On Rebuilding

Storms pass.

Your first instinct is to enjoy any murmur of sunshine. Feel it on your skin, a shard of light that pierces not for its warmth but for a missed familiarity. You’ve been gone so long. You forgot this could exist.

And then in a way comes a harder part. You step back and survey the wreckage, this new sun bathing it with more and more light, making even devastation look oddly poetic. This is what happened. This is what was supposed to happen.

Building takes its own time. Memories escape from an overturned plank, sounds and scents scurry out like rodents, triggering the germs of feelings that perhaps brought you here to begin with. But the sunshine makes it ok. You’re here. You didn’t get buried.

But that’s where the danger creeps in for a BPD sufferer. It’s hard to tell what’s genuine progress or perhaps a period of mania, an excitable response to things going well that it then gets pushed to an extreme. When bad days come, the degree in self-flagellation comes in handy. You were doing so well. You fucked it.

And when you’re ambitious, a rebel, that excitability and that sliver of hope becomes a danger. Your instinct is to say, hey, that was a close one. And you start to shoddily build your house together one more time, consumed with appearing normal and sweeping those troubles away without ever yourself troubling the root. You build based on how it looked from the outside, your memory using the blueprint of an invented or distant period of happiness, how people remember you. You start to live again. You hide in plain sight.

The danger comes when the wind blows. When a wave hits. Suddenly you’re back where you started and you can’t understand why all you see is rubble. That cockiness may have rebuilt a house from the outside, but on the inside it remains as flimsy as ever. You’re here again. You’re just debris.

Where I am now is a stark refusal to rebuild. Circumstances have meant that the first stage of my recovery has been without medical or professional help, but in a way it’s not been the worst thing in the world – there’s no hurry to be so ambitious again, no desire to repeat past mistakes. Rush this rebuild, I tell myself, and you might not survive next time. You might crumble quicker than ever.

And once again, as everything with BPD, it comes down to balance. As much as you enjoy the return of endorphins, you also stop trusting their effect. You fly a kite but never too high, because it means the inevitable drop will sting in tight proportion. You actually take the time to rebuild your house properly this time, for nothing can be left to chance. Personalities vary, but you also begin to realise that humour helps rationalise a potentially debilitating condition. Natural disasters will happen regardless, but you realise that nothing is worth living in a place like that again. You can’t. You won’t.

And as this all happens, as you soak up the sun and people stare out of you from their windows wondering why you’re still just looking at the rubble, why you still haven’t laid a new foundation, you turn and smile. For you’ve realised that losing everything has given you a gift very few can afford.

You’ve learned to stop giving a single fuck. And that feels pretty great all in itself.

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