Continuing on with Dr. Linehan’s theory I’ll take a look at Vulnerability vs. Invalidation
Vulnerability – I detest admitting vulnerability. Over the years I have built defenses and fortresses of walls to keep other people out. Do I have vulnerabilities? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeh, everyone does. I’m loathe to put them out there where others can easily find them and use them against me though. Because they have. So I don’t. I know where my strong points end and my weaknesses begin. That doesn’t mean I need to wear these on my sleeve. Rarely, oh so very rarely, someone will put in the effort to get close to me, really want to get to know me. Slowly, my walls begin to crumble around this person. They can now see into the darker areas of my world. I have no secrets, but there are things I don’t share right away. Every time I open up, reveal something less pleasant about myself, I wait in fear, that their entire opinion of me will shatter and change, and they’ll leave. Every revelation is a wrench to my heart. The closer someone gets to me, the greater the potential that they can hurt me.
Invalidation – Yes. This especially applies to my emotions. I am constantly questioning whether I have a right to feel the way I do when it comes to other people. Who’s to say what right I have? If the person feels otherwise about something, then my feelings aren’t justified and therefore not valid for the situation. If my feelings aren’t valid or accepted, I’m not valid or accepted. You can’t only accept parts of me, I have to be accepted as a whole. Or not at all. However this also applies to my work, my crafts, my hobbies. I do things, present things to people hoping it meets with approval but looking for criticism that will invalidate my ability, prove that yet again, what I have done, is not good enough. I don’t get defensive with criticism but having become so accustomed to it, I have a tendency to not believe people when they only give me praise with no critique.
Constantly putting myself out there for others to view and judge exposes my vulnerabilities. Opens me up to the potential criticisms of others, then when I look for those criticisms, expect them, it heightens my feelings of vulnerability because I’ve put myself at the judgment of others. Will I be accepted, or won’t I? Because I have a hard time with object constancy, I often can’t hold onto the feeling that each individual event isn’t the sole basis for a relationship/friendship. Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that people will leave me or not value me. It’s a self fulfilling cycle of hurt. Emotional masochism.
When you are constantly discredited it’s difficult to hold onto a solid sense of self. Who you are is perpetually in question. It weakens the ability to accept or even understand criticism or praise as something constructive and not necessarily judgemental. The judgement of the self is so impaired that it leaves someone with BPD open to adopting a skewed opinion of themselves based on the views of others. When a sense of self is not solidly in place, changeable at the influence of others, this leaves a person susceptible to being wounded and hurt. Each word of praise or criticism is taken as a completely separate event, with no context to past interaction. Praise is a beautiful high. Criticism or harsh words a crushing low. This increases the need to be loved and accepted, causing someone with BPD to expose themselves even more, perpetuating a cycle of intense emotional turmoil.