The first mindfulness session in my MCBT group

‘Focus on your left toes. Become aware of them more so than anything else. If you feel nothing, become aware of that nothingness. Try not to visualize them, but to feel aware of them completely.’

My toes. Big, second, …pinky, can’t really distinguish third and fourth. Maybe…well no not really. I’ve done this before. A relaxation technique to go to sleep, from my mom – tense everything really hard and then piece by piece relax, starting from your toes up to your head. If I really concentrated, I never got to my head. So much trouble sleeping as a teenager, no trouble now.

What are other people doing? Are they struggling to capture that feeling? At least I’ve got prior practice under my belt. Don’t be ridiculous, you’re not better than them – I’m so much younger – shut up, you shouldn’t be wondering about them you should be doing this yourself. Go back to the feeling in your toes.

Moving up to the ankle. The shin.

Whack – image of a scar, image of myself wielding a knife, high and sharp, down upon my skin –

Well I’m not going to cut now, stupidness. One hell of a start to the class. End to the first class. Whatever. When I get home I should work on the application, the opening paragraph or I could at least send a reminder, or work on – shut up. Class? Hello? Exactly what they were talking about, not being able to be present, not being able to focus, not able to concentrate, always future, not good, not good –

Bam – smack on my skin, smack again and again, fast and angry, ignoring Patrick’s cries to stop, ignoring pain, ignoring blood, can never cut deep enough, too cowardly, too scared to really hurt and end up in the hospital –

‘Turn your attention to your thigh. Gently put your mind on it and become aware of any sensations. Pressing into the ground. Weight of your clothing…’

The thigh. The thigh. Breathe and think about the thigh. No not think about – become aware, focus – don’t force sensations, what if there aren’t any, just what’s there – scars are what’s there scars from before, scars from hating my failures, just return, I hate it I hate it I hate it the thigh, the thigh, please, thigh

Breaking things, not letting him take the knife away, scissors, knife, doesn’t matter, slashing, and biting, I deserve the hospital, take me away and take everything away from me, lock me up I’m a fucking basket case, I hate everything, I hate you – images of hitting Patrick, slashing at Patrick, blood and stabbing him, hurting him, screaming and police coming, taking me away, taking him away, putting me away, I’m insane I’m insane I’m dying I’m lost in a whirl of Patrick’s face being cut by my own hands, screaming and breaking things, backed into a corner, a wounded animal clawing at invisible monsters

I’m crying. My face is screwed up and my body is tense as ropes on a storm tossed ship. My hands are twitching to move with the nightmares. The waking nightmares. Get me out of here. Make the class end. I can’t stand her voice. Make it stop, make it stop!

After an eternity, the class ended. I doggedly made for the door, shoulders down, aiming for the escape, while well-meaning class members who had been blessed with sleep or success wished me a good week. With forced smiles and short comments, I ran from their delaying words, desperate for home.

The world was returning to normal, the waking nightmare slipping away, leaving me alone to hate myself for failing.


2 thoughts on “The first mindfulness session in my MCBT group

  1. stacey1979

    you haven’t failed. Mindfulness exercises like that work for some people and not for others. They did absolutely bugger all for me and I thought them a complete waste of time. You know where mindfulness helps your BPD? When you’re experiencing an emotional overreaction and realise your BPD has been triggered. When you notice your mood. Because, when you notice your BPD is in control rather than you, that’s when you take the control back. The first time it happened to me (my Dad was explaining why I needed to check the oil in my car and I took it as criticism; major trigger for me, tears, anger etc), I suddenly understood what my CPN had been trying to teach me for 2 years (generally using raisins and toothbrushes!). Simply ask to opt out of the next time they do that exercise and explain why. They’ll understand. Ask, instead, to focus on something external. A pebble or feather, a bracelet or shoe. Something impersonal. And if it still doesn’t work, please don’t beat yourself up. Mindfulness is just ONE of the DBT skills that MIGHT help you. Good luck, and know that recovery IS possible.

    1. ardentmarbles Post author

      Oh, I agree completely. I suppose I should have mentioned this was almost two years ago. They did warn me that if I was in the midst of a depressive downturn, the class would be extremely difficult if not detrimental, but at the time of signing up my BDI was fairly normal. I struggled through, and nothing was so bad as that first day. Thank you for such kind words, and good advice!
      After I took a DBT session 6 months later, that’s when the mindfulness skills really set in. It really helped me begin to notice, as you say, and the noticing is the most important part – then you can take some action. Thank you!


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