So, I’ve written a lot since I’ve started this blog, and it means so much to me. When I began this, I told myself these posts were my chance to say some of what I need to say, some of what people need to hear, and sometimes, a little bit of both. But this is the first post I’ve written while tears are streaming down my face.
I’ve talked about my ex-partner in posts before, and I think it’s because the wounds from the relationship are still fresh, and because I thought he was my forever (actually, I thought all of them were until him, but c’est la vie). I also write about him because he’s mentally ill like me. He’s been diagnosed with PTSD from his 3 tours overseas in the Army, and also with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I believe is caused by a genetic component (I believe his mom also has this disorder), and also because of the abuse he endured as a child: serious physical and psychological abuse with periods of forced isolation where he literally couldn’t move from his bed for weeks at a time. I was attracted to him before I knew all of this, and after he told me his story, it made me love him even more; I felt so much empathy and compassion for this man who had been through so much.
For the last couple of days, he’s been messaging me. The messages are horrifying. Ever since his unfaithfulness last October, he’s been on a downward trajectory. He’s completely isolated himself from everyone, including his 2 kids, and has told his family members that he hates them and won’t have anything more to do with them ever. I know some of this behavior is the BPD. But I also know he’s taking all of the pain of his childhood and tours, and turning it outward as anger against the only targets he has. The problem is that many of his targets don’t deserve to be his scapegoat, most especially his children.
When I first met them (one was in Kindergarten and the other in 2nd grade), I fell in love with them immediately and completely. I love kids and these 2 are so smart, sweet, affectionate, and funny. To be honest, I didn’t know I could love other kids as much as I do them, with the same unconditional love I feel for my own son, and my nieces and nephews. The feelings blew me away. Once, my sister said this: “Blood is thicker than water, but love is thicker than both.” She’s right.
These kids have been through a lot in their lives. Not having their dad around because of his tours, moving around the country multiple times, and then experiencing a contentious divorce took their toll. The little guy is extremely sensitive and like me is a huge feeler who is at a loss as how to deal with the emotions of what he’s been through, so he internalizes them. He doesn’t eat well. He doesn’t have friends. And he lives in his own world, not wanting others to intrude. I’m lucky he let me in. The little miss is also a sensitive child, but as opposed to internalizing, she externalizes her feelings. She’s a clinger, and just wants to feel love from anybody and everybody. In that regard, she’s like me.
When J told me he completely cut off everyone in this life (I think I’m the only one he can talk, or in this case text, to), I assumed he didn’t mean these sweeties. You see, during our 3 years together, J learned so much more about being a parent than he previously knew. He built a strong relationship with them, and we did so many fun things together as a family: museums, zoos, hikes, eating out, birthday parties, swimming, playgrounds, movie nights, etc. and I could see the connection to their dad get stronger and stronger. He also worked hard to provide a home for them. He got a really nice apartment in a family oriented neighborhood, and the kids were thrilled at having this with their dad. J and I had fun buying bunk beds, comforters, toys, books…anything that would create a positive environment for them. He took them to the private school he got them into every morning, picked them up afterwards, started little miss in Taekwondo, made nice dinners for them, bought them birds so they could have pets, and hugged and cuddled them to their hearts desire.
Then, this BPD took over. Actually, it had taken over before, something that I experienced first hand. I was on the receiving end of rages, weeks of silence, damaging words and actions, but to be honest, I knew when it was the illness that was in charge, and not ‘him’. People questioned me again and again why I kept loving this man…why I forgave him over and over. The answer is simple: because I’m mentally ill too. When I’m in a depression or a period of mania, I’m not in control either. I do things, say things, act out on things that I never would do when I’m in a more self-restrained time. Sometimes…well maybe always…it takes someone mentally ill to truly understand another’s struggle. Once I had a student say to me, “I like talking to you, Professor K. When I tell you I’m depressed, I know you get it.” And yes, I do.
But this time for J it’s different. The BDP is in total control. 100%. And it’s going to stay that way for however long he lives because he’s doing nothing to try to fight it at all. He’s wallowing in it. Yes, I said wallow. He’s feeding that monster we’ve talked about an awful lot of food. He’s given up. He’s become trapped in this disorder without grabbing onto the rope that’s there, and pulling himself up as much as he can. He’s pulled up before…he just won’t even try to do it again. He said he likes the wallowing. The hating. The anger. The isolation.
And I think he’s a fucking liar. He experienced so much as a kid that like his little guy, he doesn’t know what to do with the feelings. So, by killing his soul, I guess he’s killing those emotions too.
But the real tragedy? These sweeties. After having a dad for these past few years, how can they ever understand why he’s no longer in their lives? Why ‘his’ home is no longer theirs? How can they take another loss? Another upheaval? Another piece of their hearts destroyed? He’s doing to them what was done to him (to a degree). Isolating them. Rejecting them. Maybe he thinks that will heal him. It won’t. All it will do is continue this generational cycle of abuse that’s been in his family for decades, and then cause these 2 innocent angels to grow up with what J is battling himself. He had been reversing this trend for years so well…the kids were flourishing and J seemed happy and content. It’s like he got the diagnosis of BPD and decided to live down to that as much as he can. It’s the excuse I guess he was finally looking for to hate. He’s making this diagnosis a label to be absorbed, as opposed to a diagnosis to aid in understanding. Dammit, J, you fought fucking Akeida for 3 years in desert conditions on the front lines, how can you not fight against this too? Your kids lives are worth the battles this is going to give you; you are worth the battle. I know J is still in there. I’ve seen him. I’ve loved him. He’s a smart, funny, passionate guy that he’s allowed this beast to consume.
Mental illness is a bitch to live with. Y’all know that. But I also understand first hand, that it’s a bitch to deal with in others too. I’ve put my mom, son, and sis through so much. I know I have. If I could take back what I’ve said and done, I’d do it in a heartbeat. It’s agonizing to know how they have been victims of my bipolar. I can’t think about it without feeling so fucking guilty and ashamed, and I know words can’t take away the pain I’ve caused them.
When I attempted suicide a couple of years ago, I laid on my bed, ready to go to sleep forever. And then God spoke to me. Yes, he spoke to me. He showed me my son. My mom. My sister. My family. My students. He showed me the pain they would experience. How horrible it would be for my mom to bury her daughter. For my son to bury his mom. And that’s what turned me around. This fucking bastard of a mental illness is not going to be who I am. I’m going to always fight and fight and fight to stay me as much as I possibly can. I’m gonna win some battles. I’m gonna lose some battles. But I tell you what, every one of those is worth the bloodshed.