How One Moment Can Change Everything; An Epilepsy story

Sunday, July 28, 2019 started like any other: I woke up, dreaded and bitched about going to work that day, I actually went to work, and then I went home. After I got home, there was something I had to go get really quick, so I hopped in the car, and away I went again. I had no idea that my life was about to change in what, to me, seemed like an instant. I don’t remember how far I got; the last thing I remember is pulling out of the apartment building and driving a little way down the road, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to a desperate banging on the car window. A woman, I later learned was a cop, was banging on the window of my car, trying to get me to come back to reality and open the door. I opened the door to learn that I had had a seizure while I was driving and drove straight into a light pole.

I remember being really disoriented, and not understanding why or how I’d crashed the car, and thinking, “Oh fuck, I crashed Patrick’s car. He’s going to be pissed! Is he going to leave me because I crashed his car?”

Everyone keeps telling me, “Cars can be replaced, you can’t.”

It’s truly amazing, though, the irrational thoughts that were going through my mind as I was faced with this information. A lot of it is still fuzzy, although I do remember making a “That’s what she said joke” as they wheeled me into the ER. I remember trying to put on a brave face, and then I remember bits and pieces during the night. Apparently, I’d started seizing again in the ER, so they admitted me for observation and drugged me up to try and stop the seizures.

Mind you, this is not the first time I’d had a gran mal seizure: my first one was as a preteen, which we thought was an isolated event, but then I had one again in 2016, and that’s when I was diagnosed with epilepsy; I was 27 years old. Even though this was not my first, this was definitely the most traumatic. I drove past the pole a few days later and it was not only bent where the car struck it, but the full pole now leans. The cop who witnessed the event, and subsequently helped me, told me that it’s a miracle that the pole didn’t fall because of how much it was now leaning, or that I didn’t hit someone else.

I feel guilty because I destroyed his beloved car; I also feel somewhat guilty because I cannot drive, and I’m also now terrified to drive, so other people now have to cart me around.

But I’m so grateful that I am a place now where I have more knowledge on how to work from home, whereas in 2016, when I couldn’t drive, I didn’t have the same knowledge and/or coping skills, and/or nearly as strong of a support system as I do now. I am so grateful to the cop who witnessed the event and went out of her way to help me, the people who she said stopped and offered to help, the ambulance workers who had an amazing sense of humor and dealt with my stubborn ass, and the medical staff who took care of me in the hospital.

I am so grateful to my husband, who has been so supportive during this time; my family; my friends who have regularly checked on me and have sent endless amounts of love.

I am grateful to this blog for giving me an outlet for difficult feelings, and the community I’m slowly building here.

So from the bottom of my heart: thank you.

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Cracked

When I look in the mirror,
Any mirror,
There’s always a crack;

It cannot be fixed,
Buffed out,
Or filled in.

The more I touch it,
The more it grows.
It seems to follow me,
And lingers
In every mirror,
At every age,
At every size,
In every lighting.

Living with this crack is exhausting.
I’ve tried covering it up,
But it always shows through.

Moving On

Photo Credit: Iribel

It’s been almost two months since I’ve seen or physically spoke to either of my parents. To say that putting them on a “time out” for awhile was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made, is an understatement. The pain and trauma of having to realize that my parents are not on my side, and that at the core, only care about what other people think of me, has put a strain on my relationship with them that I don’t think will ever be forgotten. People keep telling me that I need to forgive them, that it will set me free, and while that may be true someday, I don’t think that pain will ever go away.

And when you think about forgiveness, it’s an odd beast: it’s a thing that you’re supposed to do, because that’s what society tells you to do, but it’s an incredibly painful and vulnerable process. Berkley defines forgiveness as a, “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” Get that: it is a conscious, deliberate decision, whether they deserve it or not.

And what if you don’t feel like they do? For example, it’s hard to imagine forgiving the cheating ex-boyfriend that left you for a chick that matched his “true ideals”; I feel like part of the heartache is always wondering if it was something to do with you, if you were to blame.

But the reality is, forgiveness is not about the other person, it’s giving yourself permission to move on; you can’t force it, it has to come with time and proper processing.

I know that as of right now, it isn’t time to forgive yet; I still have a lifetime of memories and lessons to process: my parents divorce and subsequent nasty custody war, my mom’s co-dependence, both of my parents’ low-key racism, antiquated beliefs on marriage and the woman’s role in it, is something that I’m trying to separate from, but after 30 years of hearing that your opinion is wrong, and theirs is right, it’s a slow process.

My parents tried to control every aspect of my life; my father blatantly, and my mother by planting little seeds of doubt. They both used their powers of guilt and shame against me for years. After all, I am the oldest child, and was raised to be an obedient people pleaser, so it was easy for them.

Good things are finally starting to happen though: my “fiancé” and I are finally planning our wedding, engagement photos, etc. and I could not be happier about planning it with him. I’ve also reconnected with some people that I’ve loved for many years but had disconnected with. We have a brand new (to us) beautiful apartment in which we finally feel like we’re home (even if it is on the third floor).

I love my parents, and I miss them, but for the first time in years, I feel like I have room to breathe, grow and excel without fear of disappointing them.

I also feel like I can finally be myself instead of having to pretend to be the daughter they wanted.

I am a Phoenix, a lotus flower, and a survivor.

Was It a Dream?

I’m grieving the loss of a relationship that I’m not sure I ever really had;
The cracks are starting to show through.
Was it only just a dream?

The grief is profound;
Deep.
Dark.
Uncertain.
Unstable.

Who said this wasn’t difficult for me?
Who said there’s no suffering here?
This wasteland is all that remains.

Cruel Irony

It feels like cruel irony:

The person who loves you the most, makes you feel the most empty;
My heart aches because love is blind,
But my mind and soul know the truth:

Love is not love without boundaries.

The cold hands of abuse sink their nails into my throat,
And I look to their comforting embrace,
Once again.

Meredith Brooks From Hell: What It’s Like to Love Someone With BPD

***Disclaimer: My mother has never been formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but my 30 years of experience with my mother, along with my own research on diagnostic qualifications, as well talking to many mental health professionals, has led me to the conclusion that my mother more-than-likely suffers from BPD, more specifically, HIGH FUNCTIONING BPD.

This does not mean that she is a bad person, nor is anyone with BPD. This is also not a blanket statement for all people with BPD, because it’s a highly complex personality disorder with (sometimes, but not always) both biological and psychological roots. I am merely speaking from my own experience with my mother as a way to help those who might be struggling the same way. ***

My mother has been described in many words: complicated, damaged, kind, co-dependent, demanding, moody, and the list goes on and go. She used to joke that she identified with the song Bitch by Meredith Books because it described her so well. And we all know the fucking catchy chorus to that damn song: “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother…”. You know the song I’m talking about. But have you ever actually listened to the rest of the song?

“Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you’d be so confused
I don’t envy you
I’m a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

So take me as I am
This may mean
You’ll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that
When I start to make you nervous
And I’m going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won’t mean a thing”

Reading through the comments, I came across a lot of people who mentioned bi-polar (the two are very easily confused, and it’s often hard to tease the symptoms and cycles apart), but it’s clear to me as an adult, and to others apparently, that this is not normal behavior.

Now I want to take the time and define what’s called not normal, or “abnormal” behavior in clinical terms, as there is often a negative connotation about what abnormal behavior is, which I define as so: behavior that deviates from the social norm, that is maladaptive , and causes distress to either the sufferer and/OR the people around them. In order for someone to be labelled “abnormal” clinically, you have to meet all of those criteria. The lyrics above scream abnormal behavior. Essentially, in a nutshell, she’s saying that she goes from one extreme to the other within a day, and you just have to deal with it.

Like, what the actual fuck? And I mean, no hate to Ms. Brooks, but nah bitch. Yes, I just went Basic White Bitch (BWB), and no, goths are apparently not immune.

So before we deep dive, I want to make a couple of things clear: 1) I love my mother, but she is mentally ill and has never had anyone in her personal life hold her accountable. She also does not know how to set healthy boundaries, either professionally or personally, which ends up affecting the lives of people around her, and because of her illness, can not understand why other people find that frustrating. I feel like I am the only one in her life that has the leverage to make her change her behavior, and that is a huge burden to have to bare.

People with BPD do not have a sense of self-identity and put their identities into others. They also have an intense fear of real or perceived abandonment; perceived abandonment could mean them blowing up over you picking up the wrong meal for dinner or not thanking them for making dinner, or for picking up the dishes after you finish dinner. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. But for them, IT IS VERY REAL.

2) My mother had a very traumatic childhood, and a very traumatic first marriage to my biological father, who I have previously written about. BPD often (but not always) stems from extreme trauma during childhood. Out of respect for her and those around her, I will not dive deep into her trauma because it is not my story to tell, I will simply give examples of experiences I remember having with my mother, or things she has openly shared with other people.

It started with little things that I thought were flattering at first, but quickly started to feel weird, and then, hurtful. As a teenager, I lived with my mom in a small town in Canada, and her husband at the time worked offshore. If I wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house, it could ONLY be when he was around. Otherwise, she NEEDED me. I remember one time when I was about 18-19, my mom had friends coming in from out of town, and I was supposed to go to a friend’s house for the weekend. The friend ended up cancelling on me, and in front of everyone, screamed about how she wanted me to be gone that weekend. But when I had friends over, she wanted to be perceived as the cool mom, and HAD to have my friends on Facebook (back in its infancy).

When we got older, as I started to date and eventually found my husband, her children were required to be with her on Christmas morning because she was always alone as a child on Christmas. There was no bending of the rules unless it was on her terms, like the year she and her husband just HAD TO have Christmas at 5 am to get ready for their afternoon flight later on that day, and when I said no, she threatened to cancel Christmas indefinitely, telling me how ungrateful I was because she’d do it for me (even though I had never, nor would I ever unless it was extenuating circumstances).

Her moods would swing back and forth, sometimes within the hour. You would go from being a piece of shit in her way, to the best thing she’d ever done, especially when it came to her addiction.

Because she paid for my car insurance at the time, she thought she held leverage over everything I did. When she was drunk and wanted more wine, she’d tell me to go get it. When I said I didn’t want to feed her habit, she’d say things like, “Emily, I’m going through a hard time right now. DON’T MAKE MY LIFE HARDER” or “I’m just using it to sleep! I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!”. And there was always an underlying threat of withholding signs of love and affection if I didn’t just do what she wanted.

Then, the only thing she had left was my phone bill, which she insisted on paying for until I get out of college, which could be never (truthfully), and when I told her that I no longer wanted to be on her phone plan, she told me that if she was dying on the street, I wouldn’t be called because I was so ungrateful.

For a long time, my mom was doing okay, because she had a job and she was happy, but as the job began falling apart, so did she. When she lost her job, she did okay for a while, but the cracks started to show through. She progressively worse and worse until Mother’s Day of this year. I won’t go into the specifics of what happened, but verbal abuse occurred and when I later confronted her about needing space, she went back to her old tune of “ungrateful daughter”.

People always ask why women go back to husband that abuse them; it’s the same reason I keep reaching for a relationship with my mother: the hope that one day they will get better if you stay, that you’ll be the reason they change, but I can’t hold onto that hope anymore. I am her daughter, not her therapist; it’s my job to support her change, not make the changes for her. I can’t fix her, she has to want to fix herself.

I haven’t given up hope, but I am also currently not on speaking terms with her. I cannot, in good conscience, keep enabling that shitty, abusive behavior. I see the effect it has on the people around her currently, the effects it had on others over the years, and the compounded trauma that she’s added to my life can never be undone; it can be forgiven, but never forgotten, but today is not that day.

Today I strive for a better understanding of BPD and how it effects others who have loved ones with it. I also strive to understand BPD for the sufferer, because I now have an understanding of how it is to have BPD after living with it under the same roof for so long. I want with every fiber of my being to have the relationship that other daughters have with their mothers, but I now know that that is not a possibility for me, and it makes me sad, but it’s ultimately okay. Today, I choose courage over comfort.

Thank you for listening.

How a Picture Ended My Relationship with my Father

NOTE:My views on my Father’s warped view of Islam is not meant to be a blanket statement for all people who practice Islam. I know and love many wonderful people who’s Muslim beliefs are very different from my Father’s.

Each person interprets and practices their religion a little differently.

Also, if you know my father (or either of my parents), and you are reading this, please keep your opinions to yourself, as I do not give a fuck, and you will be wasting your time.

Thank you!
*******
So to say that a single Picture Ended my relationship with my Father sounds dramatic, it was. It sounds made up, and on some level, I wish it was, but it’s not. And of course, might be asking what that picture was, and why was it so awful? What was so awful that ended your relationship with your father?

That.

Yep. That was it. That was the day my Father told me that I brought shame to his family name.

For the sake of his anonymity, I will not be using his name. I will simply refer to him as Father. Out of respect for him and his family, I will also not be delving into any deeply personal information on my fathers past, because boundaries.

And now, as they say, a Picture is worth a thousand words; well this one was no exception. This photo of me, taken by me, in my bathroom, was an act, and unbeknownst to me at the time, a message. I even said to myself, I wonder if Father would be pissed about this? I wonder if he’d even ever see this. Well, yeah, he did. As it turns out, his younger sister, who was supposed to be planning my Henna party (Turkish bridal shower) for my trip to Turkey, showed my Father the picture, and to nobody’s shock at this point, he was pissed.

First, he tried to act all coy, like nothing was wrong. Then, as soon as I called, the anger spitting began. “Your my daughter, you don’t post things like that.” He grilled me a bit more, to which I replied, “Father, I am 30 years old. I love you. Good bye.”
Then came the threats.


Then came the trying to make good. My brother told me that if I took down the picture, and said I was sorry, I could still go on vacation with them. A vacation which, I was now dreading. Father was trying to dictate what I wore on the trip, even though I’d already told him that if I was willing to go (he’s been begging me to go back since 2008), that he was not going to dictate what I wore.

So hold on there. We just unpacked a WHOLE LOT of information there. Let’s back it up.

So for those of you who don’t know me, I am half-Turkish, and half- American. I come from a Muslim/Mormon background respectively  (hold for dramatic effect), but neither one of my parents practiced while married to each other.

My father’s family, who practices Islam, comes from a deeply old school, and abusive family. My grandfather would force my father to watch him beat my Grandmother. He later vowed to my mom that he would never hit any one in front of his children. And when I brought it up once, I could see it in his eyes that he meant it.

My father loves me, but his old school Muslim background mixed with abuse and neglect, leaves him unable to empathize with me. My Grandfather taught my Father that women were property. I truly don’t believe that my Father has the emotional capacity to respect me, or any other woman. Honestly, half the time, it’s like he doesn’t even hear me. He only sees and hears what he wants to hear.

And sadly, this isn’t the first time it happened. Once, when I was younger, as a new bright eyed makeup artist, took the job as a makeup artist on the set of a small non-adult film in Houston, where the director was flying in Ron Jeremy (Google Search Adult Safe On; You have been warned), where he was set to act in a non-adult yard. He ended up finding that photo and throwing a hissy fit, demanding that I change my last name of Facebook.

I told him that if he was forcing me to change my last name on Facebook, that I would be legally changing it.

I now know that, for my Father, his last name is a form of ownership. So as a result, I now see a last name as ownership (Thanks, Obama). Which is PROFOUNDLY sad. Because I love my father, and I know that he loves me, but because he cannot see me as a person, I have to let him go.

He is ashamed that I have chosen to study and research sexuality. He is ashamed that I am the product of a failed marriage. He is ashamed that his first marriage was to a strong-willed American woman, who then taught her daughter to be strong-willed and independent. And he is ashamed that he has children don’t embrace his culture and beliefs like his friends’ and family’s children seem to.

He has established a long pattern of controlling behavior, and any time I give him an inch, he takes a mile.

That picture, to me, represents freedom: sexually, personally, mentally, and emotionally.

My father taught me that being a woman was shameful, that I was to be seen and not heard. About a week before this mess, I went to his house for dinner to smooth out last minute details, and he told me that I wasn’t allowed to wear XYZ and to go shopping.

As I started to get irritated, and tell him no, he handed me $200 and told me I was talking too much.

The first time he met my fiancé/husband(Which was only in April of this year) he told Patrick, in front of me, “When you’re done with your plates at dinner, make her pick them up,” gesturing to me.

So as much as it hurts me to say this, my relationship with my father is over, and strangely, I’ve also never felt so free.