Confirmation bias

Emotion regulation dysfunctions marked by negative affectivity are a core feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD). In addition, patients with BPD show disturbed attentional processes which become particularly apparent in the domain of selective attention when emotional stimuli are presented (negative attentional bias). […] In this study, we could confirm an attentional bias for negative stimuli, using complex, dynamic material. (x)

Bouncing off my last post, I guess it comes as no surprise how large confirmation bias plays in my life. It’s honestly a bit startling to note now that I’m keeping an eye out for it — how my heart instinctively leaps to my throat when the Boyfriend’s eyes look somewhat distant, or when his gaze lingers on his phone a little too long, or when he seems distracted. My immediate thoughts are either “oh my god I’m annoying and he hates me” or “he’s talking to another girl! He’s in love with someone else!”… yep, basically just any doomsday scenario possible.

It’s also equally strange to realize that this doesn’t happen with most people. It’s been such a huge part of my life now that I can’t imagine a life without it. The therapist asked me how I would describe it, and I said, “Tinted.”

Because I’m wearing (metaphorical) sunglasses, everything I see is tinted sepia. Because I don’t believe I can be loved, I am acutely sensitive to signs of abandonment from the Boyfriend.


 

 

It never even occurred to me that we wouldn’t make it. And it never occurred to you that we would. You were just waiting for us to go down in flames. I thought we could get through anything. — Kristan Higgins

The thing is, I’m a hopeless romantic; I believe in great, true love that overcomes all odds and all that jazz. I want that to happen for me, I really do. Yet I can’t seem to believe that something like that would happen to me.

Because I don’t believe the Boyfriend (or anyone, for that matter) could ever love me forever, my view of this entire relationship is tinted. I just keep waiting for him to wake up from his stupor and leave. There’s an end point somewhere — I just don’t know when or where. And it’s this lack of concrete knowledge that eats at me from the inside. It’s this impending yet unknown sense of doom that rattles me every day, wondering if today will be The Day.

And so I test him. Everything he does is a reflection of how much he loves me, of how long he will stay with me. Everything he does is turned over and over again in my hands and slid under the lens of a microscope, every little detail scrutinized.

The other day I found myself attempting to push him to his limits, tossing out unreasonable demands and scoffing at the idea that he would accommodate them. I was trying to convince him that this relationship was never going to work out, that I was too damaged to be a good partner for him, that all of this was a lost cause. Like a black hole, I was always going to be asking for more and more and more in a desperate attempt to fill myself up. I was always going to be asking him to sacrifice little things and big things in order to try and convince myself, temporarily, that he loved me.

“I’m going to ask so many things from you,” I said. “And you’re going to reach a point when you decide you’ve had enough, and you’re just going to leave!”

It was then that I had the strange revelation that that was what I truly believed. All my testing, my entire search for a sense of security… none of that ever had a conclusion because my ultimate belief was that sooner or later, he would reach his breaking point and decide that he’d had enough of me. It was just a matter of when.

And the truth was, I wasn’t testing him really for self-assurance. I was testing him because I wanted to call his bluff. I was testing him because somewhere deep down inside of me, I thought he was a liar and I wanted him to look me in the eye and admit that I was asking for too much.

The truth was, I wanted him to confirm my biases.


The reason why relationship with borderlines don’t work out is because we always have an internal struggle within us on two opposing ends, which often result in a no-win scenario. In this case, part of me really wants my boyfriend to make me feel better and to convince me I am actually worth something. Yet when he does, the other half of me scoffs and discredits it.

While half of me seeks to feel safe and loved and secure, the other half of me looks on with tinted sunglasses and tears all of it down. The other half sneers and says, “This is too good to be true, so don’t believe it.” The other half looks at myself and says, “You are worthless and disgusting and nobody would ever love you or stay with you. Anything in contrary of that is a complete lie.”

I know the general assumption is that we abandon someone before we’re abandoned, like this is some childish high school game. Like we’re cold, unfeeling, emotionless robots who just toss someone into the trash so we can have the upper hand and ‘win’.

I mean, I can’t speak for everyone out there, but it’s just that… abandonment feels so real. It feels like something that will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year, without any exception.

It feels like the absolute truth. And because it feels like the truth, I am secretly terrified of the day the Boyfriend will look at me with no love in his eyes and tell me he doesn’t love me anymore, or that he never did. More terrifying would be slowly watching the love and affection drain out of him day by day. I cannot watch that happen. I will not survive it.

And because I’m so afraid of that day’s arrival, it’s possible that I’m subconsciously trying to find a way to worm out of this relationship before it all slams into me. That I would rather have it all end now, on good terms, than go down in flames.


In the very beginning of my foray into research on BPD (not hardcore research but just googling and reading forums), I came across a post that suggested that the tragic irony of BPD was that the one thing we were so desperate to receive, love, was something we could never quite get. It’s as if we set ourselves on a quest sailing across the world to find a treasure chest, yet discredit it when it’s finally in our hands.

“I know this looks like a treasure chest,” we say. “The treasure chest, even… but it’s not! It’s too good to be true! It’s probably just an illusion. These coins and jewels are just imitations.”

Why?

Maybe a more apt metaphor would be a scientist that has spent his entire life trying to prove the existence of something. One day he finally manages to prove it—and you’d think he would yell “Eureka!” and fling all his papers around the room in joy.

But instead, he glances at the papers with all his careful equations and then tosses them into the fire.

Why?

Maybe part of him has become convinced that the proof shouldn’t be so easy to find. Maybe part of him believes he isn’t that great of a scientist, so how could he be the one to solve something that has puzzled humanity for centuries?

Maybe part of him has dedicated so much of his life into this quest that he can’t imagine a life without it. His entire life has been funnelled into this search—what would he do without it? What would he be?

And so he discards the results and starts all over again.

 

 

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Core beliefs and assumptions

The thing about having BPD is that I come riddled with a set of core beliefs, for example:

  • I am unlovable
  • I am forgettable; there is nothing good enough about me to deserve being remembered
  • Other girls are nicer/kinder/prettier/smarter than me
  • Nobody would be able to stand living with me
  • Everyone who claims they love me will leave eventually

These are assumptions which require the Boyfriend to disprove them regularly. Because my default mindset is that he does not love me or want me, every misstep he makes only confirms that set of beliefs. Because my default mindset is that he does not love me or want me, I’m constantly in panic mode until he proves otherwise to me.

And the strange thing is that I’m split 50-50. Part of me wants him to disprove it because, I mean, who wants to be unlovable and forgettable?

Yet there’s another part of me that constantly tests him with a half-hope that he’ll cave and confess that I’m the scum of the earth and he can’t wait to be done with me so I can say, “I told you so!” Not because I really want to ‘win’ or be proven right, but… I don’t know. Maybe it’s a form of control.

But I think it’s simply that despite how much I want him to disprove these sentiments, they don’t gel with my worldview. It’s as if someone told me that the sea was the color of tomatoes. It just doesn’t sit well inside of me, as if my mind cannot quite digest it, and it gets thrown out.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe that I’m capable of being loved. I want to. But I just… can’t. It doesn’t feel remotely plausible. And so whatever assurances the Boyfriend offers me are as wisp-thin as cotton candy — sweet on the tongue, yet gone in the blink of an eye.

Of course, the irony is that the more I keep up at it, the more unlovable I become. Logically, I know that. (How many times have I said this sentence in this blog alone?) Yet my distortions keep pressing on and on.

…Well, I suppose this is why it’s a disorder and not just a tiny flaw.

Borderline Codependency

Following this post, the therapist and I talked about my relationship ideals and how dysfunctional they were.

Basically, my ideal relationship was one of enmeshment. I desired an enmeshed relationship because of my codependency — I needed to be intertwined with another human being in order to try and fulfil my needs and stave my sense of insecurity.

Where, then, did the codependency come from? There are a couple of reasons, and they’re all extremely interlinked, so I apologize in advance for how convoluted and confusing this may all sound.

I should also clarify that these are all things that I’ve become self-aware of after so many months of introspection and after reading many, many articles and posts by other people with BPD. These are not things that borderlines do consciously; we are largely driven by emotional cues and knee-jerk responses. These are fears and desires that work subconsciously in driving us to unhealthiness, or even at times, abusiveness.

Need to be Needed

As opposed to healthy dependency (defined here as interdependence), the codependent individual in such a relationship needs to be needed if they’re to feel okay about themselves. They simply can’t feel this way unless they’re giving themselves up, or “sacrificing,” themselves, for their partner. Sadly, without being depended upon (sometimes, virtually as a lifeline), they feel alone, inadequate, insecure, and unworthy. (x)

The thing about codependency as I experience it is that it’s not so much about wanting to have power and control over another person just for the fun of it. I don’t actually desire to be some evil overlord running the Boyfriend’s life; in fact, I’m often a pretty indecisive, submissive blob instead of a high-powered megalomaniac.

My control issues only flare up when I get the sense that I’m not needed. As sad and pathetic as it sounds… the truth is that all I want is to be needed.

a) Addiction and Dependency (+ Fear of Abandonment)

What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction. — Chuck Palahniuk

Simply put, I’m addicted to love and all its intensity because without it, I would be nothing. Emptiness, or ‘the void’ as it’s commonly termed, is such a huge part of BPD that it’s one of the 9 borderline traits, which is why it comes as no surprise that it’s such a huge motivating factor.

A metaphor I like to use (and have seen many other borderlines use as well) is that of a bucket with a hole in the bottom. The bucket needs to be filled, but the hole causes water to constantly leak out. It’s only when someone I love appears by my side to use his hands to cover up the hole that I feel fulfilled. Yet this requires constant presence; the moment the person leaves, all the water is drained out.

When I’m not around the Boyfriend, I feel… nothing. I’m a numb, hollow shell just watching the world go by and feeling completely empty inside. It’s a dull, black-and-white life as compared to the Technicolored joy I feel when I’m with the Boyfriend. Which is why when I’m in grayscale, I will do whatever is within my means to try and go back to Technicolor; when I’m in Technicolor, I will do anything possible to stay in it. And every time the Boyfriend leaves, I feel as if I’m being kicked out back into dreary reality.

And so the Boyfriend’s presence is my drug. Like an addict, I go through withdrawal when I’m separated from him for a long period of time. Like an addict, I am constantly terrified of losing my supply.

What is the best way to make sure you don’t lose your supply? If your drug is addicted to you as well. Which is probably why I freak the hell out whenever I am reminded of the fact that the Boyfriend, as a (somewhat) normal, healthy human being, isn’t addicted to me. Whenever he wants to hang out with someone else, or doesn’t see the need to be around me all the time, it terrifies me because that means… he can leave me anytime. And what would I do without him? Who would I be without him?

b) Lack of Self-identity and Purpose 

I don’t want to live. I want to love first, and live incidentally. — Zelda Fitgzerald

I’ve always gotten a greater sense of security to hear someone say, “You’re mine,” as compared to, “I’m yours.” The truth is, I want to belong to someone. What need do I have for myself? Or maybe the greater question is, who am I if I am not someone else’s?

An unstable sense of self is yet another borderline trait, and it ties in here as well. Maybe it’s because I’m still in college, in a course I hate, and I’ve yet to step into the working world and start making something of myself… but as of now I basically see no other purpose in life apart from loving and being loved.

Somewhat related to the emptiness is the notion that I am nothing without being defined by someone else. I feel like a ghost that has to draw on someone’s life force in order to materialize.

The Velveteen Rabbit is something I’ve seen many borderlines quote, and it’s not difficult to see why:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

[…]

“Wasn’t I Real before?” asked the little Rabbit.

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one.”

Like most people, I guess, I want to be Real. And when I’m around the Boyfriend or I can be certain in his love for me, I feel Real. I am Real when I am loved and needed.

The trouble is that the feelings of being Real don’t last, because I am only Real to the Boy. I am nothing and unreal when I am not with him.

The way I’ve always gone about that is to constantly find ways to feel the Boyfriend’s presence in order for me to feel Real. But I’m learning that that isn’t a long-term solution.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I must one day become Real to every one. I must become Real even when I am all alone, without love or another human being as a crutch.

“But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

And like the Rabbit, I wish I could become Real without having to go through all this constant fumbling. But I guess that’s not how becoming Real works.

Selfishness, and the hope for what comes after

The worst thing about this illness isn’t the things it makes me believe, or what it makes me do. It’s not the control that it has over me, or even the control it’s allowed other people to take. Worse than all of that is how I have become selfish… We are selfish, my illness and I. We think only of ourselves. — Nathan Filer

Tonight I thought about how selfish I could be, but for the first time, I decided to think about why.

The general consensus is that borderlines are evil spawns of Satan sent from the realms of hell to destroy lives and take over the world and capture our significant others as slaves. But I mean, that is a little dramatic, don’t you think?

(I’m not going to speak for all borderlines, because at the end of the day we actually are all different people and not robots manufactured from the same factory.)

Personally, I’m not going to deny the fact that I can be incredibly selfish sometimes.

And well, the story could just end there. As some harsh critics might suggest, maybe I’m just fundamentally awful and nothing I do will ever change that and I’m going to be a horrible person for the rest of my life.

But I’m honestly a pretty big believer of determinism and fate and destiny and all that, and even then, that attitude seems a little defeatist to me. I mean, if I’m going to be such a dipshit forever and no amount of effort will change that, then I can just give all of this up and go on my merry destructive ways, right? I don’t need to go to therapy. I don’t need to continue searching myself and figuring BPD out. I don’t need to do any of this, because believe me, all this seriously sucks balls most of the time, and if there’s no payoff, why on earth would I need to do it?

can’t believe in that. If I do, then all of this would be for nothing. Then the Boyfriend would be putting his love and faith in me for nothing. Then I would be living this entire life for nothing, because frankly, if the only point of my existence is to be a crap person and ruin everyone’s lives, then I might as well just put everyone out of their misery, right?

And to be honest, all of that thinking has absolutely no benefit at all. It makes me feel like none of this effort is worth it, that I should give up, and all my loved ones will suffer because of that.

And so tonight I made a conscious effort not to propagate that sort of self-critical thinking, and instead, to figure out the reasons behind it. To have a little compassion for myself, and a lot of curiosity.


Survival—it’s selfish, and it’s dark, and we’ve always been a species willing to do anything to satisfy our needs. — Rachel Caine

I don’t think anyone actually enjoys being a selfish person. Or at least a selfish person with enough self-awareness to know that their actions are selfish.

I would argue that in the end, my selfishness and manipulativeness largely arise out of self-protection. They are a self-defense mechanism dedicated to ensuring my survival. I’m selfish in wanting the Boyfriend to give in to certain demands because I don’t want to feel hurt or upset or abandoned. I’m selfish in securing certain needs because, again, I don’t want to feel hurt or upset or abandoned.

And all this comes back down to one of the core tenets of BPD—fear of abandonment. Abandonment would crush me because it would confirm my views of myself as worthless and unlovable, which arose out of emotional abuse and invalidation in my early environment. Therefore, I would do anything within my means and power to avoid abandonment, real or perceived, and immediately. Therefore, I would instinctively do whatever was necessary for me to survive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to justify my actions or to excuse myself. I’m aware that just because someone has a good reason for hurting you, it doesn’t negate their culpability for doing so.

I’m saying this because tonight, instead of making me feel like crap about myself, it actually gives me hope.

Realizing the real reason for my shitty actions gives me hope that I will one day get well enough to overcome them. I am not an awful person ‘just because’; I am a person who sometimes does awful things because of certain driving forces and survival mechanisms. And this knowledge gives me the determination to refuse to let BPD and my childhood invalidation dictate my life. It gives me the resolve to want to rewrite my story.

And yes, my first thought was, “If only I had never developed BPD. Maybe I would actually be a pretty decent person.”

But on second thought, I don’t think so. I think that BPD and this entire terrible ordeal has equipped and will continue equipping me with things like tenacity, and courage, and empathy for others in the same plight. Compassion for others as well as myself. Sensitivity. Strength. And these are all things that I might not have acquired had my life gone differently.

If I never had BPD, I might not have reached this low point in my life where I needed to sit down and take a long, hard look at the kind of person I was and the kind of person I would like to be. If I never had BPD, I might not have been pushed to the point where I needed to face up to my flaws and foibles and accept the fact that I needed to grow and change for the better. If I never had BPD, I might not have had the self-awareness to be thinking about so many little things about human nature and myself.

And so all of this gives me hope about the person I will become when I recover and get to the other side of this hill. I’m going to be someone who not only learns to overcome whatever inadequacies I have, but also develops a great deal more virtues through all of those hits and misses and constant effort.

I’m going to become the best version of myself I can possibly be—and it’s all because I had BPD in the first place.


P.S. I sincerely hope this attitude lasts. I can just picture myself in my next funk scoffing at all the optimism this post is brimming over with.

P.P.S. I hope this helped someone out there. I really do.

 

Love through a borderline’s eyes

It’s a topic of much debate whether borderlines are actually capable of real, true love. I don’t know what the answer is. For that matter, is there actually even one sole definition of what “real, true love” is? I’m pretty sure there exist different variations, depending on who you ask. There is no one universal conception as to what love is, and I don’t think anybody has the right to claim their idea as the absolute truth.

When anybody talks about love, they’re talking about the way love works in their world. They’re talking about the way they love, and the way they perceive love directed back at them. And so I am not going to bother arguing whether we are capable of love. I am, instead, going to talk about how love works in our (or at least my) world.

Love, for you, is larger than the usual romantic love. It’s like a religion. It’s terrifying. No one will ever want to sleep with you. — Richard Siken

I decided to write about this topic mostly because of an ongoing conversation I have with the Boyfriend, which never gets resolved because we ultimately have fundamentally different conceptions of what love is.

My definition—and I would venture to say, most borderlines’—is mostly predicated on a great deal of need. It’s intense and all-consuming. It pretty much rules my whole world and my entire life… and it’s been this way ever since I can remember.

Growing up, I’ve always given hopeless romantics a run for their money. I can’t remember when or how it began, but at some point in time I registered that my life’s sole purpose was to find The One and fall in love with him and live happily ever after. Everything else is a distant second, including my dreams of being a writer. I would give up everything else in a heartbeat.

If I psychoanalyze myself I’d suggest that my obsession for finding my soulmate, the mysterious person who would love me unconditionally and irretrievably and ‘get’ me in ways no one else can, definitely stems from my disconnect from my parents. I grew up being picked apart for being weird, strange, overemotional, different, odd, difficult… I don’t think it’s a huge mystery as to why I would spend my whole life looking for one person who would love the parts of me that my family hated.

Maybe it’s because of my extreme fixation, or maybe it’s because of the emergence of my BPD tendencies from all the emotional invalidation I received from my family (or maybe it’s just a chicken or egg argument), but as a result anything to do with love or romantic relationships elicits strong and intense reactions from me. Well, technically BPD causes most anything to register more intensely, but I dare say it’s the craziest when it comes to romantic love.

Since I’ve met you, everything I’ve done has been in part because of you. I can’t untie myself from you—not my heart or my blood or my mind or any other part of me. And I don’t want to. — Cassandra Clare

When I’m not physically with the Boyfriend, I’m thinking of ways I can see him again as soon as possible. He is always, always my number one priority. I basically plan my entire life around him. I think twice before signing up for activities just in case it eats into time I could’ve spent with him. I schedule meet-ups with friends during the times he’s too busy to meet me. I basically spend most of my life just waiting for him to call for me like a puppy curled up by the door waiting for its owner to return home.

Why? Because life is just… dull when it’s not spent with him. Anything else I do, any other fun I have, just never comes close to the intense waves of joy and happiness and excitement I experience when I’m with him.

Which brings me to my point that it’s not like I resent having my universe structured around him. I choose to do it that way. I love him, and being with him makes me the happiest version of myself… so why would I want to do anything else?

The trouble comes in when I begin to resent the fact that he doesn’t live his life for me. I mean, I know I’m a very important part of his life — but that’s the point. I’m a part of his life, whereas he is my entire life. And so no matter what he does, no matter how sweet he is to me and how dedicated he is, it just never feels like enough.

Is it fair of me to expect that from him? The logical answer is no. It’s unhealthy, and it’s probably impossible anyway. He doesn’t want to have his life revolve around me, and it would be unfair of me to pressure him to do so, and even if I did he would probably end up hating me.

Yet it still bugs me that I would willingly do that for him, whereas he wouldn’t do it for me. It freaks me out that I love being with him so much that it trumps everything else, whereas it’s not the case for him. It scares me that I would always choose him, whereas he wouldn’t (well, he doesn’t even see it as a matter of ‘choosing’). I guess obsessive need shouldn’t be a barometer for how much he loves me, and I honestly don’t know how that even came into being in the first place, but I have absolutely no idea how to change it.

I mean, we can compromise as much as possible, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it never feels enough. I can let him do his own thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still feel like crap. That doesn’t change the fact that I always end up looking at him and thinking, “Why don’t you need me more? Why don’t you want me the way I want you?”

I know the answer is that my definition should be altered. That people are people, and should not be treated as universes. But this has been my life’s dream since I can remember, and if I give that up it feels like I’ll be losing an essential part of me and who I am.

I suppose the next question is, am I willing to risk a perfectly good relationship with a perfectly good guy for some warped idea of what I want love to look like in my book? Am I willing to risk something real for something imaginary?

As of now, I have no answer yet. I feel like that’s how I’ve been ending so many of these posts, but that’s why it’s called a journey, I guess.

BPD and Relationship Imposter Syndrome

You see me better than I am, she said, and I’m worried what’ll happen when your vision changes.” — Brian Andreas

The Boyfriend has a school event tomorrow and I’m internally freaking out. My fear of abandonment alarms are ringing like crazy and I’m trying to deal with that healthily, but that doesn’t help with the fear and paranoia slowly suffocating me.

So I’m here, trying to process my emotions and why I’m so terrified.

How do I explain it? I know it’s just a fear but it somehow feels real, as if it’s already happened; I can see it in my mind’s eye—him laughing and having fun and forgetting about me and then abruptly recalling my existence and thinking, “Ugh, what a loser. I’m having so much more fun with my friends than I ever had with her. What was I thinking? Ew. I’m so done with her.”

The Boyfriend wants to know why it is that he can’t have fun with them and still miss me and love me. Just the thought of him having fun with someone else makes me want to throw up.

“My biggest fear is that eventually you will see me the way I see myself.” — Anonymous

I guess deep down it’s because I honestly see no reason why he would want to be with me. I mean, I’ve read enough accounts from the other side of the fence to know it’s no picnic to be dating a crazypants. It’s not that I have no good qualities; I have at least a scrap of self-worth to realize that I’m not a complete good-for-nothing. But I still don’t think I have enough light to make up for my dark. I don’t think there is anything good enough I can offer that can counter-balance the bad.

So, in my opinion, he’s dating me because he’s super deluded and seduced by, I don’t know, my borderline wiles and addicted to the lovebombing. And all of that is going to fade away one day. There’s going to be a day when he finally comes to his senses and realize he was being a complete idiot and then he will leave and never look back.

And every time he spends time with other people and has fun with them, it just makes me feel like that dose of reality will burst his bubble, and he will see me for the imposter that I am. And it absolutely, completely terrifies me. I go about every day wondering at the back of my mind if this will be the day it all comes crashing down, but it’s when he’s off having the time of his life with someone else that the fear springs to the forefront of my mind and utterly consumes me.

I know it’s deluded of me if I insist on isolating him from the entire world in order to make sure he never sees the light and remains in love with me. I know that if I have to go to such lengths to keep him by my side, then it’s not real love and I’d be better off without it. I know that ironically, it’d be my control freak issues that would actually push him further away from me.

Logically, I know all of this. Yet it’s always the emotions that are the toughest to deal with. I can’t reason with them, I shouldn’t shove them aside… it’s so tempting to switch them off until the event is over but I know that’s not the right thing to do.

It’s times like these I wish so much to be just a regular, non-clingy human being who would be all chill and see no big deal in all of this.

But ah, radical acceptance entails that I accept the reality that I am me, and then do the best I can from there.


So instead:

  • Boyfriend is not Ex. Boyfriend will not start preferring to hang out with his friends over me, Boyfriend will not ‘choose’ them over me, Boyfriend will not flirt with another girl behind my back. (I think…….)
  • Boyfriend claims that he loves me no matter what. Yes, there’s a chance he might be lying, or that he thinks he’s telling the truth but will wind up changing his mind. But what good will my panic do? What is going to happen will happen, no matter how hard I try to avoid it. If he’s going to fall out of love with me and in love with someone else… nothing I do can possibly prevent that from happening.
  • Even if he loves someone else, so what? I can do this on my own. I don’t need him. My worth is not dependent on his love for me. I am not defined by his feelings for me. Just because he might not love me, does not mean I am unlovable.
  • Whatever it is, I can get through it.

Splitting – a visual representation

Borderlines are often described to take each moment as it is. I find that I only partially agree with this statement. For example, if the Boyfriend is late to meet me, I am focused on the fact that he is late. I experience some sort of amnesia towards the fact that 9 out of 10 times, he is not late. However, it’s untrue that I’m only thinking of the fact that he is currently late. Rather, I become acutely aware of all those other times he has been late. Every single past memory and resentment and sense of abandonment I’ve felt about him being late rushes to the forefront of my mind, and it’s like a tsunami of hurt just crashing over me. In that instant, I’m re-living every single late moment, all over again.

Splitting not only keeps me in the operating moment; it keeps me in all related moments or moments that are associated with similar feelings. When Boyfriend does something sweet, I think he is the best person in the world because I relive every single past memory of him doing something nice for me, and my tunnel vision only allows me to focus on these good memories. When Boyfriend does something that hurts me, I think he is the worst person in the world because I suddenly recall all the other times he has hurt me before.

To put it pictorially:

bpdonlytwo

There isn’t always just “Good” or “Bad” Boyfriend, though. For me, there’s also a more complex division of facets or aspects, which I will name in the form of numbers so it’s easier. There’s Boyfriend 1.0 whom I cuddle with and share safe, sweet moments with. 2.0 is the one who engages in intellectual debates and discussions with me. 3.0 is physical/sexual. 4.0 is the one I hate and hurts me and gets into fights with me. 5.0 is my best friend whom I share random parts of my day with. 6.0 is the one who has done some skeevy things in his past that I disagree with and dislike. And each aspect feels like a wholly different person altogether.

bpd1color

The realization struck me because I was having a particularly intense, somewhat aggressive discussion with him about a topic I felt somewhat personally about. Because 2.0 was being so coldly calm, unemotional and logical, I began to feel put off and hurt by 2.0’s hostility. In my mind, he was slowly starting to close in on and morph into 4.0. Yet, abruptly, he switched into 1.0 and asked me softly whether I was okay. The sudden shift took me by surprise. It felt like an entirely different person had swum up to the surface and interacted with me.

And it’s been freaking me out because I’m starting to wonder who is Boyfriend? Boyfriend is a combination and amalgamation of 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0. But I don’t know the “real” Boyfriend, because I only ever see one side of Boyfriend at a time. In a way, I feel like the Sun or the Moon—only ever seeing one side of the Earth at a time.

Will I ever learn how to hold all those facets together? I don’t know. And I don’t know if I want to or not. I feel like a newborn learning to get used to a world outside the womb… part of me just wants to crawl back in.