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Topic: BPD person who needs a friend with knowledge of BPD

  1. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    7 February 2020
    Hi, I am a 39 year old woman who has undiagnosed (but definitely) BPD and I have just ruined another online relationship with somebody because I couldn't handle yet another burst of emotional dysregulation.

    I have tried to undo the damage with all my heart, but my friend is not responding (and probably rightly so) so now I am spiralling along the path of yet another rejection (but also knowing that it was self inflicted, of course) and am back to being crushingly lonely and craving connection with another human being.

    I prefer online contact now because it means I can't 'mirror' the other person like I do in a physical meet-up, which means I allow my 'true self' to shine through, although it has lead me to interpret written words in the wrong manner and was the main cause of the last disaster.

    So, how does a person with BPD find friends?

    I am aware that I have many qualities and gifts to offer as a friend, but when I have a BPD episode (even if I have informed the other person that I have it and what it is) my friends are often horrified and unable to reconcile the 'me' they thought they knew and the emotionally crashing mess in front of them. Enter awkwardness, enter apologies, enter....rejection. And I didn't mean to do it, not one bit. I just get overwhelmed, trapped in a vicious cycle of self doubt, needing constant relationship status reassurance and wondering whether I am good enough for the other person.

    Actually, after the storm passes and I have purged, I have more clarity and better resiliance to the matter at hand...but unfortunately, the other person has usually already bailed. Also, ironically, this does NOT happen on any other level in my life - it is ONLY when I have a close interpersonal relationship with someone that I like. If the other person is abusive or violent or aggressive....I am cool, calm and collected, with all the right responses and an incredible amount of tolerance. I don't understand it, but that's the way it is. It also means I am at risk for seeking out such terrible people because it is the only time I feel in control. Thankfully, my rational mind knows that is bad news and I steer clear.

    But where to from here? If I can't deal with liking someone (or they like me) and I can't be around people who are, well, nasty - what is left? How am I supposed to stop being lonely if I can't connect to someone? Anyone?

    Do I look for people who have BPD? Will it mean that we will be more understanding of each other or will we feed off each others fear of ultimate rejection?

    Do I look for people who have experienced another person with BPD and hope that they can understand me?

    Or do I have meaningless, casual relationships that never go beyond generalised chit chat?

    Any advice is welcome. I am floundering, exhausted, embarressingly desperate for a connection of some kind but also scared to involve another because I am well-aware of my capacity to hurt and confuse them with my outbursts and this is by far the worst torment I suffer - my negative impact on others (on occasion).

    My attempts to control my behaviour with self-help books and research has clearly failed, so I am currently looking for a BPD therapist in my area.

    Thank you.


    2 people found this helpful
  2. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hi Pandora,

    I know a fair bit about BPD. Have you read "Walking On Eggshells" and "I Hate you, Don't Leave Me"? Both are very good.

    From my understanding, DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) is considered the gold standard for BPD. It can be expensive, as it involves weekly individual and group sessions for 6 to 12 months. I'm not sure if it is covered by private health insurance.

    I'm happy to chat, if you have any questions or just need someone to talk to.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    266 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hi Pandora Paradoxical

    It is definitely tough trying to be your natural self in this world. I find being our natural self requires a lot of courage, forgiveness (from others and our self) and really good 2 way communication skills when it comes to honest relationships. It also requires a fair bit of open-mindedness. Unfortunately a lot of this sort of stuff can be a challenge to find.

    Not everyone can relate to someone who's seeking self understanding. You can be trying your hardest to understand why you feel hurt whilst that person who hurt you may not have the ability to help you through this analysis. Keep in mind, people aren't always terribly sensitive in ways where it pays to be sensitive. Anyone who thoughtfully and patiently raises us to greater consciousness is a keeper. This could be someone who understands the reasons behind the mood swings and emotions that present in bi-polar, through their own personal experiences. They can relate in a unique way.

    Who swings our moods, is something else to keep in mind when it comes to who we surround our self with. Highly conscious people will typically take folk into an upswing or a natural high in life because they naturally know how to relate to people. For example, you can be in an incredible high to the point where you think 'That's it, I feel like a new person. I am going to give myself a magnificent hair cut. I'm going to cut away 20cm of my hair.' People who naturally raise you may say 'You look fantastic, this new you!' Less conscious folk may say 'What the heck led you to do that?!' Boom, down you go into sadness and regret. Personally, I would say 'Go buy an outfit (if you've got the spare cash), to emphasise that magnificent new you!' Naturally thoughtful people will also present us with challenges but they will do this thoughtfully not rudely or selfishly. They will help raise us through them.

    Yes, needles in haystacks, these open minded natural people who love raising others. Life is trial and error. There are plenty of challenges. Finding folk who understand what challenges you is definitely worth the detective work. They're out there. It pays to look for those who are longing to discover their natural self. Share the journey together. You may just find that you begin experiencing more highs than lows.

    :)

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Thanks, Deckt!

    Yes, I have heard of both of those books and I am endeavouring to read them....the problem is, it makes me feel so depressed when I read about it!!

    I just hate the whole idea of it and view it as a failure to control my own behaviour - I am not ME when the episodes happen, I am this frantic, irrational, desperate person who suddenly forgets all of her achievements and experiences at that moment and becomes a traumatised child again....in fact, most of the time I am self aware, insightful and self sufficient. But as soon as I 'read' into those sometimes imaginary signals that other people give me that they may disapprove of me or don't want to be my friend or (shock horror!) reject me completely, my world literally implodes!!

    During an episode, I hate myself. I think I am not good enough, I don't fit in, I am an outsider looking in. I am flawed and it is better to fling people away from me before I can be hurt....before experiencing appalling remorse and crawling back to them full of explanations and apologies about something that exists entirely in MY HEAD!! Sometimes they forgive, other times they don't. And I have to force myself to accept that they have a right to protect themselves from people like me. And it breaks my huge heart, because I just want to make it right.

    It's embarressing, it's tiring, it's a gross waste of my empathic gifts (I am an INFJ) and it makes me furious (and recently, full of despair) that I seem doomed to repeat the same behaviour, over and over again.

    I am pretty sure my mother, grandmother and aunt all have BPD too, so I grew up in a highly unstable environment filled with me fearing for my life on both a physical and emotional scale. And it irks me that at almost forty years old, that these past coping mechanisms continue to dictate how my life unfolds.

    I have tried activities from DBT and CBT workbooks I have read, but it seems to ring hollow in my ears because unless I am actively having an episode (or under stress) I feel like I am ok.

    Well, until recently. Depression has taken a hold of me, so motivation is at an all time low.

    As you said, getting treatment is expensive, both in time and money. My poor suffering boss (bless her a million times!) knows of my struggles and gives me extraordinary lee-way, but I still have to work to survive, so I have one day a week to spare. If I cannot wrangle an appointment on this day (and find the money to pay for it!) what do I do??!! I will literally have to turn my back on interpersonal relationships full-stop because I refuse to hurt anyone else. I am so done with that and would rather be a lonely hermit than have one more casualty to my name.

    So, that's where I am at: damned if I do and damned if I don't!!

    I want the lonliness and depression to go away and the self sufficiency to return so that I have the energy to fight this off!!

    Thank you for your kindness in replying. I really appreciated it.
    4 people found this helpful
  5. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to therising
    Thank you for the kind reply.

    One of the biggest issues I have with people is that I am completely upfront and open about my condition, but because it doesn't match the person in front of them (because I am too busy being a charming, extrovert-appearing chameleon who has just copied their speech and gesture patterns and to whom they have just divulged their deepest, darkest secret because I am SO understanding and SO full of insight), they often think I am being self-critical or melodramatic...that is, until IT happens. Then they are appalled. Here is this woman they confided in, a seemingly rational and down-to-earth being, suddenly dissolving into a babbling heap of incoherent, heart wrenching fabrications invented from some small slight visited upon her by them. So they run. Quickly. Get away from the mad woman!!

    Then the mad woman recovers. And is alone again.

    I don't know if I have the strength to find this 'needle in a haystack' person. Every stuff up takes its toll and even careful vetting of suitable people can be flawed. I often wonder whether it is a case of 'just because I can, doesn't mean I should'.

    Sure, I come with lots of great aspects but it comes at a hefty price that not everyone can pay. And SHOULD I expect them to?

    3 people found this helpful
  6. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hi Pandora,

    I hear where you are coming from. It's good that you are researching and trying activities from CBT and DBT. They are both very helpful. I can hear the empathetic person that is the authentic you. As far as the exercises... I understand that it's frustrating to work on them when you are feeling fine. Try to think of it like this... it's training for an emergency. You wouldn't consider CPR training pointless while you are learning it, just because no one is actually in cardiac distress at the time, right? Mindfulness activities can seem a little dumb if you're feeling in control. But practicing them when you feel fine means that when a crisis comes, the response comes more naturally too.

    I'm sorry that I don't have the energy for a more lengthy or considered response right now... having a little crisis myself. Please keep checking this thread though, I will respond more fully when I'm more able. That's a good lesson for you too... make sure that you're taking care of yourself. Self-soothing activities and practising kindness on yourself first.

    I hope that things start to look up.

    2 people found this helpful
  7. Pandora Paradoxical
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    7 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Thank you for having taken the time to write to me at all, Deckt!! Please look after yourself and I look forward to messaging in the future. xxxxx
    1 person found this helpful
  8. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical
    You are very welcome, Pandora.
  9. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    266 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hi Pandora

    When it comes to us being highly sensitive: The gift aspect can often see us being extremely sensitive to every word and emotion someone sends our way, so we can help people. The curse - Often being extremely sensitive to every word and emotion someone sends our way, leading to a sense of helplessness. Sounds like your mum and aunt weren't in a position to influence you in the ways of mastering your sensitivity. It's a shame that you have the incredible gift of being able to read and help people but few share such a gift to bring to a relationship. Someone who shares the same ability as you would be able to understand what triggers you and why.

    One of the benefits of being highly sensitive - the ability to call people out on comments they've made or certain action or inaction they've taken. An example:

    I've a friend who loves to lounge in front of the tv while not at work. I'd often try to lure them out for some sort of activity but most of the time they'd be happy just sitting around. I'd start off all enthusiastic, full of energy, often begging them. Then, I'd find myself watching tv with them much of the time. Then, I'd get bored and resentful and end up beating myself up, eventually with the belief in mind 'I just wasn't worth the effort for them'. I felt worthless. Suddenly, my perspective shifted when I started being even more sensitive. This gave me the ability to read people and situations more objectively. So, I began reading at a deeper level, which definitely challenged my friend. I confronted them - 'You're incredibly lazy outside of work! You say you are tired all the time and do nothing to raise your own energy levels. You don't seek excitement, you trade it for complacency. You are letting your life slip away. Here I am raising you to the challenge to live and you are rejecting it.' OUCH! Did that get a reaction! The truth is I am worth the effort. Acknowledging the truth of the situation at a deeper level impacted my self esteem in positive ways. This is why I've become an observer at times. Taking a step back allows an honest assessment of a situation, where there is less emotion involved. By the way, this friend is now putting effort in.

    Is 'observation' a skill or ability you think you can master? It's a challenging one for sure. I'm 49 and I'm just learning to master it now. Better late than never. There are moments where I still get pulled into emotion when I shouldn't but I'm determined to break the habit of a lifetime.

    :)

    2 people found this helpful
  10. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    7 February 2020 in reply to therising

    Good morning Pandora,

    I understand that you are afraid of never finding someone who understands you. The crisis that I am going through at the moment is dealing with my ex, who has borderline. Don't think from that that borderlines are intrinsically unlovable. I did not leave her - she left me. The reason for this is that I have two children from a previous relationship, and she views them as a threat to our relationship, claiming that I must still be in love with my ex-wife, as otherwise I would not see my children. Not so rational, yes?

    The difference between you and her is that you are aware of your condition. You are aware that you can get needy and irrational. I would suggest that the right person for you is someone who gets that when you're off, it's your insecurities speaking, not the authentic you. And there are definitely empathetic people out there. I have done an incredible amount to help my ex. I have cleaned up after her car accident (alcohol induced), visited her in hospital more times than I can easily count, gone to AA meetings with her, forgiven her outbursts and infidelities. The reason I have done these things is because I love her, and I know that the times that she has hurt me are about her illness, and not the true indication of who she really is. We've been "together" for two and a half years, in which time she has had maybe two dozen serious outbursts. I am still willing to work with her, but she does not believe that there is anything wrong with her behaviour. A tip as well for you? There's nothing wrong with YOU. Some of your actions may be counter-productive, but you are not your actions.

    There's a great author of blogs etc called Nadia Bokody. If you found "Eggshells" a little depressing, try some of her stuff. The forums don't let us post links, but if you google Nadia Bokody, scroll down to her shesaid page (should be on the first page of google results) and find the article she wrote about BPD. It's called "What Living With Borderline Personality Disorder Feels Like". It's raw and honest. Her other articles are also great, honest, but usually more humorous. There's another good one about relationships - if you google "nadia bokody married to the wrong person", you should find it.

    Please keep in touch. This will get better, because you want it to get better. That's the hardest and biggest step. It's all downhill from here. :)

    2 people found this helpful
  11. Pandora Paradoxical
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    7 February 2020 in reply to therising
    There is usually a race to see whether observation or emotional cues get me first - I often make extremely fast judgements and decision making based on how the person makes me FEEL first, ie my impression of their mood, receptiveness, body language etc....with rational observation coming in a poor second. And I only seem to be able to apply observation and rational understanding if I am not attracted to that person in any way, physically or otherwise. If I AM attracted to them, as a potential friend or perhaps romantic partner, observation is thoroughly jammed into a box and thrown into the sea of positive feelings I get from the interaction, like a temporary drug high: happiness that someone is interested in me, feeling worthy, feeling valued, feeling grateful, the potential to be cared about.

    So you think this is the key to controlling the emotional onslaught? I keep myself emotionally aloof (or perhaps, restrained being a better word), at first, looking at the reality of what is occuring with the other person so that I don't run the risk of inventing a whole scenario within my brain based on what I THINK I am getting from them?

    Hmmm.....this has given me a lot to think about.

    A previous therapist told me I should '...buy myself time', to process interactions, perhaps that's what she meant. Acknowledge the knee-jerk initial summing up of the person but don't stop there - look at the actual real and concrete facts about their behaviour and the evidence that supports it.

    2 people found this helpful
  12. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    8 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical
    Hi Pandora,

    I did respond to you yesterday.... doesn't look like it has made it through yet. Just wanted to let you know that I'm still in this conversation. How are you today?
  13. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    9 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Hi, Deckt!

    No, I didn't receive a response on my end, so I am not sure whether it is a glitch.

    Yes, I do feel a bit better today. I always like to attack puzzles when I need to give my emotional brain a rest...I have nearly crossworded myself out today!

    Also, the emotional dysregulation with BPD fluctuates (mercifully) very quickly, so often if I am very upset, I just wait it out and try self-soothing techniques.

    My daughter has tried to hurt me by texting some pretty horrible stuff to my son today, but as I mentioned before, I am beautifully capable of dealing with conflict. In this regard, I have chosen to not engage. My daughter is very unwell (mentally) at the moment and I know this is not her. So I wait. And be there in the background.

    I hope you are keeping well and that the crisis you mentioned before has been resolved positively.
     
  14. Pandora Paradoxical
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    0 posts
    9 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Oh, Dekt - that's awful, for both YOU and her.

    The fact that you have been able to differentiate between the condition and the 'real' her is extraordinarily mature and insightful, not many people would be able to deal with the instability and still be able to pick themselves up afterwards and continue on - you must have a very strong sense of self and also a deep well of love for her.

    Her reaction to your other children sounds very BPD - to her, if you can divide your love and attention with others, you couldn't possibly love her 100%...so all the insecurities creep in and she thinks she will be rejected, so she will firstly attack you (because she feels she is being betrayed) and secondly, 'split' (ie, look at them as either all good or all bad) against the children - she will see them as the source of the problem. It's so, so sad because there are never any winners in this situation, particularly if she is not self aware. If only she could remember what you HAVE done, all the times you WERE there...and put it into perspective. But that is the nature of the beast: The BPD person has a void that needs to be filled at all costs.

    I have always known something wasn't right. Always. It wasn't until I got older and started to see the behaviour of others and then compared my own that I found a huge disparity.

    I was with my husband for 17 years (until 5 years ago, when we separated) and I treated him, on occasion, deplorably. I repeated both toxic behaviours I had learned from family growing up plus the inherit BPD characteristics - good times were REALLY good, but the bad times were REALLY bad.

    I was improving though, bit by bit. I was learning, discovering, seeing therapists, trying to make sense of what was happening, trying to make it right and I think this one of the reasons why we stayed together for so long - he could, like you and your partner, see my behaviour was not ME, but a reaction.

    He was patient, didn't try to reason with me when I was having an episode, gave me space to let it vent and boil over...and then held me and reassured me when the shame and guilt set in after I was back to normal. He forgave me and we tried to move on and for that, I will be forever grateful.

    Plus he loved having a wife that could do anything she set her mind to, so he could sit back and let me run the show without effort, as long as he showed me the love and affection I needed desperately. And this is what lead us to breaking up - I was changing for the better and started to move beyond just needing his affection, I needed him to step up and look after us as a husband and father, but he couldn't do it. It was just not his personality and we got into such a series of terrible situations because he failed to take responsibility that I decided to leave, for my children's sake as much as my own.

    Which was very fortuitous, because 3 years later my daughter dropped the bombshell that he had molested her and now he is in jail, my daughter developed (I think) full blown BPD from the trauma plus she has been diagnosed with Disassociative Disorder and because she cannot confront him, has decided to use me as a scapegoat. Although she had my genetics, she showed no sign of BPD until after she revealed what had happened and the PTSD set in. I watched her deteriorate into this broken, angry shell of her former self, to which she remains today.

    So this is why I am wary of involving other people - I would rather cut off a finger than deliberately hurt or manipulate another person, yet I still do by my very nature. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I read books, speak to people, watch youtube, practice activities - you name it- this hideous thing sits on my shoulder like Poe's crow and bides its time until the next person I develop feelings for. Then it pounces, poisoning my self esteem and starting the road to self sabotage.

    Some days I wonder if it is even RIGHT to look for someone out there, knowing I am like this? I mean, if you have a contagious deadly disease, you don't just go around sharing it??!!
    I often feel like this in my case - my disease just can't be seen by the naked eye, but can still prove just as destructive.

    Thank you for your honest and open post - you have the fortitude of a titan to have survived what has happened and still take time and understanding to reach out to someone struggling here on this forum. (heartfelt virtual hug)

    I really hope things turn around for you and your children.

    2 people found this helpful
  15. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Good morning Pandora,

    Thank you for your heartfelt response. Something that I've found with a lot of people with BPD is that they are a lot more critical when looking at themselves and their own actions that when looking at others. There's also a common misconception that BPD sufferers have a problem with empathy. Quite often that is true, but not in the way that most people think. A lot of them have too much empathy, not too little.

    Please look back at your last post to me. You have been remarkably kind to me, using terms like strong, mature, insightful, honest. And why? Because although I am struggling with my stuff, I'm trying to help others with their stuff. YOU ARE DOING THAT TOO. You are not self-centred. You are not saying.... hey, cool story, but this is MY post, talk about ME. A theory that I've heard about BPD sufferers is that they do not feel empathy naturally, but it is a learned response that has often been induced by childhood trauma. I think that's quite possible. But I don't see that as a negative thing. It's quite similar to autism in that way. My oldest son has autism, and empathy did not come easily to him. But he has learned it, and as a result, I believe him to be now, at the age of 12, one of the most empathetic people I know. He is always on the lookout for others, sometimes to a fault.

    It is so clear through your responses on this thread that you are concerned about others. Please do not withhold yourself from other people because you are afraid of hurting them. Everyone hurts other people. It's part of the nature of humanity. People are unkind, and thoughtless. You are not more so, just because you have BPD. Locking yourself away from human interaction will not benefit you in the long-run. I think of it as being like on a diet to lose weight. If you deny yourself all of the naughty food, eventually you will snap and binge. I think that your situation may be a little like that? Denying yourself friendship and yes, even romantic relationships, may mean that when someone great does come along, you may "binge" on interpersonal interactions and overdo things. Does that analogy work in your situation? *to be continued, as this comment is getting long*

    1 person found this helpful
  16. Pandora Paradoxical
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    10 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Dear Deckt,

    That's the thing!! I have no issue at all if someone else has a problem and asks me for help and/or acceptance - if my situation was reversed and the other person had a meltdown over something I didn't understand, I would work hard to TRY to understand, measure it up against what I know of their previous behavioral patterns, give them space to pull themselves back together and then be the first to accept an apology, if the meltdown was not meant. And hell, throw in some offers to help them work it out while I was there!!

    As for empathy...I don't know about other BPD sufferers, but I literally FEEL everything. I have been to funerals of people I didn't even know and was crying harder than the actual family members (!!) because of the wave of sadness I could sense emanating off everyone else. I had to leave my job at Centrelink because I would go home and worry about the people I had spoken to that day, if they were ok, did they have enough food? I can pick someones mood from a mile off and will often absorb it like a sponge (which is why it is important for me not to be near negative people). So, no - lack of empathy has never been my problem. It's feeling TOO much that gets me into trouble. I feel SO badly if I cause hurt to someone else that it just wrecks me and then I punish myself for causing it - a way of balancing the scales, in a weird and self destructive way.

    It is interesting that you said that everyone hurts somebody - I have never looked at it from the angles of other people doing it as a natural part of being human with all of the strengths and weaknesses that come with it. I ALWAYS internalise, ruminate over MY response to any given situation....maybe I am a narcissist, it appears all I do is think about myself!! (the horror, lol!).

    So, you are saying that I need to realise that EVERYONE has flaws, so we all deserve the same concessions for mistakes as anyone else, regardless of the BPD?

    I admit, this will be a difficult concept for me to try and put into practice, but I am willing to try anything.

    It's funny how you said your son has autism but has developed empathy, regardless - my eldest son is a high functioning autistic and I am on the spectrum too. When he was younger, he got distressed very easily with loud noise, too many people and was unable to read social cues or behave as was expected. I homeschooled him for two years (because he was miserable) and we practised what facial expressions meant, what the correct responses were etc etc. He started by just copying what he learned and not really feeling or understanding it, but turn the clock forwards and he is a very calm, very balanced 19 year old young man who, despite still being very awkward in social situations, tries his best to help others with everything he has. He developed empathy, even though it didn't come to him naturally. I am so proud of him!!!

    Lastly, I think your example about the diet is a good one -this last drama I caused was from exactly that: I had stayed away from people for almost 3 years, decided to come out of my shell, met a friend and was...overenthusiastic. Cringingly happy at having someone to talk to almost to the point of obsessiveness, getting overwhelmed by those feelings, then flinging the person away before I thought they would reject me based on my ***obvious*** flaws.
    🤦‍♀️

    Ok. So, I will try this bit by bit. With several people, hopefully, so I can spread my intensity over a wider area and not put all my eggs in one basket, as it were.
    I might still be a chicken and try it in cyberspace first and then try something IRL if/when I get comfortable.

    This has been an awesome piece of advice, Deckt. It makes me feel there might still be hope yet!!

    😉




    1 person found this helpful
  17. Deckt
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    37 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hi Pandora,

    There is definitely hope! :) Particularly if you keep positive.

    Not the N-word! There's a lot of talk about narcissism. It seems to be a common term that gets thrown around a lot these days, but I don't think many people are true malignant narcissists. Remember that borderline is called that for a reason - it shares many diagnostic criteria with other cluster B personality disorders. You are most certainly not demonstrating narcissistic traits. You are looking at yourself critically. A true narcissist would never do that. Everything that caused a problem in your life would be someone else's fault.

    While I would love to address every point, these character limits keep getting me! So, let me tell you a little about my son, and empathy.

    When my eldest (with autism - B) was around 3 and a half, and his brother (L) was six months, they were briefly left alone watching some TV. When I came back five or so minutes later, I was a little taken aback. L was crying loudly, and B was in a puddle of quiet tears on the ground next to him. B always had meltdowns that he internalised, rather than lashing out. Most surprising of all, all of B's favourite toys were gently piled on and around L. Eventually, I figured out the story. L had started crying. B assumed that while this was not necessarily his fault, it was his responsibility to fix. So, he brought L his favourite toy. L kept crying, so he kept bringing more and more toys. Eventually, this not working, he collapsed, because his method of soothing his brother wasn't working, and he didn't know what else to do. And they say that people on the spectrum have no empathy?? He had then, and has now, too much. I once heard that some people have so much empathy that it's like they are walking around covered with third-degree burns (emotionally). The slightest thing can be agonising to them. Is that a fair description of your level of empathy?

    The woes of the world are not your responsibility to fix. You are not blaming others for your condition. You are looking to improve yourself, rather than expecting others to change. Please keep that. But please also take care of yourself. Will you try something? As you are an empathetic person, imagine that you have a friend who is going through exactly what you are experiencing yourself. Try to be as nice to that person as you would be to a friend, or even a stranger in that situation. What would you say to her?

    1 person found this helpful
  18. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Dear Deckt,

    What a beautiful story about your children - it brought a tear to my eye! That L saw that his brother needed soothing and chose to step up and provide it in a way he understood is just....heartwarming. That's what I love about children, they are honest and true in their actions. You can see here that his autistic side has equated giving the toys to B as being a solution (so therefore MORE toys are required if the first ones offered did not have the desired result) but it was his empathy that drove him to even attempt to fix the situation. If he can keep his empathy in check as he grows up so that he doesn't exhaust all of his emotional energy, he will be an amazing person.

    You are going to laugh at this uncanny coincidence: my eldest son's name starts with L and my youngest, with a B!! 😆 If you have a daughter in the future and name her something starting with H, we are gonna have a real freaky situation here!!

    Yeah, the third degree burn analogy is just about right - what's unfair is that good emotional stuff can be just as taxing as negative emotional exposure! In my brain it is all processed as a stressor, so I can have the most fabulous week of my life where I am on cloud nine and everything is wonderful, but still experience the same exhaustion as I would if I'd had a rotten week. Go figure, eh? So the moral of the story is to limit ALL potential emotional stressors or at least have a nice gap between events to recover. It's a pain in the butt, but it is the only way I can manage it.
    Too many or much at once = overwhelmed = BPD episode, so I would rather not poke that hornet's nest if I can help it!! 😬 I am sure back in my past life I was probably the crazy old witch who lived in the forest who you went to with either the expectation of quality advice or behaviour so bizarre it scared you to death!! 😆

    Hmm...what would I say to another BPD person?

    "You are NOT your condition. You developed as a child in an environment lacking in love, affection and safety so your brain is geared to collect those exact things now, in an adult context, but still using those childhood skills.

    What you feel is not necessarily what is actually happening, but you will feel it regardless. The idea is to accept how you feel but MOVE ON to what is REALLY happening.

    You don't need to mirror people - you are a valid person in your own right and you don't need to be approved of by every human being to feel worthy.

    It's ok to make mistakes - we all do. 😉 The difference is learning from the mistake, not repeating it and making amends if required.

    It's ok to ask for help, even from strangers on the internet (!!) if you need help or some sort of support.

    If you start to feel like you are being overwhelmed - step back. Take a breather and regroup before continuing and don't push yourself to the point of an episode. Have a rational conversation with the person about it BEFORE it becomes an explosion!

    And lastly, perhaps the love you need to fill that hole inside yourself needs to come from YOU first."

    How easy it was to write that when it is about someone else!! 😱

    I get your very valid point.

    Thank you, Deckt. xxxx

    2 people found this helpful
  19. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    You got it! It's a lot easier in theory than in practice. Keep in mind that a lot of BPD sufferers judge themselves a lot more harshly than they would any other person in the same situation. A big part of that is down to splitting - particularly about oneself. Because they tend to feel badly about themselves, constantly bringing up the past mistakes they have made and sometimes truly believing themselves to be horrible, bad, unworthy people, they can identify the right things to say and do (for a theoretical third party), but when trying to apply those same empathetic feelings towards themselves, they can get caught in the "I'm not worthy" spiral.

    YOU ARE WORTHY. You deserve to feel good about yourself. A really good couple of things that I learned over the years are these; "it's okay to feel your feelings", but that"feelings aren't facts". Sometimes a lot of mental anguish comes from denying our feelings, be they sadness, anger, resentment and so forth. So if you feel sad, it's okay to feel sad! Just remember that the things that you feel sometimes, such as "I'm a bad person", "I don't deserve to be happy" are quite simply untrue. I don't really believe that anyone is a good person or a bad person. People just are. John Green said "What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person". We are all great, messy, noble, base, helpful, unkind, considerate, thoughtless beings. Everyone is grey. One of my favourite portrayals of BPD in Hollywood (and a reasonably accurate one) is by Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. I'd recommend both the movie and the book, as well as anything else by Matthew Quick.

    I hope this helps, Pandora. Remember, that self-love takes a lot of practice, but it's one of the most worthwhile pursuits we can undertake. It's much easier to be kind to others when we can also be kind to ourselves. Please stay in touch. I enjoy your thoughts.

    1 person found this helpful
  20. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Ok! I am going to give it a go. 💪💪💪 But like you said, it is much easier to talk about it in the third person...I hope I am steadfast with my conviction when the next 'crisis' steps up.

    You have given me a great deal to think about and at least a little faith that there ARE people out there who can be understanding and forgiving.

    I will see how I go and keep you posted (if you like) with how I get on....although I am at risk of getting 'attached' to your support because you have been so kind and helpful! 😬 But I know the nature of the Beast, I will step back now, consider what I have learned and try and put it in practice on my own.

    I can't thank you enough, honestly, to see this through the eyes of someone who is not BPD themselves, but the supporter of someone who is - it's been an eye opener!! You need to write a book or something - I will buy the first copy!!

    Kindest regards and infinite best wishes on your own journey. Keep me posted how you get on too - you and your little family deserve every happiness!

    🥰
    1 person found this helpful
  21. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    10 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Excellent! Just remember to be as kind to yourself as you would to anyone else. You deserve it just as much as they do. I do genuinely want you to keep me posted. Cyber friendships can be great, as it is easy (relatively) to take a step back when life gets in the way. They can be a little addictive though - just be careful of getting overly attached. It sounds like you're pretty aware of the risk there.

    Your insight actually gives me hope that my situation may come out ok, though if my partner (whom I haven't seen in almost a month now) had a fraction of your self-awareness, I would not be in this situation. However, we can choose to look at that as a blessing, because if I hadn't had troubles, I would have ended up here in the first place, and we would not have encountered one another. One of my favourite books in Slaughterhouse 5 - there's this concept that you can choose what you look at. If unpleasant things are happening, you can just choose to look at something else. There's always a silver lining, if you want badly enough to see it.

    You have got this.

    2 people found this helpful
  22. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    12 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Hi, Deckt!

    I wrote a response about 2 days ago and it still hasn't been moderated! I am absolutely sure it was within forum rules?

    Anyway, I wanted to add that I watched the 'Silver Linings Playbook' last night and although the ending was ultra positive (and therefore suspicious!!) I really enjoyed it.

    (Oh, to be accepted for who and what you are!!!)

    Tiffany is definitely BPD, although she acts out on her emotional impulses immediately. I tend to have the same thoughts, keep them internally until a point where I can no longer hold it in....and then purge. I also don't lie and I don't manipulate people (knowingly) so that's where we differ majorly.

    The synchronicity thing happened again: as you will read in my last post (if it ever comes through!!) I am looking into dancing classes!! Lol! And it get's weirder...on the advertisement about the classes (called 'Debbie's Social Dance Club') the contact name at the bottom is....Tiffany!!!!! Crazy.

    My friend F (who is a grief counsellor in palliative care - we catch up every couple of months) has an unwavering belief that everything happens for a reason and is predetermined.

    My scientific mind explodes at the thought, but I do concede that occasionally there are some pretty insane coincidences!!

    Anyway, I was wondering about how you were getting on with contacting your ex and getting back together? I am unsure how much you are comfortable with divulging, so feel free to set your boundaries at will!

    K xxxx
    1 person found this helpful
  23. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    12 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hey Pandora!

    Yay for common movie taste! I really love Matthew Quick (author of SLP). If you're a reader, I would highly recommend "The Reason You're Alive". It is stunningly beautiful.

    You've hit on the one problem I have with SLP - it's a bit Hollywoodised, in that "the power of love can conquer all". I think that the book handles that issue much better. It's still a happy ending, but I think a little more realistic. I do think that love can conquer many things, but not in isolation. In the Bible (not that I'm religious these days) it says something like we are saved by grace after all we can do. I think a lot of people misinterpret this to mean that it doesn't matter what we do. I think that it's the opposite - no matter how much we do, we still need kindness and love from an external source.

    I'm very open about my stuff - I have my own thread. Please feel free to give it a read - it's under relationships and called "New Relationship after divorce". There's a good bit of background there. I would really appreciate your advice though. At the moment, I'm just doing everything that I can to make her leaving me easy. I want to call her, to hear her voice, but it causes me a remarkable amount of pain to hear the bitterness (and alcohol) in her voice. I've made it clear that I'm happy to be in her life (either as a partner or a friend) as long as she stops drinking. So far, she's not willing to do that. All I can do is be strong, and keep myself well for the day that may never come where she realises that I'm not such a bad guy after all. To paraphrase Hemingway, she is a fine person and worth fighting for. But sometimes fighting is a strategic retreat.

    If you were in her position, what would you want to hear?

    1 person found this helpful
  24. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Oh, Deckt! What a terrible time you have been having. I just finished reading your relationship thread and I will give my opinion as honestly as possible, but you can, of course, choose to take or leave it.

    Ok. Deep breath. (Assumes position of Wise Woman and Great Sage).....

    BPD (unless you have insight) can probably be viewed as the most selfish of all personality disorders (along with narcissism, which you mentioned your recent ex as having the characteristics of) because it complete revolves around filling the void with what you are missing, AT ANY COST.

    Negotiation is pretty far back on a BPD person's list of priorities so they can be ruthless (and feel justified) in getting what they think they need and to hell with the casualties.

    Your ex-partner's alcoholism points to her despair at not being able to fill the void (in a manner acceptable to her) so she is trying to escape it instead, or perhaps punish herself because she is frustrated at her situation.
    Either way, she is a very unhappy person and she needs help - but perhaps not yours, because you are too close and also an easily accessible scapegoat.

    I will explain.

    Guy (you) meets girl (her) and fall in love. Girl is BPD, so she moves fast. She is passionately invested in this man, she puts him on a pedestal, he is perfect with no faults, she lives and breathes FOR THIS MAN.
    He scratches her itch for love and intimacy and attention and acceptance, so she is happy and reciprocal in her behaviour. He comes with kids, but she doesn't really think that is going to be an issue, so that fades in the background compared to her emotional high.

    Reality intervenes. Girl realises guy is not perfect, he doesn't just accept her constant intoxication (and says so) and his attention must also be divided with other people and other life matters so her dream starts fraying at the edges. Add a little general life stress and all of a sudden the girl SPLITS.

    Everything that was rosy becomes twisted black.

    Girl then thinks: If my relationship was perfect before, what MADE it flawed?
    Oh, yes - that's right - the guy was too busy paying attention to his children and having a problem with my alcoholism, so I will punish him for doing that to me and then he will see the error of his ways and everything will return back to the fairytale.
    The girl knows the guy has a kind heart, loves her deeply and is patient, so her behaviour will bring out his caring side and he will try and resolve the conflict, so she doesn't have to do anything. She just witholds her love and affection and replaces it with bitterness (because she is disappointed in him) to spur him into action.

    After all, it was HIS FAULT that this happened, after all, so HE should be the one to fix it. And if he doesn't back down to her demands? She will continue to hurt him until he does or she will fling him away from her to avoid further disappointment.

    There is no winner here, Deckt. NO ONE can live up to the ideals an untreated BPD person has, so even if you make up with her somehow, another occasion will arise where she will split - and the same situation starts again albeit with a different trigger.

    This may be just because I am a parent that I say this, but your children are the most important people in your life. This clear from your careful considering of parental arrangements following your divorce so that they are able to have full access to their biological family...even if it is apart.

    So I think this is what you need to think about when deciding whether to get back with her or not.

    What does she bring as a person to your little family?
    Is she a positive addition? Will she be a good influence on your children? Can you trust her to have their best intentions at heart?

    And for you: Can she accept you as a father AND a lover?
    Can she show commitment to your family by ensuring she addresses her alcoholism, which is not just a danger to herself, but all of us?
    Can she accept you as you are and not what she wants you to be?
    Are you strong enough and do you have the internal fortitude (while coping with chronic illness) to provide the level of support she needs, especially as it will probably be longterm?
    Will she use your naturally conciliatory nature to constantly escape the responsibilities of her actions rather than facing up to them herself?

    My overall opinion is...well...(winces).. you will lose out here, buddy. If she lacks the motivation or willpower to lift herself out of self destruction, she will not hesitate in destroying others. And she will keep doing it until she recognises the role SHE plays in what happens to her. Remember, she'll be thinking all of this is happening TO her - she is the victim.

    So, moral of the story: if she can't help herself, she can't work with you to help your relationship. And every minute you spend attempting to help her is a minute less that you spend looking after yourself and your little family(because you deserve to be cared for too!) and a minute less for finding another person who gives, rather than takes, in your relationship.

    My last advice would be to step back - you have done what you can, you have helped her as much as you can - now she needs to help herself, by herself, otherwise she will constantly rely on your forgiving nature and NEVER LEARN.

    Unfortunately, this leaves you without the person you love but at least you know you did everything humanly possible from your side.

    Now it's up to her.

    K xxxxx







    1 person found this helpful
  25. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Thank you, K.

    Your advice is most welcome, and I have to say, totally on the money. It's what I've been telling myself for a long time, as much as I hate to admit it. I've put close to three years into this relationship, and it's been getting worse, not better. It's so depressing. No matter what I do, no matter the sacrifices I make for her happiness, it's never going to be enough.

    Do you know about the sunk cost fallacy? That's how I feel.

    I'm sorry this isn't a more lengthy message, considering how thoughtful and in-depth your comment was. Just way too depressing to talk more about me right now. Also, I don't want to totally hijack your thread. :)

    So, how's things with you? The dancing thing sounds pretty awesome! Maybe a way to meet some nice people in a non-threatening environment?

    1 person found this helpful
  26. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Deckt

    I'm sorry... I do just have one follow-up question, if that's ok?

    I'm in the process of packing her things. Obviously this is an upsetting time for me. I'm considering sending her a message, something along the lines of;

    "Hey, I'm just packing up your stuff. It's not too late to change your mind, if you are willing to get help with your drinking."

    It feels like a mistake, even though it's a fairly innocuous message. I don't want to stir the pot, but I do want her to know that there's help available, and that I haven't given up on her.

    What do you think?

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Dear Deckt,

    You poor chicken.

    I will be brief, because I know you are hurting.

    Your message gives her two exits: one says that all she needs to do is 'be willing' to give up her drinking and the other, that you are willing to forget and start again despite what has happened.

    She can't have an exit. She HAS to be accountable for her behaviour and learn from it or she is doomed to repeat it. Over and over again, with you or others.

    I would suggest saying: "I will be here waiting after your recovery', or something along those lines.

    No exit. No way to get around it by pulling your heart strings or by guilting you - she MUST make the change or there is no possibility of a relationship.

    If she truly loves you, she will pull her socks up and EARN the right to be back together with you - you have value and you are selling yourself short by expecting any less of her.

    You can get through this. The ball is in her court.

    K xxxxx (hugs!)
    1 person found this helpful
  28. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Hey K.

    You're pretty awesome, you know that? :) I want to hear more about your stuff, ok? I'm not taking over your thread!

    L (hugs right back)

    1 person found this helpful
  29. Pandora Paradoxical
    Pandora Paradoxical avatar
    0 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Deckt
    Ha, ha! Well, it's funny you say that because I did write a lengthy note on the changes I have made since we started chatting (ie, putting the theory into practice) and also gave an explanation as to the cause/effect/lessons learned from my last episode....but it has disappeared!! It went off to moderation and has failed to return. No idea why?
    I will just write it up again later.

    Anyway, enough about me.

    I'm really glad you are making headway too.

    Keep that positivity going!!

    :)

    K xxxx

  30. Deckt
    Deckt avatar
    37 posts
    13 February 2020 in reply to Pandora Paradoxical

    Thanks K.

    I took my dog for a walk, and gave it some thought. I guess what I'm afraid of is that she doesn't know that I care. But... if she doesn't know by now, another message won't do it. For context, this is the last message I sent her;

    "My love, I want you to be happy. If you're happy now, that's good. Please continue doing what you are doing. But if, on the odd chance, you're not happy? Maybe you could give sobriety a try and just see what happens. There's a meeting tonight, I can take you.

    You may not be ready yet. I understand if that's the case. When you are ready, let me know. Otherwise, there's really nothing left to say. Please stay safe, and find whatever happiness you can."

    There's really nothing else to say, is there?

    I've found with that if there's an issue with a message, they'll email you and let you know. Otherwise, it should hopefully come through. I'm looking forward to reading it!

    L

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