Facing fear

Why is it so hard for me to cope with fear? Because that’s what it is, at the heart of every borderline emotion — fear of being abandoned, fear of being worthless and unwanted, fear of rejection, fear of emptiness, fear of bad feelings, fear of fear itself.

The most difficult part is trying to swallow down the instinct to fight or flee. The urge to escape from the overwhelming terror is something I have no idea how to put into words; it is something akin to watching an avalanche approach you and knowing down to your core that you need to do something. So you do whatever is necessary to keep yourself safe. You run, or you try to eliminate the avalanche in any way possible, be it by manipulating or lashing out or begging.

But as we all know, that goes nowhere.

My recurring insecurity with the Boyfriend and his female friends is always this — he is going to realize how boring and inadequate and annoying I am in comparison to them, and he is going to fall in love with someone else and not want me anymore. And every time I am reminded of his friendships the bottom of my stomach falls out and I feel the avalanche creeping up on me and I want to burn the whole world down just to get away from it.

I wanted to do something yesterday. I wanted to scream, and shout, and ask him why he was doing this even though it hurt me.

But instead I breathed. And breathed. And then I quietly asked him for a hug and some reassurance. I cried a little, yeah, but baby steps!!!

If I’m looking for is the same end goal (to feel safe), I have two options: to get rid of the avalanche, or to ask the avalanche to go easy on me. Thanks to the Boyfriend’s strong boundaries, I know there is no getting rid of it. I can cry and scream all I want but he will remain firm — he knows there are certain things he cannot give up no matter how much it hurts me. In my worst moments, I hate him for it, but in my moments of sanity I know it is the right thing to do. As much as I want to look out for myself, he needs to do that, too. I have no right to ask him to sacrifice what is best for himself in order to do what is best for me, when I am incapable of doing that for him.

And so I take the other route. The one with the calmer seas and clearer skies. And I end up at the same place anyway.

There is strength in being weak. As the Therapist put it the other day, “Little victories are the most important. They’re the ones you store in the back of your head to pull out during the big battles. To remind yourself that if you won that war, maybe, just maybe, you can beat this one, too.”

I’m pretty proud of myself 🙂

Advertisements

“Me” vs “We”

Five months after I made this post, here I am back again to talk about it. Love, to be precise. Yeah, I know, not again, but it’s only fitting that this blog reflects how big of an impact love has in my life.

The truth is, I don’t think I even know what love is. I think all I’ve ever known is obsession — an unquenchable thirst for another person. I do not know what it is like to be genuinely happy for someone else, even if it means superseding my own desires. I do not know what it is like to care about someone, just as they are, without desiring to alter them to suit my own needs.

I had a fight with the Boyfriend the other day. It was a big one, the first big one we’ve had in a long while. I’ve been on Prozac for the past 7-8 weeks and it’s been working wonders on my temper, but after having swallowed back anger and hurt and frustration for months, I guess I was overdue for a rage eruption. He questioned why I insisted on keeping him by my side at every possible moment. Did I even love him as a person? If I did, why did I constantly seek to constrain his individuality?

They were tough questions, to be sure. Questions I’ve wondered to myself over and over throughout the course of our relationship.

The bottom line is, I think, that I don’t understand what it is like to want to be your own person. Personally, I don’t want to be my own person and I have no idea why anyone would want to. I don’t want to be a “me”, I want to be a “we”. I don’t want to have my own friends, or my own life. I don’t have any desires that are not completely entangled with another person. Which makes it indescribably difficult to understand when the Boyfriend expresses he has his own wants and needs outside of this relationship.

I don’t understand. I still don’t. I don’t know if I ever will.

All you want is love and belonging, and your very existence depends on it. But when you get it, you have no existence except that love; there’s still no you. — Kiera Van Gelder, The Buddha and the Borderline

And believe me, I want to understand, more than anything.

I just don’t.

3 years later

Tonight I came across something I’d typed up all the way back in 2013, pre-diagnosis:

Here is my confession: I am an addict. I am seventeen again, lit on fire from the inside. Punch-drunk. Giddy. There is more of you running through my veins than blood. I shatter a little whenever you disappear on me.

This is stupid. I don’t want to be seventeen again. Seventeen is vulnerability, fragility. Seventeen is sinking underwater, lost at sea. This is stupid. But what can I say? I’ve always had foolishness written along my very bones.

I don’t want to be in love with you. I think too much and you think too little, and maybe that’s why I always wind up being the broken one. I feel too much. I take one step into a river and it turns abruptly into an ocean. I don’t so much fall in love as plunge headfirst into it. My thoughts skitter. I want to find the switch that can shut my brain off. There is a little voice in my head saying I told you so, I told you so. I always knew you’d be my undoing. I think too much I feel too much I miss you. Clock ticks, clock breaks. My thoughts are running wild — I can picture them, scattering across a great African plain. I am strung out. I am a knot you unravel carelessly. I am waiting for something that doesn’t come. This is stupid. I was never lonely before I met you. What am I waiting for?

I see the ghost of you everywhere. It was stupid of me to ever consider the possibility of getting away from you, I see that now. You are the kind of boy people write songs about, the kind that comes into your life just to rewrite everything you thought you knew. To draw a simple line separating before and after. Before you. After you. Nothing else really matters. Nobody else really matters. Nobody else will come close.

I am turning into someone I don’t like. I am an empty house. I wouldn’t love me, either; I really don’t know why I would expect anyone else to. Too broken. Too needy, desperate; too goddamn clingy. I have no in between, no neutrality. I feel all or nothing. I feel everything. Neediness — so unattractive. I scowl at myself in the mirror. Stop it. I take refuge behind my armor of sharp, cool words. I play the part of an ice-cold bitch: act like it long enough, and you can become it. I lock my vulnerability up, wish away the key. I do not need you. I do not want you. I set fire to the bridge and watch it burn.

Swallow. I am a house of cards. Smile. I can pretend. How long will it take before you figure out that there is a hole inside of me? I run from good things in my life. I destroy them before they can destroy me. Nothing gold can stay. Nothing good can stay. I am leaving before I can be left. How long will it take before you figure that out? How long will it take before you leave?

It’s strange, checking all the boxes: the all-or-nothing, the clinginess, the sickening feeling of being empty, the self-hatred, the obsession with being left. All signs that had been laid out in front of me right from the very beginning, before I’d managed to see them clearly.

It does feel a little fatalistic, though. That 3 years on, I can picture myself writing the exact same thing. Scratch that, I am still constantly writing similar things. I haven’t changed that much, I guess.

Still, on the bright side — I did get away from him. And I found someone else who, thankfully, doesn’t come close. I suppose that’s a nice reminder that feelings are not always facts.

How My Boyfriend Teaches Me to Be Kind to Myself

The notion of being kind to ourselves is a concept most borderlines find foreign. So many of us have internalized the harsh, critical voices of our parents; the little voice in the back of my mind is often my mother’s, pointing out my mistakes, telling me I am being unreasonable or weak or overemotional.

Part of this, I believe, stems ironically from our fear of abandonment. We figure, if we’re perfect, then the people will love will want us and love us and stay with us forever. Whenever we slip up, that part of ourselves (the ‘manage-atrix’, as Kiera Van Gelder called it in The Buddha and the Borderline) berates us harshly because it is scared, as well. The manage-atrix is convinced that perfection can fend off abandonment. And so whenever we prove to be imperfect, it lashes out.

How do you be kind to yourself when there’s a very large part of you that thinks, first of all, that you don’t deserve to be treated kindly? Logically, I realize that this is a silly opinion to have — everyone deserves to be treated kindly. But emotionally, I find myself obsessing over the times I’ve ever been unkind, and I become convinced that someone so selfish, so self-centred doesn’t deserve kindness.

Second of all, the manage-atrix dislikes self-love. Being kind to yourself, it figures, means being careless. It means forgiving yourself for mistakes, which is unacceptable to the manage-atrix because it thinks that punishment is the best way to prevent slip-ups from being repeated again. The manage-atrix’s line of thought is this: if you’re kind to yourself, you will wind up letting yourself deteriorate, and obviously nobody will want you and you’ll be abandoned.

Last, but perhaps the most important of all… how do you be kind to yourself when you have absolutely no idea how to go about doing that? I’ve lived like this for so long that I have no clue how it works any other way.

This, I guess, is where the Boyfriend comes in.


Some time back the Boyfriend and I had a fight. It was one of those ‘perfect storm’ arguments — an awful combination of things that lit the powder barrel, so to speak.

What happened was that when I was over at his place, I saw him reply one of his friends on his phone. This was a friend that I disliked, mostly because I felt that she behaved a little too indiscriminately, being all touchy-feely with the Boyfriend even in front of me.

I didn’t snap immediately. What I did was pout and ask, in a somewhat whiny tone, why he was talking to her. He, on the other hand, saw through my passive-aggressiveness (ha) and reacted defensively.

“What’s wrong with me doing that?” He asked.

What’s wrong?

Of course, I rationally and logically knew there was nothing wrong with him doing what he did. It was perfectly reasonable for him to talk to his friend (maybe a little insensitive to do it while he was spending time with me, but eh)… and deep down, I knew that.

But if he wasn’t in the wrong, then why was I still upset? If I was upset about him doing something perfectly alright, then wouldn’t that make me the one in the wrong? Predictably, this train of thought pulled into its station with me falling apart and sobbing, desperately asking him if I was crazy for blowing things out of proportion.

And he ended up responding in the kindest way possible.

“You’re not crazy,” he said gently but firmly. “You’re just scared.”

Indeed.

My first instinct was to harshly label and berate myself. The Boyfriend’s, instead, was to perceive my actions in the kindest, gentlest, most loving way.

Once, I asked him what kind of person he thought I was.

This is what he said: “Your actions are just, at its core, a bid for and reassurance for love. You’re most generally easygoing and happy to spend time doing whatever it is someone else chooses to do. Yet this easygoingness extends itself sometimes to a fault where whatever it is I choose or want to do upsets you, but you’re actually upset at the very fact of your contention. In other words, you’re so easygoing that you get displeased when you’re not as easygoing as you’d like to be.”

I was honestly surprised that that was the way he saw me. What he saw as ‘a bid for and reassurance for love’, I saw as ‘clingy’, ‘needy’, ‘demanding’ and ‘annoying’. Instead of focusing on my overreactions, my anger or my demands, he saw through all of it and recognized my core driving forces: fear and desire for love. He even spotted something I hadn’t even noticed — my pained confusion whenever my actual behavior detracted from what I longed to be.

There are always two sides to everything. I always pick the worst one to look at. He, on the other hand, always picks the best.

He doesn’t give in to my (unreasonable) demands, but even as he stands his ground, he still chooses to look at me with love.

I wish I had his eyes. I wish I knew how to refrain from acting on my impulses, yet still be kind towards myself for having those impulses in the first place. For now, I must learn to look through his.

Want or Need?

“Don’t get me wrong. I know that you want me. Or at least, I think I do.” (Because, of course, no borderline conversation comes without a qualification, an escape route, an allowance for departure)

There was a beat of silence, punctuated mostly only by my own short gasps for breath in between sobs.

“I just,” I said, voice hitching. “I don’t think you really need me.”

“And is that really so bad?” He asked. “Isn’t that better? To know that someone has other choices, but they still choose you anyway?”

I thought about it. Turned the question over in my head. “I guess,” I admitted. “I don’t know.”


The answer, I think, comes typically Borderline: I want both, or I want none of it.

A relationship with want but without need keeps my fear of abandonment alarms on a constant standby. I hear it in every trickle of laughter he breaks into when I’m not around, in every text he sends that isn’t directed to me: he doesn’t need you, he doesn’t need you, he can leave you at any moment.

And why is that scary?

Maybe because I don’t believe anyone would want me. Not for long, anyway. Even before the BPD diagnosis I was well aware of the fact that I was clingy and needy and insecure — traits so unattractive that no amount of my looks or wit or sense of humor could ever hope to compensate for. Post-diagnosis, I’ve been made even more well aware that I am disordered and flawed and there are hundreds of articles out there screaming for the Boyfriend to cut and run before I destroy his life.

Even if I don’t do anything quite as dramatic as ruining his entire life, I suppose I crack it in small little ways. He has to participate in innumerable fights and disagreements with me, has to tolerate my rage/sadness/helplessness over the smallest of things, has to constantly clothe himself in patience and kindness and forbearance.

Don’t you think, possibly, that’s why we borderlines idealize our loved ones? Subconsciously we figure, only a perfect person could love us for who we are. Only a saint could willingly spend their lives with us. And if our partner isn’t perfect, isn’t a saint, surely it’s only a matter of time before they realize they can’t stand it anymore and leave.

Because I figure he won’t want me forever, a part of me wants the assurance that he will still need me enough to stick around.

And sure, maybe that’s straightforward enough.

But there is another part of me that resists this. Need, without want, suggests that I am not loved, not desired, not hoped for. That I am a burden — worthless, unlovable, awful. All things that I do not ever want to associate with who I am.

Both, or none of it.

Yet, ironically, it is my own confirmation biases getting in the way of allowing myself to receive anything. I refuse to recognize that I am wanted; I decide the other person must be deluded, or that it will never last. I am scared to acknowledge that I am needed because I am afraid of being nothing but an obligation.

And if I keep this up, I guess I will end up with nothing.

 

Two-Pronged Solution

(I’m going to sound a little over-excited in this post but I’m still reeling from the revelation! I haven’t had the chance to apply this in real life yet, but I really hope it’ll work, and that it helps someone out there as well.)

The mistake pwBPD make is in assuming that things, especially solutions, are “all or nothing”. When we get triggered, it seems as if the only solution at hand is for the person who triggered us to get rid of the trigger. For example, a recurring issue for the Boyfriend and I is that I tend to feel insecure, jealous and scared when he wants to go out with his friends. The ‘solution’ that always jumps to my mind is for him to simply not go. It would be so easy, and I wouldn’t have to be upset, and everything would be alright!

Except that that’s a false statement. Going along with that ‘solution’ often winds up making things worse over the long run because we do eventually end up feeling guilty and horrible about it. This is when the self-hatred kicks in and we start ruminating about all the ways we’re disgusting and selfish and the people we love should just leave us to die.

In session today the Therapist wanted me to imagine how I would react in a healthy manner. I said that I would ask for some space to calm down, practice my breathing exercises, and then ultimately go back and tell the Boyfriend that, okay, he was well within his right to go out and have fun with his friends.

“Does that sit right with you?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “On the one hand, I’d probably feel better about myself knowing that I was doing the right thing, that I was being mature about all of it…”

“On the other hand?”

“But I would still feel sad. And scared. And upset.”

It was at this point that I realized that I tended to deal with things in either extremes. Either I flipped out and wanted the Boyfriend to override his own feelings to manage mine, or I became meek and passive and kicked out my own feelings (and wound up feeling resentful and even more hurt).

But it didn’t have to be that way.

“I guess I could find a way to deal with those insecurities… I could fact-check and ask for reassurance.”

“That’s good. What do you think about it?”

“So, there isn’t always only one catch-all solution? Wow. I don’t think I ever saw it that way.”

The Therapist pointed out that situations like that called for a two-pronged approach instead.

First was the solution for the more ‘superficial’ issue at hand. I needed to deal with that appropriately — do my breathing exercises, calm down, use my ‘wise mind’ to determine if there were any logical reasons for my emotions (i.e. if the Boyfriend had genuinely done something objectively wrong) or if I was acting out because of BPD triggers.

Next, I couldn’t forget that there were still root issues to tackle. At the heart of it, the reasons for my emotional outbursts were usually due to fear — of abandonment, of being forgotten, of not mattering. Again, I needed to alleviate these fears appropriately, or I would continue feeling upset and dysregulated. I could assuage my fears by asking the Boyfriend for reassurance instead of accusing or lashing out at him. For example, I could ask, “You’ll still love me even if you go out with your friends, right?” Or “Will you forget me if you’re out with someone else?” Or “But you still have the most fun with me, right?” While the Boyfriend would get defensive if I got angry with him and accused him of not caring about me, fact-checking and asking for reassurance would most likely elicit a positive response instead.

Wow. I don’t know. I honestly never saw things that way before. In the heat of a breakdown, I guess I always search for a simple, straightforward way out of the chaos. But oftentimes the simple, straightforward way either neglects the Boyfriend’s needs or my own. Which is why there’s a need for an additional route, thus ensuring both our needs get met.

It’s not a perfect solution, by all means, but it works. And sometimes I think we get so caught up in looking for a perfect solution that we don’t realize that maybe a perfect solution doesn’t exist.

Love/Hate

One of the major issues surrounding pwBPD and the way we love is how quickly it can shift in an instant. Everything is judged as it is in that very moment; a loved one, in that sense, cannot hope to ‘collect’ good moments for a rainy day. A storm is a storm. No amount of sunny days can change that.


Love, like so many things, is taught. What my mother taught me was that love needed, in some sense, to be earned. And even then, it could be lost in a heartbeat.

I don’t think my mother suffers from BPD (or any other mental illness, for that matter). She doesn’t seem to suffer from narcissism or fear of abandonment issues. However, she does show a great deal of emotional lability—displayed most often in rage episodes.

Growing up, I never knew what to expect from my mother. How she treated my sister and I was incredibly dependent on her mood of the day. If she’d had a bad day at work, she would come home and take her anger out on us. Nothing we did would be seen as ‘right’ in her eyes, and we often got thrown out of the house for misbehaving. (She has mellowed out with age, although her weapon of choice these days is to engage in a cold war and refuse to speak to me until I apologize.)

My mother told me that no love was unconditional, even hers.

I don’t think I will ever forget that.


The other day, I was standing in line with the Boyfriend. He had his hands full, and he wanted me to help him secure the clasp on his bag. I fumbled at it, and he let out a tsk of annoyance. In response, I literally flinched and took a step back. I thought, “He hates me! I’m such a failure that I can’t even do one thing right, and now he hates me!”

What nons like to do is turn the question back on us. They ask, “Why would you think that? Would you hate me if I did the same thing to you?” They figure that the way we view someone else’s reactions speaks volumes about the way we would react ourselves.

It’s a chicken or egg question. I learned that how my mother treated me on a daily basis was dependent on her moods, and that I had no control over it (expect try my best to keep out of her way). When you factor in BPD hypersensitivity into the equation, I’m guessing that my younger self, did, in fact, view her as ‘hating’ me whenever she yelled at or punished me. I don’t think she did actually hate me (she is my mother, after all) — but it’s how I saw it. And it’s something I’ve internalized, and so it’s shaped the way I view the world.


Do I hate the Boyfriend whenever he does something I don’t like? Do I stop loving him?

It’s a question I’ve given a lot of careful thought to, but I think I would say: No.

I would think it’s logically impossible to be able to turn your feelings for someone on and off so rapidly. I don’t think we immediately throw away all the love we have for you at the drop of a hat, and pick it up equally easily.

Ultimately, it isn’t so much that any feelings or love for him evaporate into thin air. It’s more of the fact that when I’m triggered, my emotions are so loud and intense and distracting that they sweep over everything else. You know when it’s raining so hard you can barely see what’s in front of you? Or when it’s a snowstorm so strong that you can’t even see the ground? That’s what it feels like. The ground still exists; it’s just that I temporarily can’t see it. The love is still there. It’s simply that my feelings are so overpowering in that moment that I can’t get a hold on it just yet.

I don’t know how it feels like to be the other end. But all I can say is that we still love you, somewhere in the back of our minds. The agony is just so acute that we have no emotional space for that love to stand its ground, and so it gets shoved in a dusty corner out of sight.

All storms end eventually. You just need to decide if the rainbow is worth the wait.

 

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.

 

 

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.