How I Met My Mother

Not many people can remember how they met their mother. Just like them, I can not remember how I met my biological mother either. But I remember how I met MY mother. Mom. And this is what I remember:

I was living at a girls’ residential group at the time. I was sharing a room with another girl who didn’t like me. To be fair, I didn’t like her either. Or rather I didn’t like anyone, period. Everything sucked.

When my social worker knocked I didn’t answer. Didn’t have to because she entered after knocking anyway. No doors were to remain closed to staff. House rule. And when I say no doors, I mean NO doors. Whatsoever. Anyway, she came in and looked at me over the rim of her glasses – but only after she had given the newly-messed-up room a critical once-over.

“They’re here, Lola. They’re waiting for you.”

I remember that I shrugged. So what? So what if I had agreed to check out some family care project? I had changed my mind. I didn’t want to be part of anyone’s research study-crap. I didn’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig. So I looked the other way and pretended she wasn’t there.

The social worker grew impatient. I could tell by the way she inhaled dramatically, held her breath for a second and then let go of it in this sharp puff that said “you’re being impossible!” like that was news.

“If you’re not going to come, Lola, I will send them to your room! They didn’t come all the way out here for fun. You agreed to see them, so that’s what you will do!”

I didn’t care. Like I ignored my social worker I would ignore them. They would leave sooner or later. Being with people who didn’t talk was annoying, after all. They would try to be nice people at first, they would try to make conversation – in vain – and in the end they would look at each other, would realize their mistake and would be happy to leave and never come back.

Little did I know that this was not what was going to happen. At all.

The first surprise was that they didn’t enter together. I expected this middle aged couple, all prim and proper, suburban, well-off, being basically all the things that I was not, coming in to examine me like I was exhibit A at the Museum of Sad Deranged Individuals. That was what I was prepared for. And they would be getting quite a good show, too. Messy room. Girl with long blond hair and way too much dark makeup in skimpy clothes, forearms freshly slashed. To make absolutely sure they would see, I removed the bandages from last night’s wounds as soon as my social worker had left. Now, see, on another day I might have tried to please everyone, covered up nicely to be a pretend version of the ever-smiling good girl next door, but on that day the world was a black place and I was in a fuck-all mood.

It knocked again. “This is her room”, the social worker told them. “She’s waiting for you.” The exaggeration of the year.

Instead of entering together, this lady came in alone. I only glanced at her casually, and she was pretty average looking. A bit older than I had expected, but by far no granny. Shoulder length brown hair with some silver in it. A smile.

Scowling, I looked the other way. She closed the door behind herself.

“Hello Lola. I am Samantha, but most people call me Sam. It’s nice to finally get to meet you.” She looked around the messy room. “Can I sit down somewhere?”

I ignored her and stared out the window. An idiot-proof method to get rid of people.

“Say so if you mind I make room for myself and sit down on this chair”, the woman said and politely waited a moment before she relocated a mess of clothes.

Her nasty little trick hadn’t slipped from my attention. Instead of asking whether she may sit down – to which I would have remained silent anyway – she had put it the other way around: Speak up if you mind. Not too stupid. Which irked me. I kept on ignoring her, knowing this was a game I was better at than anyone else. So I simply waited. For her to try conversation starters. Several if she was persistent. But most of all I waited for her to grow desperate, irritated and finally helpless in the face of my passivity so she would leave.

But instead of saying something, she remained silent as well. I didn’t turn her way, but in the way you notice things from the corner of your eye I could tell that she was looking around the room, studying things. Studying me. Calm and collected.

“Honey, I don’t meant to be intrusive but those cuts on your arms are bleeding. You might want to have them taken care of before sitting here with me.”

As much as I would have liked to ignore her words, I couldn’t. I wasn’t aware the darn cuts had started bleeding again, but stealing a glance down I saw that she was right. So much for my genius idea of taking the dressings off of fresh wounds to go for the shock-effect. Shit. And she hadn’t even sounded particularly shocked. More like it wasn’t a big deal.

I shrugged and there went my resolution not to talk because some switch in me had just been flicked the other way. “So what?! Not like anyone cares what my arms look like around this place.”

Sam had looked at me and smiled a little. Friendly, but I couldn’t tell whether she was buying it or not. In hindsight I know the answer, but back then I couldn’t tell.

“How about we go and get them cared for?”

Have I mentioned that I am a sucker for attention and getting fussed over? Yeah, well I am. So once I had started down this road, I couldn’t resist. I ended up going to the nurse with her. Ended up talking with her. And quite unlike I had planned, I ended up liking her after this first visit. Or rather I ended up thinking she was the only person in the world who was good. My day had turned from black to perfect. Yay for idolization and all that. At least it made coming to live with her and her family a lot easier some weeks down the road.

Of course thereafter it didn’t take long until I got disillusioned. Hated her. Lots of drama. But we solved it. Loved her. Hated her again. Loved her. Hated her. And loved her. But it always ended with loving, even the bigger episodes of drama. And now she’s my mom. The greatest mom I could ask for. In a real way, not an idolizing one. Or maybe a little idolizing. But just because she is.

Mom&lola4

mom and me

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Mind Reading

In some past DBT sessions I learned that I ought not mind read, because nobody can read minds and I’m getting it wrong anyway, making myself miserable. But I beg to differ. It is possible to read minds. My mom can. You don’t believe me? Because nobody can read minds? Well, trust me, she can. And does. Now don’t get me wrong. She’s not a psychic, nor has she swallowed a Magic 8 Ball and I’m quite convinced that she can’t read people’s minds at random. (Reassuring, isn’t it?)

That said, she still IS a mind reader. And whose mind does she read . . . ? No brainer. Mine. And while she gets it wrong now or then, the times when she reads my mind only too well outweigh those errors. Massively.

For example with any given silly thing one could get up to, there is a certain probability that I won’t do it:

With a likelihood of 95% Lola won’t use that blade on herself.

With a likelihood of 75% Lola won’t dissociate in the supermarket.

With a likelihood of 30% Lola won’t feel rejected when the answer is no.

With a likelihood of 82% Lola won’t resort to inappropriate, suggestive behavior.

With a likelihood of 99,8% Lola won’t try to kill herself.

Just the same that leaves us with a certain probability that I will. So considering the above things, there is a 5% chance I will cut myself, a 25% chance of dissociating next to the fruit display, a 70% chance of feeling rejected when turned down, a 18% chance of behaving inappropriately towards others and a 0,2% chance of a suicide attempt. And that’s only a small sample of all the things that I might or might not get up to.

The mind reading comes in REAL handy here. I don’t quite know how mom does it, but she usually knows what I’m up to before I’m up to it. For example she lets me roam the supermarket aisles freely on most days, but some days are ‘hands on the cart’ days or ‘no chatting up strangers’ days. Similarly on most days the kitchen knife drawer is unlocked. But then on other days it’s locked. Plenty of knives when I don’t plan on using them, but real hard to come by one when I feel like I need one. Creepy when you think of it.

She also knows what I want to say before I even say it. Like this morning. Picture my mom in the kitchen and me dragging my feet down the stairs. I walk up to her, look at her and she looks back. I still think about good reasons for asking her to cancel my doc appointment and she already raises her eyebrows and shakes her head no. I ask “What?!”, indignant that she anticipated the question, and she just smiled and replied “It’s not negotiable, honey. We agreed on it, you and me both. I’ll help you if you feel stressed, but we’re going.” Me, I mutter: “Make me and I’ll hurt myself”, to which she simply replies: “I love you and we’re going. Would you like toast or cornflakes?”

On another day this whole conversation might have taken a different turn, she might have taken my threat seriously or we might have even stayed home. But today she knew I was just talking and not really too stressed to go nor going to hurt myself. She also knew that today I wouldn’t feel rejected over her turning my request down. Not to speak of the fact that she knew what I meant to ask in the first place.

So I’m going. Stupid mind reading. At the same time, if I am honest, I couldn’t feel more happy. She notices what’s up. She cares. She’s paying attention. She understands. She loves me. And she won’t make me do things when I can’t do them. Because she can tell when I can’t. Though the flip side is that she makes me do stuff when I actually can. So I guess I’m off to some stupid health exam. Whatever. See ya.

The Dreadful 15th

Like my previous post already said, I’m having something of a crappy time. It’s probably all the good stuff and progressish stuff coming to kick me in the ass. I learned not to fret too much about it, because it’s what always happens after a good stretch, but I hate that it came with a lingering headache. I mean really, that’s overkill. I wish it fucked off.

Anyway, I suppose what also contributes to the crappy time is that the 15th is drawing closer. Dreadful date. In 2002 it was Tuesday and a social worker lady and a police officer barged into 6th grade math class. I had just turned 15. (And if you are better at math than I was and wonder what the heck I was doing in 6th grade at age 15 – I got enrolled in school a year late and then got held back twice, repeating 1st and 5th grade, but it didn’t matter because by looks I fit in with the others and I never really cared anyway.)

Anyway, the police officer and social worker lady called my name. I panicked. I thought I had somehow gotten into trouble, big-time. I was mortally afraid of what my parents would do to me once they found out I had attracted not only the attention of some concerned teacher or something, but of the police and whatnot. They demanded I take all my things and come with them. First they took me to the social worker’s office, then to a children’s home.

I didn’t comprehend until a couple of weeks later that this was not some temporary thing but that I wasn’t ever going to see my family again. At that point I seriously freaked and my foray into mental health care started with a hospitalization.

Ever since then Jan. 15th is a bad day. The day I lost my life and everything in it, basically, and had to trade it for shit. Not that my life wasn’t plenty shit before that, but at least it was the shit I had grown up with. Familiar shit. I would have given anything to get it back. Especially since by then amnesia had set in and I wasn’t remembering most shit.

Fast forward eight miserable years and some months and my future family picks me from an advertisement text stating my name, age, diagnoses and a short summary of what the shrinks-in-charge perceived to be my advantages and disadvantages, along with a 2×3 inch picture. They probably figured that since I have no next of kin who might complain, I’d make a good guinea pig for some foundation’s family care project. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about most things.

FirstPictureTurns out it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got kicked out of the project, but my family kept me. Adopted me, even. And ever since I am looking at the picture – they kept it – and wonder why on earth they chose me. Why did they want to meet me and not some other chick?

I still remember the day they took the picture. The guy with the camera was all ‘smile, put your best foot forward’. Well, you can see for yourself how well that worked. Maybe if I hadn’t been drugged up so much I would have smiled. But then no, probably not. So it certainly wasn’t because of my engaging smile that they picked me. And I hate to think it was out of pity. I really can’t tell what it was, so I return to the picture again and again trying to find out.

Mom assures me it was because when they saw my picture they felt like this might work out, having me at home with them. She says she can’t explain exactly what it was that brought her to this conclusion. She calls it intuition. Which is one of the most annoying non-answers because it tells me nothing at all.

Ah well, but I’m rambling. I guess I just wanted to put the crappiness into words that the 15th comes with. Losing everything. Eventually meeting my family for some unknown reason. Maybe it was random. Maybe my whole life is random. I don’t know. I try to make the best of it anyway. I just wish the headache would fuck off.

Thanks to my Mom

For Mom

For Mom

Thanks

Thanks, Mom, to you
for putting up with me another year
thanks are way overdue
you find my screws that disappear
and that’s why I love you.
(One of the reasons I hold dear
your love, at least, for sure.)

With Love,
Lola

The Day Christmas Turned GOOD!

I don’t have words to convey just HOW excited I am!! Seriously, I don’t! No fucking way in hell could any word be awesome enough, I’m so happy!!

So what happened?! First of all, we waved the family goodbye! They are good people and I love them. Really, I do. But loving all of them at once is a bit much. I’m better at loving them from a distance or one at a time, so I’m really, really, really relieved that they finally all hopped back into the cars they came in, and quite early in the day, too.

That made for a great start into the day! Seriously, once everyone was gone, I just sat down and listened to the silence and the familiar sound of mom doing the dishes everyone left her with after breakfast and it felt like finally, FINALLY after way too many days that stretched out like a mini eternity things are back the way they are supposed to be. So that alone was a top-notch start into the day.

It also meant Christmas was technically over. Good riddance and all that.

But THEN the mailwoman came. See, I’m curious and even when I never really get any mail, I always want to know what mail we do get. But instead of letting me take the mail with her, mom sent me away. She turned all “no, you stay in the living room today” and when I took offense and demanded she stopped this injustice, she just said “because I say so” with her ‘don’t you dare talk back now’ voice. Which almost ruined this perfect morning, because I got quite pissed at her over it.

So when she and dad came into the living room after the mailwoman was gone, I was sulking by myself in the armchair. I did my best to markedly ignore them, with mom having been so mean. But they came over and wished me a merry Christmas all over again. That was so weird and out of place that I forgot to keep sulking, because checking whether they had gone nuts took priority. Crazy family or what?!

Yet they were smiling and looked like they were serious, and produced from behind their backs a fairly big package. Not wrapped or anything, just a cardboard box.

Remember how I was disappointed because I was not getting the one thing I had ended up hoping to get for Christmas? How I had stupidly not even told mom (or anyone else, for that matter) that I was hoping to get that? The stupid disappointment that had sort of ruined Christmas before it even began, because nobody had known I was hoping to get that thing, and therefore ended up not getting it?

The thing was a doll that might have ended up at our house because a lady from the neighborhood had asked mom whether she had any use for it. I had caught a glimpse of the picture of the doll the lady had shown mom, more out of curiosity than because I care for dolls. But when I had seen the doll I had been caught by surprise, because hands down, the doll looks like little a plastic version of me. I kid you not. So when mom had told the neighbor lady she’d consider whether she wanted the doll, I had kind of started hoping that she’d say yes. And then I had started to really, dearly hope she’d say yes, because in my mind I had started picturing how cool it would be to make the doll, like, mini-clothes that are just the same as I would wear, and maybe put a pink strand in her hair like I have . . .

But of course I never told mom about any of it. That’s BPD for you. Surely everyone should be able to read my mind, right?! So when I had casually asked mom before Christmas whether she had decided what to do about the doll yet, and she said she had told the neighbor lady to rather make some child somewhere happy than have the doll gather dust with us, I was gravely, utterly, terribly disappointed. Devastated, really, because my little dear fantasy about turning the doll into a tiny version of myself just vanished into nothingness and I hated mom for not having thought of me.

Yeah. So guess what was in the box mom and dad produced from behind their backs.

ChristmasPressie1

Have I mentioned that I really, really love them? And not because they ended up spending all that money on the doll for me. That’s the part that makes me feel guilty, because I think for having been so stupid not to even tell mom, I shouldn’t be getting anything at all now. No, why I love them is that they noticed how disappointed I was and took it seriously. Instead of teaching me a lesson by saying “see, that’s what comes from not sharing your thoughts” they got me the doll and said “see, that’s what comes from sharing your thoughts”. I love them.

And I love the doll. Yes, that probably makes me a big kid, but I still love the doll. She looks like a mini-Lola. Her hair is the same color and length as mine, it slides over her eyes just like mine does and she has blue eyes, just like I do. Even the shape of her face looks similar to mine.

ChristmasPressie2

I adore her shoes and pair of jeans. The rest of her outfit I probably wouldn’t wear, but hey, I’m gonna change that! I’m gonna give her a pink strand of hair like I have and I’m gonna get her clothes I would wear. And then, I don’t know.

I’m so happy. Christmas turned GOOD. And I have awesome parents. I love, love, love, love, love them! Bring on the rest of the year and the start of the new one! 🙂

The Big Christmas Fail, aka: “Did I hope I’d do better this year?!”

Hello from the abyss. Or not anymore the abyss, I suppose, but I spent enough time hanging around there that I still recall it quite well. And maybe the most terrible part is that nothing even happened. Everyone was good, the atmosphere was mostly relaxed, nobody except grandma gave me stupid looks or remarks, and mom let me get away with a little more attention-seeking than usual. Just what I had hoped for.

I am what happened. I, and the whole gift giving, niceness and appreciation thing.

Since I already knew that the one thing I had secretly hoped to be getting was not going to be there, the according disappointment of that was already dealt with and I really hoped this might make the whole gifts ordeal a bit easier this time around. So much for the plan. Unfortunately the one thing I hadn’t taken into account is that I am perfectly capable of creating calamity all on my own, even when nothing untoward whatsoever happens.

Because technically all went well. I managed to cope with the stuff I got. I managed to cope with the stuff everyone else got. I managed nicely. Not all on my own, okay, but with a little help by mom who kept assuring me with smiles and cuddles that everything was alright, I managed.

Until it was my mom’s turn to get her presents. I wanted to go first to give her my present, because she was the only person I had a present for. I had gotten her a little black bracelet with colored skulls and stars on it and had made her a card (if one true to my kind of Christmas spirit. See below.). So far so good. She opened her present and was pleased with it, thanked me with a hug and kiss and said she liked it and I could see that she meant it. So for a moment I was feeling really good there.

ChristmasCardWithSkull

Until it was everyone else’s turn to give mom their presents. Especially my siblings’. My brother gave her a gift certificate for a spa treatment. My one sister, who’s about as old as me, gave her a stunning glass globe for the tree and a photo book full of amazing black and white photographs she had taken herself. And my oldest sister gave her a gold necklace with the prettiest golden pendant. Yeah, like real gold.

And as bad as I know comparisons are, it really hit me bad that they had all given her those wonderful, thoughtful things that she really loved – whereas I had given her a bracelet with skulls worth about a fiver, and as a matter of fact, it’s a bracelet I would love to wear, but not so much she.

Mortification, humiliation, embarrassment, self-hatred, contempt for myself, inferiority, wretchedness . . . you name it, I felt it. In overwhelming intensity. And I was convinced everyone must feel the same about me.

You might or might not be able to imagine the emotional drama that arose from that. It lasted about three hours, during which I not only demonstrated my perfect inability to cope with my own emotions, but also my effectiveness in spoiling things not only for myself, but also for everyone around me by occupying mom with my screaming and crying and wailing, bringing everything celebratory to a standstill. And over what? Over nothing, really, except my deplorable frame of mind.

I suppose the good news is that everyone (save me and grandma, probably) took it in relative stride, and also that I did not swallow my feelings to later silently wander off, seeking to get myself fucked for punishment by the next best guy I found, like my sister’s husband. That is progress, of sorts. Kind of pathetic progress, but I guess I can’t afford to be picky when it comes to progress and need to take what I can get.

I just seriously hope that was all the drama this Christmas. I’m exhausted now. Everything is back in relative order, and I really, really want to stay it that way please. Bring on the fairy dust and magic sparkles.

Ideas for Coping With the Holidays Despite Mental Health Issues

Making Christmas Fun

Since I’m already struggling with the looming calamity that’s called Christmas, my mom suggested I write down my ideas for making it a better experience than in previous years. So here we go, my ideas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Idea 1: Let’s keep it simple.

I have an (adopted) grandmother who would love to make any new Christmas the biggest and most glamorous family Christmas that the history of Christmases has ever seen. Yup, the same grandmother who still calls me “that girl”. But the more fuss, the more I am afraid of messing up and spoiling it for everyone. So let’s keep it simple, please.

Idea 2: Let’s keep some familiar routines.

Our routines mean a lot to me. I like to know what happens when. I know many of our routines don’t go well with the holidays, but losing the routines is really hard for me, and if we could maybe keep some of them at least, it would probably help.

Idea 3: Let’s have breaks from the family / alone time with my attachment person.

Having everyone there is stressful. I fret that my mom will like everyone else better than me. That I won’t get what I need. I’d like to have breaks from that, breaks that I can spend alone with my mom, so I don’t get too overwhelmed.

Idea 4: Let me know that you know it’s hard for me.

Okay, I don’t really need to suggest that to my mom, as she’s already doing that, but I want to say that I appreciate it a lot. It really IS hard, even to prepare for Christmas, and it’s giving me all kinds of stress. Having my mom acknowledge that even when I’m functioning on a level way below what would be expected of someone my age, I could be doing much worse and am actually working hard to keep up even this low level of functioning.

Idea 5: Let’s gently watch out for nice moments together.

I tend to get preoccupied with everything that does not work out, goes not as planned, with what I’m not good enough at, and with negative feelings that arise. While I hate it when someone tries to shove all that’s good in my face and tells me to appreciate that instead, I think I could use some gentle prompts to find out what things I do like, what I am doing well, and what feels good about the whole Christmas deal.

Idea 6: Let me know I’m not alone, but have a go-to place for all that’s sad, too.

Again, that’s something I don’t really need to suggest to my mom, but as it’s important for me, I write it down anyway. I tend to keep my struggles and sadness to myself for too long, because I don’t want to spoil the holiday for anyone. Which works until I can’t cope anymore and stop caring about everyone else. So it’s really helpful that my mom is sensitive to how I feel and gives my sad and troubled feelings space, too.

Idea 7: Let me know that if I can’t take any more of it, that’s okay, too, and help me with a face-saving escape plan.

Just what it says, really. I’m very worried I’m going to look like a baby or like I’m totally incapable or retarded or something in front of everyone. That’s horrible. Knowing that if I absolutely can’t take it anymore, I can get away from it all in a way that feels safe and does not make me look terribly inept, would help enormously.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That’s what I came up with. Do you have ideas that help you cope with the holiday season?

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