Does Changing Mean Changing My Core?

Over the past few weeks I have been struggling with DBT. I know I shouldn’t be hard on myself and this has nothing to do with my ability or inability to grasp certain skills. I am fearful that by learning these skills I will lose who I am. I am a fighter, I am an emotional person. I know I cannot be super angry and emotional all the time and I do know that DBT is not about turning those parts of you off, but managing them, expressing them better, but I find myself wondering if by doing so I am conforming to the “acceptable” standards for women in my country.

I don’t know how to balance this. I hate being so emotional, but I hate, with more vengeance, the assumption from men that I should not get upset. Throughout my past relationships my wants, needs and emotions have been invalidated and I have attempted to modify myself to fit in with these men. It made me miserable. Even with my most recent ex and current relationship I find myself being told to “get over it” or “don’t let it bother you,” consistently but asking these men to CARE is simply a ridiculous suggestion. Why do I have to bend?

Do I need to be someone that people or like or can I just be someone I like? What does that middle ground look like? My emotions and how I express them are strongly rooted in my identity.

If anyone has any suggestions please share them in the comments. I would hate for this to be my downfall and I push aside learning helpful skills.


28 thoughts on “Does Changing Mean Changing My Core?

  1. It helped my marriage a great deal for me to constructively express that when he did X it made me feel invalidated, that when he said Y it triggered my rejection complex. Maybe if you have a receptive partner (if not, do you really want that relationship) you could let them know that you want to try to be constructive and that you’ll be letting them know how you feel when they do or say something that upsets you and that you could really use their help in managing your emotions. Hope that makes sense! Be well.

    • Doe being receptive include allowing that expression to come in different forms? I’m being told right now I have to be calm and that if I get upset then the conversation can’t happen. I can respect that but it feels so onesided.

      • Yeah I am pretty calm about stuff, very matter of fact. Being emotional somehow makes them think we’re irrational 😦

        I have been hysterical & told him that he’s making me want to die & he does respond to that. I don’t know if that’s helpful hon. XO

      • It’s hit or miss whether I get a response to that. It doesn’t help when he completely shuts down. I don’t know. He said we’ll meet on middle ground, I’m just confused about that is, how I’ll get to the middle, especially when I’m currently very upset about the entire situation.

      • For myself, I think I’m worth the love of the person I’m with and that I respect them so they should respect me. We have 3 kids together, so financially I wouldn’t have much choice but to put up with a bad situation, but if I wasn’t stuck I know I would demand that he accept and respect my conditions and my responses. He has had to come to meetings at the ends of my hospitalizations and they have drilled my legitimacy into him. Maybe you should take him to therapy? You are so worth it. Please don’t ever accept the notion that you aren’t.

  2. Can new and/or improved skills ever change a person’s core?

    How much are you willing to compromise so that more people will like you? Is your self esteem robust enough to accept that if you are who YOU like, then the people who do like you, will be the people you want to like you.

    That sentence got away from me somewhat and I have no idea whether it makes any sense.

    And I’m just offering an outside perspective, I most definitely don’t have all that stuff neatly sorted out 😉

  3. Many, if not most, people with BPD struggle with this. You are not alone. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. I don’t think that there are any clear-cut answers. I think you kind of have to figure it out as you go along. Each situation is unique.

  4. Life can be so painful. So sorry to hear about your struggles. When I hear things like this, my bitter self comes out. Maybe your partner is a nice guy for the most part, I do not have a clue. however, there is something seriously unkind/thoughtless, when one person tells another to, “get over it”. That is a unkind conversation stopper; they don’t care to listen to it anymore. that is just outright rude on his part. I have no use for folks like that in my life.

    ” if by doing so I am conforming to the, “acceptable” standards for women in my country.”
    I love this part, because I thought the same thing when i started CPT. I too was concerned it would take, “my ME” away, but what I have found is that I am now STRONGER in my core; I am better able to say what my needs are, the results have been very empowering.
    CBT/CPT forces me to be honest with my heart; you will not lose yourself, instead, you’ll find more of you to love and you will listen to yourself more fully. You will find more compassion for yourself and expect others to treat you well. You will have the strength to not take on their BS. Ya know when they say, If it is too heavy, set it down”? that is what I can do now because of CPT.
    Yes, it WILL change you, but not to conform, rather, to find your true inner self, whomever that may be. It will better prepare you for difficult situations in order to be stay true to your core.

    I know you will NOT lose your core self in this therapy if it is being done correctly. Your core will not change in any kind of hurtful/bad/ way; your amazing beauty will grow, so you can find your whole self. it will help you to see your beautiful uniqueness.

    I personally think you are pretty freakin’ awesome.

    • I am trying to support my partner is dealing with his issues. I know, and many of us do, that when our issues are unaddressed it is very difficult to be a support to someone in crisis or who is upset. I can respect that he doesn’t want fighting but I need him to understand that I am a fighter and one that is trying not to be. I’m scared, I won’t lie.

      I know I am stronger in my core, I just seem to bend a lot and it worries me. How far will I go before I say enough is enough?

      Thank you for your encouragement. It is much needed 🙂 xoxo

  5. I don’t have much advice for you, but I will say that I am struggling with this as well right now. It really is difficult to let go of those unhealthy patterns or behaviors when you identify with them so strongly. Good luck!

  6. I don’t know a lot about either BPD or DBT, but just from someone else who experiences emotions intensely- I kind of looking at it as meeting the world halfway. Everyone has slightly different sides of themselves they present in different places, though we all need a few close loved ones who can accept your full-fledged personality. (though even they need to draw boundaries at times!) I know with us autistic folk, we are often pressured to present fake emotions- especially in facial expressions, voice tone, body language to make ourselves more acceptable. Doing this typically just makes us feel more stressed, and more likely to have anxiety problems. Is there some way in which your partner could do couples therapy with you, or simply get some help explaining BPD, how it affects you and the treatment plan you are going thru. It’s important to have a “team” that is supporting you, and people who you know well and trust might be helpful in figuring out how to modulate your emotions while still being true to myself. One thing I do is try to be aware of what things make me upset (topics, places, people, activities) and avoid what I can’t handle (if this is possible and healthy- still have to pay bills even if it’s stressful) come up with a plan to deal with it in a way that will reduce anxiety factors, take breaks etc. One thing I just realized for myself is going thru another epic job search was something I just couldn’t handle, so I am starting to do house cleaning for people I know in my neighborhood. This reduces stress a lot for me!

    • I could try and explain things better but I don’t want to pathologize myself to him. It’s probably one of my best options right now. I am trying to support him in finding a counsellor so he can deal with his issues.

      I should be more aware of things that make me upset. It’s a little discouraging when I hear “everything makes you upset” but there are some definite no-no’s.

      Thank you for your encouragement. I really needed it 🙂

  7. The other thing I was going to say re: being a woman and “acceptably feminine emotions” is to be frank- #$%* gender roles basically. Figure out the person you want to be- as a human being- if you have behavior that is going on that is considered a problem for human beings period that’s one thing. But if it’s mostly “women have to act this way, but men don’t” well that’s nonsense. (Though I will add that gender roles are just as harmful for men and the “men can express anger, but not sadness” is BS too!)

    • It is BS lol which is why I get so angry. The subtle ways that gender can play in our lives regardless of how progressive we claim to be. I know that I love that I am emotional and am not afraid to be angry, I just need to learn to not care if people don’t like it.

  8. it is to all people’s advantage to learn to control their emotions better, and to quarrel or war less. however mostly what happens is men dont see a problem with their being emotional, because when they do it, somehow it is logical and manly. (What???) But they really despise women who can control their emotions, because then they can’t control those women by those very emotions.

  9. Dearest Pride:
    I can remember a time when I felt really strong explosive emotions in which I would display negative behaviors, such as cursing and yelling at people, or even getting into physical fights. Now that I have been on “mood stabilizers” for years and have had over ten years of counseling in both individual and group sessions, I finally seemed to have “calmed down”; however, I still have intense moments where I just want to throw darts into people’s eyes, especially when they say I should “calm down.”

    I learned other ways to express my emotions that I found to be more enjoyable than throwing the alarm clock at my significant other…and that would be artwork and/or poetry. Whenever my mind reels, it’s as if some extra light is forced into my brain and I could sit and write an awesome poem in just 5 minutes or less. Or, I’d grab my paints and just paint an abstract without any “conformity” whatsoever.

    I find it sad that your current relationship isn’t being very empathetic to your emotional self. He needs to love you for who you are, even on those “rainy” days. I think blogging is another great outlet to express your feelings. I know I use it to that extent sometimes. Most of my explosive self is gone; however, when someone crosses my boundaries or is disrespectful to me-I go off and generally vent to friends or blog.

    But your basic personality should NEVER have to bend just because you are told it is “unacceptable.” As long as you’re not breaking any laws, you ought to feel free to simply be yourself, no matter what others think. Blessings to you. – LaVancia

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement 🙂

      I have been trying to read a lot and started drawing (which is new for me). I’m not even explosive anymore so it’s very painful to hear that my progress still isn’t good enough but that’s because he wasn’t there for my explosions. I’m speaking with a friend tomorrow who has some more insight into all of this or at least will be real and empathetic with me.

      Thanks again.

  10. What you are talking about is why I opted not to use dbt, and why I stepped away from therapy all together. I know that doesn’t work for most people, but I’m doing much better since I’m no longer being told that I’m not good enough the way I am. Part of me thinks therapy can be harmful to some of us with bpd (though many have good experiences as well). It comes down to the fact that we are all different, and different things will help each of us.

      • Being in healthy relationships where I communicate what I am feeling. And watching Ted talks. Brene Browne’s talks on vulnerability really helped me. I’m not saying anything is easy, but when people care about how I actually feel and who I actually am, things are so much better. I’m not hanging around people that just want me in their box.

  11. Pingback: Gone Girl Gets Me | Pride in Madness

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