What do you do?

Enough moping. Today is a new day and I have am going to get back on my previous track if it kills me. Ok, maybe not kills me, but I’m determined to not let myself drown slowly in the trenches of my dark thoughts. So where were we? Oh yes! I was going to give you some examples of the three Maladaptive Coping Responses: Surrender, Avoidance, and Overcompensation. To illustrate just how pervasive these things are in the life of someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder, I’m going to highlight the examples that permeate my life. Keep in mind these are just some examples, they’re not the only ways that these schemas can be expressed.
Surrender: Selects partners who cannot make a commitment and remains in the relationship.
            Avoidance: Avoids intimate relationships; drinks a lot when alone.
Overcompensation: Clings to and “smothers” the partner to a point of pushing partner away; vehemently attacks partner for even minor separations.
            Surrender: Selects abusive partners and permits abuse.
            Avoidance: Avoids becoming vulnerable and trusting anyone; keeps secrets.
            Overcompensation: Uses and abuses others (“get others before they get you”)
I have Surrender in my history but as I recognize this I will not tolerate it again. I think because of this I’ve developed even more of the Avoidance mechanism though I recognize that I’ve had this one almost my entire life.
Emotional Deprivation
            Surrender: Selects emotionally depriving partners and does not ask them to meet needs.
            Avoidance: Avoids intimate relationships altogether.
            Overcompensation: Acts emotionally demanding with partners and close friends.
Social Isolation/Alienation
Surrender: At social gatherings, focuses exclusively on differences from others rather than similarities.
            Avoidance: Avoids social situations and groups.
            Overcompensation: Becomes a chameleon to fit into groups.
Social situations have always been hard for me with my anxiety, my dysmorphia, but mutable personality. I always feel like an outsider, someone that never fits in. I can so clearly see all the differences between me and the people gathered around me.  I often have to force myself to be social though my natural state is to stay away where I know I won’t be judged and feel more comfortable. Then when I am out, I’ve been told (most notably by my Evil-Ex) that I’m like different people depending on where I am. I don’t even realize I do this, but clearly it is there.
Surrender: Asks significant others (parents, spouse) to make all his or her financial decisions.
            Avoidance: Avoids taking on new challenges, such as learning to drive.
Overcompensation: Becomes so self-reliant that he or she does not ask anyone for anything (“Counterdependence).
Counterdependence is basically the opposite of co-dependence. I’ll do a blog about these one day I’m sure. I’m almost phobic of the idea of being dependent on anyone. When I find myself relying too much on anyone I push away and push away hard.
Vulnerability to Harm or Illness
Surrender: Obsessively reads about catastrophes in newspapers and anticipates them in everyday situations.
            Avoidance: Avoids going places that do not seem totally “safe”.
            Overcompensation: Acts recklessly, without regard to danger (“counterphobic”).
Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self
            Surrender: Tells mother everything, even as an adult; lives through partner.
            Avoidance: Avoids intimacy; stays independent.
            Overcompensation: Tries to become the opposite of significant others in all ways.
            Surrender: Does tasks in a halfhearted or haphazard manner.
            Avoidance: Avoids work challenges completely; procrastinates on tasks.
            Overcompensation: Becomes an “overachiever” by ceaselessly driving him- or herself.
This goes hand in hand with Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness for me.
            Surrender: Bullies others into getting own way, brags about own accomplishments.
            Avoidance: Avoids situations in which he or she is average, not superior.
            Overcompensation: Attends excessively to the needs of others.
Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline
            Surrender: Gives up easily on routine tasks.
            Avoidance: Avoids employment or accepting responsibility
            Overcompensation: Becomes overly self-controlled or self-disciplined.
My actions have been slipping away from this, but my mentality refuses to shift. As soon as I begin to stray from my very rigid self-discipline I get anxious, I feel like I’m failing, like I am letting myself down and will be judged harshly for not living up to a standard that I feel I should meet.  I need the self-control to feel stable.
            Surrender: Lets other individuals control situations and make choices.
            Avoidance: Avoids situations that might involve conflict with another individual.
            Overcompensation: Rebels against authority. ß— Yeeeeaaaah, I was a trouble maker growing up.
            Surrender: Gives a lot to others and asks for nothing in return.
            Avoidance: Avoids situations involving giving or taking.
            Overcompensation: Gives as little to others as possible.
            Surrender: Acts to impress others.
            Avoidance: Avoids interacting with those whose approval is coveted.
Overcompensation: Goes out of the way to provoke the disapproval of others; stays in the background.
Surrender: Focuses on the negative; ignores the positive; worries constantly; goes to great lengths to avoid any possible negative outcome.
            Avoidance: Drinks to blot out pessimistic feelings and unhappiness.
            Overcompensation: Is overly optimistic (“Pollyanna-ish”); denies unpleasant realities.
Emotional Inhibition
            Surrender: Maintains a calm, emotionally flat demeanor.
            Avoidance: Avoids situations in which people discuss or express feelings.
Overcompensation: Awkwardly tries to be the “life of the party,” even though it feels forced and unnatural.
I’ve turned so far inward from my Acting Out days that I can’t bring myself to voice my own feelings when something is upsetting. Or I try, but it’s like pulling my own teeth out I don’t know how to do it. I try to beat the outward expression of emotion into submission until I’m alone and can take it out on myself. Letting other people see me out of control is just out of the question, so situations where people can see me out of control are out of the question.
Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness
            Surrender: Spends inordinate amounts of time trying to be perfect.
Avoidance: Avoids or procrastinates in situations and tasks in which performance will be judged. — I’ve felt almost paralyzed in the face of the fear that I cannot be perfect at the overwhelming stress I’ve faced at work as of late. It’s not even a conscious decision to avoid, but a deep anxiety that forces me to look somewhere else or be consumed.
Overcompensation: Does not care about standards at all – does tasks in a hasty, careless manner.
            Surrender: Treats self and others in harsh, punitive manner.  ß— I am often very harsh with myself but rarely with other people.
            Avoidance: Avoids others for fear of punishment.
            Overcompensation: Behaves in overly forgiving way.
As I mentioned before, it’s quite natural to express a couple of these in various ways. People are people and we all have some baggage. It’s when they become overwhelming and disruptive and permeate your life that they’re a problem.  People with various PDs tend to express clusters of these coping mechanisms. The thing that is so striking about BPD is just HOW MANY of these various ways touch our lives. You begin to get a clearer picture of why it’s so difficult to effectively treat BPD because clearly, there are many, many aspects that need to be addressed. Even if you don’t have a personality disorder, recognizing where some behavior stems from is useful in overcoming something that has been a challenge for you.

5 comments on “What do you do?

  1. First off, I agree that I hope you're feeling better, or at least in a clearer place. Second, D22 Zone can go screw him/her self because that's obviously spam, and what a total dick move. Spamming is the lowest form of humanity. And C: Yes, I'm a dick for switching between numbers and letters but it makes me giggle. Finally Q: This is especially why I read your blog, I get a lot of personal insight. I think I fall into Abandonment, Isolation, Insufficient Self-Control, Subjugation, Pessimism…I may need some medication.

  2. haven! i love your blog! you help me to understand someone i care about and this means a great deal to me. thank you for writing, sharing, and being you. like maasiyat and pickleope, i hope you are feeling better.

  3. I'll kind of back up what Maasiyat is saying—I just hope you're being real. From reading your last several posts, you've appeared to have gone from mechanical to crazy emotional back to mechanical. Remember you're not a machine, your emptiness is real. Being strong and fighting off the emotions does not mean the crazy sadness isn't there. Addressing the clinical factors of your illness is an amazing practice and for sure necessary in your recovery. But you have to feel the demons too, even if they don't make as good of sense all written out in a blog. We all say we want you to feel better, keep your head up etc etc—but we don't expect you to be flawless you know. No one really expects you to be ok all the time. We want you to feel ok, but we certainly don't require it 🙂 It's ok. I love this blog—what a help to me in understanding my friend! Emily

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