A big statement. But a very true statement; my dad has been untreated his whole life. Sure, it’s calmed down for the most part now that he’s in his 60’s but is it enough to simply ‘act out less?’ I would say no. It’s not enough to stop acting out when what you say can be just as damaging – the thought processes, the ‘verbal’ acting out is still there.
My mum’s away for a couple of weeks so it means I have to be around him a lot more than I am when she’s here. Even the way he talks to her is not OK but she has accepted a lot of his behaviours and just smiles or ignores it. As someone who went on to develop (now, traits of BPD) I can’t just ignore what he says.
Anyway, last night I had a bit of a go at him, and in my eyes, rightly so. I am going in to work late as I type this, because I was playing it out in my head this morning (and I’m not that well as it is) to see how I could have changed my behaviour if I needed to. This is how it went down:
We went to my sisters last night and ordered take out as we’re making it a weekly thing to do that. He came by in a suit which is very unlike him. We asked him about it and he joked saying that it was because last time I called him scruffy (he had his hood up of his hoodie tight so you couldn’t really see his face so he looked like a bit of a thug). Apparently I asked him again in the evening but I don’t remember really.
On the way back to the car. I asked him again as a joke/conversation. ‘So what was the real reason you wore that suit?’ I thought he may have visited his lawyer as he has an ongoing legal battle that, or he went to visit someone… just a bit of topic of conversation. He fell back and started talking to my sister/complaining that I’ve already asked him 3 times, I don’t have to believe him if I don’t want to, it’s because he didn’t have anything else to wear.. it goes on. She kind of dodged it and asked if he’s staying around to which he said ‘no last time I stayed your sister came down at 9 had a go at me to stop being loud because she had work, it doesn’t feel right, I don’t feel right.’
This, obviously got to me. Really, how dare he. It’s super hurtful that out of his own misinterpretation he assumed that my asking about the suit meant that I was ‘criticising him’ or ‘not believing him’ when actually I was just trying to talk to him. (This is why I usually don’t bother). Then to talk about it right behind me to my little sister, leaving me to walk on my own and alienate me. In the car I got in and said ‘I was just asking you about the suit as conversation’ he kept defending himself and I just said ‘sorry I even asked a question.’ He still didn’t apologise/feel anything bad about it or notice that he upset me. Everyone’s meant to tread around his outbursts.
He was lieing about it being 9pm. It was around 10:40pm and I know because I saw the clock on my way down before I asked him to be quiet. My ‘go’ at him was : ‘can you talk quietly please I have to sleep for work and I can hear you.’ It wasn’t in a sweet tone, sure, but I wasn’t shouting either. And with his door closed and mine and him being downstairs he obviously wasn’t as ‘quiet’ as he thought he was. And as someone with mental health I need my flipping sleep. I have a strict schedule for a reason. Not that he knows or cares.
I’m hormonal, was in pain and exhausted and already trying not to split with my sister who was smoking while with us. I told her not to, she can do that in her own private time but she didn’t listen to me. Which is fine, I can’t control her and I’m trying to notice when I ‘split’ and start villifying her in my brain just because she isn’t doing something I want her to. I can’t control her life. I have to accept that sometimes people will do what they want even if you ask them effectively. Your nearest and dearest will not always listen to you. I’m not her mother and she’s old enough I know, I just struggle with not seeing her as ‘all bad’ at those times. I’m trying to see that she’s a mixture, a mixture who I love as a whole even though sometimes she may really piss me off. We’re fine today, and I’m not splitting on her today, because the event has passed. So I feel like in those times when I see her as ‘so bad/disrespectful/stubborn’ or whatever it is that I’m splitting her into in my mind, I need to try to remind myself that I won’t be thinking like that perhaps even in an hour or two’s time. It’s during those moments that I find it really tough to remember that. But today, it’s back to seeing her as my normal everyday sister. I know we have quite different personalities and views on things but if I want to get better I have to accept that as well.
The situation with my dad didn’t go well after that. I felt a sting of pain and I wanted to cry in the car. It was in that moment that it made so much sense to me that I would have, as a child, developed BPD traits. It could even explain the social anxiety. It’s the unpredictability. If you’re having a regular conversation with someone/joking around and they misinterpret the situation and start talking about you/complaining/arguing it makes sense that you’re going to be afraid/unsure/anxious in your future interactions with people. I have learnt to be unsure of what to expect. It’s why I’m always second guessing how someone meant something, or whether if I’m assertive I might get an ‘angry response’ or shut down or rejected. Because I’ve grown up in a house where I wasn’t getting a ‘normal’ response. It would just depend on his mood and the dysfunctional way he interpreted things. I mean hell, he would even flip at my mum asking her ‘why are you looking at me like that?’ when I remember, she would be looking at him the way all people look at eachother, but he had found a way of turning it into a threat and argue with her about it. It was, no doubt, truly, messed up. Not to mention it led him to physically beat her so many times.
Anyway, moving on from that. I decided not to cry but I was going to get my point across. I’ve grown weary of letting him say and do what he pleases and it goes uncorrected. ‘I was asking you normally about the suit, you know just to talk, and it wasn’t 9pm it was 10:40 and I didn’t have a go at you or say you can’t stay round at all so don’t make it sound like I did’. I mean he still didn’t apologise.
This is where my anger started to mess with me and my taking care of myself. He diverted the topic and carried on talking to my sister, ignoring me or my existence. I was still mad when I got home and went back out to his car. I told him/shouted that he didn’t need to talk about me behind my back to my sister, that it’s not nice, it’s actually hurtful and not to make it sound like I’m not letting him stay. That it was out of order how he did that. He told me: ‘I don’t have time for this’ and drove off.
Of course, he never has time for any of this. He never actually has had time for my emotional responses. I’ve had to work on in therapy one particular instance from when I was about as young as 7 where I was crying and all he did was make fun of me. So, you know, the parenting skills/emotional availability just aren’t there.
I’ve learnt a lot from this incident and mulling it over.
- That I have to be careful not to split on my loved ones, and when I have, to notice that’s what’s happening (something I’ve been doing more of recently) and to give it time to pass. I was able to not to get into an argument with my sister and make the house awkward over her smoking. I’ve also realised it’s important to remember that even if I do ask someone for something, they can say no, and that I can’t control her/anyone else. If I still feel a certain way after I’ve come out of ‘split’ mode I can always bring it up in a mature conversation. This act of noticing yesterday saved me from ruining a relationship I have had to work to get back.
- It’s not my dad’s misinterpretation that hurts, it’s okay to misinterpret situations but he should have asked for clarity. He could have asked me what I meant by that question and it would have opened up the conversation for me to explain I was just curious/joking, he could have saved himself an argument that came about from his own judgements. For myself, if I feel like I’m interpreting something negatively, I’m going to ask ‘What did you mean by that?’ or ‘Why did you ask?’ or ‘Could you explain a little more?’ I might sound a little bimbo’y in asking but it’s better than the alternative and at least I can give the other person a chance to explain.
- This is probably why I am nervous in social interactions, or one of the reasons at least.
- It was good that I stuck up for myself instead of letting him bull-doze his anger over me and accuse me of something that just isn’t true.
- I didn’t need to run to the car and have a go at him. It only hurt me more than him. I can voice my opinion but it doesn’t mean the other person will be sorry/care. I would have had a more productive time engaging in self-care and calming myself down and then perhaps in a day or two if I felt I still needed to say more, I could say more. What is most important in these situations is that I take care of myself and bring myself down.
- Some people will not realise, or acknowledge their part in the situation. You can only voice your opinion skillfully.
I was raging a little in the house, for about a minute or two and then I went to my room to calm down. I realised I don’t want that kind of environment at home. I grew up in that kind of angry/scary environment because of my dads moods. I’m not repeating that. I know I’m only human and it was okay to be angry but it’s not nice for me or my brother and sister to see it at home. So I regulated myself and then got talking to my brother and sister as usual because I want them to feel comfortable at home. I especially don’t want them to be afraid of me, even if my anger isn’t directed at them.
In a way I realise now how important it is for me to be as emotionally regulated as possible. I want my home to be peaceful. I want everyone at home to feel safe and happy and know that despite my mental health struggles, they are okay with me. If I ever get married I would want the same in that house too.
I also want that for myself. I don’t want to be ranting and raging because someone said something to upset me. I want to put myself as first priority and my self-care as first priority. I will stick up for myself but I am not going to chase or force an apology out of someone, I can’t get someone to say sorry, or feel sorry. That is on them.
There’s a lot more I could say but I will leave it there for now. Mainly because I want all of this to sink in for me. I was musing on a lot more today, and have emailed another psychiatrist to see if I can try some meds again, will report back on that another time.
Have a lovely evening guys. xx