Is it better to be borderline?

Alison Berkley

So the other day my mom tells me that the real reason she sent me to a shrink when I was in high school was because she thought I had borderline personality disorder.”What, that time I saw Dr. Black?” I say, slow to react. “Yeah, I remember that. He said I was impulsive and that it was normal for a teenager. I thought you sent me to him because you were worried I was getting bad grades.””No, we were worried because we’re your parents,” my Dad chimes in. “And because you stole Mom’s Mercedes when you were 14. Besides, Mom is exaggerating. We didn’t think you were Borderline, we thought you were psychotic.””Oh, that’s better,” I replied, wishing I could will my head to spin around on my shoulders. “Besides, I didn’t steal the car. I borrowed it.”I’m not so sure this is the appropriate time to be telling me this, considering I’m 36 years old, living with my parents, and the only real commitment I’ve ever made in my life is to a black dog who is as invincible as he is crazy. I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to tell me 10 years from now. Something along the lines of, “That summer you came to live with us we were sure you were bipolar. The highs, the lows, the delusions you had about how much you loved that awful dog – it was really upsetting for us.”As if on cue, Psycho Paws comes bursting into the house in the midst of our little “our daughter should have been committed years ago” discussion with porcupine quills all over his face, looking like some rabid monster from out of a horror movie. He’s panting like crazy and bleeding all over the place and it’s scary just to look at him. Everyone’s freaking out, mostly because they’re trying to keep him off mom’s gazillion-dollar rug as he runs in circles like a maniac, occasionally trying to drag his face on the floor or bash his head into the furniture to get the quills off.”Outside! Outside!” my mom hollers, while I stand there with my hand over my mouth like I might just start screaming if I let go.At the vet, they try to sedate him by giving him an injection of something not strong enough because two seconds later, he promptly tries to kill the vet. We’re holding him down on the table while his eyes grow big as saucers and his tongue is halfway to the floor. His fur stands straight up like he’s been struck by lightning, and he looks more like he’s on speed than sedatives.The vet looks at him quizzically. “He might need some more,” she says, trying not to sound like she has no idea what to do. “This doesn’t seem to be affecting him at all.”Lady, if we’re both stuck sitting here in the middle of the night with this crazy animal, the least you could do is tell me something I don’t know.After another injection, he sort of mellows out enough to lie down on his side. She starts pulling the quills out with pliers so that blood is spurting out of the little holes in his skin like that fountain on the Hyman Avenue mall.Every so often, he wakes up and struggles so we have to wrestle him down again. She shakes her head and tells me he is the most willful dog she’s ever seen. For some reason I am secretly pleased, even though the reality is that his “will” has resulted in broken windows, chewed up doors, torn up car seats and a delivery man who said he will leave packages at the bottom of the stairs from now on.We have this joke in my family that when the day finally comes that we have to put him down, he’ll simply refuse to die, stumbling out of the vet’s office like a drunk at last call looking for his next G and T. He’s a difficult, complicated animal, but at least he’s all mine.Which brings me back to this whole borderline business. People always freak out when they hear my parents are both shrinks.”It’s really no big deal,” I’ll say, avoiding eye contact. “If anything, it’s great because we can talk about anything in my family – no subjects barred.”Well. I’m starting to think maybe they’re onto something. Like, when I was a (possibly borderline/psychotic) teenager I’d tell my mom about these weird dreams I was having.”I had this egg growing off my neck and I had to have it amputated,” I’d say.”That’s a marijuana-induced dream, sweetie pie,” my mom would say in this sarcastic, sadistic tone. “Were you smoking pot last night before you went to bed?” At this point, she’d cruise around the room on her broom cackling, black cloak floating in the wind, pot of body parts simmering on the stovetop.”Right. What’s for dinner?” I’d reply – not lying, mind you – just dodging the subject.Speaking of dreams, lately I’ve been having this nightmare that I’ve done something horrible and know I’m going to get caught. I spend the entire dream thinking about how I’m going to end up in jail and how my life is ruined.Since my mom taught me so much about dream analysis over the years, I’m thinking maybe what I’m afraid of is being imprisoned by the consequences of my choices – stuff like screwing around for the last 15 or 20 years without a care in the world, not stopping for one second to think that one day I might actually turn 40.Maybe my parents saw it coming all along. Maybe I’m just plain crazy and that’s why God (or whoever sits behind the yellow curtain and controls our destiny) is “dog” spelled backward.The Princess really needs to get out more. Send your love to


Foodstuff: What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.

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