I have this persistent, permanent underlying bad feeling… I’ve had it my entire life, and no matter what I do, I can’t get it to go away… not for very long anyway. It always returns.
The only way I can describe it is a crave, a need, to fill a void that exists in my core. it’s an empty feeling, a missing piece, a lack of some thing very important. These days it presents as an urge to put something in my mouth. Something nice, that will make me feel good. It’s often been the way, either consuming something intoxicating like alcohol or drugs, to relieve the feeling. Then there was the starving, followed by the binging and purging, in an attempt to gain power and control over it. Then there was the cutting, where I would try to drain it away.
I’m in therapy, and I can’t identify why or what this is. Is it an underdeveloped ego? Low self esteem? Anxiety? There is a huge, gaping hole inside me where something big should be. But I don’t know what! How can I fix what I don’t know?
It feels like I am lost, alone, lonely, left out, unheard, unnoticed, ignored, unimportant, bored, stuck, frustrated, angry, paralysed, muted, afraid, laughable, weak, pathetic, not taken seriously, disrespected, powerless, out of control, upset, irritated, not trusted, judged, put down, taken advantage of, used, abused, offended, tired, hopeless, unsure, uncertain, unstable, disliked, overreactive, sensitive, delicate, fragile… bad. In general. All the negative feelings and emotions you can think of.
I drink daily, to ‘take the edge off’. “Take the edge off what?” My therapist asked… a question that plagues me… what’s wrong with me? And how do I fix it?
I can’t go on using maladaptive coping mechanisms to get short-term relief from this feeling. I can’t continue to attempt to fill the void with alcohol. I need to figure this shit out and address the issue.
Over the weekend Dom nearly broke up with me… to be honest……… I don’t blame him.
There is so much I’m doing wrong: I don’t pull my weight around chores and house work, I never cook, barely ever wash up – don’t even know how to use the new washing machine, I drink alcohol at every given opportunity (to excess), I act without thinking about the consequences, I’m selfish, I don’t think about other people, I’m inconsiderate, I’m entitled and expect everything to be done for me and I rely entirely on other people to do everything. I am basically a dependant child, I never take responsibility for my actions, or admit to being wrong. I find it near impossible to apologise in a meaningful way, and worst of all I never change! I blame my mental illnesses for the way I act and react or don’t act, but there is more to it. I got lazy. I lost my drive, my will power… my determination. I lost myself. Relationships are a partnership, they take work. I’ve slacked off and jeopardised everything. I nearly lost Dom for fuck’s sake! The love of my life. All because I stopped trying, at life. I stopped putting effort in and became completely self absorbed. He has the patients of a fucking saint to put up with me being this horrible, and for so long! How he’s stayed with me though my shit I really don’t know.
I apologised for real today. I can see it all now. I took a long hard look at myself over the weekend, and I didn’t like what I saw. I feel like I have woken up for the first time in literally years. He’s right, it’s repeated behaviour. Why would he want to continue a life together being my mother, my carer, my fucking slave for God’s sake. It would not be fair.
The weekend was an eye opener. A wake up call. I know this is not who I am. I CAN change, for the better. I know I can. It’s going to take more than therapy, it’s going to have to be driven from within me.
I said “I’m nothing without him” and that’s got to change too. I need to be a someone, I need to have self respect, stand on my own two feet. We can lean on each other for support in times of need, but the poor guy has been carrying me!
Well no more. Today was a new day. A fresh start. I’ve started to make changes already. It helps that I can see clearly now. I think I definitely have an alcohol problem. I would even say… at this point I admit to being a functioning alcoholic. I haven’t touched a drop for two days now. I’m not blaming the alcohol, but it is a catalyst to a downward spiral.
I need to be alert to my behaviour, pay attention to other people, let myself feel instead of numbing out or getting bind drunk. I will change. I’m certain of it. Even if I need to re-read this post everyday for the next five years. I can’t go on mistreating Dom, and the people I love.
When lockdown first happened I reached out to loads of people who I’d not spoken to in years. I felt more forced into isolation than ever before, and I’m quite a social person naturally, I just can’t keep hold of friends for some reason..? All of a sudden I was connected again! I felt revitalised, like I suddenly had more friends than I thought! They were all just a bit dusty on a shelf hidden away in the back of my brain somewhere. We had conversations over the phone, WhatsApp groups, and meet ups over Zoom (which seemed to be the new Skype). Lockdown was a bit of an excuse to do these things. Distance wasn’t a problem OR an excuse for anyone anymore because you could be bloody neighbours and still not be allowed to see each other face to face in real life. It was a weird time, filled with boredom, loneliness and fear, but also, hope, gratitude and strong emotional bonds.
Fast forward to lockdown lifting; The incredibly, idiotically named “Freedom Day”, where everyone was… (is..?) still scared about COVID killing people, but it’s not enough to keep us apart anymore… all so it may seem.
Personally, I feel lonely again. I’m seeing wAy more people face to face now, at my new job etc. than I have done for a very long time, but I’ve gone out of my way to make sure I continue to text and ‘check in’ on those people who I reconnected with at the start of lockdown. However, I’m not getting much in return… the conversations run dry, I get short answers, or no answers at all! I know people have their busy lives back, but so do I..? – I’m still making the effort… Friendship is supposed to be a two way thing. Where are the people texting and ‘checking in’ on me? Where are my texts out of the blue?
I swear, I scroll through my phone book these days and there are so few I would actually call a friend I can’t tell if it’s sad or scary.. maybe both…
I had a conversation about this with Dom not long ago. He notices when I get down and always asks about what is making me sad. when the answer is that I’m lonely and I don’t have any friends, it can get a bit awkward. Dom likes to be a problem solver and resolve my sadness with advice, but for this it’s tough… you can’t just magic up friends. You have to build on relationships with chosen people over a long time… not only is there the ‘growth period’ that is a blocker to having instant friends, but there is the question of where the hell do you find them, if you’re not at school, college or Uni..? those were my chances to build relationships that would last me through my boring adult/‘more mature’ years. But no, BPD prevented me from ever having healthy relationships with anyone. Thanks BPD… Then, there were the ones (mainly from Uni) that I did want to keep as forever friends… but I didn’t maintain it he relationships properly when I moved back to Birmingham… “Out of sight, out of mind”, thanks ADHD… so I feel like those relationships are now beyond repair, and I’ll never have that tight bond we once had ever again… Fuck.
I’ve even neglected my relationship with my brother… who for most of my life has been my best friend in the whole world. We have a closeness due to our family situation that not many people would be able to comprehend. Our family are the functioning fucked up, but however negative that sounds… there is SO much love for each other. Me, my Mom, my brother and my Dad.
Now of course I have Dom, the love of my life. I know this because he balances me out whist at the same time sticks by me and supports me through thick and thin. He has the patients of a saint, not many people would or could put up with my multitude of flaws (be that due to the personality disorder or various other factors). Dom saw something in me that was worth more than anything I could see in myself, he has spent the last four years trying to show me and to convince me to believe in myself, which I must admit is sinking in. He saw a future, he saw potential, he saw the ‘me’ beneath my collection of diagnoses and layers of medication. However dreamy snd romantic sounding this is it’s not been easy – Don made very clear from the start of our relationship that he wouldn’t be my carer, that I have to be able to take care of myself and prove that I can be independent… Which, I worked at, and eventually did. I feel like I’m still proving it, every day, but not to him, to myself. Now I want to succeed, I want to be stable and happy and one day raise a family with Dom. He gave me something to fight for. He was and always will be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
I love you Dominic Russ.
Talking about the future like this has made me realise, there are a small handful of people who I still want to be around with me on this journey. People I feel are drifting away. My brother being the main one. I have a few relationships that I need to focus on fixing, then I can think about new friends (if I need them). I’m nearly 33, where do you get new friends at this age anyway?
Those people I love, you know who you are (yet I very much doubt you know of the existence of this blog). I’m coming for you, I’ve not given up.
One of the well known catch phrases associated with Borderline personality Disorder (BPD) or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is “I hate you – don’t leave me!”… in my eyes this sums up splitting on a loved one and fear of abandonment.
I’ve been trying to do some thinking this morning as I awoke unusually early, before my alarms (that often fail to get me up anyway). So I came down stairs, made coffee and (unusually) flicked on the morning news (I never turn on the TV). I caught up on current affairs (which again is unusual for me), had breakfast and got in the shower, all without being prompted by my ever patient boyfriend (as he was still in bed). I was quite proud that I was fed, washed and dressed before 9am. I took coffee up to a sleeping Dominic, and gently pestered him in intervals until he got out of bed. Maybe I should have left him to sleep a little longer (he’d not slept well). But quite selfishly I was bored and wanted company and conversation. It wasn’t until he finished his breakfast that I started to moan, but rather than a general moan, I was trying to figure myself out in a self aware way. I moaned about; being bored, not having any friends, being in lockdown, lack of social interaction etc.. Dom reasoned with me, as he does in an attempt to try and get to the root of the mood. I realised that I couldn’t gauge my mood until I was in conversation, and that it turns out that I am grumpy, even after such a seemingly positive start to the day. I then started to explain that I thought I might be jealous of Dom, because his days have a focus (his PhD), he has an aim, work to do, tasks to complete. When he stops talking to me -he is still occupied with things. Whereas when (from my point of view) when he stops talking to me -I have nothing. I just quietly wait until the next snippet of conversation sparks up. I do not actively entertain myself. I just sit there on standby. I feel like I do get bored (very much so) and it’s not like I can’t think of anything to do either. I could list loads of things to do, but my trigger is broken. I will want to do things, but I won’t want it enough to act. Everything seems like a massive effort, I can rarely make myself do anything (even things that I want to do). I will always end up fixing my environment, making it tidy, or filing my nails/plucking my eyebrows. Always a meaningless procrastination task that can wait.
Anyway, after further thought, I think I may have got somewhere in picking this apart. I am not okay being alone. I don’t know how to care or look after myself, how to occupy or entertain myself… I have never been alone.
When I was a baby (apparently) I would cry whenever my mom left the room. I didn’t really have many friends after my one best friend moved away in early childhood. Instead I was picked up by a bully and kept close for years, the bully was the only ‘friend’ I had, and she used to torture me on a daily basis, making me do whatever she wanted me to by threats of no longer ‘being my friend’. I was so scared of being alone that I thought I was better off being tortured. My Dad had another life and never married or lived with my Mom, but he would come over to see us everyday after school for a few hours… and then leave. I remember standing in front of the door to barricade it, and chasing his car down the street as he drove away each night. That hurt me a lot.
I eventually broke away from the bully, only for her to be replaced with a voice in my head called John. He told me what to say and do, I was then technically never alone. For years I had him to talk to in my head, until his demands turned gory and I had to self harm. My troubles were discovered and I was admitted to a child and adolescent psych hospital and put on medication. That was the loneliest time of my life.
Got out of there and made it to college where I met my first boyfriend. I thought he was the love of my life, we were sickly and inseparable, and stayed together for one year and three months… then I split on him and love turned to hate. He was heart broken and threatened to kill himself if I did not agree to get back together. I did not agree… he did not kill himself. But that hurt me a lot and shook my already rickety trust with others. It was like I could just about live with them and not at all live without them.
I had a rocky time at university, that was the second most lonely time of my life until I made true friends a year or so into the three years. I moved away from home in an attempt to gain independence. It was sort of like running away, but safer. I developed an eating disorder and became very sick. Still self harming and drinking I partied away my chances at decent grades. By the end of the three years there was a really good group of us. Friends for life I called them. Then Uni finished and I moved back home with my Mom. Everyone went their separate ways. I lost the first real friends I’d ever had.
At home I spent a year getting high with my brother before he moved away to university. Then I was alone again. No friends, no job. Just the same four walls of my little box room. I got very depressed over the years of isolation and attempted suicide by taking a big overdose and cutting both my wrists.
I got a support worker, 9 hours a week. She was younger than me which made me feel like a failure. But I got over it. She was my support worker for three years. She was practically paid to be company for me. A prescribed friend. I eventually got a job in Poundland which I hated. I befriended the assistant manager and asked him to be my boyfriend. We were together for a few years, both living at our parents houses. Neither of us had much drive. But retail was not for me. The hatred of the job drove me to apply for bigger and better things. I got a job as a support worker (how the tables had turned, I thought). Then the pressure got to me after a year there, and I had a breakdown. Back to square one. I broke up with Mr Poundland, he lost his job and did not look to get another. I was suicidal again, but did not act on it this time.
I joined internet dating sites to find a partner. Wasn’t long before I met Dom, and my life’s work to improve began. I got two part time jobs as mental health worker, moved into supported living as a stop-gap, and then got a more structured job working with deaf people. Me and Dom moved in together. We have had massive ups and downs but have also been on some great adventures. I care about him more than I care about anyone. I don’t want to lose him, and trust me, I think I’ve come close… a few times! But he is the love of my life.
I’m about to lose the stable job I’ve had for two years. But I can’t take another knock… I need to keep moving forwards. I’m not going back!
What I started off saying was I have this fear of being alone, this not knowing of how to be by myself, or how to cope in my own company. I was going to say I need to learn this. But really I need to learn about how to ‘be’ in general. With AND without people!