Someone once described borderline personality disorder as being born without emotional skin. To date, this is the best description I have heard. It’s more than just being a little sensitive. It is constantly feeling like the world is out to get you, like people’s words are physically wounding you. When you are this sensitive, your knee-jerk reaction is to lash out without mercy or restraint.

And if you think these lash-outs are just reserved for enemies. Then you have never loved a borderline. Loving a borderline (as someone once put it) is like hugging a burn victim. Your hugs cause them to fight or take flight.

When you are this sensitive you become wary of the world-at-large. Which is why many of these uber-sensitive types seek refuge in small protective communities. Birds of a feather flock together.

I have found a lot of these communities on Tumblr and other corners of the internet. Here they can find other troubled souls. Here they can engage in “I’m OK. You’re OK” thinking.

These are secluded communities that provide shelter from the harsh realities of the real world. But every once and a while they post something that provides valuable insight into their dysfunctional behavior:

I am incredibly sensitive. So, so sensitive. That sensitivity allows me to detect subtle nuances in people’s behavior. So if I sense that someone doesn’t like me or is angry at me, I’m almost always right.

And the thing is, I spend a lot of time looking inward. I can’t help it. So if you point out a flaw, chances are I already know about it, and I’m already dealing with it. I am, quite literally, doing the best I can. It would be nice if I weren’t concerned about being wonderful and perfect and cool and nonthreatening and strong and brave and kind, but I am, and I continually fail at being all those things, because, try as I might, I’m just not very likable.

In the past, I walled myself off from everyone so I didn’t have to feel that way as often. But then I started allowing people (not on the internet) in, and it’s exactly what I expected. I always, always feel inadequate.

It was so much easier when I didn’t have to worry about feelings.

Reading this is a little heart-breaking. What she may not know… What members of her dysfunctional community have failed to pick up on is that she has actually diagnosed herself. She has just described the common symptoms of someone who is born with hyper-sensitivity, feelings of inadequacy and profound feelings of shame.

On top of that, she has feelings of being different and being unlikeable. It is the sum total of all of these symptoms (not each one) that suggest BPD or some early trauma. This is not your average teen angst. It is much more profound than that.

No matter how prickly they may be, you still have to feel sorry for someone who is born with this condition. It’s not their fault. But until they are professionally treated, they will most likely continue causing their own misery and the misery of those around them.

This one may very well be doing the best she can. But most of these people are ill-equipped for life. They can not help but act out, because it has been part of their conditioning since birth. These internet communities might ease the pain of loneliness, but they provide no real motivation to get better.

The story is an all too familiar one in the world of borderline personality disorder- Boy meets girl.  Girl falls madly in love with boy. Boy decides she is the one. Boy finds out girl has serious issues. Girl agrees to therapy. Girl stresses out and runs from boy. Girl cuts boy out of her life forever. (Yes, this happens the other way too)  One young man recounts his experiences falling in love with a borderline:

In any case, I’m in my Senior year in college and dated a girl for a year and a half, and she’s been thru it all. First off, she is smart, funny, and absolutely gorgeous. However, she was raped, sexually assaulted, saw a friend die, has a mom with biploar, really odd boyfriends, etc…when I met her I went thru most of which you guys wouldn’t be surprised to hear. I stopped her from cutting, hitting herself, had to calm her during flashbacks, panic attacks, suicidality, etc.

The bond that is established between a trauma survivor and a person that becomes the caregiver is much more intense than your average relationship. It is a codependent relationship for sure, but it is also highly addictive for both parties. When that trauma includes rape, the caregiver is biting off more than they can chew.

We also had numerous, heated arguments that led to us breaking up almost every week. Often she would try to make me jealous by flirting with other guys, or just start fights for no reason, often throwing things, screaming terrible insults at me, etc. I stood by her thru all of this because when she was actually healthy we were pretty amazing together. I always knew in the back of my mind that this girl was borderline, and biploar, and odds are it wouldn’t work out.

Nothing hurts more than going out of the way to care for someone with extraordinary emotional needs only to have them lash out at you in extraordinarily cruel ways. A BP is use to abusive/ dead-end relationships. When they finally meet someone who is kind and giving, they freak out. They feel unworthy of someone who is in it for the long haul. And so the self-sabotage begins. Unconsciously, they push their lover away. And then ruthlessly punish them, when they finally do drift away.

BPs are not evil people. They are terribly insecure and emotionally damaged. But a terribly insecure person can do horrible things to someone who loves them. Ironically, a BP is more likely to harm someone who loves them than someone who neglects them. To their credit, the partners of BPs are able to forgive BPs for what most people would consider unforgivable. This requires a tremendous amount of patience and tolerance. Most people would abandon a BP. But the few who do stick it out, hope for better days.

Then, I helped convince her to go to McLean Hospital, and seek DBT therapy. She definitely improved, and after that all of a sudden the relationship changed. She was an amazing girlfriend, did whatever she could to help me, was SO loyal to me, and basically everything I could have ever wanted. Last semester (Sept. 2009-Dec. 2009) things just skyrocketed. We practically lived together and hung out all the time

This sounds like a really inspiring story right?!?! I mean, for months my friends and my family told me that we could never have a normal relationship, they would sit me alone in my room everyday and tell me to get out before I got hurt. Even they started to admit they were wrong, and we were really on our way. I made the mistake of really letting my guard down, I completely ignored the fact that she was bipolar and could change her mind any second. I really believed that this was the right girl for me, and that we would be together forever. Before I was honestly afraid of breaking up with her because she was so attached to me, but that stopped even being a possibility. She would talk about our wedding, kids, family, future, everyday, and I really started to believe we would have all of that.

BPs are very good at pulling people into their drama. They are even better at giving false hope. When a BP can no longer deny their issues, they will promise to seek help. For a short period of time, the BP will display signs of improvement. But these are short-term gains, mostly superficial improvements. During this period, BPs are on their best behavior. They are putting up a facade of good mental health. But just one bump in the road is all it takes for the facade to fall off.

When February started, all of a sudden everything just changed. We had a hard conversation where she told me that she was really worried about being long-distance, and that her therapist at McLean might tell her she has to break up with me because distance is so hard on her.

It doesn’t take much for a BP to be discouraged. In their defense, dealing with BPD/Rape trauma is no easy task. But it is not unusual for a BP to throw in the towel after a few months of therapy. Whether or not the therapist actually told her to break up with her boyfriend is questionable. Sometimes a BP hears what he/she wants to hear. It is more likely that this BP finally succumbed to her fears of abandonment. A BP breaks off a relationship as a preemptive measure against his/her own heart break.They break your heart before you can break theirs. In some ways, it gives them control.

Also because she was too dependent on me this year, and next year it would be a hard transition to be without me– I was her whole life. I knew I was really in for a hard, hard time after that talk. The next day, petty fights just started up constantly for no reason. She soon went into a severe depressive state, to the point where she had seizure-like behaviors. Things turned really quickly, and became really bad. She stayed in my room for about 4 days straight and I had to carry her around everywhere. I had to get her every meal, call professors to tell them she was ill, carry her to the bathroom, etc. Her rape flashbacks also started up again, and the Zoloft completely took away her sex drive. As a result, her Body Image disorders just shot thru the roof, everything was going wrong. Then shortly before Valentine’s day she came and told me she didn’t know if she loved me anymore, obviously I was crushed! The next day she sent me a message, blocking me on facebook and saying she will no longer contact me because of advice from her parents and doctors.

When a BP becomes emotionally dependent on someone, the fear of losing that crutch is too much. It is this fear that brings out the darkside of a BP. Picking fights is a sign that the BP is looking for an out. They are devaluing you to make it easier to leave while pushing you away at the same time. Eventually, a BP devalues you to the point where they feel nothing for you. You are dead to them. A BP partner rarely sees this coming. They think the fights are just part of the ups and downs of a BP relationship, not realizing that this is the final dip.

In a matter of days, you have gone from the love of their life, to someone who is smothering them. Partners are usually shocked at how cold their ex-lover has become. Blocking you from facebook is the least of your worries. When a BP “splits you black”, they can resort to hostility to get rid of you. That hostility can translate into infidelity, a smear campaign and false accusations. When a BP is in the grips of fear, both rational thought and compassion are thrown out the window. The love you had is a distant memory as far as they are concerned. In some cases, the BP will convince themselves it was all an illusion. And in a way, he/she would be right. An untreated BP is incapable of actual intimacy. You have just witnessed what happens when a BP finds him/herself in a serious relationship.

Sadly, a BP in denial will never know how much pain they have caused their lovers. A partner who has been cut out of a lover’s life will go through unimaginable pain, self-doubt, and deep depression. These caretakers gave up their own well-being to love a BP, and in return were betrayed.

I feel like I wasted 1.5 years of my life. Logically, I know life must go on and I have such a solid friends/family support base that getting thru this really hasn’t been that bad. I’m still devastated though and think about her everyday. I dream about her every night. I hope to never hear from her again because I’m so angry, what kind of sick person gives you their life for 18 months, then just expunges you completely? At the same time– I secretly hope, everyday, that she contacts me and gives me a reason to take her back. I also know that I will never take her back again, or will I? I’m very confused. Does she come back to me? Do I contact her? Is there any hope? Is she going to make an honest effort to get better, then come back to me when she is ready? What in the world is going on?!?!?

But the fact is a BP is sick. Many lovers underestimate how sick a BP is at their own expense. Well-meaning friends will tell this person to move on, but it’s never that easy. A BPD love is an addiction. When you stop cold-turkey you go through withdrawal symptoms. This person has just been traumatized and victimized. It will take a great deal of time (and maybe counseling) to heal and trust someone again. Unless, a BP has been treated for years there is always the risk of being put through the wringer.

Borderline Personalities are notorious for playing the victim. They have this notion that the whole world is conspiring to get them, that life itself is out to get them. Their lack of self compels them to seek out a feeling of self-importance.

What I found odd about my ex was that her accusations were more about her than me. If she accused me of being hostile it was usually because she was being hostile. She was always complaining that people were being overly intense or aggressive. But she would ignore the fact that she was usually the one being intense and overly aggressive. It was as if she was looking for a fight. She would provoke people just to get a rise. And then when they did respond, she would accuse the other person being abusive. If anything, people went out of their way to accommodate her moodiness.

My ex hated to be criticized, but often engaged in acts that called for negative attention. She would engage in abusive acts and wait for you to condemn her. And as soon as you did, she would then accuse you of abusing her. She was the victim, never the abuser. At least, in her troubled mind.

I thought this following article on borderline personalities was spot on. In particular, the observation that BPs will often play the victim to flatter their suffering egos:

Borderlines can be both very self-loathing and narcissistic at the same time. Some Borderlines see themselves as a victim to the entire world, a world which in their eyes wants to crucify them though they are nothing, and at the same time share the belief that it is because they are so “special”, that everyone around them is “hating” on them and wants to crucify them. For many Borderlines, the belief that someone doesn’t like them or wants to hurt them makes them feel significant, big, like they are somebody or else why would people want to diminish someone they thought of as small. Because most Borderlines thrive off of the idea of people wanting to victimize them, they often find themselves creating self-defeating situations around them, even when all the cards are stacked up in their favor.

Towards the end of our relationship I was skeptical every time my ex cried wolf, even when she complained about headaches or some other imaginary ailment. It got to a point where I assumed she was just looking for attention. Playing victim was her way of making sure no one would abandon her.

It only got worse when she split me black. I was already breaking my back to repair a relationship she had destroyed. And she was simultaneously pushing me away and stringing me along. One second, accusing me of harassing her and then, the next minute, calling me to meet her- to soothe her feelings of loneliness. And then discarding me, once she had found someone else to give her attention. She went back to playing the victim and I went from savior back to being a villain. Whatever was convenient for her at the time.

This victim mind game is abuse at its worst. It’s playing with someone’s mind and heart. It’s not caring about other people’s feelings, because you are so consumed by your own pursuit for attention. Borderlines surround themselves with people who are more than willing to feed this insatiable hunger for attention and expel anyone who denies them the satisfaction. The sad thing about my ex is she’s crying out for help, but nobody is listening. That’s what happens when you cry wolf too many times.

Talk to the Hand

April 11, 2013

As they say, the apple never falls far from the tree. Unfortunately, that is especially true when it comes to repeating the mistakes of our parents. The following is a borderline’s observation about her own struggle with intimacy:

Lack of Skill

Most people primarily learn behavior as a child by watching their parents interact.  Well, in my childhood home, my parents either ignored each other, or my mom was yelling about what she wanted or didn’t get from my father.  So guess what I learned to do?  I either ignore the problem until it builds up and I explode at anyone I see as contributing to the problem… even if they had no idea there even was a problem.  A lot of the adult (and even some peer) relationships I was exposed to were like that; and I learned the lesson too well, having the same pattern reinforced for 10 years during my first marriage.  I never really learned how to interact with someone I was in an intimate relationship with.

When it comes to most BPD relationships, it is all or nothing. Hot or cold. Full-blown rage or passive-aggressive silence. A BP either bashes you or shuts you out. You might have enjoyed some constructive and meaningful conversations in the beginning of the relationship. But once a borderline splits you black, it’s all over. Once they feel they are in danger of being emotionally hurt or abandoned, they will kick you to the curb. For a BP, this is a case of both nature and nurture. If a Borderline ever hopes to achieve real intimacy, he/she must learn to not push it away.

Conservative or Liberal, you have to agree Anne Coulter is one angry bitch. I saw her interview with Piers Morgan. Not only was she obnoxious, she couldn’t stop talking about her book.

My god that woman is abrasive. I have to say Piers earned some points with me when he started asking her personal questions about her life. All of a sudden she got really awkward and defensive. She said she doesn’t talk about her personal life because she’s afraid of stalkers. Where have I seen this sort of self-victimization before?

There’s a reason why she talks about public issues and not her own issues. And it’s not because of stalkers or other imagined boogie men. The pained expression on her face says it all. When someone is this uptight, it’s because they are trying really hard to control their emotions. When they have a history of demonizing people, it’s because they are dealing with demons from their past.

What I see is a woman who is compensating for an inferiority complex via self-aggrandizement. A woman who is running away from a dark past, turbulent relationships and all the other things we’ve come to associate with narcissistic/borderline types. We’ve seen this pattern of behavior in liberal grandstanders as well. This has nothing to do with political affiliations.

I think Rosie O’Donnell nailed it when she had this to say about her:

She’s angry if you ask me. She’s full of rage. When you see someone like that, you have to go back to what happened in their childhood… You don’t know what went on in their household.

Good insight Rosie. I’d add that when someone is trying that hard to get people’s attention, there are usually some serious self-esteem issues. And this almost always points to some childhood abuse. This is not just women, you see it with other political extremists like Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Rush “Oxcontin” Limbaugh.

When a cheater is confronted, they lie. They cover up their tracks with absurd stories. But when they’re busted, they cry. Not real tears. The kind for show. They want you to believe they are “deeply sorry”. But this is just another act. This is how you know you are dealing with a narcissist. Narcissists love the political stage, because they love to grandstand. They love to feel important. But mostly they love themselves. Which means they have little love for those around them.

But it’s not just men who think with their… weiner. My borderline ex knows a lot about cheating. She is a cheater just like Weiner. And yes, sexting is cheating. If you have to hide your behavior, it’s cheating. Cheaters want you to believe their acts of indiscretion are isolated incidents, but the truth will reveal that this is a pattern of behavior. Most likely their parents were cheaters. People don’t just wake up one day and decide they’re going to be cheaters. This misbehavior is ingrained in them from a young age. It should not surprise you that there were multiple women involved with Weiner-gate.

Anthony Weiner should have known better. But when you are conditioned for bad behavior, intelligence is thrown out the window. This behavior suggest a serious personality disorder. If you can’t control your impulses, then you have a serious problem. When your behavior is so destructive it destroys your career and your family, that is a red alert.

Maybe we can all learn from the Congressman’s mistakes. He has taken the first step to recovery. He’s come clean. Admitting your mistakes is the first step to clearing your conscience. But with narcissists, everything is for show. Even a show of remorse. As a narcissist, the possibility of change is slim to none.

This controversial question asked on Tumblr:

Should you be in a relationship if you’re massively fucked up? If you’re broken?

meloukhia:

The idea that people cannot find (do not deserve) love, particularly true or perfect love, if they are ‘broken’ or ‘damaged’ is in fact quite common in this society. Many people happily parrot this idea along with self-helpy jargon like needing to love yourself before you seek love. Which is a reminder to broken people, to people who may hate themselves for whatever reason, that they don’t deserve love (we don’t deserve so many things…to live, to speak, to have opinions…).

It is also particularly common to claim that people with mental illness, some diagnoses in particular, are inherently bad and dangerous and harmful and shouldn’t be in relationships/don’t deserve love because they will just hurt people. People have told me to my face at feminist conferences that people with my diagnoses are damaging and dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed to have relationships. Human connections.

The idea of denying love to any human being repulses me. The idea of proudly crowing that you feel some human beings don’t deserve love, or friendship, can never find these things, because they are ‘sick’…it’s not particularly new or revolutionary.

Hi C  wrote:

I completely disagree.

Not about the idea that people who have mental illnesses don’t deserve to find love, or that they are inherently bad.

But about the idea that you shouldn’t work on yourself before entering a relationship. I don’t think that’s an ableist idea. I think those who call that an ableist idea are making a mockery of sick people who are actually making an effort to “work on themselves”, and who are at the same time are working themselves to the bone, trying to take care of the people who love them and who they love.

Its not about you anymore when you join with someone else. That’s what’s at the heart of it when people say “you have to work on yourself before you enter a relationship”. You become semi-responsible for that other person’s health and wellness. You can’t burden them like that, because its just not fair to that other person.

Relationships aren’t about completing each other, or finding that special person who you can dump all your shit onto and have it be okay. That’s not fair, and that’s co-dependency to the hilt. That’s also breeding grounds for an abusive relationship. Relationships are two individuals coming together and loving each other and leaning on each other to an extent. If you can’t respect another person’s boundaries, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship.

Doesn’t matter what you have, what you are; doesn’t give anyone the right to throw all of their shit onto another person and expect them to hold themselves and you up completely — because that’s just the way you are, and you can’t help it. No. Absolutely not.

One does not lose all semblance of personal responsibility just because you have emotional illnesses.

Love, especially romantic love, isn’t something anyone deserves. That kind of connection with another human being is something you earn.

There’s a difference between accepting your diagnosis and understanding that you might never become “like others”, and not harming other people. And yeah, I define being in a relationship before you’re ready to be in a relationship that way.

I’m sorry if reading this hurts anyone. I just… I don’t know what else to say. That post hit me so hard with its wrongness. My feelings on this are entirely bound up in my (very negative) relationships with mentally ill people and my own experience being a mentally ill person in a relationship in which I put far too much of my own shit onto said boyfriend. If I could take back all of it, I would. The guilt keeps me up at night. The only way I’ve gotten this far into recovery is the thought that I’m going to make amends and never again be so disrespectful of the people I love.

allyourlovearebelongtome wrote:

I agree completely. I’m a depressive and have struggled with severe depression in the past. I’ve also been in relationships (all kinds) with mentally ill people. And guess what? It fucking hurts to hold yourself and another person up. You have to recognize when you’re a danger to others’ wellbeing. Love is not a commodity; everyone deserves a specific kind of love. But not everyone deserves a partner. Relationships with some types of mentally ill people can very easily become mentally/emotionally abusive. You don’t have to stick around for that out of guilt.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know my views on this topic. But I’m gonna chew on this for a bit before I post my comments down below. In the meantime- What do you think?

Unstable Relationships

June 1, 2011

NYPD Blues

May 31, 2011

Recently, two NYC cops were acquitted of raping an intoxicated woman. The jury felt they did not have enough evidence to convict. There were holes in both versions of the story. The cops were instead charged with misconduct and subsequently fired from the police force. So why was there so much doubt in this case? Alcohol. It was the main reason why the details were so fuzzy. And any time alcohol and questionable behavior are present, it sends up the red flag for some sort of personality disorder. This red flag is seen in the cops as well as their alleged victim.

Even if he didn’t rape the woman, the police officer’s behavior is disturbing to say the least. But so much attention has been placed on him, almost nothing is known about the accuser. Her behavior is just as questionable. How do we know she’s innocent? Did she really flirt with the officer? Are there signs they are both struggling with alcoholism? Does she show signs of a personality disorder? Because this is just the type of thing that happens to people stuggling with alcoholism and PDs. Inappropriate behavior and a lack of boundaries is quite common with these people. Nobody wants to hear this but alcoholics put themselves in compromising situations all the time.

In the security video, she was seen stumbling into the building with the officers. So she wasn’t totally out of it. Quite frankly, I have seen this pattern of behavior before. I know this type. The type that has a hard time controlling their alcohol and their sexual impulses. The type that has a long history of getting themselves into compromising situations. And then when they realize what they’ve done, they look for a way to make themselves look like the poor helpless victim. The type that is desperate for attention, the wrong kind of attention. The cops demonstrated troubling behavior, but if she is guilty of false accusations of rape that is just as troubling.

I’m not surprised that alcoholism plays a major role in this case. As most addictions specialists know- where there is alcoholism, there is most likely a personality disorder and a history of childhood abuse. This is the Unholy Trinity: alcohol abuse, personality disorders and childhood abuse. People who have suffered from all three are much more likely to be victimized. But it also creates doubt.When the Trinity is present, it brings everything into question because questionable behavior is the hallmark of the Trinity. You are talking about a person who has a tendency to get themselves into trouble. It’s tragic but true.

Unfortunately, both rape and allegations of rape are common when there is a history of sexual abuse and alcoholism. That should not be shocking news. But it’s not usually the kind of rape where a stranger pulls you into an alley way. Or the kind of sexual assault that Lara Logan experienced in Egypt. It is predominantly acquaintance rape and it is often under the influence of alcohol. And that is the kind that always leaves questions.

It is not hard to believe that the NYPD cop and the drunk woman might have established some rapport before the alleged rape. The common history of alcohol abuse and disordered behavior creates instant bonds. In a strange way they are “soulmates” because they are both troubled souls. But when you are dealing with troubled souls, you are dealing with people who can’t always be trusted to tell the truth.

It is not unusual for someone afflicted with the Trinity to engage in risky sexual acts and later have mixed emotions about it. It is not unusual for an alcoholic to have sex and not remember if they’ve given consent, especially since black outs and denial are how many survivors deal with sexual abuse. It is also not unusual for a survivor of childhood abuse to misinterpret sexual encounters. Nor is it unusual for these survivors to create a rape story as a means to cope with past feelings of shame and anger. Such behavior is well-documented.

To be honest, I don’t know enough details about the case to make this call. But the red flags are there. The patterns of dysfunctional behavior are there. You can see why the jury had such a hard time with this case. When you are dealing with alcohol abuse, there are all sorts of things that create reasonable doubt. While I can understand the outrage over this decision, it does nothing to prevent this sort of thing from happening again and again.

 

Avoiding Abandonment

May 29, 2011

Borderlines who have a history of ending their relationships abruptly, will most likely deny having a fear of intimacy/abandonment. Since they are the breaker-upper, they are more than happy to see their partners go. But this is the borderline fooling themselves into believing they are completely in control.

What they fail to realize is there is a reason why they devalue their partners. The cliche “it’s me, not you” really applies here. They fail to see that prior to the devaluation, everything was going fine. But when things go too well… when they become more vulnerable… that’s when the borderline starts throwing a wrench into the works.

Whether they are aware of it or not, the more attached they become to someone, the more they fear losing them. This causes the borderline to feel trapped and suffocated. They are drowning in fear and insecurity. It will end with the borderline becoming inexplicably hostile, ruthlessly cutting off the partner they once couldn’t get enough of.