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DBT: On guard

A lot has happened in the months I’ve been gone. There’s a fair bit about living in fear, e.g in DV.

Like in the Walking Dead when they first get to Alexandria, I never felt safe. In fact it was more terrifying than when they were outside. At least to me, at least when you can see the zombies, you know they are there. It’s when it’s all lovely houses, that you don’t see the problem and usually they are more insidious.


I spoke about the tiny injuries, it wasn’t really until it was pointed out to me that the group had become no longer safe that I actually noticed. It was discussed with me in private the level of agitation that went on in group and how I had put up a guard. That everyone was a little scared. I assumed it was just me being guarded after the incident. That if I opened up again, that it would be used to attack me later. I also didn’t want to be the person that took away someone’s treatment. I just didn’t think about my safety, or thought that being safe was something I needed.

I didn’t qualify it as not safe, because that was normal for me. I’m at times at bit of an oversharer, but I rarely share things that actually matter to me because people will use that to hurt you later. You live with a partner for 8 years that takes everything you feel and say uses it against you, it seems normal to have your guard up. To never feel relaxed. To feel a blank space. You feel nothing. There’s always that part where you are waiting for the next awful thing to happen and know that’s it’s your fault because you didn’t perform properly. Everything becomes about behaving in a way so they don’t freak out. Apparently, to never feel safe. When you haven’t experienced safety in ages, you forget what it feels like. You make fake safety. I joke, I laugh and all of that is a distraction from never feeling safe. My humour is always shield.

It was impressive how quickly I fell into that pattern of just numbing it out, trying to defuse the situation, and impressively not taking it in. That was the key difference, I didn’t take it as I deserved it, but this was this person’s issue that they were throwing at me. The more I listened and learned about them, it became clearer why they picked me. Why my presence triggered them, and why they’d bully me. I’d joke with them and make them laugh.


The more I grew to be afraid of them, and the more I numbed out that fear. The more I’d refuse to think about being afraid of them. I’d notice I’d be a little later to get to the appointment. I’d tell myself they were suffering more, that I should try to be more understanding. That I needed to let it go.

The time when they tried to kind, I felt by revolted by it. I didn’t want the olive branch, because I saw the fist waiting behind it. I saw the strings attached. I remember staring at the ‘gift’ , not wanting to touch it because it was ‘contaminated’. I knew they were trying to be nice. I sat there looking at it, knowing I should perform. Seeing it my space, touching my things and wanting it removed. I should be nice. I should make them feel comforted. Maybe if I was nice, they’d be nicer to me. How much of it was me, how much was them? If I took this gift, would that make it okay? Would this be me saying “I forgive you.” I understand you, but I want nothing from you.


I’d take those gifts over and over again from my partner. He’d be nice. But nice, isn’t good. He could do and say whatever he wanted, but if he cried and said he was the worst, I was suppose to be the big person and say “Oh no, you aren’t.” I suppose to accept these gifts and allow for the outbursts. Understand that it wasn’t me, it was their stuff. That he and them were just re-enacting their trauma and I had to get through it. I’ve been told that they weren’t hurting me, or yelling at me, but it was their sibling, father, mother, or long dead teacher they were mad at. Not me. It gets so exhausting to have people do things to you, and have people claim it’s not about you even it hurts you physically or emotionally. The answer is true, it wasn’t because it was me, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. New therapist was better at assuring me, no it was them, they have issues, and that doesn’t make it okay or less painful. Old therapist, would tell me I needed to understand them.


New therapist tells me that I’ve grown and that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall into another bad relationship, and I can’t believe it. Seeing this play out, it is like a micro version of relationships past and I see that I’ll just fall back into it. I felt bad, I’m person with mental illness who is afraid of another person with the same mental illness. Maybe it’s because I know they place they talk about too well, believe them when they say they are dangerous, and it makes me want to run away. But I repeat the pattern and I stay.

I didn’t take the ‘gift’.

But when they cried and went on about how they were the worst. I still comforted them, because they hadn’t done anything wrong. They really hadn’t this time.


I hate myself for caring. I could feel them smile, when I finished my statement. Once again, I was one of their victims that was taking care of them. They could lash at out me, and I’d still try comfort them. Sometimes I hate that I am kind. I hate that I see their story. I wish I couldn’t. I wish I didn’t have an urge to help people. I even debating leaving the group, so they’d get better, because I was already progressing so much that I could probably make do without it. But I stayed, because I’ve given up too many things for people that allegedly need them more than I.

Once the person left, I remembered what feeling at ease felt like. It was like a weight had been lifted. I didn’t lean away. I could look at that side of the room again. I didn’t leave feeling a tension in my body. Sore from holding everything in so tight. I said I was relieved, and another agreed with me. That we all had been holding our breath. I could put down my shield again. We all did, and it felt safe again.

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