Vigil for a Nameless Cat - Using my DBT Skills in The Real World

Please note: This post contains some potentially triggering imagery. Listen to your heart, mind, and spirit as to whether you can handle reading it. I'll warn you when I am about to get to that part...

I've been hearing the word "Mastery" a lot from the doctor who runs the DBT groups that I attend twice a week, and although I started attending because I was coming out of crisis (and an intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization program), and really, I just wanted to be around other people and do the whole "misery loves company" thing...something recently switched, and I began applying myself like crazy (no pun intended).

I've been paying attention in class/group, participating, doing the homework, and really working hard to change my life and create a life worth living. And, it's been working. I also notice that I am more aware and concerned about others in the group. I listened to their stories and issues in the beginning, but I was more self-absorbed. I am not judging myself for this. There is always cause, and it's not good or bad. I'm just noticing that I now really listen to others in the group as they go around and share their struggles and successes of the week.  Rather than thinking about my own issues or what I could say to "sound smart," I give people their space and pay attention to whether it's really appropriate for me to chime in, and I try to do so humbly.

For the most part, things in my life are stable. They aren't ideal, and they aren't exactly as I would wish or hope, but there is no crisis, all my needs are met, and I feel confident in my progress and ability to make wise mind decisions - most of the time.

Please use self care in deciding whether to read on. Potentially triggering imagery follows. 

So, it was interesting to see how I would respond in a very emotionally challenging situation. I had that opportunity yesterday.  I was enjoying a beautiful day walking around downtown, visiting thrift stores, and having an iced tea in the sun.  I decided to go to another part of town that was pretty far, so I hopped in the car and was off looking for a parking space.  

I was ecstatic to see an open space, but when I began to pull up to it, I saw why no one had wanted to park there. On the sidewalk, half falling to the curb, was a deceased cat.  He had gone into rigormortis  - he had become stiff, his eyes completely wide open and staring ahead. I began to cry. I pulled my car over to the other side of the street and felt such sorrow in my heart for this beautiful, innocent being laying lifelessly, uncared for, unwatched over, totally disregarded.

I had an impulse to run into the thrift store and at least get a sheet to cover him up and give him dignity, but I felt a bit paralyzed. I was afraid to go closer. I wondered about his story. Was he someone's pet? Did they know he was gone? Would a child find the cat in this condition and be frightened? I wondered if he was the neighborhood stray that everyone fed. Perhaps he was crossing the street and got struck by a car. Maybe they were nice enough to at least move him to the sidewalk. What was his story?

I wondered how, in broad daylight, on a fairly busy street near noon, this poor kitty's carcass could be sitting there like that.

I thought maybe my eyes had deceived me. Maybe it was a toy. Against my better judgment, I looked again. He was real.

The image has been difficult to get out of my head.  I have two cats that I love more than life itself. I thought about them. It was very, very sad.

I realized that in order to regain my composure and be functional, I needed to bring my wise mind back on board asap.  I didn't want to use the distraction skill. Somehow that felt disrespectful and inappropriate. I went through my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) binder and decided to use skills from the Distress Tolerance section, including Meaning, Prayer, and Observing my Breath.

For the "Meaning" skill, I decided I would write this blog post in honor of the cat without a name. In fact, I named him "Moon," because his little spirit brightly lights the sky among the stars. This blog post is a vigil to a kitty who, regardless of his story, was called away.  I am radically accepting that, while I don't know what happened, everything has cause.  I also radically accept that his death is a part of life - albeit a part that doesn't make me all that comfortable.

Let's all take a moment for Moon.

Picture of a Cat that looks like Moon that I found here

In Memory of Moon (Photo Credit)

I cry as I wrap up this post, but I am so glad to feel my emotions and direct their energy in a positive way.

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Twitter: HealingFromBPD 

Does DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) Work? My Story: A Case Study

I am currently attending two DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) classes per week. One is an ongoing group/class that goes through the four major skill sets: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. The other just focuses on the Distress Tolerance skill set.

Things have been going well. Before DBT, I felt as if I were at the mercy of my emotions and impulses. When I had a feeling, I reacted. I continually made emotional and impulsive decisions that I later regretted, and I engaged in a number of self-destructive behaviors.

While I won't say that my life is perfect or that I have it all together, I will say, I have come quite far! 

One of the mental health issues that manifested for me (and that was a red flag for my doctor in the process of my diagnosis), was a very overwhelming, terrifying realization/feeling that I did not know who I was.  I referred to it as a realization, because it was as if, all at once, I looked at myself in the mirror and was confused at who was looking back. I had become so fed up with all of the energy that I needed to expend in order to be everything to everyone - to act a certain way with this person and another way with that person.  I wondered, "If all the people I know got in one room with me, how would I behave? How would I act? Would they even know me? I don't know me!"

Image Credit

It was scary. I realized that I was like a chameleon, shaping and molding my likeness to whatever I thought the person across from me would like, approve of, and accept.  I now hold great compassion in my heart for this survival strategy that my unconscious/subconscious self was doing. As a child, I lived in a very abusive, scary, and sometimes life threatening environment.

I had to be one way with my Mom and another with my Dad in order to avoid abuse.  I was often unsuccessful, because I would act up and lash out. As I got older, I learned to "be" how I thought my Dad would want me to be so that he would love, accept, and not harm me. I think that the behavior took off from there and extended to all of the relationships and connections with others that I would have as the years went on.

As I continue in DBT, I am beginning to catch glimpses of the real ME. Not the me that I have constructed for anyone else, but the Me Me. I've caught myself, a few times, saying things like, "That's just how I am..." or "I'm sorry, but this is part of who I am..."  I don't remember saying things like this much in the past - especially when whatever it was that I was saying was in contradiction to someone whose acceptance and approval I desperately sought.

I am getting a bit more confident and independent in my thinking. I am trusting myself more. And, back to what I mentioned earlier in this post, I am putting space between experiencing an intense emotion and taking any action - as opposed to acting quickly in an attempt to relieve the discomfort, distress, or pain that I might be experiencing in any given moment or situation.

My life is radically improving. I am slowing down and THINKING before I act. I am weighing pros and cons and looking at potential consequences. I care. I am creating a life worth living, and I feel so fortunate to have found the path that I am currently on.

DBT works. It really does.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...