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I have borderline personality disorder, another disorder brought on by trauma. I’m suspicious of people, I’m scared of being abandoned, and I feel unlovable. I learned that if something isn’t there, it doesn’t exist. Whether that causes panic or relief depends on the situation. More than anything, my emotional resilience was systematically stripped away until the smallest thing can set me off, just like you. The pain of being silenced, of not feeling safe to express myself, leaves me with the thought that I need to be passive aggressive just to let a little of the steam of my emotions escape. I have impossible standards for myself and others in my relationships, and if they deviate, I believe that the relationship is damaged beyond repair.
I have general anxiety and depression. I rarely feel secure in my own mind, and it is constantly leaving me on edge and awaiting the next disaster. It’s led to perfectionism and procrastination, because I felt like I was never good enough, no matter how hard I tried. And I tried so hard. But even the smallest mistakes could lead to drastic and emotionally violent responses. And sometimes, it wasn’t anything that I did at all. My self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image are all in the trash. And so the best way to manage the anxiety is to completely turn the volume down on everything. To tune out and numb out and avoid anything that could cause the pain. This easily becomes depression, where I have no spark of motivation to do anything at all. No emotions other than the ones that allow me to stay low. Blocking any thoughts that might jump me into action, because action is pain.
I’m afraid of failure, and I’m afraid of success. Because you were often jealous of my time and envious of my accomplishments, many things that made me feel good about myself were overshadowed by your own anxieties and feelings of inadequacy. Even when it came to spending time with other people was seen as an act of treason and abandonment, because you yourself had been abandoned and betrayed so many times. So, success equals the pain of rejection and rebuke.
Without knowing it, and probably without considering the long-term consequences, you broke my spirit and my mind to a pulp, leaving me a quivering, anxious, dysfunctional mess full of battle scars. I’m an inside-out, upside-down individual just like you now, and I’m turning my own child into one, and sometimes it feels like there’s no hope for any of us.
I write this on behalf of you and other survivors who can’t face their abusers. I write this on behalf of my own child who will one day realize the extent of the damage that my own pain caused him. I do hope that I can be well enough one day to receive his honesty and honour his story, but if I can’t, at least he’ll know that once upon a time I knew how he feels. I also write this on behalf of the perpetrators of emotional violence, like I myself sometimes am. I hope you’ll join me in calling our behaviour what it is, even if we may not ever be able to change. But I think we can, when we’re given permission to really examine and honour the pain that we have faced. Once upon a time, we were all children, with hopes and dreams that were systematically demolished, either by others or by circumstances. Whatever broke us apart into jagged pieces that cut others, there might be hope that things can be better if we learn to forgive ourselves, those who hurt us, and be honest.
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13