Checking in

I’ve stayed away from the BPD community for a while, for reasons I can’t really seem to put properly into words. r/BPD and r/BPDlovedones used to be the first subs I checked on reddit, but as I progress forward into recovery, opening those subs and seeing the wave of pain and frustration and anger in the post titles just makes me feel so incredibly exhausted.

The Boyfriend and therapist have also been wary of me frequenting the subs, particularly because I tend to view everything posted there as The Absolute Truth and start having crises about myself.

Still, the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis blinked past in August, so I thought it might be a good idea to check in.

On medication

Medication is a controversial subject. Some people swear by it, others completely swear off it, and I don’t think I can speak for everyone. But I genuinely feel that getting on antidepressants was a major, major turning point for me and my BPD.

Since getting on medication, I’ve found myself more stable as a whole. I get triggered less, and am just generally more… peaceful and amenable? Even when I do get triggered I’m a lot calmer and I also return back to baseline quicker. I’ve also been owning up to my mistakes and apologizing a lot… although half of that is genuine remorse and the other half is probably a manifestation of my fear of abandonment pressuring me to “be nice and obedient” so I won’t get chucked away.

Side effects: Prozac gave me really weird and vivid dreams that felt way too real. Most of the dreams involved getting abandoned/cheated on by the Boyfriend, so that sucked. After I discussed this with my psychiatrist I’ve made a switch to Zoloft — which still gives me some occasional strange dreams, but they don’t feel as realistic so I guess there’s that. Another drawback is that I always wake up feeling like I’ve been clobbered over the head. Oh, and I get insomnia if I drink caffeinated tea at night. That’s all, though, so in my opinion it’s still totally worth it.

Note: I don’t know how much of it is a placebo effect, though. I get anxious, paranoid and restless if I realise I’ve missed a day — there’s a part of me that thinks skipping a dose will, at the snap of a finger, make me revert back to being temperamental and snappy.

General relationship issues?

The Boyfriend has gotten a lot busier this half a year, taking on extra classes and responsibilities, and I’m happy to say I’ve largely been dealing okay with that. Not super pleased, and I do occasionally feel bouts of unhappiness when I think about the fact that at least half of the time I spend with him is just co-existing in a room together, with me on my laptop while he does his work. And how we haven’t had a proper date (apart from random dinner and move trips).

More importantly, the Boyfriend is going for a semester abroad next year. Argh. I cried when he told me of his decision, but *ding ding ding* I didn’t ask him not to go or beg him to stay or make any threats whatsoever!!! I can’t explain it, but I just kind of radically accepted that he’d made his choice and there was nothing I could do about that. Okay, maybe not exactly radical acceptance — just this deep sense of resignation that made me go, “Okay, so this is happening, now it’s time to figure out how to deal with the aftermath.”

Will probably line up a lot more activities for myself next year, and 1-2 trips over to visit him. Still, even with the trips, it’s at least 3-4 months apart.

Depending on the day, I sometimes feel like I’m going to be fine. Other times I feel like this separation will be the death of me.

I suppose only time will tell.

Sense of self

I’ve gotten more integrated into the local poetry scene (yay!) which means some sense of artistic… centering. I’ve also been looking at graduate schools for Creative Writing, which is doing good in making me look forward to the blurry future ahead of me.

Overall, I am honestly happy to see the improvements I’ve made. It really, really does get better, guys!

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 🙂


Wow, I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t had a proper therapy session in 3 months, which has honestly been affecting me a lot more than I expected. Fingers crossed that things will get better once I settle down with the new therapist and her schedule evens out and I get to see her more often.

Quite honestly, I still feel like I’m going nowhere. Like this is all one huge maze and every time I turn a corner it’s a dead end and I wind up going back to where I started, all over again. It sucks, to be sure, but I think the Boyfriend has been having an awful time walking through the maze with me as well.

I’ve been unstable ever since he told me he was going to India with his friends for ten days (although after more careful counting I’ve noticed it’s actually twelve). Twelve days is a long time. I’m more terrified than I’ve let on — and I’ve let on a lot, actually.

I even researched inpatient prices just in case I wanted to get myself checked in. But thank God I worked things out and managed to book tickets to Melbourne to visit a friend, which is where I’ll be when the Boyfriend’s away. Hopefully getting myself out of the country and finding new distractions will help.

The Boyfriend said kicking up a huge fuss about it and threatening to get myself checked in was manipulative and an attempt to guilt-trip him. Was it? I don’t know. It’s not like it was a threat — he’d already gotten his tickets all booked and ready. It’s not like threatening to check myself in was going to derail his plans.

First of all, I guess I honestly felt like I needed to look after myself in some way, and I wasn’t capable of doing that myself. Which is why, you know, hospital!

Second of all, I think one of my major problems with BPD has been not knowing how to adequately express how hurt I feel. When my inner landscape is collapsing and on fire, I don’t know how to communicate that to someone else. “Sad”, “scared” or “upset” is an extreme understatement to describe how I feel. And so I resort to acting out in an effort to say, “See, see, this is how AWFUL I feel, PLEASE HELP ME.”

The Boyfriend conceded that he didn’t think I was being manipulative on purpose, but still, that it achieved the same effect.

I guess he’s right. But acknowledging that he’s right makes me feel like an awful person who deserves to be punished. I know I have to find the middle line; I have to learn to acknowledge that “yes, I did something that was not very appropriate, but that does not mean I am a Bad Person.” But I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I don’t really know what this update is about. I guess I’m just trying to say I’m still really, really lost. But I suppose we all are, in some way.

“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.

My First Tattoo


So this happened yesterday.

I’ve been considering getting one for close to a year now, and I guess recent events coupled with BPD impulsivity made me think, what the hell, I’m going to do it. I’ve been so desperate for change these days, and most of all, for control.

I know most of my problems arise from my simple desire for permanence in an impermanent world. I want to know that the Boyfriend will love me forever and never leave me, that his feelings for me will be as constant as the daily rising of the sun. This lack of certainty leaves me terrified every day… and I don’t want to be terrified. I never asked for this. I never asked for my brain to be this way.

Part of committing to recovery in BPD is giving up the idea of trying to control the people I love. To give them the space to live their own life, be their own person, instead of attempting to clip their wings so I know they will never fly away from me. I never wanted to be a control freak, but every time I force myself to let things go, it feels like my world is stuck in a never-ending spiral. I can’t control people, I can’t control my brain or my thoughts… what, then, can I do to make things better?

I guess this was an attempt at making myself feel marginally more in control. A fuck you to the universe, of sorts.

I wanted an incorporation of a wave and a semicolon, two things undeniably meaningful to me.

wave is one of the most common metaphors that pop up in dealing with BPD. The analogy goes: emotions are like waves — they come and go, ebb and flow. Sometimes the tides are high; sometimes they’re low. They’re out of my control, yes, but that’s the way they should be. And they change, all the time. Just because I am drowning now doesn’t mean I will drown forever. The tides will recede. I will breathe again.

A semicolon because of what The Semicolon Project means (here is a great post written on it): “A semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going. I got this tattoo as a promise to myself that I would never willingly end my sentence. I got it as a reminder to take this summer as a pause, and then to keep going strong next year.”

A sentence — I thought of the double meaning behind that. BPD is a life sentence, of sorts. There are so, so many days that exhaust me more than I know how to put into words. But there are also days I am okay with accepting that. I wanted the semicolon as a reminder to myself, when times get tough, that those days exist.

And most importantly, the pause. I wanted to remind myself that when I am exhausted, it is sometimes okay to pause, and that taking the time to pause doesn’t mean I am a failure, or that I am not trying hard enough. That it is okay to rest. That I deserve to rest, when I need it.

I chose to incorporate both of them together because it felt more personalized (I haven’t come across anyone with this design), and also because it felt fitting that the semicolon ‘broke’ the wave, of sorts. “In fluid dynamics, a breaking wave is a wave whose amplitude reaches a critical level at which some process can suddenly start to occur that causes large amounts of wave energy to be transformed into turbulent kinetic energy.”

I break, all the time — I spill, and plunge, and collapse, and surge. But I am doing something. I am moving forward, I am transforming, and most importantly? I’m alive.

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.”


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.


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.