Borderline and self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem

I grew up believing that there is nothing I can do well. The only thing I believed I was useful for was to give other people sexual pleasure. That’s sick, obviously, because I was a child.

Awareness of who we are grows through the kind of feedback we receive about ourselves. As a social species we use others as a mirror to see ourselves. By how they react to us, verbally and through behavior, we draw conclusions about ourselves.

My mother was unable to be a good mother. My needs usually went unmet. She was unpredictable, angry and often aggressive towards me. I concluded I was unimportant, unlovable, unable to do something right and that I deserve punishment just for being there.

My step-father’s interest in me centered solely around the sexual abuse. If I didn’t do what he wanted me to, he became violent. My mother often said that she only kept me around because I had made him “addicted” to me. I concluded that I had to earn my right to exist by making myself available for abuse.

At school I got held back because I did not learn. Teachers used to say that they are not sure that there’s anyone actually at home inside of my head. “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” I concluded that I must be really dumb.

In the institutionalized years that followed people became annoyed with me very often after what had always looked like promising starts. I concluded that I may look worth saving on the outside, but that there was nothing inside of me that would keep anyone going.

As you may imagine, my self image was real bad. I didn’t like myself. Like, at all. The feedback I had received painted a very unlikable picture of me and I was convinced that it was true. Because as a social species we tend to take social feedback seriously.

Unfortunately we’re also not born with a way to tell whether the person who reflects an image of us back through feedback is a good mirror, or one right out of a fun house. Imagine you had looked into a distorting mirror all your life. How would you like the way you looked? And if you had grown used to always looking a certain, distorted way in the mirror because you never saw yourself in any other mirror, would you believe the reflection if it suddenly were different?

I went through a lot of unhappiness and trouble with the positive feedback I received after I met my family and came to live with them. Lots of fear that once they discover how terrible I really am, they will want to have nothing to do with me anymore. In lots of ways I have tried to force them to hate me and be repulsed by me. Sometimes I could not stand their presence. At the same time I am and always was mortally afraid of losing them. But I wanted to have it happen, because I was convinced that it was what I deserved and what was going to happen anyway. When things don’t match up, when everything is a mess, when you don’t know who or what you really are or are not, that’s what happens.

Lots of tears, tantrums, hugs, yelling, cuddling, passionate hating, ardent loving and most of all lots of patience later, I am pretty sure that my “self” I have been aware of, was really not very realistic but just the reflection of other people’s mental issues. I don’t feel horribly unlovable, useless and dumb anymore most of the time. I am starting to allow the thought that there are things I might be good at, that I can be a kind person who others like and some even love. That this is not just some con act, but actually part of who I am.

At the same time I do not have a lot of practice thinking those things and old habits die hard and I have moments where I get very confused and find it hard to assess who I am. What I am. What I can. That I am important to someone.

It helps that my family are aware. Sometimes my mom sings the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” chorus to me. You know, the “I belong to you, you belong to me, you’re my sweet-heart” part. She does it just because. Just because she wants to. I really like that because it feels like she means what she sings and wants me to know.

What also helps is actually DOING something useful. I have started volunteering at my mom’s former psychiatric ward. She used to be the head psychiatrist there or something and it’s a kids ward. That they know my mom and trust her judgment is probably the only reason why they agreed to let me volunteer. Anyway, I am going there once a week to just be with a little girl they assigned me to and play. To just do normal stuff with her, so she gets to just play and relax and laugh. We’re friends. She loves my long blond hair and says that when she grows up she wants to be just like me. I always laugh and tell her to pick someone else to be like, not a girl who’s way too old to not have an education and stuff. But deep down I am starting to think that maybe it’s not the worst thing. Being me, I mean. Maybe not by everyone’s standards, but my own standards are modest. Or maybe not modest, but different. But my life is different from that of many other people, so what do I need their standards for, right? 😉

I think finding the right mirrors for myself and the right standards to assess my behavior and my “self” with is one of the keys for a better and more realistic awareness of myself and for becoming more confident and stuff. Also, it helps to actually DO things that I can then assess. After all, staying on the borderline isn’t much fun. Lines are narrow. Borders are boundaries. And while boundaries are not necessarily bad, I don’t want to live ON them, but within them. And maybe sometimes beyond. In a good way. And a feeling good about myself way.

So that’s where I want to get. Slowly but surely.

34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. prideinmadness
    May 12, 2013 @ 12:52:46

    So glad to hear from you!!!!!

    I think I have finally pin pointed why I continue to become so angry at essentially everything and it is because I need validation because I cannot give it to myself. I spent a lot of time being told that I was a fake, not a good friend, only good for sex and was treated horribly by most of my partners. Now, I constantly need validation that I’m ok, that I’m worth it and that I’m not destroying the world. The bigger problem, like you’ve mentioned, is that I can’t even accept the validation. My partner will tell me that it’s ok to make a mistake but I don’t believe him because in the past it wasn’t ok to make a mistake.

    i volunteer a lot. The amount of hours I have put into unpaid labour is really high. The validation I get out of it is very helpful. I feel like I have a purpose, I am helping others and I am good at what I do. I’m really glad to hear that you are volunteering! You have a lot of good to share and many people would benefit from hearing it!


    • Lola
      May 13, 2013 @ 16:13:39

      Thank you, I’m glad to finally have found a topic I wanted to write about!!!

      Hey, and congrats on finding out why you become so angry. You know, I can totally relate to the validation thing. I crave validation more than anything, but at the same time I find it hard to accept that the validation I get is actually genuine and not just someone’s empty bla-bla to keep me out of their hair.

      I must say that I was surprised that I like volunteering so much. I really like the little girl and playing with her. It’s fun and it feels like I’m doing something useful for a change. Also the staff are happy with what I do and say that the little girl is looking forward to my visits every week. I’ll try to post a little more again. 🙂 Oh, and I’m happy for you that you enjoy volunteering also. It’s a cool thing to do and I agree, it’s a nice source of validation. Somehow I don’t question the genuine motive of a little girl smiling at me as much as I question other kinds of validation.


  2. Bourbon
    May 12, 2013 @ 20:07:34

    I was wondering how you were doing. Nice to “hear” from you again. I’ll admit, what you wrote about your mum singing that chorus to you made me tear up. How wonderful is that xx

    • Lola
      May 13, 2013 @ 16:17:06

      Thank you for saying you’ve been wondering about me, Bourbon. I felt like I had nothing to say and didn’t come here very often anymore, but yesterday I felt like I wanted to blog again.

      My mom singing that chorus to me is really sweet. That it’s such an unexpected thing and kind of special makes it easier for me to believe she means it, somehow. (And I used to not even like that song all that much, but I have changed my mind now. lol )

      Anyway, I hope you are doing okay? xx

  3. nobodysreadingme
    May 13, 2013 @ 14:42:36

    This was an encouraging and thoughtful post Lola. I’m still rooting for you this end, if that’s any help.

    • Lola
      May 13, 2013 @ 16:26:48

      Thank you, Mr. Fluffy. It means a lot to me to know you are rooting for me. ❤

      • nobodysreadingme
        May 13, 2013 @ 16:30:05

        There you go, then.
        And I did like this post. I hope you’re catching up on lots of playtime.

        • Lola
          May 13, 2013 @ 16:39:35

          I am. Only last week we were outside and made mud cakes. In the end I my sleeves were wet and I was so dirty that mom called me a mudlark, but it was great fun. Everyone should make some spectacular mud cakes every once in a while. 😀

          • nobodysreadingme
            May 14, 2013 @ 08:16:22

            Mudlark! Not heard that in a while. Intereseting origin to the word, actually. I’ll bore you with it if you ask.

            • Lola
              May 14, 2013 @ 10:28:10

              My mom knows lots of words I’ve never heard before! LOL. I thought it was hilarious. So go ahead, bore me! 😀

            • nobodysreadingme
              May 14, 2013 @ 10:56:13

              Miudlarks will small children who scavenged the banks of the River Thames at low tide, looking for bits of metal or anything of any value that they could sell. It weas either that or the workhouse.
              Since the banks of the Thames are filthily muddy at low tide, and ‘larking about’ is a term meaning to play about, they became known as mudlarks.
              There’s a bird called a mudlark, a realtive of the magpie, but it’s only found in Australia.
              Say Hi to your mum for me.

            • Lola
              Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:33:26

              That’s interesting, actually! 😀 I may be a mudlark in this regard, too. Though I don’t scavenge the riverbanks, I do collect random junk. lol

              And I said Hi to my mom for you. She says Hi back! We both hope you’re doing good?

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:42:55

              Hi! So nice to hear from you. I mentioned that I worry about you, but I leave things alone while you sort some things out in your own time.
              I’m glad you’re still up and running. Making mudpies and playing still? Or have you moved a bit? I’m not prying, honest. I do miss your company though. In a not creepy way. Hi again to your mum. Not mom. I still can’t make that work.

            • Lola
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:33:16

              Ooh, I totally missed this reply of yours, sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I’m still making mudpies and playing. I’m still enjoying it, too. And I missed your company as well, in the uncreepy way. But I hope to stick around some. 😀

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 13:07:13

              It’s not a problem. I assumed that things were going well at your end and that you had lots of things to keep you going.

            • Lola
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 13:58:16

              I had, and also my internet use got restricted after I got up to some rather unhealthy online behavior. Mom called it escapism. I don’t like that word, but I guess she was right. So here I am, trying over.

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:13:47

              I hate to think what you were up to, and no, I’m not asking. Anyway, nice to hear from you again. Get a rant together and I’ll post it on my Guest spot.

            • Lola
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:18:31

              Nothing too terrible. Just wasting hours and hours away watching crap on YouTube and stuff. Anyway, I’m still trying to think of something that would be interesting and good enough for your readers. Sigh.

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:20:57

              YouTube? I guess that does qualify as inappropriate.
              You write well and clearly. Just think of something that irritates the crap out of you, and knock out a few hundred words. My loyal followers will know I’m not putting up anything that doesn’t deserve to be there.

            • Lola
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:25:48

              It kind of becomes inappropriate when you start shutting out other people because you NEED to watch the gazillionth cat doing some random cat-thing or because someone can fart the national anthem and couldn’t help himself from putting up a video of it, just as you can’t help watching it. Trust me, it becomes inappropriate then. But I went cold turkey and now I’m fine again and richer by one bit of wisdom: steer clear of the weird side of youtube. That aside, I’m working on the rant. I’m sure I’ll find something. Plenty of pretty annoying things out there, after all . . . 😀

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:58:40

              How about all the crap you get on YouTube? It irritates the hell out of me

            • Lola
              Jul 11, 2013 @ 17:25:00

              That was a great idea! What do I do when I have written about that? Email you?

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 12, 2013 @ 08:11:56

              Email me, yes.
              Don’t use the Hotmail account!!!!! Use this one.
              If you send it to the Hotmail account it will be lost forever.

            • Lola
              Jul 12, 2013 @ 10:12:01

              All done. 🙂 Now it’s up to you to decide if it’s crap or not.

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 12, 2013 @ 11:26:36

              I’ll let you know!

            • nobodysreadingme
              Jul 12, 2013 @ 11:32:52

              It’s fabulous! Well done!

            • Lola
              Jul 12, 2013 @ 11:48:54

              Thank you. 😀

  4. Crisstian S
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 22:31:20

    I always look for bits of encouragement and this one is a gem. I’m hopeful for you and know that your story will help others. Thanks for being a light in a dark world! Take care.

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:11:08

      Thank you for the kind words, Cristian! I wish you all the best and hope you are doing okay! You take care, too!

  5. denis
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 20:47:11

    I feel you, going through exactly on same situation as you, 26 didn’t finish college because I’m just too nervous, now I’m just gonna apply for labourer, I got no friends no conection with outside world, I’m trapped. just know you’re not alone in the struggle.

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:10:21

      Thank you, Denis! 🙂 Good luck with applying for a job and also with maybe finding a friend who cares about you and can support you. Being nervous and anxious about stuff really sucks, I know that first hand. Sending you good thoughts!

  6. Tina
    Aug 02, 2013 @ 20:55:19

    Hi Lola
    I’m probably about twice your age and I’ve been struggling with who I am for as long as I can remember – so I just want to mention that even though you sometimes think otherwise, you seem extremely smart to me. And also you’re a fantastic writer. And brave – you must be really brave to be able to be so honest about such tough subjects. Anyway – thanks. It’s a comfort to know there are people like you out there.
    Take care

    • Lola
      Aug 03, 2013 @ 03:58:40

      Hi Tina
      thank you very much for your kind words. I guess I’m lucky that I found a reason to try and live up to my potential and to take on the struggle. Even so, more often than not I do poorly and it’s probably on my blog where I am the most mature of all the areas of my life. lol Anyway, I appreciate you words. Thank you.
      You take care, too

  7. Joyce
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 12:54:26

    Reblogged this on MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!.

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