Monday, May 23, 2011

A Mind Adventure, the Soundtrack

This week's Indie Ink Challenge was "A mind adventure". I took this challenge and added a little music to it.

This response is very personal, and a bit redundant of my blog in its entirety, but it fit the prompt nonetheless. As always, I welcome constructive criticism.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes. Except there were no diamonds. Only pain. I couldn't bring myself back. I felt the darkness enveloping me, pulling me beneath the surface. It was overwhelming, yet at the same time, numbing and familiar.

And so this darkness consumes me, controls me, paralyzes me. I saw the world moving around me, but I couldn't bring myself to join it. I felt separate from my body, cold. And I knew something was wrong. No matter how hard I willed myself, I could not find the usual persevering light within me. It was as if an ocean of darkness had put out my light. And I knew that I needed to get it back.

And the first thing I had to do was look in the mirror, something I had never dared to do. Something I had made a habit of running away from. Train roll on, on down the line. Won't you please take me far, away. But this time there was nowhere to run, because every where I ran, I kept running into myself.

A quick google search confirmed my worst nightmare.

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving).
5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms

Borderline Personality Disorder. Some call it a kiss of death. No cure, no medications, no streamline treatment. No hopeful discussion forums or encouraging websites. Instead I found websites, blogs, and forums that only deepened my overwhelming fear that I am inherently bad. There were sites telling our lovers to run the other way, support for family members talking about us as if we're parasites, evil, hopeless. The only medications treat our symptoms, not our problems. And therapists avoid the word "Borderline" because the diagnoses only tends to worsen the symptoms. But we need to be looked at. Accepted. Acknowledged.

I have spent my entire life feeling as if I was constantly battling this monster inside of me, this monster that was insecure, flighty, terrified, and filled with hate. I felt as if I have been climbing mountains my whole life, overcoming obstacles left and right, only to sit here with this diagnoses and realize that I am at the base of Mt. Everest. Climbed a mountain and I turned around and I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills, Till the landslide brought me down. But this time, I would not let this monster win. The child in my heart ached, throbbed. She longed to be held the way her mother never held her, longed to be unconditionally loved, but at the same time was terrified of the unknown, of "happiness". Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? I knew something that others forget. I AM NOT MY DIAGNOSES. I am not Borderline. I experience borderline, I experience emptiness, fear, impulsivity, fear of abandonment...but I am not those things. I have been hurt, but I have been strong. I failed, but I have overcome. And I will overcome this, I will endure the pain, and I will transcend my suffering into compassion, strength, and wisdom.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take this broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise. And I started, piece by piece. There were days I couldn't get out of bed. Days I cut myself, days I found peace in meditation. There were days I cried for my inner child, days I sat in my car and screamed, experiencing the anger I had stifled for decades. Some days I was sickened by how much I hated myself, and there were days I was so proud of how far I had come.

And the pieces of my life started to fall together. Since I was a little girl, I loved the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's; I identified, oddly, with Holly Golightly. And then, I realized that her character had BPD. My obsession with birds, with the feeling of being in a cage, all made sense. You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. I thought other people were putting me in a cage, that my free bird needed to get away from the man I loved, the man who loves me unconditionally. My free bird was without a doubt singing of freedom, but it was singing for freedom from the monster inside of me, the darkness that was taking my song. And with facing that darkness, embracing my suffering, my free bird is spreading it's wings. Oh won't you fly, high, oh free bird, yeah.

And here I am, on my mind adventure, on a path towards happiness and enlightenment. But the best realization is that happiness is not a destination, it's a path. It's embracing the suffering in me, but also nurturing the good. I still have my bad days, and things aren't easy. My life is a mess. But that hatred is gone. And in it's place is compassion, compassion for myself and for the world around me, even those who have hurt me.

Blackbird, fly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My First Writing Challenge

This is my first Indie Ink Challenge. I haven't done fictional writing in about eight years, so I'm very rusty. But I wanted to push myself, so I gave it a whirl. Cheers to a starting point, and to improvement over time!

A wonderful Star Trek reference:
"The good of the one outweighs the good of the many."

(FYI, my son's middle name is Tiberius)

That was the night I realized that I knew nothing.
Looking around the room at the remains of yet another failed family Christmas gathering, I saw the demise of my family among the unopened presents and empty glasses of hard cider.
As if he wasn't already drunk enough, my husband was by now drinking away his sorrows at some dive bar, most likely picking up on the nearest woman. I can't remember the last time he touched me, or even slept in the same bed as me. My children were gone, angry or crying. Or both.
Sitting there with only the dim tree lights, flashes of my children passed before me. My youngest, failing yet another semester at community college. My oldest, dumped yet again by a cheating bitch. And then there's my middle, my Anna. She just has so much anger.
"Stop trying to fucking save everyone! Look at you. You can't even take care of yourself. You're a fucking disgrace." I could hear her disgust with me as she told me this before slamming the door.
And looking at myself, she was right. I was wearing the same outfit I wore last Christmas, along with the fake smile I'd been wearing for 29 years, since the day of my shotgun wedding. I gave my life to my family, feigning happiness, taking care of all of their needs, giving them everything and myself nothing. I thought I knew what was best for them, but I ruined them. My husband is still an alcoholic thanks to my blind-eye and picture-perfect family facade. My children can't do their own homework, can't function in a relationship, and resent me. Was I grandiose enough to think that I could save everyone?
No, I was stupid enough to believe that I knew what was right. I gave my life to my family, selflessly, because I felt that the good of many outweighed the good of one, of me. This, of course, assumes that I know what good is. And I didn't. In my self-righteous selflessness, I ignored the fact that I could be wrong. Perhaps divorce can be the best thing for a family. Perhaps letting a child fail second grade is the best thing to do.
I don't know. I really fucking don't. All I know is what is most likely good for me. Shit, I don't even know that. I don't know the right answer, I don't know what is "good". And I'm done pretending. I'm done with rescuing others. My children are grown and can't even rescue themselves. How can we impress our values, our definition of "good" and "right" onto others? How can I say that the good of many outweighs anything, when I have no right to assume what is good for someone else since I obviously don't know what is right for me, for one?
And I cried tears of failure, of decisions I could never take back, of a life I could never relive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Self-hatred CAN lead to healing...maybe

Do you think that, in order to change yourself (and I mean truly change, as in re-wire your brain to alter your perceptions and reactions to the world), that you must first hate yourself?

What prompted this train of thought was talking to my Aunt S. She recently caught on to the wonders of Buddhism, and she actually went on the yoga retreat with Shiva Rea. She considers herself quite enlightened. But I still sense a lot of anger, sadness, and fear in her. And A LOT of denial. She keeps telling me that I need to just let go, that I need to stop focusing any energy on the negative experiences I've had. I'm not sure, maybe she's right. But my understanding is that you have to deal with those issues. Those negative experiences directly correlate with the behaviors, thoughts, habits ect. (aka the borderline in me) that I want to change. So how can I change something I don't understand? How can you change something that you don't know inside and out?

I think too many people get caught up in the suffering aspect of the healing process, though--this is what my aunt is referring to. It's like being stuck on a rat wheel. But giving your past sufferings attention is only going to put you on a rat wheel if your not focusing forward. There need to be connections. Yes, my mom hit me so hard my nose bled, and the emotional abuse ran so deep that I immediately ran into her arms for comfort. I do need to validate that pain. I need to let my inner child grieve, I need to comfort that inner child, and I also need to let that inner child know she's safe now, because I've grown up and I am strong enough to protect her. I know now that incident made me run back to people after they mistreated me because I wanted to be accepted so badly. That's the suffering's connection to my present day behavior. So I deal with suffering...this is especially important to me, because I grew up with all of my suffering being invalidated by my aunts (my mom is the oldest of nine kids...) because my mother manipulated them (and almost all of them have BPD to some degree). And then, I transform the suffering. I turn it into forgiveness, into unconditional love, into genuine compassion. The trick is, I do all this while protecting my inner child. I will not let her get mistreated any more (okay, I'm working on it. Beth is my greatest teacher for this right now...), and I will set healthy boundaries ( mom and I have a safe relationship right now!) that won't let her get hit over and over again. But I know I'm a wonderful friend. I know that I am the change I wish to see in the world, because no one ever gave me that second chance. If I made a mistake, that was it, I was bad. But that isn't right. People need help, people need forgiveness and compassion. They need someone who believes in the good in them, because sometimes its hard for people to believe in the good in themselves.

But back to the hate thing...I noticed that my aunt cannot admit to the emotional trauma she caused me. She flat out denies that incidents occurred. "You are mistaken," is what she said. But there were concrete incidents that she couldn't deny, and she avoided discussing them like the plague. She went off on all these tangents filled with anger, but mostly I saw that she was protecting herself. She could not deal with what she had done, with who she was, and it's probably because she'd hate herself for what she did to me.

My Aunt Patricia was murdered right after I turned a year old. For years, my grandma would just be sitting in the kitchen, crying. And I didn't know why. I was only three, four years old. And I remember asking Aunt S why she was crying, and she told me that it was because of me. I felt AWFUL. Or when I would make a mistake, she'd look at me with disgust and say, "What were you thinking??" I would fill up with so much hatred for myself, because I felt like I must be so inherently bad for screwing up the way I had. The worst thing she did was when I found out that I pregnant. My mom was too ashamed to tell anyone, so when I was planning the baby shower she wouldn't give any of our family and friends' addresses to us. So for the online registration, I didn't put her address as a shipping address...what I didn't realize was that made her not listed as a grandparent. Stupid, I know. But in her Borderline Rage, she couldn't decide whether to talk to me or shun me all together. So my Aunt S gave her my book, Understanding the Borderline Mother, which was filled with my annotations. She told my mom that she wanted her to have the book so she could see how much I hated her. That was absolutely incorrect guidance, because the purpose of that book was first to validate what I had experienced, and secondly how to live with her as she was. Why the hell would I want to learn to work with her disorder if I hated her? The love I have for my mother is unlike anything I have ever experienced. And so I was alone for my whole pregnancy, and the first nine months of having a baby. I didn't have my mommy.
But not once did I blame my aunt for this. All she did was talk about how I could go ahead and blame her, and never talk to her again, blah blah blah...and then it dawned on me. She blamed herself. And if she focused on that, she would hate herself, because what she did was awful. And she isn't strong enough to deal with that. She wouldn't be able to move past the hate. So she lives in denial.

All Borderlines hate themselves, deep down. A lot of us are aware of it. The trick is taking that hatred, embracing it, understanding it, validating it. And then, transforming it. Using that energy to learn from it. Hatred is just an emotion, just energy. When all that energy is redirected into healing, amazing things can happen. I'm seeing those amazing things every day.

A little Self Love

On Lance's blog, a "writing assignment" he had was to write a love letter to himself. Today I sat down with the intention to bitch about Beth some more. I keep meaning to sit and write her a letter (that I will never give to her, but instead use as a form of expression to help clarify my thoughts and prepare for a way to tactfully discuss the issues with her), but every time I sit down, I just don't feel like it. I don't feel like getting myself so worked up. Perhaps if I don't talk about her out loud for a few days I'll have enough pent up anger to vent. Until then, I'm going to put some positive self love out there. I'm stalling though. This is very difficult and awkward for me. I'm tempted to ramble on about how my mom made me believe that I couldn't be special, ect...but no. Here I go.

You are amazing. You're beautiful. You're insightful. In the midst of depression, you were self-aware enough to note that something was very wrong, more wrong than depression. You were honest with yourself, you were strong and courageous enough to look in the mirror and admit that you, like your mother and your aunts, have Borderline Personality Disorder. I know that day was hard on you. Like most children, you vowed never to become your mother...and you didn't, don't forget that! BPD has so many variations, and you are not angry. You don't have uncontrollable rage. You don't hurt your son. And you're not completely disassociated with reality. But there is a disconnect between what you know about yourself and what you believe about yourself. But you're working on changing that, and it's remarkable that you were the one to name it, to acknowledge the disconnect.

You are the strongest, most intuitive person you've ever met. Since you were a little girl, you've been devoting so much energy into transcending your suffering into strength, compassion, wisdom, and hope. At ten years old, in your first diary, you wrote that you had hatred in your heart and you knew you needed to write to get it out. That is brilliant! That type of self-awareness is remarkable for a grown adult, needless to say a ten year old girl. You were a ten year old girl who never gave up. No matter how much your heart was breaking, you kept your chin up and wrote your little heart out, read every book you could find, and dreamt of a better day, a day that you would make. You never treated kids cruelly, even though they bullied, teased, and hurt you.

It's incredibly impressive that you're able to sit and look at your actions and understand why you act the way you do. There's a lot of hatred in your heart, but you're starting to understand that it isn't your hatred in there, it's your mother's. Regardless, it took all your strength and then some to look yourself in the mirror and confront the darkness. And oh it was a valiant fight. The darkness, at times, swept you underneath, drowning you, disorienting you. And you didn't want to kill yourself, but you just wanted the pain to stop. And the antidepressants you were given worked so quickly, that you thought it couldn't be the medication, it must be my mindset. And so you stopped the medication and got pulled under the darkness once again. And I am SO proud of you deciding to keep fighting. The antidepressants only numbed you to the pain, and when you were numb you weren't aware, so you couldn't fix the root problems. You were brave enough to look the monster in you straight in the eyes and say "Fuck off". You knew you were stronger than it, and you were so right.

You're taking all the right steps to re-wiring your brain. You do yoga 3-5 times a week, you go to an Ayurvedic Consultant, a Psychologist, and a Life Coach. You practice meditation and read every book you can get your hands on...anything by Thich Nhat Hanh is an instant winner. And it's working. You're not freaking out like you used to. You're able to separate yourself from your emotions and experiences. If you don't get a job, you don't internalize it. If you start to feel bad, you just acknowledge that you're having a Borderline moment, you deal with it, and then you move on.

I love the person you are. You're hippie-chic. You're passionate about whatever you do. You wear beautiful skirts, your comfy Naot sandals, handmade jewelry from Tibetan shops, flowing tops, and basically anything Free People. You really do have amazing style. You love the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, The love to hike and swim. You use yoga as a means of self therapy, and you've been utilizing Buddhism in your life since you were sixteen. You love Audrey Hepburn movies, Apple products (three cheers for my new iPad2!), Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama (who you met and hugged...there's gotta be good karma coming your way). You have an identity, and it's truly a remarkable one.

Wherever you go, people are drawn to you. You have such an amazing smile, big, beautiful brown eyes, and a kindness that people sense. People can tell that you're compassionate. And boy, are you compassionate. Your mother abused you growing up, never gave you affection, the whole nine yards. And you've forgiven her because you understand her pain, you understand that she's in a darker place than you've ever been. On Easter, you couldn't find her or your baby boy (16 months old now!), and you found them sitting on the floor together in her walk-in closet. Your mom was so happy with him, and she was loving him in a way that she never loved you. And Baby adores her, too. But there was not an ounce of jealousy or resentment in you. Instead, you were so happy that it brought tears to your eyes--and you almost never cry.

You're a wonderful person, and you've been fortunate enough to find someone who sees you for who you truly are. He loves your soul. It's not just about your 23" waist, or the fact that your pretty, or even the fact that your highly intelligent. He loves you because you're different, because of your self-awareness, compassion, strength, motivation, and (as he puts it) "cute" personality. And you're a great partner. Right now, you're very focused on healing yourself, but you still make time to take care of him, and you always do a phenomenal job in the bedroom. And, you guys made a BEAUTIFUL baby. He truly is amazing. He has the best disposition, he's very intuitive, intelligent, and he's the cutest little guy anyone ever did see.

You're also a great mother. This is the thing you almost neglected. Don't listen to Beth. Yes, she is very draining. Her negativity suffocates you, and it does impede your parenting abilities. But remember last week when it was just the two of you while they were gone camping? It was great! And the healthier you get, the more energy you have to reach your full potential in all other aspects of your life. You're going about things the smart're building a strong personal foundation before tackling the rest of the world.

Don't be so hard on yourself. As Billy Joel said, slow down, you crazy child. You're only TWENTY YEARS OLD! Well, almost 21. But you are wiser than people twice your age, and you've found all the answers within yourself by your own motivation. I know you wish you were on track to graduating with a degree. But you have learned so much in these past few years, and you still get great job offers. You'll get your degree. You'll be able to do what you want, and you know that you'll be successful in any endeavor you choose.

....and now you're worried that people won't like your blog anymore and will stop following it. Ugh.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's been awhile

Stole this from Haven over at Beyond the Borderline Personality and figured why not have some fun, too?

1. If money didn't matter, where would your perfect vacation take place? Briefly describe.

 2. What's a bad habit that you have {or had} that is/was hard to break?

 3. If you weren't on a diet or counting calories, what would you like to have for dinner tonight?

 4. If you had the chance to interview anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what's one question that you would ask?

 5. Describe yourself in 6 words.


1.) I absolutely love to travel, so on one hand I'd want to tour Italy again, only this time without a guide, or I'd want to go on a Yoga Retreat with Shiva Rea. The retreat is probably my #1 vacation three times a day, all inclusive resort in India, going to the tree where the Buddha was enlightened, riding an Elephant, feeding the homeless, Ayurvedic Massages every day...simply amazing.

2.) Ugh, where do I even start? I don't drink, I don't smoke, but I love to flirt. I'm working on not flirting, but my eyes flirt without me even wanting to! I've been told I scream sexuality. I wish I could just keep that to myself (and a chosen partner!).

3.) I definitely don't calorie count or subscribe to a diet. But I'd love some sushi right now. Or, my favorite home dinner is sloppy joes with macaroni and cheese. Simple, nostalgic, delicious.

4.) Thich Nhat Hanh: Do I need to just let go of the past to heal, or do I need to focus on the past adequately before I can truly move on?

5.) Blackbird singing in the dead of night.

And as for me? I'm in a survival float right now. Got an email from the Family I was going to Nanny for saying that they decided to go with someone else. I've sent out about 50 resumes. I have about 3 options (well, one is a Nanny Recruiting Agency, so that's one option with a lot of options), so I'm hoping that by the end of this week I'll have a job. 

Fred and his family went camping, and there was no way in hell I was going to be in a tiny campsite with his mother for a whole week. I absolutely LOVE camping and really wanted to be there, but I knew it wouldn't be good for me. And then, Baby got really sick with his asthma, so he got to stay behind with me. And it was amazing. Not having Beth around made my mind feel SO much more clear. I'm so tired of her being passive aggressive. She obviously doesn't like me, is obviously trying to, and is obviously failing. Her lack of compassion and poor opinion of me as a mother and person in general are very clear in the snide little remarks she makes towards me. AND she ALWAYS acts like she's Baby's mother. She'll take over something I'm doing even when I tell her I've got it under control. She shows no consideration for how difficult this living situation is for me, and shows absolutely no respect for me as a mother. 

Today was the worst Mother's Day ever. Spent the entire day at my grandparent's house to celebrate my Grandpa's 70th birthday, which was fine. Usual family drama, but it didn't involve me, so I could quietly observe. But when we got back to Fred's house, Beth was sick (bad cough) and was supposed to be in bed. Well, I'm happily playing with Baby, and the bitch comes over and takes over. It's MOTHERS DAY and she comes to take my son away from me when she's sick. All week I had such an amazing time with him, but I didn't get to go to yoga at all, and Fred accidentally took my herbs in his backpack with him camping, so I didn't have any to take all week, and I had to reschedule my life coaching appointment. I was doing such a great job, too! By the end of the week my patience was wearing, and I had a Borderline day on Saturday because I was SO stressed and anxious about Beth coming home...with everything I did I could just hear her snide remarks in the back of my head, and they made me so angry. Baby senses my anger, too, and it's not good. And it makes me not 100% focused on him. 

I need to find a way to move Fred and I into a place together, with our baby, away from his mother. I want nothing to do with her. She is the bane of my existence. She doesn't need to adore me, hell, she doesn't even need to like me after what I've put her son through. But she needs to treat me like a human being. And I deserve the respect of being a human being and Baby's Mother. 

But, Glee did Fleetwood Mac's Rumours Album this week and that made me so happy. Love love loved it! Another random thing that was on my mind today...Everyone I've ever talked to hates Rachel. I'm not selfish and as extremely crazy as she is, but she was always my favorite character and I kind of identified with her (except I dress really well and "scream sexuality") for some reason. I told Fred this today, and he laughed and said that was ironic, because her personality was his favorite on Glee, too. I guess I should count my blessings that I found someone who completely loves and accepts me for who I am.

And I still believe that BPD is curable, and that it is not who we are. It is something we're experiencing. Fact is, we don't have the answers. We have no way of knowing what reality truly is, because everything we know comes through our perceptions of experience. So, our perceptions are everything. We have control over what reality is. I could be wrong. I could be right. But all I know is, I'm getting better. I'm not perfect, and I never want to be...I always want to improve myself, and thanks to my lifelong friend called BPD, I'll always get to. But I get to decide who I am, what my personality is, ect. We CAN rewire our brains without a lobotomy. It just takes a lot of work, a lot of pain. But once we stop seeing suffering as a bad thing, and instead as a part of the path to healing and enlightenment, it becomes so much easier. I'm reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child, and he says, "It's through our suffering that we can see the path of enlightenment, compassion, and love. It's by looking deeply into the nature of our sorrow, our pain, our suffering, that we can find a way out."
The hard part for us, though, is then letting go of the pain...Thich Nhat Hanh recognizes this, too:
"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar."
Since today is Mother's Day (or was, now it's Monday...) Here's a picture and a song-quote for my beautiful Baby Boy. Today, I celebrated him.

"For you, there'll be no more crying,
For you, the sun will be shining,
To you, I'll give the world
to you, I'll never be cold"