I grew up knowing quite a lot about this word as my mom’s side of the family was very close. My dad’s side of the family, well, let’s just say that they didn’t want much to do with me. But I was perfectly fine with that as a kid because I had other people who were more than willing to make up for their absence. As I have grown older though, this word and idea has taken on a new meaning for me. It has shifted and changed so it is no longer the comforting thought I had as child. My dad’s family has continued to keep their distance and the majority of them have not seen me in almost two decades (which is quite a feat as I am not even 30). With my grandmother’s death almost two years ago, greed has consumed my aunt and cousins on my mom’s side of the family, and in the same swoop, it has also destroyed what idea of family we had left. I have no illusions that this side of my family will ever resume normal communication again. The damage is too deep and too personal. Sides have been chosen, battle lines have been drawn, and there is no going back. And so with this knowledge also comes the realization that what remaining “blood” family I had left, is no longer there.
There is also another piece to my life that not too many people know about, except those that are closest to me. I call myself an only child because, in most regards, I am. But this is only a half-truth. I am the only child of my parents and, if asked, they will say that both of them have only one child. However, I have a half-sister from my dad’s first marriage. I could write a novel regarding the relationship and interactions between my sister, my dad, and me. Seriously. But, to sum it all up, my sister was jealous of me growing up because I got to live with my dad, her mother fed her lies and told her that my dad did not love her, and so no matter how hard my dad has tried to solidify their relationship, my sister has rejected everything to do with him. Because of those facts, my dad has in turn refused to regard my sister as being his child. And so, if asked, my dad will say that he has only one child. Me. This is an easier feat then it could be since my parents and I both live about 500 miles from where my sister lives. She is a very successful executive in Hollywood and, basically, the exact opposite of me in almost every way. She is also 13 years older than me and so we have never quite been on the same page when it came to life. When she was graduating high school, I was graduating kindergarten. But none of this has ever stopped me from wanting that “big sister” influence in my life. I have attempted many times to have her in my life, regardless of what my dad thinks about it. But each attempt has failed. Failed miserably and painfully. And so that is the reason I hardly ever talk about the subject. To people I just meet or even those that I have known for a short while, I remain an only child. And even if you were to be around me 24/7, you would probably never know there was more to the story than that. Not unless I wanted you to.
But not everything that I have to say about family is bad. Because I do not have true “blood” family in my life, I have created family of my own. I have a family that has been in my life since I was a small child. I grew up with a girl who is more of a sister to me than anyone else ever could be. It is her son that is not only my nephew, but also my godson. And it is not just the one family. It is their extended family as well. These people welcomed me into their family and in that one moment I gained grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They take the time to make sure that I truly understand that I am as much a part of their family as any of the rest of them are. It is because of them that I have learned a sense of belonging. Family means everything to me. And this is because of that group of people. They taught me things about unconditional love that I never would have learned otherwise. And it is because of them that I struggle daily to take control of my life and take control of my BPD. Family does not mean blood. I truly believe that. I live that. And I also believe that family will get you through. If I didn’t have that love, then I would have nothing to fight for. And I know that. And I am so thankful for that. Even in those darkest of hours, I know that I have people who are depending on me to be there tomorrow. And the day after that. And sometimes that knowledge is all I need.
Perhaps I believe in family so much because I know what it is like to not have it. Yes, I have very loving parents. I have always had that. And I understand that some people are not even lucky to have that much. And for that alone I feel blessed. But my mom is an entity to herself. And it has been, and continues to be, a struggle to maintain a vaguely healthy relationship with her. You see, my mom is bipolar with tendency towards severe depression. And she refuses to take medication. My dad has given up on trying to help her, and so when she flips into an outburst, he retreats to his room and turns on the tv. As an only child, the burden has always fallen on me to make her better. In essence, I have been the parent in our relationship for as long as I can remember. She relies on me. People tell me that I should just walk away and remind her that I am the child and she needs to be the one in control. But that is easier said than done. She’s my mom. And the only one I will ever have. So I refuse to just walk away when she needs me. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy by any stretch of the imagination. Having a parent who has a mental disorder is utterly exhausting mentally. And sometimes even physically. Much as I assume it is exhausting dealing with me sometimes. And perhaps she is where my BPD comes from. Or maybe I was more susceptible to a mental disorder because of her. But, at the end of the day, I will always love her. And I will do everything in my power to protect her and help her. Like I said, family is everything to me.
I’m sorry if this was just a lot of rambling. Maybe no one will ever even read this. But I guess I just needed to get a lot of this out. I didn’t even realize it until I started typing and just couldn’t stop. I am a lot more than just my BPD. But this will always be my story. And everyime I write, or everytime that I find out someone is actually listening out there, I come one step closer to my happy ending.