Oh, goddamn it.
My brain is so weird. Everything can be going just fine and then bam.
No readily apparent trigger.
And the internal critic I’ve been doing so well at keeping on a leash just comes roaring back to the forefront.
My internal critic be like:
I’m tired, y’all.
I actually think it’s so hard to divest myself of the part of me that’s mean to myself all the time because it’s funny. I’ve learned to yell at myself in Ermey’s voice and get really creative with language and word choice, so it’s become this sort of sick codependent relationship now and I need to just get the PFA and commit to not picking up the phone when it tries calling to be like, “baby I’m soooooorrrry.”
But damn if I don’t want to keep all the best parts of Ermey in my head.
I’m pretty sure it looks something like this:
I’m very sad about Ermey, by the way.
I am so, so aware that I’ve shared these little delightful nuggets of awesome multiple times but they are literally my go to every time I start feeling like shit and Ermey starts getting all up in my business. Just to recap: Mrs. Kasha Davis is my fantasy aunt, Rupaul is my fantasy mom, Detox is the prettiest, and Katya is my true, whole, integrated self in the body of a drag queen who makes a more attractive woman than me.
All I know is I need to find a way to translate that damn fan snap into my writing, to illustrate points, and I need a Trixie to follow me around reeling me in.
Ermey in drag: basically, yeah, check. I mean I don’t think I need to draw a more blatant line between the two than I did up above, right?
Might be too soon. And I’m not always one to believe in the concept of too soon.
Going blind: ’bout to check that off too. Here we go.
Got my eyeball imaging photos. They’re pretty intense. First, this is what a normal eyeball looks like. Looks like a grape with veins, is what it looks like. Take a gander:
The sort of shadowy dark circle to the left of the bright spot is the macula. It’s the part of the eye that’s all full of cones (remember cones and rods from third grade science, y’all?) and is responsible for high-acuity vision. You should be able to see the shadow.
You should not see anything over it.
Which is what makes the photo of my left eye such a damn bummer.
That’s what (presumed – I’ve ever had a serological study done to confirm but three ophthalmologists aren’t usually consistently wrong, especially when they’ve not colluded or relied upon one another’s imaging to reach their conclusions) ocular histoplasmosis looks like.
The only thing that makes me laugh – but it makes me laugh freaking hard, like every single time – is that the macular scarring looks just like a little mint green sad baby chicken. Like if it has no beak and it’s standing sideways but facing head on, and if it has antennae and a frown?
You see it, right?
Yeah, ya do.
The total bummer is that last year at this time it was half that size and there were no blacked out areas. The blacked out areas are the real bad news bears for my vision. The fact that it’s grown is more of the same. But they said last week that it doesn’t appear to be active at this time, and what’s done is done.
So no use crying over a scarred macula, I guess.
As I’ve been thinking about what might be prodding my inner Ermey out of hiding, I’m thinking it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m making real progress on Chu’s Rebuilding Shattered Lives, and I’ve just finished chapter four, which discusses Borderline Personality Disorder at great length.
Having had such intimate experiences with the reality of personality “injuries,” and having come out of the experiences relatively outwardly functional, comparative to the great big ol’ mess I am inside (believe it or not), I find that the proposition that I display any of the features of any personality disorder in general, and Borderline Personality Disorder specifically, highly distressing.
I’m not sure if maybe you’ve noticed but I tend not to be too squeamish about writing candidly on mental health issues of which I can claim lived experience. I’ll tell you about suicide. I’ll tell you about anxiety. I’ll tell you about depression. Relational and attachment issues. Self-loathing and the epic upstream swim that is living every day trying to mitigate it. I’ll talk about pretty much any of it because I feel like (1) it’s my story and I’m entitled to tell it and (2) every single person who’s ever been there and can’t, for whatever reason, talk about it deserves to hear other people talk about it if they choose, because I think the more people who shout that shit out from the mountaintops, the less stigma we all endure.
And I don’t tend to feel too weird about any of it, for the most part. Sometimes I need to just hit publish and say fuck it and commit to leaving it up long enough that enough people will have seen it to make taking down irrelevant. Basically, you just hit publish and hold some space for your inner Ermey while he freaks right the hell out and then has an emotional crash and takes a nap.
But something about the proposition that I display even similarities to features of BPD just gets me feeling sick to my stomach.
The current wisdom of the trauma-informed care movement is that personality disorders should be regarded as previously adaptive resolutions to problems that could not otherwise have been resolved in childhood but that are now, in adulthood, maladaptive. The move is to take away the perception of personality disorders being character flaws, that implication that always falls along a spectrum of subtlety in how it’s delivered, that there’s something fundamentally flawed with the person themselves and not (just) with their behaviors and beliefs. Now we call them personality “injuries” and we say that they’re just a natural consequence of unresolved early trauma – particularly of a relational or attachment nature.
But for me it doesn’t change the fact that “borderline” is what clinicians call consumers they don’t like, and it’s what consumers call other consumers they don’t like, too. It’s scary and intense and dangerous. The film industry has done a particularly good job of perpetuating that stereotype with movies that were actually really good on a technical, craft of screenwriting, acting level if you recognize that they’re fiction and not representative of actual mental illness.
Everyone remembers the bunny boiler.
I mean, its a highly sexualized example, because that’s what sells tickets, but it implies that anyone with personality issues is dangerous, unhinged, and absolutely bereft of empathy or boundaries in any interpersonal relationship. Sexual, asexual, professional, casual, etc.
And that stresses me out.
Because, at least for me, I’m not unconscious of it. I distort it, as I’m doing it, sure. But I’m certainly not going to waste my time stalking people who don’t want me. In fact, at the slightest hint that someone might even be slightly annoyed by me I’ll cut that shit off like a malignant tumor.
My motto in life:
Ten points for knowing the source without Googling it.
Points are worth nothing but feeling special. Full disclosure.
The point is, I don’t want to put people off acting like a lunatic. Because I know that Alex Forest is a goddamn caricature, and you know that shit, but not everyone does.
So I really, really don’t like finding anything in the diagnostic criteria for a personality disorder that sounds even remotely like something I recognize in myself, because I grew up without any boundaries whatsoever, and I value my own boundaries so damn much today because of it that the very hypothetical suggestion that I might violate someone else’s boundaries I find abjectly repellant.
And the other issue I have with that movie in particular is that it’s all so intentional. Right? Alex comes off as entitled, and so everything she does to try to get her way reads and feels like the behavior of a spoiled child who has no respect for the autonomy of another person.
And those people do exist.
But we’re not all so bereft of metacognition. I know what I’m doing, even as I’m doing it. I’m testing you, I’ll tell myself, and you. What I’m really doing is being offensive to keep you at a distance, but it’s not entirely untrue. While I can count the number of people on one hand who’ve passed the offensive shit Stacey does and says test, the fact is that I have at least one who has hung around no matter what vile shit I spew out. So I have direct evidence that it may be a bit of a harsh test, and it may weed out more than I’d like it to, but it sure is effective at weeding out the actual people I can count on in this life. And so it has to have some reliability.
And so I find myself freaking out, whenever I’m confronted with the clear and intuitive relationship between trauma and personality “injuries,” if that’s how we like to say it, that I may have unknowingly done just what I most hate to imagine I’d ever do – violated someone’s boundaries. Behaved in a needy, emotionally entitled way.
I’m going for Winter’s Bone here, you guys. That’s my ideal standard of emotional and resource-related self-efficacy.
Ohhhhhkay. There we go.
There it is.
That’s what’s been bothering me so much about the BPD content of chapter four in Chu.
Boundaries is something I need to explore.
I know that I spend a lot of time just sort of rambling through thoughts and half-baked ideas here but that right there is why. I would never have gotten that clarification that I just got in that one simple word had I not written the 1,600 words that came before.
Boundaries. Adding that to my list.
I know writing does not work for everyone this way but it is the only way I’ve ever gotten to any clarity whatsoever when Ermey is getting loud and obnoxious. Anyone who writes will understand, and everyone who doesn’t will struggle to at best, and fail to at worst.
Boiling bunnies: yeah I think I can go ahead and check that off.
It all boils (hahaha pun not intended but delightfully acknowledged) down to this: I write my column and I write this blog and who I am in those two places is painfully authentic. Even when I feel like I should cover myself up and not say another word about myself, I can’t. Because I enjoy being real, and people seem to enjoy me being real, and I don’t want to stop being real. But then I leave the keyboard and I’m faced with real-time interactions, and I can’t seem to bring that same authenticity to the table because I have a crippling fear that, without the ability to edit and craft my every word I will appear just like Madame CrayCray up there.
And I don’t want to be Madame CrayCray.
I wanna be badass independent sympathetic daughter of meth head murder victim.
I know it’s not nice, about Alex and all, but it’s a stereotype that has its hooks in deep and isn’t fair. So I’m going to have to calls it likes I sees it.
Anyhow. I guess, at the end of it all, the only thing I really want? The only personal change I really need to achieve? Is being okay with being authentic in person as well as in print. If I can find my way to that I will have reached the ultimate boss fight in the ludonarrative of my life, and I will have won.
Pretty sure we’re done here.
Have a resplendent Sunday. I’ll be back on Monday Morning with some musical satire for ye.
Sleep tight, my babies.