I read the latest post put out by ‘The Quiet Borderline’ entitled ‘Hurt Myself, I’m Hurting’ and was deeply moved by the extremely painful thoughts she has about her life, and her mother. So painful, that she is self-harming again. I thought I would send my letter out publicly in case anyone else out there had a similar story and was feeling bad. Here is the letter to you, The Quiet Borderline. (Others can read her post here http://quietbpd.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/hurt-myself-im-hurting/#comments )
Hello again. You’ve probably read some stuff about my childhood by now. I know that you’re following my blogs and are aware of my life story. Mine was a horrible childhood. Yours is a horrible story too. Growing up was a bitter experience because I too self-harmed, but in different ways. I starved myself most of the time, and had a terrible body image. Deep down I hated myself, I hated my life and I felt like an outsider even amongst friends. I even felt isolated amongst my loving family in the earlier years of marriage. I was in my late twenties when everything changed.
What got me feeling so much better about myself was when I realized that my mother and father were just fragile human beings too. They were confused, scared, had little self esteem and had little idea how to make themselves happy, let alone their children. My father had abused me dreadfully; sexually, physically and mentally, yet I began to understand as a 29 year-old adult that as bad as it had been, it wasn’t personal. My mother had never shown me much affection, had turned a blind eye when my father abused me, and she was so insecure, she would never leave him even when I begged her to. Again, none of this was personal. They hadn’t planned on giving their children the worst childhood ever. They hadn’t planned on being the worst parents ever. They just turned out to be the worst (in my eyes, anyway) because they didn’t know any better. They were people with masses of baggage brought from their own childhoods. They loved their children, but were too distracted by their own pain to show it. My father was a womaniser, chasing women he thought would give him a sense of self-worth. His abuse was a way of being in control of something; he lived in a world that didn’t value his skills, his race, his colour, his accent. He had an abusive father himself. I learned in adulthood that he hated HIMSELF; he didn’t hate me. With the nasty childhood I had, nothing was personal.
Like you, I suffered for years thinking my parents should have done this, or should have done that. But I stopped when I realized how pointless that was. It was done. There was no point banging on about it; it only made me suffer more to think of what ‘should’ have been. I began to take my focus off their behaviours, and ask myself what I could do with the experience. In time, I became a loving mother because of it, and I turned myself into a loving wife. I used my childhood as a reference to what parenting and marriage should NOT be. I realized that all the terrible thoughts that I had about myself were there because I had believed that they did what they did because I was unlovable, because I was ugly. My father told me I wasn’t clever, that I’d never be capable of looking after myself; he said a lot of horrible things that I believed. My mother told me without words that I wasn’t worth fighting for when she knew what I was suffering and wouldn’t leave my father. Because I was a child, I believed it all, taking on their baggage as my own. As an adult, I began to see the truth for what it was, and I decided to give them back the thoughts they had given me and claim back my life.
My parents never really healed themselves, but something got better in them because I showed them love and compassion. Their problem was no longer my problem because I took responsibility for my adulthood. I was friends with them until my dad died three years ago, but I could only do this because I made the decision to separate myself from their pain. I had choices. I could let go and move forward, and rebuild my life. Or I could continue to harm myself with dreadful thoughts about how unlovable I was.
I changed everything with that one decision. I took courses, I learned a number of trades, and I resolved to be the best friend I could be to myself. I worked at being the best wife, the best employee….you name it, I resolved to be the best at it. And why? So I could prove to myself that I WAS the best. Now, I know who I am, what my strengths are, what weaknesses need attention. There isn’t anybody that can rock my world with nasty words because I know myself, and I know that I can choose to believe what people say to me.
You can make this choice. The pain that makes you self-harm comes from the thoughts that tell you that you are unlovable. Don’t expect your mother to keep her promises. Just hope that she does. YOU make a promise to yourself, and keep it. Promise to grow up, and start your adulthood. Promise to examine your feelings and see that they are sourced in thoughts that are simply not true. Give yourself challenges and goals and accomplish them. Make your life your own. Start out anew. Depression always holds the challenge of change. To move out of it YOU have to change. Your mother can’t make you better. Chances are she hasn’t healed herself yet. Don’t give anyone but yourself that responsibility.
None of this is easy, but life hardly ever gives us easy challenges. You just have to make the choice to stop being the wounded child. I wish you love in this journey.