May 15, 2011
Oh Pop Culture, why do you supply me with endless examples of damaged women? So here we have Lady Gaga doing her best Madonna impersonation (in more ways than one). What is it about these narcissists that attract them to bad boys? Judases if you will.
The answer is- the same thing that made them narcissists in the first place- instability, neglect, abuse, separation, conflict or all of the above. These are the forces that made them insecure in their childhood and abusive personalities in their adulthood. Insecurity compels them to follow self-destructive patterns and pull people down with them.
On some level, Gaga “loves” Jesus because rationally she knows he’s good for her. But she is viscerally attracted to Judas, even though she knows Judas will betray her. This is not so much an attraction to Judas as it is an attraction to the familiar. And the familiar to these damaged souls is an abusive environment. In the end, she and Judas will both betray Jesus. Because girls like Gaga are not only good at attracting people who treat them like shit, they are also very good at attracting people who are willing to be treated like shit.
It doesn’t matter how smart, successful or independent (or feminist) the woman is. If she’s emotionally damaged, she will sabotage what’s good for her and run to things that are bad for her. Women with high IQs can have low emotional IQs. Such women will be suffocated by intimacy and excited by the thrill of danger. So says the laws of the universe.
But it goes the other way too. There are men who are attracted to femme fatales. Like DeNiro’s character in Casino. He falls for Sharon Stone’s character, a histrionic borderline who betrays his trust over and over again. Just when he provides her with security and stability, she gets bored, betrays him and runs off with some Judas. But like a true co-dependent, DeNiro’s character takes her in, every time she comes crawling back. He is rewarding her bad behavior and therefore ensuring his own demise.
Both the boys who are drawn to bad girls and the girls who are drawn to bad boys are re-playing the drama of their childhood. It is there you will find the beginnings of this addiction to toxic relationships. These relationships have nothing to do with love. Neither of these archetypes are conditioned for love. They are conditioned for abusive co-dependent relationships.
We like to think that human beings make decisions based on rational thought. But most of our behavior is dictated by our past and our emotions. Rationalization only comes into play after the fact, when we have to justify our behavior to ourselves. This is a source of great shame for bad boys and bad girls, even the ones who seem unaffected. Enough shame to make them suppress their misdeeds and live in denial- to live a lie.
I wanted to believe my borderline ex was different, but she was just like all the other troubled women who I let ruin my life. I was replaying my past. She fooled me into believing she loved me. But I allowed myself to be fooled, because I wanted to believe she loved me.
She was using me like she uses every man. Although, I feel dumb and naive now, I was just desiring that which has alluded me my whole life- true love. To her credit, she tried to play the role of the good girl. But her insecurities got the best of her. She tried to keep her demons at bay. But those forces were too strong for her.
She could only keep up the act for so long. And when the pressure to keep up the act became too much, she went back to the familiar. She ran back to Judas. The Judas she chose was just as fucked up as her. A wannabe thug who had been betrayed by his wife and now he was looking for payback. He didn’t care who he was hurting, because he was too consumed by the pain that someone else had caused him. Scum bags are just damaged souls looking to pass on their pain.
And she too didn’t care about who she hurt, because she was too busy trying to escape the suffocating grip of intimacy. The fear of abandonment/rejection made her blind to the hurt she was unleashing upon others. Judas was exactly what she needed- a man with little promise of a future. With him, she didn’t have to live up to the expectation of being normal or healthy. She could be her damaged self. In her troubled mind, he was her “soul mate”.
But she too came crawling back when she realized he just wanted her for sex. He got what he wanted and left her with a shattered relationship. I tried to pick up the pieces, but it was damaged beyond repair. She had sex with him to prove to me that she was desirable, but she ended up proving that she was easily manipulated by Judas. She was so gaga for her Judas that she blamed me for his flight. All the intelligence I thought she had was rendered useless under the spell of an abusive personality.
It never occurred to her that the Judas affair was not built to last. But that is why she pursued it with such vigor. It never occurred to her that Judas was programmed to use and abuse. It never occurred to her that is why she chose him in the first place. Borderlines are notoriously bad judges of character. It was fitting that Judas betrayed her, because she got a taste of her own medicine.
Of course I, being the sucker for wounded animals, took her back. But it was not long before she would betray me again. I knew too much about her. I knew her evil ways. And she knew that I knew. And that made her insecure all over again. This was enough reason for her to run far far away. Just like she had done so many times before. Just like Sharon Stone’s character in Casino.
Femme fatales want to be loved. But once they have it, they run from it. In their minds, they are unworthy of love. This is why women like Lady Gaga eventually run back to Judas. Guys like Judas make them feel like they have nothing to lose. They are a relief from having to pretend they are someone they are not. Only when they are with someone who is just as damaged as they are, do they find themselves at ease. But this is not love, this is the soothing of insecurity and low self-esteem. For damaged people, the illusion of love is better than nothing.
April 12, 2011
At first glance, this is a spy movie. But thanks to a great cast and deft storytelling what emerges is a story about a girl who is abnormal. At least, that’s what her dossier says. I won’t give away the rest.
If you have BPD, you will relate to this story. You might even cry. You will know what it’s like to be different. Try as you might to fit in… to go undercover… you can’t help but feel abnormal.
Is it possible that I see BPD in everything now? Possibly. But when you meet a borderline, you never forget them. They are an anomaly. They are something to marvel and fear at the same time. You are inexplicably drawn to them, even though your gut tells you something isn’t right. They are destruction waiting to happen. Drama follows them wherever they go.
Borderlines are born under special circumstances. The genetic lottery has determined that they will be different (special if you like). A borderline has survival skills that are much like an assassin’s. At times, they can be ruthlessly efficient. Even when it comes to affairs of the heart. Hanna was also born under special conditions and trained for fight and flight. She was born out of chaos and conflict. These are the same conditions that breed a borderline.
What makes this movie more special than your average spy thriller is the human story. What makes Hanna special is, not her abnormalities, but her normality. She may be trained to be a cold-as-ice assassin, but she is also just a little girl who wants to be normal. She wants to have a family. She wants to have friends. She wants to experience the world like other little girls. But she can’t. Her genes and her dark past won’t let her.
So too borderlines yearn for a normal life. They yearn to love. But they can’t help but hurt the ones they love, because they were bred to fight. They’ll put a hole through your heart and disappear into the night. They are ruthlessly efficient. An assassin was not bred to feel sympathy, neither was a borderline.
So in order to fit in, they must learn to feel like others feel. Love like other’s love. So they commit human behavior to memory. They learn to paint by numbers. But this assimilation is easier said than done. Untreated borderlines always leave wounded lovers in their wake. Failed attempts at intimacy.
In the end, borderlines (like Hanna) are not abnormal. They are hyper-normal. They feel what we feel, but more so. They don’t know their own strength. Their senses are fine-tuned to alert them of danger. Their reactions are ruthlessly efficient. They have killer instincts. They were not bred for a normal life.
Hanna is just human enough to feel for her, but she always reminds you that she is trained for fight and flight. This is the story of a borderline.
April 7, 2011
I saw Sucker Punch tonight. I had a sneaking suspicion that sexual assault was in the story somewhere. But what I thought would be mere undertone was very much a sucker punch to the face. It was directed and written by the guy who directed Watchmen and 300. So expect a lot of dazzling CG effects and slo-mo ass kicking. But is this a movie for survivors? Escapism for survivors?
Despite the message of female empowerment, I think a lot of feminists/survivors will probably hate this movie. For one thing, it’s a story of rape written by a man. That’s an automatic FAIL. Then there’s the stuff that is bound to send most of them into a tizzy about the “male gaze”: Such as wafer-thin women in fetish outfits. The lead character is called Baby Doll and looks like a blonde Sailor Moon. Not to mention most of the assault scenes could be triggering.
Even so, I think this movie has done a pretty good job of tapping into Survivor Culture. What is Survivor Culture? Well if you’ve read this blog, you’ve experienced some of it via Tumblr and Tigerbeatdown. And I’m not just talking about survivors of sexual abuse. I would also include the survivors of physical abuse, emotional abuse (BPD, Bi-Polar) and substance abuse.
Spend any good amount of time in Survivor Tumblrdom and you will see some re-occuring themes. This culture is steeped in escapism. You want to know who reads all those Harry Potter and Twilight books? Want to know what kind of woman would go to Comi-Con, dressed up like her favorite anime character? Want to know what kind of woman would worship at the altar of Marilyn Monroe, Tila Tequila and other tragic starlettes? Want to know who spends all her free time at vintage stores transporting herself to by-gone eras? Search no further. The Survivor Culture is a culture of escapism.
“Your mind will set you free.” “To reach your own paradise, just let go.” “What you are imagining now… You control this world.” These are lines from the trailer above, but I’ll be damned if any survivor can’t relate to these words. The heroine in Sucker Punch uses dissociation (emotional detachment) as a weapon for survival. A means to escape her “prison”. This is how survivors cope with the harsh realities of their life, they flee into their imagination. Fight or flight. These are the two options presented to a survivor.
And while many feminist may take issue with the overt sexual content, it mirrors the moral conflict that survivors deal with all the time (cognitive dissonance). On one hand, sexuality becomes a major part of their identity. Those who have been sexually-assaulted may become hyper-sexual. They may learn to use their sexuality to gain attention and manipulate men. Some survivors may actually be turned on by the imagery presented in this movie. But on the other side of the coin, they also feel shame and pain.
Survivors love bad-ass women in fishnet stockings. Why do you think burlesque is so popular amongst the survivor crowd? The film itself is one big burlesque performance, complete with revenge fantasies. Burlesque represents women taking ownership of the roles men have placed upon them. Taking symbols of oppression and making them a symbol of empowerment. This is what Sucker Punch attempts to do. And while most survivors will dismiss the movie, secretly they’ll want to see it.
As an ex-partner of a survivor, I can relate to this movie. I see a little of my ex in the heroine- the look of despair, the struggle to survive, and the constant fight against real or imagined threats. This kind of drama may be good for a Hollywood movie, but it can destroy a relationship. Imagine trying to build intimacy with a person who floats in and out of reality. Imagine trying to get close to someone who is still fighting demons from her past.
In the movie, the bad guys are all grotesque monsters (representing men). They are soulless and sometimes faceless. They are slithery and creepy. Men are to be feared in this world. Welcome to the world of black and white thinking. Imagine a man trying to love a woman who thinks all men are monsters. Imagine lovingly embracing the woman you love and then, all of a sudden, she remembers being held down. Imagine gently touching her wrists and suddenly it triggers memories of cutting.
In the movies, it’s easy to separate the good guys from the bad guys. In real life, survivors mix up the two all the time. In real life, they fight people who love them. And run back to people who abuse them. The problem with this culture of escapism is the naivete that comes with it. All that time in LaLa Land, makes it difficult for someone to relate to the real world. Notice the heroine is an adult actress playing a young child. Is this an intentional representation of arrested development?
When you are emotionally detached, it’s hard to know who to trust. Dissociation makes it hard to read people. You make false-accusations based on paranoia. Your internal compass is screwed up. It causes otherwise intelligent people to do stupid things. If you’ve ever been pissed-drunk and gotten into a fight with a loved one, you know what it’s like to not be in control. A survivor may be in control in their mind. But in the real world, they are very much out of control.
Then again, it’s just a movie. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
April 1, 2011
What Avril means to say is she’s not serious about this relationship. She’s dangling this guy along because she enjoys the sense of ownership and power. But she also wants to have lots of unprotected “fun” with other guys. She wants her cake and eat it too.
Her low self-esteem requires lots of attention. She doesn’t care about another person’s feelings because she’s too selfish and fucked up to think about anyone else but herself. And she’s too dishonest and insecure to tell the guy straight up, “hey, I’m not really emotionally capable of having a relationship right now, because I have intimacy issues. But don’t wait around because I have no intention of working on these issues. Peace.”
But that’s not very catchy, pop-y or dance tune-y. Now is it?
March 23, 2011
I am, George. I am.
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.
January 16, 2011
My borderline ex is obsessed with the glamorous life. One of the many things that was passed down from her mother, the one time model. Her fashion blogger idol is the Glamourai. She has copied everything- her blog, her look, and her life. This is typical of a borderline personality, especially one with histrionic traits. Their condition has left them without a sense of identity, so they adopt someone else’s.
When she was an angry youth, she went through a goth phase and a hip hop phase. But as an adult, she has learned to cover up her dark side with glamor. If you know anything about BPD, you know her life is anything but glamorous. It has been a life marked with turmoil and chaos. She is faking it for her audience and for herself. She wants you to believe her life is happy and fabulous because she doesn’t want you to see the sorrow. She doesn’t want to own up to all the horrible things she’s done. It’s easier for her to create an imaginary life in La La Land than to accept the truth.
Award season is upon us and it is easy for all of us to get caught up in the glamor. But let me remind you that life on the red carpet is not all it’s cracked up to be. La La Land attracts people with personality disorders because here they can re-invent themselves, start fresh. But this, like most things in Hollywood, is an act. It’s for the lights, the cameras and now the blogosphere/twittersphere.
An impressionable borderline like my ex is easily swept up in the glamor of Hollywood. She envies it and emulates it at the same time. She is a starry-eyed little girl trapped in a woman’s body. For her and many other high-functioning disordered people, glamor is a way to cover up the ugliness they feel inside.
In hindsight, some of these well-staged acts seem haunting now. Their train wreck lives have become fodder for gossip rags and the stuff of Hollywood legend. But let it be a reminder that mental illness, addictions and personality disorders can not and should not be ignored. Disordered people are very good at distracting the world and themselves. The people who need the most help are the least likely to seek help. They are too busy living the “glamorous” life.
But when you cover up pain, it grows. When an emotionally damaged person lives in denial, they not only loose touch with their pain, they loose touch with reality. They loose touch with the people they are hurting. This is when they are most likely to engage in outlandish, abusive and self-destructive behavior. These people are ticking time bombs. By the time the rest of the world catches on, it is usually too late.
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.