Life

An Open Letter to my Abuser’s New Family

Dear new family of his,

I’ve been thinking of writing this for months. Words tumbled in my mind over what I could possibly say. What words could even begin to encompass the feelings and thoughts that I wish to convey. And, honestly, I’m still not entirely sure.

I had given up on the hope of writing this. At first, this was meant to be private, sent to only his new girlfriend. At first, this was meant to be a private plea for her to save her girls from his vicious warpath.

And then, I watched a two part autobiography on Elizabeth Smart. I’m sure that you’ve heard of her. But, if you haven’t, google her. Read about her strength, and about the hell she went through. She gave me the words needed, and the courage to not hide away.

I know that you have an inkling of what he’s truly like. Don’t pretend that you don’t. Don’t pretend that you haven’t felt the fear that he’d lash out at you. Don’t pretend that you havne’t felt that shiver of dread when you hear his voice. I’m sure that you’ve also seen the side that he shows most people. The side that makes it so you don’t think people would believe you. The side that makes him seem like a great guy, and so easy going.

He’s not.

And, I believe you.

I wish I could say I simply suffered underneath the fear, the depression, and more for just 17 years years. I wish that finally getting away from him ended it. That I moved on, and let it stay in my past. The truth is, that’s not how my life went.

My 29th birthday is 2 days from now, and I’m still suffering, all these years later. His actions, his lack of compassion, and his words will haunt me for the rest of my life. I will never escape the consequences of a lifetime of knowing him.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with PTSD, something that I’d been suffering with for years, it seems. I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, OCD tendencies, and severe anxiety. Fast forward, and I had a near break down. I was almost to the point of checking myself into a hospital. I went to group therapy, and had binge eating disorder added on to my ever growing list.

Every single one of them can be tied back to him. His voice echoes in my head to this day.

I had my potential stolen from me. I had my life taken. I had my dreams dashed before I even knew what I’d be missing. I wanted to go to Duke University. Instead, I dropped out of high school. I wanted to live a full, fun, outgoing life. Instead, I’m terrified of going out, I’ve never been to a club, I’ve never done things that most people my age have. I missed out on so much happiness because of him.

“You haven’t seen him in almost 12 years, move on.” Oh, I wish I could. I wish I could move on. You have no idea what that would mean to me. When you are raised around someone who devalues everything about you, who is controlling, vile, cruel, and is there all the time? That’s your inner voice.

There’s the nightmares.

There’s the medication to be able to function.

There’s the fear of crying in front of people.

There’s the anger that comes with the memories.

There’s the mourning for a life you never had the chance to live.

There’s the mourning for your dreams.

There’s the lost hope.

There’s the lost faith.

There’s the lack of trust.

You still have a chance, I hope. You still have the chance to get far, far away from him. There’s hope for the innocent lives that he touches. I barely survived to this point, and it’s only a matter of time until he’s responsible for someone’s death. Either by murder, or driving them to suicide.

He has shaped every aspect of my life, and some days I don’t know why I bother trying to reshape it. It’s so hard. It’s incredibly difficult, and painful to try to fight the memories, to try to make it through the day. When the main thing you feel is pain, you wonder what the point is.

My kids push me through.

Save yours from a fate that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Save them from years of pain. Save them from years of self-loathing, from possibly bad coping skills, from searching for the acceptance they’d crave.

Stand up to him, and show him he isn’t the all mighty lord he sees himself as.

Show him that people are willing to put a stop to his abuse.

I used to pray to a God I no longer believe in that a heart attack would kill him. Clearly, I never got my wish. So, give me this. Don’t let anyone else suffer because of him.

Don’t let Robert win.

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Life

Trying

Impulse is something that has always been an issue with me. Not even gonna go into detail on how that’s gotten me into shit in the past. No need.

I’m not the best with money. I didn’t even know ‘excessive spending’ was something that was common along people with borderline personality disorder. Apparently, it is. I do try. I really do. I try to be smart about things. And the truth is, I’m not. I want to spoil everyone around me. I know it’s a flaw.

I’m trying to work on it even more now. I’m trying to be smarter. However, coming face to face on how I fuck up constantly isn’t fun. I put myself down daily. Always have. Then when something comes up that just adds to that, I feel worse. I know that no one is perfect, and that people make mistakes. I totally get that.

When you’re raised with things drilled into your head, they stick with you. For example, needing to do things perfectly, or not making problems. Shit I am pretty good at.

Now I need to suffer the consequences of a shitty coping mechanism that I started who knows when. I need to be an adult and give up on things I really want in order to pay for my mistakes. I want 2 tattoos after I graduate group, and I have to put them off now. I fucked up, and now I have to deal with the negative reactions.

I’m not saying that I won’t whine about it. I’m not saying I won’t get pissy. I will. Part of me never aged past being a child. And that part comes out at times. I whine. I pout. *shrugs*

Tackling all your problems at once is hard. I can’t turn to another ‘unhealthy’ habit to deal with the strong emotions of fixing another.

I can’t eat to deal with money shit.

I can’t shop to deal with facing my binge eating.

I can’t drink to deal with everything. More like shouldn’t.

I can’t cut to deal with strong emotions that I never learned to process.

I can’t get high just to not care.

When you finally come clean and admit that you know that you shouldn’t be doing things, and that you want to get better…you feel guilty for even wanting it for a split second. You feel like a failure for just wishing for one of them for a moment. And then you want one because you feel like a failure.

It’s a vicious cycle.

I know that I’m making progress, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have my bad days. Fuck, I have more of those than I’d like to admit. My mind is constantly going, and it’s exhausting.

I’m always scared of not doing things right. I’m scared of fucking things up, because that’s just what I do.

I go to bed and the house isn’t as clean as I’d like it, I feel lazy. I go to bed and the dishes aren’t done, I beat myself up. I could go on, and on.

I know there’s no ‘quick fix’ for the shit that’s wrong with me. I know that I can’t just snap my fingers and magically be a little bit more okay. I know I can’t avoid things forever. It’ll beat me down more than it has already.

For so long I hid how bad things really were. I was terrified to be honest. I was scared to admit how scared I was. I never told people when I was suicidal. I never told people when I was breaking inside. I never told people when I wanted to throw up because I was so disgusted with myself. I never told people about how I don’t know how to process emotions. Do you have any idea how tiring that is? Having everything on your shoulders, watching everyone smile around you, and you faking it? You smile because you should be happy. You smile because that’s what expected.

People always question what people have to be depressed about. What do they have to be anxious about. Why can’t they just move on from some event. Why do they let memories effect you now?

I wish I could turn off depression. I wish I wasn’t so fucking anxious all the time. About everything. I wish I didn’t let shit from the past bother me. There’s no off switch. There’s no goddamn erase button.

When a neurotypical person tries to tell someone with a mental illness how they should feel, it’s disrespectful. We’d love to be able to be ‘normal’. We’d love to function without medication, or therapy. Some of us can, and that’s fucking awesome! Some of us can’t, and we don’t deserve any less respect than anyone else.

Mental illness has been something that’s been hush-hush. You don’t talk about that. You don’t admit to it. You smile. You fake it. And you deal with it in private. That’s a big part of the problem. The stigma surrounding this. Hollywood gladly uses mental illnesses for a plot point, they gladly make a star anorexic to add drama. The news uses it to explain why white men commit acts of terror.

And then we’re seen as dangerous. We’re seen as unstable. We’re seen as lunatics. We should be locked up. We shouldn’t be parents. We shouldn’t do this. We shouldn’t do that.

It makes people like me afraid to come forward. I could have been dealing with this years ago, but everything I saw around me warned me not to. Told me to push it down, and to keep quiet.

I couldn’t anymore. There was so much pressure building inside me that I exploded. I couldn’t add anymore pain or lies to what I was already holding on to. I couldn’t keep secrets that were only doing more harm than good.

In high school, I could walk all over town. Crossing streets, walking in neighborhoods I didn’t know, and hanging out at the park after dark.

I’m 28 years old. I cannot cross the street myself. I cannot be outside my house in my own backyard at night without panicking. I can barely walk in my own neighborhood.

As I get older, the worse I get. The worse I get, the worse I feel. It’s got to stop somewhere.

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About Me

Who Am I?

One thing that seems to be extremely common for someone with borderline personality disorder, is the lack of ‘self’. Something that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. It’s not knowing who you are at the end of the day, and it sucks so badly.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Identity Problems

I know my sexuality, I know how I feel about certain issues, and that’s just about where it stops.

If you were to ask me my favorite color 6 times today. Each time I could say a different color. Who I am as I write this could be a completely different ‘me’ if you had me write this in a few hours.

To anyone who knows me, they might be shocked. One thing I’ve always been ‘firm’ on…is who I am. Which, in reality, was me trying to convince myself. I have no idea who I am, and I haven’t for a very long time. I gravitated towards dark colors as a shield. Black goes with everything- therefor, there was no right or wrong. It can be casual, dressy, whatever. Just as I blend in with those that surround me many times.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

I’ve discussed them broadly, I believe, but I don’t think I delved into personal details.

  1. Impulsive behaviors– Back in high school, this was me. I smoked in the school bathroom, I cut school, I was involved in some B&Es, and theft. Is that who I am? I always joked that it was simply because it was genetic. That we just attract trouble. Was it really me? Or was I just driven to be impulsive? I take responsibility for my actions, I do. I’m not looking for excuses. I just honestly see those memories as someone else. I remember them, but I can’t recall the feelings. I can picture each event, but placing myself there is another story.
  2. Fear of being alone or abandoned even when the threat is not real– This one is major for me. Ask any of my close friends and they will tell you that a constant message/text they get from me is ‘I think that *insert name* is pulling away’ or ‘I don’t think they want to be my friend anymore’. As a result, I’ve put up with a lot of shit so I don’t lose people. Even when I logically know someone is busy, or having a rough time, I’m terrified.
  3. Dependent of others– I’ve never lived on my own. I depend on my husband 100%. I won’t even try to deny that. I don’t have a license, and even if we did? I’d still wait for him to go with me.
  4. Fear of rejection– Reason #1 that I won’t make a new dating profile. I found one for Anthony and I, and I keep putting it off. I keep making excuses.
  5. Make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment– I admit that I will push people away. I don’t even realize I’m doing it at the time. I’m just so fucking scared of losing people.
  6. Have a pattern of difficult relationships caused by alternating between extremes of intense admiration and hatred of others– Before my husband, my longest relationship was 6 months. Yep.
  7. Act impulsively in ways that are self-damaging, such as extravagant spending, frequent and unprotected sex with many partners, substance abuse, binge eating or reckless driving– I was diagnosed with binge eating. I’m not an alcoholic, but if it’s in the house, it’s all I want. I’ve made the conscious choice to try to only have it in the house 1-2 weekends a month. There was a weekend at one point when the kids were gone where I was barely sober. I’ve never been drunk, but it does help me relax. I love sex. Not gonna lie. I’ve slept with 13 or 14 people in my life so far, and it never seems to be enough. Is that me craving affection? Is it wanting acceptance? Sex has been a huge part of who I am since I was 15. To the point that I was even more lost than usual when we shifted from 1 kid, to 2. One of whom is clingy AF.
  8. Have recurring suicidal thoughts, make repeated suicide attempts or cause self-injury through mutilation, such as cutting or burning himself or herself– I started cutting myself when I was 14, and it was a daily thing until I was 19. It’s an addiction, and it’s hard as fuck to break. I have some of my scars covered with a tattoo, but not nearly close to all of them yet. Suicidal thoughts happen often, to the point where I just brush them off now. If they get bad, I write it out, and cry myself to sleep.
  9. Have inappropriate, fierce anger or problems controlling anger. The person may often display temper tantrums or get into physical fights– No explanation needed here. I have anger issues.

I’ve kept this part of myself tucked away for so long, away from the eyes of people I know that while reading this they may not know what to think. They may say that it can’t be true. I once told someone- I’m an actress, and life is my play. I have to be.

A friend of mine on Facebook had this to ask:

I’d like to know how you deal with this in terms of being a parent! When A is with her dad for the summer I have a terrible time with knowing who I am when I am not taking care of her. It’s easy for me to just exist as Mom. But when I’m not Mom, I have like, an identity crisis and overall my symptoms of my BPD get a lot worse. Do you ever feel similar?

Which was a fucking good question in my opinion. I rarely see anything besides anxiety and depression talked about when it comes to motherhood. And we need to change that. Many mothers are outside that little box.

I feel more centered, sadly, when the kids aren’t home. I love having them around. I fucking love my kids to death. With them, though, I’m reminded of the mother I wanted to be, and the one that will never exist. I see everything that I’m doing wrong. I’m constantly questioning myself.

When they aren’t home, I move about almost like a zombie, but I can shut down. I can veg and watch true crime as much as I want, or game. I can do everything in my power to take my mind off of everything that goes wrong, can go wrong, and will go wrong.

Every moment I could break. I could have a meltdown, and need to hide it. I don’t want them seeing that. I don’t want them to know how fucked in the head mommy is. They know that I’m ‘sick’, and that my brain doesn’t work right, but I don’t go into detail.

To them, mommy taking pills is normal.

To them, mommy needing a nap is normal.

To them, the house going into chaos now and then is normal.

To them, having days where we all just snack all day is normal.

To them, they will never know ‘normal’. Only some sad variation of it where some days I can barely function enough to parent all the way to cleaning everything in site and making everything from scratch.

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About Me

Diagnosis Five: BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide.

While mental health experts now generally agree that the label “borderline personality disorder” is very misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.– National Institute of Mental Health

Saved the best for last lol

This is honestly something that I had never in my life heard of until I was given my diagnosis. The day before my birthday, at that. November 15, 2013.

When I was 13, I was given a diagnosis of bipolar. That diagnosis was changed, however, when I finally saw a therapist that was more interested in work and progress than just sitting and talking for an hour. Of course, my thought was ‘of course, I’m fucking insane’. I felt it. I still do at times.

It’s only been the past 6 months or so that I’ve done more research, reaching out to others with the same diagnosis. I felt isolated and alone before that. No matter how much you explain to someone, they will never understand. Not unless they have been through it.

Also from the NIMH:

People with BPD may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

Other symptoms include

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

That’s my mind. Some days are mild, and I feel *almost* normal. Others, I want to bang my head against a wall to make it stop. Anything to block everything out.

BPD has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. However, with newer and proper treatment, many people with BPD experience fewer or less severe symptoms and an improved quality of life.–NIMH

Incurable is what this is. It’ll never go away. And while that is a very daunting thought, to be 50 and hit with a bad day. The idea of living like I am at the moment for the rest of my life makes it hard to face it. It makes me wonder why. What is the point of life, when you don’t live, but simply survive?

I am fighting back. I’m going to therapy, I’m on medications, we’re working on our diets, and trying to tackle the hard days with understanding.

My therapist was in awe that I’ve been with my husband so long, as many aren’t able to last. Before him my longest relationship was 6 months. It takes someone strong, but understanding, and flexible to love someone like me. I’m not speaking for everyone else with BPD, either. I’m a very hard person to deal with. I can barely tolerate myself most days, and yet- he does it with no complaints.

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About Me

Diagnosis Three: Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.National Eating Disorders

Growing up, I knew nothing of mental illness, eating disorders, or abuse.

I never knew that I had an issue with food. I just thought I really liked it. Looking back, after the diagnosis, I don’t know how no one saw it. How I never saw it as years went on and I learned about them.

As a child, I could easily eat an extra large pizza in one sitting, by myself. How did no one stop me? How did no one see how unhealthy that was?

Food was always my comfort, resulting in me weighing in at 220 pounds at just 12 years old. I turned to food to comfort me from hating myself. It was a vicious cycle.

When I was 17, I limited my food intake as much as I possibly could. At school I’d have a very plain salad, and that’s it. The days that I was at my then-girl friend’s house, I’d eat something small, only to appease her. This went on for just over a month before I broke, eating everything I could get my hands on.

Knowing that I’ve been dealing with this since childhood is both shocking, and not surprising. The fact that I started so young, and went so long without people noticing is the shocking part. I’m not surprised because I always knew I had an issue with food.

I’ve tried to lose weight so many times, and always failed. I couldn’t fight being drawn to food, and I’d feel so guilty afterwards. Like I’d failed.

I’m currently at my highest weight ever. 253 pounds. Seeing that number disgusts me. It makes me want to cry, to hide away so no one has to see me.

I was given Vyvance to help with my binge eating while in group therapy. I’m not hoping for a miracle, but working on it is a start.

Even if I’m full, I will keep eating. Because it’s so good. Or I don’t want to waste it. Or a million other reasons. I’ll tell myself ‘just one more bite’, but I can’t stop. I feel sick afterwards, like I’m going to throw up. I feel groggy, and I feel ashamed.

Admittedly, I hid my binging well at times. I was ashamed to be a fat girl standing up and saying that I have a major problem with food. Well, duh. It’d be stating the obvious.

I’ve spent my entire life hating who I am- especially for my weight. I’d like to get some control over it. I don’t want to be some skinny thing. Just comfortable.

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About Me

Day One

Today is day one taking Vyvance, and I hope to chronicle my month on it. Some days I’ll forget, others I might write more than once. That’s just how it goes.

But, I should probably give a little introduction here, right?

I’m Brittiny, and I’m a 28 year old wife and mother. I’ve been with my husband for 9.5 years now, and he’s a big part of my recovery. In 2013 I was diagnosed with ptsd, borderline personality disorder, OCD tendencies, and severe anxiety. Then, just last week binge eating disorder was added to that.

I’ve been on numerous medications for my issues. Finally, about 2 months ago, they stopped working. I caved and brought it up to my doctor. I was in a bad place. I was suicidal, I was depressed, I was angry, so many emotions were bombarding me. Simply making it through the day was a struggle.

I was put into intensive outpatient therapy. By far one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. Also, one of the best. I’ve been happier since I started going, and I don’t feel alone anymore.

We come from all different backgrounds, but can relate to one another because we all struggle. I’m getting help that I should have gotten years ago. I’ll never be cured from some of this. I’ll live with BPD my entire life. Does that mean I’ll always be out of control? No. It’s manageable, but incurable. I’ll have breakdowns. I’ll flip my shit. The war in my head will always be there, it’s just a matter of how bad it gets. I’ll always have an eating disorder. Even if I manage to get to a place where I eat normally, there’s always a chance of relapsing. I’ll always be an addict- whether it’s been days or years since I last cut.

I can’t ask for the life that I feel robbed of, the ship has sailed. All I can do is cross my fingers, and take the leap.

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