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.

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.

Clearing out my life

I’m on a boost of good energy lately. Ever since mom came around from being sick again, some things have somehow clicked into perspective. It’s hard to explain, really. I’m still a hot mess here and there and my mood still rollercoasters along, but I’m more aware of it now and more able to distance myself from it and still hold on to the awareness that the rest of my feelings still exist, too, even if I can’t feel them in that moment.

I’m also feeling the need to clear out my life at the moment. I feel less and less attached to most of the things that I’ve had for a long time now. Stuff like clothes that I still have from before I got removed from my birth family, or birthday and Christmas cards I’ve gotten from staff during what I call the “institution time” of my life, or little trinkets and knickknacks that I used to be attached to because I associated them with a certain time of my life or a specific event and felt like I’d be losing a part of myself if I didn’t have those things anymore.

Over the last couple of weeks I’m feeling more and more like I don’t need those things anymore, or don’t even want them any longer. So I’ve parted with quite some things and am amazed how little things I actually allowed my mom and dad to get for me. My room is half-empty all of a sudden. But it’s alright. It means there is room for new stuff when something good comes along.

I also feel like I’m more able to look ahead now, rather than back, and more able to focus on the moment as it IS, not as it appears in the light of the past. Which I have found to free quite some energy. I’ve also started to cook. Like, nothing amazing, and mom helps me, but I can now make pizza from scratch, and salads and yummy desserts.

One more thing is that I have started to meditate. Mom said it would do me good to learn how to give my mind a rest and she said she’d join me, so I’m practising meditation. And I’m really crap at it! LOL. My thoughts haven’t really even gotten a basic idea of resting yet! But I am practicing. And even when it’s probably not meditation like someone who’s actually good at it would go it, it’s kind of fun.

Flower of Life

Life is good at the moment. 🙂

Taking a break

Hi everyone. My mom being sick has rocked me a bit more than I thought. She’s fully well now again, since a week now already, and technically things are back to perfectly normal at our house, but I haven’t found much energy in me to blog. So I’m taking a break for a while and see what happens. I hope you’re all well. Take good care of yourselves! ❤

Situation #1739 I can not cope with

Hello everyone. I have not dropped off the face of the planet. I just haven’t been in any mind to blog. Situation #1739 I can’t cope with is when mom is sick.

Last Thursday my mom came down with a stomach bug, right away, early in the morning. It was nasty. I panic when mom is not her usual, healthy self. Not just feel annoyed or unhappy, but serious panic. I start to worry that she will die. That she will be unable to be there for me. Like, ever again. I feel like I am going to lose her. I know it’s unreasonable, but my emotions don’t care and react anyway.

So when mom started to be unwell, I went into panic mode. Mom said she needed me to be a big girl. And I think I managed, after a fashion. Biggest three year old ever. Crying and refusing to leave mom’s side, unable to focus on anything other than the fact that mom was sick. Helpless, afraid, alone, abandoned, angry, panicky… Not pretty.

Stupid stomach bug is hanging on like for dear life, the fierce fucker. Fifth day now, and mom is still struggling with it, but at least she is better than during the past days. And my sister came home on Friday to help take care of things at home a bit, which helped. But it was still a horrible weekend. Awful bug. I really can’t cope with mom being sick.

PS: thanks for the comments everyone. I’ll reply once mom is better and I am in right mind again. Or in whatever resembles my right mind the closest.

Day After

The night was a restless one. Woke up countless times with my heart beating like crazy, frightened, feeling like someone had touched me, actually feeling the warmth of the hand that was there only in my mind. Woke mom, snuggled up with her and cried until I fell asleep again, only for the whole crap to start over soon thereafter. After many repeats got up feeling tired. Mom, too.

Now I’m feeling on the verge of tears all the time. Arms still wrapped up in bandages. Put some on Little Lola, too.

LittleLolaDayAfter

I think my little me feels the way she looks a lot of the time.

 

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