I discovered a new trigger today. Ok, maybe that’s not quite the best way of putting it. I recognised a trigger that has been causing problems for years, but up till now had managed to escape my notice. So what caused this great moment of understanding? A bit of a strop on my part to be honest.
D was being a touch on the demanding side with Hubby, and I decided to row in with the exact opposite of what Hubby had just said. Hardly helpful, and quite rightly, Hubby pulled me up on it; we always try to be a united front with the kids, especially as they’re getting more canny about playing us off against each other. But my response? Instant rage. Thankfully, it wasn’t instant explosive rage, it was more of the internal, threatening to boil over type. I made my excuses, stomped about for a bit, and eventually took the dogs out for a walk, all the time fuming with Hubby. How dare he speak to me like that? I’m not a child, I have every right to decide what my son can/can’t have etc etc etc. What I failed to notice was that had he done what I did, I would equally have pulled him up on it, and probably not quite as gently as he did.
It was a really small incident, one that shouldn’t have had any fallout. But, as I walked, I calmed down, ish, and managed to start thinking a bit more clearly. What I realised was this – any time, and I mean that quite sincerely, any, single time someone pulls me up on something, be it at home, at work, something I’ve said with a friend, I’m instantly and massively on the defensive. I feel about 5 years old, having just been caught doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing, and the trying to wriggle my way out of it. What’s the grown up version of this? Shame. Yet another bpd trait – feeling ashamed of and guilty for pretty much everything. So what actually happened when Hubby pulled me up on my armchair parenting was that it triggered the shame that’s always so very close to the surface for me. Feeling quite proud of myself for this eureka moment, I came home, told Hubby about it, apologised for a massive over reaction and moved on.
Here’s the other thing I realised. Just because bpd can explain my behaviour, it doesn’t mean I can also use it to make excuses when I’m in the wrong. That’s the really challenging part. Initially the reaction is out of my control (although increasingly I’m catching these reactions either as, or sometimes even before, they happen) but my response to that reaction is equally important. I can keep seething, keep blaming whoever for whatever, but if I’m the one in the wrong, then no more than anyone else, I have to apologise. It’s just a bugger that I feel it so intensely.