*tenative step out into the light, looks left then right*
Ok. So secret telling time: I'm an introverted BPD and because of that, I take everything out on myself, regardless of origin of the emotion (if anyone ever gets bored, I can give you all the DSM Axis info because I'm also anal retentive and also mildly OCD, especially about medical things. Thanks Mom.).
Sometimes I do really, REALLY stupid things to myself to take out overwhelming frustration at my inability to process emotions correctly/normally/like-an-adult/for-fear-of-displeasing-others. Some are very destructive (pulling hair out, smashing a brush with metal bristles into my scalp leaving tiny bleeding holes, and the quintessentially indicative cutting) while some are less so. My tattoo on my hand is a prime example,. At the time in 2005, my life was spiraling out of control. I had seriously attempted suicide the week before, but had been released from the hospital and was now back home in the exact same environment that lead up to my hospitalization. I felt powerless to change ANYTHING for various reasons (some genuinely out of my control, some mental blocks I couldn't tear down).
While I had been in the hospital, there was a young woman there on 3 South with me. I can't remember what it was anymore, but she had some sort of little tattoo somewhere on her hand or wrist. When I asked about it, she said she had used a needle wrapped in cotton and I think ball-point ink?
Now, my mom having worked at the state prison, I was fairly well versed in prison tattoos. Because the woman I met had access to a real needle (sewing, though it was), it looked slightly better than the average jailhouse tat. It percolating around my brain for a few days. I had told Demented (the now exhusbeast's moniker, for new readers =) around the time I had the carpal tunnel release surgery in '03 that I thought about getting a tattoo on my hand. I had thought about a triskelion on the top of my left hand, in the area near my thumb and index finger. It had been somewhat poo-poo'd because of the fact I was a SysAdmin, and while we got away with a lot of weird stuff, tattoos on hands might be frowned upon by the more administrative and academically inclined co-workers. Now, I had been presented with instructions on how I could theoretically do it myself!
Shortly there after, I gathered up a couple 15º beading needles that had broken eyes and were no longer useful in their original capacity, a spool of white cotton quilting thread, and a jar of high-quality India ink. I figured with a very fine needle instead of some sort of miniature prison shank and good black ink instead of blue ballpoint ink, I should be able to create a tattoo for myself that looked somewhat decent. Over the next 2± weeks, I systematically dipped and poked the needle over and over, letting the lines and dots create themselves, mixing blood and ink to give me the tattoo I now have.
While the tattoo was born out of internal anguish that was allowed to be converted into physical form at a time in my life that was bleak and oppressive, it doesn't weigh me down. I see it as a testament of what I was able to do: create personal beauty out of pain.
The BPD behavior started long before that period, however. I started dying my hair (usually auburn/plum/black) as far back as 14 (1988 - though the cutting started then as well) and perpetually cutting my hair weird styles. One summer, My friends Jackie, Justin, and Jessie (and sometimes Ian) all teased me because almost every week or every other week, my hair would be cut differently (obviously it got shorter and shorter as the summer progressed. I went from "mid '80s feathered girl mullet and ended up with some sort of stacked asymmetrical Mod hair cut. It was, however, the summer no one was allowed to cut my bangs. =) I also developed a habit of 'dressing up' (makeup, clothes I would normally not wear, "doing my hair", the whole 9 yards. Jackie was the only one whom I really allowed to see me like that, and even then it was only a couple times). I might take some photos (pre-digital =), but mostly I would do it, look at myself for a few moments, and then promptly take it all off. I did it almost exclusively when my mom was at work or asleep (she worked nights and I had to be super quiet during the day). Once I moved in with Demented in college, I would do it when he was at work and I was by myself. Always by myself.
I got HORRIBLY embarrassed when someone would peek in and see me (mom got up to go to the loo, etc). A lot of times, if I could hear someone coming, I would jump in the shower and turn the water on, cold be damned, simply so that I could hide the fact I had on "crazy, out of character" makeup.
Historically, I've had little problem getting up in front of people and teaching something I'm comfortable with. Computery things, certain crafty things, not a problem. I'll talk your ear off as long as I have a bottle of water to drink. I get horrible, paralyzing stage fright if I have to pretend anything (dear Bob, my therapist makes me do it sometimes and it's AGONIZING to me. Talking to different aspects of myself. UGH!) As a teen growing up, I always wanted to be the DM when playing Dungeons and Dragons or any RPG games because I could be mostly clinical in my delivery; at most it's like reading something aloud that's already in front of you. Easy! However, put me on the spot and *DEER IN HEADLIGHTS*.
So, I did the makeup thing last night. Quentin caught me. eepOMGOMGOMG! I was ready to scrub it all off in shame and he commented that he liked it and thought I should leave it. That's when it started to click.
This weird 'transformation things' seems to be the ONE coping technique I developed on my own over the years that is non-destructive (well mostly. My hair may get the brunt of the aggressiveness =). It sounds weird, but in that moment where I have turned everything inward and the darkness roils across my brain, it's sorta soothing to stop the wave of mental destruction and take the time to apply the makeup, or bleach my hair: focus on some sort of change that's easily within my ability to perform. And it's probably the one thing "silly/selfish/time-wasting/pointless/outrageous thing" that I do just for me. It looks cool to me and that's all that matters in that moment. It's like that itch you get when you know it's time to rearrange the living room furniture. (then again the constant rearranging of furniture could just be something my mom and I did... A couple times a year, things got moved around.) It's as if I need that transformation to snap me out of whatever emotional gridlock it is that I'm experiencing at that point. "HEY! I'm the one who has the power to change me. SEE!?"
So, here I am. Playing with makeup, being all girly, doing the whole 'pretend' thing after all. Irony. I haz it.
I'm gonna go eat, spin some silk, and then probably poke around on the web looking at other people's makeup and how-to's...
Hugs and love to you all.