Inching Closer to the Borderline
It May Take a Lifetime to Heal
I am afraid of other people’s emotions.
Just writing that fear down feels like an epiphany. I am so tired of this story, but it continues. With every breath. It continues.
I fear their emotions, but I do not avoid them all together. I think I have always liked the taste of fear, a slow burning intensity, a ghost pepper.
I have also learned how to avoid the temptation to antagonize, needle, or slander. As an empath, I sometimes cry and shudder while I write. I can read emotions, and if there isn’t some voodoo in other people’s tears, I don’t know magic.
I grew up with a father who, I have been told recently by my own therapists, has borderline personality disorder. As a child, I was wired to be attracted to the drama. I have had to learn how to embrace restlessness and boredom, but my only chance of survival is to create the illusion of calm. You don’t hear me, but I am screaming on the inside a lot of the time.
I cannot handle the tone of people screaming at each other. My parents screamed at each other all the time. My father never understood my mom. They screamed in the car. He would scream at her to stop the car. He would get out, and we wouldn’t see him again. For a while.
I have learned through the years that he was always sick. He could not get along with many people who knew him well. It almost killed my mom to stay with him.
When I was twelve years old, he came to our house. He kissed my mom in front of me, even though they were separated, and he was dating Becca. With my preteen unfiltered mouth I said, Is that how you kiss Becca?
The screaming that ensued between my parents brought a fear and guilt that it was my fault. What I carry and what is so impossible to even explain, is that I internalized that I was responsible for his pain. That evening ended with him trying to kill himself.
Yes, I witnessed his suicidal episode when I was 12. He may have tried to die again, but I was not privy to his daily life. He moved away shortly after he got out of the hospital. He almost was successful in killing himself, very recently. The narcan stopped the overdose.
This is all hard to explain to people. It seems like they cannot understand having a father who simultaneously brags about how much people love him and appreciate his hard work while complaining about money and blaming me for going to college “out of state” in 1994. (Yes, he screamed this blame at me circa 2007.)
Other people know his intelligence, wit, and charm. They have not had the privilege of getting too close to his edge. They have not experienced rage so thick that even he tries to escape it.
“Let me out!” he once yelled, pulling at the car door handle while I was driving. Because even traumatizing his adult daughter with his splatting body on the pavement would have been worth it to calm the screaming. And I am afraid I still have that affect on him, if I dare question his truths.
So those around him are the ones who spend so much time and energy dealing with the relationship, which is an impossible situation.
But he felt he was the victim. And he had to leave us.
Throughout my life, not surprisingly, I sought relationships with emotionally unstable men and women. I inched as close as I dared to get a dramatic response, and then I tried to make it right. This cycle took years of therapy to break, and I still have a very hard time with other people’s anger. I also cannot help instigating some of other people’s strong emotions.
Written throughout time the mantra: It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.
Written with my left hand as an attempt to speak to my healing inner child:
You were his baby. You did nothing wrong. This is not because of anything you did, sweetheart. You were a child with an incapable dad. You did not create this. You are not that powerful. You are goodness. You are pure. It is not your fault.
I try to have a relationship with him. I have tried to accept (radically, through meditation and art therapy) his incapability of being my dad, due to his mental illnesses, and now physical illnesses too. He will not get help.
After my son was born, my dad complained on the phone that he was the only one not invited. This is not a wedding, Dad. Parents usually just show up for their daughter when she is in labor.
My dad met my son, only once, when he was two months old.
He held him in the air and said, “Cry a little bit!”
My son is almost nine, now.
But I love him. You see. Even the most complicated evil that I have felt towards him does not take that away. For he does have a good side. He is funny and witty. He played with my sister and I all the time when we were little. We made up games and dances, and he was proud to show us off to his his parents. He is a human who has illness.
I helped him after the heart attack, seven years ago.
I asked him last week, if I can do anything. Could I come visit him? He told me he would think about it.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said.
He is like a two year old who has become obstinate and so stubborn, claiming I can do it myself.
Like a caged animal with a sign that warns: Do Not Stick Fingers in the Cage, he’ll blame you for his loneliness, but he wants to be left alone.
What a crazy ride. Now I seek calm. Stable. Boring even.
© Samantha Lazar 2019
Thank you for reading. My name is Samantha. I teach 5th graders everything from Language Arts to How to Be a Good Human. I also teach creative writing classes, workshops, and lessons. I still want to be a writer when I grow up.