Releasing The Guilt

Finally being able to a call, a thing! My God, what a relief! I’ve felt the crippling feeling of guilt, shame and misguided love my entire life. The kind of feelings that make you question whether you’re worth anything at all. And it all wouldn’t be possible without my mother.

My mother, an undiagnosed BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), has wreaked havoc in my life since as long as I can remember.

How can the person whose supposed to love you and hold you and reassure you that the outside world is cruel — not the inside — hurt you so badly and so intentionally?

When the feeling of your mother’s embrace is something that you want to badly but when it happens it feels like a thousand and one lies. A constant game of bait and switch, where her only happiness comes when she’s provoking anger and proving that everyone is inherently evil.

I write this passage tonight because I’m going through therapy and need a release. Because as I learn more about this mental illness and hear stories of the countless who have suffered at the hands of a mother with BPD — I need to acknowledge my feelings.

A symptom of a child with a BPD parent is that they learn to hide how they really feel — for fear that it may upset the parent. I can’t hold it in any longer. I have to say what’s on my heart so that it can begin to heal.

I’m not sure if I love her. I can most definitely say that I didn’t learn love from her — not the true, authentic love. If anything it’s been anger and pity all mixed into one. I’m not sure if she’s ever truly loved me at all. My therapist stated that she could hate me. She said that individuals with BPD are thieves that steal love.

My hope and wish is to constantly remind myself that I will feel better one day and to rely on my inner strength, self-worth, friendships and self-love. I’ll start with releasing the guilt of being responsible for my childhood and remember all that I’m grateful for.

  1. A great education that allows me to earn an income and not be dependent on a BPD mother.
  2. The ability to love and empathize with people even if I’ve never been in their situation.
  3. The ability to think before I speak and apologize when my actions are hurtful.
  4. The ability to sing and act and dance and draw and paint.
  5. My great friendships that have lasted me 10+ years with some really amazing people who love me no matter what.
  6. A father who has always been my greatest supporter and best hug giver and advice giver.
  7. My love of people and animals and travel and chocolate.
  8. The love of a God who gave me the strongest test because He knows I have a purpose (still trying to find it).
  9. An able body, mind and soul that can rationalize, reason and love.
  10. An eye for design and good taste.
  11. The ability to tune out the negative and focus on the positive.
  12. My persistence and ability to plan and negotiate.
  13. The love of an extraordinary girl named Michelle — a woman that makes me feel that even the worst part of me is never as bad I see it.
  14. For all 50 states making it legal to marry. Woohoo!
  15. For Broadway, Opera, Pop Music, Indie, Festivals, Concerts, 50s Music.

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My Mother Has BPD

What a relief! To hear someone finally say that I hadn’t been crazy my entire life for thinking my mother had some type of mental illness. Yesterday, I was finally validated and assured that it wasn’t me — it was my mother.

BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder, is a mental disorder characterized by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships.

For as long as I can remember, my mother has always been inconsistent with her behavior. She was very physically abusive when I was a child as well mentally and emotionally. Although the physical abuse has subsided I still have many triggers and emotional upsets It doesn’t help that I still live with her (yikes!)

I moved back in at the age of 26 last year and have been living there a full year. I’m trying to get my life on track financially so that I can move on and do bigger and better things. My dad lives with us as well – he’s a God send. If it weren’t for my dad, I swear I’d be in an insane asylum. He’s my rock. Unfortunately, he’s also the target for many of my mother’s demands and mood swings. That’s a whole other ball of wax.

I’m hoping that by attending therapy regularly, learning more about BDP and interacting with a support group will help my feelings of deep inadequacy and emotional instability be replaced by feelings of empowerment.

Do you anyone living with BPD? If so, how do you cope?

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Having Compassion for the Abuser

I always felt so hot and cold towards her. Whenever she doesn’t feel well, whenever she is upset — I tend to ignore it. And it’s a symptom of what I’ve had to endure. It’s not easy switching your learned responses when you have been conditioned for years and even so when you’re constantly reminded of the past.

There are still things that my mother says and does that remind me of the fact that although she is no longer the same person she was when I was a kid she still certainly displays some similar characteristics. For example, my mother doesn’t typically apologize for anything unless someone calls her out on it. She doesn’t respect your space and likes to rearrange your things the way she wants them. As a child she used to take things from my room and give them away without asking. I don’t think anyone could ever blame me for being upset.

I like to think that I’ve forgiven my mother for everything that she put me through emotionally, mentally, physically but I can’t seem to get past it. I’m hoping that by immersing myself into Iyanla Vanzant’s book Forgiveness will help. I’m starting this 21-day journey tonight and will be documenting my progress. Here goes everything!

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Why Did I Stay? Why Did She Stay?

Hearing the recent news of former NFL player Ray Rice, his wife Janay Rice and the video that has caused a sensation throughout social media and newsrooms has left me with such a mix of emotions thinking of my own experience.

Only my close friends would know what I would be referring to but it would be great to break the silence and share from experience why even when I was in a battle for what felt like my life I still stayed.

She was charming, she said all of the right things and I thought she was all I would ever need. My idea of love was very dim in comparison to what I know is true now. Love should never hurt, it should never be mean, it should never be jealous or vengeful — to name a few I’ve learned.

Thinking about this brings back so many flashbacks. The moments where I ran down the streets at 3:00 a.m. to run away from her. The moments where I would want to clear my head and get away only to have myself pinned against a wall or a door being told I couldn’t leave. The moment where I ran down the streets of downtown only to be pinned to a chain link fence where I screamed at the top of my lungs to have someone save me. The moment where she put her hands around my throat. The moments where nothing I did was never right. When I was criticized for everything that I did — even the way I breathed. When every attempt to make her happy almost always resulted in some sort of putdown. When I jumped out of moving cars just to get away from her.

Why did I stay? I’m a strong woman but I felt like I needed to be there for her — like I was her only saving grace in this world. I felt like my life was a whirlwind and I was trying to gain steady ground in order to sort out the issues I was facing. Yeah, when you’re in a situation like the one I was in there is no steady ground.

I stayed because I experienced mental, emotional and physical abuse as a child and I thought that love was supposed to be tumultuous. That they’ll always be someone running amok in your life and you have to make yourself small in order to make them happy. It’s hard to break a habit that you’ve known for 26 years. To leave the security of what you know (even if it’s bad) for fear that the unknown may be worse.

I left on May 31, 2014 and have never looked back. I have to thank Iyanla Vanzant’s book, Peace from Broken Pieces. It had been years since I had read a full book and it just so happened that the first one gave me the inspiration to leave. I’ll never forget this Iyanla quote, “you’ll never get what you really want unless you let go of what you don’t want.” I had had enough and I made the courageous decision to move all of my things out of her apartment while she was at work. My parents would later make the 400-mile drive and show up with my friends on a Saturday to pick up the rest of my things in a U-haul while I sat nervously a couple of blocks away for fear that if I was present she would react hastily. I really was afraid of her. 

Even weeks after leaving I still had so much fear. Her words haunted me. And I even felt bad for her and felt I left her in a bad place and was heartless for it. It wasn’t until I called Dr. Laura weeks later during her live streaming radio show that it was really put into perspective for me. She said, “you have two options — you can either go to school, study psychology and be her counselor or you can move on and make a better life for yourself.”

I chose the latter. I now live in south Florida with my parents, have a great job and have made some amazing friends. I have been working out, got a haircut, eat healthier and have a great deal more balance in my life. My insides finally match my outsides (I had gained 15-20 lbs. in that relationship).

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I hope for nothing in this world than to love people, love life and to help those who need it. I want to inspire the younger generations to really take a step back and look at their life and make sure they’re happy and making the right decisions for them not for anyone else. Thank you.

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Who is the Girl in that Selfie?

I’ve convinced myself of the reason why I like to take selfies. I’m trying to see if I still recognize her, especially after the life-altering year I’ve had.

For years I’ve lived my life on autopilot, trying to fill every minute of every day with work, friends, relationships, concerts, restaurants, clubs, dancing, and I drowned out the voice inside. The voice that held the answer to who I was, my dreams, my purpose and my inner peace.

I was in a constant tug-of-war between a boss who projected all of her anger onto me and significant other who did just the same. Had the new people at work not asked why I let my boss mistreat me, it may have taken me a lot longer to realize how bad it actually was.

Now, no one asked me about the girlfriend, because I never told anyone the truth of what was happening. I never told anyone that she yelled at me for the smallest things, that she became jealous of anyone I spoke to, criticized me constantly and manipulated me into thinking she was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Those who know me have been in total disbelief that I would allow such people in my life for as long as I did. The thing is that the broken me – the girl who never made it past May 31, 2014 – didn’t realize that I had a choice.

I was taught to learn that love would always hurt one way or another. That if you made people angry with you they would hurt you and that love would always mean pain. That you should accept that you’ll always be the punching bag. And that’s exactly what they represented to me — another chance at proving all of those things right.

Having these two individuals in my life during a 9-month period completely wreaked havoc on me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was anxious all of the time, gaining weight, losing interest in seeing friends, not feeling motivated to take care of myself, and preoccupying myself by pleasing the two people in my life who did not deserve it. I was definitely in a state of depression.

Several months ago I had had it at work and I courageously (some would say foolishly) quit my job without having anything else lined up. That alleviated some anxiety and stress but something still wasn’t right. A week after I quit my job, I moved in with my significant other and things started to spiral down quickly soon after. The fights became more intense, the words became more hateful, and I cried almost every night.

If it hadn’t been for the few weeks I spent at the local public library, using the computers to job search I don’t know where’d I’d be. During that time, I checked out a self-help/spiritual healing book by author Iyanla Vanzant, titled Peace from Broken Pieces. In the book she shared so much truth about her life struggles and how everything that happened in her life was a direct reflection of how she felt about herself.  Being a fan of hers from years back and seeing her on the Oprah show, it was mind-blowing to me that this woman endured so much turmoil.

A quote of hers that still gets me choked up is, “You can only get what you really want by letting go of what you don’t want.”

With that, I decided I was leaving the toxic relationship. A few days later a temporary job fell through and I ended up not only leaving a relationship, but also leaving a job, an apartment and my city and moving hundreds of miles away to live with my parents.

Nowadays when I take a selfie it serves as a reminder that I’m not completely lost. That even though there are parts of the girl prior to May 31, 2014 that no longer exist, I’m still here slowly picking up her pieces, healing them and using them to shape the me I thought I’d lost. 934771_10100505330996512_4189002201993813681_n

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The Heaviest Kitchen Table Talk

So as I’m on this track of becoming more aware of my thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions and addressing them, I decided to have ‘the talk‘ with my mother.

The talk that’s always needed to happen but I never quite felt like it was the right time. The talk that would bring mother and daughter to confront issues that have been resting right below the surface for a long time.

For years I tried to convince myself that I would never need to address it — that I would somehow manage to move on and be okay. Finally on July 19, 2014 I decided to have the talk. I confronted my mother about the lack of emotional, physical and mental instability I faced as a child.

There were many things that I faced in my childhood that always made me feel sudden urges of rage, anxiety, panic, insecurity, unworthiness, inadequacy, and so on and so forth.

My mother experienced the same things in her childhood and because she had not healed it prior to having children  I was the lucky recipient of the same treatment.

Now, I won’t go into detail of everything that I experienced as a child but I will let you know that throughout my life I experienced flashbacks and strong feelings of anxiety at the hands of mental, emotional and physical abuse. Things that made it difficult to be in relationships because I was searching for something that the other person couldn’t give me — my mother’s acknowledgment of what had happened and the truth.

Now at 26 years of age, I stood in her kitchen and began to speak as clearly as possible as the tears started to stream.

I won’t go into the full dialogue of what was said but I’ll let you know the points that were discussed on both my end and her end.

My Grievances

  • I never felt safe as a child
  • I didn’t feel that my words or feelings were ever validated
  • I didn’t feel comforted (false sense of comfort)
  • I was confused as to what love meant
  • I accepted that chaos and instability would always be part of loving relationships
  • I had estranged relationships with women because the foundation of what a woman thought of me (my mother) was completely distorted
  • I didn’t like the idea of bringing my (future) children around my mother
  • I didn’t feel like I could have a relationship with my mother because she used very little tact when it came to expressing herself (often hurting people’s feelings)

What I Wanted

  • A relationship with my mother
  • Being able to trust her with my feelings
  • Communicating effectively as mother and daughter
  • Acknowledgement of what had happened

My Mother’s Response

  • She completely understood where I was coming from
  • She did I try to apologize years before but I was not able to receive the message because I had not developed my thoughts about the issue
  • She asked for my forgiveness and I could tell that the part about not bringing children around really hurt her (I reassured her that I would)
  • She promised to reflect on the way she says things to make sure she doesn’t her mine or anyone else’s feelings (her first inclination was to threaten me that she was going to just not say anything anymore)

A lot of tears were shed but not as many as I had cried over the years and it felt like a spiritual cleanse. A huge weight had been lifted from my chest and I could tell off of hers as well.

UPDATE

It’s a work in progress but each day is an opportunity to strengthen the bond. I can’t say that magically everything is better but at least the pounding thought in my head about my mother and the talk could finally stop.

We find small things to chit chat about and I know that given time we’ll be in a much better place because anything is better than never having said a word.

Me & Mom

Me & Mom