August 18, 2013
I feel frantic tonight, as I have the last few nights this week. Tonight, well, I don’t know quite how to explain this feeling. It’s like the PLDs (Pretty Little Demons) came back from vacation, hung over and strung out on cocaine, and are throwing a party in my honor. What am I trying to fuckin’ say…
Well, shit… I’m frantic but not angry. I’m excited; I’m thrilled with life and can’t wait for the next second to come. Everything is much to slow or much too fast. I’m over stimulated. I want it to speed up to my level. Confidence has soared and roared. I’m a social butterfly, not a wallflower. I am everyone–everyone is ME. Loud and outspoken, but agreeable to. I start a fight, but then I’ll make the peace. Pacify me and i’ll pacify you.
But an a storm of instability seems to approach. I hope I’m wrong. I HOPE THE WEATHER MAN IS WRONG!
That’s how I feel, only I can’t seem to pacify myself at night. In the days, yes. Nights, not so much. I’m caught in a tangle of thoughts.
This morning I woke up screaming. I was yelling at my mother in a dream, though I don’t know or remember what the dream was about or what I said to her. All I know is my own voice woke me. It’s odd. It it happens a lot to me; it happens more when I’m frantic, or hypomanic or whatever.
Friday night was terrible. I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts were racing. My body wanted rest but my brain was running a marathon. I wrote yet another ramble on my iPhone (note the bad grammar). You can’t write at light-speed while tapping tiny keys on a little screen.
I jump from tangent to tangent. And I’m anxious. These days there’s so much anxiety that is coursing through my body that my hands are shaky again.
I went from writing on my phone to writing on my sketchbook. I don’t know when I finally fell asleep.
But here’s more of what I wrote. I’ll call them my positive affirmations, for now.
September 15, 2012
Brunet Young went out of town this week, so I didn’t get a chance to have my weekly therapy session. She said she’d call to “check” on me or something along those lines, only she put it more gently. Overall, I’m feeling great though! I think the Lamictal has toned me down a bit. I don’t know.
Last Thursday (I’m seeing her Thursdays now), I confronted Brunet Young about the BPD diagnosis my Ex-Young Therapist had given me. I’d been meaning to ask her why Ex-Young Therapist was so hesitant about giving me the Termination Reports and why she said I couldn’t have the Evaluation Summary. It took a lot of courage to ask this.
“She wasn’t supposed to give you that,” Brunet Young replied.
What the fuck? I really like Brunet Young but I don’t get why she said Ex-Young Therapist wasn’t supposed to give me that form. I inquired about it, and she basically explained that: telling the patient he/she has BPD is detrimental to the therapeutic process. For me, the fact I now know this bit of information has given me a sense of validation. Isn’t an invalidating environment one of the contributing factors of borderline personality (BPD) development?
“I feel like all these years… all I’ve gone through has at least been validated.” My voice began to shake, “A name has been put to it. Now I feel like, like I’m not JUST an asshole.” I started chuckling.
“That makes sense, I can see why you’d feel that way. The thing is, we are required to give a diagnosis even when we think there is no reason or need to place one on the client. In some cases, we go with what only fits closest.”
Ok. Then what’s the point of categorizing certain behavioral attributes?
My hands trembled and I kept rubbing my aluminum water bottle. “I think I’m a pretty intelligent person… I mean, it’s not like I’m going to just throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Well, I have this and such and I’m doomed’. I’m no different than… than I was before I knew. I’m not going to put myself in a box! I’m not going to quit trying to improve myself and look for ways of recovering.” I went on telling her that what upset me was that I often talked about BPD in regards to online forums I visited and my friend Ryden who has BPD. I would mention how much I could related to people with that and yet, she didn’t say a word about it.
Brunet Young was silent for a moment. Then she looked up with gentle eyes and said, “I know YOU wouldn’t put yourself in a box or quit trying P, but many others with this would. That’s the thing.”
She said she’d be sure to talk about why I “fit” the BPD criteria next time we meet, this coming Thursday.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied nearly in tears. I don’t cry in front of people, so for me to nearly burst into tears was astonishing, to me especially.
“No, it does. It does matter. We’ll discuss it.”
I’m glad I finally asked. I can see why a BPD diagnosis can be withheld from a patient/client, particularly those who have more “anti-social” tendencies. For one, the patient might use it to justify for acting out of line, or they might feel discriminated against. I can see how it might conflict with therapy for SOME people to have that information disclosed. I figured perhaps my Ex-Young Therapist was afraid I’d base my entire identity around the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but I HAVEN’T. Have I?
I don’t think I have. I think too much outside of the box for that nonsense.
Yeah, I’ve researched and read a lot about it since finding out, maybe a little too much. And sure, I understand the implications behind such discretion. But as I told Brunet Young, I’m intelligent, and therefore, I sure as hell know that we are not the same (those with BPD) just because of a diagnosis. I told her I realize how arbitrary diagnosis for mental illnesses/disorders are in the first place.
Even among fellow BPDers (or whatever you want to call it), there is an infinite array of expressions of “symptoms”. I know the difference between a set of “criteria/symptoms” that BPDers share and the indefinite, individual minds–the being, the self, the person, and the personalities we hold.
We are not our labels.
In fact, I mentioned this when I found out. People are people regardless of their mental problems, illnesses, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture–I can go on and on. But it’s because this information was released to me that I feel more confident to talk about the darker sides of my experience; I’ve already told Brunet Young things I wouldn’t dare tell Ex-Young therapist like the overdoses; the day I threw a whole load of books at Monkey Man, rolled out crying and banged my head repeatedly at the side of his godfathers house; all those drugs we did together; and my mother’s suicide attempts. It’s because of knowing about BPD that I learned a lot from books/articles/blogs–like “The Buddha and the Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder–that I no longer feel so alone.
I’m nervous about seeing her this Thursday. She said we’d discuss why Ex-Young Therapist wrote that on my Termination Report. The thing is, there’s so much I want to say and don’t know how. I feel mute when I roll into that room (though lately I’ve been talking fifteen miles a minute and typing three-hundred words per second). I don’t want to cry. I only cried when I told Ex-Young Therapist Monkey Man died.
I don’t know. I just feel awkward now.
But, I’m glad.
addendum: Today I swam like a champ! Would’a been cool if I swam like a chimp too. Can chimps swim alright?
September 8, 2012
I’ve been on Facebook a lot lately. heh. Very unlike me, then again I’m hyped so this is how I am when I’m hyped. I message everyone. One good thing happened while I was on Facebook, the other not so good.
I’ll talk about the latter first. So a friend of mine from high school is about to get married. We haven’t talked in nearly two years, beside occasional Facebook hellos. I’m really happy for him and his fiance. The girl is so cute! And they look soooo happy together. He’s also a musician and we both went to the same college for sound engineering/music production, only he started two years after I did. In fact, he started the program because of me (mainly because I told him he’d like it).
Anyway, this guy and I started flirting for a while back in ’06-’08 and even ’09. I didn’t even realize I’d been flirting until MUCH later. One time, when I was hanging out in his apartment playing his synths, he wanted to have sex with me but I rejected him, not because I didn’t want to. God, I really wanted to. He has the prettiest big blue eyes, curled eyelashes, curly hair, glasses and thick lips. He sometimes wore a goatee. I just felt it was IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to be attracted to me. I somehow thought it was a sick joke of his. I don’t feel as shy now as I was then, but I still am very insecure.
For me, it’s as if it’s impossible for anyone to find me attractive–so tiny, so angry and in a wheelchair, nah. Maybe that’s why I reach out so much for approval of men? Yet, no matter how much approval I get, I seem to want more. And when I get more, I still feel the void.
I really liked M. back then. We went to local shows together (most of which he performed in), he bought me drinks and dinner, he’d visit me at my parents house, bringing his entire synthesizer collection with him etc.. I realize now, he must’ve been really into me. At his shows, I used to get so jealous when he made out with this one bass player–a really short, cute gothic chick (she was drunk as hell though though, an even bigger drunk than me).
I kicked myself in the ass for sabotaging any kind of “romantic” relationship I could have had with him. I began to idolize him. He is quite possibly the most gorgeous guy I’ve been “involved with” more or less, but it wasn’t that. And oh god his heavenly hands! Long fingers, long strong hands–long pianist hands.
We clicked. He’s intelligent and funny, a bit geeky and really sweet. We are musicians, so we had that in common too. And though he’s a little on the “crazy” side, he wasn’t “mental” (as in he didn’t seem to have a severe mental disorder like most other guys I’d be involved with) and the best part, he wasn’t addicted to anything hardcore. Funy enough, he now works as an instructor in the same performing arts center we did the audio engineering program in.
Why did I reject him then? Why did I find it impossible to believe that he “liked” me? Why did I not care enough about myself to believe anyone could like me? I did the same damn thing with Jaque Cousteau, only Jaque was an insecure, immature punk (literraly, he had a mohawk when I met him). Ughhh. He was also a musician, the Cousteau guy. It’s just.. It’s just that seeing M’s pictures with his fiance on FB yesterday brought back some of those feelings. I guess I’m jealous. I don’t know. I know comparing myself to peers from the past (and present) isn’t good for my mental health.
It will pass.
Oh right, what’s the good news? The good news is I’m in this Facebook group for women with OI–“OI Chicks Are Hot”. OI is Osteogenesis Imperfecta aka Brittle Bone disease.
The group consists of all these “hot” OI chicks talking about… anything. It’s a private group, so I don’t care if you try to find it. Anyway, I think I still have that deep seeded insecurity about myself, BUT I’m more aware of how to control it now–or how to restructure my cognition–and hopefully I’ll learn to stop sabotaging myself so much. I still don’t trust any man, anyone for that matter (including myself) but I’m slowly learning to be more open. I hope. And groups like these are definitely a good thing for building up that self love.
In the group, I found some pretty amazing women. Here’s one of them (and yes, I think she’s hella hot):
Nadia Roberts interview in a contest to win a wheelchair <—- Click it, damn you!
She’s also been through a lot, much like I have.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
I began life in St. Petersburg, Russia and was born with Osteogenisis Imperfecta, (OI). I was bounced around hospitals and orphanages for the first 9 years of my life, and eventually given up for adoption was a challenging way to start life, including several surgeries under severe conditions such as no anesthesia…
August 27, 2012
I don’t normally reblog, unless it’s from MFFs or Canvas or something like that. But I really love this one. “Krohn noted people with these issues usually grew up with unpredictable parents and inconsistent rules; what Marsha Linehan would later dub the invalidating environment.” That one is especially true for me. Oh, and it’s amazing how many I got correct in the test! I guess if that were an indicator of “borderliness,” I’d pass for “hella borderline”.
If you’ve worked with clients who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), you’ve probably had a conversation like this:
Therapist: How did that make you feel?
Client: I dunno.
Therapist: How do you think that might have made someone else feel?
Client: I dunno.
Therapist: Take a look at that list of feeling words and see if there’s anything that fits.
Client: Oh God. I can’t face that list today.
Therapist: Well… hm.
Client: You’re getting worried. You’re thinking about referring me, aren’t you?
Carina Frick, Simone Lang, et al answer at least half of that question in their new study. They asked clients with BPD to receive an MRI while guessing the emotions others displayed in photographs. The BPD clients out-guessed the control group of healthy subjects. The fMRIs showed they actually…
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July 30, 2012
As I mentioned in the previous post, I started therapy again three weeks ago. I’m seeing her on Wednesdays. This Wednesday will be my fourth session.
The second session I had with Brunet Young was just as productive as the first, but the third surprised me. Did I actually say all that? Yes, yes you did P. At ‘a girl!
It’s a good thing when you know what you’re getting yourself into when starting therapy. The same could not be said when I first went to see a counselor after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. I had no idea what to expect then; I even walked out, or rolled out, of a therapist’s office in frustration in 2009. But this time… I have goals this time!
I came into therapy just as desperate, but more ready than ever. I know my borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I’m more sure of the bipolar tendencies if the psychiatrist is right, and I’ve learned some basic dialectical behavioral skills training from Ex-Young Therapist as well as core training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
I’m barely driving out of hell, but I have a tank full of gas, me thinks. That’s hope for ya.
On the second session, much like the first, we went over major areas of my life that need working on. I asked Brunet Young if she could tell me what it was she remembered about my history from the consultation team so I could fill in the rest as best I could.
I told her things like, “the overdose from two months ago was not my first, but definitely the worst” and “I have a history of abuse, though my views on it change. I mean, you have to understand our culture is different. But, it’s a fine line no?” I told her about my mother’s past suicidal tendencies, her upbringing, her sister’s (my aunt’s) suicide and so on. She already knew about my immigration situation, my medical problems, my tendency toward isolation, and my body image issues, so I didn’t have to go into that with her.
We talked a lot about how Monkey Man’s recent and sudden death has affected me, how I was drugged up with him much of the time we were together (off and on), but how I always tried to get him to stop drinking. We discussed ways in which I can work up my courage to call his step-mom and/or dad to ask about the toxicology report results again.
On and on we went. I couldn’t believe myself.
Towards the end of the session, she did something I was so thankful for. She asked me to write a list of issues I thought I hadn’t had a chance to go over with Ex-Young Therapist.
My dad had taken me that second day and, on the way out, he said something that bothered me a little.
“She’s not good like the Ex-Young Therapist is she?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, she didn’t say hi to me as kindly as the other one.”
After the initial frustration this remark induced, a light bulb lit up in my head! Aha! I have to discuss this with Brunet Young, not this in particular, but my dad. I have to discuss how I think some of my black and white thinking patterns about myself lead back to his black and white thinking. I didn’t get into depth discussing my dad much with Ex-Young Therapist. I did a little, but more toward the end, or just when issues arose. In fact, because we focused so much on me learning DBT skills, the therapy process and focus remained on present problems and not past, “unresolved” problems.
Last Wednesday, I decided to take the bus for our third session. It was better for all of us. My dad didn’t have gas money and I wanted the liberty of no off-handed comments.
It was an hour and a half bus ride; I have to take two buses and the MetroRail downtown but that’s a hell of a lot better than waiting on ole MetroLift’s shifty ass.
I arrived on time and with my homework assignment completed.
Here is my list of “past problems” I didn’t get to discuss with Ex-Young Therapist. And I added a bonus for Brunet Young. I added some therapy goals–totally my idea.
I’m on a roll. I’m telling you. Here’s what I wrote down for her:
Goals for Therapy
*Manage Panic attacks and chronic pain
*Reduce suicidal and self-injurious impulses/actions/urges and manage the thoughts better. (No more overdosing!)
*Increase support network
-> continue rebuilding relationship with brother
-> get into that DBT group at BT (keep calling! don’t desist!)
-> get involved again in community organizing/activist orgs.
* Interpersonal effectiveness -> review
* Distress tolerance -> review and continue practice!
* Develope a more consistent daily ruitine to include: writing/blogging, sketching, watching Lynda.com tutorials, planing, swimming/yoga, playing ukulele again, and getting a job after filing the immigration papers!
-> remember to do one thing at a time
-> break down into smaller chunks
-> plan ways to reduce stressful situations, not increase or worsen them
* Continue healthy eating / no binging
* Work on self-validation
* Work on healthier ways to deal with complicated grief
-> Monkey Man L’s death and guilt about death
-> hearing loss
* Ask about/look into other methods such as IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Schema Mode therapies.
* Mother’s verbal and physical abuse (I really hate the way I wrote this one because, honestly, I feel closer to my mother than my father and I love them both very much, even when they piss me off. And my mom’s changed for the better after getting help herself.)
* Dad’s continued invalidation and overbearing tendencies (not to mention the fact that I still have to depend on him financially)
* Medical Trauma (e.g. still need to deal with jaw incident and set up a date for surgery, continued nerve pain, decreased bone density, past accidents that led to ER, prolonged stays at hospital during childhood; loads of surgeries)
* Sexuality and validation issues (e.g. what happened with Dusty and Emily)
*Repetetive compulsion with alcohol and drugs (mainly alcohol and self-harm)
* Maladaptive core beliefs (e.g. I am not a “good” person, I’m “a burden,” etc.)
Yep, so that’s what I have so far. We went over this list I wrote, which she said was very good. I think it’s a good starting point too. And since I was able to write it out, it helped when she asked to explain what I meant by “sexuality and validation issues”. That’s when I brought up Sir Dusty and a lot of other things I may or may not mention here. Man, it was hard work!
July 29, 2012
Fuck my bleeding ears! I’m trying to stay positive. I really am. I’m relying on my inner wisdom.
And these days, I’m maintaining a better outlook more than not, which is the complete opposite of what could be said a month and half ago. I feel funny though, and not previous-post funny. The anxiety has just been maddening.
On Friday night, when I hung out with my brother, I ended up staying over the night. Well, around 4am (as usual these days), I woke up with chest pain, feeling like I was having a heart attack. You’re not having a heart attack P. This is just anxiety. I was nauseated, felt the same old prickly feeling in my toes and hands and was shivering too. So I woke up my brother and asked him for another blanket. I told him what I felt and he agreed about the anxiety.
Earlier Friday, I was eating lunch with my dad at the kitchen table. We had arepas and queso and coffee. I hadn’t even touched my coffee yet and my hands were trembling. (I swear, I’ve been cutting back substantially on the coffee.)
“Your hands are shaking really bad. Why are they shaking like that?” he asked.
“I think I’m just having a lot of anxiety right now.” I lowered my head.
“I don’t know. It’s a lot of things, I guess.”
“It looks as if you had Parkinson’s”
Ah my dad, good ole papi. Gotta love the way he throws in something that sounds both amusing and insulting or hurtful (to me) without even meaning to–but sometimes meaning to. I’d made a joke about looking like Michael J. Fox during an interview on my very second (or third) post here! So, yes, this isn’t new. But now it’s noticeable to my dad even?
Today, right now, I’m feeling the same way. I hope it passes soon. I hope typing will at least keep me at ease a little while.
I wonder if it’s the medication that’s making it worse. Almost every morning it’s the same.
At the end of May, a few weeks after the incident, I saw the psychiatrist. She had the Fluoxetine/Prozac upped. I keep wondering, how did I get here? Accepting drugs from a psych? For me, taking “medication” is last, last, last resort.
I saw her again this past Thursday. She said something that both surprised and didn’t surprise me.
“I’m thinking… you seem to have bipolar, bipolar two,” she said midway through our appointment. These appointments, by the way, are actually forty-five minutes long. Ok. Well, at the moment, labels don’t matter to me much. I just need all the help I can get. I don’t want another incident to occur, for the sake of those around me at least. But in part, for my sake too. And that’s a good thing! It means I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel, despite the way I’m feeling.
Long story short, she prescribed Lamotrigine/Lamictal. I haven’t gotten it yet. I barely ran out of Tegretol last week and didn’t bother to get it filled. Well, there’s was more to it than that. There was the money issue. It’s rough right now. I just wish I could handle things better, without getting so frantic, so worked up inside… Swimming is the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning!
And now I’m to try yet another drug?
I don’t know. I just don’t know…
But therapy. Right!
I finally got in three weeks ago. The very first week, we covered a lot.
She’s also a young brunet like Ex-Young Therapist, but it’s a university, so what was I expecting, an old student? Anyway, we covered basics, like what I did with my Ex-Young Therapist, what worked, what didn’t work. Turns out this new therapist (I’m going to call her Brunet Young) worked in a team with Ex-Young Therapist, so she already knew a little bit about me. A consultation team is part of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
After going over some of the basics, like major problems in my life, she mentioned the overdose incident from early May. Has it been two and a half months already?
“In the intake interview, you mentioned that you didn’t consider the overdose a suicide attempt. Why is that?” Brunet Young asks.
“Um… I’m not sure,” I reply. I stammer around and stutter for a little while. “Maybe it’s because I have a hard time seeing it as that. But also, I think I was gambling. I was playing Russian roulette. I told myself that if I died that night, then fine, but if I didn’t, I would have to just try a lot harder. I mean, I would’ve definitely taken the entire bottle had I wanted it to be more sure…a more definite thing.”
“How much did you take?”
“About eight painkillers and two sleeping pills.”
“And you were ok with the fact that you might’ve died as a result?”
“Yes, I was.” It’s scary to think, but at the time, I was.
“You know, from a clinical perspective, there is a distinction between suicide attempts. There’s an active suicide attempt and a passive one. What you describe is a more passive attempt.”
She made sure to emphasis that it was still considered an attempt. Or at least that’s how I heard it.
We then wrote up a crisis plan, which looks a little something like this.
When I feel upset and have thoughts of hurting myself or someone else, or I feel that I am in emotional crisis, I will take the following steps:
1. My warning signs are (e.g. very self-critical, hopeless, isolation, staying in bed)
-passive thoughts of suicide increase in frequency and become clearer, more of an urge/stronger urge
-insomnia and crying spells worsen
-triggers (e.g. Monkey Man, relationships, drugs, reminders, etc) –> anger/rage
-isolating myself –> not picking up calls, curling up in bed and staring blankly, dissociating
-being upset about hearing loss; being upset on days when I’m not able to go swimming
-chronic bone pain intensifies; facial nerve pain increases
2. My reasons to live are:
– I can do a lot for others. I have potential to do a lot.
-I don’t want to hurt my family
That’s all I have for reasons right now. I used to have career plans, but that’s not strong-holding at the moment. It has to be something that you really believe, something that will grab you, will keep you from doing anything permanent–a true deterrent. I think I need to come up with more. I told Brunet Young this and she said, “It’s alright, we’ll come up with more later.” I thought of adding “love”. Just focus on the word love, the meaning of it for me, how I’ve managed to hold on to “love” in my life. But love of what? Art? Life? Beauty? Family? How can you focus on that in a “crisis” situation when all you’re thinking about is the pain you’re in and peaceful bliss of death and non-existance?
3. Do these things to calm myself or distract myself:
-say serenity prayer and Buddha refuge prayer
-If at home, call Luna, pet and cuddle with her. (The good thing about Luna is if she hears me crying, I don’t even have to call her over. She finds me. Sweetest dog ever.)
-remember “Distress Tolerance” –> follow breath, deep breathing
-self sooth –> hum a tune, splash water on face, take warm bath, play ukulele
-write, write, write
-read, read, read
-watch TV (comedy preferably)
-stretch with yoga mat
-image focus –>meditate
-progressive muscle relaxation
-review “coping card”
-take a short nap and/or break from whatever you’re doing (e.g. go out in the fresh air and walk the dogs)
4. Contact a friend or family member that I can trust:
name & number: answering service at PRSC –>that’s the university’s psychological research and services center
Also, I’ve listed my brother, mom, and maybe B and Mansie, Ryden and Eloise, although I’m having a hard time with this one. I’ll really need to work at it.
5. Call PRSC and ask to speak with my therapist
6. If it is after clinic hours (M-Th 9-8; F 9-5) and I can’t reach my therapist, call the PRSC after-hours answering service at **********
7. Call a hotline for support or assistance:
I also have several other local hotline numbers included here. But I don’t do hotlines. It’s not how I roll.
8. If I am unable to get help quickly enough and feel that things can’t wait, I will call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
The thing about the crisis plan is that I have only been able to get myself to do steps one through three, maybe four. I’m able to recognize warning signs and use methods like distress tolerance and mindfulness, but contacting a “trusted” person is difficult. That’s the thing, on Friday, I did contact my brother, but I did it after too much thinking. Also, I don’t tell him how bad I feel, I just ask him what’s up. Brunet Young said that was fine, I don’t exactly have to tell him, especially not now if I’m not comfortable doing so. The important thing is to distract in non-harmful ways.
Another difficulty I’m having with this crisis plan is knowing the “answering service” after hours aren’t open on weekends. I’ll have to ask her about this. But even then, I’m not the type of person who would call. I think I only called Ex-Young Therapist twice or maybe three times during a “crisis situation”. And that was after two years of seeing her! One of those times was a few days after I found out about Monkey Man’s death this March.
I used to hate the idea of therapy. Sometimes I still do. Right now though, I’m just glad I finally got in again.
July 19, 2012
The Abused Becomes the Abuser
I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.
I fell straight back.
It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.
I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!
After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.
“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.
“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”
I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.
“Are you done?” I looked up.
“No I’m not done!”
“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”
“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”
There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.
“You don’t care do you?!”
I didn’t answer.
He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.
I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.
And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.
I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.
Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.
We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.
And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.
Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.
I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.
Orgy’s remake, 1998
New Order’s original version, 1983