Between 2 and 3 million people in the US alone self-injure.
This is her experience.
I just want to start out by telling you about the gift God has so graciously provided me: I have an awesome, incredible, beautiful, rambunctious three-year old named Libby. She is my everything. Her smile, laugh, voice, everything about her makes me wake up in the morning with a smile on my face. She is my best friend, my ally, my stepping stone to true happiness.
We were sitting on the couch watching TV, and she was holding my arm with her hand.
She asked, “What happened, Mama?” when she saw my scars. I was in shock. I quickly changed the subject because she has the attention span of, well, a three-year old.
But I couldn’t get it off my mind. I know if you’re my friend or have ever been around me, you must have seen them. They are pretty noticeable. I’ve never tried to hide them; there’s no point.
I started cutting myself for the first time when I was 18 and a senior in high school. I was in a bad spell. This was before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.
I lost almost 20 pounds in three weeks, I cut all my hair off, I spent hours locked up in my room, and I felt so… numb. Lost. Hurting so badly inside. I felt stupid that I was so upset and depressed. I thought I was crying for no reason, that I was being a dramatic girl.
So, I tried self-injury one night. It felt like a world full of black and white suddenly went colorful. I finally felt the pain on the outside that I was so desperately feeling on the inside.
I continued cutting.
It felt good and I loved doing it to myself, as narcissistic as that sounds. I didn’t do it for attention, necessarily. Maybe sub-consciously I did; I can’t really be sure. I didn’t do it to try and kill myself, either. It gave me reason for hurting. It gave me actual scars instead of the ones on my brain and on my heart. Real battle wounds instead of the ones I could only speak of. I used to hide in my closet for hours and self-injure a little at a time.
The closet is my safe haven in my brain. Whenever I’m super upset about something – when it’s really bad – I hide in my closest, most of the time with no lights on, and I cry. I try not to, but the reason I go to the closet is that is where I used to hide when my father would beat the hell out of my mom. I would go in there, ears plugged, eyes closed, and cry.
I stopped cutting after I found out I was pregnant with Libby. I didn’t do it for over three years, until July of this year.
I’d called my then-boyfriend one night, freaking out. I was so lost, in such a dark place, so afraid of myself. I collapsed mentally. He had to carry me out of the closet because I was shaking so hard.
I don’t know how to answer the question to Libs when she asks me again. Honestly, I’m afraid: I’m not supposed to be weak. I’m supposed to be her mom. Her protector. I’m supposed to be her knight in shining armor. How do you explain that to a child? I don’t want to lie to her, but I don’t want her to look at me differently when she’s finally old enough to understand.
Are they battle wounds or are they just a crazy girl’s self-inflicted scars?
So, The Band, I need your opinion:
Can a person be held fully responsible for her actions if she is not of the mental capacity to understand her actions? Can the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) wife be held accountable for her uncontrollable rage? Can she be held accountable for manipulating someone when she has no idea she’s doing it?
According to our court system, a person who is declared insane does not receive full accountability for a crime she commits. But does that line of thinking apply to mundane day-to-day actions?
Should I no longer hold my husband accountable for his emotional breakdown? The one that lead to him to order me to quit my job years ago, leading to a long period of poverty, near homelessness, my own breakdown and our thousands in debt?
Are we being too tough on those in our lives who have obvious limitations? Or is insanity simply a convenient excuse to the affair between a BPD woman and her white knight lover?
Right is right and wrong will always and forever be wrong, after all.
What do you think, The Band?
Sometimes I wish what I had was as real and tangible as alcoholism or drug addiction: there is something real to battle and win. Instead, I have this intangible illness that affects everything I do, that I can never be cured of, that hurts everyone, and I just have to deal with it until it eventually kills me.
I wonder how many people who have Borderline Personality Disorder die of old age? I know it isn’t impossible, but I wonder what the odds are. Even if they don’t commit suicide, borderline habits can lead to early demise.
Don’t worry: I don’t intend to turn to alcohol. I can’t mix it with my medication. And I won’t turn to drug addiction. I rattle enough as it is, with my daily meds. No, those aren’t the only reasons. My illness hurts those around me enough as it is – why purposely add to that?
All I’m saying is that “15 years sober” sounds better than “15 years off my rocker.”
“How are you feeling?”
I hate that question more than anything. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m feeling. Other times, I’m too overwhelmed by feeling tired to feel anything else. Then sometimes I really don’t feel like blurting out, “Well, today I’m mostly just suicidal with a dash of anxious, cranky, and irritable.” Who wants to hear that?
Okay, yes… there are a handful of you who really do want to hear that so you can help, get me help, or stay out of my way. I understand that. I really do. But sometimes when I feel like that, and it’s just a feeling – not a threat toward action – I really do just need to keep it to myself.
Why cry wolf?
If every time you ask how I’m feeling, I answer suicidal, how will you know the difference when I come to you and ask for help? That, and I just don’t get off on drawing attention to how I’m feeling when I’m feeling low and/or below. Honestly though, more often than not, I just feel tired or cranky and nothing else is really noticeable on my bad days.
On a good day? Oh, you’ll hear about those!
Thankfully, I’ve had them more often lately!
I spent the last many years married to a woman with fairly severe (clinically diagnosed) Borderline Personality Disorder. I could very easily fill an entire book writing about what that experience was like, so it’s hard to know how to distill it. Here are some things I know-
-Years of being subjected to masterfully performed gaslighting has left me very unsure of all my own judgements and perceptions of reality.
-Years of being degraded and emasculated when I wanted to discuss my thoughts/feelings, being told that it is unattractive for a man to show “weakness” to his wife, has left me uncertain of when it’s ok to be vulnerable with other people.
-Years of walking on eggshells, trying so hard to do and say everything just right, but knowing that no matter how well I did, the next blow-up/emotional attack was always coming, has left me perpetually anxious, and steeped so heavily in learned helplessness that I often struggle to even feel that I have any control over what happens in my life. I never used to be that way at all.
-Years of having all my contributions and accomplishments minimized or forgotten, and all my imperfections magnified and carefully score-carded, has left me with close to zero sense of self-efficacy.
-Years of living with someone who is intimacy avoidant and uninterested in sex, but being told the whole time that her disinterest is caused by my shortcomings–because I didn’t last long enough in bed, or because I lasted too long in bed (yes, both of those), or because of the stress I was causing her by me not making us enough money (even when I was bringing in over six figures a year), or because I was paying too much attention to (suffocating) her, or because I was not paying enough attention to (neglecting) her– has left my self confidence so damaged that I almost fear being intimate with someone again.
Probably the worst part, though? During the early “idealization” phase of the relationship, she was incredibly jealous and protective of my attention (which at the time I foolishly believed was just because she loved me so much). So, focusing all of my time and attention on her needs, I greatly distanced myself from any male friends I was close to, and completely cut off contact with all of my female friends. Once she flipped me into the devaluation phase, I was left with a partner who had zero interest in me, other than what I could fix or provide for her, and only weak remnants of friendships remained. I was effectively isolated to the point that I spent most of my free time just sitting alone in my basement, wishing things were different.
Isolation is definitely one of my biggest hurdles right now. I’d really like to make some new friends, particularly some female friends since I lost all but one or two, but no clue where to even start. I just really miss having more meaningful conversations and connections with people.
Another hurdle is figuring out how to integrate “what I know to be true” with “what I feel to be true.” For example, I can write down a list of all of my business/financial accomplishments, and objectively say I’ve been successful in that area. I know this to be true. But I do not feel that this is true. I can find endless examples of things I’ve done or experiences I’ve had that show most of the negative feelings I mentioned above are illogical or don’t line up with reality. But again, I still don’t feel that.
I would love any thoughts or advice from anyone who has gone through something similar. What worked? What DIDN’T work? How did you reconnect with yourself? How did you reconnect with other people and build some new meaningful friendships/relationships?
For the last five years, I’ve been lying to everyone; my parents, my children, social services, but most of all, myself.
My “courtship” with my husband lasted just three months before we became engaged. A year and a month after we met, I married him. I blindly ignored the warnings from my parents, my loved ones, and my own eyes. I thought I could change him. He would be better after the wedding, when all the stress was gone.
How wrong was I?
Within months of our marriage, what I saw scared me, but I decided to stay, thinking, “I can still change him. I can make him better!” I was so arrogant!
We had just conceived our first child when he sprained my arm. I told myself that it was an accident and justified it to everyone else.
His sister assaulted me when I was pregnant. He put me down in front of his parents. His mother assaulted me many times. They told me it was my fault. It was all my fault. Everything was always my fault.
What’s worse is that I genuinely believed them!
They threatened to take my baby away from me if I left. I was so scared of them, I stayed.
Now that WAS my fault! I should have left, but I didn’t!
He raped me the first time when our daughter was just five days old. I can still remember the searing agony that tore through my whole body as he did it! The tears and cuts burning with fire, my screams mingling with those of our daughter who was in the same room as us! That was my fault too apparently. After that, I had to have treatment for an erosion in the womb. That was also entirely my fault.
He was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Now he had something else to justify his treatment of me. He “needed” round the clock care, an excuse to stop me from working.
He moved me away from my parents to an isolated town and wouldn’t let me visit them. My parents still blame me for that, as if I had a choice!
After our second child was born, the abuse got worse and worse. I confided in my midwife about him raping me when our daughter was five days old. She and all the other midwives we saw made a point of reminding him that sex wasn’t allowed before my six week check. Normally a woman is signed off by the midwife within days of giving birth. They visited me for over a month to protect me. As soon as my six week check was over, the rape began again. This time almost every night and sometimes while I was asleep.
I haven’t slept for almost two years! I began to crave the oblivion of deep sleep, but I couldn’t because of the fear of what he would do to me while I slept. Twice he raped me anally because I had a period. If he wasn’t doing that, he would say things like, “I was hoping to have sex with you, but I can’t because you’re bleeding,” as if it were somehow my fault for being a woman.
That wasn’t the end of the emotional abuse. There was always shouting and yelling. The police were called. Social services were called twice. He isolated me more and more from our friends and would only let me go out with one of the children at a time.
He’d lock me in the house and “forget” to leave my key behind. Sometimes, he would move my keys, and when I wasn’t looking, would put them somewhere I’d already looked. I thought I was going mad!
When our son was five months old, we went on holiday with his family. While we were there, he dragged me out of the room by my legs in front of our daughter and threw me out into the rain with no shoes and no coat. When he finally let me in half an hour later, I had to sit in my wet clothes feeding our son, while his mother lectured me on how the whole thing was my fault.
A week later, I was rushed into hospital with chest pains. Everyone noticed the bruises and three people made separate calls to social services on my behalf. They sent two police officers out that night to check on the children and me. It was so humiliating! He would never let me speak to men because as far as he was concerned, I was cheating on him with every single man I spoke to.
While I was visiting my parents, he kissed another woman. I wish I’d left him then! But I listened to his sob story about how he was really going to change this time! He did change …for the worse.
In November 2012, his brother assaulted me. I had to go to hospital and was on crutches for six weeks because my sciatic nerve had gone into spasm. I lied in the hospital and said that I’d fallen in the kitchen. I was so scared that my children would be taken from me this time.Do you know how much sex hurts when you have sciatica? Especially when it’s rape.
In May 2013, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The doctor believes there is a link between Fibromyalgia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That was another excuse to isolate me further from everyone. I wasn’t allowed to do housework because I was “too ill.” I’d given up fighting him. I was so far into my shell, I couldn’t even care for our children.
He slowly crushed me to the point that I didn’t know any different.
We had a visit from our new health visitor. He told her that he was afraid of bathing our daughter because he was afraid of having sexual feelings for her. I was shocked and scared, but I didn’t know what to do! I should have left him there and then, but I couldn’t! I was paralyzed by five years of emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. He’d groomed me for this very eventuality so that I wouldn’t leave him!
The next day a social worker turned up with two police officers who seized all of our computer equipment. They told me that I needed to get the children out of the house. I replied that if they were going, I would be going too. They agreed.
My children have been protected by social services for three months now. I’ve ended the relationship and am seeking help for the abuse. Social services are being as helpful as they can be, but the health visitor thinks I should have left and should not have my children back. She thinks I’m a failure as a mother.
Maybe I am. I should have left. I should have sought help sooner. I have to live with that for the rest of my life. I obviously don’t deserve my children. Obviously love isn’t enough!