Make up of Your Mind – Part 1

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the background out of the way let’s take a look at what each of the schemas actually is. We’ll do this in two parts because there are a lot.

Domain I – Disconnection and Rejection: The expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner.
1.)    Abandonment/Instability Schema – This schema is the perceived instability or unreliability of one’s connection to significant others. Patients with this schema have the sense that important people in their life will not continue to be there because they are emotionally unpredictable, they are only present erratically, they will die, or they will leave the patient for someone better. It involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable, unreliable, or present only erratically; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the individual in favor of someone better.
2.)    Mistrust/Abuse Schema – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”
3.)    Emotional Deprivation – The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
1.      Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
2.      Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
3.      Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.
4.)    Defectiveness/Shame – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).
5.)    Social Isolation/Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated for the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of or like they belong to any group or community.
I feel all of these in various degrees. The most prominent for me are definitely Abandonment/Instability, Defectiveness/Shame and Social Isolation/Alienation. Defectiveness/Shame has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, clinging to my skin my entire life. Abandonment/Instability and Social Isolation/Alienation I am so familiar with that I may have resigned myself to them. If Defectiveness/Shame is the wet blanket clinging to my skin, these are what actually compose my skin. These are the vital organs that my blood pumps through. Emotional Deprivation…. I don’t believe I have any right to deserve or expect any of these things. I can actually see where and how people do give these to me, but it’s as if I’m watching them give them to someone else. Thinking about being able to accept these things feels foreign to me like I wouldn’t know how to accept them even if I wasn’t deprived of them. The Mistrust/Abuse Schema is a lesser schema for me. Remember I mentioned that schemas can prevent to various degrees. The ones that ingrain themselves earliest in life tend to be the stronger, more pervasive schemas, while the ones that occur later in life or not so entrenched. This is one of those for me. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of abuse, but this came later in my life. Some days I believe that because I’m so unavailable on most other levels that any abuse I’ve taken I can almost shrug off. I expect it to happen, but since I do expect it, I don’t allow myself to open fully to it and it therefore can’t affect me or I don’t hold on to it like I might have.  
Domain II –  Impaired Autonomy and Performance: Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully.  
6.)    Dependence/Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (ex. Take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.
7.)    Vulnerability to Harm or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fear focus on one or more of the follow:
a.       Medical Catastrophes like heart attacks or AIDS
b.      Emotional catastrophes like going crazy
c.       External catastrophes like elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.
8.)    Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents) at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by or fused with others or insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and foundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.
9.)    Failure – The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, lower in status, less successful than others, and so forth.
Failure. Despite all my achievements and actual, physical proof to the contrary I cannot shake this sense of failure. Nothing is ever good enough. I am never good enough. So I push myself continually onwards, being harder and harder on myself. Vulnerability to Harm is something I recognize more when I’m very stressed out. Airplanes, car crashes, driving myself insane create an almost paralyzing anxiety. Enmeshment is especially true when I’m in a volatile relationship. The world feels like it might end and all hope of happiness hinges on it. I’m actually what most people consider counter-dependent though. I couldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help, if my life depended on it. I feel like even more of a failure if I seem to be in any way helpless.  So hey, where one schema takes over it prevents the creation of others.
Domain III – Impaired Limits: Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals.
10.)                        Entitlement/Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; or an exaggerated focus on superiority in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward or domination of others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.
11.)                        Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or over exertion at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
Of all the Domains this is where I am least affected. I’m probably the opposite of Entitled and Grandiose and I’ve had self-control and discipline beat into my brain since I was very young. Though I do recognize the milder form of discomfort avoidance in myself readily. I love nothing more than to lock myself in my little worlds of escapism to take my mind away from the realities that surround me. Nothing can touch me when I’m lost in the illusion of a good book or so preoccupied with creating an elaborate meal.
So involved. So complex. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
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Consumed By You, Consumed by Me: Engulfment

Love vs. Obsession. This may be where I confuse the two. I didn’t have a term for it before, but Engulfment seems to fit with Borderline Personality Disorder, many Personality Disorders actually.
Engulfment – Engulfment is an unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a spouse, partner or family member. It’s a distortion of reality in the mind, in which the status of a relationship takes an inappropriate level of priority over the every day, physical and emotional needs of those involved. A level of crisis is inferred on the status of the relationship and a “fix-it-at-all-costs” strategy is deployed to deal with any weaknesses in the relationship – real or imagined.
There is often immense pressure placed on those being engulfed to behave in ways that put them at the center of the PD’s world. They may demand time, resources, commitment and devotion beyond what is healthy. Relationships with outsiders, family and friends may be seen as threats and be frowned upon, resulting in Alienation. Even normal habits or routines, such as work, hobbies, interests which take a Non-PD’s attention and energy away from the PD-sufferer may appear threatening. Acts of independence by that person may be met with begging, argument, threats, even acts of retribution and violence.
People who are on the receiving end of engulfment may find themselves compromising other relationships or competing interests in order to “keep the peace” with a partner or family member who is embroiled in engulfment. They may fear the consequences of displaying independent thought or action. They may fear violence, intimidation or rage if they do not give the person what they want. They may long to leave the relationship but be afraid of the consequences if they do.
I’ve only really done this twice; with my high school best friend/boyfriend (whom I won’t talk about) and with Evil-Ex. With Evil-Ex it went both ways. In the ebb and flow of our dependence and counter dependence; the emotional highs and lows, it would be one or the other of us that tried to hold on. The more evasive and subversive he was, the harder I would hold on, trying to fix everything, trying to compensate for anything that I perceived as needing to be fixed; the more I would try to engage him in our relationship. When I had enough, or needed my own space to find myself, when I was my typical strong assertive self, in other words, when it appeared I didn’t need him, the tables would turn and he would try to engulf me. It was a game for him. For me it was like oxygen. I needed him to keep breathing normally. He needed me to assuage his own ego.
When things were rocky it was like someone clutching my heart in a death grip and drowning it in a bath of ice. My lungs would constrict and I couldn’t think of anything but making whatever wrong I had done, right. It was unendurable panic. All I wanted was for things to ‘be back to normal’. The more he would sneak around; the more he would try to make me feel crazy, jealous, worthless, the more I wanted to prove him wrong. To prove him wrong, I had to fix whatever little flaw I thought he saw. My self-worth rode on the approval I received for doing something that brought back the balance. What I couldn’t understand at the time was; there was never a balance in the first place. There was only him driving me to madness and me wrapping the insanity around me like a shroud.
That’s what being engulfed in someone feels like. It’s an obsession. A thick fog of madness clouding your mind where the rest of the world becomes occluded in the mist and you can only see the figure you focus on two feet in front of you. Nothing more, nothing less; nothing else matters. All the while trying to maintain a grip on who you are. Wanting more than life itself to have the person you love, love you back, treat you well, do you right, without having to lose who you are in the process. Except exerting who you are, who I was, was exactly the thing he did not want to see. He wanted me to be the ideal picture of a hot brainiac gamer chick that was utterly devoted to him. Anything other than that; having anything in my world other than him, was proof that I was out to do something against him. If I wanted to have my own friends, it was because I wanted to cheat on him. If I wanted to stay in and watch a movie, it was because I wanted to keep him from his friends. Just small examples of his logic. To be honest there were times I didn’t want him to go out without me. Though in my defense, often I knew when he went out he did it with the intention of cheating on me, or playing games with girls to boost his own ego. I should have left, but I couldn’t, so I went crazy instead.
Everything he did was ‘for’ the relationship or for tearing it apart. Or so it seemed to me. Even when they were simply everyday things that had nothing to do with anything. All actions felt like they had impact on ‘us’.
My world became filled with self doubt. I would compromise anything that I wanted simply to keep some stability and ward of retribution as he was a very vengeful person be the slight real or imagined. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t make him happy? What was wrong with me, that he would do these things, look for these things elsewhere, instead of with me? The honest answer: It was him, not me. Oh yes. I acted in ways to hold onto him that were less than acceptable and no, I couldn’t extricate him from any aspect of my life, but not until he had burrowed himself in and pushed my buttons so far inside of me that I didn’t know how to trip the switch to my own sanity.
Of course, my ex was a malignant narcissist. Not exactly the pinnacle of normalcy in his own right, which probably contributed to why our cycles of love and hate perpetuated as long as they did.
The real bitch of it all… I rarely felt so alive. All the craze, all the torture, all the heart pounding highs and crushing lows, I knew, without a doubt knew, what it was to be living again. He’d taken away the numbness I felt, the empty hollow life I had been living and filled that shell with something so devastatingly exhilarating that I was afraid to stop feeling again. Despite the fact that what I was feeling was making me fall freely to my own early grave.
I knew this and I would assert myself once more. This only worked to make him angry, worked against me. He couldn’t control me directly, so he worked to control me in other ways. Had I been a weaker person and allowed him to mold me into the placid plastic doll that he wanted me to be, I could have saved myself so much heartache. I wouldn’t allow it. I won’t allow it. No one will ever tell me who I am allowed to be, who I’m supposed to be. If I choose to change that’s one thing, but it will be my choice, or at least, doing by my own hand subconscious or otherwise. There are times I would be what he wanted me to be, but I wouldn’t give up myself completely. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. I knew this. It would have ended things sooner had I given in, given up; he’d have gotten bored. So would I.
No matter the trauma and abuse, I fought. I fought for him, or I just plain fought him. That’s how consumed I was with our relationship. And nothing anyone could tell me could make me feel that this was not what I wanted, despite the fact that cognitively I knew, I TOLD myself, that things were not okay. When you’re engulfed by someone, with someone, there’s no logic, there’s only the feeling of utter consumption.
Engulfment is the loss of self through being controlled, consumed, invaded, suffocated, dominated, and swallowed up by another. Fortunately it is possible to extricate yourself. It’s not easy, but eventually there comes a point where you just can’t take anymore. One person or the other needs to take a stand.

My World is Your World – Alienation

In my research I stumbled upon a site called Out of the Fog that lists an incredible amount of Traits and Characteristics associated with BPD. I thought I’d take a look at a number of characteristics they mention that I have not yet covered, link back to ones I have covered, and expound on ones that I can add more to. I’m going to make this a new blog series because as anyone suffering or knowing someone suffering from BPD knows, the traits expressed with a Borderline Personality Disorder are multiple and varied. So let’s begin shall we.
 You don’t need them. Only me.
— Alienation – “Alienation means interfering or cutting a person off from relationships with others. This can  be done by manipulating the attitudes and behaviors of the victim or of the people with whom they come in contact. The victim’s relationships with others may be sabotaged through verbal pressure, threats, diversions, distortion campaigns and systems of rewards and punishments.”
I hate that they use the word victim. It sounds like we choose to feel and/or act a certain way and need to be malicious purposely.  
This is something I’ve had done to me as opposed to doing to others. Having had this experience probably contributes to why I try not to do it to someone else.
At least I try not to alienate people from others. That doesn’t mean I WANT someone to have other relationships with people. I do get a lot of anxiety at the thought of friends making new friends, of going out and doing things without me. I’ll put myself in positions I don’t want to be in because I am afraid that they’ll forget about me.  It makes me very afraid that I’ll be replaced, that I won’t be needed, that I will eventually be pushed aside in favor of someone new. I have managed to find a way to express this in ways that I can be reassured that it won’t happen. I am now able to talk through these things so that others know how I’m feeling and why I’m so anxious without acting out. It allows them the chance to understand me and reassure me that it won’t happen. I can’t promise that I don’t need this more often than most people, I do. Talking through it doesn’t make those feelings go away, doesn’t prevent them in the future, but it makes it more bearable.
I understand where this comes from. That fear of being left behind. This fear is so intense that someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder will act to keep another person as close to them as possible. They might say things; do things, which make the other person doubt themselves. Doubt that they are good enough, talented enough to be appreciated by someone else. YOU’RE the only one that can truly appreciate them. So they’ll need you more.
Another thing is planting seeds of doubt. Making the other person consider the possibility that a new person, old relationship, is tainted, that their motives are not in their best interest, they’re out for themselves, not for their friend, selfish, are waiting to take advantage of the person.  If they think their ‘friends’ aren’t trustworthy, you’ll be the only one that they can come to. Rely on.
Threats can come along the lines of leaving, self-harm, even threats of suicide. Pulling their attention away from somewhere else because you NEED them to be there. If they’re not there, something really terrible is going to happen, either to your relationship or to you.  Leaving, even for a short time causes someone with BPD to feel that crushing weight of anxiety rising up into her throat, choking the breath from her lungs.  We have to make them understand and the only way to really show how devastating this feels is to show them in a way that is too extreme. Effectively keeping them from doing whatever it was they were going to be doing. Cutting off their ability to go out and leave you alone. It is completely out of proportion. For any person without BPD it’s normal to go out with friends, have other healthy relationships that thrive in a way different than with their significant other.  
Inevitably {if they really care} they will give attention/act in a way that is what we want/need However it maybe be extreme enough that it makes us feel guilty or ashamed or angry. Forbid anyone else should find out about it, ask us about it. We wouldn’t blow up at them though. No, we’d downplay the whole thing. Make it appear as if the person we cried to for help was exaggerating, blowing things out of proportion, discredit them to the people around them. Make them look like they’re crazy, not us. Or try. This could easily come back and bite us in the ass when the other person decides to convey this to the other person.
Growing up I was told that people would get bored with me and leave. ‘Yeah things’ll go great, til he/she gets bored with you. Enjoy it while it lasts’.  Thanks, daddy. That’s always in the back of my mind. Maybe all of this is some convoluted way of keeping things interesting. It’s definitely a way to try to make someone stay, even for a minute more.
However, one way or another, this is going to fail.  Regardless of how we cling to the attention any way we can this really only works to sabotage the very thing we’re trying to keep. If someone is only focused on us, the attention we need will suffocate them, scare them, put so much pressure on them that the weight of it makes them crumble. Either the other persons needs will be remembered, or we’ll freak out at being the center of someone’s world, feel suffocated and push back….
*** I should note that this is not always how I feel or always how I act. I’m trying to paint a picture of how someone with BPD may act/react/feel mingled with my own reactions and gatherings. For instance, with Boring-ex I couldn’t have cared less what he did. I knew I was his primary and had so little interest in him that it was almost a relief when he would go out without me. On the other hand, Evil-ex would alienate me from the few people I formed friendships with, punish me or incite my insecurities if I did, make me too afraid to go out for fear that he’d leave… made me rely on him which made it all the more painful when he didn’t think to include me and left me alone.