I’ve been reading up about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and while I don’t have it, it’s been giving me some insight about BPD as well.
In a way, I suppose everyone has different parts and facets of themselves; the shift just isn’t as extreme. You’re still able to spot the person you know and love under the surface. With DID, you get Parts with a capital P — a drastic shift in personalities and identities, complete with different names, ages and behaviors, and some degree of amnesia.
BPD falls somewhere in the spectrum between what people with DID experience and what ‘normal’ people experience. It’s commonly expressed by loved ones that when the Rage takes over, their borderline friend/family member/lover seems to be a different person altogether.
I managed to sit down and identity a few of these parts:
- The Abandoned Child – this is the ‘core’ self that is at the heart of a borderline, and which all the other parts kick in in order to protect. The Child feels unloved and unlovable, worthless, scared, and like she is about to be abandoned at any moment.
- The Rage Monster – this is the part that steps up to the plate when the Child is hurt. It operates as a defense mechanism to guard the Child’s vulnerability and gain some control over the situation so as to soothe the Child’s fears and hurt.
- The Perfectionist – this is the hypervigilant, self-critical part that thinks that the best way to avoid rejection or abandonment is to be 100% perfect, all the time. This is the part that tells the Child what she should or shouldn’t do. This is the part that believes that love has to be earned and maintained, that one mistake will cause someone to stop loving the Child, and as a result seeks to ensure the Child is constantly perfect so that she is not abandoned. A subset of this is also the Wallflower, which believes another way to avoid abandonment is to be quiet and invisible and a good little girl who doesn’t cause trouble or rock the boat. This is the part that is most often in conflict with the Rage Monster — the Rage goes against the Perfectionist and the Wallflower’s mantras.
The other day I told the therapist that I often felt like Smeagol/Gollum. Gollum is the instinctive, knee-jerk reaction to manipulate and destroy and do everything necessary in order to get rid of the Child’s fears and insecurities, whereas Smeagol is on the other end begging Gollum to just shut up and stop it.
I explained that it often felt like a no-win scenario. Gollum’s actions only wind up pushing people away and later freaks Smeagol out even more — it confirms Smeagol’s perceptions of the self as horrible, hurtful and selfish. This aggravates abandonment fears because what person would want to stay with a selfish and disgusting person, right?
On the other hand, Smeagol’s decision to be quiet and falsely gracious results in bottled resentment that will inevitably explode somewhere further down the line. Smeagol’s needs aren’t getting met, and Smeagol will remain unhappy.
A middle ground needs to be achieved. The therapist called this part Gandalf. I must learn to express my concerns and feelings in a non-accusatory, non-aggressive manner in order to allow the other person to be able to help me. I must let them in. I must build a bridge and give them the chance to cross it instead of burning it down in hellfire.