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.”
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.
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.