Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 224890

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Intimacy, codependency issues

Posted by Tabitha on May 7, 2003, at 13:41:07

It's finally happened. I have to do all the yucky intimacy stuff I've been avoiding. My therapist says the next step in intimacy is processing the little things, not always pleasant. I've not wanted to do that with friends. Seemed like the relationships lacked enjoyment already, I didn't want to start doing stuff that didn't feel comfortable. Mostly mentioning it when somebody does something that bothers me, saying how I felt, etc, getting the other person's reaction. I don't want to believe I have to do this. But I take her word it's necessary to keep a relationship from dying. Usually my feelings die, probably from resentment over all the little things added up.

So my date is at my place, he picks up a book (paperback) and completely wraps the front cover around backward holding it in one hand. I want to shriek. I'm very gentle on my books -- they all look new though they've been read multiple times. I'd never ever fold back a cover like that. The therp says I need to start talking about stuff like that when it happens.

I don't want to feel like a mega-b**ch. Another issue is privacy and time. New guy hasn't set any limits with me and I haven't found any. I'm spending more time with him than I'm comfortable, because it triggers his insecurity if I say no. That can't work. Then I get critical of myself, think I'm wrong if I have limits on my time and privacy that he apparently doesn't have. Therp also says, if we don't have the same values about privacy, it probably won't work out. But she says maybe he'll get more secure with me. Either way, for now I have to set my limits, and deal with his insecure reaction. I know he has a good support system to deal with his stuff.. but I feel responsible.. or as therp would have me say.. I choose to feel responsible.

This stuff is so hard for me. I feel it's too late to learn it. Therp told me ages ago.. I need to learn to do this stuff, so when I meet someone special I'll have the skills. Is it too late? Or.. do I have to just think of my special relationship as another training exercise.. realize it may not work out long term.. but I have to use it to practice for future.

This is not the fun part. I'm afraid all the good feelings will die and it will feel like just another grim training exercise.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on May 7, 2003, at 16:20:38

In reply to Intimacy, codependency issues, posted by Tabitha on May 7, 2003, at 13:41:07

Hmmm. Take what I say for what it's worth. I've been married for forever, and don't know much about romance. Or perhaps it's just that I see romance as a very minor element in a relationship, and I know that's not what it's like in the beginning.

But perhaps with just the tiniest shift in attitude you can have it all. Instead of thinking of it as training, you can just think of it as the care that every relationship needs. I hate to say "work" but keeping a relationship going for any length of time does take a bit of work.

The things like letting him know that you handle books differently can be light and funny moments really. Relationship enhancing moments. Admittedly that takes a bit of work to convert the irritation into something more constructive. My husband and I have dozens of them. We now have it down to shorthand, often with TV quotes. Like I always forget to put in the new toilet paper roll. He'll do one of the many toilet paper roll jokes that we use, and I'll take it as a reminder and go put it in. It's not a big deal, and there's no resentment.

As far as the privacy and together time, I suppose that could be a deal breaker if it's integral to how you both see things. But there's no harm in nonconfrontational discussions of that sort of thing. It can let you get to know each other better, and lead to intimacy that way. In fact that kind of intimacy can be terrific too. Certainly you aren't wrong to want more time apart than he does. And he's not wrong to want to spend every waking moment with you. After all, you're pretty terrific. It's just different, not right or wrong.

But I think I feel a bit concerned about how your therapist's attitude is coming across to me, although it may just be a different way of using language. Whenever my therapist (or anyone else really) starts obvious limit setting with me, it really causes the opposite reaction in me. Limit setting seems so... I can't quite explain it. I do it with my parents because I have to deal with them and they are difficult. But I don't think of it that way with the people I enjoy being with. I think of frank discussions and humor and compromise. Lots of humor and warmth. I'm not explaining this well. And it may just be a difference in terminology. But your therapist does make it sound a bit more confrontational and painful than it needs to be.

I'm not making much sense. And I feel really stupid right now, so I'm not sure if I can make any more sense out of it than this, so I'll hit post. I hope that you can somehow glean something of what I'm trying to say out of my attempt to communicate. And maybe a bit of it will be helpful to you.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Dinah

Posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:15:54

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha, posted by Dinah on May 7, 2003, at 16:20:38

Thanks for your thoughts, Dinah. It's probably me making it more grim and confrontational because that's how it feels to me. When therp talks about it is does seem light and matter-of-fact. Like we're just talking about our differences and our experience. To me.. I think it will feel like fighting. Like somebody has to back down. So on the book incident.. I asked her, well, what if I tell him how I feel about folding back the cover and he keeps doing it anyway. She says I just keep saying what I notice, and how I feel about it. Like I notice you keep folding back my book cover after I told you it bothers me, and I feel a little angry.

Because it's not just a difference.. it's my book, and we talked about him borrowing it.. and I know if I loan it and get it back with the cover all curled up I'll be resentful. So I have to do something.. swallow the resentment, or just evade the issue and not loan it, or loan it and make him agree not to fold the cover, or something. Now do you see why I'm so single?

On toilet paper, I hate refilling the roll too. Sometimes I end up with 2 or three half-empty rolls sitting on the floor next to the roll holder, and an empty one in the holder.. just because I didn't want to put it on the holder.

 

Re: Like for instance..

Posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:21:29

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha, posted by Dinah on May 7, 2003, at 16:20:38

He's doing a painting of me. I'm not comfortable with it. I told him I feel a bit apprehensive about it. I made it light.. said why don't you put in some shrubs or a bird or something so it's not all about me? He wants me to send more photos of myself to use. I'll feel like a doormat if I give him more photos, when I'm really not comfortable with the idea of him painting me anyway, and I don't think he really heard me. He said.. you must be a little intrigued by the idea.. but I'm not. I'm sort of horrified. Like if I go to his place I don't even want to see it.

 

Re: Like for instance.. Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 12:35:42

In reply to Re: Like for instance.., posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:21:29

Ok, now you've got a problem. I was going to suggest that you make the book thing into a challenge for yourself. See if you could find a loving and charming way to let him know your expectations.

But the picture thing is different. It does sound like he's being insensitive there. If you tell him that you appreciate his intent, but that it makes you feel uncomfortable, and he still pushes it as much as it sounds like he's pushing it.... Well, you could try again if you think you sounded ambivalent. If not, and he chose to think you are intrigued when you clearly told him you weren't? Eeeeeek, my "mom" vibes would be going off. My mom is a genius at seeing things how she wants to see them, and not how they are. It makes for a horrible relationship. If he's like that, run Tabitha, run!!

But I'm probably letting my own issues intrude here. :)

I laughed when I read your toilet paper roll story. I am the sort to not bother changing the roll unless the tissue paper is also out. I also will walk around in the dark for weeks rather than take five minutes to change a lightbulb. So you see how much of a sense of humor my husband has to keep?

 

Re: Sorry Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 12:46:42

In reply to Re: Like for instance.., posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:21:29

I am letting my own issues intrude. There's no reason to think he's like my mom. When you said "He said.. you must be a little intrigued by the idea.." it just sounded like my mom. She was always telling me what I did or didn't want, totally ignoring what I actually said.

Perhaps as an artist it's just hard for him to see how anyone wouldn't enjoy it. Or maybe... Oh I don't know. But you could ask him maybe?

 

Re: Sorry Dinah

Posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:51:59

In reply to Re: Sorry Tabitha, posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 12:46:42

Pinch! you're allowed to mention your issues.. you made it very clear it was a reminder of your mother.. It was a little red flag for me too, having my feelings ignored is awful. I'm not sure I really made it clear though. We'll talk some more. For now I emailed, said I couldn't give him more headshots because the thought of them sprouting on canvas was too horrifying, and helpfully suggested he might instead paint a large black spot representing my discomfort. Naughty me?

 

Re: Clever you. :) Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 16:50:23

In reply to Re: Sorry Dinah, posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:51:59

And ouch! (grin)

Believe it or not, I haven't been pinched lately. I must be getting better.

 

Re: To Tabitha and Dinah

Posted by coral on May 8, 2003, at 18:56:18

In reply to Intimacy, codependency issues, posted by Tabitha on May 7, 2003, at 13:41:07

What great posts! I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on two good friends who were enjoying conversation and coffee.

It's heartwarming to see people open up, sharing, caring, gentleness,compassion and the very genuineness of the dialog. This is one of the best things about the boards (if not THE best).

Thanks!

 

Re: Like for instance..

Posted by noa on May 8, 2003, at 19:38:36

In reply to Re: Like for instance.., posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:21:29

Having a portrait painted sounds VERY intimate to me. It involves a lot of trust and letting down your guard.

If he has an artist's "personality", maybe he goes out on the limb and THEN checks to see if it is strong enough to hold him, but us non-artists tend to be more cautious.

OK--that was a MAJOR overgeneralization and I hope I didn't offend any artists OR non-artists.

My point being that what doesn't feel risky and open to him might to you--like the painting. I mean, a painting of yourself--what if you don't like it? It is still a bit early in the relationship to have to deal with that, so maybe that is making you uneasy?

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha

Posted by noa on May 8, 2003, at 19:44:33

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Dinah, posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 12:15:54

>>On toilet paper, I hate refilling the roll too. Sometimes I end up with 2 or three half-empty rolls sitting on the floor next to the roll holder, and an empty one in the holder.. just because I didn't want to put it on the holder.


LOL. Me too. I have mostly given up on the roller thing. But if I have guests, I do put the tp on the roller. Otherwise, it seems like a waste of effort! The roll sits on the window sill, handily where within reach.

 

Re: To Tabitha and Dinah

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 20:39:54

In reply to Re: To Tabitha and Dinah, posted by coral on May 8, 2003, at 18:56:18

Thanks Coral! :)

It's kind of neat to have a place I can go and share coffee and conversation with good friends.

 

Re: Oops. Above to Coral (nm) Dinah

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 20:40:37

In reply to Re: To Tabitha and Dinah, posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 20:39:54

 

Re: Argggghh. That wasn't to me. (Blush)

Posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 20:42:16

In reply to Re: Oops. Above to Coral (nm) Dinah, posted by Dinah on May 8, 2003, at 20:40:37

You'd think I'd have learned to master those boxes by now.

 

Re: To Tabitha and Dinah coral

Posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 23:29:43

In reply to Re: To Tabitha and Dinah, posted by coral on May 8, 2003, at 18:56:18

Coral, pour yourself a cup and join in.

 

Re: Like for instance.. noa

Posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 23:36:09

In reply to Re: Like for instance.., posted by noa on May 8, 2003, at 19:38:36

Yeah, he's a little more impulsive than I am, that's for sure. I've followed my impulses into one disaster after another, so I don't jump so easily anymore.

I'm not sure what my discomfort is really about. It just seemed like it would be too much focus on me. His art is his thing separate from me.. and I want it to stay that way. My fear with dating at all is I'll lose my identity and get all caught up in the guy and sort of cease to exist. So him wanting to focus on my image reminds me of that. I don't know what it really means from his perspective.. I'm just taking my therapist's (possibly bad) advice and talking about it with him.. and you all.

Then he offered to stop painting me, and that doesn't seem right either. I suggested maybe I just don't want to see it yet. I'm clueless about this stuff, about negotiating things and all. My whole (dysfunctional) approach is to accomodate, and bend, and put up with everything, til I can't take another minute and then I exit stage left. I'm trying to learn another way.

 

Re: Like for instance.. Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2003, at 2:41:21

In reply to Re: Like for instance.. noa, posted by Tabitha on May 8, 2003, at 23:36:09

> I'm trying to learn another way.

Good for you, Tabitha!

Whether your therapist is right or wrong, you know your old way of relating didn't work for you. Accomodation and resentment doesn't sound like fun either. But I know from personal experience how tough it is to change old patterns.

> I don't know what it really means from his perspective..

That did occur to me. It's bound to have different symbolism for him. Did he offer to explain it's meaning to him, from his perspective? Not that his perspective is more valuable than yours. But it's still interesting to get to know each other that way.

 

Re: Like for instance..

Posted by noa on May 10, 2003, at 7:24:14

In reply to Re: Like for instance.. Tabitha, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2003, at 2:41:21

You know, having one's portrait done by a lover is not your run of the mill early dating issues, so you have no framework upon which to rely in knowing how to handle it. When he said he would stop painting, and it didn't feel right either, it's okay to NOT know how you feel and what to tell him. Take some TIME to think about it, or not THINK necessarily but absorb. Maybe just tell him to put it on hold for a little while?

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha

Posted by Medusa on May 11, 2003, at 9:56:46

In reply to Intimacy, codependency issues, posted by Tabitha on May 7, 2003, at 13:41:07

Hi Tabitha, I feel for you!

Lately I'm learning that there's a whole range of options for preventing, say, book abuse. My pattern has been either silence (and cutting the person out of my life) or exploding pressure cooker effect (which generally encourages said offender to cut him/her-self out of my life, good riddance).

I was looking at Martha Linehan's DBT handbook today, at "Handout 6", a description of options for figuring out when to say no (or conversely, to ask for something), how strongly, and how to persist. E-mail me if you'd like more ... buying the book meant I could photocopy for handouts (it's a therapist's guide) but I don't think I can put this on the 'net.

 

Re: That's a terrific book, isn't it? Medusa

Posted by Dinah on May 11, 2003, at 10:13:41

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha, posted by Medusa on May 11, 2003, at 9:56:46

I've found it very useful since they don't offer DBT around here. I really ought to dig it up and look at it again.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Medusa

Posted by kalyb on May 16, 2003, at 18:18:32

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Tabitha, posted by Medusa on May 11, 2003, at 9:56:46

What is this book, and what is DBT? I live in the UK. It sounds like something which might be good for me!

I think I'm living with Tabitha's mother... I share with friends and one of them decided she would try to help me be a better person to "change" me, tells me what I'm thinking and feeling... what I should do... etc. Undermined is not strong enough for how I'm feeling!!!!!! Unfortunately she's also my landlady so I can't tell her to go to **** but it makes every day a real ordeal with her criticism, inability to really listen, and me never entirely sure if I'm doing something wrong or not.... it wasn't until I got into a (brief) relationship with a guy who accepted me as I am, that it really hit home how much she eats away at my self esteem and confidence and makes me feel abnormal!!

anyway enough rambling... would be happy to get some info on this book!!!!

> I was looking at Martha Linehan's DBT handbook today, at "Handout 6", a description of options for figuring out when to say no (or conversely, to ask for something), how strongly, and how to persist. E-mail me if you'd like more ... buying the book meant I could photocopy for handouts (it's a therapist's guide) but I don't think I can put this on the 'net.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues kalyb

Posted by fallsfall on May 19, 2003, at 7:30:46

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues Medusa, posted by kalyb on May 16, 2003, at 18:18:32

"Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder"
"Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder"

DBT is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It was designed for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The DBT program consists of both individual therapy and a group skills training class. The skills training covers many things including How to get what you want, How to say no, What emotions are called (one of my favorites), and Mindfullness (a confusing, to me, idea that asks you to "stay in the moment" and "be fully aware of the present").

I started with the Skills Training Manual. The introduction describes who BPD people are. I read that part and said "Wow. Finally somebody knows about me." It was very powerful to be finally understood. I told my CBT therapist about the book and she said "No other patient has brought me a skills training manual, and a good one at that." I attended a 6 month session of skills training (you are supposed to do 12 months, and it probably would have been helpful - then maybe I would know what Mindfullness is) and I found it very helpful. I read both the book and the skill training manual when I am feeling lost or misunderstood.

I recommend it highly.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues fallsfall

Posted by kalyb on May 20, 2003, at 14:10:12

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues kalyb, posted by fallsfall on May 19, 2003, at 7:30:46

Thank you most kindly for the information, fallsfall!!

I'll mention these therapies to my pdoc when I see him in about 3 weeks time. While I have *no* idea if I've got BPD, do you still think these treatments would work for me?

If so, then I will have to see if I can afford the books. I'm in the UK and Amazon.co.uk don't have a "used" section. I'm on a very low income and I've found that ordering some books via Amazon.com to be shipped over, or through co.uk (they often then ship themselves) can almost double the price.

Mindfullness..... this is something I've heard of through Buddhism. I think it just means paying full attention to what you're doing at any given moment and not allowing the mind to wander. Like doing the washing up and concentrating on really cleaning the spoons, not thinking about what you'll cook for dinner or what your neighbour said to you yesterday. I could be wrong. It's something that was once explained to me (by a Buddhist) but I don't think I quite managed to either take it on board or practise it myself.....

Kalyb xx

> "Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder"
> "Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder"
>
> DBT is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It was designed for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The DBT program consists of both individual therapy and a group skills training class. The skills training covers many things including How to get what you want, How to say no, What emotions are called (one of my favorites), and Mindfullness (a confusing, to me, idea that asks you to "stay in the moment" and "be fully aware of the present").
>
> I started with the Skills Training Manual. The introduction describes who BPD people are. I read that part and said "Wow. Finally somebody knows about me." It was very powerful to be finally understood. I told my CBT therapist about the book and she said "No other patient has brought me a skills training manual, and a good one at that." I attended a 6 month session of skills training (you are supposed to do 12 months, and it probably would have been helpful - then maybe I would know what Mindfullness is) and I found it very helpful. I read both the book and the skill training manual when I am feeling lost or misunderstood.
>
> I recommend it highly.

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues kalyb

Posted by fallsfall on May 21, 2003, at 11:57:08

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues fallsfall, posted by kalyb on May 20, 2003, at 14:10:12

Here is a pretty good description of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): http://www.borderlinepersonality.ca/bpddefined.htm

It is not the kind of diagnosis that one would wish for. Though, knowing what was wrong with me did help to focus my learning and treatment.

DBT was designed for BPD, but I believe that it can be helpful to others as well. In your case, there are exercises that can help you to determine when it is and is not reasonable for you to say "No". And how strong you should make your "No". It could also help you to determine when you are right and when she is.

Your mindfulness description was very good!

If parts of DBT are not applicable to you, you could skip them (assuming you are doing this with a therapist and not in a class). It is really a set of skills that help you live your life better.

The textbook is in my local University library. My local bookstores both have the skills training manual, and one carries the textbook, too. You could browse and see what you think. Amazon gives you a peek at the table of contents.

Good luck!

 

Re: Intimacy, codependency issues fallsfall

Posted by kalyb on May 21, 2003, at 16:34:06

In reply to Re: Intimacy, codependency issues kalyb, posted by fallsfall on May 21, 2003, at 11:57:08

> Here is a pretty good description of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): http://www.borderlinepersonality.ca/bpddefined.htm ....It is not the kind of diagnosis that one would wish for.

I can see that..... some of it seems to apply to me, but not other parts..... Reading some of the articles on that site, I wonder if the psychiatrist I've seen (only once so far), might be thinking along those lines.... I recognised a phrase or two in the articles as something he tossed into the conversation, the "black and white" thinking and the "overwhelmed" by things. Scary stuff. Though I don't cut, I actually like being alone, and I'm good at seeing the "grey"...<shrug> Not for me to say, is it?

> Your mindfulness description was very good!

Thank you!

> Good luck!

Thank you again!!

Kalyb xx


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