Although I would like to think I am calm, rational and a judicious person when it comes to taking an objective standpoint about transgressions in my own life, simply put, these skills is severely lacking from my toolbox. I find it very hard to push aside the judgements which paralyse me and turn my thoughts into narrow, dichotomous lines which only have two end points.
As I mentioned in the last few posts, my emotions have been amplified to way out of manageable levels this past week. All this lead to me equating many of these emotions as facts; hence I felt had to act on the emotion. The feelings almost felt like they have a mind of their own, and that I was a vessel for them to carry out their action urges. At the time I felt I had no control, but I am not trying to evade responsibility for how I treated my therapist, as I know I could have been more skilful. I could have used OPPOSITE action to my anger, or even HALF SMILE. In reflection, I see that it could have been a perfect week to also practise DISSTRESS TOLERANCE and RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
Yesterday morning I received a letter stating that a course I had been waiting to get onto for many months had been cancelled due to lack of funding. When I first saw the letter I was super excited, as I thought it was a start date. I had been advised to hold off going to university by my team for another year until I finished DBT and instead attend this collage as it operates under recovery ethics. It seemed a perfect transitory step for me. I decided to do something creative and less academic, so picked a photography course. I really was looking forward to it.
Now I am so disappointed that my heart literally hurts. I am so afraid; I feel I have nothing really left to look forward to now.
I went to check in with the community nurse a few hours after getting this terrible news. And I am really so very grateful and abashed to admit that he was not the invalidating type I was expecting. In truth, he sat with me for about 45 mins and listened intently to what I had to say. We came up with a plan in order to help problem solve the solution, and jointly agreed that the best outcome would be for me to attend a crisis resolution based therapy group for 8 – 10 days. It came with a warning that I would have to be willing to work at finding solutions to my problems and not to abandon self responsibility. It seems fair, if like a lot of hard work, but I am up for the challenge. I really am so appreciative for how great that nurse was. I really needed his objectivity in that moment.
I felt calmer and more in control after the meeting, and was much more willing to stay with my family for the night, I tried not to see it as a suicide watch, but as an opportunity to spend quality time with them. I went to see my sister and her husband who are expecting a baby and are in full blown 'nesting' mode. They are buying my family home off my mother, and have done a beautiful job of renovating it and putting their own stamp on the house. I noticed that I had been avoiding seeing the house as I felt great envy towards my elder sister, who has such a perfect life and gets to have everything I want and more, and on top of that gets to have the house I grew up in, the only place I called home. I am afraid I might never fall pregnant again, so am also reluctant to talk to her about the baby and envious of her ability to carry a child. I (quite skilfully in my opinion) figured out that I was experiencing ENVY which really did not fit the facts of the situation
I put on my DBT SKILLS hat and tried to use OPPOSITE ACTION. I knew that the prompting event to the ENVY was that I was being reminded about all the things I really want but can't have. A stable home, a family, nice things.....
My HOT thoughts where:
- 'I will never have what my sister has'
- 'I am such a failure'
- My sister is more successful than I will ever be'
- 'I am inferior to my sister'
- 'My parents think she is the better sibling'
- 'life has treated my so unfairly
The biological changes and bodily experiences I felt with the envy was a slight pain in the pit of my stomach and I was extremely anxious and noticed I was feeling resentment towards my sister and her husband I began to ruminate about how unfair I felt the situation was and how much of a failure I felt I was. My attention was very narrow and I could barely even talk to them. I OBSERVED how much I had avoided seeing my sister and the house, which had undergone so much renovation that I nearly didn't recognize it! I hadn't even offered to help with painting or decorating because I had been festering in my envy.
Although it is ok to feel envy when others have what you want, the problem here lies with the intensity of which I felt the emotion. I had checked the facts and become conscious that I had not been there to help my sister due to an out of control emotion.
I mindfully asked myself what my assumptions, belies and thoughts were about my sister buying the house and having a baby. I then tried to challenge the hot thoughts which popped up. Here is how I tried to turn the judgments into facts;
- ‘My sister is 7 years older than me, is married and in a good position to raise a child’
- My sister and her husband have worked very hard to get everything they have and deserve it all
- I also have many very wonderfully things. I live in a fantastic location and have so many beautiful things. Someday, with hard work, I will also have a house to live in, but for now, recover and health are my greatest assets.
- It is a very good solution to the present economic recession as my sister would not have been able to buy a house like this without help from the family
- My sister’s children will get to grow up in the same wonderful house and we did
- I am not a failure because I am not the same as my sister, I have other attributes which make me a successful and competent person
My goal is to have a positive and functioning relationship with my sister and brother-in-law, I love them and love the bump too! So my anger and resentment to them was making me avoid them and not nurture and develop a healthy bond with them. That is the main reason that the envy needed to be challenged.
In the moment I made sure to count all my blessings and avoided exaggerating my deprivations, Marsha states that to go ALL THE WAY I must imagine that it makes sense for my sister to have all this, as she has worked hard and deserved it all.
Finally I changed my emotions by changing by behaviors and posture. I unclenched my hands and relaxed my stomach and used HALF SMILE.
I now feel my envy is more in proportion to the situation. I’m not going to lie, it’s still there, but now I feel motivated to work as hard as my sister so I can have what she has. That means I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and moan about how unfair life is, I have to get off my ass and go get it for myself!
I’m really sorry this is so long and thank you so much for taking the time to read this.