Life has a way of working out the way it wants to. Regardless of how we think it should go.
The past 16 years of my son’s almost 17 years of life have been filled with challenges.
First off, he was born to a 22 year old mother who already had two small children. This mother, (me) was suffering from anxiety, depression and other issues. In fact, most of my life I have had a very difficult time controlling my emotions. Hyper-sensitive to criticism, and to the unknown. I never enjoyed trying new things, or meeting new people. Painfully shy and prone to rage and horrendous crying fits from a very young age, I always felt very out of place.
A lot of that is normal. Kids are weird, let’s face it. But I think I was a bit more than just your average ‘weird’. Of course, this was in the 70’s and we didn’t have a big bucket of Labels to choose from with children. I think that added to this was the fact that my mother was only fifteen when she had me. I lived with my maternal grandparents until my grandmother decided that my mom was ready to have me live with her. I’m sure that my mom must have had a fear of asking for help for me, because she might feel as though somehow it was her fault or somehow she wasn’t competent. (it was NOT, and she WAS) Although I don’t remember how it all transpired, I do know that I was shattered to move out with my mom when my schooling was to start. I did not want to leave my grandma, and the goat farm.
I spent the next few years in what seemed to me like a nightmare. Meeting new kids, attending school – both were absolutely horrible experiences. I wanted to be back in the safety and solitude of my grandparent’s home. I just never adjusted. I also remember feeling nothing but hate toward my mother, and mainly indifference to her husband, a wonderful man who ended up adopting me because my biological dad and my mother had parted ways not long after my birth.
I remember being afraid daily of everything. Fires. Drowing. The sounds of cars driving past. I remember lying awake at night and screaming bloody murder because I felt like I was dying. I would hear sounds like marching soldiers, working their way up and down inside my mind. It was the sound of the blood rushing in my ears because I was having what I found out later, was a panic attack. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t swallow. Could only scream.
My temper was about as extreme as my fears. My rages were nothing that I think of as normal if I saw my children expressing them.
I always hated the way I looked. I had major issues with self-image. I daydreamed to the point where fact and fantasty became inseperable at times. I preferred fantasy. That too, of course, is quite normal for many kids – the fact/fantasy thing.
I lied often. I manipulated situations in order to self-preserve, save face, or in order to avoid uncomfortable situations. This can be common in children too. However my anxieties and self-hatred kept me awake at nights.
As a teen, I started drinking, being promiscuous. Continued being verbally assaultive to my family. I broke rules, screamed, had the sort of temper tantrums a 2 year old might have, but at 13, 14 and 15.
I don’t know if my self-hatred contributed to my mood instability, or if it was all a package deal. I do know that I involved myself in abusive relationships, and somehow, in my mind, they were romanticized. Something about being the victim. Something inside me wanted to play the victim. Maybe because it would then look like I had a reason for feeling so broken and messed up inside.
I had children, and all that is a very long story with alot of drama. Point being however that I was not healed. I was still broken. And I had kids.
Being with a man that left me for days on end, and berated me, and cheated on me and lied did not do alot to help my self image. By this point, I had realized that I did NOT want to be in a victimized situtation (had in fact learned that with the man I married at 16 who abused me and terrorized me in his drunken rages), and so at 22, I left the relationship with my three young children.
My youngest of those three was only a year old at the time. Whereas my 5 year old was a synical, sarcastic, slightly anxious child, and my 2.5 year old was a darling sweet, concerned sweetheart, my 1 year old was always difficult. Always challenging everything, and always over-reacting to his situation.
I was told in my early 20’s that I might be suffering from BPD (borderline personality disorder) and it was well understood that I defiinitely had an anxiety disorder. As for BPD, I didn’t agree with that at all. He did not describe it well to me, and I thought he was just a quack. I figured he wasn’t really listening to me and stopped seeing him.
Counselors, and teachers told me my son was ADHD. I questioned it, even though I went along with treatment for it, because the school would kick him out otherwise. He was however, an anxious child. He was afraid of me walking away from him. He was unable to control his emotions. He acted out constantly, especially when in an uncomfortable environement. He seemed to have issues with self-image.
I didn’t make a connection however. I didn’t think maybe he and I shared some of the same problems, because whereas I would simply panic, scream and cry when in an uncomfortable situation when young, he would be oppositional in more agressive and angry ways.
So, the years passed and he has had these problems. I still have mine too, but in the past years that I have experienced self love and a sense of spirituality, it has become MUCH better. Sometimes I have to withdraw from people in order to avoid the horrible hurt and pain I feel when they have a differing opinion, and of course, if they are actually being slightly cruel, it is magnified in my mind by 1000%… so I withdraw. I become numb, but I am then able to start putting things into logical perspective and not just react.
I went to a psychiatrist a few months ago because recently, my moods had become rather awful again, where I feel like I live in a constant state of PMS. This seems antagoized by the fact that my 16 year old is always challenging me, often being very verbally abusive and not coming home, and that it seems to trigger the part of me that just really sucks.
I decided to ask for my paperwork last week. I wanted to read this psych’s ‘diagnosis’. He wrote as an axis ii – borderline/cluster b. I was surprised. I had always thought that the psych I saw almost 20 years ago was just full of crap. In fact, after he told me that meds wouldnt help etc, I decided I hated him and would never see him again. (apparently that sort of ‘instant hate’ is relatively characteristic of BPD)
I started reading through the lists and sites of what BPD is. I had never really examined it before. Just thought I had some weird from of not yet discovered Bi-Polar disorder that I had nicknamed ‘My Broken Filter Syndrome’… I was really shocked to read about BPD and to see how REALLY oddly well it described me.
I know it”s not technically genetic, but whatever it is, seems to be affecting my son also. I had always thought BPD was not genetically passed down. However, it is documented that some people seem genetically pre-dispositioned for it.
Maybe he was born pre-dispostioned. Uncertain of self, idealizing people one minute, hating them the next, lying, twisting and manipulating…. and of course, what he REALLY has always wanted was to feel loved. And secure. But me, with my own issues, I was too busy hating myself and my life to see that he was just as over-sensitive as I had always been. So, maybe it’s environmental. Maybe it’s genetic. I don’t know.
I’m not blaming myself. But I really, really had an eye-opener. Sometimes kids hate themselves. Sometimes they don’t know how to express their pain. And sometimes, they are so out of touch with their emotions (because they are so overwhelming), that they do really fucked up stupid things. The more stupid things they do, the more negative attention they get, and the more they hate themselves. When we hurt, we tend to look for things to fill the void. This void gets bigger and bigger with the more crap we put in it.
For whatever reason, some people are born with a lack of self love. Some people are born far too sensitive to their surroundings. Maybe missing a layer… just a bit too raw. Then add in the actual mountains and canyons that life has to throw at you and WOW it can be incredibly difficult to function. At least now in life, along with this ‘raw’ness, I am also able to be perceptive to amazing joy and wonder. The overwhelming angst and sadness is at least now often sharing space in me alongside Beauty and Love.
We have spent many years fighting. He has said so many hateful things to me. Especially over the past few years. Last week he had to get kicked out becaues he totally lost control. He routinely mouths me off, tells me he hates me and to ‘fuck off’. Then afterwards, he is drained, and sad and empty. So, although this behaviour isn’t okay, I wanted him to know that I realize he isn’t simply a malicious bad kid.
I told my son that for what it was worth, I DO realize that he needed to be hugged more and held more. I told him this past weekend that I realize now that he has been in a lot of pain. I told him it doesn’t mean it’s okay to verbally abuse us, or to destroy property, and that I don’t have all the answers… but that I just wanted him to know, that I love him now. I have ALWAYS loved him, and that he has always been valuable, and important to me.
I had told him before that I had major anger issues growing up, and that I know he has something that he needs to get help with. In fact, the past numerous years we had been to see people who just wanted to give him ritalin. I always felt that it went a bit deeper. Speed wasn’t going to help. Deep seated anger and hurt based on a cycle of cause and effect all his life.
So, this big ramble really is more just for me, wanting to put it out there. ACTUALLY realizing, when I read about the bpd diagnosis that maybe all my life it has been an actual disorder that causes me to feel oversensitive to everything, and then, in turn, it caused me to learn bad habits in order to self-preserve etc…. always trying to figure out who I am. What I am. Am I anything? Going from emptiness to complete anger and sadness… all within a few hours sometimes.
And then looking at my son last weekend, when we went for lunch to discuss his current situation and realizing… OMG, I did NOT love this child the way he needed me to. Telling him that. So that at the VERY least, he will feel loved. And validated. When I brought some paperwork about BDP with me to the lunch for him to read, he said ‘you wrote that about me?’ and I said ‘No, this is from a website.’ and he said ‘Yeah right… you wrote this about ME mom. This is totally me. ‘ And i said… ‘yes, and you know what? It’s me too’. ‘You were born sensitive. Over-sensitive in many ways. Over-reacting to perceived slights and hurts that sometimes weren’t there, and when those slights and hurts WERE there? Well, to you it seemed 1000x worse than it would to the average person.’ ……
He actually understands now that what he is reacting to, is almost guaranteed to be only 1/10th as awful as it seems.
What does this mean? Well, maybe not much to anyone else, but to me, realizing that I have BPD, has helped me to re-evaluate the way I have looked at people, and at situations. Not sure if this IS what is wrong with my almost 17 year old. They don’t diagnose with BPD under 18. And it isnt normally medicated, so you know… it’s not a big score for the pharmaceutical companies… but at least it helped him to see that there are sometimes reasons why we feel so god-damn broken and not right our whole lives.
There’s my ramble 🙂