Black and White Thinking

Ok. So, I had intended to never post here again and talk exclusively about recovery on the YouTube channel I just started (YouTube: Borderline Bloke). This was once again a case of black and white thinking… something that I have a LOT of trouble with. In fact, this week’s episode on YouTube is going to be specifically on this subject.

Anyway, I’m still attracting ‘subscribers’ (or ‘followers’ or whatever it’s called on WordPress) and, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind posting something here every once in a while still. So, while I’m not going to be posting here as much as I used to, it appears that I will still blog occasionally.

For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, black and white thinking is the tendency to view the world through a lens where you only see extremes at either end of the spectrum, particularly in the case of people but in most other things do. The problem is that reality is gray.

I had a really difficult episode that started almost two weeks ago. I suffered through 5 days of insane terror. I  would wake up frightened, though I couldn’t identify anything I was specifically afraid of. It left me immobilized each morning. By noon, the fear would abate because I would be completely sapped of energy at that point. I was going to bed at 6pm every day while this was going on. When I got into therapy last Thursday and started to unpack what was going on, I identified some black and white thinking that I didn’t even know was happening. I have evidently been viewing myself as either the most horribly selfish person in existence or the most altruistic saint to walk the face of the earth. Obviously, neither of these are true but, until that moment, I didn’t even realize I was doing that. Now that I’m aware, I can stop and correct myself and so defuse some of the anxiety associated with alternating between those two beliefs.

The second case happened this morning at 1am. A little background first. I had a close friend over Sunday afternoon. It was an amazing visit and shortly after she left, I decided that I wanted to see more of her. A lot more. Yesterday, I texted her:

I want to let you know that I like the way I feel when I spend time with you and would like to try to do that more often. I have no idea what that might look like. The only yardstick I’m using is ‘more time with S=good’. I have no idea what your schedule looks like but my schedule is flexible. Would you like to get together sometime?

She responded in a very positive manner so I followed up with a proposal to meet in a local park to just hang out and chat. I haven’t heard back from her yet about that. That’s fine. She communicates very asynchronously via text and has a lot going on. Fast forward to 1am when I’m jolted awake by the belief that I crossed a line and that she now hates me and wants nothing to do with me. I was wide awake in about 15 seconds. For once, though, I recognized what was happening. I was able to take a step back. She is neither head-over-heels in love me nor does she despise me.

The ‘gray’ reality is somewhere in between. I know she loves me. While I don’t know if she’s interested in a potential romantic relationship, I do know she wants to spend more time with me. We’ll touch base sometime today and set some boundaries regarding our relationship. Even if it does start heading the romantic direction, she needs to know that I need to go super slow (though she probably already knows that).

And don’t think that I don’t think about whether I should even pursue a romantic relationship, given where I’m at in my recovery. Once again, I alternate between thinking that there is no reason I can’t start seeing someone and believing that I will never again be able to have an intimate relationship. I know about that one already, though, and can typically dismiss it pretty quickly these days with the knowledge that, with the right person and circumstances, such a relationship is possible.

And I was asleep again in under 5 minutes.

2 thoughts on “Black and White Thinking

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