that you had in your early life. I want to take a pause, though, for a moment to just tell you how impressed I am with your ability to keep going amid such overwhelming feelings that you have had to contend with every day. Why do I say that?
You write that you are addicted to this abusive man. And he truly is an abuser. Why would you be so obsessed with him that you don't even let yourself be turned on by other men?
Precisely because of all the overwhelming feelings from your past. Just like other addictions, the alcohol, drugs, or in your case the obsession with this abuser keeps the pain away. It numbs you from all the emotions that might otherwise overwhelm you. That's the nature of emotions. When they "go away" without being resolved, they just get locked into rooms in our inner selves. They don't actually disappear. And then they leak out in unexpected ways and cause us emotional turmoil and we afterwards don't know where those feelings come from often. And we consider doing whole sorts of life altering things just to get relief. Like being an intelligent woman with a degree who obsesses on a man who hurts women for his own needs.AA or NA won't help in this. But there are support groups for BPD and I'll get to them in a minute.
And so this is why I am impressed: you have kept going and you move forward and you do not give up. The anxiety seem overwhelming at times but you keep persevering and trying. It is truly impressive and inspiring. So, two things: first, I want you to know that at the end of this posting I'm going to give you a technique for just lowering the anxiety a little when you feel overwhelmed or just "feeling". It is not a cure, but it is something you can do throughout the day to help bring you back to the present moment from the anxiety. And second, that after you do the technique throughout the day, I want you to remember and say to yourself what I just told you: that you have always moved forward and kept going and made the future happen and you will do it again this time. And I'll discuss ways to do that as wisely as possible.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. I am going to introduce a concept that is so important for you because of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).The first element you have to get to is: it is clear from the brief information you gave and the emotion packed into it that there is a truth you need to get to if you are going to find relief.
That truth is that relief, your personal salvation, is not going to come THROUGH YOUR FEELINGS!
You're not going to FEEL your way toward feeling better. Yes, that sounds like a contradiction. But, the key for you is going to be whether you are going to be able to learn to approach life from something other than feeling. Because feelings are too overwhelming. They keep changing. And they are telling you different things all the time. And that gets overwhelming and the anxiety then begin to take over. This is the way feelings are for you. So, life can be good for you but only if you have the patience and willingness to LEARN how to approach it from a different part of you than how you feel. So that you aren't always so often overwhelmed by what you're feeling and searching desperately for relief.
There was so much trauma and dysfunction in your early life that feelings are just going to be overwhelming most of the time. And you need help in learning how to manage your feelings that were shaped during your youth which was so difficult. For you, then, to learn how to approach life from something other than feeling, the best type of therapy is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). I want you to learn the skills that DBT offers. So, start with the following website put together by people who aren't psychologists but who have gone through DBT themselves. Try as many of the self-help options they have. Mindfulness is particularly important for you and a good place to start there.Here's their web address:
If you connect with DBT, then find a therapist in your area who works with DBT. Even better, find a DBT group to go along together with individual therapy. So yes, therapy is the step on your road you may now be ready for. If you don't have a good referral source for yourself, here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (you can see a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list anything about personality disorders or PTSD in their orientations and what they work with. And then ask them if they don't do DBT therapy if they know someone in the area they trust they could refer you to.
If you need more resources here's a commercial website. I don't like their therapist directory very much because its format seems a little hard sell to me. But they have a chat group that you might want to join:
You're a survivor and in my book a champion, so try to use the techniques to your best advantage. You've made it through very rough waters in your life. You've come to the DBT world so you're extremely fortunate. But remember: quick relief is NOT your friend; it is part of the problem. Always remind yourself of that. And when you feel like you just have to do something to get quick relief, remember what Dr. Mark told you and go back to your truth. And then continue with the slow methodical work that being the good human being you are requires.
I wish you the very, very best!
Okay, now I am going to copy for you here instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from anxiety and overwhelming feelings, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't have anxiety so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack. Why? Because when you're in the throes of overwhelming feelings, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.
I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety and overwhelming feelings is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.
So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?
Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****
- After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
- Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
- Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
- Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
- Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
- entire right arm
- right forearm and hand (making a fist)
- right hand
- entire left arm
- left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
- left hand
- entire right leg
- lower right leg and foot
- right foot
- entire left leg
- lower left leg and foot
- left foot
- for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
- neck, shoulders and arms
- abdomen and chest
- buttocks, legs and feet
Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.
What You Need:
- A comfortable place.
- Some privacy.
- A few minutes.
Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help `with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****