Taking time to understand myself and the legacy I decided not to carry

I’ve never been good at relationships; never. Making friends as a child was always harder for me, I thought. As an adult, relationships always seem to implode quickly. Friends seemed to come and go based on passing situations. It felt strange.

It wasn’t until early 2016 when I would learn WHY.

After over 10 years fighting medications for bipolar disorder, type 2, a hospital psychiatrist and his team finally changed my diagnosis to Borderline Personality Disorder (with chronic major depression and anxiety). The criteria finally made sense to my family and I. We knew for years that something was not right since the medications were not working. I finally felt seen.

Being high functioning (most of the time), I’ve always researched my diagnoses when it came to my mental health. I figure the more I know, the more I can advocate for myself and my needs.

I eventually started down the rabbit hole of researching and understanding BPD, although much slower due to repeated hospitalizations for suicide attempts, self harm urges, a divorce, and more in the years that followed. I eventually came across a theory some researchers had that personality disorders could be the result of prolonged trauma, especially when early in life. That caused me to wonder if in fact the way my father raised me was far more traumatic than simply being a controlling parent (since I always thought other kids had MORE controlling parents). I knew I blamed him for my life filled with therapists, medications, hospitalizations, and a life of constant misery. The more I researched, reflected, and asked questions of my mother, the more sure I became that what I dealt with was emotional and psychological neglect from an inadequate parent who was trusted by my mother to raise me while she worked. And he was just repeating the cycle of his own upbringing that was traumatic.

Why I struggled so much with relationships finally made sense in my mid-30s. My caretaker parent was not capable of teaching me and modeling how to have normal, healthy relationships and emotions. Also as a result, I deal with extremely deep issues with trusting other humans all because my parent couldn’t model for me what caring for another human looked like. I was a pawn in some psychological warfare of his, not his daughter to love, care for, and protect with all his might. I don’t know what love should look like.

Coming to so many massive realizations about myself after a horrific year in 2021, really pushed me to step back from my every day interactions. I am more scared of relationships than ever, possibly because I fear I may have left some in irreparable condition last year. I am afraid of how others see me. I feel like I wear new “labels” of abuse survivor and “damaged” on my sleeve, and everyone can see them; like a huge caution sign. I am afraid that I have a dark cloud of depression and pain sitting above my head that goes everywhere with me.

I don’t want to carry frightening labels for diagnoses so doctors can treat me. I don’t want to carry a lifetime of pain, trauma, fear, and fighting to make it though my days. I don’t want to carry the legacy of two generations of abuse. This is a burden no one should carry. No one should be burdened with being called “strong” because of how another individual treated them or a medical diagnosis that was preprogrammed in their DNA. I don’t want to have to be strong. I do not. I want to be happy and carefree like others without stories like mine.

So I am taking time to figure this all out. How do I live a life that’s meaningful and not carry so much emotional baggage? How do I learn to trust others and build strong relationships? How do I not let my emotions and fears dictate my choices? Some of this I learned in my years of treatment, and I need to revisit that toolbox. Other things may just require me to take a leap of faith and decide to trust someone without question or fear of them hurting me.

I simply do not want to be hurt anymore. I want to be happy and have people in my life who I can trust actually care about me. That’s something I’ve rarely had and don’t know if I actually deserve it, due to my painful upbringing.

So for now, I’ve chosen not to carry a legacy of abuse. I’ve chosen to find joy by paving a path for myself that meets my needs. It’s hard. It feels lonely some days. It’s still filled with chronic depression. But it’s my choice. And one choice at a time, I will slowly build myself what I deserve.


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