BPD & Relationships Part 2: The Struggle of Maintaining Relationships
I have been avoiding writing about this particular topic because it is one I am still battling with along my journey as a “borderline.” Relationships have not been easy for me, as I have lost people over the years due to their & my lack of understanding of what BPD entails. Borderline personal disorder (BPD) relationships are often chaotic, intense, and conflict-filled, and this includes romantic BPD relationships. I’ve had two relationships that have taken me years to get over because the feelings of abandonment have not left. Feelings of abandonment are the crux of my BPD, having lost both my parents at a young age; it has been difficult navigating that loss and feelings of rejection and abandonment. Trust me, I know my parents could not control death but the feelings of rejection stem from their death because it feels like they abandoned me to survive in this world alone.
Symptoms of BPD include “intense, unstable, and conflicted personal relationships.” This is true for me, as I have had intense and unstable relationships with both family and friends. The instability in BPD relationships often comes from the fact that BPD sufferers tend to have black & white thinking, you can love someone, but they can do something that makes you feel abandoned like not responding to a text and this could send us into a spiral because the feelings of abandonment are so intense that we cannot use logic at that moment to come up with other reasons why they could not be answering our text. A lot of conflicts came from the fact that I did not understand what I was feeling and could not control some of these feelings such as anger. This often resulted in me lashing out at those I care about saying hurtful things because at that moment I was feeling hurt by their actions.
After countless fights with some of my family members, we have gotten to a point where they now have an understanding of how I process my emotions. Our communication has also improved because I often kept communication at a minimum because my fear of abandonment has made me avoid communicating to avoid possible conflict, which is a silly way of thinking. I am working on this and try to communicate as openly as possible. The same can be said for my friendships, I have lost people along the way because they never made an effort to get to know my condition and understand what is going on in my mind. These relationships often had intense fights or me lashing out and people distancing themselves, further creating the cycle of abandonment. That hurt a lot, and it took me time to mourn the loss of those friendships. Invalidation is also a recurring theme in some of these failed friendships, the acknowledgment of one’s struggles is important in any friendship because we all go through things. As much as I took responsibilities for my actions, I was still invalidated and made to feel bad for how I handle things and in that moment, the last thing a BPD needs is to be made to feel worse. Support was what I needed and I am truly grateful for the current friends I have, as this has not been lacking.
My romantic relationships have had their ups and downs simply because my partners did not understand the importance of making one feel safe and secure plus we were young, finding ourselves. One thing that stood out in both my romantic relationships was the intense feelings of abandonment when we were having a fight about something and my partner would just go sit alone or give me the silent treatment. BPD sufferers are caregivers and this is evident in how we put other’s feelings before ourselves because we are avoiding conflict, however, this is destructive in the long run as these feelings find a way to manifest themselves. Splitting is something we also do in romantic relationships, one minute we love you and the next we hate you because your actions made us feel abandoned.
ALCOHOL!!! Substance Abuse is another symptom of BPD and it took me a long time to accept that I am a binge drinker. Drinking till you blackout because you ignored your consumption quota and end up having an “episode.” ALL my episode have happened when I have been drinking and you’re probably asking why I have not given up alcohol if it causes so many problems? I have! And trust me it’s difficult when you’re also dealing with social anxiety. Some BPD sufferers can tell you how frightening it is to have someone come close to you even physically, we project this in our relationships as well where we end up pushing people away. So in certain spaces, I always feel some type of way and I end up drinking to take the nerve off but end up over-indulging. Funny enough, my drinking is only affected when I am in a space with people that make me anxious. Alcohol has contributed to my chaotic past but over years I have had self-awareness around this issue and made active steps to take care of it. I don’t drink as much as I used to, I try avoiding spaces where I know I might feel anxious.
Currently, I am practicing DBT and have started engaging forums where people are dealing with BPD and drinking, I have also met someone locally who has BPD and this has helped because she reassures me and teaches me about acknowledging feelings. There is so much to unpack when it comes to BPD & relationships which I am hoping to do over the course of the next few months because I need to purge!!! I still have to tell you about putting yourself out there again when you are a mental health sufferer! The struggle!