Last night, Mitchell and I got into an argument. Typical marriage stuff, if one of you happens to suffer from mental health issues.
I wrote an essay for my sociology course, and asked Mitchell to take a look at it, late in the evening. (In hindsight, the timing on this matter was a mistake, as we were both beyond exhausted.) Mitch has a good editorial eye, and often catches stumbling grammar, mismatched point-of-view, and odd words. Unfortunately, this time he missed a few mistakes. Having been away from the piece for several hours, I was able to catch them myself; but his tired eyes caused a (rather irrational) internal wave of frustration.
For me, frustration is a major trigger. It feels like it’s raining needles, and I quickly grow uncomfortable in my skin. It’s also the first unbalanced step into the rabbit’s hole. (The rabbit’s hole is where my personality disorder resides.)
When I’m frustrated with someone else, it causes the minions in my mind to riffle through the filing cabinet of that person’s past (perceived) mistakes and/or wrongs. Irrational? Yep. Out of my control? Yes. Yes, it is. And sadly, that’s difficult for most people to understand… but Mitchell is well aware of this annoying BPD tick; and as such, I expect him to know when and how to react, regardless of how he’s feeling. (When upset, it takes every ounce of mental stamina — all of me — to control the monster. I have not yet mastered taking other people’s feelings into account, in the midst of these storms.)
The minions pulled a text out of their insidious files, and the BPD b*tch pounced on it.
I growled at Mitchell, You have no idea how much I accomplished today. You know that?!
With just a touch of irritation in his voice, he asked, What else did you do today?
At this point in the conversation (which in hindsight, I’m sure felt like an attack on my poor husband), the BPD b*tch went nuclear. Uh… I read an entire chapter in my textbook, wrote my essay, watched that terrible body-cam footage [this was a course requirement — watching unedited footage from the Adam Toledo case] AND! I finally submitted my application to the university! Something I texted you about; and you didn’t even bother to respond!
Side note: To most folks, this probably doesn’t seem like a ton of work… but for me? It’s hours upon hours of work. I’m a slow reader, a meticulous writer, an empath, and the application process for readmission is grueling for students who left the university in perilous academic standing (which I did, twenty years ago).
Mitchell said, I didn’t get a text.
Oh, yes you did! I barked, Because I got the delivery notification. It’s right f*cking here!
I then thrust my phone in my husband’s face, as I thumped into bed. The text read:
“I did it! I completed my U of A application, and submitted it. I can ask Mom and Dad for the $50 submission fee I paid when we have a computer chosen. Here’s hoping!”
Mitchell read the text, and said, Why didn’t you say it was your university application?
Are you kidding me?! Please, dear reader, re-read the text. I did say it was my university application. So… what the hell, Mitch?!
Blinded by anger, and ready to totally lose my sh*t, I said, I’m sleeping alone.
Mitchell left the room mumbling, No f*cking reason. This sh*t happens all the time for no f*cking reason.
Having slept, I can now look at the argument, and plainly see where it all went wrong… but! Mitchell knows how important it is to continually reinforce positive feedback with a Borderline. He is aware of the fact that I need constant reassurance that I am fundamentally okay; and not just the zero-sum total of my batsh*t crazy.
It is an exhausting task to be my spouse; and I know that. Unfortunately, I tend to forget this fact when standing in the midst of an emotional tidal wave.
As I mentioned before, I don’t have the capability to take Mitchell’s perspective into account, when my insanity has been activated… at the same time, the emotions that underlie my lunatic behavior are very real; and often, they are justified.
So when Mitchell reacts with something like, No f*cking reason, I am reminded that I am inherently flawed. And though it is not his intention to shame me, I feel humiliated all-the-same.
We’ll bounce back; and I give my husband an enormous amount of credit for being my “fence post.” (He’ll understand that reference; but I lack the energy to explain it here. I apologize, dear reader.) He has endured more than most, and never wavers.
He also gives me credit. He acknowledges all the work I have put in to understanding — and attempting to master — my disease.
Alas, this isn’t something either one of us will ever escape… and my God! How I long to…