My "mis-adventures" with BPD12:14 PM
BPD? Borderline Personality Disorder. No, I am not admitting to this condition... if I was it would probably be considered a medical break-through as most of those with this condition (I don't even know if I can call it a condition?) are so caught up in survival and denial that they cannot admit they have a problem. In fact, from my experience, people with BPD rarely seek out help. To them they are not the issue. The issue is someone "else". They tend to think they are always being sabotaged or people are conspiring against them. They rarely take responsibility for their actions and often blame what they do on others. My experience has also taught me that they have almost no-boundaries when it comes to justifying their behavior. Most people with BPD are good people. They want to have loving lasting relationships, yet it seems to me they almost need someone to be angry at in order to survive. People with BPD are always at odds with someone. I think they do this in order to justify their anxiety and feelings of fear. So if you become their targeted "bad-guy" they will almost always go to any extreme to justify their anger towards you and portray themselves as the victim. I've seen this in action more times than I'd like, but it is actually quite brilliant, and they are masters at it. I believe they are masters at it, not because they are innately bad or manipulative (even though they are master manipulators) but I believe it stems from fear and in some odd way (in my opinion) they are angry at someone or something, but they are not able to get mad at who or what they are really angry at. So, either intentionally or not, they find targets and take out their inner anger on them in order to rid themselves of a sense of helplessness. And somehow I think they feel like they are fighting a justifiable battle in their mind. I believe this is also called misplaced anger.
i.e. I am angry at my boss at work because I am being overworked and taken advantage of, so I come home and yell at my wife for the smallest mistakes. This person is not really mad at their wife. They are furious and frustrated at their boss, but we can't yell at our bosses so we yell at those we feel we can. This can go on to many forms. An eldest child may feel bullied by a parent and helpless to fight back so they bully a younger sibling. Once again, misplaced anger. It's a vicious cycle of abuse.
In all my life (I haven't lived that long) but, in my relatively short life I've moved a lot. Last count, I have lived in 10 homes before I was married (one of which was international). With those moves I changed school boundaries a number of times. I attended out of state college/universities, did internships and served a mission. I was regularly forced into situations of meeting new people and making new friends, I have even figured out that I have lived in a dorm room or mission apt. with 58 different people from all walks of life and backgrounds. 9 times out of 10 I have gotten along with these roomies spectacularly and have only encountered severe BPD 3 or 4 times in my life. But for me, that has been more than enough. I think my moving around so much made me quite vulnerable to finding these people.
After my last encounter with BPD at the age of 35, I remember thinking that "they" must smell me! I must have this invisible sign on my forehead that reads; "hey, do you have BPD? Be my friend." After seeing an amazing counselor (yes, I see a counselor. I am proud of that fact, maybe too proud? Because to me it shows a willingness to improve.) I was able to realize that whenever I'm in a situation where I can chose my friends from a wide variety of people, like High School or college etc... I never had a lot of problems with BPD. I think because I had many options and I most likely, politely avoided those with BPD. But as my comfort zones shrank I did not have as many options. So I willingly and desperately entered friendships with a few people who had BPD.
The most uncomfortable thing about being a friend to those with BPD is the beginning of the friendship. They gush over you so much, almost too much. With my latest BPD experience, she would literally call me a "saint", even though I would tell her repeatedly; "I am not. I am a normal human who gets angry and grumpy like everyone else". But I could see it fell on deaf ears. To her I was just sweet and kind and so wonderful. Yep, it was very uncomfortable. I am a good person and I try to make everyone feel good, but I have my moments and I have my breaking points... like every other human on the planet. But with someone with BPD, once you have become a "saint" there is really no coming down to being a "normal human". With BPD, in my experience, they are so terrified of being rejected or put down by the person they have set so high, that even the possibility of rejection/abandonment or judgment from the "saint" sends them on a tirade. They are so angry and hurt, they create this whole persona in their head of who you "really" are, and they begin to twist everything you say or have said to justify how much they hate you now. And quite literally within the cycle of a friendship or marriage, depending on whatever you have with a person with BPD. You will go from being the greatest thing that ever happened to them, to being the person they wish were dead or at least lived on a continent far far away. Unfortunately, with the anger I see in people with BPD, they would rather their "targets" no longer existed.
How do you combat a person with BPD? Well, truth is, you don't. A normal human has boundaries. When I am arguing with someone I have boundaries that I will not cross. With BPD, they are so desperate and scared, and intent on letting everyone know how victimized they are and how awful the "saint" has become, that they will begin to believe their own twisted versions of the "saint". All you can do is sit back and watch it happen. Know that beyond all doubt, twisted versions of you are being talked about. Your very character is being attacked and what can you do? Nothing. You can fight back, but how do you fight with an entire imaginary world that a person has created with you as the villain? And so I've found the best thing to do is; 1. Hold your head high, and if you can't, find a shoulder to lean on. Someone who is healthy and balanced as you try and pry yourself from the strange world you unwittingly became entangled in. 2. Be consistent. Someone can only tell others weird things about you for so long, but if you are normal and you are consistent then people eventually catch-on to the fact the BPD person may have it wrong. Although this is much easier said than done. 3. Don't apologize for what you have not done. Do not give into the BPD for for the sake of peace. It's not fair to you and it's not fair to them. Accountability is a powerful thing, if we are held accountable it can change us for the better, those with BPD included. 4. Find those who make you happy. BPD people are heavy, because they carry heavy burdens and thoughts. Find friends who are light and loving and loyal. 5. Don't blame yourself, you did your best. People with BPD generally take the worst of us and exploit it for their own gain. Again, they are not bad people. They are just trying to survive in their own mind and until they get real outside help, they will forever blame you.
Maybe one day I'll have the courage to tell my story about the journey I've been on with people with BPD (one of which lasted 26 years). I am not guiltless or blameless in any thing I've done. But I do know who I am, I have learned to admit when I am wrong and own it. And I know beyond anything else that nothing I have ever done deserves what has been heaved upon me by those in my life with BPD.