As someone who is recovering from BPD and has come a long way, I have to tell you that not everything about BPD is negative.
I believe that going through it, enduring the symptoms and the consequences of your actions, can make you a better person.
It definitely feels like it for several reasons that I will explain in the coming section.
This isn’t a generalization of all people with BPD, it’s just my experience and some people relate to it, while others don’t.
Relationships are hard for everyone: being vulnerable, sharing everything, disagreements, etc. Before I started recovering it was a complete and utter chaos. Toxic relationships, sudden breakups for petty reasons, conflict, etc. I had almost no sense of commitment and I would get into relationships too quick, without analyzing the person first. Impulsivity was something that interfered with my relationships. Little thing you told me that I didn’t like? Might break up with you tomorrow. Terrible thing you did to me but you’re my FP? I’ll stick around and add fire to the flame.
As I started healing, I noticed that I had a sense of commitment. I communicated better and didn’t get angry. There was so much abuse and drama in my past that I did my best not to live through the same thing. Started fighting more for relationships, even a little too much but I believe that I will attain balance. I had very little arguments and lots of harmony. Never cheated on him, as I know how it hurts (not by experience because I never found out that a boyfriend was cheating on me), how disrespectful it is and how bad I feel after cheating. It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. There are many steps before you cheat. Ultimately, going down that road is up to you and you only. You can stop at any time.
The “I hate you/ Don’t leave me” relationships started disappearing from my life. I don’t go back and forth with someone, with arguments and animosity, drama. I cut or dramatically reduce contact. Can’t stand it. It feels good in a twisted way but it also feels like a prison where I’ve been before. I just don’t want to stay in toxic relationships, because of how traumatic they were in the past. Even after 15 years of dating a narcissist and especially because I recently dated another briefly, it was like my heart was burned. It is burnt flesh that hurts like hell when people do and say certain things. Which in turn made me more mindful of what I say to people, I don’t want to hurt anyone.
The “I hate you/Don’t leave me” model of relationship also refers to friendship. It was frequent for me to have toxic friendships. It could happen that someone was my FP and I would take turns in loving and hating them. One day, they were my whole life, the other day they were terrible and would abandon me, so I better abandon them first. It hurts less that way, not that it doesn’t hurt a lot because it does. An FP is like a drug to us. It’s a kind of passion.
Sometimes, I wasn’t the most loyal because I was a people pleaser. As I started growing older and healing, I learned how to say no and say things people might not like to hear (without being rude, of course). Learning to say no is a fundamental skill for someone with BPD, as our boundaries are so poorly defined in the beginning of our struggle. We learn by reading, DBT and watching others.
Friendships are also less tense and dramatic when you are recovering. I would have fits and do huge scenes, in my worst times. I must’ve embarrassed quite a few people with my anger and impulsivity. It was probably one of the factors that contributed to being abandoned by several people. Today, I get it. On one hand, I was severely sick. On the other, people were entitled not to feel embarrassed by friends, not to want to deal with certain situations. There were a few serious situations that could’ve ended badly but luckily nothing happened. I think I scared people with my instability.
We learn that lots of people can’t deal with us but some can. I learned to cherish those people. Help them in any way I can. Now, I can love them to death and that is a somewhat stable feeling. Minor things don’t influence my opinion of the person. With time, DBT, medication and observation, we learn about nuance: how someone can be simultaneously flawed and lovable. We are the first ones to recognize that people are flawed, as we are, but we can deal with certain flaws and character defects.
To grow, we need to surround ourselves mostly with people who are kind and validating but are not enablers. We live in a world of our own, like everyone else, but in our case it can be a quite distorted world, due to our poor coping mechanisms. It’s important to have friends that remind us of what’s right or wrong and help us make better decisions.
Oh, boundaries. How we need them. Boundaries fail us when we are experiencing more symptoms. We let people walk over us, we let people do things to us that we don’t want, we do what we can to keep certain relationships, be it romantic or friendships. We also tend to not respect other people’s boundaries, as we don’t have strong ones. We need to have boundaries in order to understand and respect other people’s boundaries. We have our own reality tunnels, shaped by our experience, personality and BPD. If our “walls” are weak and too flexible, we will think that others are like us. At least, that’s what happens in the beginning. If we grow and change, every time we cross the line is a lesson learned.
I can only speak about my parents and other relatives. I’m not a mother,so that won’t be included in my story.
My relationship with my family changed a lot over time and became stronger.
My psychiatrist once told me that it was easier for me to change than my parents. That I should adapt and tanke charge of my choices. At the time, I was already taking a good combo of medication so it was easier to have self-control. That gradually changed the dynamics of the relationship. We had reached a breaking point many years before that and they didn’t know how to act around me. They have strong personalities so they simultaneously walked on eggshells and went off on me. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish this on any parent and neither do I wish that they suffer from BPD. Because I felt miserable. I needed my parents’ love and attention. But I also pushed them away. There were reasons for me to react the way I did but there was a lot of overreacting going on.
I still briefly bicker with my father on a regular basis but it never escalates. Retreat is a good option for me. Return to headquarters haha. My relationship with my mother is much better and we rarely fight. I think she’s happier now that I’m better. She just wished that I could have a better life, while she helps me get there.
Never forget, if your parents raised you with love, they probably still love you now and are on your side. A psychologist can help you immensely (and maybe medication but that is your call) to help you see from your parents’ point of view. It’s easy to get caught up in feelings and overanalyzing and not see obvious things, though we pay attention to everything. It can also help you learn how to communicate better with the people in your life. I’ve learned so much about myself and others with my psychologists. It’s really eye-opening and helpful. If you are curious about yourself and want to evolve in a healthy way, it’s one of the bets things to do. However, not everyone can do it and I respect that. Trauma is a like a thorn in your soul. It’s not palpable but it stings and sometimes therapy is the only way to deal with it. Doing trauma work is very hard but it’s worth it. Understanding how we can find new and better coping mechanisms, that are constructive and healthy. Find ways to soothe ourselves that won’t hurt us in the long run.
There are other aspects but these were the ones who stood out to me. Everyone grows in a different way and maybe your experience wasn’t quite like mine. There isn’t a fixed road for someone with BPD, nor is there for anyone. If you would like to add something that you think BPD helped you with, feel free to comment below.
Can you imagine what it’s like to have a somewhat normal childhood and troubled teens but your mental health was okay. You start to have these symptoms when you’re a young adult (at least that’s what happened to me). Everything changes. You are overwhelmed and hurting. Things are going downhill and you don’t even know how to explain to your doctor how you feel. Most people never go through this. They have their own aches but such a shift in your personality is not very common. Your personality is a mask that you wear and your identity. Everyone has an idea of who they are (an idea only because no one knows that for sure, if you go to the root of it) but you don’t. And you have this chronic feeling of emptiness that you desperately want to fill. People seem to know what they’re doing and you are just trying to survive. Trying to feel okay, try to not feel so much, trying not to see so much, not to catch all those details that you later overanalyze.
With age, you also learn that things aren’t always what they seem. The face that your friend made, what he said. It can be a misunderstanding. Overreacting is only going to blow things out of proportion and create problems. But it’s a fairly normal response for someone with BPD. We are scared, confused, we need some control over things, since we lost control.
If you have BPD, believe me, wanting to change is the first step in an incredible journey of growth. A journey that only you can make. You’ll be wiser, stronger. DBT or therapy will help you cope better and re-learn how to live in a healthy way.
Maybe today you had a terrible day, full of emotions and anger and whatever else you’re dealing with but a better tomorrow is possible.
Much love to you all.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.