Most of my posts on summerSHINES are based on introspection about my personality and the drive closer towards full authenticity in my self-expression. I have blogged to figure out my identity and values and thoughts and beliefs. People with BPD are said to have no clear fixed sense of personal identity. It is a key trait of the illness.
How can you have no sense of identity? … people ask.
What does it feel like to have no clear sense of self?
It’s a hard question for me to answer because I kind of grew up like this. My personality when I entered therapy was extremely in-whole- actually the complete opposite of whole. I was about as fragmented as you can get.
My personality pottery had smashed to smithereens on the floor and no one had bothered to gather the pieces together or even attempt the rebuild and gluing mission.
Therapy is a process of breaking everything down, obliterating the status quo until it’s unrecognisable, then gluing those fragmentary parts into a whole that is far more cohesive and recognisable in form.
My lush new blogger friend (who I’ve actually met in real life) RED BALLOON BLOGGER describes herself as “not only a square peg in societies round hole, but also pretty much hexagonal, with lots of sharp edges”. I really relate to that and love how she described herself!
At one point, very very deep into trauma work (the part of therapy where you delve into memories and make sense of them and create a trauma timeline narrative of your traumatic journey), I pretty much fell apart into different people.
Have you ever heard of Multiple Personality Disorder? (MPD) (It is now called Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID). I kind of used to have that. I would often speak and act in the roles of child parts representing me at different developmental stages. I lost count of how many me’s there were, but there were a fair few for a fair while and they were solid and separate enough for me to name them separately.
I integrated though. The parts became less separate entities and adult me reformed in a far more together adult ‘normal’ way. This process has evolved in the last year or so, and fortunately I don’t now feel like separate identities within the same body. I am back to being someone with the regular identity diffusion of Borderline PD (or Emotionally PD is its other name).
I have a far clearer sense of who the hell Imani Summer is these days.
I would say my most notable personality feature though is the loudness and dominance of my voice.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go around literally SHOUTING and YELLING at people! I am actually softly spoken and quite calm and contained in real life, with the remnants of shyness left from when I was an extremely timid and self-conscious kid.
But I have a loud ‘voice’ in terms of the personal impact I make on people I interact with. I don’t sit in the background keeping quiet. I communicate clearly, with passion and with meaning and conviction in everything I say. If I don’t have anything to say that requires passion, meaning or conviction then usually I most likely won’t be speaking at all, as I have no time for shallow worthless small talk about diddly squat.
I like to communicate on subjects that matter to me, and I don’t see the point of random chit chat about stuff that doesn’t matter, (except flamingos), but I assure you, FLAMINGOS MATTER!!! (to me anyway).
I do have a voice and I do have goals and I am driven and passionate and fuelled by a lot of inner ambition and speed and buzz and energy. That can I suppose make me formidable and “too much” for people.
I am too much of pretty much everything for some. Not everyone likes my full-on ness. People are sometimes threatened I think by my drive to achieve and succeed and propel myself forwards keeping constant momentum and pace and full energy. This scares the shit out of some (always people who are not like this in personality; people who are slow and steady and keep their ambition within small ambition sized boxes.) I can also arouse feelings of green eyed envy sometimes. I know that for sure because people have fed that back to me honestly. All I can say in response to that is I am not trying to out-do others or make others feel uncomfortable on purpose. I am simply trying to surpass myself everyday in every way I possibly can.
That can make people feel nervous though. They will want to take up the reins and say WHOE horsey, because I make them feel uneasy. It is not about me though. It is about them and their insecurities. I am extending myself to my maximum, and for people who are not motivated or inclined to push themselves to their maximums then I can unwittingly force people to make comparisons. People who lack confidence, self-assurance and a sense of personal self-efficacy are either INSPIRED by me and I compel them to drive themselves forwards far more, or they are actually THREATENED by my style of living and working and attempt to keep me in my place with shitty dismissive limiting comments. I love it when I have the former effect on people, and I don’t tolerate the latter. I just don’t have any ability to stomach negativity or despondency or judgement designed to keep me in the little box they want me to stay in.
I was told once by someone that we all have enthusiasm and guts and opinions and ambition, but I just SAY IT LOUDER. lol!
I think that is accurate and fair enough. I certainly don’t shy away from saying what I believe to be true. I am a person of principles. Nothing upsets me more than unfairness or lack of empathy or honesty, and when I see those lacks I will complain bitterly. I want to make the world more EMPATHIC and FAIR and HONEST.
I had an unfair upbringing and also experienced a huge lack of empathy, particularly as I was raised by a narcissistic parent and heavily influenced by a narcissistic older brother. I was also lied to a hell of a lot so can detect manipulative bullshit from ten paces. I form my own judgements and opinions about people and don’t think my perception is only valid is there is a group consensus or agreement. I don’t care what people say to me, I read signals well and I’m not dumb enough to detect incongruence between polite ‘this sounds good’ platitudes and every damn honest signal I get back off you which you try and conceal. So I hope you can appreciate why these are significant bug bears of mine.
Inequality and lack or respect is also a big bug bear. I have no time for it. I have no time for people who try to make others feel small so they feel more powerful. I also have no time for people who stifle you with their own shit. (Personal baggage that they don’t know they even have but dump on you all the same with no polite requests first if this is ok by you.)
I have baggage, but I know what that baggage is because I’ve unpacked everything and gone through it all, piece by piece. I have a full psychological baggage inventory done regularly. I know myself extremely well, and it is unlikely that you will be able to point out anything about me that I haven’t already worked out myself. I have insight and intelligence and knowledge. Not boasting. Fact.
I do have a HUGE voice these days. This is my post-traumatic, post-therapy, post-insight-gained identity. I’ve worked out exactly who I am and what my values are and what kind of person I want to be and I am being that person everyday so I guess that is who I fucking am! The BPD monster is not so out of control. I am wrestling with it and have far better control these days. (as long as I take my brain meds OBVS. I’ve learned my lessons on that from recent med-free experiments which have not gone according to plan!)
I haven’t always been so confident and bullish and ambitious and driven and determined. Surviving suicide has done this to me. Surviving four years of relentless hell has done this to me. Realising that I endured 15 years of horrifying ritual abuse I never knew happened and surviving that has made me feel immensely strong. So if you think you can stifle my voice when I’ve only recently through dogged determination found the bugger, then THINK AGAIN!
I DO say it louder than most. I DO communicate with more assertiveness and directness than I have ever done. When I struggle with mental health symptoms as I did yesterday I do speak about it in loud voices. I also say it louder when I have triumphs and successes and high points and when my recovery is going skyward. I do all of me LOUD and I live my life LOUD and I won’t turn down the volume knob of my very personality just to make you feel more comfortable; just so I fit snugly in the little box you’ve designated as summer’s box. No chance!
I fought to stay alive and I will fight with the same determination to THRIVE. I won’t keep quiet. I won’t turn down my volume to protect your delicate ears. I will seek out people who like me for me and sod the rest who don’t.
I DO SAY IT LOUD AND I DO SAY IT PROUD AND I DO SAY IT RIGHT.
This is post-trauma Summer; post-trauma me.
Not everyone is going to LOVE what they see.
If not, then fine- just please LEAVE ME BE!