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.

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