The Long Slow Road to Recovery

August 5, 2010

We live in a breakthrough era as far as being able to cure Borderline Personality Disorder is concerned. But even in this climate of hope, some Borderlines still find it hard to change. Here’s why:

Ignorance is Bliss While loved ones of the BP may spend countless hours on the internet seeking out answers. Some BPs seem oddly content to live in complete darkness. A BP’s life could be filled with endless drama, but they have somehow failed to see that there is a reason for it. But don’t you dare suggest it’s them. BPs tend to be intelligent and well-educated, but personal knowledge is something they avoid.

Trust and Control These are big issues for someone who often feels out of control and has a history of abuse, which is often the case for a BP. A partner who criticizes the BP’s bad behavior or tries to help is seen by the BP as being controlling and manipulative. This lack of trust makes it hard to even trust a therapist, and that makes it hard to stick with any treatment.

Victim Complex Look into the BP’s past and invariably you will find a history of tragedy and trauma. This wires them to play the part of the perpetual victim. Their suffering is their go-to excuse for when they act out or shut someone out. Many BPs have a history of “cutting”, an external way for them to cope with internal pain but also a way to cry for help. Though they often resent the help, they secretly seek it out. This is why they often find themselves in codependent relationships. They have learned that not being well brings them love and attention. Fear of not being cared for extends the life of the disorder.

Living in the Matrix In the movie, the Matrix, a fantasy world, where all is well, masks the reality of a decaying world. This is the world BPs have created for themselves. Here the truth can be bended and left out. They are not only good at fooling others, they are also good at fooling themselves. Very few people get to see the real BP. Or if they witness an episode, they just figure the BP is having a bad day.

Emperor’s New Clothes BPs like to surround themselves with Yes Men and Yes Women, preferably people with troubled pasts and relationships. They intentionally look for people who will play along with the “I’m OK, you’re OK” charade.  The BP often confuses collective denial with emotional support. Friends who don’t play along, don’t stay friends very long.

Blame Game This is a game that BPs excel at. If something goes wrong, someone else or something else is to blame. A BP has never developed a sense of personal responsibility. Their knee-jerk reaction is to shift blame and project undesirable behaviors onto others. A BP who cheats has the audacity to accuse their lover of not respecting boundaries and not being trustworthy. Never having to own their behavior, helps the BP avoid guilt and shame.

They Can’t Handle the Truth To admit they have a problem, a BP would have to admit to all the horrible things they’ve done and all the people they’ve hurt. And for the fragile BP, that is too much responsibility to bear. But unattended issues have a way of growing exponentially and, eventually, the truth catches up to the BP.

Conditioned for Pain A BP has lived with this disorder for so long, they probably have no idea how good life can be without it. Like a person who has spent most their life in jail, they fear what life might be like on the outside. In a way, the pain is an old friend. BPs have a high tolerance for their own bullshit and drama. To them, that is normal.

Too Sensitive for Anybody’s Good The best description of BPD, is a person who is born without emotional skin. It then becomes their life mission to avoid pain. To BPs, constructive criticism feels like an attack. Any attempt to help is seen as an offense. Bad memories are repressed, so that BPs can function on a daily basis. Self-awareness is difficult, when the mere mention of the past causes unimaginable pain. That is not to say BPs don’t have moments of clarity. But they are fleeting at best.

Half-Hearted Attempts Once a lover has had enough of the BP’s nonsense, the tearful BP will often promise to change. But inevitably, a feeling of inequality emerges and all those feelings of inadequacy come back. The BP will eventually resent having to change for their partner and will feel even more damaged than before. Feelings of gratefulness will be replaced with hostility. In the end, a loved one’s effort to help will be seen as demeaning and disrespectful. At this point, the loved one has become a trigger for pain and will be pushed away accordingly. Change means admitting to shortcomings and some BPs are not ready for that level of honesty. But despite evidence of avoidance and self-sabotage, BPs will still insist that they tried.

An Ounce of Prevention BPs are not known for their sense of caution. Their self-destructive nature has them constantly putting out fires that they started. They may be the most responsible person in their professional lives. But when it comes to their personal life, it’s one big circus act. God forbid they ever do something that makes their life easier. Sadly, most BPs wait until a major meltdown occurs, before they wake up.

Busy Busy A BP’s schedule is always filled to the brim. They don’t have time for self-reflection or a commitment to change. BPs are too busy to deal with serious issues concerning their mental well-being. They have fooled themselves into believing they are working on it in “their own way”. But what they are doing is distracting themselves from dealing with troubling issues.

Starting Fresh Whenever BPs find themselves in an unhappy situation, they just pick up and leave (literally). If a relationship fails, no problem, another one is waiting for them. BPs never stop to figure out how their behavior is contributing to all these undesirable outcomes. It’s much easier to run away from their problems then have to actually deal with them. What they fail to realize is that, no matter where they run to, they always bring their baggage with them. Until they change for good, they will continue repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Victims of their Own Success To their credit, despite all their setbacks, BPs are some of the most accomplished people you’ll ever meet.  They excel at school, at work, even hobbies. But relationships, well, that’s another story. Though their charm may earn them the adoration of many, things get messy when a person gets too close. Their over-achiever status gives them a pass on dealing with personal issues and adds to the illusion that everything is fine. Despite all the bad things that happen in a BP’s life, they have managed to do very well for a person who is not well.

Change is within a Borderline’s grasp. But first they must acknowledge they have a problem. They must choose to take personal responsibility for their behavior and well-being, instead of blaming others. They must be willing to take an honest look at themselves and then commit to change. These may be scary thoughts for those who suffer from BPD. The question is will they wait until it’s too late or will they decide enough is enough.

CNN on BPD

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