Life on the Borderline: Toxic Situations
Quit the Self-Blame and Fight!
If I hit myself hard enough maybe it could release the pain or at least it would prove that I agree that I am awful and can punish myself so they don’t have to, and they would stop. It worked for me when I was a child, but the roommates who’d thrown me out, didn’t see it that way. I was alone in my car, windows closed, no air conditioner, on that hot August afternoon.
While in DBT (dialectic behavior therapy), there was no way I could pay rent. When a polyamorous couple said my parrot Blinky and I could move in, and pay what I can, I took it, as I was not happy living with my father.
We shared meals like a bizarre little commune. I felt accepted, and for the first time since my mental breakdown, safe for about a month.
I didn’t realize that pay what you can included nonstop chauffer service, which I was happy to provide, but when they wanted to visit my job in Staten Island, I thought they were meeting me at the train station; they thought I was taking the four-hour round trip to pick them up in Brooklyn.
Furious, they terrorized me with Facebook posts, revealing my history of sexual abuse, and asking others to help them create enough pressure to get me to kill myself, even before letting me pick up my parrot! They told me I could do so in two weeks in a window of 5-minutes time.
As I sat in my car contemplating suicide, I texted my friend Sammy. Instead of telling me to go to the hospital, she invited me to stay with her. I could help her with housework until the date for me to pick up Blinky, and return to my father’s.
When the day came, underestimating the traffic, I texted, letting them know I would be five minutes late. They let me know Blinky was going in the garbage. Terrified, I called for a police escort, and because I did so, I and Blinky were reunited and safe.
Infuriated by the police presence, they texted me they were pressing charges. I resumed my self-abuse. Until the life-changing text, “The cops are coming to get you! Misuse of police time is grounds for prison. They tracked your phone, and are on their way.” I believed I was a piece of crap, I believed I deserved to die, but this text defied logic. It was the first time I realized that someone was upset based on the fact that I blocked their ability to hurt me.
During the time I spent with Sammy, she explained that success can be threatening to the weak, who will then attack, and that I had been stifling my strength to keep those around me comfortable. As it’s easier to agree that I am worthless than to fight, especially when it hurt me to hurt anyone else.
At an age where most girls, myself included, were playing with dolls, I was forced into a full-on relationship with a gay teenager who used my body to prove to the world that he was straight. As auditioning for television commercials, and straight As were replaced with pleasing my abuser, I learned to agree that I was worthless and I learned to do everything it would take to be safe.
Sometimes, people who love us hurt us in their sickness, sometimes to feel stronger, and sometimes for pleasure. Agreeing to stay weak for them disrespects those who love us. I kissed Blinky, put on the air conditioner, and bought myself a giant soda.
I have run into this couple a few times a year since this happened, and it always makes me smile. Not because I want to cause them any pain, but because their anxiety in my presence is a reminder of my strength and dedication to myself. Having borderline may make me susceptible to strong emotions, but it doesn’t diminish my intelligence, or ability to advocate for myself. Not anymore.
Note: You can contact Sharon via Simonsayslaugh@outlook.com or @simon_sayslaugh and visit http://simon_sayslaugh.eventbrite.com/ for upcoming events that she has been busy organizing.
Pullout: “It was the first time I realized that someone was upset based on the fact that I blocked their ability to hurt me.”