Demon on a pedestal – Criteria 2: Idealization & Devaluation

The next criteria laid out in the DSM IV goes like this. People with BPD may display:
2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation : They may idealize potential caregivers or lovers quickly, demand to spend a lot of time together, then switch quickly from idealizing them to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough.
Where does the line between true affection, obsessive devotion, and heartfelt betrayal become skewed?
For me it takes a very long time to reach this point. I’m more likely to try and put people off getting close to me at first. I also differ in that I need to spend time alone. A lot of time alone. While, yes, I would love to spend lots of time with select people, I am easily overwhelmed by people and need to have time away from everyone. When I want to focus inwards my brain is too busy to drown out the external noise and it feels like a tidal wave of social obligation. Solitude is my life raft.
If someone sticks around long enough to breach the walls of my superficial fun, contrariness and melancholy I will eventually hold them closer than anyone else.  Like a death grip on my heart.
It usually plays out like this: Once again, you meet someone new (even though you swore you wouldn’t). You share so much in common, practically everything in common. In fact, they’re probably the perfect example of exactly what you look for in a confidant! They can do no wrong. Everything they do inspires you to be exactly what you’d hoped you always could be. The world is a springtime musical, frolicking with puppies and ethereal music in a field of opiates and LSD.
Begin Cycle: Everything is wonderful, you talk for hours, spend as much free time together as you can, laugh, bask in each others love, friendship, whatever… Until one day they can’t do something you ‘need’ to do, or want to do. Sure it’s just this time, and it’s something small, so you brush it off. Then a few days later, it happens again. They’ve let you down.
Oh sure, it may be some small necessary thing in their life, that takes obvious priority, but that thing has pulled their attention away from you! You See red. What could really be so important? Don’t they understand what friendship means? Why won’t they put the effort into it that they had before? Clearly everything they had said now means nothing. Everything was a lie. They are a hypocrite and worse. Using you for the benefits that you bring to the table. What do you mean your have a meeting? a doctors appointment? We had plans!
Logically the brain says, of course you have to take care of such things, but that other thing… That other insidious voice taunts that you’ve been betrayed. The friend you thought you knew is now the enemy. This “friend” never really meant anything they’d ever said to you… b/c this time, this one time, they could not fulfill the role they’ve found themselves in. Their life is now affecting your life in a way in which you have no control, forcing your life to turn from the fields of music to a deeper well of disappointment. Down the stairs, into the cellar darkness.
Control. Out of control.
When she was good, she was very good. But when she was bad, she was very, very bad. No middle ground. Relationships are all, or nothing. He/She is all, or nothing. I, am all or nothing. Angels and Demons in rooms of black and white. There is no grey area or room for middle ground. 
What we need help understanding, is sometimes the paint gets mixed and there is an entire spectrum of grey, an entire rainbow of color, in fact.
I may want to be everything that person needs. Until I don’t. While my attention is there I will pool all my energy into the wants of someone I care for. I offer as much and usually they accept. Somewhere, though, I hope the same sentiment is returned. Without my having to ask, but if I do ask it should be offered automatically because look at everything I’ve done for them! When they can’t reciprocate it feels as if the coin has come up tails. It begins to smack of an advantage being taken. Why is it good enough that they can take what I offer but won’t offer their own as well? Or consider the opposite, they don’t ask for anything, they don’t accept something or deny something offered from the heart. Why don’t you want this assistance, this help? This thing? Am I no longer good enough to provide this?
This one night they’re not going out with you, not chatting with you, they must be doing something else, spending time elsewhere, what kind of friend ignores you when you obviously need a shoulder to lean on, for time spent otherwise?!? As your world crashes down … Then they text or call, and the world slips gently back into place. At least for th e moment.  End Cycle. Rinse. Repeat.
Where does the line between true affection, obsessive devotion, and heartfelt betrayal become skewed? When there is no emotional memory; if the person or object is not in the now, it may as well not exist. Or ever have existed.
I worry about the time I’ve lost in reminiscing, ruminating, my energy squandered where it could have been turned to brighter things. Then again, I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t turn to the past to help me figure out my way into the future. Even if it is just to find a way to hide these thoughts or focus them into a finer tool to use.
I’ve learned to hide these thoughts, the actions that fall from them. Fake it, as if these things don’t bother me while my heart crumbles inside. All there is to do, is get through the next moment, and the next, until the next thing comes along to lift you up.
Note: Writing about this is an experience of its own. I feel no attachment to these words. It’s as if i’m seeing someone else fingers skimming the black keyboard, typing the words that appear on this screen. Recording someone else’s memories, that have been relayed to me but I have not experienced myself. Dissociated.
What we need is a way to hold on, to understand that relationships are a continuum, not just points on a grid. If anyone has any help for this, I would dearly love to know it.

2 comments on “Demon on a pedestal – Criteria 2: Idealization & Devaluation

  1. Damned if I don't relate to this… lol Crazy. I avoid so many forums and blogs because I feel I can't relate to them, but that was absolutely /perfect/ in describing what I go through. And it's so FRUSTRATING to be that way… BPD's are all these things, but they never talk about how frustrated we are by all of this. That I have no emotional memory once they've come back… when they're happy, I'm happier. And when they have things to do (and in my case when my friend just wants "privacy") I don't understand. Am I important? Do they not trust me? –But thankfully, I can shut these doubts away, ignore them even though they can be so powerful while they're going on. Who would I have left if I did this every single time…? No one, and I don't exactly blame them for it… (but, I would try. Another frustrating cycle.) Head vs. heart all day, all the time… *sigh*

  2. I have had a recent encounter with someone suffering BPD and it was an absolute nightmare: I had no idea what hit me!Thank you so much for enlightening me with your blog. I've been all over the internet in recent weeks and this is the best info thus far.Peace.

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