fam·i·ly

Family.

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.

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4 responses to “fam·i·ly

  • Mandi

    My therapist believes that much of my BPD is “learned behaviors” instead of true BPD. Well, I guess its BPD either way. But it means that i might have strengths thats others dont. Im wondering if the same is true of you. I think you have stregths that you don’t know about yet, just like me. Anyhow… just up late… also on the west coast(Or) and thought I’d tell u that yes. Someone else IS reading, and even actually getting a lot of it too.

    • onelove312

      Hey! You have no idea what your comment meant to me. Just to know there really is someone out there. So first off, thank you for that. To be honest, I don’t really know about the “learned behaviors”. I was diagnosed with severe depression as a child. And have also been diagnosed with anxiety and OCD. I’m sure that a lot of my issues stem from what I have been through with my mom. And also events that I have lived through in my life. Part of it is probably also genetics. I’ve been told by therapists before that the chemicals in my brain are just different than other people. I’m probably more prone to disorders due to my mom having one. But I think that’s the thing with BPD, or really a lot of disorders, they have no idea what causes them. It’s probably a combination of a lot of things that leads to that “perfect storm”. I do think I am different than a lot of other BPD sufferers because I truly refuse to let it define my life. I refuse to give in to all of those impulses that have lead me down many dark paths. I refuse to allow my emotions to make my life any different from anyone else’s. So a lot of that means I internalize probably way too much. And I try harder than anyone can imagine to keep my emotions from reflecting on my loved ones. A lot of people in my life, even the ones close to me, don’t even know I have BPD. They know I’m sensitive and care way too much about other people, that in some way I’m different than them, but they have no idea that I have an actual diagnosis and that I take medication. And that’s simply because I do not want to be known for that. I want to be known for who I am as a person and my good qualities. Even if that means I fight my own inner battle alone. And maybe that is a strength, or a difference that I have in comparison to other people. I also have a bachelor’s in psychology and know way more about myself than most people. I am probably one of the most self-reflective people you could ever meet and I analyze myself and my emotions pretty much every moment of the day. I am positive that you have your own strengths and differences as well. Not everyone suffers the same. But just so you know too, there is someone out there, and I’m here if you ever need anything.

      • Mandi

        Morning 🙂
        There are a lot more people than you realize. Make sure you’re adding tags to your posts so you’ll get more “traffic” and in turn support.
        I’m also very able to analyze myself, which is apparently a very good trait as most BPD are more defensive. I don’t know about you, but it’s frustrating for me because logically, I can SEE what I’m doing and what I’m feeling is wrong… but I can’t figure out how to change it yet. Although have made a ton of progress.
        I may have told you about this more, I can’t read my previous comment from this page. Drives me nuts. I’m doing Intensive Dynamic Short Therm Psychotherapy. It seriously kicks your ass, but it works. I’m thinking that because you’re able to take criticism and think logically, you might be able to do it. Most with BPD can’t because it throws them into such a confused defensive state. It basically calls you out on what kind of emotion you’re showing by what you’re doing. Like they point out every movement you make and explain why you’re doing it. Basically, it’s you who figures out the root of your problems. It’s SERIOUSLY difficult, but worth it. I don’t know how well you deal with emotions. I just DON’T. Was never allowed to feel or express anything so I’m having to re-train my brain. That’s the hardest for me,feeling me feel weak (because that’s what I grew up thinking) and sometimes it hurts. And having not felt for so long is kind of a shock to my system. Anyhow, it’s not for everyone. But it’s not like ANY type of therapy most people have done. No “patting you on the head”. It’s just straight out getting to the root of your problems. “Pat on the head” therapy wouldn’t work for me. I’m way to manipulative. I don’ mean to be, and I don’t do it to like get something… to change things around to where I don’t have to deal with what I don’t want to. 🙂 This kind of therapy is a partnership. It has to be. So you wouldn’t be doing this alone anymore. It’s not a shallow relationship. It’s real.
        I’m way open about the BPD, even when I don’t want to be. I’ve only known I had it for a few months but everything started last June. I’ve always been open, but I felt like this in particular I HAD to be open about. It might have to do with the fact that a year ago, before all this… I was a publicist. I think I probably learned even more doing that work how important my role is in sharing. It’s definitely not everyone’s strength. And its hard because I’m overly sensitive to how people feel about me. So laying all this out and most of the time not knowing what others think SUCKS. Especially for the people around here. I get lots of support from the other bloggers. But not too much from those here. 75% or so of the people I know that do comment don’t live here. Drives me nuts. It’s uncomfortable, I get that. But buck up buckaroo’s. 🙂
        Anyhow… I couldn’t do what you’re doing. Honestly I couldn’t. You’re going to be ok.
        Mandi

  • onelove312

    Well, it definitely sounds to me like you are an amazingly strong person yourself. And I completely respect you for that. Typical therapy has never worked for me either. Part of that would probably be manipulation as well. And my background in psychology. So when a therapist is attempting to talk to me, I unconsciously know what they are attempting to do and answer the questions or say what I know they want to hear. I also don’t like the whole “poor you” act when it comes time to talking about my mom. I know I’ve had to deal with a lot of shit that most people haven’t. And some of that has nothing to even do with my mom. But like, I already know I have issues from the things that have happened in my life. I know way more than most people would think. So, for me at least, “talking it out” doesn’t really work. Cause I’m already way too aware about what I want and don’t want to say to people. It’s not that I have these unresolved issues that have never been brought to light. I’ve already brought them to light. Right out front in the spotlight. I can spit off every traumatic event and how it affected me. So maybe I should look into another form of therapy.

    I really need to be more aware of my tagging though in my posts. I know that. I just always forget. But I know it will impact how many people become aware of my blog. Ultimately I want this to be a place where not only do I hope people can read my life and understand that maybe they’re not the only ones out there. But also for it to be a place where I can meet people that I never could have met otherwise and hear their stories as well.

    It’s funny because in most aspects of my life, I am an open book. I will talk about just about anything with anyone. Even if they have a different viewpoint than I do, I still enjoy hearing different points of view and the justification for them. This has never been more true than with my sexual orientation. It is interesting to me the stigma that gets put on me from society. And the person that most people think I am or the beliefs I have, before ever even meeting me. Then they get to know me and realize that society is wrong. My friend’s husband had never met a gay person before me (he grew up in the deep part of Montana). So he was pretty leery when he met me. After our first meeting and us talking for hours, he told me that he had been completely wrong to judge me before meeting me. That he realized just through our one encounter that there is more to a person than who they give their heart to. And that meant everything to me. Because that’s how I want it to be. And that’s kind of how I approach my BPD as well. I am not ashamed of it by any means. It’s a part of me. An ugly part that I wish I could change. But ultimately, it’s me. And my emotions rage and I can be very unstable. I attach myself way too quickly to people. And I become devastated at the slightest sign of rejection from someone, friend or loved one. But throughout all of that, I essentially just want people to get to know me as a person. Because even though my emotions are unstable and I feel things intensely, I also love intensely. And I am loyal. And I will do anything for the people in my life. And I just want people to know that side. I want them to come away thinking that my good qualities outweigh the bad. Because even at the worst, I still know that I have good in me. And that essentially is my fight. To make sure the good conquers.

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