“Vanilla, please tell me. You’ve been sitting next to me, crying for 2.5 hours straight. What is going on?”
Gotta hand it to ICB. My go-to gal, Allie, is out of town. Yesterday, I needed a safe space to feel seen and accepted. ICB was my substitute. Unphased, he played video games as I curled up next to him on the couch and cried and cried and cried and cried until my skin on my nose gave way to red sand paper. 3 times ICB asked me what was going on, 3 times I couldn’t find my words.
So here we go.
Remember Applefriend? Dude whose innocent remark catapulted me headlong into the brutal depression that had me end up on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Long-time reader of my blog, familiar with my BPD struggles, confidante. To answer the question most of y’all are too polite to ask, no, there isn’t and never was anything between us. Strictly platonic, guy is married with 2 kids. For all I know, he prefers cats over dogs. Life has thrown a lot at him, but he maintains a deep positivity in all things. He firmly believes in his agency.
On Friday, we were talking about a situation (Situation X) I am living through that I am finding very upsetting. I’ve spoken to him at length about it, often sounding like a broken record. As is happens, Situation X triggers many of my insecurities about people’s perception of me, my worth and my value, yup, you guessed it, it has been the cause of much paranoia and cognitive distortion. Add to that my general collapse of identity since my Borderline diagnosis, Situation X has been a source of a lot of confusion and heartburn to me over the past weeks. On Friday, Applefriend took it upon himself to try coach me, because, he tells me, BPD is highly coachable. Only problem? I do not particularly want to be coached at the moment. I want to feel supported. To be heard. To be reassured that I am NOT living moments of paranoia and cognitive distortion, and gentle suggestions when it sounds like I might be. I am a broken record, it is true, but suck it up buttercup. I need my friends to just be there for me. To Applefriend, being there for me meant a serious attempt at psychoanalysing me. Trying to understand why Situation X upset me SOOOOOOOOO much. Why I was stuck in the past SOOOOOOOOO much. Why I couldn’t move on. Why I had no goals. Why I didn’t believe in myself. Why I kept blaming BPD. “Vanilla, you have such a victim complex, you can’t keep blaming BPD for these aspects about you.”
Actually, yes I can. I spent my WHOLE DAMN LIFE not knowing what I have, thinking there is something bizarre about me that if I just tried harder would somehow make everything right. Its been 5 months since I have a legit explanation about why I am the way I am, why I react so damn much, why I am so sensitive, why I seemingly always push away through my behaviors those who matter the most. It all makes sense now. I have an explanation, finally, thou shalt not strip me of it. An explanation is not an excuse. But 5 months, after struggling with something for 33.5 years, isn’t much. I might have the explanation, I definitely don’t have the solution yet. Back off, give me time to figure this out. And FFS, don’t try fix me. I am not some pet project.
At some point, on Friday, I stopped answering Applefriend’s texts. I’d hit my annoyance threshold, didn’t want to pick a fight over his clumsy but well meaning efforts to snap me out of my month-long episode/depression. Applefriend called me 40 minutes later, freaking out. How could I go radio silent in a convo about how bad I am doing, when I’ve previously said that I have an exit strategy. He was worried! I found it cute, and funny. Tried explaining that I am not suicidal. At all. I just have a more pronounced awareness of my exit strategy than I do when things are all shiny and rosy. Applefriend didn’t find it cute or funny. He was mad that I’d caused him to worry.
On Monday night, Applefriend texted me, wanting an update on how some of the developments of Situation X were going. I’ll save y’all the play by play, and give you an executive summary instead.
7:30pm – Vanilla gives factual update and expresses sadness and grief/shame at the developing Situation X.
7:32pm – AF begins offering advice. “Every situation is only an opportunity”
7:33pm to 7:42pm – Vanilla tries to justify why she is entitled to feel what she feels in light of the developments of Situation X.
Cue the catalyst to the situation going very very very sideways.
7:50pm – AF writes “… But I do think you need to be extremely aware of your own influences and how you impacted Situation X. Don’t pretend you were a victim in this, otherwise you’ll never become better”
7:51pm to 8:01pm – Vanilla tries to explain that her awareness of her contribution in no way diminishes her capacity for being very very upset about the outcome. “I don’t want advice. I want the space to be upset.”
At this point I am crying so hard I call up ICB to ask if I can show up chez lui for cuddles and acceptance. From 8:11pm – 8:23pm, the dead end gets deader.
AF: Oh boy. How to engage your enthusiasm without fully supporting your approach… There’s a balance Vanilla. It’s not one or the other or you’re fully vindicated or they are. It’s in the middle.
Vanilla: AF, I am not asking for that. You asked me how my day went. You told me I was wrong to be emotional about the update that occurred.
Vanilla: And when I explained why I am so emotional right now, bc I am going through this and it makes me feel a certain way…
AF: Fine, its fine.
Vanilla: You try to get me to understand how I am partially responsible for the situation.
AF: I’ll stop offering.
Vanilla: But it’s not offering. It’s telling me I am wrong to feel how I feel. I wasn’t asking for you to endorse me. I was explaining why I am upset and how I feel. And you basically told me I was wrong to feel how I feel. Where I am wrong is if I act on it. But that isn’t what I was doing. I was explaining why I feel all this negative shit.
AF: Misunderstanding. All good.
This is the point where I should have stopped. It was clearly a well meaning attempt at a conversation gone sideways, no harm intended. I needed to walk away. Instead, from 8:23pm to 8:43pm, I wrote another 361 words to AF’s 123 rehashing the same thing damn thing. At 8:45pm, I showed up at ICB’s. Crying. Took off my coat. Crying. 8:46pm. Please note that we have now been hammering away at this dead end conversation for 76 minutes.
AF: You’re being too emotional. Like it matters.
Vanilla: It matters to me. I gave everything and it wasn’t enough.
AF: Look, you don’t get it. It’s fine. I get the wanting like what you did was valuable.
Vanilla; It’s the only thing I care about.
AF: But reality is… it’s irrelevant. It changes nothing for the future.
Vanilla: Ok. So let me be upset about THAT. It’s like my whole understanding of my life got ripped out from under me.
AF: You need to focus your attention and energy on the future.
Vanilla: I don’t care about the future.
Vanilla: I need time to recover from all that’s happened.
AF: Lol, Jesus Vanilla. Ok. But I don’t agree.
Vanilla: That’s nice. More telling me how wrong I am.
AF: Lol. Look.
Vanilla: I get you think you are somehow being helpful. But you are just invalidating me even more. And it’s confusing because you claim to be on my side.
AF: Do you what you want, feel how you need to feel, but don’t ask me to be a pawn. It’s frustrating and I feel culpable.
Vanilla: I am not!!! You asked me how my day went. And then proceeded to tell me how everything I feel is wrong. I didn’t ask you to be anything.
AF: I did and you offered what you said like I would just be an autobot.
Vanilla: AF, If I can’t share my reality with you, I won’t.
Vanilla: This is my reality. My feelings are my reality.
AF: WTF. Look, you live in my reality. We share the same one.
Vanilla: No we don’t. When you ask me how I feel, I am gonna share how I feel. I don’t want fixing. I am not asking you to be anything.
AF: Sorry, you’re being crazy right now.
Vanilla: You thinking I am asking you to be a pawn is all on you.
AF: Trust me, this isn’t normal.
Vanilla: And you telling me I am crazy is definitely not helpful.
AF: You need to take a step back. And go to sleep. And talk tomorrow.
Vanilla: You need to explain how any of this was helpful.
AF: Tomorrow, you’ll re read and understand.
Vanilla: What did you hope to accomplish by asking me how it went if you wanted to then explain to me how I am wrong?
AF: Honestly, I am super supportive, always. But you aren’t being rational right now. Seriously. It’s not me. Go sleep and re read it tomorrow. If you disagree tomorrow, fine. Then I’m a horrible person.
Vanilla: No. I’m just saying you invalidated my feelings. And I don’t understand why you would ask me about them if it was just to say how I was incorrect to feel them. I didn’t say you were horrible. And I still don’t see how you feel I could ask you to be a pawn when I wasn’t asking anything. But now I am left with shame, more confusion, and someone telling me I am crazy and irrational for trying to explain why this convo went sideways.
AF: Vanilla, honestly, you’re being way too literal. I’m telling you, your answers from my perspective are why I think you’re not on the right element. Just take a step back, nothing I’ve said was anything but supportive. It’s not a constructive conversation. It’s me offering opinions and being attacked for being someone with an opinion regardless of why. Your normal self wouldn’t say those things. This isn’t healthy right now. So my suggestion is you ignore all of this for now, when you’re ready, engage me.
Vanilla: (thumbs up emoji)
9:15pm. Conversation over. I felt as dazed and confused as the time I got an ass-whooping in boxing so bad Coach had to throw the other boxer out of the ring, bc I was helpless against the ropes, hands down, crying as my opponent pummeled me. How did I get here? Why does AppleFriend sound almost verbatim like Hickster in the midst of our most vicious fights? Did I just have my first big noticeable meltdown with someone other than Hickster or ICB? But how tho? I just wanted to be allowed to express how I feel. Why was that so wrong? Why did I need fixing? Why do I have to justify that my feelings are legit? Am I crazy? I’ve never been called crazy by anyone other than Hickster before, when he is in a rage and trying to wound me. I don’t think Applefriend was making a cheap shot. Rereading it, it sounds like he genuinely believes I lost my grip on reality – my border moved mighty close to that border line – during that convo. Did it? Why can’t I tell? Am I really so out of touch about my impact on people, that they feel the need to let me know my behaviour is irrational, crazy, not normal?
Am I crazy?
At midnight, I began telling my story to ICB. Still crying, as he patted my head, murmuring “There there, no, you aren’t crazy, you just feel things too hard. No, you are not crazy. You can get through this. You will learn to let things go. Not crazy.”
At 12:45, still crying, I left ICB, the poor boy was dead tired and had a big day ahead of him.
At 2am, I fell asleep. Still crying.
I’ve spent the day in a fog, stunned by the conversation. Unable to answer the question:
Am I crazy?