Bringing Sex Into Focus

I saw this article over at Psychology Today and thought I would share. Rape and sexual abuse are a huge problem, not only for those with Borderline Personality Disorder, but for everyone, everywhere.

Bringing Sex Into Focus
The quest for sexual integrity.
by Caroline J. Simon Ph.D.

Rape Redefined for the 21st Century


Justice Department catches up with the complexities of rape.
Published on January 7, 2012 by Caroline J. Simon, Ph.D. in Bringing Sex Into Focus

Rape is wrong. Uncontroversial. But what is rape? The U.S. Department of Justice has finally made a giant step toward catching up with the 21st century complexities of this issue.

On Friday, January 6, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder announced changes to the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape. Since 1927 the federal definition of rape has been “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” The revised definition includes “any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age” (“Department of Expands Justice Definition of Rape.”). Commentating on this move in an NPR interview, victims’ advocate Scott Berkowitz praised the new definition because it “comes much closer to reflecting the reality of the crime. It happens to men and women, young and old, but in every case, it’s an incredibly violent crime and we owe it to victims to acknowledge and count every one.”

As an ethicist, I hope that this legal move will renew widespread public discussion of the important moral issues surrounding sexual consent.Make sure that there is consent is a vital rule. Easily said, but not simple to do. Especially after a casual sexual encounter, someone might say, “What do you mean you didn’t want to have sex? Why’d you invite me up to your room then?” If one person but not the other assumes that not saying “no” is the same thing as consenting to an escalated level of sexual intimacy, harmful misunderstanding–even rape–can be a consequence.

Consent is an act rather than a state of mind. If consent is an act, it needs to be given; it should not simply be assumed in the absence of any sign to the contrary. Lack of a “No” is not equivalent to a “Yes.” This means that it is a mistake to infer consent to sexual activities from the absence of an explicit “No.”

As most state laws, and now the federal government, acknowledge, consent is also complicated by such factors as age-differences and the murky role of alcohol and drugs in sexual encounters. Mere verbal agreement is not valid consent. A child cannot validly consent to sex. Fraud and coercion are other conditions that invalidate consent. So does intoxication.

Ogden Nash became well known in the twentieth century for writing catchy and humorous short poems. Nash said, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Nash’s poem makes the cynical point that wooing a woman by sending her small presents like candy might eventually lead to sexual intimacy, but if you want to speed things along, get her drunk.

Before the term “date-rape” was invented, this poem counted as funny.

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

This has been a week of health stuff.
Found a real doctor this week. No I haven’t been sick, but I haven’t had a primary care physician in a very long time so I figured it was about time to get one. He was very nice and seemed really on the ball. Something odd I’ve noticed about myself… the only time I am ever self-conscious about my scars is when I go to the doctors. Whenever the nurse reaches for my arms to take my blood pressure I can almost see her biting her tongue as her eyes run over the deeply pronounced white lines running up and down my arms. As I’ve mentioned before… I don’t hide my scars, they’re a symbol that I’m still alive, that I made it through a very rough time for me. I don’t purposely wear long sleeves or lots of bracelets so I often forget that medical professionals will actually take a look at me and pass some kind of judgment. At the same time when my new Doctor actually asked me, “Are those scars self-inflicted” I was a little impressed. Most people avoid it. Of course I answered truthfully, yes they are. All he said after that was, “Do you have someone you can talk to about anxiety and stress?” “Yes, I have a therapist.” He seemed satisfied with that.
Yesterday was Psychiatrist and Therapist day.
Psychiatrist extended my leash to two months! When I first started going it was every two weeks, then  fluxuating between every two weeks and every month. It’s been once a month now for a while. Yesterday she asked me if she thought I would be ok going two months and instead of coming into the office for my Rx, she’d give me a refill. Progress! Seriously, Pristiq has been nothing short of a miracle drug for me. Nothing, nothing, has helped me out the way this has. No side effects, and my baseline mood has been Okay! Not Depressed, not even mildly Depressed, but Okay, even Good some days. This, in and of itself, is extraordinary for me.  
This is especially great for my productivity at work. I’ve accomplished enormous amounts of work and the fast pace, high stress doesn’t seem to be getting to me at all.
Therapist has really noticed the improvement in my mood as well and she’s quite proud of me.
Though she is noticing that I am avoiding my feelings and avoiding thinking about the future. At this point I really feel like I’m just living day to day. I don’t see the future for myself. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I have no goals, no expectations, no path… except to keep on doing what I’m doing. One day at a time.  
She’s concerned that I’m not putting any thought into what I want out of my relationship with Tech Boy. I mean, first off, it’s a little early to call it a relationship. It’s definitely too early to think about whether I see a future with him. Putting that kind of pressure on it takes out the fire. I just want to feel. I like playing house but do I think he can really handle who I am? If I’m honest, we’re very different people. We’re both engineers, both very athletic, like the outdoors, scary movies, and cooking (and he’ll eat just about anything which is a total bonus in my book), but he doesn’t read, is more into parties and drinking, hunting/fishing, paintball, electronics… yanno, real guy stuff. He doesn’t satisfy that artistic creativity and mystical spirituality that I adore. The element of fantasy that I like to lose myself in. These are things that I really bonded with Friend over. However, where Friend was too soft and I wish he’d be more aggressive, Tech Boy seems to have a more natural aggression which I enjoy. Hell, Lady Friend had the art, the spirituality, the intelligence but a complete lack of aggression and I couldn’t keep hold my interest. Is it all a trade off? In the end do some things not mean as much as you think? This is why I can’t really think about a future… I come up with lists and ruminations of all the things I want and compare and contrast and is this right and will I miss that if he doesn’t have it or what if I decide that there is a thing, something I really do want, that he doesn’t encompass, but we’ve already gotten so involved that I can’t just end it and it’s too late. I’ll have hurt him and driven myself crazy in the process of obsessing about how things should be but in reality never actually are. Bloody hell, I’m going to do this anyways, but I’d like to at least enjoy the ride for a bit first. Is that too much to ask?  
Therapist kept talking about making sure to take it slow and really get to know each other. Asking if he’s respectful and this and that. Then she said, “You’ll set appropriate boundaries though right? You’re good at that, right?” I actually laughed, “No.” I may have a massive amount of internal conflict when it comes to being physically intimate with men, but it doesn’t stop me. I have an uncanny ability to ignore what is best for myself and do what feels good in the moment. Especially as I know I will use physical intimacy as a means to avoid emotional intimacy. If I can distract someone with my body they won’t think to get close enough to actually see me. Keep their eye focused on the superficial and they won’t see all the damage buried below the surface. They won’t see what’s bad in me. Sometimes it’s just easier to have sex than it is to talk about things I’m not sure I want to talk about.
Bleh.
I’ve been avoiding writing my letter to Friend too. Honestly I haven’t done this at all. I don’t want to. I don’t want to think about how I feel about him. I don’t want to feel anything about him. I don’t want to bring those feelings back to the surface because frankly, it still pisses me off. I’m still angry at him, I still have a lot of resentment towards him, a lot of disgust and hatred towards his wife. How they handled everything with me was incredibly selfish and insensitive. I was good enough to shoulder all their problems, be there to take care of them, be his sole support system, but when all was said and done, they completely tossed my feelings aside and changed things so abruptly it was like running into an emotional wrecking ball. And I was expected to just accept it and move on.  Because, yanno, that’s how I roll. Wrong. Grr. Ok, clearly I have a lot of feelings on the subject, but still. Therapist thinks I should tell him! She thinks I should write this letter and actually express these feelings to him! Is she kidding? No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not letting him that close to me again. He doesn’t get that kind of emotional ammunition anymore. He decided he didn’t care about me enough so he’s not privy to the more vulnerable places I have. Therapist thinks that if he was really as good of a friend as I think then he’d be able to handle it and acknowledge how I feel. Yeah? And what if he doesn’t. What if all he has to say is too bad, it was fun while it lasted but you were alone there? I can’t handle hearing that. Close, but not too close, and that would definitely be too close.
Still she thinks my ability to remain friends with him, has been good for me in many ways. While at the same time it has probably extended my grieving period because I see him so frequently and he talks to me every day. It’s important that it didn’t just end. So many of my relationships just stop (or explode) and I never speak to that person ever again. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not, but it’s pretty typical. That I am able to continue working through my feelings and issues with him and remain friends with him allows me to face my pain on some levels and forces me to deal.
She’s also still concerned about my throwing up. I was doing really well with no bulimic instances for a bit, but then I did on Sunday after Tech Boy left and again Wednesday night. I was really lonely and I just needed something to do to fill the space. She thinks I’m doing this as a way to avoid dealing with the emotional emptiness I’m feeling from the loss of prior relationships. It’s a theory. Instead of dealing directly I’m trying to fill the void in other ways. Maybe, maybe not. I just don’t want to get fat. I don’t want my flaws to be visible.
Therapist set some Homework assignments for me and for the life of me I can’t remember what they are. I need to start writing in my journal every day again. She definitely wants me to write this letter to Friend – which btw, I will NOT be reading to him. It was something about Friend, something… GAH I can’t remember. I hate that. I’ll have to call her. Ugh.
Ok, that’s it for now.

Why are Borderlines so Sexual?

The Why’s of Sex, Promiscuity, and Borderline Personality Disorder

Why are you so sexual my dear Borderline? That’s a good question isn’t it? One that does not come with a quick answer. This is a first. I’ve found almost no information on why sex seems to be such a prominent feature of Borderline Personality Disorder. What I have found has been only a paragraph or a sentence here or there. So let’s look at what I’ve found, what I feel, and what some of my own theories are.

One of the more obvious theories as to why people with BPD have such reckless sex lives is the fact that they constantly feel emotional emptiness. “Even when they find a stable emotional relationship their fear of abandonment causes them to become paranoid about the stability of their relationship and the validity of the love coming from their partner. A possibility for the reasoning behind sex and borderline personality disorder is that the sufferer of BPD actually tries to self-sabotage their relationship in order to end the relationship before they are actually abandoned by their partner. Another theory as to reckless sex and borderline personality disorder is that the BPD sufferer actually gets an emotional high from bonding with the sexual partner even if only for a short time. They are literally trying to fill in emptiness inside themselves and they try and try to fill that void with sex. After having a sexual affair the person with borderline personality disorder may not have the same amount of guilt as someone with non-BPD. The reason is projection; oftentimes people with borderline personality disorder project their negative behaviors onto others including their partners. This means that someone with borderline personality disorder who is having a reckless sexual affair may have a tendency to build a fake affair that their spouse or loved one is having in their head. They literally make themselves believe that their partner is also cheating and that they are therefore justified in having their reckless sexual affair.”

A previous article I mentioned notes that there may be a number of reasons for the more negative attitudes about sex. “First, many women with BPD are survivors of child abuse, which may contribute to overall negative reactions to adult sexual experiences. Also, women with BPD are more likely to experience a great deal of conflict in their relationships, so they may feel less positive about sex because relationships in general feel less fulfilling.”

Having these negative attitudes doesn’t however, justify why we may still have an attitude directed towards reckless sex. I would take this from a different angle and say that perhaps due to previous abuse there is a subconscious need for approval where it was not given, withheld, or used against us. Overt sexual behavior may be a way of taking back control, exerting control in the present where control was once absent.

Also, knowing that we have the ability to interest and consume someone with our sexuality or ability to seduce them is a form of validation of our own self-worth.
Those are my thoughts currently. I’m sure I’d have more but I’m utterly brain fried from today and yesterday at work. I’ll be sure to post more on this if the thoughts should arise.


So there’s that. To fill an emotional emptiness with a physical, well ::grins:: I don’t have an argument for this. I also believe that when it comes to sex, people with BPD are more likely to be sexually open and adventurous. We can be virtually uninhibited. Or exactly the opposite. I’ve noticed a trend towards the extremes. Either we’re all or nothing. So you may have borderlines like myself that are ALL for sex or those that have severe issues from resultant traumatic experiences and avoid it whenever possible.  

Another theory comes from Thomas R. Lynch, a psychologist at Duke University. He and his colleagues found a clue in the reading of facial expressions. “The researchers asked 20 adults with BPD and 20 mentally healthy people to watch a computer-generated face change from neutral to emotional. They told subjects to stop the changing image the moment they had identified the emotion. On average, the people with BPD correctly recognized both the unpleasant expressions and the happy faces at a much earlier stage than the other participants did. The results suggest that BPD patients are hyperaware of even subtly emotive faces—problematic in people who are intensely reactive to other people’s moods. So, for example, a hint of boredom or annoyance on a person’s face that most people would not notice might produce anger or fears of abandonment in a person with BPD. Conversely, someone with BPD might see a happy expression as a sign of love and react with inappropriate passion, leading to the whirlwind, stormy romances that rock the lives of people with BPD.”

I’ve talked about hypersensitivity before. It’s very easy to read too much into what we see in someone else and I do think this theory has some validity, but I don’t think it’s substantial all on its own. This may be a contributing factor but not the main reason.
I’ve said before that I use sex as a means to be close, but not too close. It’s comforting. It allows that very real, very human connection that makes me feel less hollow and alone, while maintaining my safeguards.  I’ve been so hurt and traumatized due to past abuse and experiences that while some part of me does need this closeness, at the same time I do not trust it. There’s something more personal about letting someone into my mind, than into my body. If I can distract them with my body, they’ll have proven themselves not trustworthy enough to get into my mind, but at the same time, I have someone near. I’ll have validated my own paranoia and satisfied my need to not be alone. How’s that for messed up. When I’m alone I feel empty. Sex is one of those ultimate expressions of being not alone. Having your life literally interwined in the arms and legs of another, it’s an encompassing experience, without being completely consumed. There’s the ability to maintain a distance while holding someone close. Or maybe there’s some overdeveloped primitive instinct that if we find a partner, let them into our lives in such a way, we will develop a bond. And from there maybe a lasting one. The more partners, the greater the likelihood of this happening.
  

Sexual Deviation: A Diagnostic Criteria in BPD

I’ve been reading again. This time I found two articles discussing sexual behavior in those with a Borderline Personality.
I couldn’t find good picture today

The first was Sexual Behavior in Borderline Personality: A Review by Randy A. Sansone, MD. And Lori A. Sansone, MD. According to the DSV-IV, various forms of impulsivity are associated with borderline personality disorder, including sexual impulsivity. The existing empirical literature indicates that patients with borderline personality disorder appear to differ from patients without this personality disorder in a number of relevant ways. Specifically, those with borderline personality disorder are more likely to exhibit greater sexual preoccupation, have earlier sexual exposure, engage in casual sexual relationships, report a greater number of different sexual partners as well as promiscuity, and engage in homosexual experiences. In addition, patients with borderline personality disorder appear to be characterized by a greater number of high-risk sexual behaviors; a higher likelihood of having been coerced to have sex, experiencing date rape, or being raped by a stranger. Overall, the psychological themes relating to sexual behavior in borderline personality disorder appear to be characterized by impulsivity and victimization.
Impulsivity is represented by: greater sexual preoccupation, earlier sexual exposure, more casual sexual relationships, a greater number of different sexual partners, promiscuity, and homosexual experiences.
Victimization is represented by: a greater number of high-risk sexual behaviors; a greater likelihood of being coerced to have sex, date rape, and/or rape by a stranger.
The authors created a compilation of 12 databases from both psychiatric and non-psychiatric sources and found that those with BPD reported approximately twice the number of different sexual partners. One clinician noted that more than 25% of his outpatients with BPD exhibited promiscuity which was decidedly uncommon from his non-BPD patients. In another empirical study it was shown that women with BPD showed evidence of greater sexual assertiveness, erotophilic attitudes, sexual esteem, sexual preoccupation, and sexual dissatisfaction. The article goes on to say that individuals with BPD reported earlier sexual experiences as well as a greater likelihood of date rape.  It also showed those with BPD as being significantly more likely to report having been raped by a stranger and having been coerced into having sex.
In reading this article I was amused that they described patients as “suffering” from promiscuity. Really? Because getting laid a lot really sucks. I was also fairly angry that it stated “patients with BPD exhibit heightened sexual impulsivity as well as a vulnerability to homosexual experiences”. Vulnerability to homosexual experience? As if it’s a bad thing? This article was written by a close minded bigot as far as I’m concerned. Clearly I’m not heterosexual. Frankly, I’m more vulnerable in heterosexual relationships than I am in homosexual ones. This makes me really furious that there would be such anti-homosexual sentiment in a recent medical publication. It’s 2011 for fraks sake! I think what they meant was ‘being more open to homosexual experiences’.
According to this article there are only 2 studies that seem to counter these trends. The only real conclusions that this article seems to draw are that people with BPD may have a higher risk for sexually transmitted disease. Well, sure, that follows, but it doesn’t get into any psychological reasoning for WHY this behavior seems so common.
In fact I think the last two sentences are the most relevant, “ In summary, the psychodynamic theme of impulsivity, as described in the DSM IV, appears to be a legitimate sub-criterion in many patients with BPD. What seems to be missing in the current descriptors is the undertones of victimization that also characterizes the sexual behavior of these patients.”
Basically it says that the criteria of impulsivity is a good indicator for BPD, especially in terms of sexual impulsivity, except it should also note that there is an increased risk of victimization and/or feelings of victimization. This at least I find useful.
I’m not going to lie. I think about sex a lot. And I do mean, A LOT. My sex drive is uncommonly high from my observations amongst my own friends and I often fantasize about seducing those around me. Not for any real attraction to them, often just out of curiosity to see if I could, though in my defense I very rarely act on this.
In another article by Sansone and Wiederman they assessed two types of sexual impulsivity 1) having sex with individuals whom respondents hardly knew (casual sexual relationships) and 2) promiscuity. Again, the goal seems to have been to determine if there was genuine empirical support for sexual impulsivity to be a diagnostic criterion. While many of the findings from the previous article supported this, findings from Dr. Zanarini found that 41% of  his BPD patients avoided sexual relationships entirely. So who do you believe? Well, that’s the point of this article.
The items for the current study relating to sexual impulsivity were as follows: 1) the Personality Disorder Questionnaires** item referring to casual sexual relationships: “I have done things on impulse that can get me into trouble…[such as] having sex [acts of a sexual nature] with people I hardly know”) and (2) Self Harm Inventory item 11: “Have you ever intentionally, or on purpose,…been promiscuous [i.e., had many sexual partners]?”.
Yes, and yes. Surprise. Now does having done these things mean you are one step closer to having a Borderline Personality Disorder? Not even close. Don’t forget you still need at least a couple more impulsive traits and 4 other DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. You may just enjoy sex.  Congrats. More power to you.
Promiscuous: I certainly am. I don’t seem to manage casual sexual relationships though. I’ve had many that I intended to be as such, but they always seem to progress and evolve into something long term so they’ve never ended up being truly casual. Even my promiscuity involves being in relationships of a significant duration. Sooo, what? I’m not as slutty as the stigma would have you believe.
Anyways, through all the technical jargon and statistics in these articles the general conclusion was this: The prevalence of these behaviors was approximately doubled among those with Borderline symptomology.  The data supports the concept that a substantial minority of patients with borderline personality disorder evidence casual sexual behavior as well as promiscuity and thereby supports the inclusion of this criterion in the assessment of Borderline Personality Disorder. 
These studies only compared those with Borderline impulsivity to those without a borderline diagnosis. I’d be curious to see how this compared to other personality disorders or personality types that were marked by impulsive behavior.
When I found these articles I was expecting something more along the lines of explaining and understanding why this phenomena is greater in those with BPD. Instead they were more a clinical study to justify the diagnostic criterion. So next I think I want to: Look at the study that provides counter evidence. Understand the ‘why’ behind this kind of behavior.
Going from my own personal experience I’m not going to argue their findings. I can’t. I have no reason to. The whole point of this blog is to be honest about my journey through this disorder after all and frankly, I’m not really ashamed of anything I’ve done in this arena. Have I had a lot of partners? Compared to some, sure. Am I impulsive and promiscuous? Well, yes. Am I preoccupied by thoughts of sex?  Definitely. Does that mean everyone with a Borderline Personality Disorder is? Not at all. However, now that we’ve determined that this is a valid diagnostic criteria, let’s look at why we crave this kind of attention. I know I have theories already.
My final question: How can two articles about BPD and sex be so bloody freaking boring. Yeesh.

** PDQ-R32 or PDQ- 48

Threat of Intimacy

Acting on Impulse. Reckless Sex. Being Promiscuous.

It’s all the same right? Not quite.
Impulsive behavior, or acting without thinking about the consequences of a behavior, is one of the symptoms of BPD listed in the DSM-IV. Impulsive behavior can include many different types of acts (Spending Sprees, Shoplifting, Drinking&Drugging, Dangerous Situations, Stripping, and  yes, Sex), but reckless sexual behavior seems to be a more common one among people with BPD (and Histrionic PD).
“People with BPD are most at risk of engaging in impulsive acts when they are experiencing intense emotional responses, or when they are disinhibited by alcohol or substances. Intense sadness, fear, jealousy, or positive emotions may lead to impulsive sexuality.
Why might people with BPD be more promiscuous? One possibility is that people with BPD use sex to combat feelings of emptiness that are associated with the disorder. When feeling empty, numb, lonely, or bored, sex may generate positive emotional responses.”
I’d like some intense emotional response on top of my intense emotional response please. With a cherry on top. What? No cherry? Yeah, that’s gone. It’s almost like a drug. When you’re already so emotionally driven, adding a situation that is even more intense can push me into an almost emotional high. If it’s someone I have a strong attachment to, the world slips away in a rush of touch, sweat and sensation. As someone that longs to escape the mundane and boredom that often suffuses my life and drives me to depression, sex, is the ultimate escapism.
“These patients struggle with feelings of depression, loneliness and isolation; they’re caught in a spiral of self-destructive behavior that eventually sabotages their lives. Lacking a stable sense of self, they attempt to compensate by seeking satisfaction in material possessions, superficial friendships and impersonal sexual encounters. They substitute empty lifestyles for real lives and shy away from channeling their energies into personal growth and fulfillment.”
I wouldn’t say I channel my energy away from personal growth and fulfillment. I wouldn’t say it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t strictly true; at least in areas concerning healthy relationships. I have a lot of incredibly fulfilling hobbies and pursuits so I know this isn’t pervasive in my life but I can see the patterns of it in some aspects of me. The relationship aspects of me. Cognitively I know when I have a good thing going for me. Hell, cognitively I know when I have a bad thing going for me. But I get so swept up in not wanting to be alone, being bored, needing to fill the time, the space, the emptiness that I act without regard for the consequences that will inevitably follow. It’s not that my life is empty, it just feels so hollow some days and I’ll do anything to fill the void. Heh. I just don’t know what I want. Don’t know how to internalize what I should want. It’s easier to figure out what other people want.
I wonder if there’s an aspect of:  if I can give someone what they want, maybe I’ll have that feeling of satisfaction as well. I’ll understand what it means to have something I want, vicariously. I’m good at knowing what other people want. It’s very natural for me to quickly deduce what will make someone happy, make their life easier, turn them off or turn them on. It’s almost a game figuring out how to give that to them. It’s fun for me, for a while. Except it’s not really for me. I do things for other people, elsewhere, lock myself into some convoluted commitment and suddenly I’m trapped inside my own skin, clawing to get out of the situation I set myself up to fall from.  It’s like wearing a mask made from someone else’s desires. I forget what my own face looks like underneath.
A lot of people have occasional doubts about their identity and self-worth. There are times I’m not sure I even know what these things even are. Some days I am absolutely confident in my sense of worth. I do know I have value. Unfortunately it’s often after receiving validation from someone that I’ve done something for. Sex is the ultimate validation of desire isn’t it? It’s a very visceral display of approval for the things I can do. I wonder if I don’t seek this kind of attention to validate my own sense of worth. If I can get someone to want me enough to be with me, than I must be doing something worthy of their appreciation. Something, alright. In this manner it skews my tenuous sense of identity. I am who I am, and that’s whoever I need me to be. Or whomever I perceive that you want me to be. Ok, not to such an extreme. I’m not quite that kind of chameleon, but I can be. I just don’t want to be.
One psychologist postulates that adopting this sort of false Self is a way to cope.
“People dominated by false Self adopt an illusion of coping, which substitutes for genuine self-assertion. They depend on others to constantly provide them with a sense of internal security, a way of relieving feelings of worthlessness. The borderline personality is constantly on the defensive, guarding against intimacy out of a twin fear of being engulfed and abandoned. While it’s natural to feel anxious about a new relationship, most of us realize that we need love in our lives. The borderline, however, is incapable of handling closeness and substitutes inappropriate relationships with unavailable partners.
The threat of intimacy may lead a borderline patient to become promiscuous. Since her fears make her unable to make a lasting commitment to one person, she goes from one lover to another, acting out the fantasy of somebody taking care of her. Sex tends to be mechanical, in order to avoid the powerful drive to emotional intimacy that accompanies sex. What she seeks is not orgasm but being held, as if to compensate for her not having been held as a child.”
The threat of intimacy. This rings so true to me I can’t emphasize this point enough. I just like the phrase: the threat of intimacy.
“In addition to engaging in reckless or impulsive sex, there is evidence that people with BPD are more prone to being sexually promiscuous. This differs from impulsive sex in that promiscuity is the act of intentionally having multiple sexual partners (rather than having casual sex on a whim).”

So there’s the difference between just being sexually impulsive and being sexually promiscuous.

For example, as soon as Boring-Ex and I broke up, I was able to begin involvement with a girl I’d liked for years… and her girlfriend… and the misguided drama polygon with Friend… and my best female friend at the time. For the record, let me state that I operate in a group of people that view polyamory as almost the norm and no we’re not mormon. It’s not unusual for my friends to have open marriages and multiple partners so I don’t actually view this as being very deviant. My Therapist would disagree.  

I don’t mind being the secondary relationship of a poly couple. At least in the past I haven’t. It allows me to maintain my illusion of intimacy while not having the focus primarily upon me. When you’re involved in a polyamorous relationship and you’re not the primary significant other, there’s a safety from that threat of intimacy that arises. I was close, but not living with her. When I needed space it was fine because odds are her other girlfriend needed attention… and on it went. This works great, until it doesn’t, and I want more than I’m able to have. The question though: Do I want more because I really want more, or because I know I can’t have it? Hm.
I don’t necessarily want to have multiple partners. What I want is to be close, but not too close. I can’t figure out how to do this without pushing away and pulling closer. Allowing someone in, and then forcing them back out. I don’t set out to be promiscuous, I’m honestly not even sure it’s my fault. Or how it happens. I hermit away and I don’t have to worry about any of it. I’m secluded so I have no people to bother me. Really it’s as soon as I start putting myself out there that people begin to take an elevated interest in me. When I’m actively seeing someone though, it’s like a red cape is waved in front of the eyes of the bystanders that shouts at my potential unavailability and they begin to charge. My problem is, when faced with a fight or flight response, I tend to fight. I don’t run, I don’t stop, I don’t say no. I engage. With only vague thoughts that I could end up emotionally maimed, the act is practically impulsive. I don’t think about other people when they’re not in my immediate vicinity (people I’m not very attached to), because it’s like they’re no longer a part of my life. For as much as I hate to be alone, and want to have someone near, I do not attach easily. This is my problem with having a lack of object constancy. But when they are around…  Once I do finally attach my thoughts border on obsessive and I can’t extricate my mind. Once that happens there’s almost no thought or desire to allow anyone else near me and the problem of promiscuity disappears as quickly as it, came::grin:: What I’m getting at is, I don’t set out to be promiscuous, it just sort of falls in my lap. Or I fall into its lap. I don’t know. I blame the booze.
What I really want is to be close, and able to embrace that closeness without the terror of impending abandonment gripping my heart. That’s all I really want. My problem is I have no idea how to go about getting it. I’m trying. I’m actively focusing on things that are considered healthy in this new relationship with my Lady Friend. It’s so incredibly frustrating to know that what I’m doing, I have to do, because I’m simply incapable of being normal naturally. It shouldn’t be so hard to seek happiness. I know I really shouldn’t be seeking happiness in someone else. Everyone wants to be loved. It’s not really a matter of finding someone else to make me happy though, so much as finding someone that I can be happy with myself, with. If that makes any sense.

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Let’s talk about Sex

Disclaimer: I’m going to be talking about sex. If you have delicate sensibilities; I will offend them. You’ve been warned.
Let’s talk about sex. **Cue that awful song**
Now that I’ve gotten that stuck in your head. Moving on.
Because it’s been on my mind a lot lately: Sex. Borderline Personality Disorder has something of a reputation. Part of the stigma surpassed only by Histrionic PD.  Sexual Impulsivity and Promiscuity. 
I don’t do things by halves. I either have no partner, or I seem to open myself up to the world of them. I am either completely abstinent or completely promiscuous. I enjoy sex. It’s fun, it’s hot… it’s pretty much impossible to do alone. Which makes it comforting. Until the thoughts of my partners motives begin to intrude into the warm cloud of lazy euphoria that flows through my body after a wild romp.
My feelings are mixed. I love it, and I hate it. I am constantly at odds with myself over what I want. Sex, is not intimacy. Intimacy is frightening. Sex, on the other hand, is a comforting diversion. A substitute of sorts. The appearance of closeness, the act of closeness, with the ability to distract from actual emotional closeness.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a disorder of emotional dysregulation that affects relationships and the ability to control your behavior. It’s not surprising that this would also have a major impact on our sex lives. How it affects our sex lives can vary though.

Research has demonstrated that women with BPD tend to have more negative attitudes about sex than women in the general population. For example, women with BPD report more mixed feelings about sexual relations, and are also more likely to feel pressured to have sex by their sexual partners. In addition, women with BPD report more general sexual dissatisfaction. Much less is known about how BPD affects men’s attitudes about sex.

There may be a number of reasons for these more negative attitudes about sex. First, many women with BPD are survivors of child abuse, which may contribute to overall negative reactions to adult sexual experiences. Also, women with BPD are more likely to experience a great deal of conflict in their relationships, so they may feel less positive about sex because relationships in general feel less fulfilling.”

My attitudes about sex are far from negative. I love sex. My attitudes about my partners and how I relate to them afterwards, well, those might shift. Talk about a discrepant mentality. I distrust peoples motives when they try to get close to me. Especially with men (sorry, guys) I’m fairly certain that I’m only wanted to be used. I don’t actually want to believe this though, but in order to figure that out sometimes I test the waters to test my theory, only to be disappointed when the men I know are not chivalrous and chaste. What do I really expect? Someone that just wants to be friends with me for my mind? I’ve proven my own theory true so often, but would it have been proven if I hadn’t have pushed? It’s never a plan though, it’s almost always in the heat of a moment. One that I wish I had thrown a bucket of water on in the end.

So it seems to me that there is healthy sex, impulsive sex, promiscuous sex, and avoidance of sex. Healthy and avoidance I’m not as familiar with so we’ll save those for their own post. Over the next couple days I want to explore this issue further.  

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. 

Memoirs on a Sunday: Ease of Sex, Not Hiding Scars, and Father’s Day

This weekend hasn’t been traumatic at all and yet, today was a disaster.

This morning I wrote:

I’ve utterly failed at not drinking… however it’s been very reasonable; 2 glasses of wine Friday, a few with the Lady Friend on Saturday. I’m not drinking today. Not even a sip. It’s a new day, and I’ll just start fresh now.

I’m actually very proud of myself. The loneliness, being alone, hasn’t been so terrible. Friday night I stayed in; Roommate was gone, didn’t go to Friends. I stayed home by myself and painted. I did have 2 glasses of wine over the course of the evening but I don’t think that’s too bad at all. The only think I continuously note is I have bedtime anxiety. I can be absolutely exhausted but the idea of turning of all the lights and crawling into bed alone gnaws at the inside of my stomach. This is relatively new in the past few months.
Yesterday I spent the day with Lady Friend. She came over and we hung out doing crafty type stuff. I organized my beads. I have so many kinds. I love to organize and sort. It feels nice and neat, catalogued and controlled. I preceded to piece together the period appropriate style of women’s fashion in 7th/8th century Viking society. I have a huge costuming event in August and I’m changing my pre-Industrial persona from fully Middle Eastern to Viking. I’ll do Middle Eastern (dancer) at night, but during the day I’m going back to my blood roots and switching to a Norse persona. After figuring out the logistics, sewing, altering, sewing… I have a perfectly accurate sack dress, haha. I made some gemstone bead lines as well. They’re the few kinds of decorations and symbols of status women wear.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner which was really nice. I don’t like how she stares at me. It makes me just a little uncomfortable and I feign modesty just to look away. She’s so super sweet though. Our waitress obviously found us super cute which I in turn thought was super cute. Super. Everything was super.
Back to my place for more craftiness. I painted. Finished a wild Caterpillar ala Alice picture. Quick and crazy inspired from watching the movie (Tim Burton shouldn’t be given free reign of movies anymore).


Things are moving rather slow sexually. This makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do when people aren’t constantly trying to jump me. I know she likes me. This isn’t a question. It makes me nervous when I need to fill the silence with actual words that aren’t so easily distracting from me. I’m forced to let her get to know me instead of redirecting her eye to other things. Maybe this is normal? Or healthy? Not jumping into bed? Not constantly using sex as a distraction?  
 I don’t know how to handle this. It’s so much easier to have sex then it is to continuously think of things to say. It’s less invasive, less intrusive. I know what I’m doing in bed. That rarely gets me in trouble. The things that come out of my mouth however, and I’m not talking about my tongue here….

…talking about Talking. That’s where things go wrong. At dinner I did mention that I was on Abilify, that I struggle with depression and some stuff. She was receptive and very understanding. Not concerned with it at all. I think this is the approach I’ll be taking. Bring up bits and pieces one thing at a time. See how she responds and gauge her reactions before I drop something new on her…

One thing I’m rather curious about. She hasn’t mentioned my scars. At all. Every person I’ve ever dated notices, and mentions them almost instantly (within the first few dates). She hasn’t said anything at all. Maybe she’s respecting the fact that this is my business and is allowing me to let her know when I feel ready to? I’m just trying to figure this out. I’m never averse to talking about them. I don’t draw attention to them, but I don’t try to hide them either. They’re really just more modifications at this point. Still. It’s interesting to me.
Back to sex. Guys are so much easier in some respects. I can throw sex at them and they won’t think twice about it. The women I date, it’s not that they’re not interested in sex, they certainly are, but there’s more of an emphasis on interest in me. That’s it I suppose. I still don’t want to let her in. Not ready to be too close. Guys I can stick to surface speak keeping conversation witty and light and when things get a little too sticky for my tastes… well, turning the tables on the evenings events is not incredibly difficult to do. I don’t have to think. I don’t have to be me. I can just feel and lose myself in the moment… if I like them. Sometimes it’s really just a way to get people to shut up and make the time move forward, to do something besides feign interest in the words coming out of their mouths.
After she left I binged again. I was a little hungry, but I just can’t seem to stop at a reasonable amount of food. I ate all my leftovers from dinner, then freaked out that I’d eaten so much so late, but it wasn’t enough to easily get rid of, so I prepared a full binge that was easier to deal with. I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know why I can’t just go to bed, except after she left I had that little bedtime anxiety and I didn’t want to go lie down alone. I’d thought about asking her to stay. We were falling asleep together on the couch as is, but… idk. I’m not there yet. Too close, not too close, too close, not too close. There’s too much content in lesbian relationships. Men are easier for me. Men are just easier. Heh, sorry. I suppose I shouldn’t make that statement, but when it comes to me and dating, they’re easier to maneuver around. I can hold back, but appear to draw them closer. Preserving myself and not pushing them away too fast by appearing to draw them in closer. Heh. With Lady Friend, it’s almost entirely balanced. She’s less easily distracted, just happy to be in my company, not pushing me for more, not forcing my {nonexistent} boundaries. It’s strange. Learning to just, be. To sit, and be, in comfort. Not needing the next moment to be something other than it is. I’m not sure I know how to do this.  Time. Give it time I guess.
It’s now Sunday evening: I broke my resolve to not drink. Not a lot, just a couple glasses of wine. Then I coupled it with an all out binge/purge. I’ve been alone all day. It’s been a beautiful day. I’ve been creatively productive, but, alone. I just don’t understand why this is so hard! There’s no reason for it. I’m so incredibly frustrated. Woke up, too low energy to really work out. Did a nice painting, did some grocery shopping, sewed 3 Viking apron dresses, redid my gemstone bead drops… and I can’t shake this tension under my skin that makes me want to, want to, I don’t even know. All I know is that how I feel right now is unsettled and unhappy. After my binge I went to the craft store, just got a couple strands of beads, had a cigarette, calmed down and returned to my crafting projects. Forcing myself to concentrate on something else makes the time fly faster and I can slow the spinning thoughts down.

And to wrap it up. I have a family. It’s father’s day so I actually called mine. He’s pretty proud that I’ve been painting. Amidst the critiques he even said that what I’ve shown him so far is really great. Mixed bag sorta praise, but I’ll take it. I can do better, I have more to learn, but hey, a lot of people never learn to 
even draw stick figures (yeah he said that)… and I’m doing a really good job.

Learning how to draw trees



Finally, I miss my sister. A lot. I got a drunken text from her earlier… “I’m going to bed. But I’m also a little drunk and I miss you. Lately I have felt like I’m always going to be too short to ride the big kid roller coaster. And I would prefer to feel this way with you here because you know how to handle me. And that makes me miss you.” If you’ll remember my sister is bipolar so she’s all over the place like me too, but different. She stresses a lot about stuff, work, school etc. She’s smart it just takes her a little more effort to process school material, hence stress. She’s back in school and doing a really amazing job getting on track with what she wants to do (work with the deaf community). I’m so proud of her. Of all the things I dislike most about living in NY, it’s that my sister is 500 miles away =( It’s so rough some days. Especially on bad days, for both of us. No one has ever had the ability to reign in my moods and keep me in a calmer place than her and likewise for her, I just KNOW her so I know what helps. It makes me sad that I can’t be there for her when she needs me. I love my sister. I wish I could hang up my life here and go home to her sometimes. Can’t. My life is here now. For now. And I have to get up for work in the morning. G’night.   

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Good day…

Sometimes all you need is good wine and a good woman and the day is a very good one indeed.
By Haven Posted in sex

More sex… Criteria 4/ Impulsive Behavior Part 9b

Sex. Attraction. I don’t really have a type of person that I’m drawn to, but I do tend to like more assertive people. More aggressive. I like men that can take charge and challenge my dominance or strong women with soft well trimmed features that give me a run for my money. That softness, femininity coupled with an inner strength appeals incredibly. There’s something in being with a woman that I don’t get with guys. A connection. I don’t believe that sex should be meaningful, but there should be some kind of connection, even if it’s just for a night or two. Some spark of excitement. Heat. Intensity. Some thing that attracts. Without that kind of attraction sex becomes pretty pointless for me. I could do more for myself without exerting so much effort. This is probably why I don’t just jump into bed with anyone to feel something. Most people don’t have substance enough to hold my attention, connection.

I love being maimed during sex. Tooth and nail, biting, scratching… marked. The best sex is rough. The best foreplay is fighting. I had a friend that I used to spar with (I never actually screwed him). We would beat the shit out of each other but the sexual tension was palpable. I’d wake up covered head to toe in deep bruises and feel like I just had a night of the greatest sex. Of course, everyone else was horrified at my bruises but I loved them. Marks of an evening well spent.

Oh that’s not to say that sex can’t be good if it’s not rough, it definitely can be, but that’s what really gets my blood flowing. Sometimes literally.

I don’t really understand why I like things that hurt me. When I can throw all of my repressed emotional turbulence into the heat of a moment I feel free. It’s fun, exhilarating, almost intoxicating. I like dangerous things and the adrenaline rush. I guess that’s something I should work through with my therapist. Maybe I’m really just an adrenaline junkie. Does it really matter what society thinks at all? Sometimes it makes me sick, why does it mean there’s anything wrong with me? Maybe I’m just more in tune with myself, less repressed than the rest of society. It’s them that are all stuck and jammed down, I’m more free. Who the hell knows….