I forgot to mention that May is Borderline Personality disorder awareness month. As a result of this, along with the reading I’m doing about BPD, I may be writing more about the issue this month than usual.
The Spring and Summer are easily my favorite times of year. Earlier this year, as March came around and it was still cold, I would periodically ask those close to me, often to the point of annoyance (hopefully in an endearing and lovable way), if it was May yet. I was yearning for warm days, sunshine, walks in the city, and hopefully a reprieve from what was a depressing Winter.
Winter is always hard on me. It is probably at least partially SAD, as certainly the lack of light, sufficient exercise (I like being outside for such things), and other factors play into the changes in my mood, irritability, and thus will make my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) more pronounced. It’s a hard time for people around me, and I will act in ways, more often, which can be problematic.
So yesterday, the first day of May of 2014, it was sunny, warm, and I got to sit with a couple of drinks with an old friend before taking a walk and then having another drink with my beautiful wife and my very close friend, who also happens to be the fiance of my girlfriend.
Because sometimes just getting drinks can be described as “it’s complicated.”
It was a beautiful day, perfect weather and a chance to put behind me all of the Winter that was made of suck.
But life is never that easy. Because then, last night, the nightmares came. Again.
In recent months, I have had trouble sleeping. The very cold nights a couple of months ago were not helping, but most of it is due to what I have become increasingly aware of as symptoms consistent with PTSD, which in combination with BPD can be happy funtimes. Or not. I have some helpful resources to help with all of that these days, but at night, left to the mechanisms of my brain, those resources feel far away. It’s becoming more manageable. But it’s all still there always, lurking in the background.
In a cleaner, more sane, and possibly intelligently designed universe, a beautiful day would make everything better (and every day would be beautiful, or something). Because while I did have a fine day talking with people and such, the anxiety, fear, and trauma was sitting in the background the entire time. While I was never overtly thinking about it, I was aware of it.
Because I’m always aware of it.
It’s better these days. I’m in a healthier environment, I have friends, family, and partners who are emotionally supportive, and I am starting a new job next week which will provide stability and structure for me. All of these things will contribute to moving forward with optimism, and I hope that in time the fear, hurt, and painful memories will be more distant.
What will stick with me, more than the pain caused to me, is the pain I have caused others. That always sticks with me. Because I know that the pain caused to me I will eventually forgive and it will not affect me as much. I don’t stay mad at people very long, even if they have severely hurt me. But the pain I cause never leaves me. Anyone who knows me knows that at the end of the day it’s the hurt I cause which keeps me awake at night, much more than the pain I feel. I forgive others much sooner than I forgive myself. The problem these days is that I’m having trouble forgiving myself.
I am my harshest critic. And in those times when people I know will say mean, cruel, abusive things to me or about me, it hurts because in my most dark moments I think the same about myself. It hurts because at my worst I am prone to believe those things are true. In times of darkness, the mind goes deep into places of self-hurt. And when we are there, we can lash out at the world in ways we otherwise never would. Depression lies, and the lies it tells us can make us believe the worst about ourselves.
And anger. Anger and hurt are two things I know well. I have become aware of how much anger and hurt can skew things, make us disproportionately reactive, dismissive, and blind. I have seen it happen in my own mind (usually retroactively) and I have seen it in others. Anger and/or hurt repressed, whether over years, weeks, or even hours, can magnify the hurt we feel and the scope of a problem. These days, I’m doing my best to not allow my anger or hurt to win over my compassion and my ability to understand. Because empathy and understanding can allow us to comprehend how someone has hurt us, and why. Those who hurt us are not that different from us, in the end (most of the time).
I’m doing my best to understand the people who have hurt me, as well as to do the work to make it less likely I’ll hurt other people. Because while I will always make mistakes, I want those mistakes to be few and minor. We all have the capability to hurt those we love. We can only hope to do it rarely, and when we do so to hope that self-justification (on both sides) does not amplify and escalate that hurt into anger and damage to relationships.
We all have the capability to commit ourselves to a course, and then have that course carve out a narrative for us which fits the decisions we made (often in anger and pain) towards that vector. We are all capable of justifying, after the fact, the directions we go, and forgetting that there are other perspectives which could inform us. And the longer we stay on such paths, the more we are blind to alternative narratives. This is what causes rifts, wars, and losses of friendships. We are all prone to self-justification, and we all ignore the hurt that others feel. The key is to not get caught up in that narrative and believe it to the detriment of the truth.
Including me. I’m trying. I fail often, but I’m aware that I’m doing so.
But it’s May now. The weather is nicer, the days are longer, and on paper everything is going well for me. But I cannot afford to ignore the dark places within me, or to take for granted what I have and what could be better. It’s May now, but at some point soon, the Winter will return. When things are easier, I have to take the time to prepare for the dark Winter of my soul which will eventually pull me in and hide me away. And I will not forget that it’s not only depression that lies. It’s also optimism which lies to us. I will not remain pulled towards the narratives which I prefer in life, and I must remember that I have responsibility for the hurt I cause, and to learn to understand those that hurt me.
We cannot afford to lose sight of the alternative paths we could have taken. The more they diverge, the less likely we are to understand why we could have taken the other paths just as easily, and that a path only feels like home because we are on it.