The show follows several families within a family – dynamics, transitions, realizations of all the diverse family members. In this episode, a 20-something engages in a romance with her boss, in an assistant position created for her by her Aunt, who catches her in her neglege in the hotel room. One is left to presume that the Aunt heard her niece was going on this business trip alone with this older man, had a hunch that something was up, and flew out to rescue her. In the same episode, a teenage boy is uncontrollably upset when he finds out that his mom is planning to have a baby with his step-father. His Mom talks about it with the step-father, and he decides to take the boy out for a burger; later on, the Mom talks to the boy’s father about it, because the boy is unable to articulate his feelings very well with his Mom.
The thing that struck me was a sadness in me for the fact that I did not grow up in a family like that. I never felt like other family members understood what I was feeling and took loving, supportive action. What it comes down to is that I always felt alone in dealing with what I was feeling – no one knew, and the few times they did, they didn’t respond in a way that spoke understanding, compassion or support to me.
What then struck me is that I have just finally had this experience this weekend, while liquidating my storage unit, back in the place I lived for 8 years before my melt down in the Spring. It was a new experience for me to reach out in the way that I did and ask for what I needed. No, in advance of my speaking up, no one really had the where-with-all to realize the anxiety I felt about going. I had extreme anxiety in the form of raised heart beat and panic attacks in the middle of the night for several weeks leading up to my trip, and in retrospect, the root of that anxiety was the notion that I was going to have to face all my old stuff up there alone, and that my tired brain was simply unable to handle all the details. That I was going to have to cover up the panic inside again, pretend like everything was fine and somehow get it all done without letting the stress show.
That’s what I did for most of my life. I was an ice burg, in quiet, frozen desperation, so well automatically hidden, I cannot blame myself for seeing no hope. It took a natural disaster from the universe to melt.
My friends this weekend showed me the kind of love in this episode of Parenthood – the kind of love I always wanted, and thought that I just didn’t deserve. I thought that I didn’t deserve it because what I was feeling was grotesque and unacceptable, that there was something horribly wrong with me. If I was normal, I wouldn’t have to hide so much, and people wouldn’t leave me alone so much.
The kind of damage I sustained in my childhood is not overtly even close to so many other stories of abuse. The sources of dysfunction in myself are far more subtle, every single one of them. I illustrate the reason that not everyone who is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder was abused , in the typical sense of the word, in their childhoods. I have lived with chronic confusion about how I really am in the world, because I have been so confused about where I have come from – did I come from abuse, or am I being a drama queen? Do I have feelings and reactions that are not normal, or am I only choosing to see it that way? This was the endless loop of confusion I lived in. The definition of cause for BPD by Tami Green opened the door to a lot of clarity for me: A sensitive child who does not receive the extra attention and validation he or she needs in order to develop secure attachment. I am back to my previous post about how abuse is a completely subjective experience.
I’m appreciating the perspective and understanding in myself about the pressure I felt to be a sensation, without the social and emotional supports so many take for granted. Add perfectionism, sensory and emotional intensity to that, and you have a pretty good recipe for the disaster that was my life.
Another wave of grieving, compassion, mending, loving. A particle of light in some deep reserve in me.
- Breaking it Down: Borderline Personality Disorder (psychologiques.wordpress.com)
- Cycle, cycle…bicycle? (leonawisoker.wordpress.com)
- There IS Hope: Effective Treatment For Borderline Personality Disorder (peterhbrown.wordpress.com)
- Unstable Moods in Borderline Personality Disorder (showard76.wordpress.com)