A Little About My Childhood…

I believe parents, teachers, or other adults should pay attention to early warning signs of BPD; my shyness, my reclusiveness, my bed-wetting, my tendency to sleep a lot, daydream a lot, clinging to my brother…these were all  signs of what was going to come.  This blog is in no particular order, I wrote it as the memories flooded my brain.  I ask you to try and not judge  my parents; your opinions are welcome, but try to understand that she too was sick… I am not writing this to point a finger but to make you more aware of the child around you who may be troubled.

At 12, he left me.  My brother, it seemed, had left the earth.  Not only had we gotten our own rooms, we became strangers.  Gone was the sensitive, emotional boy who once had told me he was planning to run away and where he was going to go…he wanted to escape, but I wouldn’t let him, I needed him, he was my only protection. “Ma, Mike is going to run away.”  I gave him up to save myself.  Screams began and I knew he was going nowhere.  So, at 12, he left me. Yes, he was in the same house, yes I was right next door, but he just completely stopped talking, stopped crying, as far as I knew, and built this shell that I’ve yet to break through. DEVASTATION.  I mourned the loss of my friend.  Out the window I would secretly watch him and his friends hanging out, out the window it seems I’ve always been watching the world go by.  I hid all the time, afraid of being asked, “Fia, why aren’t you going out, it’s Friday, it’s Saturday, it’s Sunday.”  I can’t go out, you idiot, I don’t dare ask her, I already know what that would start, so I watched, I watched others as they laughed, talked, made new friends, I was an observer of the world looking through a glass window, ducking if they turned around, they may see the monster watching them.
I immersed myself in my schoolwork, perfection always, straight A’s it would make daddy say, “Very good.”  And at times I would hear my mother talking to others, never to me, “Fia is the top of her class. She’s so smart, all she ever does is schoolwork.”  But, never to me, never to me.  To me it was, “You prostitute, you ruined my life.” To others, “Fia does everything alone, no one helps her with schoolwork.”  And I had always done everything alone.  For this, I cannot point a finger.  My parents were immigrants, taught themselves how to read and write in English and Italian– no, not perfectly, but they got by. From kindergarten, the homework was always done alone, and God forbid you asked for a signature on tests or homework, it was like asking for the impossible. So I just began to forge signatures, as young as age 5.  It didn’t matter anyway, it was always 100%, anything to try to please Daddy.  She wasn’t all that impressed by my schoolwork, at least not to me; but sweep, make your bed, and that was impressive.
Fourth grade, ice covered the world, a blanket of snow lay on the ground, we thought we could make it,  a yellow cab in the distance, next thing I remember getting up, my stockings ripped, blood gushing from my eye, “Don’t tell mommy, she’s going to get mad.”  Don’t tell mommy?  My brother and I had just been involved in a hit and run and he was walking like nothing had happened, as  my eye blew up, he was pleading with me, “Don’t tell mommy.”  It was then and there I realized how afraid he was. I ran home, trying to cry so she’d feel bad for me. I was still contemplating my brother’s proposal, how else would I explain this?  I could see the swelling of my eye in front of me.
As I got to the door, finally the tears came, “MA, MA, help me!”  What I really meant was “Love me.”  SCREAM– “Wait a minute, I’m on the phone.”  My brother was still up the block.  Then she put the phone down as I screamed and told her the story, begging, it seemed to be taken care of, to be hugged, to be kissed, to be loved…panic was all I got, but it was enough, it showed she cared, “Why did you go and tell her?” my brother asked. “All you did was make her worry.”  I saw something that day that I hadn’t seen before, a mother who cared that her daughter was in pain, physical pain. She could see that.  I basked in it.  As hurt as I was, I was happier then ever, being rushed to the hospital, she cared if I lived or died.  My brother perhaps may have been jealous that he had not gotten hurt, he went upstairs to his room, he was fine he said, nevertheless the doctors were surprised he hadn’t come. We were both hit, but I had gotten the injury to prove it and I didn’t care, people were making a fuss. Fia actually existed.
I hadn’t gone to school in four weeks, someone told me they had said a prayer for me over the loudspeaker and this too elated me, someone cared, someone knew I was alive.  Getting hit by a car seemed like the best thing that happened to me in elementary school.

My sanctuary, my room.  The box of fantasy I would live through.  By four I was in my pajamas.  At a time when other children were outside playing, I  became a recluse, I became these people I saw on TV.  My mind escaped the madness going on around me. I laughed, I loved, I cried, but not with real people, with what I saw in that box.  Every movie I watched, I pretended I was the main character, one day I would be just like her, if only I could escape the demons that were already lurking inside my brain.  I formed relationships with them, I was their sister, daughter, I fell in love, I lived in a fantasy world and I didn’t want to face the real one.  At night I would dream of being one of the characters. My dreams would put me to sleep, finally peace. In sleep I was safe, no yelling, no degrading, no hitting, no nasty looks, just peace.  A different state of being, one I never wanted to come out of.  Nothing quite like drifting away into a universe of tranquility where anything could happen; I could be anyone, anyone but me.
But every night it was the same, I started wetting my bed around age four or five.  I would change, find a clean spot, and go back to my other life.  I didn’t want to miss a minute, I knew what was in store the next day.  She’d find out, call me names, get the broom, whatever it took to stop the bedwetting.  The more that happened, the more I wet my bed.  Sometimes I would hide it, make my bed, it was dry by morning.  I’d sleep in it just so she wouldn’t find out.  If she did, the child in me would be ripped out; I’d be a prostitute, dirty, filthy…

After a while I just gave up, I couldn’t hide it anymore. I’d take whatever she had to say or did.  It started happening in school, almost every day. The smell afterward,  that’s what they must have meant when they said, “EEEWWW, you smell.”  It was always my FAULT; as soon as I walked in the door, she knew. It was my fault, I was too lazy to go to the bathroom. Anyway, mattress after mattress went in the garbage.  I believe it was a combination of STRESS and as I’ve come to find out, a shrunken bladder; it took 36 years to find that out.  My mother would have to pay with a  new mattress, I’d have to pay with SHAME.  The more I was beaten physically and mentally, the more I’d pee and she had a new name to call me…
I felt alone, I was alone, as cliche as it sounds there could be hundreds of other kids around me and I was alone like an alien, a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, no one was like me, no one understood me, I didn’t even understand me, I didn’t even understand something was wrong, I was just too young to comprehend that things could be, should be, will be better one day…


10 Responses

  1. I don’t know what to say except that I admire your courage – I’m sure this was not easy to write. Thank you for sharing your strength… Love, Edde

  2. I’m in tears… thank you once again for everything you write and for sharing it with us (me); it’s been making such a difference in my life…

  3. You’re a wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing this. It had to be hard, but I admire how strong you are. Keep writing.

  4. Wow, Fia – that’s hard. Look at how far you’ve come. I’m sorry that your parents were SO MEAN.
    You deserve to treat your inner child with love, affection, grace unconditional caring. I hope you find a place to do that. Your poor brother discovered that he had to survive by behaving differently. Girls are allowed to be emotional boys – not so much.
    So you coped the way you did.
    The thought that comes to mind = why didn’t your school pick up on your situaition?
    Why didn’t your mom take you to the doctors’. It sounds like your parents were not equipped to deal with you or your brother.
    Also, your mom was probably treated the same way that you were treated. She probably knew NO different.
    Bless you. I really pray that all is good.
    Yes, it’s amazing how people will show that they care when you’re hurt and any other time you appear ‘different’ its scary, intimidating….so, social rejection comes into play. I understand, cuz that’s how part of my family treated me once I started acting out how stressed i was in teenage life.

    Thanks for this!

  5. I was told I had borderline disorder when I was around 14. I dropped out of school when I was 14. I got my GED when I was 16. I went to college but never finished. I could never keep a job. I lived dreaming about things that are better always. I live in a dream world. I have never been agreesive though. I have always been caring and giving to the point of being taken advantage of… I thought borderline was a made up problem until now at 48 I am almost homeless raising 2 kids alone. I have been married twice. I have many friends that I never see and always feel less that everyone around me…so I stay alone. I read this blog and it made me know this is a problem. I have no idea what to do about it. I think knowing scares me even more. How do you get help with this kind of problem? I am a good mother. But if someone knew they might judge my parenting. But if I could get help, I might be able to find and keep a job. Maybe one night I could go to sleep without crying. Maybe I could feel good about myself. I believe in God. I have ask for help from Christians. But this problem goes deeper than faith. I believe it is the same as the flu but mentally. You can pray for the Lord to heal your flu…but you still might need to go to the doctor. How do I get help. I have no family and I am alone with 2 kids.

    • Well, you were lucky to be diagnosed so early, that is rare. Please do try to look into dialectical behavioral therapy, it has started to change my life… and I pray yours. I am sure you are a good mother but your children KNOW as I did, even when things were good, I knew my mother was unhappy and the greatest torture for a child is the unlived life of a parent.. xoxox

  6. Beautiful. Your writing inspires me to dig deeper into myself, my own memories, feelings, perceptions, and put it down on the page. Thank you for your courage and strength.

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