“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown
There are moments of clarity, moments of despair and all in-between moments of normalcy. I am ashamed of how I’ve treated myself, the once little girl with a brown curly fro and big glaring blue eyes, dashing dimples and ruby lips turned drug addict, alcoholic boderline. Last month, home in New York City visiting my mom, I decided to go through old photo albums and felt this blistering nostalgia for another time. My first instinct when looking at the pictures was to shut down, numb myself and escape; for how did I have so much promise and end up so shameful of myself? Sadness, guilt, anger and humiliation boiled up to the surface as I felt a stinging sensation behind my eye-lids. In Seattle i thought I was homesick for New York or that I missed my parents but what I realized was that that I was missing the innocence and joy of my childhood. That little girl was capable and intelligent, where did I go so wrong? How did I fall apart and unravel? On the verge of tears running down my cheek, I call my mom and say, “I love you, thank you for always being there.”
Most of my life has been consumed with the question of why; Why do I feel the way I do? Why is it that I suffer so much? Why am I the way I am? In the midst of years of heavy drinking, drug abuse, cutting and suicide attempts, I embraced anything that I thought could be my answer regardless of how fleeting and temporary. Sometimes I feel as though I am connected with a life I do not recognize because I have spent so much time zoned out. It makes no sense how I got from point A to point B. I never wanted to deal with my overly emotional feelings but now sitting on her bed, the one I used to crawl into between my parents in the middle of the night after a nightmare, I can no longer tolerate the pain of dismissal. I feel so ashamed looking at these pictures knowing that the little girl would never have thought she would become an intravenous drug user, a constant suicide risk or wrist cutter in her young adulthood.
It took 15 years to discover I had borderline personality disorder but much longer to hit rock bottom and be desperate enough to do whatever it took to rebuild my life. In order to stop suffering and shift the spotlight from recovering to living takes great courage and bravery. Sitting in the shame of many years lost I feel for a minute an overwhelming urge to harm myself. I feel I deserved punishment for being such a bad, selfish and dishonest person. I feel I need an escape because the truth is too much to take. And yet I sit through the fear. I let myself cry uncontrollably for all things lost- friends, time, self-esteem…but did not act in a way that would reinforce past mistakes. I proved myself wrong, that I could in fact sit with the discomfort of suffering, misery and heartache.
The pain I’ve experienced, although am still somewhat ashamed, has become a platform of opportunity for learning, healing, strength and connection. I do not try to ignore it, dismiss it, belittle or hide it anymore because I know from experience the feelings will arise from an echoing pit of emptiness and overflow from the volcano. It is hard for me to admit to myself that I have a borderline personality and sometimes wish to separate myself or divorce from the diagnosis completely in the hopes of liberation. But the more I deny my disease, ignore it, minimize or underestimate it, the more vulnerable I will be to fall backwards without realizing I have slipped. Too much time has been spent fighting against myself, lost in the winding labyrinths of despair, and I don’t want to waste anymore of my life. I am in the process of transforming from a caterpillar to a butterflying. My story makes me who I am and my experiences will one day help me to help another young lady struggling. In order for the beautiful colorful butterfly to be created the caterpillar must first to eat itself. It is only when, in its entirety, the caterpillar is disintegrated can the butterfly form. My metamorphosis from drug addict and suicidal anger to healthy emotionally stable was and still is the hardest transformation I have ever gone through.
I am a 24 year recovering alcoholic from New York City with Boderline Personality Disorder.