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.

Advertisements

So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways!

Life can be so tricky. But so good, too.

I just had an could-have-been-one fight with mom because she said I need to clean up my room before I do any more fun things, like be on the computer. I really hate doing that, so I tried to negotiate my way out of it, but since she will only let me delay it two times and this was already the third time, that was not very successful. So what happened then? Did I grudgingly go to my room to pick up clothes and shove the mess back into its drawers like a good daughter would?

Not really. I was more like “you are such a stupid bitch, I told you I’d do it, why do you push me so, why don’t you ever trust me to do what I say” (yeah, why oh why doesn’t she? – Don’t laugh!)

Did it work? Did she leave me alone? (Okay, stop laughing, I mean it. 😉 )

Not really. She just gave me her ‘pull the other one’ look because she could already tell I was not really losing it, just extremely unwilling to get started and looking for a way to make it someone’s fault. See, from there on we can go two ways. She can get angry and disappointed and hurt that I called her a stupid bitch. This is the path to a big bad fight.

But that’s not what she does. Like, ever. Or at least almost. I call her a good many things when I’m angry, but it doesn’t really reflect what I think of her and we are both aware of that. She does not enjoy the name calling, but I do not enjoy getting reminded of annoying things either. Kind of fair. We share the misery.

She chose the other way to go, smiled and told me she loved me, too, and made a silly little game of dragging, trailing and shoving me upstairs. I kind of enjoyed that part. And while doing so suggested a million and one way to make it more fun. And even though I was all “no”, “bad idea”, “I hate that” and “don’t wanna” about it, I liked it when she suggested we listen to some music. So we listened to some P!nk.

And it turned into fun! Go figure. Go get someone, and then sing-scream the chorus of “Raise Your Glass” into each other’s faces while raising your fists in the air! Really, do it! You’ll be amazed at how much fun that is! Especially if you are someone who’s wrong in all the right ways, too! 😀

So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways, all my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!

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! 🙂

Just sad

JustSad

I am thinking of everyone directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. May love go where violence raged so senselessly. I am beyond words. What a sad day.

How Commitment Made All the Difference

As I am reflecting on the progress I am now making, however slowly, I often look back at all the years that I spent in health care before. At all the years during which I went nowhere and the only thing I ever got was worse. So much that by the time I was chosen for family care I had been put on several psychiatric drugs, secretly self-medicated with benzodiazepines and alcohol, self-harmed almost daily and felt like my life was empty and basically over anyway.

I had been receiving therapy and mental health care for eight years by that point. I had lost track of how many therapists, case workers, social workers, counselors and doctors I had seen. Lost track of how many times I had failed. At everything. At life.

Looking back the turning point was my family care placement. Not because of the family care itself, I believe. It was a pilot study, and two others girls who I saw in group for a year hated their experience in the whole thing, one even dropped out. I believe the study has since been discontinued altogether. It doesn’t matter. It was not the thing itself that helped me.

So what was it that helped me? That I went off meds? That I went through a several-months-long benzo withdrawal and eventually came out okay at the other side? That I received therapy? Individual therapy? Group therapy? That my mom is a shrink who knows her stuff?

I suppose all those things contributed. Some more, like being clean now, that mom knows her stuff and that I finally found a good therapist. Some less, like group therapy or the previous therapists. But in themselves, I don’t think they are what made the crucial difference.

I believe that what made that difference for me was that my family committed to me. I don’t know what drove them to commit to a crazy person, but they are a good kind of crazy themselves, so maybe that’s why they did it. And what a difference it made.

What IS commitment, you might ask. It’s actually quite simple. It just means being dedicated to something (or someone). Like, truly dedicated.

I was not used to anyone ever committing to me. In the world as I knew it, bad people abused me or played games with me, good people tried to help me, but in the end good and bad people alike would move on. I provoked it, too. Abandonment issues and all that. I behaved in ways that were sure to annoy or hurt or alienate others. I played games with them when I could, played people off against one another when I could, or was just plain nasty. Anything that forced them to show their “true colors”, that they were going to abandon me, just like everyone had done before.

Contrary to everyone else before, the family that I got matched with was different. I behaved like I always did. I tried to push them away, tried to alienate them. I hated them and tried to force them into hating me. Into abandoning me. But all that I met was them sticking to me. Like super-glue. With sticky tendrils. The more I kicked, the more they stuck to me.

I hated it.

And at the same time I loved it.

I can still hear my mom’s voice in my head like it was yesterday, forever saying: “I can see it’s hard. I can tell you are not fond of me at the moment. I’m not fond of your behavior either. We are having a bad time. But we’re in it together and we’re going through it together.”

And they didn’t just say it. They meant it. I acted up so much they had to hospitalize me. But they stuck with me. I turned into 60 inches of unpleasantness. But they stuck with me. I ran away from them. But they claimed me back. And stuck with me.

Not in a self-sacrificing, guilt-inducing martyr way, but just in the hands-on ‘we-chose-this, and we’re sticking with through the hard parts, too’ way. And as time went by, I stopped testing their commitment so much and started to have some trust in our relationship. Me, who never trusted anyone.

That was the turning point for me. I started to feel like how I did actually mattered to someone. That they truly cared about having me in their life. That they are not giving up on me. That they put their faith in me and refuse to accept that I can’t do better. And that they care enough to patiently show me how to really DO better.

Mind you, I still have lots of moments where I hate them and doubt them and hate myself and doubt me and feel like they are going to want to get rid of me for sure. But so far each and every one of those moments has been one that eventually only reinforced that they will stick to me, for better or worse.

  • They place my emotional needs over their convenience.
  • They spend time with me when they could spend it on other things as well.
  • They listen to me.
  • They take me seriously.
  • They include me.
  • They don’t shove the responsibility for my behavior away from themselves, but teach me how to improve.
  • They are patient and catch me when I slip.
  • The stuff that I can’t yet do alone, they do for me.
  • They draw closer when the going gets rough.

That’s what commitment is. That’s what made all the difference. I started to commit to them to. And to myself. And my recovery.

On Comfort Food, an Eating Disorder and Exercising Moderation when using Symbols

Comfort food

As I am writing this, my mom is getting ready to make me a bowl of Cream of Wheat. All day long the stupid Cream of Wheat has been on my mind and the longer the day went on the more I craved it. So much that I eventually started to cry because we didn’t have any at home, like the world was going to end because of that.

Cream of Wheat is a comfort food for me. It’s what I used to eat when I still lived in my childhood home. It’s one of the good memories. On lucky days my mother used to make it for me when I was little. Nobody else ate it and she made it only for me. Probably only because she had to keep me fed somehow and it was cheap and quick to make, so when we had it, that’s what she made, but the reason didn’t matter to me. It was special. It was the best thing in the world.

If I could, I’d still be eating it way more often than I do. It’s what love tastes like to me. Love and being cared for and being lucky. And looking back on my life, there were times when it was the only thing I would eat. (Hello, eating disorder.) The staff objected a lot. But there were entire months where I rather starved than have anything else. And I mean anything.

I don’t have it nearly as often nowadays. Am not allowed to, because of the fine line between using and abusing something. I am prone to tilting toward the latter.

Unsurprisingly, comfort food is less about the food than what it stands for. It’s a symbol. In my case it’s a symbol for being loved and cared for, for a lucky day and being special. So you might wonder “well, those are good things?! So what’s wrong about having it? Treating yourself to good things ain’t bad, right?! After all Cream of Wheat is hardly bad for you!”

And I suppose that’s true. I guess the problem it is that it remains a symbol.

Symbols are nifty things. The best thing about them is that we can make them our own. We can be in control over them. I believe that is what temps me so much about it. I have the power to make Cream of Wheat, if I want to. I can determine when it happens, how it happens and in what fashion it happens. It’s safe. It’s independent. It’s controllable. Those are darn tempting things for me. I happily settle for that if I can.

So much, in fact, that I tend to reduce to it. And that’s where the bad comes in. While it is a good symbol for sure, it is, at the end of the day, only a symbol. It’s only Cream of Wheat. It’s what it stands for that I crave. What it stands for are the real things: Love. Being cared for. Feeling special to someone. Feeling lucky. Those are relationship things. All of them. So in reality relationships are where to look for them. Because while a symbol is better than nothing, the real thing is were true satisfaction and fulfillment comes from.

It’s easy to forget that, because the real thing is also scary and unpredictable and more intense and holds the power to harm or go away. That drives me toward the symbol. But at the same time I understand why it’s important to resist the tug and turn toward the real thing instead.

I guess that is why my mom insists on making me the Cream of Wheat, instead of letting me make it for myself. To get the relationship back in. And why she insists on my not having it too often. Like, every day. So I don’t pseudo-satisfy my emotional needs. And why she insists on figuring out what’s stressing me today. So I can learn to solve that, instead of blanketing it with porridge. Reasonable, I suppose.

But first I’ll have Cream of Wheat now. After all moderation doesn’t mean to dispense with it altogether. 😉  Yum!!

Previous Older Entries

C PTSD - A Way Out

A place to check in daily

The Serenity Game

Marriage- The Final Frontier- Humor is the Key

Creative Liar

Because the truth makes me cry.

ladyswan1221

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Simple Pleasures

Visual Poetry, Photography and Quotes

scienerf

So many MonSters so little time

silence of silence

i took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: i am, i am, i am.

We're All Mad Inhere

Life as it is: Surviving Insanity

Raison d'etre

There must be more than one...

Cupcakes and Anguish

Ramblings of a crazy creative ninja

firefliesandfairies

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Love—Life—OM

Support for survivors of domestic violence, rape and fraud

Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

Tackling BPD

My story of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, depression and anxiety through self-help. How I learned to like myself and live a happier life.

The Bottom of a Bottle

Trust me, I've been there, I've looked, I've searched and I know now, that there are no answers to be found in the bottom of a bottle or on the edge of a blade! Fighting Hard, Recovering, Rebuilding, REBORN. Moving on from addiction to a new life.