Love and Other Drugs

November 30, 2010

If you want to know what it’s like to fall in love with an emotionally damaged borderline personality, see Love and Other Drugs. It’s about a man who falls in love with a woman who is battling Parkinson’s. But if you’re in a relationship with a borderline, you will see an uncanny resemblance. Essentially, you have two people who are afraid of getting close to someone. Both avoiding intimacy by pursuing shallow relationships. Both using people for sex and other superficial needs. But what happens when these two people accidentally fall in love?

This movie illustrates the push and pull that can happen in this type of dysfunctional relationship. In the movie, the fear of abandonment is a side effect of Parkinson’s. But what if the fear of abandonment is the disease itself (such as the case with BPD)? Then you have someone who is constantly on guard like the woman in this film. Some might say she’s kind of bitchy. But that is her defense-mechanism. She expects men to reject her and her disease, so she scares them off.

The female character hates men, because she habitually dates assholes. Men who fulfill her negative expectations. She dates assholes to avoid attachment. But when one of those assholes turns out to be a good guy (a guy who is in it for the long haul) she freaks out. She pokes and prods him. She tests his limits. She questions his every intention until he doubts his own feelings. She treats him like shit until he has no choice but to leave. She can’t help but sabotage her relationships. Especially, when actual love enters the equation. This is what it’s like to love a person with BPD. For a BP, it is a constant battle between the fear of being alone and the fear of abandonment/rejection. In the end, the relationship meltdown is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They don’t mean to hurt the ones they love. But they do it anyways.

Could the character in this film also have had BPD? Possibly. It is not uncommon for BPs to develop other severe illnesses. When life is this stressful, it is bound to wreak havoc on your body and mind. Not to mention the damage it can do to your relationships. This movie has a happy ending. But that’s Hollywood, not real life.

Unhappy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, which often means families are reunited. This is suppose to be a happy occasion. But for those with borderline personality disorder, it can bring back mixed emotions and repressed memories. I re-posted the article below as a reminder of what it’s like to grow up in a borderline family. It’s like something out of a bad soap opera. Some, like Skye, have chosen to acknowledge their past in order to make sense of their disorder. Others, like Andrea, live in denial. Despite the abuse, infidelity, the violation of boundaries and hints of alcoholism, BPs like Andrea, remember their family life with fondness. They use terms of endearment when they speak about family members. But somewhere in the back of their mind are disturbing memories. If nothing else, this stark contrast reminds us how two people, with relatively similar backgrounds, can deal with their pasts in entirely different ways.

Bear in mind, Andrea was a product of sexual abuse. Skye was not. While both of them share the BPD thread, the trauma that ignited their condition are two different beasts. Both of them came from chaotic families where the parents frequently fought in front of the kids. But Skye’s BPD was shaped mostly by emotional abuse and emotional neglect. Could it be that Andrea’s trauma was worse and therefore more difficult to accept? More difficult to treat? It reminds us that not all BPs are created equal. BPD is a disease that is shaped by the trauma that created it.

While Skye was not shy about confronting her mother about her abuse. Andrea found it difficult, because she feared it would unravel her family. She feared her family would abandon her. The one time she confronted her mother, it ended with her mother getting upset and accusing everyone of ganging up on her. When BPs confront their abuser, it rarely ends well. It usually ends with denial or the abuser accuses the abused of being crazy. Which is why most BPs give up this endeavor. And so many BPs are left with unresolved feelings of anger and sadness. Instead they bring these troubled emotions into their relationships.

Loved ones then become emotional punching bags for the BP to work out their past hostility. Small infractions are punished with wildly vindictive acts and a disproportionate amount of rage. Gross accusations and vicious insults are hurled at loved ones for minor slip-ups. A tiny argument can easily escalate into an ugly war. Leaving the partner of the BP to wonder what they did to deserve such animosity. They did nothing, other than choosing to love someone who is emotionally damaged. In time, this abuse will affect the partner’s emotional well-being, leaving him/her scarred for life.

It should be noted that BPs are selective abusers. They only abuse those closest to them. To strangers and acquaintances, they may seem like the most charming and sweetest person they’ve ever met. And they might very well be. BPs are complicated people. They are both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At times, it is hard to tell who is the real borderline. The fact may be that a borderline is a little bit of both. Being abused by a borderline is a lonely experience, because no one else may know the suffering you have gone through. The emotional push and pull and the never ending mind games are abuses that are exclusive to those who are unfortunate enough to love an untreated BP.

Not even their own family, may be aware of the abuse doled out by a BP. And if they do, they may be in denial or just choose to look the other way. Other people’s emotional trauma (caused by their loved one) is not a concern for most BP families. They have enough problems of their own. Compassion is not a key trait amongst these families. A BP in denial comes from a family in denial. Families of BPs often try to silence their critics. They demonize and belittle those who would point out the error of their ways. But instead of discrediting their detractors, they only highlight the level of denial that keeps dysfunctional people dysfunctional. Instead of healing the family from within, they choose to attack outsiders who know too much.

But there is a bit of irony here. A BP leaves the family to escape the horrors of his/her past. They look for intimate relationships to start fresh and to create a new family. But they only end up repeating dysfunctional and abusive patterns they have learned from their family.

Instead of punishing the family that abused them, BPs end up punishing an unwitting passerby. Someone who didn’t realize what he/she was getting into. This person will become just another casualty of war. A BP like Andrea, will refuse to accept responsibility for her disorder and the harm she has caused others. She will just simply move onto the next victim. In her mind, she is always the victim but never the abuser. She couldn’t be more wrong. All abusers were once victims. In real life, there are no bad guys or good guys. There are only tragedies that lead to more tragedies. Until we all acknowledge this, the cycle of abuse will go on.

A Family Behaving Badly

November 23, 2010

Borderline Personalities don’t just pop up out of thin air, they come from chaotic backgrounds and dark pasts. They come from dysfunctional families where love and hate is separated by a very thin line. Andrea came from just such a family. From the outside, they seemed like a picture-perfect family. Borderline families are very good at putting up appearances. Though Andrea’s father doted on the two children, he was often emotionally abusive towards the mother. When he wasn’t belittling her, he would ignore her.

Andrea’s mother retaliated by having male “friends” on the side. Humiliation and passive-aggressive behavior is how they punished each other. These are patterns Andrea would repeat in her own relationships or the type of behavior she would look for in partners. Andrea had a taste for emotionally unavailable/abusive lovers, and would run away from ones who were too attentive. It is common for borderlines to replay the drama of their childhood. This is why their lives are filled with unending tragedy.

Her troubles with relationships were exacerbated by Andrea’s experiences with sexual assault. Andrea dated both men and women, but neither of them were able to satisfy her impossible emotional needs. Her relationships usually never lasted for more than a year. In her longest relationship, she was engaged to be married to another young woman after only months of dating. But this ended in the same turbulent way that all her relationships end. Borderlines repeat destructive patterns over and over again. Self-awareness is difficult, when you jump from one relationship to another.

One time, her mother caught Andrea’s father making out with Andrea’s fiancee at a family party. They were both drunk and neither of them remembered the act of indiscretion. Andrea would not find out about this until a year later. She and her mother were mortified, but neither of them brought it up for fear of unraveling the family. Weak boundaries are typical of borderline families. A month later, Andrea would commit a similar act, publicly embarrassing herself and her then boyfriend. Borderlines always have an excuse for their bad behavior. “I was drunk”, “I’m messed up”, “You made me do it”. This can be frustrating for a partner who is essentially denied the right to be mad at them.

At the time, Andrea cried and begged for forgiveness. She even promised her boyfriend that she would give up alcohol, commit herself to therapy, and would never do something to hurt him again. Months later she would quit therapy, went back to drinking, and found a way to hurt him even more (this time she was sober).  And even then, she blamed the failure of the relationship on the partner who was foolish enough to take her back. Andrea had short-term memory when it came to her misdeeds. In the end, it was always someone else’s fault. Andrea only showed remorse, when she thought it would get her off the hook or buy her sometime until she could find a replacement. It was always about what she wanted.

Andrea had a habit of being hot and heavy in love one moment and ice cold the next. Andrea was a pro when it came to sabotaging relationships. She turned her feelings off when she knew a relationship was on the rocks. She became abusive and hot-tempered when she wanted to sever ties. This is how she avoided pain but ultimately it is why all her partners kept their emotional distance.

This gave her the unique ability to walk away from a serious relationship with no emotional strings attached. Towards the end of all her relationships, she would badmouth her partners and devalue the relationship to make it easier. Often she would play the field even before her current relationship was over. Betrayal was how she killed feelings of attachment. Instead of making amends and fixing what she had broken, she would just get frustrated and “start fresh”. This is how she avoided feelings of abandonment. She justified her lack of compassion by saying she was “moving on”. But in fact, she was running from her fears. Fears that developed from watching her parents fight constantly.

With Andrea, intimacy was a cog that could be replaced by anyone. There were no feelings of loyalty or remorse with her. This is also what she had learned from both her mother and father. She was just going through the motions and jumped ship if intimacy became too much to handle. It didn’t matter who she hurt, as long as she wasn’t the one who got hurt. She pretended she didn’t care that she had a reputation of being a “cold-hearted bitch”, but deep down it added to her scars and low self-esteem.

Of course, her family never said anything. Even though they would watch her torment one person after another. If Andrea could care less, her family cared even less. Personal responsibility is not a lesson taught in borderline families. Intimacy is a cutthroat business- you hurt me, I hurt you. There is no sense of right or wrong, just “you vs me”. They never encouraged her to seek therapy because they were in denial about how messed up she was. They didn’t want to feel like they had failed.

And besides, they didn’t want to tarnish the family image. It was more important for them to cover up her tracks, then it was to fix the problem. But the truth is they had already tarnished their reputation. When families behave badly, people talk about them behind closed doors. This isolated the family, making them more paranoid, and more hostile to the outside world. In other words, a borderline family goes on behaving badly. And Andrea would just move to another city to “start fresh”.

To be fair, we all have a little borderline in us. This is the dark side of human nature. But add to that- sexual and emotional abuse, alcoholism, and a chaotic family life- and you have a recipe for disaster. This not only adversely affects the family but those who come in contact with them. Until a borderline commits to long-term help from a BPD specialist, the disease gets passed on from one generation to the next.

I Too Am a Survivor

November 18, 2010

This video infuriated me. It made me sick to my stomach because my abuser was a survivor as well. She was also a Borderline Personality. She was pretty and sweet in public. But on any given day, she could be the meanest person you’ve ever met. Behind closed doors she subjected me to temper tantrums, nasty insults and infidelity. She was brutal. She was abusive. Yes, those who have been abused can be very abusive. Those who have been victimized often victimize others in return. But instead of punishing the person who assaulted them, they punish those who love them and care for them.

And if you doubt that this qualifies as abuse read about Skye and her borderline mother. See how it has reduced her self-esteem to nothing. See how it has driven her to thoughts of suicide. See how it has affected her and then tell me this is not abuse. Sexual assault is a crime, but being emotionally scarred by a borderline hardly lifts an eyebrow. Emotional abuse doesn’t leave obvious wounds. And that is why borderlines get away with their abuse. They, themselves, may not even acknowledge the abuse. Denial gives them that luxury.

The young woman who abused and betrayed me was also a feminist, and an advocate for survivor’s rights. She was molested and raped. But she never reported the crimes (or alleged crimes). Perhaps, because the circumstances behind the crimes were sketchy at best. With borderlines, you never know if the stories are real or imagined. When a borderline has a history of blacking out after a night of drinking, details don’t come easy.

But let’s say her allegations were true. And she was raped and molested. Was allowing the perpetrators to roam free, her way of making sure that other women don’t ever have to say “they survived”? Despite, these horrific circumstances, her parents never encouraged her to get therapy. It wasn’t until I threatened to walk out that she agreed to a few therapy sessions. But after 3 sessions, she and her feminist therapist decided she had all the skills necessary to deal with her trauma. Three session to cure the trauma of rape and molestation. That must have been a miraculous three sessions. Of course, she continued her abusive behavior. She continued her heavy drinking. And after she split me black, she became even more abusive than I could ever imagine. This is when the smear campaign and the false accusations began. Was this the woman I fell in love with? Was this the woman who spoke out against victimization?

Of course, feminist organizations like Ms Magazine will never talk about the abuse committed by rape survivors or abuse committed by women. I’m sure you can guess why. That would take away from the message of empowering women. But the fact is women can be abusive. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Precious, you’ve seen what this abuse looks like. It is no less traumatic than the abuse committed by a man. If you were to interview men in prison, I’m sure many could tell stories of borderline mothers. My abuse wasn’t quite that bad, but it was abuse nevertheless. The cycle of abuse needs to stop somewhere. No amount of abuse should be tolerated, from either sex. And those who would commit abuse need to be held accountable. Yes, even survivors.

Payback is a Bitch

November 17, 2010

For those with borderline personality disorder, hostility is a natural response to real or perceived threats. It doesn’t take much to offend or scare a borderline. This type of reaction is a result of arrested development, abuse trauma and a life of unending misery. Whatever the reason, it only means more misery for the unwitting borderline. On a primitive level, they believe they can get what they want through hostility. But in reality, hostility begets more hostility. Their behavior only proves to be counter-productive.  If a loved one triggers the bp’s fear of abandonment/rejection, they use hostility to scare the loved one away (thus avoiding rejection). But this almost never works. The problem is they have ignored the fact that they have just spent the entire relationship creating an unbreakable addiction. BPs are masters at eliciting a codependent relationship. They tell sob stories of abuse (and imagined abuse) to draw their unsuspecting lovers in. They use sympathy and guilt to make sure their partners DON’T leave them.  They use tears to stop a lover from walking out the door. A codependent bond is powerful as it is dysfunctional. But a BP ignores/overlooks this (or conveniently forgets this) when they are in flight mode. The fear of rejection prevents them from thinking straight. They are lashing out with blind rage.

But to a codependent partner, this hostility translates to “please, fix the problem”. The bond that has kept the codependent in the relationship is the bond between caregiver and the injured. Through the course of the relationship, the partner of a BP has been conditioned to figure out what needs fixing when things go badly. In other words, the BP’s hostility draws the codependent in closer at a time when a BP is desperately trying to make a getaway. What we have here is a failure to communicate. A failure to understand the situation at hand. In short, a disaster in the making.

In the best case scenario, a BP will lash out and the caregiver will respond with more kindness. Like a parent soothing a crying baby, the caregiver is trying to soothe the savage BP with love. But this only triggers more fears of intimacy. The tragic irony is that a BP is addicted to love but fears the dependency. They run away from kindness because they fear losing it. A BP relationship never ends well, because a BP on the run won’t allow it. Hostility is the only way they can ensure emotional detachment. The BP’s self-destructive nature, includes the destruction of any possibility of true love. The partner ends up confused, not understanding why the BP reacts with hostility when they respond with tenderness.

In the worst case scenario, a BP will lash out and the caregiver will respond with more hostility. Each side hurting the other in retaliation for the pain the other has caused them. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle.  In this scenario, not only has the BP unsuccessfully scared off the lover, he/she has escalated tensions. It’s not enough for BPs to cut someone out of their life. They have to be ruthless about it. They have to tarnish loving memories (causing the ex-partner pain), because loving memories cause the BP pain. Demonizing their ex, devaluing a relationship and re-writing history is their way of emotionally detaching themselves. At one time, a BP might have sung a lover’s praises. By the end, they are spitting on their graves.

The partner of an ex will inevitably try to save the relationship, believing love will conquer all. They will try to remind the BP of better days, not realizing the BP has intentionally blocked such memories out of their mind. Acts of love and kindness become a nuisance, because they supply the BP with guilt and shame.

An ex will try to reason with the BP. But a BP on the run will not listen to reason. If once they acknowledged his/her illness, a BP on the run will now deny it. They will deny it because now their illness has become a liability, whereas before it was what kept the caregiver by his/her side. They will become defensive and say things like “shut up”, “you don’t know me”, and “you’re the one who’s crazy”. Denial gives the BP an illusion of a clear conscience, but they are only only repressing guilt. Guilt that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

On the other side, the partner of a BP is experiencing the pain of having cared for a wounded person only to have that person lash out at them in cruel ways. Previous to the split, the caregiver endured humiliation, abuse, and disrespect to love a borderline. Despite all the reasons BPs give to abandon them, the caregivers stand by their BPs. They stand by BPs despite knowing they are emotional damaged and may someday turn their anger on them. They wouldn’t abandon a BP, just like they wouldn’t abandon a wounded bird. They didn’t ask for this burden, but they made the best of it. Not only does a caregiver not receive gratitude, they receive insult on top of injury. They receive attacks on their character, false accusations and paranoid suspicions where once there was love and affection. For their generous heart and forgiving nature they are rewarded with the deep pain of being stabbed in the back by someone they once loved.

Repressed Anger and Your Skin

November 16, 2010

Your skin is dry and cracking. You itch incessantly. If you are a borderline personality in denial, you will blame the weather or bad genes. But more likely you are experiencing the effects of repressed anger. This is especially true for an untreated BP who wears a smile on the outside, but is hurting on the inside.

You might think this is new age nonsense, but consider the fact that your skin responds to all types of emotions. When you are embarrassed, you blush. When you’re nervous, your palms get sweaty. Look into your past. Are there memories that make you angry? Maybe someone abused your trust and you weren’t able to confront them about it. Maybe somebody harmed you but you blocked it out. These are the type of traumatic experiences that can lead to chronic skin disorders. Most likely you are also experiencing digestive problems, migraines, as well as sleep disorders. Stress can further aggravate these symptoms.

The above symptoms apply to other repressed emotions as well. Guilt (aka self-hatred), sadness, fear, etc. A trauma survivor can experience all of these emotions to a degree most of us can only imagine. When these emotions are repressed it can wreak havoc on a survivor’s body. Under these circumstances, a body of a 20 yr old can experience problems usually found in a body of a much older person.

Some people will suggest you direct your energy into creative pursuits, take a yoga class, or meditate. But chances are you already engage in such activities. They might take some of the edge off, but such activities won’t even begin to address PTSD symptoms. Your wounds are deep. Cancel the appointment with the dermatologist and make an appointment with a shrink.

Mommy Dearest

November 14, 2010

The relationship between borderlines and their parents is usually a troubled one. Trust is an issue. Feelings of rejection are ever present. And abuse is almost always part of the equation. When we think of abuse, most of us think of sexual abuse or physical abuse. And while those are certainly a possibility with BPs, most of the time the abuse is much more insidious. A battered child is left with visible bruises. But a child that is emotionally tormented is left with scars that are harder to see. One borderline survivor, Skye, tells her therapist about her relationship with her mother and how it has affected her :

I told him the feelings of constant worthlessness, the guilt, the shame, paranoia, anger, my starvation for attention, and my relentless need to cause conflict in my marriage when things are just going too damn well.

Relationship sabotage is a survival skill you adopt when those who are suppose to care for you, abuse you. While there is a genetic component to BPD, it is clear that much of it is a product of an abusive environment. A turbulent relationship with a parent then becomes a model for every relationship to come. All their fears and insecurities can be traced back to these formative years. Sadly, it is the partners of BPs that usually get punished for their parent’s crime.

I recalled all of my childhood, or the most that I could within an hour. The parts filled with my mother informing me that I was a worthless bitch and locking herself in her dark bedroom only to ignore and give the “silent treatment” to her 10 year old daughter for days on end. I told him that this nastiness only began around the age of 10 or 11. He wasn’t buying it, I could tell. He asked me why I would think this abuse would just suddenly appear at that age when all the previous years were filled with love and sunshine. I had no answer. I could feel my heart sink, because I knew there was something, I just am not aware of what it is. Maybe it was physical violence at a young age, maybe it was intense arguments between my parents that I witnessed, I have no idea. He went on to explain hypnotherapy and how we can, as trauma victims, hide things. How we can have absolutely no memory of them in our consciousness.

People, who are in a relationship with borderline, might wonder where all the anger is coming from. They think it can’t all possibly be due to their interactions. And they’re right. It’s bottled up emotions from the past that have never been resolved. Most parents of BPs will deny abuse, even project their “madness” onto their children. They may even deny their own children’s illness for fear it could be traced back to them. Borderlines rarely get the satisfaction of closure. It’s a wonder why emotional abuse is not considered a crime. The fact that such abuse can cause trauma is a reminder that it is just as abusive as hitting a child. Even the abused don’t realize the extent of the damage:

Trauma ? There is no way that what I have endured is considered trauma. I feel as if my battles were not nearly as atrocious as most people.  Trauma is a title or category for people who have seen awful things. Death, war, sexual abuse, physical abuse, the list is long, but I surely cannot be on that list.

Victims of emotional abuse are usually reluctant to label it abuse. Some don’t even realize it’s abuse until their childhood is re-framed by a mental health professional. Her therapist explains:

“What you went through in your childhood is trauma. It’s hard and stressful enough to be growing as a child, add onto that stress or physical or emotional abuse and it changes your neurobiology.”

While borderlines may endure more suffering over the course of a lifetime. It’s in their early childhood where we can find the trauma that started it all. Until they are treated, BPs will continue to act out the trauma of their childhood. Every relationship will remind them of the way their parents treated them and each other. If a father was abusive to the mother, then that child will use that as a model for relationships- Gravitating towards partners who treat them with disregard and abusing/abandoning those who treat them with too much kindness.

Damsel in Distress

November 12, 2010

There once was a damsel in distress. Though she thought of herself as a strong independent woman, she was always looking for a knight in shining armor to come rescue her. One day such a knight rode by, and she beckoned him to come rescue her. She told him how she was being held captive by an evil crazy prince. The knight was more than happy to rescue her. Rescuing damsels in distress made him feel like a hero. And she loved the attention, that came with being rescued.

After rescuing the damsel, the two rode off to live happily ever after.  But they did not live happily ever after. They lived in misery. For every time the knight turned around, the damsel was in distress again. It seems evil crazy people were everywhere. Every week there was something that caused her distress. Eventually the knight grew weary. Saving the damsel became a full-time job. The damsel noticed this and became frightened. She feared the knight would abandon her. So she created more distress to keep the knight busy. But he only grew more tired.

One day, he walked by her room and noticed she was at her window. She was calling out to another knight! She told the other knight that she was being held captive by an evil and crazy prince. The knight felt betrayed. The truth was he was neither crazy nor evil. He was tired and heart-broken.

Sadly, this is not a fairy tale. It’s something that happens in real life. There is no happy ending to this story. It just repeats itself over and over again, with the damsel creating more distress for herself and others.

Throwing Fuel onto the Fire

November 11, 2010

Borderline personalities who are in denial, are borderlines who are out of control. Chaotic relationships plague most BPs, but when a BP is unaware of their bad behavior it can only make things worse. Conflict resolution is not a BP specialty. They just don’t know how to play nice when emotions are running high. A BP that splits you black is not above making false accusations or ruthless threats to get their way. They lash out in reaction to emotional pain, but it only causes more pain. The hostility they use to scare off people only serves to antagonize people. Burning bridges is a way of avoiding the pain of rejection, but only leaves estranged love ones in their wake. They are either screaming at you or giving you the silent treatment. Both are forms of abuse. Neither does anything to ease tensions or promote good will.  Under these conditions, a small misunderstanding can quickly escalate to something much uglier. Let’s explore why untreated borderlines have a talent for blowing things out of proportion:

Family Feud Delve into a BP’s family history and you will most likely find abusive relationships. A BP is born into and out of conflict. It is hardwired into their system. From childhood, the line between love and hate has been blurred. They are conditioned to lash out at loved ones. Sadly, they are more likely to show hostile behavior to someone they love then a complete stranger. Which is why intimacy is always followed by conflict.

Touchy Touchy When an animal is wounded, it lashes out anybody that comes near, even someone who’s just trying to help. BPs share this same primitive instinct. Many BPs are survivors of abuse, this can only make a BP more volatile. When you are as sensitive as an untreated BP, everything comes off as an attack. They are reacting to deep emotional pain. Flying off the handle is their way of warding off potential threats to their well-being. Instead of calmly voicing their displeasure they often bite people’s heads off. Though this is a defense-mechanism, it has the effect of being offensive.

Strength in Numbers An insecure BP hates to stand alone, so they try to recruit people to their side. They do this by playing the victim, to elicit sympathy. With each person joining the fight, the hostility rises exponentially. When a BP recruits soldiers, a personal conflict can turn into a very public war.

Demonizing and Dehumanizing BPs actually feel a great deal of guilt and shame when they are on the rampage. To lessen the guilt, they will try to diminish you as a person. They portray you as the bad guy so they can feel better about treating you like crap.  But when you treat someone like the bad guy, then you run the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Passive Aggressive BPs that find it difficult to control their temper, usually go to the opposite extreme and withdraw all together. They cut off all communication. For someone who fears abandonment as much as a BP, this is the ultimate weapon. Which is harmless if you are ignoring a total stranger. But when you are in an intimate relationship, where there has been significant emotional investment, the silent treatment is nothing short of abuse. It is a power play made by someone who knows they have a hold on you. By withdrawing their love and denying their partner’s existence, they are causing their partner a great deal of pain. And the BP knows it.

Sabotage BPs don’t know how to deal with intimacy. When someone gets close enough to affect the way BPs feel about themselves, a BP’s natural reaction is to push him/her away. The sad irony is this: the nicer and more loving a person is towards a BP, the more likely the BP is to respond with hostility. When push comes to shove a BP relationship can end with either infidelity or a smear campaign. Stabbing someone in the back is the ultimate act of sabotage.

Walking Away For someone whose life is filled with conflict, BPs have a low tolerance for it. So when things get tense, rather than dealing with the situation, they walk away (or run away).  This may seem like a sensible solution, but it is like two warring factions walking away from peace talks. It’s like walking away from a boiling pot. This is not to be confused with taking a breather. This is the BP abandoning their responsibilities and commitments. For a BP, out of sight means out of mind, but it also leaves the other person feeling tossed aside. If this seems like a cold-hearted act, it’s because a BP needs to shut off that part of their heart that feels compassion in order to walk away.

Arrested Development BPs can act very childish and more so when they are in the heat of a fight. Whatever trauma they were subjected to when they were very young, stunted their emotional growth. You might be dealing with a 20 yr-old BP, but it will feel like you are dealing with a 3 yr old.  A 3 yr-old that pouts, throws tantrums and calls you names when he/she doesn’t get his/her way.

Blame Game With an untreated BP, it’s always someone else’s fault. Everyone else is crazy, not them. They are the victim. Despite all the mounting evidence that they are the source of this never-ending drama, they always find a way of pointing the finger at someone else. Yes, it does take two to tango. But when a BP is leading, you better clear the dance floor. Because it’s about to get ugly.

Karma is a Bitch BP’s have a terrible stigma for a reason. And it’s not because they are filled with sunshine and rainbows. When you treat people the way a BP does, it catches up to you. When you badmouth people, stab people in the back, cheat on your partner, it is your name that gets dragged through the mud. Your reputation is soiled by your bad behavior. This is why you find a lot of BPs moving from city to city, they are running from their reputation.

Tit for Tat A BP has a way of bringing the worst out of people. When they pick a fight with you, they drag you down to their level. Secretly, they want you to behave as badly as them. Misery loves company. And when you give them a taste of their own medicine, they can point to you and say, “See, I told you they were a bad person”.

Flood of Emotions BPD makes it difficult for a person to regulate their emotions. This flood of emotions can make it very hard for someone to be rational or think clearly. It also makes it hard to empathize with another person, making the BP seem very selfish. When BPs become overwhelmed by their emotions, their only solution may be to shut off their heart. But this only makes them do and say things that seem cold-blooded.

Baggage to Boot BPD rarely exists on its own. An untreated BP is usually juggling alcoholism, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, an inferiority-complex and other personality disorders… just to name a few. Despite having all these troubling issues, a BP in denial is still able to fool themselves into believing that they are perfectly capable of maintaining a relationship.

Victim Complex When the BP is a survivor of abuse, it leaves the BP feeling like everyone is out to get them. From an early age they’ve learned they can get attention if they play the victim. But this means they have to find a victimizer. Real or not, it doesn’t really matter.

The point of all this is not to bash people with BPD or discourage them. The point is to encourage those, afflicted with BPD, to get help. An untreated BP is ill-equipped to bring about conflict resolution. And even the most patient lover is ill-equipped to deal with a rampaging BP. When you are talking about a disorder where people are unable to control their emotions, you are talking about a time bomb waiting to explode. An untreated BP can destroy relationships, tarnish reputations and ruin lives without even trying. This can spell trouble for the unwitting BP, because (as we all know) what goes around comes around.

Moving in with a Borderline

November 10, 2010

Perhaps you’ve heard this old joke- What does a lesbian bring to a second date? A: A U-Haul.

Borderline personality disorder is often found in the lesbian community. Untreated BPs (ones that live in denial) move fast. Upon meeting someone for the first time, they might declare that person is their soulmate. Within months they may be engaged to be married. There are a few theories on why a borderline rushes to move in, here are a few:

It’s a Socioeconomic Thing Unless they’re Marilyn Monroe or Anna-Nicole Smith, many borderlines struggle with finances. Like alcoholism and abuse, BPD is much more common when people are struggling to make it. BPs may be emotional when it comes to relationships, but when it comes to paying the bills they can be very practical. Moving in or getting married means there’s another person who can pay the rent. While most people would be content with a roommate, a BP needs something more.

Love Addiction BPs are addicted to the high of love or at least the trappings of love. They love the cuddling and the kissing more so than the actual person they are kissing and cuddling. They love the idea of being loved. Moving in would ensure more of that love. When they meet someone who can provide that sense of being loved, they are sure he/she is the One. The problem is a BP’s judgment is clouded by rose-tinted glasses (idealization). As soon as that honeymoon feeling wears off (and it always does) you then have two people living together who realize they don’t actually love each other. In short, you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Security Blanket When you are as insecure as an untreated BP, everything is frightening. But it’s more than having someone to hold them during a thunderstorm or to kill spiders crawling on the wall. It is a fear of being alone.  Being alone drives them… well… crazy. So as soon as someone looks promising enough, they move in to seal the deal. A warm body provides the sense of security a BP needs to feel at ease. The problem here is that, for some BPs, any body will do.

Locking You In Part of the reason BPs are so insecure is the fear of abandonment that is at the core of the disorder. Everything a BP does at the beginning of a relationship is designed to pull you in. They will say “I love you” and “nobody understands me like you” just to flatter you. They will tell you sob stories of abuse (abusive parents, abusive exes, abusive world). By appointing you chief savior, they are making you feel obligated to stay. Moving in with you or getting married would make it harder for someone to abandon them. In a way, it is an emotional ball and chain.

Proof is in the Pudding In a BPs lifetime, they may have had a chain of broken relationships. Each one adding to the fear that they are unloveable. Each failure only makes them more eager to prove that they can have a healthy relationship. BPs, that are unaware of their disorder, will fool themselves into believing the next relationship will be different. Not realizing the problem lies with them and their disorder.

Those unfortunate souls, who have been fooled into believing that a BP wants to move in with them because of the strength of their love, will soon get a rude awakening. The move-in will create that which BPs fear much more than being alone- intimacy. Before you know it, cabin fever will set in. The BP will alternate from being prickly to withdrawn. Untreated BPs pull you in, only to push you away.

Any person with a good head will try to put the brakes on, because they know that intimacy takes time. They also know that anyone who is in this much of a hurry to move in is masking insecurities.  But when you deny a BP what they want, they can quickly turn on you. And it is at this point, you will see how shallow a BP’s love can be by how quickly their heart turns cold. You will be astonished by how quickly they become hostile once the fear of rejection is triggered. If you resist moving in with a desperate BP, you will be kicked to the curb without mercy. The push will turn to shove. They will even devalue and demonize you to justify their harsh treatment. You will also be shocked at how quickly a BP can find a replacement (sometimes in a matter of days). But in time, you will realize they did you a huge favor.

A BP rushing to move in is looking for a quick fix. You are only there for convenience sake. Untreated BPs think intimacy can be forced with physical closeness. They believe the high of shopping for new furniture and picking out the perfect home will erase a lifetime of bad memories. But this is the logic of a BP living in denial. The kind of wounds that plague BPs must be healed with years of therapy. No amount of playing house will cure what ails them.