So I've been doing this DBT thing for well over two years now. For the past six months, I haven't been going to the weekly (more educational then process) group, mostly because of a lack of time, though my therapist was fine with it because I had been through the whole course several times. The skills that are taught in the group are to help guide you when your own coping skills and 'common sense' lead you astray. (I mean, you wouldn't be there if both of those things hadn't lead you significantly astray for a significant part of your life.) Just like anything, when you consciously use it enough, some of it will start to become second nature.
I knew this week would be tough. When I moved in before Ginger, The Professor, and I had a new, bigger place that could accomodate the three of us and Ginger's son, I knew that it would be tough to stay at my parents' house again for a full week, especially during the holidays, which are already tough. It seems that when things are tough for me, I feel like they pile on and the list just gets longer and longer. Reasonable mind know that this is more how I see things than how things really are. As The Professor paraphrased yesterday, "Rain falls on the just and the unjust alike," and everyone has several shitty things going on in their life at any given time, just as they have several great things going in their life at any given time. But the point of dbt is to teach you skills you can draw from to get through those shitty things.
So this weekend I used some "pleasant experiences" to get me through this week. I have felt very distant from the Professor lately. He has been dealing with illness, the holidays, and just generally being "in the hole." It hasn't just been him, though. I also have had little energy or time for anything that wasn't necessary, usually plopping down in front of the tv when done. Having the weekend and the apartment all to ourselves, with the exception of some time Saturday when I had to work, we spent the whole weekend in rather intense play. I was happy to have the time to work on our Master/slave dynamic, which also helped to shore up our relationship all around. I believe that it helps everyone to feel like they belong and to have reasonable responsibilities appropriate to their abilities and place, whether that be in your employment or in your home. It might not be something we think about very often, but it is important all the same. I think these roles help give us both those things and this weekend reminded us of them. We also talked a little bit about how it would be more helpful for me to have a strong hand this week, for him to push me to be productive, rather than provide a sympathetic ear or leniency. I always do better when not home if I feel like I have to keep my shit together to help them out, like I try to do when they have a play weekend planned, when I want them to just enjoy themselves rather than have to worry about me.
But this morning it just wasn't enough. I couldn't stop crying, could barely drag myself out of bed to go to the funeral, couldn't bear to look at myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth before my shower. My therapist likes to promote the IMPROVE skill for distress tolerance- Imagery, (find) Meaning, Prayer, Relaxation, One thing at a time, Vacation, Encouragement. In the book, they talk about Imagery as being daydreams or remembering nice places, those kinds of things. But I had developed something else that I use as Imagery, though it might sound weird. I would imagine another me. She was the embodiment of all my reasonableness, calmness, and ability to comfort. She would talk down my panic and distress and anxiety. She would even stroke my face and my hair. When no one else knew the right thing to say, she did, because she was me and deep down I knew what I wanted to hear.
But sometimes it needs to be someone else that helps you. Or that part of someone else that lives inside you. Like when I needed the part of my uncle that lives inside me to tell me that I needed to get over the fears about being with Ginger and the Professor because they were causing me to suffer when deep down I had already made the decision to be with them.
Today it was the part of the Professor, the part of my Master, that lives in me that I needed. I'd spent so much of this weekend with his words in my ear that conjuring up his voice wasn't difficult. He wrapped a hand around my wrist and held it to my heart. He told me that being a good girl was more than just what I did at home but it was doing what I needed to do out there in the world, but that he knew I was a good girl and he wouldn't ask me to do something that he didn't think I could do, so I needed to get cleaned up and go. I could cry as much as I needed to while there, because that was ok, but I needed to go. That is when my tears stopped. No not for the day, but until I got to the funeral, when I got to have a good and proper cry, because I was good and properly sad, over the loss of my client and all the losses it reminded me of.
But, as I told the Professor later, it reminds me that I need to keep in mind that being a submissive, being a slave, doesn't mean I am not strong. It is a controlled (by me) giving up of control, not a giving up of strength and I am stronger because of it, that sometimes I must be stronger just to do it. As much as anything else, the roles that he and I have developed and are developing are coping mechanisms that I do truly believe help me (and I hope help him) to deal better with our lives, our sexualities, our demons, and our love. But just as the dbt skills work to point me in a better direction than I had before, there is trial and error, adaptions for each situation and individual, and no one right answer.
I did go to the funeral. I cried shamelessly. I saw the casket to the gravesite. I ate lunch and reminisced and laughed with the family. The struggle never ends. The important part is that you are still struggling.