Karma Chameleon

August 13, 2011

One person notices that his BPD girlfriend is constantly changing her physical appearance and wonders if it has to do with splitting:

I briefly raised this point in another thread just now. I’ll cut a long story short, here. I met my bpdexgf on facebook in March of last year (LDR). On her fb profile pics I noticed that she looked like a very different person on every single shot, whereas the people who were on the pics with her never looked any different.

When I eventually met her in person she again looked completely different than she did on her pics — you could just about tell it was her. Still very pretty but markedly different.

When I met her family and friends they appeared to look exactly the same as they did on the pics, but she didn’t. Even when I brought her to my home town to meet my family my sister even remarked that she looked like a totally different girl in the flesh than she did on her pics.

Even her personality was totally different than how she came across over the phone! She came across as bubbly, warm, caring, sincere, cutesy and really down-to-earth. But in person she had a slightly snobby accent and she had a spoiled daddy’s little rich girl kind of attitude.

I came across an internet article on multiple personality disorder, whereby some psychotherapist was talking about a phenomenon in patients with multiple personality disorder (she had BPD), where they ‘switch’ or split. This guy said that he notices when his patients switch/split, their physical appearance changes also! I believe that this would explain why she looked like a totally different person on her pics, because the camera was capturing her image each time she would go through her splitting states. She even said to me that she feels like a totally different person in front of other people.

It was all incredibly strange, in retrospect, and it felt as though my girlfriend, who I was in love with over the phone, had been replaced by a clone created in some shady genetics lab.

Have any of you experienced anything like this?

I laughed when I read this. My borderline-ex was constantly changing her image as well. And yes, it would someone how correspond to what was going on inside her funny little head. When she felt threatened, she would become uptight and aloof. When she split me, she took on this ridiculous supermodel/diva persona (an air of superiority if you will). If I wasn’t so upset about her sudden animosity, I probably would have laughed at how absurd/fake her behavior was.

She was compensating for how she felt on the inside (which is to say she felt like shit) by gussying up on the outside. We all do this to some extent, but she took it to the extreme (as she does with everything). It’s misleading for those who have no idea how disordered she is. They see this fashion model exterior and think “wow, she looks great, she must be feeling great.” But the reality is the more airbrushing she would put on, the worst she felt on the inside. It is all part of the illusion she creates for the outside world.

It sounds like the guy above is dealing with a histrionic borderline- they can be cartoonish at times. They put on airs that seem silly (even scary) to an observer, but they hardly notice the change. They take on whatever personality they think will be able to handle the situation at hand. It’s a survival skill. At times, H/BPD looks remarkably like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID or multiple personality disorder). I believe they are all on the same spectrum, with DID being more disordered.

I also believe the gal above was probably a survivor of sorts. Whenever you have a major personality shift it implies there has been some traumatic past. When she acts snobbish in person, that is a defense-mechanism. She is putting up a protective barrier.

I see it all the time with survivors. Other variations of this personality- the Vintage Store Fashionista, the Unhinged Bitch, the Goth/Punk Rock Bitch, the BAMF, Daddy’s Little Princess, the Gangsta Bitch, the Art School Cynic, the Angry Lesbian, the Literary Academic, the Indignant Feminist/Activist, the Finicky Vegetarian, etc. etc. These are all personas the survivor has adopted to keep people at a distance, to make themselves feel superior or above it all. But it often results in isolation and deterioration of healthy relationships. They end up hanging out with other dysfunctional enablers who keep them in their delusional state (aka denial).

People with histories of physical and sexual abuse often display both BPD and DID as a result of their trauma. Dissociation is just one of the many red flags. People dissociate from traumatic memories to cope. It is my belief that my borderline ex also had DID along with all the other bad things that go with BPD. BPD is like an emotional variety pack from hell.  It comes with all sorts of undesirable qualities… all sorts of contrivances.

But if you know what to look for, then things like a sudden change in appearance can provide clues to what’s going on in that head of theirs.

17 Responses to “Karma Chameleon”

  1. savorydish said

    There is nothing wrong with changing your appearance or trying to look your best. For an emotionally healthy person, it is perfectly reasonable.

    But when you are an individual who suffers from C-PTSD (lifelong traumatization), then the temptation is to put up false fronts. And that means you are ignoring deep psychological problems. Worse yet, you are covering them up with superficial quick-fixes.

    On top of that, you are probably alienating people. Sure, when you first meet someone who puts on a glamorous show, you are charmed. But when you realize it’s all an act, then that fakeness becomes an annoyance.

    When you suffer from NPD/HPD, you are most likely too self-absorbed to realize this. You simply write off people who reject you. Your emotions are shallow anyways, so it isn’t that hard to move from one person to another.

    As another quick-fix, you surround yourself with people who are equally superficial, shallow friends who are using you as much as you are using them.

    You may have 100s of friends on Facebook or Tumblr, but not one of them cares about how much you’re suffering. Not one of them cares enough to encourage you to seek help.

    That is a harsh reality that many histrionics are not willing to face.

    • savorydish said

      People are shocked when they find out that someone as beautiful and glamorous as Marilyn Monroe suffered from severe depression. They are shocked because they were evaluating her mental health through her appearance. They were evaluating her image and career, thinking it was a good indicator of well-being. As you learn more about HPD/NPD, you realize that when someone looks too good to be true then that person probably is too good to be true.

      When someone puts all their effort into looking good, it probably means there is something missing on the inside. It sounds cliche but it’s true.This is the void that all histrionics struggle to fill. They struggle because they fill it with more emptiness. They are fooling themselves. They are chasing after fool’s gold. HPD is merely a label identifying those who are experiencing great pain, but dealing with it in superficial/meaningless ways. These people suffer greatly from delusions of grandeur. But delusions do not heal the pain. They merely allow the pain to grow unchecked. The suicide rates among histrionics and BPs are high for a reason.

      • savorydish said

        Perhaps, I am guilty of chasing things that are too good to be true. Maybe now I will look under hood before I buy what people are selling me. I am much more cautious these days. Much more skeptical. A lot less trusting.

        As for my borderline ex, I see that she is still playing the same games. She is still trying to re-write her past. Still denying her present condition. She would have you believe that she is living the fabulous life in sunny LA. But I know better. I know when she is feeling down, she goes back to her old habits. I know when she feels insecure about her relationships, she slips into her diva ego. She emerses herself in obsessive-compulsive behavior (dancing and thrifting). She does everything except go see a therapist. She does everything to avoid visiting her past.

        If you knew her past, you would know her life is not glamorous at all.

      • savorydish said

        The Marliyn Monroe Effect has been replicated by hundreds of wannabes. Troubled souls hellbent on self-destruction. Charlie Sheen tops the charts for this act. Mel Gibson is a close second. And basically everybody on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab. People attribute this wild behavior to fame. They don’t realize that these people had troubles before they became famous. Fame and success was just the cover up. It only amplified their personality disorders. In every case, you see a massive change in their personalities as their condition gets worse. Even non-celebrities get in trouble when they start ignoring their problems.

      • savorydish said

        My borderline ex wants so badly to become almost famous. But she is only following the tragic footsteps of her idol, Marilyn Monroe.

  2. savorydish said

    There’s a reason why so many histrionics end up going into acting, modeling, dancing etc. They need attention like we need air. But more than that, they need to escape being themselves. At the root of HPD is self-hatred.

  3. savorydish said

    The eeriest part of this transformation is the amnesia that seems to go with it. When a borderline splits you, it is as if they have totally forgotten who you are. Just weeks before our break up, my borderline ex was talking of us moving in together.

    All of a sudden, she was telling me not to call her anymore. And she would act hostile if I did try to contact her. Totally crazy is the only way to describe this scenario.

    It makes no sense until you start reading more about BPD and splitting. Personality disorder is the best way to describe it.

    • savorydish said

      Even more bizarre was how she was able to turn everyone against me. Friends of hers that were friendly to me months before, suddenly gave me the cold shoulder.

      I can only imagine what she was saying about me. From lover to enemy in a period of a month. Her own family doesn’t even see that her behavior is strange. I can only conclude the whole family is nuts.

      • savorydish said

        But then again, she warned me that she was crazy. She even confessed that her parents were both crazy. So I can only blame myself for not taking her seriously.

        I guess, at the time, I thought she was being dramatic. Which she was. But she was being dead serious when she said she was crazy.

        The kicker is when they turn around and accuse you of being crazy. Good luck trying convince everyone around her how crazy she is. Because most likely the borderline has told everyone that you are the one that’s crazy. Watch Single White Female, if you want to know what this is like.

      • savorydish said

        Amnesia is the only way to explain her inconsistencies. One month, she tells me her mother caught her father making out with her lesbian fiancee. Then the next month, she’s writing about how much she loves her family – including the father who she said was a “pig” just months earlier. It is almost as if she was an entirely different person and all the circumstances in her life had changed. It really does make you wonder if you are the crazy one. Being in a relationship with someone like this is a total mind fuck.

  4. savorydish said

    My borderline ex is taking on that ridiculous supermodel persona again, which can only mean the fear of abandonment is creeping in again. She will put up her protective barrier, but that will only push those around her away… causing greater fear.

    It is then she will uncontrollably split. She will once again have amnesia and she will hide behind her alter ego. Her current lover will not recognize her and he too will distance himself. A borderline in denial is doomed to repeat the past.

  5. Zan said

    I found a similar Facebook phenomenon in my xBPD friend. During the time she had secretly returned to her self-destructive behavior, her Facebook profile pics began to change. Each week there was a new pic of her, mostly head shots, and all trying to show herself off. This was something she never did before, she was always reserved and even a bit frumpish. Mutual friends noticed it and mentioned it months ago. She seems to have just given into narcissistic behavior on so many levels.

    • savorydish said

      The transformation from BP to narcissist is an important one, because it marks a more abusive time in their life. It is yet another ineffective way borderlines deal with internal pain. They put the focus on the outside hoping that will be enough to make them feel better. But that’s the borderline looking for fool’s gold. If wrist cutting is an adolescent phase. Narcissism seems to be the next stage of young adulthood (usually after college, and upon entering the “real world”). Perhaps, it’s the borderline’s way of fitting in. But if they were self-destructive before, they have now taken on a manipulative persona. Instead of self-harm, they are harming others.

      • savorydish said

        The ability to change personalities also allows them to escape responsibility. If they can blame everything on Mr Hyde, then it becomes much harder for you to hold them accountable. If you notice a sharp change in personality, be on high-alert. This is a warning signal telling you that that the borderline is in self-destruct mode and they will take out anyone else that happens to be in the vicinity. It can also alert you to the fact that the borderline has already done something harmful. Remember when Casey Anthony got her Bella Vita tattoo?

      • savorydish said

        Get to know the look of dissociation. Borderlines are the most dangerous when they emotionally-detach. They are doing this because they perceive that you will abandon them. Real or imagined this fear of abandonment will cause them to do hurtful things to you. And because they have detached, they will feel nothing. They have gone numb. You will look into their eyes looking for the person you love and you will see the cold eyes of a shark staring back at you.

  6. savorydish said

    Beware of a person who can change their personality in an instant, they will harm you and not even realize it. You will not see it coming because these people having adopted deception as a means to interact with other human beings. And more importantly to deal with their own emotions. They are fooling themselves.

    They will seem perfect to you, too perfect. But they can only maintain this illusion for so long. Once intimacy creeps in, you will start to see the darkside. Intimacy is their kryptonite. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a fleeting bad mood.

    Oh no. This is the real borderline revealing themselves to you in increments. They are testing your waters, seeing how far they can push you and pull you. If you tolerate even just a little bit of their nonsense, you are essentially giving them the green light to abuse you.

    Narcissistic borderlines are the worst of the bunch. They are the least likely to be honest with you. Their whole life is one big cover-up operation. There is almost always a history of abuse, which means you are dealing with a highly unstable individual.

    Remove yourself immediately. Don’t give them the chance to cry and beg you to stay. That is the narcissist fucking with your heart and mind. The longer you stay, the deeper the hole.

    Look away and never look back. Let a professional deal with their mess. Love and compassion does not mend the kind of wounds they have. You risk damaging yourself.

    • Sammy C said

      Yep @ SavoryDish thats totally right what you wrote up above , At first, it was the Borderline who was in control ,Then the Narcissist took over about the last month and a half , poor thing she was trying so hard to fight that demon too…Now when I think back on it thats what she was trying to fight her demons . Here recently left a 159,000 dollar house she had just bought , She was on the board of a food co-op , all of a sudden she was no there anymore …Wonder who she abused back in her home town, I bet word is in the street . This is very sad to see. Cause I now know the same thing is going to happen here again now that she is back here. Just person after person after person….WOW

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