#LisMentalHealth week is an initiative started by my good friend Cecily Walker and Kelly McElroy. You can follow along on Twitter, add resources to the Google doc, or check out the Storify of Monday’s chat. Please do not diagnosis yourself via the internet — if you are concerned about your mental health or someone else’s, see a professional immediately.
When I was a kid, I used to sew my fingers “…together with needle and thread, through the upper layers of your skin. You would sew and sew and then rip it out gingerly and start over again.” As a teenager “…start a new habit of breaking things. You get angry and start breaking anything made of china or glass.” I used to stand in my bedroom, on top of my bed, smashing glass things on the floor. Never too much for my mother to notice, but enough so that she eventually did.
At one point I used to pull huge clumps of hair out. I’m surprised my hair hasn’t thinned or I have bald spots.
I no longer sew my fingers together. I not longer throw glass on the floor. I no longer pull huge clumps of my hair out.
Now I tattoo and pierce. Much more aesthetically pleasing.
I began this post with something wholly different in mind, with plans on concentrating being borderline as it is enough of an obscure disorder that had barely has been written on it in the public sphere other than medical chit chat. What I have found for community support and personal perspective is buried deep, deep into google search — essentially useless since hardly anyone goes beyond the first page of results. If interested, I’ve put together a list of resources found on websites, subreddits, and books I recommend/use are at the bottom of this post. (Be warned, some of the content can be triggering.)
If these posts helps someone not feel alone or to get help, that’s enough for me.
The above quotations comes from a piece I wrote in 2001, about a girl, dealing with the crazy to the point I was thisclose to having a mental breakdown. I found the piece when looking for the bit on sewing my fingers together that I was originally going to reference. I read about a girl, cried, and re-read some more. I’m no longer self-harming, hitting/punching people, or planning my death. TheExHusband, who was kind enough to listen when I read it out loud, pointed out if I was in the same state now as I was then, the pile on what happened in the last two years convinced him I would have killed myself because I couldn’t take it anymore.
He’s right. So yay me?!
So I’ll talk about being borderline interspersed with Jane Austen gifs. Get the word out. Find some other peeps who suffer, create a community. Think about how far I’ve come (I can marginally cook), I am not suicidal or do (as crazy) crazy things. I lived beyond the age of 40. Some good, yes?
Everything changes. Nothing changes. I will deal with this for the rest of my life.
I need your approval and adoration or else I do not exist
One of the tl;dr’s of about a girl was my mother’s lack of validation of me as a child. Who in thee fuck sends their nine year old to therapy? Grounds them for years for being a “bad” child, which meant punishing you for the mess your younger brother did?
I did not have validation, so I need validation from you or else I don’t exist.
I will do anything of that validation. Anything. I will get into a shitty relationship with you, I will do things I’m not comfortable with doing, I will lie for you. I am your pet trained monkey, say what you will and it is done.
I would deny the date rapes, the sexual harassment, the rapes and almost rapes because it meant someone(s) finally loved/wanted me. What more could a girl ask for?
Is it so terrible I have a credo which states I will do anything as long as I don’t land in jail? Bully for me I’ve been able to keep that creedo on point.
You will stay with me forever, even if you don’t like it.
Relationships, platonic and romantic, end. Some just drift apart, others there is a trauma, and yet still others you just manage to grow out of your mutual interests. Some of the endings are mutuals, others are not. Some of this sounds familiar to most of you — I can’t imagine anyone whose life is so perfectly balanced they haven’t navigated these waters.
With borderlines it’s different.
You could dislike me / break up with me for a host of a million reasons, all of them legit, but I need to know why. Why don’t you like me? What have I done that I can fix? What can I change to myself to make whatever has been fucked better for you and for me?
I don’t understand why there can’t be a change.
I don’t understand why you don’t like me.
I have made relationships worse with this behaviour. Relationships that could have been naturally saved if I had not decided to forcefully intervene.
I have burned bridges.
But after burning the bridges, after forcefully intervening, we tend to apologize for our behaviour.
I throw out the lines “fuck ’em if they don’t like me” and “I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me” and “I’m not to everyone’s taste” but secretly I need you to validate who I am. I put on a brave face because that is what I am to do but secretly…I need you to like me.
We are charming as fuck
We want your approval and we’re trained circus monkey’s who will do any trick we can to make you love us. We want you to validate us and by having you remember us, we will be adored.
For me, it’s anything I can do to make you remember me whether it’s as simple as remembering who you are to sending thank you cards (truly, I AM grateful when those are sent) to providing you with something you are missing in your life. So many people don’t remember names, send thank you cards, or do simple gestures so when someone DOES do those things, they are more memorable than not.
And I am validated.
My sarcasm and with tend to bring the smart people around to my side. My fashion choices tend to hook others.
I’ve got a million ways to charm you and if you’re a potential sex partner, some that will make your toes curl.
I am a pretty, pretty princess and I must always be the center of your world
Borderlines have to be the center of your world.
A fight means a break-up. A change in plans means you hate me. A missed phone call and you never want to hear from me again. Platonic friendships invoke jealousies. Friendships with ex-partners? Ha. Ha. Ha. You’re fucking cheating on me and you’re never going to change.
If we can make those things not happen (validation) and tap dance our charming ass off, borderlines will always be the center of your attention and therefore, we are finally whole.
I don’t self-mutilate, I pierce and tattoo (which is totally different. Ha. Ha. Ha.)
Borderlines tend to have incredibly self-destructive behaviour. They are alcoholics, drug users, risky with sex, self-mutilate, and attempt suicide at least once.
I tell myself, “Oh boy. Aren’t I lucky I’m not into those self-destructive behaviors!”
Self-destructive behaviors started when I was eight or nine and I would sew my fingers together. Then the hair pulling in clumps. Then throwing glass against the floor. The manic behaviour in my 20s.
The the risky sex partners. (How I’ve never gotten a STD from the crazy early 20s is a goddamned miracle. In the last ten years it’s been a string of long relationships with three separate men. Yay me? )
I forgot all of that. I forget a lot of things. It’s buried deep deep inside of me. A pomegranate seed I refuse to let grow. I do not water it. I do not tend to it. Yet it lurks its leaves under the soil waiting to bury it’s roots deep and its flowers high.
Instead I pierce. And I tattoo.
Nearly 15 years ago (jesus lord), sitting on the couch of an ex-boyfriend who in one breath wanted to fuck me and in the other called me a prision bitch. WHY LISA, WHY? You’ve ruined your innocence, he said.
You cry. But I tell him what the tattoos really mean: a protective seal to protect me.
If you see the tattoos, you’ll more than likely not fuck with me, if you don’t fuck with me, I’m safe. No worries about abandonment issues because I won’t let you in close enough to hurt me. As long as I played the guise of loudmouth, tattooed, bitchy bitch face, I was safe. People would respect me for it (which always blew my mind when they did. Which is a lot. People do like assholes.).
Because obviously tattoos and piercings, for some, are not a sign of self-mutilation but for me, they very subtly are.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
If you saw I was really a bookish, nerdish girl who would rather knit and read a book rather than get rowdy enough at a bar to get thrown out a bar (like I was at 21), you wouldn’t like me. No one liked me when I was a four eyed square in primary and middle school because I was different from everyone else (hoo boy, things changed when I grew breasts and got contacts), no one was going to like me now. Honestly? When I do show that side of myself, no one really expects it and think it’s some facade. What they can’t figure out is the opposite is true.
And the bitchy sarcastic cuntface continues to live supreme because that’s what people want, and I want them to like me, so it will remain so.
- 23 Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Want You To Know
- 10 Things You Discover About Yourself When You’re Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder
- Reddit /r/BPD
- Reddit /r/dbtselfhelp
- Amazon: I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me
- Amazon: Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder
- Amazon: Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder
- Amazon: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation
- Amazon: The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating
- Amazon: DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets
- Website: Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center | NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Find more materials on Amazon.