Don’t Call Me Lucky

The other evening my family were talking about the concept of luck. We were discussing my sister’s car accident that happened a few months ago, and my Mum was talking about how lucky my sister was to come away with only the relatively minor injuries that she sustained. 

I told them that I don’t believe it luck. Yes I am extremely grateful that my sister wasn’t more hurt in the accident. But I don’t put that down to “luck”. I believe in probability and coincidence. I believe in cause and effect. I am aware of the concept of privilege. But luck doesn’t come into any of that. 

Luck insinuates that neither we nor others can alter our circumstances for the better (or worse). It suggests that certain people get dealt bad cards by the universe for no reason other than because they are “unlucky”, even if a change in circumstances could have led to a very different outcome. 

It puts the responsibility onto the person who is either “lucky” or “unlucky”, when actually sometimes things happen because that is what all the events leading up to it determined would. Everything has a cause, nothing happens in a vacuum. People who have suffered multiple traumas haven’t suffered because they are “unlucky” as though it is some innate trait they possess, but because the world can be a very adverse place full of harmful people and circumstances.

Similarly, I don’t believe that my sister survived the car crash because she was lucky; she survived the car crash because a number of events came together that resulted in her surviving. Regardless of whether it could have been worse or better or different in any way, the distress and trauma she experienced as a result had a profound effect on her. Thats her reality, her truth, and what she has been left to deal with as a result.

One family member particularly disagreed and didn’t like what I was saying. Fair enough, we all have a right to our own opinion – and I can respect that. But then, unfortunately, the conversation took a horrible turn. They started arguing that if someone is sexually assaulted, but not raped, for example, then they should consider themselves “lucky”. Similarly, if someone is expecting twins, and one of the babies dies during childbirth, the mother is still “lucky” that at least one survived. 

This infuriated me!! Someone who experiences such a traumatising event should never be considered lucky nor forced to consider themselves as such! Calling a victim or a survivor lucky because it wasn’t “objectively worse” is exactly why I cannot stand the concept and use of the word “luck”. Neither of these situations should be associated with the word luck, ever!

Doing so completely invalidates the person’s experiences. It dismisses their distress and their pain and all the very real negative consequences of what they have been through. It puts the blame and responsibility onto the victim and what their response *should* be, instead of on the perpetrator or other external causes. 

“You’re lucky it wasn’t worse” is one of the most damaging things a survivor can be told. 

Guess what? There will always be someone who has it worse. Does that make everyone lucky it wasn’t worse for them, apart from the single person who’s at the top of the leaderboard? Fuck no! 

In my opinion, attributing an outcome to luck doesn’t add anything to the world. The concept of luck doesn’t need to exist for the world to keep spinning and people to keep smiling, crying, breathing and dying. We can be grateful and appreciative for what we have and we can be aware of our relevant privileges. That doesn’t mean we have to attribute all of that to luck. At the same time, we are allowed to feel pain as a consequence of the things we have been through. And we are allowed to do so without having to deny those experiences because we are “lucky they were not any worse”.

Good things happen to people. Bad things happen to people. Such is life. But please don’t tell people they’re lucky because you can’t accept their reality for what it is. 

BPD and the Perils of Instant Messaging

So even though I have BPD, and struggle with anger (and pretty much everything else) in all relationships, I can also really struggle to express these difficulties in person. I have noticed however that I’m much quicker to fire off, attack, get defensive or be ineffective over text or Facebook, for example, than in person.

I think I am much easier to get on with in person, and much more pleasant to be around, than how I am through a screen when some sort of conflict arises. I am certainly more “draining” over messaging.

Thinking about it, the majority of my interpersonal difficulties with friends occur as a result of an instant messaging conversation gone wrong. This could be down to a number of reasons:

  • It is so much easier to get vulnerable, messy and expressive with someone from behind a screen. I express myself better in words than I do in person. It’s really hard to let people see what’s going on for me if they’re right in front of me. Through a message on a screen, however, I feel more able to let you know exactly what I am experiencing.
  • The barrier of (immediate) shame is lessened when the person is not directly in front of me.
  • I often dissociate in person if an interaction is challenging, so will be less likely to respond at all regardless of in which direction.
  • I don’t socialise that much in person so most of my daily interactions with friends are via text or other forms of messaging.
  • It is very easy to misconstrue, overanalyse or read into instant messages wrongly because of the lack of tone, facial expression, etc available.
  • In person, people respond immediately. Over text, people can take hours, or ignore me, and these things in themselves trigger all sorts of thoughts.

Because messy and ineffective text, Facebook and email conversations are such a big part of the interpersonal crap I deal with, it’s hard to imagine Borderline life without the internet.

Then I start thinking, like, “Dude, how on Earth could BPD ever exist without phones/ the internet?”

(Obviously this isn’t true but being such a cause of chaos in my life, it does make me wonder how my BPD would manifest if I lived in the days before technology existed. I am curious as to what I would be like if I didn’t have access to these methods of communication.)

I mean on one hand it would be tragic because I would be even more lonely, out of touch with the world and inexpressive of my true self. But on the other, a ton of messy interactions and arguments would never have happened, and so much of my paranoia could be avoided…

Attaching to People Who Suck

I don’t know why I attach to people who don’t always provide me with what it is I actually need. I can still attach to people who are inconsistent or uncaring or who traumatise me further – relationally, I mean. These attachments can be toxic and yet I must have gotten something from them because otherwise I wouldn’t have felt the way I did towards them at all.

Maybe I attach to people because it is better to have someone than to have no one, even if they cannot give me what I need. Maybe the innocent ignorant child within me thinks that if I keep persisting and pushing for what it is I need, they will see how much I am hurting and take me under their wing. Or maybe they won’t, and the attachment and relationship is just an illusion. I don’t know what it is. But I loved them too, in my own way. Even if I hated their guts too. Maybe I need the pain?  

Yes, maybe I need the pain. If I didn’t have the pain, I wouldn’t know these feelings at all. I wouldn’t have anything to measure myself against or try to better understand who I am or how I got to be this way. I wouldn’t feel or be able to process any of it at all. I would be naïve. 

I need these attachments because they make me feel something. They make me feel alive and alone and connected and anguished and angry and pained and flung around and churned up inside and anxious and jealous and special and joyful and safe and conflicted and unsafe. They make me feel connected. They make me feel INTENSELY. They make me feel, full stop. 

Without them, I am even more of a floating lifeless hollow vessel. I need to attach to people and I need the intensity of the attachments because without that, what do I have? Who do I have, and how do I know it, in their absence? How else do I convince myself that the possibility of feeling whole again even exists? 

I Will Hurt Me to Punish You

Something minor happened today which left me feeling like I wanted to cut myself. The event itself doesn’t feel important now; what I am more interested in is how quickly and automatically I jumped to self harming as a possible solution. 

(I feel like I am at a stage where I can manage the low/moderate urges pretty effectively, so it’s not like I wasn’t safe or anything. I was actually pretty effective in how I went about the next few hours, despite wanting to physically attack (either her or myself!) for a while.)

So, I was very mindful of the thoughts and urges I was experiencing, and was even able to start thinking about what was going on for me with curiosity and distance as opposed to impulsivity and willfulness. 

My thinking amounted to a realisation I have had before: that if someone hurts me, upsets me, shames me or angers me, I end up wanting to hurt myself in order to punish them for their wrongdoings. 

I think that generally I really struggle with anger and it’s much easier for me to turn it in on myself as opposed to onto other people – even the person who has provoked it. So one way of getting back at them is by attacking myself. Make total sense, right? 😉

These instances are absolutely not the number one trigger for me to want to harm myself, but when I do feel this way, it is a clear indirect mode of communication – to both myself and the other person. I think during these times, what I’m really meaning to say is something like this:

“Fuck you for hurting me. How dare you shame/ anger/ upset me. How dare you have that power over my world. If you think you can get to me, look how much worse I can get to myself. I can hurt myself (physically) far worse than you will ever be able to hurt me (emotionally). I will show you how much you hurt me and then you will suffer. Then you will see what you have done and why you should listen to my needs – so that I don’t have to show you so tangibly. I am the one in control here. And now it is your turn to feel the helplessness and powerlessness you inflicted upon me. And I on the other hand will feel liberated.”

Edit: ironically, this applies when the person has absolutely no idea that I have engaged in any behaviour, let alone that I am hurt or struggling because of them. The only people I ever told (and very indirectly at that, or they found out via other more dramatic means) were my therapists/ people on my treatment team. Then it really did apply. I will give an example later.