Faith…in the one who casts your shadow.

“Faith”

I think in many ways this is one of the most crucial and underdeveloped beliefs. I believe wholeheartedly that the number one contributor to failure is lack of faith. But what is faith? What does it take to have faith? And why are we so unwilling to place confidence in what faith we have?

I am a “man of faith“, in the sense that I believe in a God that I cannot see, or tangibly prove his existence. Whether you believe in a god or not, this is likely what you associate “faith” with. But that’s not the faith I’m talking about… similar, but entirely different.

Webster gives us these basic definitions of faith.

1. (a) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (b) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.

2. (a) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (b) : complete trust

If you want to succeed, the first one you need to convince casts your shadow.

I have BPD. I suffer depression/anxiety. I self-hate. I self-punish. I have an unhealthy fear of abandonment. Needless to say, “self-faith” is not one of my strong suits. I made up this quote (at least I think I made it up) as a simple reminder of the significance of “me“. There are many things that you can be assisted in doing. People can feed you. Bathe you. Fight your battles. Machines can keep you breathing when even your brain refuses to function. You can get organ transplants. Pace makers. Pretty much anything. But there’s one thing that no one will ever be able to do for you… and that’s cast your shadow. As simple and as nothing of a thing as it is, you and you alone are able to carry it out. And you and you alone are the most important person that needs to believe in you. Support you. Have FAITH in you.

It sounds simple. It seems basic. But believe me, having faith in yourself sometimes feels about as easy as painting a Picasso with a single wax crayon. And a white one to boot. I’ve had many days where the desire to even live is a flame barely flickering. I’ll be honest, I lean heavily on the support of my wife, and the faith SHE has in me. But without faith in myself I will never get anywhere. Counselling and therapy is great, but until you start believing in yourself it can only go so far. This past month or so of sessions has been frustrating for me. I’m going through my DBT, things are making sense, but the faith is missing. Therapy is awesome when you’re seeing progress. But sometimes it feels that progress is completely gone. One step forward, then bowled over backwards.

A child can’t learn to walk without falling.

I cling to the simplicity of those words. They make sense. Being a father, I’ve seen my kids learn to walk. I’ve seen countless falls. My daughter even refused for a while to even pull herself up. But they learned to walk. It took time. It took bumps and bruises. But they did it. I feel like I’m a child learning to walk. If steps are faith, I’ll pull myself up on my feet. I’ll see the outstretched arms across the room. Sometimes I’ll take that first step, but most often I’ll fall on my ass and cry. It’s hard. Having faith in other people can be very difficult, but faith in yourself when you’ve never learned to “walk” seems like an impossible venture. And there’s many, MANY days I, like my daughter, refuse to even pull myself up. Never mind attempt that first step. With no faith, taking that first step can feel like a baby bird being pushed out of the nest… with no wings… and a rocky landing awaiting. So… we turn around.

But how do we get over this “lack of faith“? How do we turn ourselves into not just walkers, but runners? What is the key to confidently walking out every morning to take on the world and cast that first shadow? Honestly… I don’t know. If I did I would have a lot more followers and a nicer office than the mattress of my bed. But just like spiritually I believe that faith in God is in the heart, I believe faith too in yourself is in the heart. Wisdom, knowledge, doubt, and worry are things of the mind. Faith, Hope, and Love come from the heart. It’s one thing to have knowledge. It’s another to have the wisdom to use that knowledge. But to have the faith to not succumb to the worry and doubt in your mind… to have the belief and confidence to tell your mind “yes I can” when it’s telling you “You Suck!! Turn around“. That’s what it’s going to take to walk. That belief, as little as that flame may be, has the power to light a room. But it has to start somewhere. Laying down will never work. Falling will happen, but so must getting back up. Stumbles aren’t failure. Crawling back isn’t failure. There are going to be setbacks. Many, many setbacks. But as sure as you can cast a shadow, you also have the ability to walk. But it all starts with Faith.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. You have no idea how much it means to me to have the opportunity to be able to share my journey and my story. Please pass on and share my blogs. I also share regularly on Twitter (https://twitter.com/InkedDadBPD), Instagram (https://instagram.com/dave__stone/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight), and Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/-hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight)

Thanks again for reading.

Dave

We are all frozen children…

Today when I was lying in bed doing my “morning scroll” through my Facebook feed, I came across a video that was shared that caught my eye. I saved the link so I could come back and watch it later (this is without question the best feature upgrade EVER!! No more sharing posts just so they’re on my timeline for later). A little further down the feed someone else had shared the same video… You know what? It’s Saturday, I’ve got nowhere to go, let’s give it a look-see. It’s a social experiment video. I love social experiments… I find them fascinating seeing how the human mind reacts in social settings. But more often than not, as much as I find them fascinating, I find them DEEPLY troubling… and this was no exception. Here’s the YouTube link. It’s 6+ minutes long, and worth watching… but if you don’t have time, just Favourite, Like, Share, ReTweet, or save for later.

Now one thing you have to remember is that I’m the father of a nine year old BabyGirl, and a four year, three-hundred and thirty-six day old Lil’Dude (yes, the countdown to 5 has officially started). Also, I’m from Saskatchewan, Canada. Last week we had -45degree F temperatures. I’m accustomed to cold, and 5degree F in a tee-shirt, IT’S COLD!! There is no way in Hell I would ever walk by a CHILD with no proper clothing on, ever. For any reason. But what happens here? 2 HOURS pass, and nobody stops to help this kid out?!? No offence, but WTF!! What is wrong with the human species? How have we adapted (or corrupted) ourselves to be so self-absorbed, so self-centred, so absolutely jaded and emotionally dead that we can walk by a freezing child, who partway through crawls inside a garbage bag for shelter from the wind, without the notion to even from a distance ask if he’s ok. God-forbid you touch him… he is homeless after all (insert sarcasm, incase it went undetected). But not even a “are you ok?“, “is there anyone I can call?“, or at least make a call to the police!! But nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s shameful. It’s shocking. It’s utterly disgusting. And worst of all… it actually happens. Every. Single. Day.

But it got me to thinking… “What is our freezing child?” Don’t be so naive as to think that to some extent we don’t see examples of this every day. I know many of you are shaking your heads right now… “Not me!” or “Not in Canada…we’re pretty damn polite!!” (And it’s true, we are pretty damn polite, eh?) But do me a favour. Entertain me for just a few minutes. Take off your self-absorbed, self-centred, jaded cloak for just a moment and allow yourself to be brutally honest. What is your freezing child? What do you turn a blind eye to? What do you under your breath and in the back of your mind “Thank-God that’s not me” about? As much as we all hate admitting it, we’re not perfect. And sometimes the best thing you can do is just take a step down, take off those self-righteous glasses, and simply observe realistically. Take an un-tainted, un-influenced view at the world around you. There is only one thing that I can 100% guarantee you. If you are honest with yourself. If you are really genuinely doing this… YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY!! There are “freezing children… EVERYWHERE!!” We drive by them on our way to work. We walk by them in the halls. We interact with them each and every day, but fight like everything the notion that they are there. It really is disgusting.

Because I blog for Mental Health Awareness, I’m going to put a little bit of a focal shift on things here. I know mental health has come miles from where it once was on it’s acceptance and understanding. But I live in Saskatchewan, Canada… And trust me, we grow the nicest, friendliest people here and export them all over the world… I’m sure you even know one. But since starting blogging on my experiences on mental health, literally hundreds of people have messaged, approached and supported. Almost all of them I had no idea were effected by mental health at all. From those battling, “You’re not alone.”, “It’s like you’re describing my life“, and “Thank-you for being a voice” are what I most frequently hear. From those on the other side of mental health, “I never realized...”, “Now some things make sense.” and “I had no idea” are common. All in all, for me it’s been a great and rewarding experience thus far. So please, share my posts. Pass my links on, and keep sending your messages of support. Speaking strictly as a 34 year old father with BPD, we all have our bags. We crawl into them to shelter us from the wind. We wrap them around ourselves for a bit of protection. And from my experience, more often than not we use them to completely make us invisible. To blend in. To avoid people’s “assistance“. It’s really unfortunate, but we tend to make it really hard for you to unveil us. But we’re not invisible. We’re there every day. You drive past us on your way to work, walk past us in the halls. You likely even shake our hands and share meals with us. But we’re freezing. We’re hiding. We’re huddling. But it’s just bags. And we want them removed. We need them removed. Our lives depend on them being removed. So look for that child. Don’t just pass by. Talk to him. Provide some warmth. Provide some strength. Provide some hope.

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I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times.

“A person who never learned to TRUST confuses intensity with intimacy, obsession with care, and control with security. “

-Patrick Carnes, psychiatrist

I remember reading a story about a young girl whose family ran a harbour eatery on the maritime coast of Canada. Her father was a fisherman who spent long stretches at sea. When she became old enough she would go on the fishing trips with her father… she loved the sea. Her parents died young in an accident, and while going through some of her mom’s old journals she realized that her mother never met her father until she was 2 years old, and that her actual father was a sailor. Through the story she tracks her father down, and spends time with him on the water sailing. She found a new love with a side of the sea she never knew before… the intimacy of the ocean on a sailing vessel, as apposed to the harsh, demanding lifestyle of a fisherman.

When I first read this quote on trust it tugged a string inside of me. I saved it on my phone, and went in to buy my coffee and carry on with my day. But every time I read it, it kind of worm-holed its way more and more into the centre of my mind. It made sense. I desperately didn’t want it to make sense. But it did. Could my trust issues have impacted my life in such a way without me even realizing it? Could this “Patrick Carnes” be onto something? Then I got into ‘Dr Phil mode’, and began analyzing what I am the way I am. I broke it down section by section, and it sadly made sense.

“A person who never learned to TRUST” …ok. This has been established already. I have trust issues. I like looking at it as you have 3 rings of trust in your life. You have those outside of the rings, the people you really don’t even know. Then you have the third ring. Good acquaintances. Soccer moms. Your kids might go to school together. You might go to the same gym. You might work together. You’re comfortable talking, you likely even get together socially. Then there’s the second “close friends” ring. The people you make plans with. You do things with regularly. Your kids have sleep overs. They’re your good friends. And then there’s that centre ring… the core. Your best friends. The people you can tell anything and everything. You trust them in all aspects of your life.

Normally, you kind of look at the rings as a target… progressively getting smaller as they get to the centre. For me, that third ring and the second ring are a lot closer in size to each other. I either don’t know you, or I do. And if I do, I very easily allow you into that second ring that is normally for just close friends. That second ring still has layers… but you’re there. But then there’s that centre ring, The core. The intimate “TRUST” zone. No one gets in there. No one. It’s like a vault. It’s off-limits.

Everybody has an internal emotional barometer. It’s your brain telling your body what emotions are coming so that the body can react. For myself, the barometer isn’t broken… it’s just no longer very sensitive. I rely a lot on other peoples emotion. When I do feel emotions it’s in extremes. I have a hard time regulating emotions, so I have a hard time showing emotion. I don’t want this to sound the least bit derogatory, but I in many ways rely on people emotionally the same way a blind person visually relies on a seeing eye dog. Without the dog, it’s hard for the blind person to physically navigate, and without that person, it’s hard to emotionally navigate. Life is so much easier with that person around.

“confuses intensity with intimacy“. This is a tough one for me to try and explain or describe without sounding predatory, but it definitely goes both ways. I don’t recognize “small gestures” as easily. The subtlety can be easily missed, or when I try and be subtle I feel it’s being missed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I pick fights, but I definitely feel the ‘intensity’ in someone I love ‘defending their feelings for me’. “OF COURSE I LOVE YOU …IF I DIDN’T I WOULDN’T BE HERE FIGHTING FOR YOU!” I get. I feel that. I understand that. But the cute little text might go unnoticed. The small gestures, though appreciated, don’t have the same impact. And it’s the same the other way. The emotion’s there. My barometer is detecting it, and Im feeling it. Now Brace yourself… Brace yourself to feel that love!!

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obsession with care“. I’m not sure if any of you can relate, but I need to be reassured of my wife’s love for me. It’s not that I question her love… I just really need to hear it… be reminded of it. I’ll text just to have her say ‘I love you’. I’ll call to hear the same thing. I’ll wake her up at night to hear those words. There’s times where I want to spend every waking second with her… cause that’s what people in love do. To me it’s crucial that she knows and sees how I feel, and that I know and see how she feels. I do it because I care. I need it because I care. I want it because I care. And it can easily be obsessive without realizing it, because I care.

And this ties right into “and control with security.” This is huge for me. I’ve been working at this since long before i had any diagnosis. Like many BPD, fear of abandonment is far and away my greatest fear. It’s not a matter of if, but when people are going to leave. It’s 100% the reason why my inner core ring is so extremely exclusive. I believe with everything in me that anyone who gets in that circle will hurt me and leave me. (it’s times like right now that I have to just sit back and thank God that he put the amazing wife in my life that he did). I require constant reassurance that I’m still loved. I get needing to know what’s going on, solely so there’s no surprises. It’s not even that I am looking to be in control, I’m just preparing myself for what might come. If she leaves me, I can justify it because of this, this, and this. My life is constantly preparing myself for being alone. And that part is uncontrollable. And by fighting for security through control, it triggers one viscous circle. I have an uncontrollable sense of insecurity that i try to compensate with a false sense of security through trying to maintain control. (And yes, I read that last sentence over 15 times to make sure it’s saying what i want it to say.)

I’ve always been really torn. I know I’m an emotional person, but there’s times I feel so emotionally dead. Emotionally cold. But I’m a kind person. I love deeply. I know that I’m not a heartless person. I feel very strongly about a great deal of things. I’ve kind of just come to the conclusion that I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times. But the bottom line is I love… and am loved back by the ones that I love. And last time I checked, that makes me a fortunate man.

Scars…

Mothers… it’s in our nature to love them, and they more than deserve it. Years of night time tuck-ins, morning wake-ups, uncountable meals and snacks and more snacks. They drive you all over the country for hockey. They help you with your homework. They pick you up when you fall. They kiss and bandage the boo-boos. And most importantly… they love you. Unconditionally. You can do all kinds of heinous acts, and mom will always be there to welcome you back… to make you that snack… to kiss that boo-boo. But there’s something that many mothers try and instil in the minds of there children, and I don’t really know why. Maybe they are trying to raise “non-confrontational” children. Maybe it’s hopeful thinking. Maybe it’s ignorance to social reality.
To all you moms that read my blog, I promise you this is the only negative I have to say about you. Does this sound familiar? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve all heard it, and many of you (and most kindergarten to grade 4 teachers) have done the preaching of it. But it’s a lie. I would rather take a physical beating than some of the verbal and emotional beatings I’ve received over the years. Words do hurt. Badly. And that hurt is long-term, even permanent. A beating you heal from. You can’t say the same about cutting words.

Whatever doesn’t kill me

is going to leave a scar

Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger” is one that I like… and it makes sense, especially now. There’s no flowery false hope in the statement. It’s acknowledging that times will be tough… or at least that to me is what “whatever doesn’t kill you” means. It might feel like you can’t do it. It might make you want to just give up. Give up on your job. Give up on relationships. Give up on family. Give up on yourself. But pushing through and coming out alive (figuratively and literally) will make you stronger. You learn from the school of hard-knocks. Now you know a little better how to avoid the situation. Handle the situation. Rise above the situation. Be a stronger [wo]man all around. But it comes at a cost… and costs suck.

You don’t forget. You never forget. You try to forget… but you don’t forget.

You are left with scars. Emotional scars. Deep emotional scars. But these wounds you can’t just walk in to your local ER and get sewn back up. No, these wounds you are stuck leaving open until over time they heal on their own. And some of those gaping wounds will never heal. Never… not ever. Yes’ you can mask them and cover them with proverbial sleeves, you can bottle the hurt. I think the most common ‘sleeve’ that we mask our internal wounds with is the smile. A smile can go such a long way in appearing “normal“. I’ve been in public with short sleeves. I’ve felt the reactions of some to arms full of scars. And if that’s the reaction I get to the physical scars, I can only imagine the reaction I’d get to the wounds you can’t see.

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So if we can’t go to a doctor and get sewn up, then how to we treat these wounds? How do we keep them free from infection? What are we supposed to do? Many cope with the pain and anguish by drowning it out… drinking and drugs are two great medicines for coping with the pain. Some take a more holistic approach. Positive meditation, calming exercises, yoga, running, swimming. But most do nothing. They just sit and let it sting. At times others will come by and rub salt in the wound… or we might even do the salting ourselves.

Healing those wounds is a ‘uphill battle‘, a ‘slippery slope‘, a ‘tall task‘. But it is doable. It has to be doable.. Doesn’t it??

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But, the thing you don’t understand is that at the end of the day you’ve got to come home and take off your shirt. You have no choice but to take a look in the mirror and see them glaring back at you. Those scars. They refuse to go away. And no matter what momma’said… They Hurt!!

Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness?!?

Social settings are about as difficult an environment for me that there is. It’s not that I don’t like people… I really love people, actually. But it’s hard. I was trying to think of the best way to describe, or “name” the situation. “Social Retardation” seemed to drastic, and seemed like it may also cross some lines of political correctness… possibly. “Social Recluse” is not really accurate. There are many times I want nothing more than to be a recluse… but I know myself enough to know that that could get ugly (I’ll get to this more later). “Social-phobia” is actually fairly accurate, but I don’t like how ‘psychological’ it sounds. So, I went with “Social Awkwardness”. Kind of like a high school freshman at his first dance with acne and braces… only I’m far from being a high school freshman, and my acne and braces are battles of the mind.

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Those that know me are likely thinking to themselves “huh??” right about now. And for those that don’t know me, I AM a very social person. I like being around people. I love crowds… sporting events, fairs, concerts. I interact with people well. I am a social person.

But wait a minute… you said social settings were as difficult as they come?

And with that every one of you is likely thinking “huh???

I am a very smart person. I’m not saying that to brag, and I don’t mean book smarts, but when it comes to bottling up feelings and emotions, I know as well as anyone how to do it. I can remember having extreme depression/anxiety right back to high school. Initially my reaction was to pull back. Not be involved with people. School was difficult, attendance was spotty, and outside of school I did little. But it was through my late high school years and college that I began consciously “coping” in my own way.

Social settings, like I said earlier, are very difficult. But the alternative, Depression, is tougher. I can handle the social setting. I can maintain control of the social setting. I can swallow fear, and force conversation if I need to. And if all else fails I can sit back and be a spectator. But when depression sinks in, I’m done for. It’s just sit and hate myself and hope I fall asleep. I’ve spent countless nights awake just angry at myself. And if my depression shifts to anxiety, then I’m in real trouble. Red Alert. Good… Bad… now, UGLY. I refer to this as “freaking out“, really because… well, there’s no other way to describe it. The chaos takes over and I just want to make it stop. To do anything to make it stop. And that anything is often to hurt myself. Whether I’m wanting to punish myself, implement justice for my actions, or simply wanting to stop my mind from racing. That’s when it happens. The gloves drop, the helmet comes off, and the blade comes out.

But you see, the “freaking out” only happens when I’m alone. With the exception of my wife, I’ve never gotten 10/10, fight or flight freaking out around anyone. Whether it’s fear of making a fool of myself… fear of hurting (emotionally) my family/friends… Or having the presence of mind to see it coming and stop it, I really don’t know. All I know is that when I’m in a social setting I can regulate my “limits”. Don’t get me wrong… there’s times I am freaking out on the inside… and my reality of loneliness blankets over me, but I am very strong. Those that know me well can tell I’m worked up, but for whatever reason I’m able to harness it. Reign it in. But when I’m on my own, I let the floodgates open and all hell breaks loose.

and every once in a while it would hit me, the horrifying truth of being alone. and it did not matter if I was with good company or not. i would slowly feel the violent pull of loneliness; shaking inside of me like a wild beast in the night

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Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness… By choice. It’s a safety net, a security blanket. No matter how difficult it can get, speaking as someone who is admittedly suicidal, it ranks head and shoulders above the potential alternative. And that’s the way I want it to stay. That’s the choice I hope to make every time.

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(I need to insert a *NOTE* here. I don’t want you to get the impression that I hate social settings. I still find them emotionally exhausting, but I do enjoy them… especially when it involves friends/family. This is more to show the “other side” of the coin)