"Now or Never". Something I wanted to write, NOW.

Here is a video about my photography & video installation, which I shot at the gallery and edited in this way to share with people who could not make it. It was really meaningful for me to build the installation in this year 2012. You know, I feel like, I went though a long dark tunnel, finally....
Anyway, if you have 4 minutes... Hope you enjoy :)

"Now or Never" - Photography & Video Installation at the show "10 under 40" River Gallery Fine Art Chelsea, MI from Toko Shiiki on Vimeo.

I shot this installation inside the River Gallery Fine Art in Chelsea Michigan.
Here is the artist statement: "Now or Never"
This is my internal journey with my little self, to reconcile my present with my past, something I've neglected for a long time.

One day the beginning of the winter 2012, I used a Holga (a plastic toy camera) and opened the shutter for a long time in a small dim room, and recorded myself on film. Not sure of what the outcome would be, I was very surprised when I first glimpsed the negative -- I felt I had captured a self portrait of me as both an adult and child.

For last several years, I had had one idea on my mind - through photography, could it be possible for me to “meet the little Toko”? After seeing the image, I felt a need to continue shooting in the same way: long exposure in dim light, finding images of myself as both adult and child, with the toy camera.

And I've been wondering and wandering… "Who connected the time?" "Where will they go?"

I'd love to write this out now, about one of the milestone-moments of my life...

I finally had the last step, out of the room. Two years ago or so, it seemed to be far FAR away: Having the day of "graduation" from my psychotherapy...  ...Truly speechless to have the moment. Anyway, finally got that day several days ago.
It was the moment I ended my therapy and also it's the beginning of... new chapter of my life journey/story.

...Anyways, THIS MEANT A LOT to me to have the day. The last question was "How do you feel now, about to have the last session?" ...something like that? I'm not quite sure because my mind became blank white instantly to hear that. "How do I feel????? I did not even know how I should feel?!?!?" I could not answer right away, actually until the end of the session. Before ending the session, I finally answered to the question, "I'm feeling so thankful" with tears, of joy.

The very first day, I didn't really know the reason why I was recommended to see the specific kind of therapist. I just needed help, so badly, asap. Confusion. Shame. Hatred towards myself. I felt like... as if I was about to explode, internally. But even so I didn't know why or what was really going on. I just hated to be like that. When I called the office, I was seeking help so badly but at the same time, I kinda... to be honest with you, half doubted about doing the therapy. "Does this really help...?"

There have been SO many things had to be processed, inside me but I didn't even know that. I was wondering why I had to dig holes inside me to pull those old darkness from my past, again. At first, it seemed to be silly thing to do. "Why does this help?" but at the same time, I had no other idea to make things better. So I decided to follow my therapist, since I committed to do the session with her. Anyway, I decided to be honest with her and also myself, as much as I could.

Before starting the session, I had somehow stayed at "reality" but so many times, I actually disassociated from "that". Sometimes, I didn't remember how long I 'went away' even in the middle of a conversation with someone, or in public spaces. I had huge panic waves. Sometimes another myself was staring at the whole situation. Hard to breath. Sometimes I could not hear well or see. I didn't quite feel "I exist in this world" and it was getting worse. Didn't know where to be, or go. But, how could I ask someone, "Could you please teach me how to be me? Could you please teach me how to live life? How to love myself? Who am I?" you think they are silly questions? But... really I didn't know how to figure out those things. ... at that time of my life, I didn't know what to do anymore, just by myself. I thought I have done a lot already before coming to US but I felt I completely lost any way to move forward. So... I decided to do anything she (my therapist) recommended me to do, or suggested me to do.
And... ..................Really truly, glad that I did not stop that until the end................ Already I really wanted to change my life when I was in Japan. I could not stand my life anymore. That's the reason why I decided to move to US and wanted to start over. Started learning English and saved money and came here, to learn what I really wanted. It was a big shift and seemed like changed a lot in good ways, BUT things were not that easy. The dark shadow part of myself was showing up in front of me gradually more often, which I was never expected before leaving Japan. Things were supposed to be getting better but mental status had been getting worse. I didn't know why, back then (Now I kinda knew why) But that's why I could FINALLY admit, "I need help". Very sad and hard but I had to admit that. (And I'm glad about it... now) I think......... I could not do this IF I had stayed in Japan. (It's different story, so I won't write now.)

...Now I more aware, unfortunately there are many people who could not have a chance to 'lean' (I'm not sure this word is correct) "you are precious being as just you are" from their care giver(s) which is usually parent(s). We all need the unconditional love and care when we are little. But many people didn't get that. ...And, many of us still somehow could find a way(s) to survive under the difficult circumstance, as a little one. And then... sadly those 'survivors' may form an abnormal personality development during such a difficult childhood - which also can develop self-hatred and self-harm issues. And all those old habitual unhealthy thinking patterns ARE really powerful and affect our lives, even became an adult. Notice or not, many people carry that in their lives. (I did too. I just didn't notice that before.) Yes, I am also one of them. I don't blame at my parents at this point but it was really not a good environment to live as a child. (seriously I didn't even think it was dysfunctional since it was the only family I knew and it was my everyday life.)  Anyway, again, it's another story. I stop now.

Until I started the therapy I didn't think in this way but actually, I believe now, the way of seeing world and interpreting events around me were most likely to be conditioned (I guess not everything but most of the things)  - "how to react" to some certain (positive things too but especially negative) things since I was little. It is a complete opposite from 'living now this moment' sort of zen mental status. Anyway, I mentally and physically reacted to some certain things in same or similar negative way, repeatedly... and hurt myself. Living with distorted cognition is really hard (if someone has been 'there', you may understand what I mean?) Anyway, I gradually could identify 'that' one by one with my therapist's support and guidance. It was quite new things to me. Gradually I could re-think and realize many illusions from past still affected my life negatively.
To be really honest, I sometimes still hear the negative voices inside me. But now, luckily I also instantly recognize that it came from past, not belong to my present time. It's all past! We can't change our past but at the same time, we no longer live in the past. We live now every new moment. He and she could never hurt me like used to and no longer need to hurt myself or dissociate from this body, in order to escape from that. The old voices can never completely bring me down in present time and future. I DO KNOW THAT now.

In order to really strongly believe/got to know 'that', I needed the all sessions with her. Session is basically re-learn self/life view and see the world with healthy mind's eyes. And also I needed to 'practice' some certain things for that, by myself, in my everyday life. I'm so fortunate that I have wonderful friends around me to support during the whole time. Truly. It was not easy but really great things to try anyway. I am really glad that I chose to do so.... Now, feel so much freer which is really wonderful and thankful... Those things used to bother me are not a big of deal anymore. Kind of feeling... "What was that?!?!?!" Anyway, huge relief..... ohhhhh... really.........

So... one more thing, I'd like to write. I haven't officially been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder since I didn't meet 5 criteria out of the 9 when I started the therapy (I believe that there were some other reasons not to be diagnosed. By the way, I met 4 criteria.) My therapist truly believes that people with BPD formed those issues because of the distorted cognition and it's all trauma related symptoms, and she cares more how to re-think/re-build proper cognition, rather than focusing on what the each client's diagnostic name is. So, I decided to go with that, instead of focusing on figuring out what the specific mental disorder I had lived with.

During the session, in fact I was actually diagnosed as "Depersonalization disorder" and "PTSD" as a matter of convenience (for my insurance reason, sort to speak), but I think... to be really honest, NOW I think...... more like, I had been a person with BPD traits. (To me, BPD seems to be an extreme case of PTSD.) Even if officially I wasn't diagnosed and/or I may have not been (it's... all in gray zone to find out. I would never be able to find this answer, and also it is not much important, at this point...), I saw those traits in me anyway. I may not have been like a typical BPD. My anger was not going outside or to others, instead towards myself. All those things stayed inside. So, more likely not many people even noticed all those dark harsh storms inside me. Anyway, my self-hatred level was REALLY high. Tended to think "all or nothing". Fear of abandonment. Dissociation.  ...actually, I used to do self-harm acts, too - it was before coming US, over 10 years ago from now (I wonder... if I had met a psychiatrist back then, I would have been diagnosed as BPD? I'm kinda wondering about that. And wondering... most likely the answer was "yes", if I have met a right psychiatrist back then. Once I learned more about BPD, I was like the high functioning BPD person, in many ways. Anyway...) I knew two people with BPD in my life (That's why I initially got to know about it) and I also experienced to ride on their emotional roller-coasters. It was... really hard, least to say. I felt huge pains from them. I knew they didn't even know how to stop or what to do. Of course, I could not rescue them even if I wanted. (maybe, , IF I had known about BPD more, I could have been able to support in much better ways rather than just being an enabler...) And then... I also had a fear of being like them, but (or because?) I knew they were very similar to me. I just could not open my emotion like them, but at the very bottom, I was very much like them. I knew "it" has been also in me.
...Anyway, no matter what my diagnosis was, it was really beneficial for me to learn what BPD is. Really. To me, people with BPD is like as if their little one inside them is screaming in the adult body, for longing love. Basically (I think) people with BPD think they are a piece of shit or garbage about themselves at the very bottom. And at the same time, wanting to be rescued by a perfect someone who can accept everything - including all those darkness. I mean everything.  When someone is coming closer to the people with BPD, and if he or she shows love, they test the person. And it - their requirement/expectation to the perfect rescuer - is most likely to escalate, higher and higher. Non stop. They REALLY need love but any kind of loving act towards them are never enough to feel they are truly fine and loved. Never ending test, in order to feel "This person REALLY would never abandon me?" It, from outside, looks like the act of "Come here-Go away" "I hate you! Don't leave me!" And of course, there is no such a "perfect" rescuer in this world, not only for people with BPD but also for anyone. The tragedy continues even if changing the rescuer again and again, UNTIL they notice that they need to take care of themselves by themselves and find a proper boundary with others. Also if there is any enabler around, they have to re-think their relationship. (If they truly care each other, they can rebuild their relationship, even if it's not easy. That's I believe, anyway.) 
Maybe for some people, this sounded like very complicated...? To me, very simple...
I think... Many of them just don't know yet; nobody but only the self can rescue the self. First, person with BPD needs to accept themselves as who they are and also accept nobody is perfect, including themselves, AND it's totally fine. If notice that, people around them can support (not rescue) with full of love and the person with BPD also gradually can accept the love from others too. Anyway, first, I say again, everybody needs to accept/love self who he or she is as he/she is.  Once got that, there are so many opportunities... I could write so much more about this kind of thing. Of course, it's all just my opinion/thoughts and some other people may think differently. Anyway... I stop now...

Bit about myself again.
...After moving here, trying so hard to feel okay and act okay. Doing my best in many ways. Starting with learning English and then photography, etc etc........ Only when I was producing something (art and music) or performing on stage, I felt I was truly there and didn't feel losing myself, but otherwise, it had been difficult. I could not feel that I existed anywhere. I first thought it may be because I live in a foreign country (which is... kinda made a lot of senses to me at first) but it had been getting worse and I was gradually really confused and noticed that it was really something wrong. And... yes got the point to ask help, finally. In fact, my therapist was surprised I had never seen any psychiatrists or therapists in my life after getting know me. But really, this was the first time to see someone for this reason. Really everything was new to me. And I really realized I needed that so bad.   Then, finally, I'm here, now...

My therapist told me, "used to... many people tended to think BPD don't have any hope to be cured. But it's really NOT true! I believe that that's the easiest to be cured among the other personality disorders." (note; having said 'easiest', but it's not that easy, of course. Need proper guidance and support. But NEVER impossible. THERE IS HOPE.) Anyway, I believe so too.  ...I wanted to write what she said; however, unfortunately I could not recall every parts of her words. (If I write her words, I want to do accurately. But I could not. Then... I found by chance someone wrote about BPD and its cure here which overlapped what my therapist said so I'll add the link here to enclose this post. If you are curious... And if someone has been struggling and don't know what to do, or want to feel freer from many things which tie you to darkness, it might help to know.  Maybe... anyway, just in case, I add the link.
So........ Love to you all. And I hope you love yourself, truly, in healthy good way. Even if you feel there is no future, everyday is new day and tomorrow must come.  Please keep going. You know, I do too.



Story behind the documentary movie, "Peace ∞ Piece"

Peace ∞ Piece - find a way to bring us 'peace of mind' from Toko Shiiki on Vimeo.
"Documentary about a 23-year-old girl, Ashley: Finding a way she has found peace through a struggle, and hoping to help others with their own struggles..." Featuring Ashley Hubbard.
Directed by Toko Shiiki
I have been working on a series, "Inner-life documentary" since 2009, in order to visualize what has been really going on inside me. At the same time, I started a psycho therapy to overcome my own struggle (with mental disorders). I'm now at almost the end of my therapy. By going through the internal journey, I have learned a lot. Especially, how important to truly love ourselves/be kind to ourselves, that's fundamentals of happy healthy peaceful life. I tried to find the best way to express what I have learned but I could not get it right away. While I was searching the right medium to express that, fortunately Ashley shared her story with me. It resonated so well. At that moment, I believed that I must document Ashley; through her, I could deliver the message gently and also powerfully to others. To do this, I thought I must make a movie, instead of photographing her. This is, for me, for the first time to make a movie but once I have done, I have even more stronger belief inside me, and really want to share many people who might find benefit from this. I have a confidence that the message of this movie will reach a wide audience, of course, especially someone has trich but also who are coping with their own struggles.

I'm truly thankful to Ashley. She is a special gift for me. She has shared her wise soul. She talks so genuinely. Every single part what she shared was a treasure for me to capture. Yes, of course, without her, I could never do this. I feel the whole process to make this movie; I tried to find how to express this, and Ashely told me her story, and then hosting the origami workshop and on that day I had a camera with me which can film (I didn't plan to do shoot movies on that day), IS meant to be...

Like Ashley also said inside the movie, I also think maybe there will be step-backs every once in a while, in my life, also. But, even so, I now feel okay. I have faith that I can come back here and continue to move forward.

Lastly I'd like to say.... "Even if you feel alone, believe me, you are not alone."

Thank you... with love,




Finally I could release this "Peace ∞ Piece" Documentary Movie which I have been working on...

Peace ∞ Piece - find a way to bring us 'peace of mind' from Toko Shiiki on Vimeo.
"Documentary about a 23-year-old girl, Ashley: Finding a way she has found peace through a struggle, and hoping to help others with their own struggles..." Featuring Ashley Hubbard.
Directed by Toko Shiiki



Why "Now"? - so, here is my answer...

Not many people visit or read this blog (according to the "Stats" of this blog), which is fine with me, but every once in a while I receive such a nice personal message from friends ;) Thank you so much...

After the entries I wrote about my "internal" journey recently, I received this question:
 "Why is this reflection coming out now?  because your therapy is ending now?"

You know, this is actually I also wanted to write out in order to keep "the moment" vividly inside me, because I sense this would become one of my milestones, in future. Really a significant moment for me.

So here is my answer... ;)

I think it's because...  .........
I could re-visit to my childhood internally by doing the session with my therapist. I could See, Feel, Think, and then Digest those things, once again. (most of them, when I was little, I could not even understand what was really going on around me) In the whole process, I could find pieces of a big puzzle one by one, and finally I could put all the puzzle pieces together and could see the picture formed from them. The picture shows "my life". One day, I had a huge "Uh-Huh!!" moment by putting all those memory pieces together and saw the overall view of that. Then I burst into tears. Not because of sadness but happiness to be able to see that, and witnessing, "I'm finally here, now. I can see the overall view from here where I am now." It is as if I'm standing on a hill to see the wide view of my life (so far), underneath. And... it was not that bad...
And on the same day, right after I had the huge "Uh-Huh!!" moment, when I was swimming in my favorite swimming pool (because it is a salt water pool! I feel I'm purified by swimming there), I felt as if I was going through some kind of transparent membrane in the water, and then felt enormous amount of love, to myself.  TO MYSELF! Huge appreciation to the all 'myself' inside me who came to now, baby Toko, little Toko, teenager Toko, adult Toko... I felt my body shape became long inside the water. All the stories of myself were inside the long body.  At that moment I just wanted to scream, "Oh! Thank you!! I love myself!" and wanted to celebrate that. "Thank you for somehow continuing to swim until "Now". You know that? You went through that! I love you, Toko!" Maybe nonsense to other people. But I felt 'this' so strongly.
...I do know this is really a self-centered internal conversation and I'm shamelessly writing this in this sort of public space. But honestly, I really felt so, at that moment. Such a thing was... for the first time, in my life. I really glad that I could have the moment.

My self hatred was SO strong since I was little. Somehow because of that, ironically I could cope with the difficulties, in the past. But also because of that, I created lots of problems. Now I'd like to say, "I can't say what I have done in the past were right or wrong but at least I can clearly say I'm glad anyhow I came here, now! Good job, Toko! Don't have to feel the self hatred anymore." Huge grief and then warmth emerged from deep inside me.

To be honest with you, every once in a while, I still have the moment: going back to the darkness I have held inside me for a long time, but even so I can go through that, again and again. I believe so. I am okay to swim forward. Keep going.

So, after the moments, I wanted to write about all the reflections. I hope this somehow makes sense to you. No?

Thank you for asking this...





A poem resonates with me so well, deeply

I'd love to share this ;)

By Lynn Ungar

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

Part 3: So... my own story, and...

*****  3 *****

When I was young, no body actually listened to me. Or in other words, I could not trust anyone that I could tell true feelings if it was including negative things because I felt nobody could accept such things. Even with my mom. I don't mean I'm blaming at her.  NO.  She had been struggling for lots of things in her own life. Then unfortunately she was often emotionally absent when I was little. Of course, I know she deeply loves me. Anyway she is not a listener type of person. She has idealized me as what she wants me to be and if I have done something different from what she expects me to do, she just can't accept it. Those things hurts her so badly. So, I could not talk with her honestly or ask her opinion or something like that. Still I talked to her but it was like sharing a report what I have done. I never told her current thing at the present time. I rather listened to her. Her husband/ my father had been really an abusive person until he left from the place. We rarely could be relaxed with him. My mom also needed supports to survive in the water flow.

My mom's mom had really strong BP traits. She had never been diagnosed by any psychiatrists but her physician talked about her emotional issues. And people around her knew a lot about the traits and I do know she had been suffered for the way to live. Actually it caused lots of problems in her life. When my mom was young, she hated her mom. She wanted to escape the place so badly but at the same time she could not do so until her sister became a bit older (she was truly afraid that her mom accidentally killed her baby sister). We absolutely knew she loved us from heart but it was very difficult to have enjoyable time together. (note! we still have good memories too! and again, I love my grandma from heart... She lived her life, in her own way.)

The person who took my mom to outside world with his passion was my father. He is a person who has lots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits. Actually really a lot. It makes sense to me that my mom was attracted to him when she was young. She told me, "I really wanted to leave from the house and it was like as if he kidnapped me out of the place, with his confidence and passion. When I was young, I really admired his strong self-confidence." However, his self-confidence is not the true strong stable thing.

He called her "idiot" instead of calling her name (or something like that.) He treated her as a very inferior person. He also treated me in that negative way. What he was saying to me was, because of my mom and me, he had to live in the limitation. He lost his freedom, etc. He blamed at us in many ways. Unfortunately the marriage/ family relationship had given us (our self-esteems) huge damage. Luckily my mom could find herself after the separation from him, but it was truly hard lesson for her. I am truly proud of my mom who could get through the rough path and now she could see a calm ocean in front of her. And I can say exactly same thing to me too. I am proud of myself to get here now.

Anyway, I wasn't diagnosed but really the three are enough for me to consider I have been struggling with some BP traits (or AC traits or whatever it is, the distorted thinking/responding patterns). Once I noticed about that, I could face the weakness in me even if it hurt my feelings (and felt huge shame too). I could talk with my therapist why and how I developed those distorted way to see or think through my life. It helped me a lot. It was also very painful to face the screaming child who has been longing to be loved for a long time, inside me. I even thought how people could possibly love the little one? It was really the hardest pain to notice about the feeling I even had. I started talking with her and I became the person who gives the words which she wanted to hear so badly. Yes, we became great friends. I love her, the little one, i.e., myself, finally. And once I could identify those traits and the deep root of the reason why I have held them inside me, I have been gradually releasing them. That IS really an amazing experience...

I'm now standing at the point which is very close to the ending of my therapy.
Because my traits or in other words, the distorted thinking patterns have been so deeply rooted for a long time, I may still go back to the dark place in future. But now, I have the place where I can always come back and see/find myself standing with my own feet, inside the deep forest. I also have the landmark to find the place in the forest, so, even if I lose my way again, I will be okay... That's my belief and relief.

(I might write more, later. But for now... finish!)

Part 2: More about BPD and AC

*******  2  *******

I was a listener. I listened to people who needed my help a lot. I also wanted somebody to listen to me so badly but at the same time, I had a doubt that someone could accept me if I showed the real myself, including that one who has been screaming for help deep inside.

And I knew I also have some BP traits in me. They were hidden but I knew they were there. Most likely nobody noticed usually. But I know that.

To be officially diagnosed as BPD, the individual has to meet 5 out of the 9 criteria which are written in the DSM-IV-TR. I don't quite have 5 of them so I have never been diagnosed and my therapist also said, "I don't think you are with BPD. And whatever the name is, I'd like to focus what is inside you, rather than the classification. The reason why you needed to develop the thinking patterns or responding patterns. Many people with BPD also have needed to learn the distorted thinking pattern to survive in their hard circumstance when they were little. I personally believe that the diagnosis itself doesn't help much. But we can release the distorted thinking patterns by listening to the voice or scream inside" (I appreciate this her approach a lot. Truly helped me.)

In any case, I knew 3 of traits I have/had in me.

Here are the 9 criteria of BPD: (from the site: http://www.palace.net/llama/psych/bpd.html )

1. Shifts in mood lasting only a few hours.

2. Anger that is inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable.

3. Self-destructive acts, such as self-mutilation or suicidal threats and gestures that happen more than once

4. Two potentially self-damaging impulsive behaviors. These could include alcohol and other drug abuse, compulsive spending, gambling, eating disorders, shoplifting, reckless driving, compulsive sexual behavior.

5. Marked, persistent identity disturbance shown by uncertainty in at least two areas. These areas can include self-image, sexual orientation, career choice or other long-term goals, friendships, values. People with BPD may not feel like they know who they are, or what they think, or what their opinions are, or what religion they should be. Instead, they may try to be what they think other people want them to be. Someone with BPD said, "I have a hard time figuring out my personality. I tend to be whomever I'm with."

6. Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom. Someone with BPD said, "I remember describing the feeling of having a deep hole in my stomach. An emptiness that I didn't know how to fill. My therapist told me that was from almost a "lack of a life". The more things you get into your life, the more relationships you get involved in, all of that fills that hole. As a borderline, I had no life. There were times when I couldn't stay in the same room with other people. It almost felt like what I think a panic attack would feel like."

7. Unstable, chaotic intense relationships characterized by splitting.
Splitting: the self and others are viewed as "all good" or "all bad." Someone with BPD said, "One day I would think my doctor was the best and I loved her, but if she challenged me in any way I hated her. There was no middle ground as in like. In my world, people were either the best or the worst. I couldn't understand the concept of middle ground."

8. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
Alternating clinging and distancing behaviors (I Hate You, Don't Leave Me). Sometimes you want to be close to someone. But when you get close it feels TOO close and you feel like you have to get some space. This happens often.
Great difficulty trusting people and themselves. Early trust may have been shattered by people who were close to you.
Sensitivity to criticism or rejection.
Feeling of "needing" someone else to survive
Heavy need for affection and reassurance
Some people with BPD may have an unusually high degree of interpersonal sensitivity, insight and empathy

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

I see, I have (had) the 5, 8 (not exactly but some parts), and 9 in me. I was diagnosed as Depersonalization Disorder because of 9 but I have been wondering if it's more like one of BP traits. My therapist has treated me as a person who has been struggling for PTSD or as a child abuse survivor/ Adult Children (AC). I think many people develop BPD have also experienced difficult childhood. So, for me, the line between BPD and AC is really vague. And some AC traits are overlapping with BP traits too. Here is excerpt from "A Primer on Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Dr. Timmen L. Cermak

1. Fear of losing control.
ACoAs maintain control of their feelings and behavior. In addition, they try to control the feelings and behavior of others. They do not do this to hurt themselves or others, but because they are afraid. They fear their lives will get worse if they lose control and they become uncomfortable and anxious when they cannot control situations, feelings, and behaviors.

2. Fear of feelings.
Since childhood and continuing as adults, ACoAs have buried their feelings (especially anger and sadness). In addition, theyʼve lost the ability to feel or express emotions freely. Eventually they fear all intense feelings, even good ones such as joy and happiness.

3. Overdeveloped sense of responsibility.
ACoAs are hypersensitive to the needs of others. Their self-esteem comes from how others view them. They have a compulsive need to be perfect.

4. Guilt feelings.
When ACoAs stand up for themselves instead of giving in to others, they feel guilty. They usually sacrifice their own needs in an effort to be “responsible.”

5. Inability to relax/let go/have fun.
Having fun is stressful for ACoAs, especially when others are watching. The child inside is terrified; exercising all the control it can muster to be good enough just to survive. Under such rigid control, spontaneity suffers.

6. Harsh, even fierce, self-criticism.
ACoAs have very low self-esteem, regardless of how competent they may be in many areas.

7. Denial.
Whenever ACoAs feel threatened, their tendency toward denial intensifies.

8. Difficulty with intimate relationships.
To ACoAs, intimacy equates to being out of control. It requires love for self and expressing oneʼs own needs. As a result, ACoAs frequently have difficulty with sexuality. They repeat unsuccessful relationship patterns.

9. Living life as a victim.
ACoAs may be either aggressive or passive victims. They are often attracted to other “victims” in love, friendship and work relationships.

10. Compulsive behavior.
ACoAs may work compulsively, eat compulsively, become addicted to a relationship or behave in other compulsive ways. ACoAs may drink compulsively and become alcoholics themselves.

11. Tendency to confuse love and pity.
Because they donʼt differentiate between these two emotions, ACoAs often “love” people they can pity and rescue.

12. Fear of abandonment.
In order not to experience the pain of abandonment, ACoAs will do anything to hold on to a relationship.

13. Tendency to view issues in terms of black or white.
When they are under stress, the gray areas of life disappear and ACoAs see themselves facing an endless series of either/or alternatives.

14. Tendency toward physical complaints.
ACoAs suffer higher rates of stress related illnesses (migraine headaches, ulcers, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.) than the general population.

15. Suffering from delayed grief.
Because the alcoholic family does not tolerate intensely uncomfortable feelings (such as sadness and anger), children in such homes rarely, if ever, grieve over their losses. Losses in their adult lives usually cannot be felt without calling up these past feelings. As a result, ACoAs are frequently depressed.

16. Tendency to react rather than to act.
As children, ACoAs became anxious and hyper vigilant. They remain so in their adult lives, constantly scanning the environment for potential catastrophes. Problem solving and stress management techniques are something they consider after the fact if at all.


Yes, I have (had) many AC personality traits.
Also, there are subtypes of BPD which is unofficial (I have read so) but I have seen lots of people who suffer for BPD have talked about it in the online supporting groups. And I learned they are very intriguing to know. And I believe that someone who suffers for BPD, knowing this might help too. Anyway, here they are:

Low Functioning Borderline―The “Low Functioning” borderline is what most people think of when they are first introduced to the condition. Low functioning BPDs are a living train wreck. They have intense difficulties taking care of their basic needs, are constantly experiencing mood swings. They also have an extremely hard time managing any sort of relationship with another human being. Low Functioning BPDs are often hospitalized more than other BPD types, for the very reason that they canʼt live productively without constant coaching and supervision. These patients are challenging for all but the most experienced psychiatrists. Unless otherwise treated, low functioning borderlines lead self destructive lives and attempt to manipulate those around them with desperate acts, including self harm (cutting, etc.).

High Functioning Borderline―The High Functioning Borderline Personality shares many core aspects of the low functioning borderline personality, except for the fact that they can manage their lives, appear to be productive, and generally keep their relationships civil (even diplomatic in nature). High Functioning borderlines can appear to be normal, driven people one moment; then moody, inconsolable, and manipulative the next. Somehow, there is a mechanism within the minds of High Functioning Borderlines that allows them to lead somewhat “competent” lives, despite the fact that they are in a constant battle with BPD. High functioning BPDs are no better than low functioning: itʼs basically the same face wearing a different mask.

Extroverted Borderline―Anyone familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality tests will understand the psychological differences between extroversion and introversion. When these characteristics are mixed with BPD, there are two different results. The Extroverted Borderline pushes all their feelings, fears, manipulation, rage, and moodiness outward to the people around them. In essence, if you are around an extroverted BPD, you feel like youʼre living through their emotions while coping with your own at the same time. Further, extroverted BPDs will attempt self abusive acts in plain view of others in order to avoid abandonment or to express their rage. For example, an Extroverted BPD might cut themselves and then immediately share it with family and friends around them, hoping to gain sympathy or attention. In most cases, these types of behaviors frighten non-Borderlines, and they wonder whether or not the Extroverted BPD should be committed to a psych ward.

Introverted Borderline―Contrary to popular belief, “introverted” doesnʼt necessarily describe someone who is a recluse (agoraphobic). Instead, introversion is characterized by experiencing life in a self-reflective, private, and at times distant manner. To others, introverts may appear shy or lacking in people skills. This might be true, however, introverts make up for their lack of social skills with rich inner lives, thoughts, and deep thinking. As a result, the introverted Borderline primarily focuses all their BPD emotions and reactions inward. Instead of having a rage episode in public, they might retreat to their rooms and cry for hours on end, perhaps even cutting themselves for their own amusement or as stress relief. Introverted Borderlines live in an odd world: on one hand, they spend most of their time in personal thought and reflection, looking to fill themselves with a viable sense of self; but on the other, they are conflicted by emptiness and the bottomless emotional pit that BPD produces. Introverted BPDs might be harder to “spot” unless you happen to know one personally, in which case you might notice occasional depressive symptoms and evidence of self harm.

Transparent Borderline―The Transparent Borderline is a bit of a mix between a high functioning borderline and either extroverted or introverted tendencies. In plain terms, Transparent Borderlines live double lives: on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different. As a result, they may or may not be high functioning due to this conflicted state of mind. Transparent Borderlines spend most of their emotional energy trying to balance the personality demands of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the both of which experience strong BPD emotions like anyone else with the disease. Like Introverted Borderlines, Transparent Borderlines are harder to spot, and often only confess their true disposition after a harrowing rage, major break up, or other severely traumatic event that brings all their BPD
feelings to the fore.


(to be contined)

Part 1: Things about what I learned, thought, noticed, by experiencing/ swimming in my own life river

Every once in a while I write what I have felt, noticed, and learned by experiencing my life which is to me as if I'm swimming in a river/ water current. Someday, I'll get to a boundless expanse of ocean... and become a part of it and will be released...

I have done this kind of writing around 10 years ago (it became more than 100 pages long essay at that time! I kept writing for three years. That one, I wrote in my own native language. This time, I chose to write this in English since most of my life now, I think in this language.)

After moving to US, I have experienced so many new things in this my new home-base. 7 years passed. And now, I strongly felt the time has come; I need to write out my thoughts to clarify something inside me, again. I have started this for my own sake, but I gradually wonder... there may be, also for someone, something interesting to read...? Maybe no one will find anything in this. But, it's still okay. Anyway, so I decided to post what I wrote, here. This is really long so I will divide it into some parts.

So... here is Part 1.

For some people who have suffered and haven't known the clear reason why they have many difficulties in life, being diagnosed as a certain mental, developmental, or personality disorder(s), may help those individuals to accept why they have been struggling. It may give them a clue to understand their pains and the self. So, for those who are suffering with their behavioral patterns/ way to live and see things in their lives, diagnosis can be a supportive thing. But also, I think, what people can understand by being diagnosed is still just like standing at the entrance of the big forest. You may be able to feel what kind of place the forest is from the entrance too, but it is really so much deeper. If people truly want to know what is inside, they can go further and may be able to find things much more...

Those individuals who have been diagnosed as same disorder may have some similarities but never the same (I felt sometimes the people being diagnosed as the same disorder can even have polar opposite traits). Even if someone has been diagnosed his or her disorder as such and such, the diagnosis/disorder is NOT all about the person. ...I know I have been writing this in a very redundant way, but really I encountered several situations that some (actually many) people were as if they believed individuals with same disorder were the same.

Additionally, I feel the DSM-IV-TR has a really significant limitation. Of course, those specialists/psychiatrists are most likely not to use it like as a cooking recipe book, in order to diagnose people (I hope so!) but I have heard several stories that even the specialists have diagnosed people incorrectly (Again, I believe that they were not only using the DSM-IV-TR to diagnose but also counseling, etc.) The psychiatrists may prescribe some medications which might help the people temporarily but I don't think that is the final solution for people who suffer from their difficulties in life.

Some guide book type of things for people whose loved one with such and such personality or developmental disorder, I found the advice by the specialists/authors are useful but also have the dangerous possibility of stigmatizing or generalizing each individual who has gotten his or her diagnosis. I felt by reading the advice, as if people assumed individual with a such and such disorder ARE "this" (generalize them) so we should do "that" if you have to interact with them. I felt those things are sometimes very insensitive for people who got a diagnosis; because (again I say) each one is different and differently suffering even if the consequences what they have done might seem similar from others on the surface level.

Like I said the advice from the guide book and so on, might be useful for people in order to take care of themselves, who have been struggling because of difficult interactions with people with difficult personality traits. (Of course, most of the time, those books are for those caretakers and not for people who suffer for a disorder) However, I'd like to state my views of this again, the advice such as how to interact with those who are with complicated personality or developmental disorder, could cause unwanted stigmatization. I think there is no clear 'textbook' type of thing to give people the right answers for each relationship.

(note: I still think, for some people following the advice may work for improving their relationships and, in the consequence, if it helps the people with a disorder, to ease their emotional conflicts out, it will be wonderful. But it is not easy. Anyway no matter what each people tries, nobody can change or rescue others but only the individual who wants to change, can do.)


From here, I'd like to focus one personality disorder which is Borderline Personality Disorder, a.k.a BPD. For me, BPD is a very familiar personality disorder even before I knew the name. I heard the name for the first time in my twenties from my ex-boyfriend who was diagnosed as BPD. I have read about it and noticed later that I tended to be attracted to people who have lots of Borderline personality traits. No longer I do at this point of my life, but when I was young, I chose to be with people who have BP traits.

Now I knew the term which describes what I have done to the people with BP traits; it is "enabling". Yes, I was an enabler who was very exhausted to take care of people who were struggling with a very high conflict emotional crisis, such as suicidal attempt, depression, drug abuse, and/or fear of abandonment. (note: again, there are many kind of "enabler"s out there. So I don't think the description from some books or articles is exactly match to what I was.) But at the same time, I needed to be asked "S.O.S" by those people. Why? Because, this is very complicated, so, many others may not be able to understand what I'm about to try to explain but... My reason was... I projected some parts of myself inside me, who was not able to come out, on those who with BP traits. I saw myself inside them. Their help, S.O.S messages were, to me, my S.O.S.. I said to them, "Trust me. I never leave you. I'm with you." when especially they had done terrible painful things to themselves (or me and others too). But actually I was saying so, to the part of myself inside me.

Now after experiencing therapy sessions, I call the parts inside me as my "inner child". Those words I said to them were exactly something I wanted to hear from someone. Taking care of them was actually equal to taking care of myself during that time. I envied people with BP traits inside. Why? Because, I also wanted to scream out like them. I wanted to hear someone to say, "I'm always with you. Even if other people hate you, I love you. If you can't control your emotion well and hurt yourself or others, No worry, I'll take care of you, for you. I'll be always on your side. I'm here for you."

I could not open the emotion like those who with BP traits. Instead, I hided the part of myself. Like I mentioned, each individual is so different and those people who have BP traits and asked me to help were very different from each other. But some of things they did to me and also I did to them had common sense. (Note: I only knew one of them was diagnosed as BPD but others were not. So I am not really sure whether they really were with BPD but I could see strong BP traits in them and because of that struggling a lot in their lives.) AND also I noticed later, actually I was the one who pulled the BP traits out of those people. Even if it was unconscious level of thing; however, instead of screaming out by myself, I have let those people scream and ask me to help, for me.

It was very complicated. I was really wanted to scream "help!" and someone to say me "I love you. I never leave you." But at the same time, I never wanted to be like them whom I chose to be with. I never wanted to be like, someone who say "I can't live without you" (needing someone to feel the individual is worthwhile to stay alive), asking help all the time, longing for acceptances (even by doing various things which are usually hard to be accepted). I have a fear of "having fear of abandonment". I have fear of being a needy person. Instead, I want to stand alone and be a strong person. That's the reason why I chose those people who could do that for me. In this dynamic of relationship, I could be a rescuer. (But actually now I know, I also needed those people to need me. Without being needed, I could not believe I was worthwhile to live. In that case, at the very bottom,
we both were same. In the same vortex...)

I believed that during that time, I loved them but now I have a doubt: I just tried to accept or love the screaming myself inside me, by doing so? I don't even know whether I really loved them... Could I love myself deep inside by taking care of those who? The answer is no. No way. I may have felt so temporarily but never truly. When I decided to leave from those individuals, I really hated myself even more strongly. (I could not take the emotional roller coaster type of relationships forever and ended the relationships with every one of them but I always chose same type of person again, and again.) The end of my twenties, because of one of my relationships with the person who was with BPD, I could get a strong wake-up call inside me. After his suicide attempt by using his car, I also hit by another car accidentally, I literally flew away and hit my head and then felt like woke up from a long nightmare. "WHAT AM I DOING?" In the ambulance car to a hospital, I laughed at myself and the whole situation. I decided to completely separate from the individual who has been suffering with his emotional conflicts/ BPD and any of those who has the traits, basically someone needs unhealthy attachment.

It was not easy time to recover from the injuries, physically and even more mentally. I was depressed and hard to do anything. I stayed inside and was alone most of the time.
And one year later, finally decided to change my life. I truly exhausted to be like that I used to. I really wanted to do something that I wanted to do for myself in order to re-build my life. I decided to move to the US to learn photography. To do so, I studied English and saved money crazily. It was really beginning of the great change.

Make long story short, finally I moved to the US and started learning photography. It was really truly amazing experience. I felt I could find a vehicle that I could express something inside me and then could fly freely (internally)! Until I graduated from my college, I finally felt I was here for myself, now. It was truly great feelings to have. However, after my graduation, simply, I lost again. I really didn't know where I was and where I could go from the point. I felt no road to walk forward. Depressed.

(to be continued)


Uploaded new images onto my site.........

I wrote this kind of thing on my site so it's kind of redundant but... anyway....
Since 2011 winter, I have focused on myself as a photo subject. Through many different points of view, I have been searching and learning about myself and life, examining the past and present to find out where I am, internally. I am not sure whether I know then now where I am or who/what I am but... I think more important thing (rather than having the conclusion) is continuing learning that in life. Live with the questions.

I have never concentrated on myself for this long time span... Before starting this "Inner-life Documentary series", (which I named this btw) I never thought I would photograph myself like this many. Really...

2 years ago, Summer 2010, I decided to focus on my issues inside me. After then, I have been really continuously finding many many things in me. I'm still in the process of learning but now - after 2 years passed, I can say, I have learned a lot. I could gradually accept me as just I am, too...  

I didn't upload the one of the series which I started in March. I just finished the prologue. Anyway, unusually I've been excited about this images. It'll need some more time to continue this journey, which I feel so fortunate and thankful......

Anyway... If you are curious what I have been creating... it is on my site, at "Inner-life Documentary Series"..............





"Grief Moment"

When I was much younger (during early teenager), many times I said to myself - "I want to be a strong person"

... I thought a strong person was someone who would never be sad or down because of what other people had done to the person, or no fear against anything in life, or didn't cry much, or could fight against something wrong bravely, or could say what he/she thought honestly to anyone.

Maybe they are also not wrong (there is no specific correct answer for this, I think... each people might think differently) but...
...but then, now, at this point of my life, I think... "a strong person" is more like... someone who can face to their own weakness/shadow and instead of closing eye or running away from them, rather, confront the shadow inside themselves (even if it's with a huge pain) and, even if deep darkness covers up them and can not see well, still never give up to step forward.
To do so, I think it's okay to cry too. It's okay to have grief moments. (I could not cry at all when I was little. I'm now telling, "You can cry. It's totally okay thing.") Also I think it's okay to feel fear. It's okay to ask a help when I needed. And then once the tear-clouds has gone and became clear sky spread in myself, again, move forward...
Every time I have a grief moment, something melting inside me. Something has been purified deep inside me.

...I believe that this is not only the way to be strong but to me, this is very significant thing to keep in my mind.

I can cry now. Actually I somehow cry everyday. With or without reasons. I didn't know that I have needed this for a long time. I've been little by little, releasing and..........