“Hi, I hope you’re okay. I’m really sorry it’s taken me so long to get in touch. I wasn’t sure what to say. The longer I left it the harder it got. There’s been a lot going on at this end, and I’m finding it hard to juggle everything. I should have said something earlier, to let you know what was happening, and I’m sorry that I didn’t. I didn’t mean to hurt you or make you feel you were alone.
I know you’ve been having a really tough time, and I’m so sorry I haven’t been there for you. I know anniversary dates can be difficult, especially as this was your first experience of it… the first one. And I’m sorry nobody was there for you, that must have been hard. But I do care about you, and of course you were in my thoughts. I hadn’t forgotten, I’m just rubbish at communicating at the moment. I know he meant a lot to you, and he’s still with you.
I haven’t been avoiding you… I know it seems that way, but I promise I haven’t. There’s just been so much to think about, that it all got too much for me, and I had to have some time on my own, to be able to cope with it all. I didn’t mean to make you feel so alone though. I promise I’m not abandoning you, I just have to get my head around everything that’s going on in my life.
I’m still here, and I still care about you very much. And I miss you. The kids do too, they keep asking about you. You’re a special friend to me, and I’d hate to lose you from my life. I wish I could take away all the pain you’re feeling right now, or at least help you carry it. I want to see you be happy. I hate to see you so upset. I’m worried about you… please don’t do anything to yourself, I need you… the kids need you. It would break my heart to lose you.
Even when I can’t be there for you I want you to know you’re in my thoughts, and don’t ever doubt my care for you. It’s unconditional. You’re my best friend, and I’m so thankful to know you. Things will get better I promise. Please look after yourself.
This is what I would’ve written to me if I was my friend. This is the message I needed to hear at this time. It acknowledges and validates my pain, it explains the absence, but doesn’t guilt-trip me for being upset. It shows care and concern for me. It leaves a good feeling. It’s reassuring and compassionate.
Sadly this is not the message I received. It was quite different to the above. I shall take more time to reflect on it, but so far it’s left me with a sense that I am a burden, I’m selfish – only thinking about myself, and not my friend. Lack of apologies. No mention of caring about me. No compassion for my first anniversary date, just telling me they don’t get any easier – doesn’t inspire me to continue… and making it sound like ‘we all go through it’ – which is what I figured my friends thought anyway. Sorry for being a ‘newbie’ to the club…. Cold. Bitter. Withholding of care. These are the immediate senses I get from what I’ve read.
I feel like I’m a bad person for not being there for her, but she could have told me much sooner, what was going on, and that I hadn’t lost her. It’s far too late, and the message hasn’t actually reassured me, because there’s no heart in it. I feel she’s angry with me, and I’m meant to feel guilty and ashamed, and selfish… which I slightly do right now. But I am also angry as a result… as I am done being made to feel guilty for being abandoned and hurt by people. I’ve had way too much of it in my life. It’s time people owned their behaviour and stopped trying to spin it round on me. I deserved an apology or care, one or the other at least, and I feel I received neither. Those closest to me are going to have to start trying to understand my illness. Our friendships won’t work otherwise. They have to acknowledge and accept my triggers and avoid them. And they have to start thinking about ‘tone’, and showing more care, concern and compassion. I will be writing a blog about this soon.
I understand she’s been busy, and she’s had to focus on other people – I totally get that, in fact I’ve written about it before … that I don’t expect to be the priority … that family is much more important, as it should be. I’m not saying she should’ve taken her focus off of them and focused on me. What I’m saying, and what I’m upset about, is that she could SEE I was in pain and heading to a very dangerous and lonely place. I was crying out for help! She could SEE it, and she couldn’t take sixty seconds out of her day to send me one caring message, to say she was thinking of me. I wasn’t worthy of sixty seconds. THAT’S why I’m upset. I’m sure I’ll get over it. This is just a tough time, for everyone. But I am allowed to be hurt by that, and to take my time to recover from the whole ordeal of the past couple of months.
One good thing I suppose, is when I began reading the message, I thought ‘Uh-oh, this has that tone to it, where it’s going to upset me and trigger me…’ I actually got supplies ready to harm myself. But then I picked up a stress ball and tried breathing slowly whilst I read the message. While the message did upset me, I haven’t yet harmed myself because of it. I know there’s still time, but at least I was able to put it off initially.
One thing I’ve done is closed my account, and removed everyone from my old one. I’ve turned my phone off. I don’t want to talk to anyone right now. I will ‘talk to’ my blog, and people on Twitter, as they’re the only things that have got me through the last couple of months. People might not like what I say on this blog, but they have no clue what it’s like to have my voice silenced, and to be made to put up with being mistreated. None of them know the level of despair and emotional pain I’m carrying. They’re not capable of knowing. Unless you have BPD you cannot even imagine the intensity of the feelings. I will keep talking here, as I’ve been advised to by people who understand the dangers of me not talking. Those who can see how close to the edge I am, and who understand mental illness, particularly the one I have, say it’s important to just keep talking. I know I saw it as a mistake to talk about these things here. But only I know where I’m at right now. Only I know the consequences of shutting down entirely. I know how close I am to jumping in front of a train, or off a bridge, or doing something else. I can’t let those thoughts win. I can’t let these people win. I have to keep fighting, for my family. They’ve always been there, and I know they always will. That has to be enough for me for now.
Having slept on it… I’m less upset. I’m able to look at potential reasons behind the message I did receive. Of course it would have been nice to get one like the one I wrote at the start – that’s what I needed. But some people have the knack, others don’t. I have to accept people as they are. In time I will respond, and it will actually be with compassion and concern, just as I needed. But at this point in time I have to protect myself, and that means keeping away from everyone. I’m sorry. It’s better that I distance myself, work out how I feel, think of a response and take my time to write it… otherwise I might say something I can’t take back. I actually feel quite proud of how I’ve coped with this so far. I’m doing what’s right for me. I avoided harming myself yesterday. And I’ll let the answer come to me in its time.
In the meantime I’m going to be writing posts about what we as people with BPD need from others. In therapy I’ve often been told to treat myself how I would treat a friend, or how a friend would treat me. The letter I wrote at the start is how I wish my friend had treated me… and it’s what I would say to her if she was going through what I’m going through. It’s what friends are meant to be there for… so knowing what I’d have said to her, means I’m closer to knowing how to speak to myself… it’s progress… it’s knowing how I deserve to be treated and spoken to. It’s been a way of telling myself what I need to hear. I’m thinking of doing a collection of letters like this to myself, from all the people who hurt me in my past… the things I wish they’d said, which they never did. It might build my self-worth up a little, and who knows, it might even fool my mind into thinking they were sorry for what they did!! If nothing else it’ll get all the pain out of me.
The next post will be based on this experience, putting it to good use and hopefully it’ll be helpful to others, whilst expressing my needs. Best get working on it!