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.


4 thoughts on “Selfishness, and the hope for what comes after

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