uoıʇɐılıɯnɥ ʎɥʇlɐǝɥ

The borderline narrative is a compelling one. But what it compels me to do is not altogether productive.

First learning about the disorder was a revelation, and the more I read about it, the more convinced I became that it described me to a T. Okay… so?

Even if that were true, or possible, it’s still only part of the story. It was so validating, and satisfying, to be understood so completely. Except I wasn’t. Nobody can be.

I know it’s basically the essence of BPD to look for things to fill that void where your identity should be, so I’m in something of a catch-22: as soon as I started identifying with it, it became all there was to me. But as I’ve come to realize, I don’t want it to be this way.

Borderline traits might accurately describe parts of my personality, which may be helpful in dealing with them. But no single word can account for the giant spectrum of thoughts and behaviors that any one person will exhibit irl.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because my boss gave me a lecture the other day about my rapidly deteriorating work ethic. He didn’t tell me anything I wouldn’t already know, but I needed to hear him say it out loud. I needed to hear somebody.

It was awful. In its own gentle way, it was probably the most humiliating thing I have ever experienced.

But it was also sobering.

I got exactly what I had always tried to force out of people: I got patronized. Because that’s what you get by acting even more clueless and confused than you really are. It’s cute. In puppies, and small children. Not so cute in a 25-year-old.

I was always looking either for validation or for pity, and when I finally found them, it was equal parts satisfying and pathetic. It was such a relief, though, to find out I had some dignity left to lose.

I overshare because I need people to understand why I am the way I am. I need them to tell me it’s okay and that it explains everything and there’s no more need for me to make any effort with anything ever. But being the way I am doesn’t absolve me of trying my best…

In a lot of ways I am still a child. I am immature, I can’t control my emotions, I refuse to take responsibility for my actions or for my life.

But as much as I crave to be accepted unconditionally, just the way I am right now, I have come to realize that that acceptance can be a double-edged sword. And for all the times I have abused my Mom’s selflessness & lack of consistency in enforcing any kind of discipline, I still resent her for trapping me in my own complacency.

Nothing was ever expected of me, nor did I hold myself to a particularly high standard. I grew up having my life lived for me, so I never had to develop / discover my own internal motivation.

I don’t want “poor mental health” to become a personality trait, or my defining characteristic. To my own surprise, I don’t even want it to be an excuse. When somebody else suggests that my struggles are valid, I’m relieved, yes, but somehow also almost offended. It’s like they’re agreeing that this right here is the best i can do. And i’m like, no!!!??

There were a number of times I have violated the rules of the employer/employee dynamic. I have treated him like a parent, like a friend, like a therapist (the last of which he is btw, though not to me…). And he has put up with all of it, and I’m so so grateful for that.

Most of the relationships in my life are these weird reenactments of my past experiences. But it’s different now. I’m more aware of it.

He — in true therapist fashion — was objective and to the point. And somehow, coming from him, I survived constructive criticism.

It was the other things the said that hit a bit too close to home. Things that should be obvious to somebody my age… but it was only when he said them that they started to make sense.

Things like, everybody’s got their own issues, and I can’t let my feelings interfere with my work. Things like, if I don’t attend to my responsibilities, somebody else will have to. He wasn’t blaming me …. he was giving me credit. Recognizing that I’m not doing something that I’m very much capable of.

And so I left his office feeling not guilty but … hopeful. It wasn’t any less embarrassing having had him explain to me the complexities of adulthood, but I’ve decided that embarrassment is a valid emotion, too, and one you can learn from as much as any other.

I want to grow up.

one-track minds

I almost got into a fight with my parents this morning. My Dad made a “joke”: international women’s day was invented by communists, so feminists must be pretty damn conflicted about it. I pointed out that equal doesnt mean the same, that nobody’s saying that gender doesn’t exist, that they’re judging a group by its most vocal, most radical members.

None of that convinced them though, and they accused me of taking myself too seriously & being unable to calmly discuss controversial topics, change my mind, or even provide arguments to support my POV — all things i constantly complain about them being.

So I shut up, which they interpreted as sulking — correctly, i might add. What’s annoying as heck is that they kind of had a point. I, too, am all of these things. The difference is, I know that, and I’m trying to change, whereas they are twice my age. They should know better. Or should they?

What im about to say is going to sound awful, but the main reason i find it so difficult to maintain my composure around my parents is that i know full well that I’m their flesh and blood, and I hate it.

I wish i could poke holes in my own reasoning as well as i can in theirs. But I can’t. And im scared shitless that all this effort im putting into trying to get to know myself better isn’t going to change a damned thing. and im always going to be the same stubborn, narrow-minded, unlikeable, unfunny twat that I always was. (with all due respect to my dear parents. Sometimes they’re just too much.)

(and also, i have no idea where legitimate criticism and acknowledging my parents’ humanity ends & where blame-shifting and projecting my insecurities on other people begins…)

identifying my flaws won’t make them go away. explaining away my flaws won’t make them go away. i’m not so convinced anymore that even i can do that. i just hope there can be some comfort in knowing why i am the way I am.

My parents react with hostility to (or simply reject) anything they don’t understand. They assume that if you hold an opinion, your conviction must be as strong, unconditional and unwavering, as their own faith in god. it’s either you believe and accept the doctrine as wholly true, or you don’t believe — there’s no in between.

they keep asking why i “abandoned my faith” when other kids, seemingly less religious, still go to church. and then, in one breath, they condemn the gay agenda. HMM IDK MOM!

they gave me freedom of choice, and then criticized me for making the wrong decision.

And yes, I know that religion is helpful to a lot of people. And for my parents specifically, it’s an anchor; the only constant throughout their life and a source of hope and strength and comfort. I wouldn’t dare take that away from them.

But not every religious person is as categorical or intellectually lazy as they are, and I’m afraid it has less to do with religion itself or their childhood trauma, and more to do with a general tendency to think in absolutes and be satisfied with easy answers.

what confidence have I that i actually understand everything i say and am not just parroting what somebody else told me? it’s probably in my genes, after all…

i could of course describe all of the above with one simple adjective, but I really want to believe there’s more to it than that. for my sake.

walk down memory lane

A high school friend reached out to me (hi, P). It’s nice, though admittedly somewhat strange, to get back in touch with people who knew you way back when.

I feel so much different, but I am pretty much the same person I was all these years ago: just as dumb and aimless as i was, only now it’s more obvious. I’m more aware of it, so i dont even try to hide it anymore.

Because that’s all I talk about, it may seem as if I were capable of change. I don’t think I am though, and I worry that people like her will give me a chance and I’ll just disappoint them all over again.

(by the way, it’s really quite strange being able to tell you’re idealizing someone as it’s happening. She’s my savior. She understands. She inspired me to quit my job. P, if you’re reading this, please don’t be overwhelmed. it’s normal for me, it happens all the time. and let me tell you what comes next: i see a sign of rejection or mild disapproval, and i withdraw into my shell. Or that’s what usually happens… I’ll do my best not to let it.)

talking to her made me realize that my self-perception is even further from how other people see me. which one is more accurate, then? if, going by what she said, in high school I appeared driven and conscientious, does that mean I was? even though it was the last thing i wanted to be?

I have had people comment that i seem really calm, and i always had to stop myself from laughing in their faces. but, i mean, they only have my behavior to go on, so i guess their impression kind of makes sense??

all this makes me wonder how much of what I think about other people is drastically different from what they believe about themselves or feel internally.

But yeah, apparently people admired my good grades or my English or whatever. but who the fuck genuinely wants to be the teacher’s pet in fucking high school? of course i would rather have had a social life of some sort and had people actually like me,,,, but i was unlikeable and insecure, so i resorted to controlling the only things i knew how to control.

But maybe the image we project unintentionally is more genuine and has more merit than your own self-judgment? if i seemed like a nerd, then, well, i must have been a nerd. so what i didn’t feel like one. so what “driven” or “ambitious” were far from what i would have considered accurate descriptions.

I was so lost. So lost. I had absolutely no clue what i was doing. I clung onto school because that was what gave my life a semblance of meaning or a sense of direction, but the truth was, all I needed was a friend, a true friend who would have called me out on my bs and made me confront all my pain and grief and get real about what i wanted.

but none of that had any chance of happening since i was so proficient in the art of denial and keeping people at arm’s length.

still nothing’s changed.

two I’s in friendship. one I in… I?

The day L left, I went into survival mode. I’ve been hanging on by a thread for going on a decade now, which is more time than we were close friends while she was still here. Of course L is her own person, and I shouldn’t be building my healing around her any more than I should have built my life. She has her own identity that goes way beyond being a signpost for my life or my recovery. Above all else, she’s a dear friend, and the last thing I want is to objectify her like that.

Regardless, in my mind, she stands for everything wrong with me. She wasn’t a person in my eyes; she was way too perfect for that. And by idealizing her, I failed to acknowledge that she, too, might have her own feelings & needs; I was too immature & superficial to meet them, though.

She went on to develop more mutually satisfying relationships, and I was hurt… now I know why: ours was a very asymmetrical one; I got emotional support, she got blind loyalty. Now she gets to be vulnerable and understood, too.

All this being said, even though I understand those dynamics in retrospect, I can’t change the past. Her departure was the catalyst for a process that had been a long time in the making: the disintegration of my own identity.

She is her own person. But, to me, she is also a stark representation of the idea of relying on someone else for your own sense of self, like I did for mine. She deserves more than being reduced to an archetype… but, again, to me she is both.

Since she left, I’ve been… getting by. Coming up with countless ways to not think for myself; to not think at all. I always had poor impulse control. I feel like it might have something to do with not using your internal monologue to its full potential. And when I shut it up altogether to avoid confronting painful feelings & ugly truths about myself, I also deprived myself of a tool that could have been incredibly helpful in regulating my behavior.

It’s not a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” kind of situation. I know I must have always gravitated towards certain types of people because of a natural inclination to follow rather than lead. It’s just that I wouldve saved myself a lot of pain if I had figured it out sooner, and perhaps taken steps to counteract it.

As things stand, I still seek that perfect relationship to lose myself in. I have this need to merge with the other person so completely that there is no more “you” or “I”, there’s just “us”. And I still believe that finding that person will solve all my problems: that they will live my life for me; that they will regulate my behavior; that they will fulfil all my needs.

I don’t (intentionally) deny the other person their right to privacy and their own complex and separate identity… As far as I’m concerned, they can even lead a life all of their own; Ill be sad and jealous, but I’ll understand that I’m not enough for them. But I need them to know & take care of me. To take the lead. Anticipate my needs. Tell me what to think. Is that mommy issues or what? 😬

In the absence of a favorite person to cling on to, and with no hope of ever finding one (because now I know it’s simply not possible in the sense in which i mean it), I am completely lost. I know I’ve discussed this before. But here I’m not talking about emptiness or idealization themselves; im talking about how they relate to impulsivity.

I always used to assume that the latter was an attempt to remedy the former, substituting compulsions and obsessions for a personality. I’m afraid the truth is much simpler than that: because I don’t think for myself, all I’m left with are my urges & no way to talk myself out of giving in to them.

It’s hard to exercise any degree of self-control when you have no sense of self. I may or may not be capable of “self-discipline”, but I’ll never find out until I know what my goals are & what’s good for me. Without some sense of your own personhood, there’s no self-discipline; there are just random rules and restrictions. And why follow those, if going against them doesn’t seem to interfere with any of your goals?

Of course I do have goals. Hopes. Ambitions. Which is why numbing out is so frustrating: every time I engage in harmful behaviors, it takes me that one step further from what I’m too afraid to admit I want.

I

am so…

c o n f u s e d.

how do i feel back

Do you find that regardless of how you feel at any given moment, in that moment it’s hard to remember or imagine what it might be like to feel any other way?

Or if you try to think back to a time when you did feel differently, you end up projecting your current mental state onto those memories, coloring nostalgia with regretfulness or grief with gratitude.

This makes relating to your own past experiences much harder, and pulling yourself out of a dark place — next to impossible.

Whereas the former makes your memories seem abstract, foreign, somehow scattered, or even “fake”, the latter suffocates you with a sense of utter hopelessness. Losing positive associations is bad enough, but it’s the incredulity about any chance of future happiness that slowly but surely chips away at your will to live. Not because living hurts — that in and of itself might be manageable — but because being numb isn’t much better.

That’s what happened to me: I was tired of the extremes, the neverending cycle of hopefulness and motivation inevitably followed by anxiety and inertia. The shame that comes from disappointing yourself once again is draining. The frustration and worthlessness are debilitating. So… I eventually settled for feeling nothing. Hoping for nothing, striving for nothing… doing nothing.

And I have felt nothing for so long, I can’t imagine ever feeling anything different.

Maybe my life only ever had any semblance of cohesion back when I had no self-awareness to speak of, and others were doing all my dirty work for me. My parents, expecting me to do well in school. My best friend, getting me to try new things. Religion, telling me the difference between good and evil.

The moment I start trying to think for myself, I get lost and indecisive. I’m overwhelmed by the mutitude of options, and by how much whatever decision I end up making is going to affect my life. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of change; I’d like to change, if only i could know the outcome of my efforts beforehand. What I cannot handle is uncertainty. Knowing that I might choose wrong.

All my attempts at happiness so far have backfired. Admittedly they were few and far between, but the result was always poor at best. Even things that on the face of it make me “happy”, I have a complicated relationship with. It’s as if I don’t think I deserve to do things I enjoy, so I come up with ways to make them less fun. Or prevent myself from reaping the benefits of the things that I do.

I gave up on running when I was in the best shape of my life. After three years at uni, I didn’t get a degree simply because I failed to write my goddamned thesis, even though I helped some of my friends write theirs (and loved it). No matter what I do, it feels like I’m playing pretend. Like I’m faking a life.

Eventually I got tired of faking.

But if I truly want things to change, it’s up to me to start making decisions for myself. Where do I begin, when it’s something I’ve never done before? And being as detached from my emotions as I am — past, future and present — how do I know how high I should be aiming and how much I can manage?

I’m gonna need to start small.