Tag Archive | relationships

Living With Borderline Personality Disorder

I am starting to invite and ask some of my friends, family and acquaintances if they would like to and feel able to write something for this blog.  I will still keep writing articles for it, however, it is important to me that many people get a platform to express similar things about what they know about mental health and all that encompasses.  So, with great pleasure I am giving my first guest post slot to a former schoolmate of mine with whom I share many great memories playing brass together and especially as this comes a day before Remembrance Sunday when we used to play at the services together, it is well timed!  I found what he has written incredibly moving and insightful and I trust that all who read this article will too.

Enjoy my guest series!

P. Mistry-Norman


Hi, my names Jack. I am six foot six, twenty stone, I work a normal office job, and have a girlfriend. I live as “normal” a life as it is possible to when you are twenty two and living in Shoreditch. Unless I’m wearing short sleeves you would have no idea that I suffer with mental health. In face you would have no idea that many of my close friends, from periods I have spent in hospital, suffer from mental health.

I must precede this by saying I find it very hard to explain what I go through to people. I also find it very hard to remember when things have gone bad what has happens. Sometimes I disassociate or hallucinate, and the world becomes a blur. If you knew me you would know that my thick Essex/cockney accent does not lend itself well to being a man of words.

Pippa asked me to talk about my experiences with bipolar and borderline personality disorder. I’m not going to talk about bipolar, I make no apologies; it is a well documented, reasonably well understood condition. Maybe I will discuss if I receive a further invite from Pippa.

Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder is the first time mental health made sense to me. Many people I am friends with dislike diagnoses, and at first so did I, but it has enabled me to understand myself better.

BPD is an awful name for a condition. The borderline comes from the border between neurosis and psychosis, which I would argue is not true of the diagnosis now; I would also argue it is not something that affects personality completely; nor would I say it’s a disorder. In Europe it is called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Maybe this is currently the most accurate depiction of the condition, although still far from perfect.

There are nine borderline traits, but really what we are getting at is the idea of someone who is all-or-nothing emotionally, empty or full. Typically this is categorized in several areas of life. Doctors might look at addiction (all), suicide (all and nothing – dialectic), self harm (the same as suicide), unstable relationships (normally as a result of all and nothing) and emptiness (nothing).

This is most effectively treated with dialectical behavior therapy. A type of therapy that basically stops you reaching one (out of ten) when your down and self harming or attempting suicide, and helps control yourself and your impulsivity at nine (out of ten). This is because a “normal” person may move daily between four and six. A person with depression may spend a long period of time at two or three, before a period of time moving between four and six, and then return to two or three. A person with bipolar may spend a period at two or three then a period at seven or eight. And a person with BPD is constantly moving between one and nine, the extremes.

You may think that my mentioning of self harm and suicide is excessive. Self harm is very common in people with BDP. I have some very close friends with BDP, and I do not know anyone with BDP who has not self harmed in some way. It is worth noting that a therapist would not only consider cutting or burning yourself as self harm, but restricting eating would also be considered. There are many ways to self harm. 10% of people diagnosed with BDP die from suicide, and up to 80% of people diagnosed with BDP attempt suicide. I have attempted suicide twice and I self harmed. I have a huge amount to say on self harm. It is a fascinating topic and an example of someone being incredibly aggressive to themselves.

?????

When I work with Time To Change and talk to people about BDP I talk to people about the everyday problems I come up against. I think to talk straight away about the suicide and self harm is going in at the deep end. Now, I do not self harm every day, and I do not buy pills and attempt suicide daily either. I have spent a relatively long period of time in therapy as an inpatient and an outpatient at hospitals. I have gone through a relatively short period of DBT (it recommended that DBT is developed over a two year period and I am currently six months into my DBT course).

I struggle with the little things daily. I do not want to generalize, and stereotype myself by a label or a condition, but people with BPD struggle to regulate emotions, as would be suggested by the European name given to the condition. It can only be a little thing at work that can set me off on a very quick downward spiral. I miss out the stage of feeling just sad. I go from okay to working out where I can buy pills and how to commit suicide very quickly. I am at a stage where I do not act out however. Through skills like mindfulness I can begin to regulate my response, in the hope that one day my emotions will middle out. It equally happens the other way. It only takes the first three seconds of Alive by Chase & Status to send me to a place of pure ecstasy. I start jamming away in the corner of the office where my desk is and I start planning where I can get a drink or start wondering if it might be a good idea to start taking drugs again. It really is all or nothing. I very rarely spend any time in the middle. Through mindfulness I really can control my responses though and it would be almost impossible to someone that did not know me to tell where I was between one and nine. I almost never act out on my impulsive or negative thoughts now. I was once at a stage where I would self harm or buy pills, and equally I have had periods in my life where I would use drugs excessively.

The fact that I will come up sharply from any down I experience I really consider to be a blessing that people with depression unfortunately do not experience, and I think that is a shame for them. I never spend a day completely down. In fact I am so in tune with myself emotionally that I know I will probably come up at about three o’clock every afternoon. And with a couple of double espressos and a dose of Chase & Status I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to happen. My therapists tells me I should be careful when I turn (as a bipolar may describe it) “manic”. But I promise you it is a great experience, and if you can control the impulsivity, I think it is there to be enjoyed. I definitely try and kick myself into, and maintain myself, in a “manic” state when I get the opportunity.

Another trait is the constant fear of abandonment. She may not know it but I am lucky to have a very understanding girlfriend who helps me control this. It is something I have suffered from badly in the past and as a result can make me a very intense person to spend time with, and without. I become scared if someone I am close to does not reply to a text within five minutes, and never expect just one missed call, I will call until you answer. Even going to the toilet when I am in a club alone will spark a fear that I will come out and everyone has disappeared. I hate doing anything alone on the fear that I will return to no one.  Unless I am desperate I would rather not go. It might seem like a little thing, a daft thing, but it’s the little daily things that I think make mental health difficult.

Every story must finish with a good ending however. BPD is a condition with a very good prognosis. Once diagnosed, psychiatrists can begin to medicate through drugs and therapy. Drugs can take some time to get correct. I am not sure where psychiatrists stand on anti-depressants for BDP, but for Rapid Cycling Mood Disorder (the type of bipolar I suffer from) anti-depressants can destabilize. Anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers are the drugs of choice for BPD, and once the right combination for the patient is found, these can be very affective. And, of course, a course of DBT is hugely affective. Once treated there is a very prognosis that it is a condition that the person can deal with, with the skills learned. And that is the good news. It’s not easy, but it’s achievable.

In conclusion BDP is a fascinating condition that I would advise you to look into. With the help of people like Brandon Marshall (an American Football player for my beloved Chicago Bears), and Time To Change it is becoming an increasingly talked about subject. And I hope that continues. And finally I refer to my first paragraph. I stated how I appear “normal” and you would not know that many of my friends suffer with mental health. I said that because I truly believe that suffering with mental health makes someone no different from someone else. It is why I dislike the word disorder in BPD. Everyone is different and sometimes we require help with our differences but I reject the notion that there is something wrong with my personality, and I reject the notion that people with any mental health disorder should be subjected to any form of stigma. Suffering with mental health is not something to be afraid of, and it is not something others should be afraid of witnessing. It is fundamentally just the beautiful spectrum of humans and life.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

J. Jeffreys

08-11-2014

Brothers & Sisters

I have been thinking a lot about incest over the past couple of days, particularly between siblings. This is probably due to the fanfiction I have finished recently that is based on the BBC series, Sherlock, and the relationship between the Holmes brothers.  For, in the last episode, His Last Vow, Mycroft Holmes says to his brother, “Your loss would break my heart”, and this sparked off an idea in my mind for a fanfiction where the reason behind Sherlock’s apparent asexuality and sociopathy is a suppressed traumatic childhood memory.  The discovery of this incident then leads Sherlock on to the realisation that he is the only person who can properly love his brother and vice versa. I realise that most people prefer – when they do contemplate homosexual pairings in this series – Johnlock and Mystrade, to use the appropriate portmanteaus (on a grammatical tangent, the plural of portmanteau, really should be portmanteaux!), or even the less common pairing of Sherlock and Moriarty, but in my fanfiction dabbles I have always preferred writing either the obvious couple or – if a plausible enough scenario occurs to me – a really obtuse and rarely imagined romantic pairing.

This is not my first odd pairing, which is why I have ended up reflecting on my opinions regarding incest.  Other story pairings I have used include Peter and Susan Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia (as portrayed by F. Arnaud and H. Grainger in The Borgias) and going on to pairings that I enjoy reading about, they include Vlad and Ingrid Dracula from the children’s show Young Dracula and Jaime and Cersei Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire franchise.  Some are established in their own right but some are specifically fanmade so there is variety and that is just my background, but I just can’t pin down what makes incestuous relationships so intriguing and addictive to me.

I do just have to remind people at this point that I have no siblings or have never considered entering into such a relationship and never will, but just reading and watching them play out and how they seem to be – in most cases that I have seen on TV/in stories online – such sturdy and positive relationships, whereas I generally perceive non-incestuous relationships to be such hard work and so flawed that I find that now I don’t believe there is anything wrong with incestuous relationships on the most basic level as an agreement between two consenting adults of whatever gender. Of course, in reality problems do arise when a heterosexual, genetically close couple conceive and that, naturally, is an issue.  I do not pass over that lightly or ignore it in any way, which is why incest is a problem, but in a fictional and sometimes fantastical environment, this can easily be avoided and incest doesn’t seem to be a problem any more…with the exception of Joffrey Baratheon!

People talk about falling in love and being part of a star-crossed love affair that occurs so quickly and with such passion that acquaintances jump straight to lovers, bypassing the friend stage.  It is this aspect of some relationships that dooms them before they begin.  Lovers ought to be friends before they embark on their lovers’ journey; it makes for a happier and healthier voyage, if you ask me.  When siblings realise that maybe the person with whom they find themselves in love is their brother or sister, that strong foundation is already there.  Sure enough it is the foundation of family, but there is still something strong and intimate underlying their romantic relationship.

In my only relationship, I decided to throw my lot in with one of my friends but we were never that close before we hooked up and there was no real knowledge of each other there and it led to awkwardness and discomfort and lo and behold: the relationship lasted barely a couple of months and – retrospectively – I feel was doomed before it began.  It would have been much easier and much more comforting to me had we possessed some level of brother-sister love before we got involved with each other.  Now, I am scared of everyone and everything that implies commitment on a romantic level and there are really only five people I know in the world other than my father, whom I trust enough to commit myself to (not romantically!).

Two of the delusions of the past decade that I have enjoyed and have eased my life and distress the most have been the female party in one of the incestuous partnerships I have listed above.  One, which I have already confessed to, is that of Lucrezia Borgia which is still ongoing in the background of Cordelia Chase and the other, is the summer I spent being Susan Pevensie.  In both of these, the sister is the younger figure and the older brothers – Cesare and Peter – are both sources of strength, protection and love, which I think is what I hold dear.  Also, there is the fact that a lover can leave, a husband can divorce you and a boyfriend can cheat, but eternally, a brother and sister are bound together. I can put this affinity with older male siblings down to the fact that I was never protected by the men around me, only hurt and left in the dark to be hurt by others.

Furthermore, the only male family role that is still pure and untouched by reality is that of a brother as I have never had a blood brother, though I do consider two of my best friends brothers in every sense of the word except blood, which has led to confused feelings for both of them at different points in my life…I won’t deny that. I know I cannot possibly expect people to concur with me unanimously concerning the rightness or wrongness of incest, but I do hope this small glimpse into my mind and the way it processes the concept of brotherly and sisterly romantic love and how it can bring comfort to those who need it most but can get it from very few places will make you think more about flippantly denouncing forbidden (and immoral) relationships out of hand because that is what society and – in some cases, science – has encouraged us to do without considering all the available information.

This instinctive behaviour was first brought to my attention during my English Literature A levels during the study of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, a novel that is truly close to my heart, which I think everyone everywhere should read.  I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but the ending was so vehemently disliked in my class by everyone except me that I truly believe that people say things and do things in a group environment without thinking but if even one person stops to reflect on personal and complicated issues such as incest for themselves because of this post, I will be the most happy, though hopefully, unlike the first bearer of that motto, my head will remain attached to my body for the foreseeable future.

Just for those of you who might be vaguely interested to read more, below, I have included the links to three of my stories concerning incest.  So I hope you do read them if you think you can do so with an open mind and do leave me a review and mention you followed the link here.

On Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9342924/1/La-Bella-Borgia (incomplete)

On Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10714930/1/Break-My-Heart (one-shot; complete)

On Susan and Peter Pevensie: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8677241/1/Odi-et-Amo (on hiatus)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-11-2014

Father Dracula

In the year of our lord 1442, the Turkish Sultan enslaved one thousand Transylvanian boys to fill the ranks of his army. These child slaves were beaten without mercy, trained to kill without conscience, to crave blood of all who defied them – the Turks. From among these boys, one grew into a warrior so fierce that entire armies would retreat in terror at the mention of his name, Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon.  Sickened by his monstrous acts, Vlad came to bury his past with the dead and return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula.

The legend of Vlad Țepeș has been many things throughout the years: a horror story, a legend of atonement and sin, a vampire chronicle, a story of romance and loss.  However one aspect of the fact-based narrative that has rarely – if ever – been explored is the role of Vlad Dracula as a father.  As I sat today watching the new Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release, Dracula Untold, I found myself utterly enchanted until the epilogue section which will henceforth be unmentioned, with the movie that saw Luke Evans play Vlad Dracula the Father.

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

I sat down to this film with my best friend as one of our traditional Matt-Pippa movie excursions and so I was by no means depressed or morose when the film commenced.  A happier and less depressed person would have grasped onto the historical or west vs. east themes of the film, which I did eventually, but for me, it was the sheer raw emotion displayed that caused my poor old ticker to palpitate in my breast.  With the initial voiceover by the Impaler’s son (see block quote), it felt crystal clear to me as a slightly deranged and basket case of a viewer that fatherhood and the father-son relationship was the crux (no pun intended!) and the heart of the movie.  It is – in short – what sets it apart and bears it aloft from the commonplace and slightly boring modern vampire films that have reformed the image we have in the 21st century of the vampire.

As a daughter of a delightful father, whom I adore to the ends of the earth, I am incredibly drawn to the father figure as painted onscreen, but as the daughter of a father who often did not raise arms and try to move heaven and earth to protect me, I was taken in heart and soul by the powerful and sacrificial father image that Dracula Untold created.  I have no desire to detract from your enjoyment of the film and all its wondrous surprises and positives by illuminating its plot too much so I’ll endeavour as best I can not to divulge too much as I write now.  That having been promised, the story about the drive of the royal prince who has to fight the Turkish threat and offer up his soul, his kingdom, his subjects and his reputation in order to safeguard his child is too enchanting for someone in my position not to elucidate.

Vlad the former Impaler who occupies the screen for the first section of the film reminds me of my father: at home in Castle Dracula during a ten year peace and happy with his queen and son having suffered extensively during his own formative years.  It is the Vlad who refuses the Turks what they demand as the cost of peace that made me smile and almost weep in my seat.  He defies the greater threat, a threat that has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone he holds dear, when the price of peace grows too dear.  It is his love for his family, his respect for his wife and his unconditional love for his son that drives him from this point forward despite his underlying yearning for peace.  The ultimate draw of the character is that his paternal and visceral need to protect his offspring outweighed and conquered his preference for peace in his land.  I can only say that I would be very different now if in the 21st century and without the magic and the devil and a pressing Turkish invasion, my father had valued my sanity, my unscarred body and what my future might be above serenity in Theydon Bois.

So, you see during this film instead of feeling for and finding myself in the shoes of the mother, unusually and refreshingly for me, I felt more kinship with young Ingeras.  This certainly put things in a different perspective than usual and instead of feeling the force of a natural maternal love, as I did in Brave, The Borgias and Angel (to name but a few!) I found myself in a role of vulnerability and the unconditional love of a child and feeling as a child does as my mind flew into the media and put down roots there.  That is not to say that the feelings of Mirena never took rest in my mind – they did – but it was ever linked to the child and a child’s link with his father.

The questions that floated around my mind during the film were: what will my children do without a father to protect them?  How can I possibly hope or think it’s possible for me to protect them by myself?  Will I be enough?  Is it selfish and heartless and unbelievably evil of me to knowingly bring a child – or children – into this world to face it without the love and pride and protection of a father?  Understand that if during a movie that is essentially about a vampire prince in Wallachia, I can be ruminating those questions, precisely how unstable and mental I am and why I need this blog to get some of the crazy out of my brain.  What is especially troubling still is that a piece of media can still get into my head and lay all its babies there and turn me into a blithering, blubbering, bawling shell of a person just because a vampire is a daddy!

So you see how the maternal-paternal-filial feelings have all come together in the aftermath of me watching this film to a head.  My children – I know and promise to every higher power and the cosmos – will have all the love I can give and will never have cause to doubt their mother’s love, but what plagues me now is that although I will give them the best godfathers, uncles and grandfather I can, I want them to know that if anything should happen to me, then a father on this earth will fight to its ends for them.  I say that knowing and being certain that I cannot ask nor expect their godfathers to do that for my children.  That frightens me more than anything; that something will take me away from my children and they’ll end up living the same life I do, not knowing if anyone really loves me or if the world is really against me or I just have that kind of luck.  Then, what I have sworn never to do and have often said to my mother, that I would die before I created another me, I will have failed dismally and utterly and it’ll be infinitely worse than failing myself or my parents or my friends because I’ll have created through my own means and by my own will, tortured children who will never be whole, all because I wanted a family of my own and then failed to protect them and ensure their secure future.  That is what Dracula Untold revolves around: the legacy of leaving a safe life for your children no matter the cost or what stands in your way.

That’s why, I guess, I invest so much heart and mind in these sci-fi & fantasy shows, books, and films that have these awesome father figures that possess magical powers or vast armies or some superhuman (or all of the above!).  Angel is the vampire with a soul father to Connor, John Crichton is father to baby D’Argo with the knowledge a whole galaxy wants in his brain, Noah Bennet adopts Claire and exercises his influence to protect her and that’s just fathers in Angel, Farscape and Heroes for you to consider.  Vladimir Dracula as played by Evans, like Angel, other than being a vampire, alternates between being good and bad, light and darkness and right and wrong, illustrated ever so clearly in his final showdown with Mehmed II (played – vexingly, I might add – by Dominic Cooper) where the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” (Harry’s Game, G. Seymour, 1975) has never been so apt.  This is not least due in part to the fact that they symbolise a clash between east and west and Christianity and Islam, which I found a bit on the head due to the threat from ISIS currently experienced by the world, but nevertheless, it presented me with an interesting conundrum.  Although Vlad is undeniably set up as the protagonist and Mehmed as the “cardboard” (Matt’s word) villain, in the final fight where perhaps conventionally. we would usually side with the man who didn’t sell his soul and his eternity to the devil, oddly, we find ourselves rooting for Vlad as he fights for his son’s future and to keep the promise he made to his wife.  Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ironic as it is now the pretty (meh) blonde girl chasing the monsters with a knife, the inversion of a supernatural heroic villain fighting a foreign threat who is – in this film, if not in history – represented as a bit of an arsehole for his family made me ask the question: can – and should – a father simply be good?  Mine certainly was and is, but I don’t know if I would have the mental and physical and psychosomatic problems I do now if my father had had a bit of evil or darkness in him enough to wage a bit of a war for me against the arseholes (myself included!) that turned my life into the circus it is today.  I know that Mirena is portrayed in the gothic setting of Dracula Untold as the stereotypical mother and damsel in distress and therefore, she is not characterised or shown, at least, to have any flaws or darkness within her – it’s all in her husband!  So, the question of whether a mother can be innately good and sin-free never really entered my mind during the feature film, for Mirena does appear to be the perfect, almost fairytale if in an Angela Carter setting, mother.  Vlad, however, in order to be a good father to his son (and, indirectly a good husband to his wife) is required to turn a bit evil, if initially temporarily and with the potential for redemption, so I just wonder if when a mother has a pristine soul, a father has to be bad, or if a father just has to have that hint of darkness in order to be the strong, virile protector he has to be.  Needless to say, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a while and I doubt I’ll ever reach a cast iron decision on my opinion on the matter, but I will say this: the darkness within my mother has never in my life been a darkness used to protect me and the light within my father has not protected me from her darkness either so as a future single parent, I aim to be a light shade of grey and thus tone down the darkness from how strong its pigment is at the moment.  That is all I can do for my children: not be my mother and not be my father, but have the darkness of my mother and use it the way a father like Dracula did in the film for their good and to have my father’s light and accept it as the good in my soul the way the mother in Mirena does to counteract the strong and masculine darkness in Vlad.

I hope this article hasn’t bored you to death as I skirted around the plot of Dracula Untold and that I haven’t dissuaded any of you from seeing it, if you haven’t already!  I will conclude by saying that we all have monsters residing within us but it is whether we allow them to have the active or passive role in our lives that defines us as people and as children and as parents.  The right kind of darkness can be a force of light and the wrong kind of light can be detrimental.  Don’t judge someone’s darkness because it is not an obvious asset to them – it may be the only thing keeping them alive because that’s certainly what the darkness in my soul is to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

15-10-2014

Inspiration

Further to my post about my best friends, I thought I’d list a couple of the best friendships on television (like I did with teachers) so I hope you are ready for a less putative article but will enjoy this one nevertheless!  (Also, I can’t sleep again so it’s something to keep me from sliding into my occasional 3am hole of despair!)

images

  1. Alex and Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy)
  2. Stefan and Caroline (The Vampire Diaries)
  3. Troy and Abed (Community)
  4. Sookie and Tara (True Blood)
  5. Ka D’Argo and John (Farscape)
  6. Malcolm and Kaylee (Firefly)
  7. Rodney and John (Stargate Atlantis)
  8. Starbuck and Helo (Battlestar Galactica)
  9. Jack and Teal’c (Stargate SG-1)
  10. Miranda and Stevie (Miranda)
  11. Justin and Daphne (Queer as Folk)
  12. Buffy and Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  13. Angel and Doyle (Angel)
  14. Amelia and Addison (Private Practice)
  15. Jon and Samwell (Game of Thrones)
  16. John and Sherlock (Sherlock)
  17. Merlin and Arthur (Merlin)
  18. Dorothy and Michaela (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman)
  19. Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World)
  20. Perry and Carla (Scrubs)
  21. Javier and Kevin (Castle)
  22. House and Wilson (House, M.D.)
  23. Chuck and Nate (Gossip Girl)
  24. Spartacus and Varro (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)

So there you have it – short and sweet though it is!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

03-10-2014

Red Roses & Black Ribbons

I don’t believe in love.  I believe that romantic love or sexual or even lustful love is the most fallible and unreliable and therefore, weakest forms of love.  What I do believe in with all my heart is the love shared and nurtured between friends and the perennial stability and strength of the love between true friends.

It is said that friends are the family you choose yourself (Edna Buchanan paraphrased).  They’re not bound to you by DNA or RNA but emotionally, logically and understandably, they are bound to you by their actions and love.  I am both blessed and burdened (as most people are) by my friends.  I have two friends – two best friends – whom God gave me when I was very young because he knew I’d need brothers to carry me through my formative years and beyond.  Ben and Matt have stuck by me through thick and thin and this article is my homage to them and a meditation on my longest friendships to date and the only ones I depend on to remain constant.  The others can fade and fluctuate for all I care!  My life would be in no more danger than it is from day-to-day should those friendships run their course but as I often tell them, I would not be able to stomach living in a world that didn’t have my Ben and my Matt in it.

IMG_2006 (2)

Left to Right: Ben, Matt, Pippa (The Golden Trio)

Let me kick off properly by explaining why I suddenly have the urge to pen this article.  I have just finished reading a Harry Potter fanfiction called Premonition (https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5710296/1/Premonition) that is Harry-Hermione centric.  The premise is that Harry has a nightmare in which his female best friend is felled during the Battle of Hogwarts and from there a romance blooms.  The particularly poignant part for me that instigated the whirlwind of thoughts leading to this article was:

‘”I told you, I told you they’d be after you,” he shouted at her, his voice anguished. “Oh God, come back, come back,” he pleaded with her, hugging her tight against his chest, his chin on top of her head, his eyes closed, and Ron noticed his glasses were broken. But he had no one to fix them. Hermione always did that. Would he never get them fixed then? “I don’t know what to do without you. I don’t know. I don’t know,” he murmured, sounding rather insane with his grief. He pulled her up closer, dragging her until he had all of her in his arms, his hand buried in her thick curls, his face pressed against hers, cheek to cheek. “I love you. I love you. You’re supposed to live! You were the only one… You were the only one I couldn’t lose.” He shook his head, crying against her, his arm tightening around her to be almost crushing.

“I can’t do it without you, I can’t do it,” Harry told her, shaking his head and exhaling a big whoosh of shaky air. “You promised, you promised, you said… Hermione,” he pleaded, pulling her close again, his face pressed down into her shoulder.’

See, I have had many nights (and days – many thanks, O God of Insomnia!) of vivid and frightening nightmares in which either I die in Matt’s arms or one/both of them die in mine and I am left behind to grieve.  So, you can see that it is not the development of the Harry-Hermione friendship into amour that drew me in, but the intrinsic similarity Potter’s dream had to my own.

Ben and Matt wrote my school yearbook entry way back in 2011 and in it they call me their Hermione, so I’ll share with you a brief extract of their writing as well as fanfiction.net user Shadrac’s which is featured above.

For Matt and I, she [Pippa] also fulfills her role as Hermione, forever correcting us on our grammar (in English AND Latin!) and telling us it really is “leviOsa” not “levioSA”.

Hermione Jean Granger is bookish, overbearing and pedantic but she is also loyal to a fault, smart, someone who fixes things and the person in the lives of Ron and Harry who will give up anything precious to her in order to protect them.  It was therefore flattery and exaggeration on Ben and Matt’s part to say that I am capable of fulfilling the role of the female third of the Golden Trio.  It is definitely true that I love them to a fault and that that affection breaks my heart constantly but I don’t have her Gryffindor spunk or selflessness to sacrifice all for them.  I used to be that way when I was a better person and an infinitely better friend but now I struggle to show or give them the love they deserve without lusting after emotional recompense and a bit of love exhibited or said from them to me in return.  The source of my heartache as far as my relationships with Ben and Matt are concerned is that I always expect too much from them and that I love them far more than they love me.

This is no insult to them whatsoever.  For them to reciprocate my feelings on the same level and with the same intensity, they would have to eschew their social life, their sanity and their hearts for me.  I would wish the same paltry existence as me on nobody but me because I have done some truly evil things in my life and I deserve this!  Their lives are still whole and full and just being lived so it’s better that I exist and they live than us all just existing.

There is no room for romantic love in my heart because I’ve filled that sector with the pair of them.  I have no desire or need to enter into that kind of love because it isn’t physically possible for me to replace or oust the people in my heart who keep me relatively glued together and able to look to the future with a lesser and more volatile relationship.  This is fundamentally why, if I were to lose either – or God and Heaven forbid, both – of them, I simply would have half my heart painfully scraped out and the world would be filled with red roses with black ribbons.

My godbrother, Tim Pruss' grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem that I leave when I visit graves

My godbrother, Tim Pruss’ grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem which I always leave when I visit graves

So when I have the horrific night terrors, I come out the other side praying that they both live full, happy lives in perfect health and survive long enough to help my kids (their godchildren) plan my funeral.

As you might have inferred by now, I am both easy and complicated.  It does not take much to keep me happy or away from a fatal overdose – that makes me an easy person – however finding the real me to keep happy underneath the brittle layers and behind the adamantium-enforced walls is a complex task to say the least and only two people have ever managed it.  Nobody else has ever given enough of a damn to attempt to scale the walls or mine through the layers and that is why nobody else whom I have ever called a friend occupies a room in the sacred inner sanctum of my always broken and breaking heart with Ben and Matt.

Finally, I will say that all I need and will ever need is for them to not forget that I depend on them to reside in my heart until it stops beating and to think of me as the girl they made into their woman (in a kind of Pygmalion-esque way…) who needs them to remember how much I adore them, am loyal to them and rely on them.  I need to be their Hermione in order to feel wanted, loved and fruitful in life but not so much as I need them to need me to be their Hermione.  It’s pathetic (I know) but the world would be a better and safer place if people just communicated how they felt and other people were receptive to the information.

That’s my worldview anyway, so make of all this what you will, but love your friends because the truest of them whom you love unconditionally have the power to save – and make – your life over and over and over.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

01-10-2014

Valentine’s Day Virgins

Firstly, I just want to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have someone to share it with or not, have a happy day.  Though you might be spending the day and the night alone, as I am and always have and always will, just remember that it is only 24 hours out of a whole year.  Secondly, the point of this post is to share the T-rated version of my virginity story and tell you how it’s affected me in the long term and just to caution people who might read this blog on the day before – I suspect – a lot of girls nationwide and planetwide will wake up with their virginity remembered only as a thing of the past.

Some therapists – ineffective therapists… –  I have seen over the past couple of years of my life have put my social anxiety and my depression down to the night I lost my virginity, but they were barking up the wrong tree entirely.  It all started a long time before that.  That night was just the start of the delusions and panic attacks whenever I even contemplate being intimate with another human being again.  I have wondered occasionally after I have had a series of panic attacks if I have some remnant symptoms of PTSD, but that’s unlikely and my life is hard enough without listing PTSD as part of my cocktail of mental disorders.  There was a time, however, when I couldn’t even watch even the most basic and non-explicit of sex scenes without shaking…

It has to be said right now and with complete sincerity and with no blame held that my boyfriend at the time was not and is not to blame for anything that happened on that night.  If anything, he was the victim and I was the culprit.  It was – after all – my body that once again could not do what it naturally should have had the capacity to do.  He was just as – if not more so – scared and saddened by the unfortunate turn of events of that night as me.  It did spell the end of our relationship for two reasons: I could never contemplate being so vulnerable and hurt during intimacy again and what is a teenage relationship that is sexless?  Doomed, that’s what!

I was only in my one and only relationship for a matter of months but this relationship spanned the rites of passage such as leaving school, passing my A-levels, going on my first holiday abroad with my friends.  In short, it was supposed to be the time in which I truly became an adult, but just as my luck would have it, it was the time in which I reverted most and lost most of the independence I pride myself on.  Stupidly, I had convinced myself that it was my happiest time, but in retrospect, that was childish and the trappings of being in a relationship. Though I was under the misguided delusion that I was truly happy for the first time in my life, I was not.  I have something to confess here and now that no one knows about and perhaps will make people truly think I am a foul person, but nevertheless, it needs to be said.  I went into the relationship with only one goal, one stupid, selfish, sinful, despicable goal in mind: to lose my virginity before I went to university.  What did not occur to me at the time of planning was that not only was I divesting myself of my virginity in an abhorrent manner, but that – unbeknownst to me – I was taking my boyfriend’s virginity in awful circumstances and with terrible motivations and I did not foresee the consequences of my actions: in short, I deserve all that happened to me on that night but I regret so terribly what I inflicted on a man who was my friend and at one point my best friend and someone I respected.

When you lose what little you treasure and respect of yourself, of course, bad things will befall you and it is your lot to take them and accept them as your dues.  I have done that.  I know that I deserve all the bad things that happen to me in life.  Though I have never possessed much self-respect, I lost the minute amount that I ever had in the moment that I decided to act on my plan and I lost everything else including my innocence the moment I knew that plan was going to succeed on that night.

Discussion and reflection aside, I am now going to tell you what actually happened in České Budějovice.  At least, my story has a somewhat exotic location…  I was in the Czech Republic on holiday with my friends and my boyfriend after Year 13 was over and before we all had to receive our A-level results.  It was about midway through the vacation and we both decided to do it having done just about everything else.  Everyone knows that your first time is not as romantic and effortless as some films and TV shows make it out to be, but it’s also not supposed to be the polar opposite!  Carrie comes to mind…

It was a bloody mess.  That is the frank and succinct way to describe the night.  It was going quite well, but in the end, I had to bring everything to a halt because it all hurt too much.  Naturally, I knew I should expect some discomfort, even severe pain, but nothing and nobody prepared me for the agony that it was.  I do blame girls and women of my acquaintance and even society in general for that slightly because there are so few people with whom you can discuss the issue of virginity and what happens when you are going to lose it.  You cannot talk to your mother (and certainly not my mother!) about it, it’s hard to talk about it with other members of your family and if your only female best friend had an easy ‘transition’, you’ve got very little to go on…

Once the motions had stopped, I went away and locked myself in the bathroom and was sick for about 10 minutes straight.  There was also so much blood.  It took me more than half an hour to clean myself up and feel steady enough to leave, in which time he did knock on the door and ask if I was still alive.  When I went back out, red-eyed and already dying inside, it was clear that I was not the only one who had been weeping.  He thought he had killed me there was so much blood and after a confused and awkward couple of minutes, all we did was cuddle for the rest of the night, though I’m pretty sure neither of us got a restful night’s sleep that night.

That is all the detail I am going to go into – it’s enough, don’t you think?  But, the problem with the topic of virginity is that so few people speak about it openly and honestly and if people did that more, I might not hate the thought of relationships for myself and I wouldn’t be looking at a future of single motherhood and be constantly trying to repress my sexuality and become asexual.  It was in the weeks before that I could have benefited from a wider circle of female friends and better relationships with the female members of my family.  To give you a better picture of what I was like in the aftermath, I direct you to the BBC miniseries The Crimson Petal and the White based on the Michel Faber novel of the same name.  The character of Mrs Rackham, played by the talented Amanda Hale, is a mentally ill woman who keeps to her bed after it is implied that her introduction into the conjugal bed was less than gentle and the delivery of her only child was traumatic enough to render her childlike and fragile, was basically how I felt for so long and in some ways, the sexual and adult side of me still feels like Mrs Rackham.  I do encourage you to give the miniseries a chance and watch it if you haven’t already done so as a beautifully produced piece of costume drama that was my life for a month or so and really helped to get me back to the land of the sane and living as far as I ever would return to it.  I still can’t listen to The Four Seasons’ song “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” without cringing, which is a shame because it’s a really catchy song but its subject is approached from such a male perspective and with that ilk of male flippancy.

I still cannot watch love scenes without recollecting what happened to me and what I did. I know I’ve said too much but it’s something that I should have told a lot of people much sooner. The only people I have told are my closest circle of friends and a girl, who just wanted to lose her virginity in a nightclub in an against-the-wall arrangement with a stranger, and I wanted to stop her from making the same mistake I did of treating my virginity callously and underestimating its power over me and my life.  I would not wish my existence on my worst enemy and though I have acted selfishly in the past, I do everything in my power now to help people and stop them from making the same mistakes I have made.

Trust me, I know how self-aggrandising that sounds but I do care, probably too much, about others to watch and let them suffer as I have and do.  Since I enjoy myself and take pleasure from life vicariously primarily by watching others both in reality and onscreen and by letting characters live in my head and revel in life through the vessel that is my body and mind, I have to care so deeply about what other people do and think and feel.  I just wish others did the same enough to speak more openly so that other people might learn from their mistakes and avoid such unnecessary and excruciating pain and suffering.

I apologise if this post has offended you or made you wary of what you do tonight but I hope it helps just one person somewhere and if it does, it’s worth it.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

14-02-2014

Unhappy Marriages Make Unhappy Children

Weddings and getting married are things that I have been thinking about recently, and when I say recently, what I really mean is since about 4am as I’ve been up all night.  People who have managed to get me to speak honestly about the subject of marriage and its role and importance in my life will be well aware of what I believe it is and how I approach it, but I’m going to lay it out for them more clearly and all the rest of you lovely lot.

To begin with, I have to remind you that I told you a few posts ago that I do not see myself ever entering into another romantic, adult relationship ever again in my life.  This might prompt you to ask why marriage matters at all then, but let me assure you that it does, especially as I intend to have children later in life and I come (at least half of me does anyway!) from a traditional Indian family, so with children in mind, the concept of marriage will be present in my future.  In this post, not only do I wish to expound on my opinions on marriage as a real notion but I am also going to explore how I feel and what happens in my mind when I watch acted weddings and fictional weddings onscreen and in literature.

I have long since abandoned all belief that I am a romantic at heart, which I do think I used to be when I was a lot younger and still thought that Disney princesses could be real women and that happy endings were possible in life.  That part of me was decimated violently while I was in my first and only proper, somewhat steady relationship and I have no desire to return to that incarnation of myself who felt she had to jump through countless hoops and give away pieces of myself and sacrifice who I was and what I believed in and thought right to be in a relationship and not to be laughed at for a few months.  That will never happen to me again, I am resolved on that!  From that educational experience, I have learned my limits and I now know that if I ever got some poor bugger to tie the knot with me, I would destroy that person’s soul because in some ways, I am the most mature person I know, but I am also the first to admit that where relationships are concerned, I am one of the most immature people I know.

I have watched my parents’ marriage from just outside the heart of it and I know what an unhappy marriage is, an unhappy marriage is my old friend and longtime companion…  I know what it is to go to bed listening to my parents arguing and not knowing when they would stop, I know what it is to wake up and have the first thing I hear be a domestic and I know what it is to see the looks on other adults’ face when you happen to mention in polite conversation that your parents have slept apart since before you can remember.  Needless to say, my parents’ unhappy married life has affected me and while I can say that I know maybe a handful of married couple, it is not a majority, not in the least.

Something that has affected my life probably more is the fact that I believe my parents should have applied for divorce while I was still young.  It is likely that I will never forgive either my mother or my father for being too stubborn and too incapable of living without the other (only on a practical level!) to leave, as my father could not keep house without my mother and my mother would not ever be/remain solvent for long enough to live without The Bank of Dad.  My perception of their marriage is that neither are made better by it and both are made significantly worse.  Another result of the marriage is that it (sort of…more on this later) produced me and I am a mess, a problem and if the world was right and just, I would not be here to suck the life and destroy the souls of anyone who gets close to me.

Ironically, maybe it could be said that I am the personification of my parents’ marriage: I am silent, I am unhappy, I should never have been, I sleep alone and I cannot live without my father and I am a liar.  That has just occurred me, so forgive me if it’s a little overly English Literature A-levelesque!

I only found this out while I was applying for my first adult passport – if you can believe it – that I was born out of wedlock and that my parents were wed only after I was born.  Words cannot adequately describe how deceived and wrong it made me feel at a time in my life when I was constantly walking on the edge of the cliff of life and death.  Whilst I do not believe that people have to be married to have children, the relationship between the parents-to-be has to be firm and steady enough to bring a child into its folds and discovering that my parents most likely only married because I was born and so they would not have to lie to their families and me, turned me into a lie in turn. Finding out the way I did also changed my life into something out of a bad soap plot and when your life appears comical to you, there’s nothing more worthless in the world…

Having a child for me is going to be (I just know it is because it simply has to be) my breath of fresh air and my reason for living through all of this crap.  It is what I am due from the world and the universe and the cosmos and I am well aware that life is not fair and God acts in mysterious ways but it is that fragment of my dreams that I cling to in order to get through the nights of tears and the days of grief.  One of my greatest fears is that I will turn into my mother and most of my friends know that that usual compliment, “you look like your mother”, is like a punch to the abdomen for me and results in me asking firmly with tears in my eyes for its giver to take their words back.  If I subjected a child of mine to an unhappy marriage that turned them into me, I would never, ever forgive myself.  It would be a crime against motherhood and life and God to make another human being like me just through bad parenting and I am still convinced that my life experiences and knowledge will help me become a good mother.  I’ll have to be as I am going to be walking the path of parenthood alone.

The Ancient Greek word for soul-destroyer is ψυχολέτησ – something I found while I was looking for something to use in a new tattoo, but I thought better of it as both of my tattoos represent hope and what I am aiming for in life, not what I am going to try to leave behind me once I have my family.  As I have proffered the opinion that I am the personification of my parents’ marriage, maybe it is truly marriage that I see that has destroyed my parents’ and my souls.  I know (to paraphrase one of the most annoyingly coined phrases of the 21st century) institutions don’t destroy souls, people do, so I cannot truly find marriage ultimately culpable, but the human part of me rather than the logical and sensible part of me does.

Now, enough said about that I think, so on to how I see it in media…but first please, let me know what your opinions are on TV weddings in this little poll I’ve set up.

I cry during weddings on TV.  I cry a lot!  It really is obscene and one occasion where I really wept and wept and wept was the “Sherlock” season 3 wedding of John and Mary.  It wasn’t even the fact that this danger-loving war veteran managed to get his fiancee to say “I do”, it was the title character’s reaction because nine times out of ten, that is precisely my reaction.  I do apologise now if I give anything from the episode away, but it really did span the gap between reality and delusion for me on how I am during weddings on TV and in life.  It was eerie actually because I was feeling completely in sync with Sherlock Holmes and while I was in the emotions, I was watching him be in his (if that makes any sense?) and react on television.  Of course, I’m not a “high-functioning sociopath” but there were elements of Sherlock’s best man speech that made me think, “yeah, I’m like that too”.

Particularly the part where he insults everyone and says some truly awful things but then admits that he is the worst and most awful man alive but he adores John and would do anything for him through his marriage along with his wife.  That – to me – is what a marriage is: it’s doing anything for the one you love.  Sherlock is a great example as he would not really change anything about himself.  Along the way, he makes sacrifices for and compromises with John and Mary but he never concedes any part of his essence.  Marriage should make people better and then people can be better in pairs, not worse together.

And on that cheery and slightly pedagogic note, I’ll say goodbye for today.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

07-02-2014