My Plate is Full [enough].

One of the hallmark symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder is chronic feelings of emptiness. It's one of those things that is really hard for me to explain to my non-suffering buddies. It seems so abstract - but I suppose it really feels abstract too. Some describe it as an inescapable boredom, but good lord, it is so much more than just being bored. Before I had any psychology words to explain it, I just called it The Void. When you are a biologically sensitive person and your feelings are invalidated as your brain develops, things get wired in a way that leaves us feeling deeply out of touch with ourselves. It's not just that we don't know what to do; we aren't just running around anxiously trying to find something to do with our time. If that was the crux of it, it'd be called Anxiety. It's that we are not sure how to get our needs met, how to meet our own needs, or how to ask someone else to meet them in a healthy boundaries kind of way. Sometimes it means we don't know how to act or what to say, not just what to do. We just know some need somewhere in our bodies has gone unmet and we are at a total loss on how to fill it. No, that's not right either. It's not just one unmet need, it's a lifetime of unmet emotional needs. We could handle the one time; it's the lifetime of it that leaves a chronic emptiness in its wake.

So, with all that being said, this has been a huge focus for me over the last few years, especially in the 3 years I have not been emotionally involved in romantic relationships. Up until my last relationship, co-dependency was my preferred way to fill the void. I'm sure it comes at no shock to those reading this that unhealthy and co-dependent relationships are most definitely not the solution to this problem.

"Creating a life worth living" is a lot of learning how to fill your own cup, finding hobbies and activities that make your time on this planet feel like more than merely existing. When your sense of self is off kilter, it's hard to feel like you're doing anything other than just enduring existence each day. I won't declare that my plate is full; I still have moments in The Void. But, I can say that my plate is "full enough," to where I don't feel like I am merely existing, to where I have activities to look forward to doing when I get home from work, to where I am not putting all of my emotional and existential needs onto a romantic interest.

To tie this back to DBT skills, I think most of what I am talking about here relates to some Emotion Regulation skills, specifically reducing vulnerability skills, like: accumulating positive emotions by finding activities that I enjoy doing, building mastery by trying new hobbies and learning how to care for myself, and considering my values and priorities and creating goals to satisfy them. I've also come to realize that I can't entirely handle a plate overflowing with options, because that becomes too overwhelming for me. I can very easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed with options. I am learning to find my limits and honor my boundaries, and that's why I say "my plate is full enough."

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