I've realized some things.
1. I'm afraid to be too honest with people. I'm afraid to let them know when they've hurt me, afraid my speaking up will make them feel badly. I would rather be the one feeling badly, and the more I care about someone, the more effort I will put into keeping them from ever feeling bad.
2. I don't react well to people being upset or angry or sad because of something I did (or didn't do). It means I've failed to keep them happy, that I'm useless, that I'm not good enough for them. If I were better, then I could keep them happy all the time.
3. I don't think much of myself. I sort of treat myself as expendable. I think that's why I have problems expressing negative emotions. If I feel sad or angry or upset in any way, most people around me would never know it - I'll pretend, I'll lie, I'll hide. I won't express it, not in front of someone; their happiness is worth more than mine and I don't want to upset them. If I do express anything negative, I seem to only be able to do it in self-destructive ways. I'll starve myself, or purge, or hurt myself. And then I'll feel better. Problem solved - it's a way of getting rid of something really negative without hurting anyone I care about.
Now that I re-read those three things, there's actually a lot of overlap between them. I'm only just starting to sort these things out. But the overlap's not important here.
What's important, is what these things mean. I think this explains my tendency to freak out and hurt myself.
Going back to what happened on Tuesday.... My boyfriend was angry (or strongly annoyed, as he rephrased more recently) about something I did. I felt horrible for doing something that made him unhappy. I didn't want to express that I was feeling horrible, because I was worried that would make him feel bad for being angry, and that would be counter-productive to my goal of making him happy again. So I kept it inside, went to the pub, laughed, pretended I was ok. When I was alone again, I still felt bad, and didn't know what to do with those emotions. So I hurt myself, stopped eating properly, and just generally did not take care of my body until I was feeling better again.
Normally, that would have been the end of it. Everything back to normal, no harm done to anyone I consider important. Except that the cuts on my wrist are still there, and are obviously self-inflicted. They won't leave scars - I never go deep enough for that - but I'm worried that he'll see them, guess at the cause of them, and feel bad about that. Luckily it's winter and I can keep them covered most of the time by wearing long sleeves, but because of our relationship, I can't hide them forever without it becoming suspicious. I'm just hoping they'll heal before he does notice.
Obviously, his being upset at my self-harm is not good, especially because of how much I want to keep the people I love happy at all costs. I've been trying to figure out why I reacted the way I did, and how I might have been able to do things differently, more 'healthily.' I think the healthy way to deal with it, would have been to simply ask him why he was angry. Then I'd understand what happened and maybe be able to prevent it from happening in the future. I was afraid to talk about it because I was afraid of upsetting him.
And here's the point where my psychiatrist's influence has started to help me make changes. I asked myself why I was afraid of upsetting him. When I'm afraid of doing something, she suggested I ask myself, "what's the worst thing that could happen?" And I realized I was actually afraid that he would react the way I reacted - that he would blame himself, get angry at himself, possibly hurt himself. But most people don't react that way. I do sometimes, and my ex would have sometimes, but despite me knowing two people that react that way, I realize that most people don't. On the other hand, if I had just talked to him about the whole situation, then there's the possibility of actually resolving it and even preventing it from happening again.
It took me until last night to figure all of that out. I took a deep breath, called him, and asked him what I'd done to make him angry. That wasn't the first thing I said when he picked up the phone, since I didn't want to jump right into that, but eventually I worked it into the conversation.
And you know what?
It wasn't so bad.
He said he didn't mind spending time with me, but that it annoyed him when I tried to plan our days out (or parts of them anyway) just to spend a couple extra minutes together. That if I want to spend time with him, just tell him, and he'll come over for an hour or an evening or whatever.
Then he asked if it had upset me. I knew he would figure that part out - otherwise why would I ask about it two days later? So I said yes, a little. He said sorry for that. He also said he over-reacted, that he wasn't really angry at me, more so annoyed at the time, and he didn't realize it would affect me so much.
I even asked if he thought I was too needy, and we talked about that too. He said he didn't think I was too needy, and that it was ok for me to want to spend time with him when I'm feeling down, but that I need to tell him that's why I want to spend the extra few minutes with him, otherwise he doesn't realize that on his own.
I'm kind of proud that I got up the courage to talk to him about that. We're getting along fine today. We saw each other this morning, and we're going out for dinner tonight. I'm even going to eat normal amounts of food.
I'm still going to try to keep him from seeing my wrist until it's healed though.