We have gone through almost half of the book, and soon it’s time to start digging into my childhood and possibly to cause some irritation in my parents as I go through tests and the like to figure out what I lacked in the past. But before that, I want to take a moment to see how I feel my child’s needs were met if they were met at all. I will look at things like safety, unity, independence, and limits among others, and possibly continue this pondering in a few more posts.
As a child, I remember being quite carefree. I used to go around running in the bushes with my friends (which I had back then in ample amounts), playing all sorts of real-life games, and going to birthdays. We visited my cousins often and they visited us, and I went with my parents to various places to watch them in action (things like volleyball, badminton, car repairs, fishing, etc.). This all is from before my parents separated.
I was about 11 when they did that, and after that tragedy, my life changed. My sister moving away from home didn’t help either, as with the separation came the loneliness. Sadly, the friend group I had been a part of cast me out during that time as well, and I even switched classes. So many things went broken and changed without explanations and so suddenly that I did not know what to think.
I was constantly anxious, my father was no longer there to keep the bullies at bay. I had no friends to turn to, and my mother was a mess for a while, dealing with her own sorrow (which is understandable). All of this must’ve led to my intense fear of abandonment, one of the key elements of BPD. I grew pessimistic and stopped interacting with people as I had previously.
The plotline for this post is already forming. Just as in the previous point, the feeling of belonging somewhere also changed around the time of my parent’s separation. Up till that, I had been cared for decently, but now, my father, who worked in a loop of one day at work, three free, was no longer there. My mother worked daily, and so I was often alone during the days with no one there to keep me company.
When it comes to general closeness, I’ve grown to realize that I was never that warm with my family. Getting physical comfort like hugs is not in my memory, especially from my father. I also don’t remember being comforted on the mental side, as after the separation I withdrew to myself and kept the bad things behind my bedroom door. The one time I told the girls of my previous friend group are bullying me, my mother told me to smile at them, as it would deflect the comments. After that, I did not tell her about the other times I was harassed, even when it got physical.
I was not happy with it, but I didn’t want to be a bother to my mother, with whom I lived most of the time. I was lonely, buried myself in books, got estranged from my sister, and quite frankly, I think I wasn’t that important to anyone, including myself. I became the outsider that I kept being up till the day I married my husband and joined this new family that is so very different from what I am used to.
In my childhood, I was interested at least in scouts, writing, and archeology. Also space – I remember making a presentation about black holes in grade school. Unfortunately, none of these things got much wind or support from my family.
I’ve talked about how swimming was the past time of choice in my life, whether it was my choice or not didn’t matter. Every week, 5 days a week, I would go to practice. I don’t remember ever having anything to say about it, as my father was the coach to us back then.
My wants and desires didn’t matter much, I don’t think. We were a middle-class family in the 90s, and I shared a room with my sister, who is 6 years older than me. You can guess who was more in command of our room. I didn’t choose what to wear, as clothes just magically appeared from somewhere, sometimes they were passed down from relatives. There was nothing I can remember, other than my writing (which I got told to keep as a hobby but not to make it my work), that I could truly call my own. Other than that, I had no hobbies that I had picked for myself (until I quit swimming and took on TaeKwon-Do), no control over where my life was headed.
Until I got to be a teen and all hell broke loose. But that’s another story!
I had a lot of pressure about being that mythical “proper citizen”. School had to be going well, in swim practice my father was pushing us to be stronger, faster, better. The bread had to be evenly buttered, ice from the car windows had to be meticulously cleared. I had not shown my dissatisfaction in the form of anger once in my teen years. Not that I recall anyway.
I don’t think my parents respect me, and my sister even less. From the way I’ve been treated in my adult life, it became very clear, that some of them saw me as a person who was incapable of making their own, sound decisions. Was I really something that needed to be molded into some puppet to do their bidding? Would it have hurt them to listen sooner, when I talked about my hopes and dreams, especially regarding writing?
For most of my life, I’ve felt like I am somehow bad, tainted. I couldn’t talk to my parents about the self-harm, I was so ashamed and thought that they’d stop loving me, or that they’d abandon me. I had to always be a good girl, kinda like Elsa from frozen, concealing, and not feeling. I had so much pressure to be the girl they could be proud of, as I didn’t think I was anything to rejoice over. I was a weight, and I wasn’t enough as I was.
My limits as a kid were more psychological than actual ones, I think. The only true boundary I recall having was the curfew at night, and I consistently missed it, and thus got greeted with some spanks. That’s pretty much it, that and having to do my homework before I could go out and play.
After the separation of my parents, it got worse, which is no surprise. It didn’t help that it seemed like neither of them cared about putting many boundaries on me, and in some cases, it was like they had no boundaries themselves. I often stayed up late, was going about online, weaving the webs of deceit, and making questionable choices about who to hang out with. Thankfully, the people I chose were somewhat decent (when I was a teen anyway) and so I was relatively safe on my journeys.
The aspect of being fulfilled goes well together with what I told you of my independence. I had no desires or dreams that would’ve been validated, and so, I got discouraged and put aside my writing habits in the face of the things my parents wanted me to be doing. This, together with the fact that I rarely decided anything for myself, and that leading me to feel like a waste of a person, made it so I never showed my pain to my family. I mean, as far as I know, they were not aware of my suicidal and self-harming tendencies before an ex-boyfriend ratted me out to them. And that happened years after I had started out with the destructiveness.
As a small child, I was happy-go-lucky, always creating weird things, curious about the world. But that stopped around the separation, and I became reserved, skittish. These days I still have difficulty just letting go and enjoying the moment, to be spontaneous. For me, being spontaneous is too close to being borderline impulsive. It scares me.
I would say that before the separation I had almost no freedom outside of calling my friends to play every now and again. And after it, well, I had way too much. And it got worse when I grew older.
From this pondering, I can say that the separation of my parents might’ve well been the pivoting point in my mental health, as it broke my whole world. I was left wondering why, and what now? To this day I don’t have any answers, and I am too scared to even ask. Maybe I should though, to get some closure for my inner-child.