Borderline Devaulation Sucks for Us Too

Since this weekend I’ve felt kind of lost and lonely. Disillusionment is upsetting. Devaluation doesn’t just suck for the other person; the non-Borderline. It sucks for the Borderline too. One day you get those little butterflies in your stomach, your heart pounds and you can’t help but smile. The next is only emptiness. The person doesn’t even look the same to you. Where they used to have a certain glow, now they just have 3 day old stubble. The bounce that lightens your step is gone, gravity feels a little stronger. I don’t want this to happen. Losing all of that is upsetting to us too. It’s like losing the sun and trading it for a year of night (Ok, maybe not my best analogy considering I prefer the darkness, but you know what I mean).
I’m weary. Very weary. I’m wearing different skin again. This skin belongs to someone sitting 15 feet back from everyone around her. I don’t belong here. I thought I might, but I don’t.
A Reader made a comment to me the other day. I said I couldn’t trust myself. She thinks I can: What is important is how you feel with him and how you perceive him. That is your truth and you can trust it. Trusting yourself doesn’t mean you get things right all the time it just means you honor yourself and what you need.
I love this sentiment. I think it’s beautiful.
The problem with being Borderline is the way I feel around him changes constantly. Especially now that I’ve had my rosey colored glasses unceremoniously knocked off of my face. When he’s not around, it’s as if he’s not even in my life so I can view everything objectively. I can look at the reality of the situation, analyze and annotate my notes on the whole thing and come to a very rational conclusion…. But when he’s with me everything changes. I feel his solid presence and his desire to be in my company. A tangible proof that I’m not alone and might not always be alone in the world.
Another problem with Borderline Personality Disorder is how we can’t help but base our opinions on the last interaction. Saturday by the time we left the casino I was weary, exhausted, and felt  like there was a physical wall between us. I saw him on Monday and he was sweet, flirty, and giving me the attention I wanted so I was conflicted about ending things completely. Maybe he just gave the wrong impression, maybe this, maybe that…. I doubt. We texted that night and he said some sweet things and I felt that glow and was happy with him. A few moments later he said something that I found to be heavy handed and disheartening… I was done talking to him after that. I haven’t seen him yet today, and I don’t want to.
This is a lot of why I feel I can’t trust myself. My feelings change moment to moment depending on how I last perceived them.
The important thing here is that my eyes opened before I began to fall for him. That’s what has tripped me up so horribly in the past. When I idealize someone so much, to the point where I am absolutely in love with them, nothing can stop my feelings for them. If atrocious and horrible things happen after I’ve fallen in love, I’m likely to put up with way too much abuse. My emotional rollercoaster will be compoundingly devastating because logically I know this is bad for me, but it is in extreme opposition to what my heart now wants. The contradiction is maddening.
If someone has done something ‘off’ enough that they’ve lost their value in my eyes, before I become attached, then this is not the same problem. My ability to invest in them emotionally becomes null. A cast iron gate has dropped along the road to a broken down town. From far away it still has a quaint appearance, but I’ll never get close enough to bother buying realty. I may stick around for a while, but only until I find something better.
This makes me wonder. Perhaps a new Borderline hypothesis.
How to determine if a relationship with a Borderline will last long or not: If things go so well that we idealize someone long enough to fall in love with them, then nothing will deter our emotions (this doesn’t mean we won’t still second guess things, push away-pull back, etc, but we’ll probably stay or keep coming back). However if someone we’re interested in has been devalued before we can form a deep emotional attachment to them, it’s easier for us to deconstruct everything immediately and perhaps walk away. Doesn’t mean there won’t be some strong emotional conflict, but it won’t have the chance to reach a point where our worlds will end if it isn’t forever.
Which makes me consider my next thought. The best thing for a Borderline who is trying to get over a past heartache is to cut off contact completely (I feel compelled to say, at least until we’ve fully moved on to someone else). No texts, no e-mails, no going out for coffee, nothing. The few times I’ve remained in contact with men that have broken my heart, The One and Friend namely, it’s taken me so, so much longer to get over them (if I can truly say that I have). It always feels like there might be some chance, or there’s too many opportunities to read too much into their words, too many times that hope can be rekindled, sparked for even a moment. Too many times for the last interaction to be positive and subsequently negative, and break our hearts all over again. But with say, Evil-Ex, even though we continued living together, we avoided each other completely, never spoke, and I moved on very rapidly. I’ve never, not once, ever considered going back to him or wanted him in my life in any way ever, ever again. We did have to talk occasionally by the nature of dealing with living arrangements, however by that point his mask had slipped so thoroughly that he could no longer sweet talk me which rapidly made him lash out and increase the rift of my devaluation. My point, time, space, and distance are the best things we could do for ourselves to get out of these situations.
I still have conflicting feelings about Friend. I haven’t spoken to The One in probably 7 or 8 years, yet he still haunts my dreams. Evil-Ex pops up in them occasionally too, but that’s never a matter of consequence so much as amusement. Even my subconscious sees them differently.
Don’t think this is just about Tech Boy. This is practically every ‘relationship’, ‘thing’, whatever, that I’ve had.
Bloody Fucking Hell. Seriously. So Tech Boy just stopped by my office. He asked me if I was coming down to break in a bit. I wasn’t planning on it, but I said it depended on how hard it was raining. So what’s he do? He offers me his jacket to keep me dry. ::head desk::

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Idealization & Devaluation

I forgot to post about therapy this week because my work week has been so freaking busy. So here it is. Late, but I got some important stuff figured out…

Let’s get the bulimic stuff out of the way first, shall we? Therapist has come to the conclusion that clearly my bulimia is triggered by being alone. Heh, gee, ya think? She did mention a theory that I found interesting. She said that eating disorders are correlated to relationship issues; connected with issues in childhood revolving around letting go or interrupted relationships. This theory makes absolute sense in connection to Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ll have to think on this more but I can definitely see how this would fit. At least in part. I still believe that a lot of my issues have to do with control and a need to be ‘perfect’. We’re working on ruling out things that trigger me and working on ways to preemptively prepare myself and avoid having to engage this behavior.

The really important thing we talked about?
My relationship with Friend is turning into a healthy friendship. Therapist seems to think most people can’t do that. She thinks it’s because I’m a sophisticated thinker. I think I’m a glutton for punishment… but after a while you get used to it and it’s not as harsh anymore. You build up a tolerance and pretty soon it doesn’t hurt you so much anymore. Ok, maybe it’s not all that. Maybe it’s not that at all. I don’t think it’s because I have some sophisticated point of view though. I’m afraid of losing him. I cannot let go of people. Not unless they’ve done something truly devastating and he simply hasn’t. In fact, other than being a little clueless since the sexual element of our relationship subsided he’s really been nothing but good to me. That doesn’t mean that things don’t still dig at me occasionally. It’s still painful for me to see him putting so much effort into a loveless marriage but frankly, do I really want to be with someone that is blinded to the realities of his life? No, not really. Plus I’m moving on and that helps. I’m not going to lie. Watching him have a stifled, sexless, awkward marriage while I’m out living it up… well, I’m amused. At the same time… I’ve stopped pushing away. For months now I’ve been trying to find some kind of balance with him. No, I haven’t told him this. I’m trying to figure out myself and how I fit with him. For months I was cool, reserved and very aloof with him. Distant. I refused to talk about personal stuff. I shut him down when he tried to talk about personal stuff with me. I kept conversation and interaction familiar and platonic, but removed. I’ve noticed over the past month though, that I’m reattaching to him, in a healthier way.

I idealized our friendship, our relationship. I’d convinced myself that he was absolutely perfect. Everything we shared, had in common, it MEANT that we were right to be together. And maybe I’m not entirely crazy in my thinking, but the fact of the matter is he’s married and that’s not going to change. (Reminder: He’s in an open marriage. His wife knew about the full extent of our relationship.)  When things changed I was utterly disillusioned but being Borderline I’m not able to make a smooth transition from one state to another. Change makes me panic and I immediately devalued him and hated his wife. At the same time I was afraid of losing him from my life entirely. I was in constant conflict about whether he should even be in my life and not being able to fathom losing my friend. I was pain personified and I didn’t know how to make it stop so I let it ride. I can deal with pain. It’s so familiar to me I almost don’t know how to function without it. But I’m learning. And things have slowly been changing with me, in regards to him, so that I am able to enjoy spending time with him, and not vilify him. Or idealize him.

Some things he did that were incredibly helpful to this process: When we first changed our relationship he’d written me a letter telling me he did love me as a friend and let me know just how much our friendship meant to him. I’m not going to lie and say I believed a word he said. Everyone lies. But it’s been nearly 6 months now and I can look back on that letter and see that the things he’d said still seem to hold true. He’s still here. He gave me the space I needed without pushing me, and didn’t leave. Even when I was horrible to him, even when I said things to make him angry, to push him away, to try to force his hand… he called me on my behavior and didn’t let me run away.

I’m beginning to think that getting past that first major devaluation in a relationship is an important step for someone with BPD. I’d tentatively wager that going through that first major devaluation is probably the best thing for a friendship/relationship in the long run. It shows that you can come through such a thing intact, and that it is possible to have relationships that continue to thrive even after, which will cultivate a new kind of trust. That lasts. At least, that’s what I’m coming to understand currently.

Check it out. Accidental relationship hope =)
How did I learn to channel my anger….

Therapist often tells me that I have a calm, healing presence. I almost always counter this with ‘now, I didn’t used to’.  To which she responds: I just can’t imagine it, you don’t appear that way at all. Of course you wouldn’t see that, you’ve only known me for 8 months. You didn’t know me when I was destroying my house, kicking down doors and putting my fist through plate glass. I did realize that I had a major turning point when I began my major costuming endeavor though. About 6 years ago I did my first major costuming vacation. I spent a month making 13 full outfits. I channeled all of my attention and energy into that one goal and was rewarded with one of the happiest, peaceful and most freeing experiences of my life. I don’t think I realized it consciously until recently, but having a creative out (as I mention way back in Escapism) is crucial for helping me calm my anger. That or fighting really. I did mixed martial arts for 15 years and am looking to get back into it. It’s a safer form for my aggression, but as that’s not currently on my agenda… art! Finding something you love, something you can immerse yourself in…. is therapeutic all in and of its own.

That’s not to say it always works or that I’m not still angry. I am incredibly angry. All the time. But having resources to focus it are crucial.

Therapist is also happy that I’m cultivating a new relationship with my Lady Friend. She noted that I seem to be incredibly comfortable in my sexuality. I consider myself bisexual? Yeah, I suppose. Really, I’m just sexual. The frequency of my problems and personal issues are GREATLY reduced with women, and being monogamous with men is always disastrous for me. I can be with a woman in a monogamous relationship and be content, but if I’m in a monogamous relationship with a man I feel like I’m denying a part of myself and I become incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin and in the relationship until I’m afraid it’s going to end. Yes, my parents know and accept this. Without problem, without hesitation. As far as I know. It’s not really up for discussion, I just let them know and they can choose to support me or not, but they always have.  She also thought to allay my fears that things were not sexually normal. I’m just so used to using sex as a tool, that in a healthy relationship these things progress organically and will happen when they do. Which is a relief. So odd for me though. I’m just, not used to this. Therapist is actually very proud of me for allowing myself to take safe risks. With all of the problems I have letting people close to me, I’m allowing myself another chance. And I’m doing it differently. I’m trying to remember how my past relationships have gone and I’m actively trying to remember that I need to do things differently.  It’s only been a month, and traditionally it takes a little longer for my real crazy to kick in when it comes to relationships, but I am doing things differently and so far it seems to be making a very beneficial difference. 

What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

One theory is presented by Dr. Linehan’s. Linehan has developed a comprehensive sociobiological theory which appears to be borne out by the successes found in controlled studies of her Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Linehan theorizes that borderlines are born with an innate biological tendency to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and to take longer to recover. They peak “higher” emotionally on less provocation and take longer coming down. In addition, they were raised in environments in which their beliefs about themselves and their environment were continually devalued and invalidated. These factors combine to create adults who are uncertain of the truth of their own feelings and who are confronted by three basic dialectics they have failed to master (and thus rush frantically from pole to pole of):
– vulnerability vs. invalidation
– active passivity (tendency to be passive when confronted with a problem and actively seek a rescuer) vs. apparent competence (appearing to be capable when in reality internally things are falling apart)
 – unremitting crises vs. inhibited grief.

So it’s nature and nurture here, or nature and lack of nurture. So let’s see how this applies to me.
“Beliefs about the self were constantly devalued.” I hate to say this is true, because I was raised with incredibly loving parents in a very loving home where both my parents wanted the best for us, for us to be the best. My father however, was an art critic, our coach, our teacher… so everything we did was always capable of being improved upon, never good enough, always something wrong, always could be better. That’s not to say he never praised us, he often did, it was always followed by… “and now you could do this”, “that’s good but this is off, try doing this”, “but this could be improved in this way”, “watch out for this”. For me this translated as, if there’s something wrong with my work, there’s something wrong with me and I need to work harder, to the point of obsession, in order to be the right kind of person. If I’d get hurt or upset, about anything, I was often told to suck it up and deal like a grown up. Crying was not acceptable so I learned to hide my feelings. He didn’t mean to cause these feelings, but I guess being predisposed to this kind of thinking made his critiques all the more impactful.

One of my earliest memories was when I was 3 years old. I had a Little Shop of Horrors coloring book. I did an entire picture all in orange crayon. It was the very first time I had stayed completely in the lines and not messed up. I proudly showed my father. He said good job girl, took my crayon, and decided it was now a good time to show me how to shade my colors. On my current picture. He went outside of the lines. I was heartbroken with disappointment that my painstaking achievement wasn’t good enough and was now ruined. I thought I had done so well, but apparently I hadn’t done well enough. It may not seem like much, but to a 3 year old, it seemed like a big deal. That’s just one example, I could go on with a lifetime of me being pushed to be the best, pushing myself to be the best, but maybe another time.

I will say that as a result of a lifetime of this, it is difficult for me to ever believe that what I do is good enough, that I am good enough. I constantly question and second guess my own sense of self worth and often measure it by what people think of the things I do for them, be it cooking, baking, costuming, gifts, art, work, etc. In an odd twist, I also have a hard time believing people, believe they are telling the truth, unless they give me uneditted criticism. It’s so ingrained in my thinking that I can always improve things, that unless someone tells me how I can do things better the next time I doubt whether the thing that I’ve done was actually ok. So I set higher goals, harder goals, and work my ass off to prove to myself that what I do is valuable. That I am capable of doing things of value. I’ve never set a goal I haven’t accomplished beautifully, and yet, I always wait for someone to tell me how to improve.
Now do I think this is the only theory? or the best theory? No, but it’s interesting to explore.

Coming up next… Vulnerability vs. Invalidation

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.