Ignorant Bliss

January 21, 2011

I was looking for more insight into why some borderlines cling onto denial. I found it in a forum thread named “Mourning for the days of ignorance“, written by a poster who goes by the name Masquerade:

Does anyone else feel this way? l am in the middle of a long and arduous therapy and it has been helpful in teaching me self awareness. l have HPD and cyclothmia and l am certain l have borderline traits too.

Before my therapy, when l lived in ignorance of my condition, life was sometimes difficult but l did not have the knowledge or the stigma of my disorders and lived in blissfull ignorance and life seemed to be so much simpler then. Now that l know l have the disorder/s and have it re inforced by reading about others here who think and behave in similar ways to myself l have actually become more depressed, even though l am now more self aware and can see the patterns in my behaviour and am learning ways to unthink them. lt is as if l am no longer in denial about myself, but not being in denial any longer is PAINFULL !!!!! My therapist has said that this is a necessary part of my recovery because l am facing up to all the pain in my past and not repressing it by acting in personality disordered ways or shifting the blame onto others etc etc, but l wonder if it is all worth it because of the level of pain l am now experiencing?

l feel as if l am mourning for the me l was before l started my therapy, who had learnt to deny, repress the pain by shifting it onto behaviour that was maladaptive. l am also mourning for the blissfull ignorance of the disorder/s and now that l know for sure that l have them l am no longer in denial but it HURTS LIKE CRAZY to be confronted with the stark reality of life. l am no longer in denial about other things, like my poor relationships with certain people or the fact that my husband’s job is insecure and to worry about the realities of daily life is a new one for me but l suppose it is the first step towards taking steps to confronting them head on, something l never did before, when l remained in that childlike state of blissfull ignorance and dependency. l am having to stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life and the enormity of it all is pretty scarey.lf this is what “recovery” is, is it such a good thing? l lived in a safety net before my therapy and l am under no illusions that the journey ahead is going to be a rocky one. lt’s as if l have reached a point of no return now and can’t go back to my former self, even if l want to. l accept that l have a disorder and l know that is the first step to recovery, but the world of adults an normality seems to be a very scarey place to be.

Does anyone understand where l am coming from?

It sort of reminds me of the movie The Matrix, where the general population lives in ignorant bliss, an imaginary world created by artificial intelligence. In stark contrast, the real world is a harsh post-apocalyptic landscape, where people can bleed and feel pain. There is one scene where the Judas-like character is eating a steak. And even though he knows the steak isn’t real, he savors the bite. He agrees to betray his friends, just so he can return to a state of ignorant bliss.

A borderline too will betray his/her lover to return to a state of ignorant bliss.  There was a time when I thought my borderline ex had crossed over into self-awareness with me. I was looking forward to her recovery and willing to stand by her in the process. I truly believed that she would keep her promise to work on herself. But in the end, the reality of borderline personality disorder was too much to bear.

So she detached herself from the emotional bond we had worked so hard to establish.  She demonized me to justify her betrayal. I went from being the Chosen One to being Satan himself. A borderline in denial can actually be very self-righteous about stabbing someone in the back. My only crime- I had lead her into reality, and it was too much for her. So she betrayed me and ran back into her imaginary world. In an instant, she turned from trusted lover to a ruthless Judas.

She has now found someone who she can live with in ignorant bliss, someone who lives in the Matrix. Someone who is willing to play along with the charade. Someone who won’t insist that she get help or examine herself. You see, she grew up in a family that lives in denial. This is her comfort zone.

Like the Judas character in the Matrix, she couldn’t care less if the world is real or not. Ignorance is bliss. But while the citizens of the Matrix are living in bliss, the evil forces of BPD are still at work. While you live in bliss, the real you is slowly decaying and the world around you is being destroyed. In reality, a borderline in denial is dying from the inside-out.

19 Responses to “Ignorant Bliss”

  1. baymaggie said

    I understand completely. I was a completely different person before I started therapy for my borderline personality disorder, and now it’s like I know I have this disorder, and I actually have to face up to it now. There’s no running away from it anymore… it’s hit me head on. It IS very depressing, but it’s healthy to confront what’s going on in order to be able to deal with it and, ultimately, heal.

    • savorydish said

      Good for you for confronting your own demons. I know it’s not easy. I’m always amazed how much healthier a person sounds once they have acknowledged their disorder. Thanks for your feedback and good luck.

    • Miss K said

      Baymaggie, how does a bordeline actually know they have a disorder? majority of them are in denial, so its refreshing coming across a bpd that seeks assistance. just wondering how you became aware of it? was this brought up by family and friends?
      Well done by the way 🙂

      • Maggie said

        Well I have been through therapy for my BPD before and learned to recognize that it is what I have. I’ve learned how to deal with it quite a bit, but I do have my bad days. Initially my family and friends asked me to seek help, so I did… Thank you!

      • savorydish said

        I have to agree with Miss K. It’s always refreshing to hear a BP who is aware of his/her disorder. But I too wonder what motivates some to go to therapy and what makes others hide in denial. Sadly, it seems the people who need help the most are also the most likely to live in denial. Thanks for your insight Maggie. It really helps to have a BP’s perspective on this.

  2. Evan said

    Great blog Savory Dish … I could grasp the complex nature of what they tag borderline, but for me, it took being aware of the deep denial on their part to then understand their behaviour. They really can believe their own bs. Most of the time.

  3. sensit said

    Thank your for your post. Different worlds, different rules. I understand how you feel. Splitting, object constancy, and amnesia is hard to deal with (even if you know how it works).

    After I read your words, I decided that it’s time to write down my thoughts on this subject. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.


    • savorydish said

      Thank you. Writing my experience down has been key to my own recovery. It has helped me make sense of something that just doesn’t make sense. It makes it even more worthwhile when people write back with understanding and compassion. It restores my faith in humanity.

      • sensit said

        Re: == But I too wonder what motivates some to go to therapy and what makes others hide in denial. ==

        I do not remember where (in I Hate You Do Not Leave Me or in Stop Walking on Eggshells) – I read somewhere an interesting comparison between two types of people with BPD: one mainly acts OUT (extroverted, does not look for help, in denial, quite functional), and another one acts IN (introverted, looks for help, more aware and use introspection, less functional). I thought that it’s quite ironic that “act out” person needs more help that “act in” but somehow only “act in” asks for it. 🙂

      • savorydish said

        Great point Sensit,
        I read that too. But I would add there are some people who swing between acting in and acting out. My ex is a perfect example. As a writer she is very introspective. At times, she can be very dysfunctional (like a small child). But then she swings into over-achiever mode and that’s when she displays symptoms of denial.

        When we were in our honeymoon phase she showed signs of introspection and self-awareness. But as the fear of abandonment took over, she became entrenched in denial. The transformation seemed to happen over night. The change was so dramatic it made me wonder how much of that self-awareness was for my benefit (ie. for show.)

        She also went through an awkward angst-ridden teen phase, but now has found ways to be more functional. Unfortunately, this means creating a false persona. She has taken on narcissistic/histrionic traits as a means to appear “normal”. But this is nothing more than a polished form of denial. I think the more invested she gets into the real world (her career) the more she gravitates towards her contrivances.

  4. savorydish said

    I think a borderline who feels secure in his/her surroundings is also more likely to seek help. Maggie seems to have the loving support of her family. But if a relationship starts falling apart, a borderline is more inclined to put up their defenses ie. denial.

    • Maggie said

      I do have a good family support system, that’s for sure… although they can be invalidating at times, for the most part they are very understanding and supportive.

    • sensit said

      It is not just denial, it’s also splitting. She is not bad, but there is a problem, so someone needs to be bad… well, then it’s you who is bad, and it’s your problem, not her. Simple, isn’t it?

  5. sensit said

    == When we were in our honeymoon phase she showed signs of introspection and self-awareness. But as the fear of abandonment took over, she became entrenched in denial. The transformation seemed to happen over night. The change was so dramatic it made me wonder how much of that self-awareness was for my benefit (ie. for show.) ==

    Typically, BPD-person’s coping strategies are not for a partner but for BPD-person herself. It’s not helpful to look into BPD from non-BPD perspective; in such way, you won’t understand how she feels. She does not want to harm herself or anyone else; she just does not know what to do and how to do it.

    When she feels secure, her more advanced mental systems (like rational/logical mind or even intuition/wise mind/self-awareness) can work… but as soon as the environment becomes invalidating, her defenses are turned on… and she retreats into emotional mind.

    And when she’s in emotional mind, you deal with 2 years old baby that is very scared, very unhappy, and very lonely.

    • savorydish said

      Oh,I definitely think this is the case with her. And towards the end, I fully admit to being critical of her borderline behavior and dismissive of her constant issues. This is why she split me black. I wasn’t intentionally invalidating her, but after a while you get tired of the drama and the hypersensitivity. You get tired of “walking on eggshells”.

      The truth is borderlines will take advantage of an accommodating lover. They will find more things to complain about to get attention or start fights to sabotage the relationship. After a while this gets old, even with the most patient lover.

      I understand what she was going through, but that doesn’t excuse her abusive behavior (acting like a 2yr old having a fit). A loved one shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to have a normal healthy relationship. They shouldn’t have to validate irrational thinking or absurd complaints.
      They shouldn’t have to tolerate the mind games.
      Regardless of whether a borderline means to act this way or not, this is not acceptable.

      If you are constantly afraid of upsetting your lover, then something is wrong. If your lover is looking for ways to sabotage a relationship,detach immediately.

      It is the responsibility of the borderline to seek help. It is not the job of a loved one to tend to an adult child. BPD is an explanation, not an excuse.

      • sensit said

        Indeed; that’s all right and leads to the logical question: So why the partner of a person with BPD keeps tolerating her behaviors and stays put? What for? What issues he is addressing by being (ab)used by her? That’s where this relationship can really add value to you. Figure out one’s own issues.

      • savorydish said

        All valid questions. All questions I have asked myself hundreds of times. As you said, learning about BPD is also an opportunity to learn about yourself. As they say- “it takes two to tango”. The answer as to why partners stay with borderlines isn’t simple. It may deserve a post of its own. I can’t answer for everyone else, just myself.

        There were times when I did consider walking out the door, but each time she convinced me to stay. But, deep down, I wanted to stay.

        First and foremost, I have since learned that a borderline relationship is an addiction. Not figuratively, but literally. It starts with the idealization phase. The borderline makes you feel like you are the center of the world, like you are the most amazing person they have ever met. Their adoration is a drug of sorts. Who wouldn’t want to keep this feeling going? Does it point to my own need for approval? Perhaps. But despite all the horror stories, a borderline does have their good moments. They can be kind and very loving. They are not evil people. They are emotionally unstable and shallow, but they do try.

        The second compelling factor is hope. Hope that the borderline will change. My ex had confessed to me she was a survivor of rape and unfortunately she used it as an excuse for her emotional outbursts. You would be surprised how much a person can get away with when they confess that they have been sexually assaulted. And so did I let a lot of her abusive behavior slide? Absolutely. Most of the time I admonished her like a small child. And when she wept and apologized, I let it go. How do you leave someone because they are emotionally damaged? It’s not as easy as you would think it would be. Especially, when they are so good at convincing you that they are struggling to heal and get better. Only in hindsight, can you question their sincerity.

        There are more reasons, but I’ll save it for a future post. But yours is an important question to answer. I too, at one time, wondered how a battered wife could stay with an abusive husband. Now I know. But while a battered wife shows visible signs of abuse, an emotionally battered partner of a borderline has less visible signs. The signs are easy to miss, even for the person being abused. When it comes down to it, none of us are perfect which is why we tolerate the imperfections of others. But it is only after the fog has lifted that you are startled by how imperfect the borderline relationship really was.

  6. […] another note, the discussion is being continued in the comment section of Ignorant Bliss. The best insights I think are the ones that come out of these discussions. There you’ll find […]

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