Monday, December 13, 2010

A disease called Friendship - Checklist Criteria 1: Abandonment

I will begin my look into the specific criteria listed in the DSM IV that qualify one as having BPD. Once I take a technical look at what it means to be me, I will branch off into the personal, the gritty, the mundane and macabre.

For those not in the know, the DSM IV is the experts guide into madness. It is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illness. This is what psychiatrists, thereapists, councilors, doctors, etc. reference in order to pinpoint a diagnosis and ultimately, bill your insurance company.

First up on the DSM Checklist for BPD is:

1.) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Abandonment issues. If there's one thing that makes us sound like clingy, lonely, emo-kids, it's probably this. Someone never loved us enough not to leave. Did not see us worth the effort to stick it out for. So how do you keep people from leaving? You crawl under their skin until you are so fused with their being there is no longer the chance of escape. False.

At least in my experience, it's easier to not get too attached in the first place. Becoming too attached is a recipe for hurt, disaster and disappointment.  That's not to say that it doesn't happen. Some days it seems inevitable.


If we’re so afraid to be left, why let anyone close at all. No one wants to be alone. Not really. Humans are social creatures, pack animals. They thrive in groups, growing stronger as each contributes to the herd until all the sustenance is used up and they begin to gnaw at the bones of the weak.

Some days the loneliness is palpable. We need to reach out to remember we are part of a whole. Other times it’s almost insidious. Like friendship is a disease that has snuck up and infected you when you least expected it. A friendly word here or there, leadings to general inquiries of well being and before you know it, you’re discussing art, philosophy, the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. You’re attached before you ever saw it coming. One small symptom, then another, and before you know it you have stage four cancer and need weekly chemo just to function.

But now that it’s here, how long til it goes away? Is taken away? When will this disease called 'friendship' be 'cured'?

Boundaries were made to be pushed. If you can act out, act up, push back and yet they stay, isn’t that a testament to how dedicated they are to you? Your friendship? Your relationship? If you don’t test these boundaries how do you know if they’ll hold when it counts?

So you push. You test the fences, looking for weakness, chink in the chains that hold you together until finally one snaps. A tiny break at first. One link loosened in the whole. It inspires a response. Apologies are quickly made. The gap patched, soldered back together. But the break has been made and that point will never be as strong as it initially was. Everything is fine for a while. It’s been proven that you can withstand conflict. All is well in the world. You’re a brat, but a brat that cares.
Until the next time. And the next.

Even small very reasonable seperations can cause anger or fear. Make you question yourself, doubt yourself, make you think you've done something wrong. What is it about me that isn't good enough to spend time with? I understand you need had a last minute meeting but what is it about me that makes me less important that you would break our plans? Don't even consider large things.  I'm losing the time I would have spent with you, does tha mean I am losing you too? Rage. Hurtful words. Anger is my emotion. Anger at being used because clearly up until this point you have just been using me when you didn't really think I was good enough to do anything with.

Despair.

Every time the apologies are more profuse, and they're always sincere. The excuses, reasons, justifications become more frantic. Pleading, desperately hoping they forgive you to prove you worth their love. Please, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way, for it to mean that. I will learn, it will never happen again. Except it does.

Each time the test is a little larger, a little more extreme, until finally the structure is so unsound it collapses under it’s own weight for having the foundations picked apart.

The world crashes down, left alone, in the dark without the light that that relationship shed. The void is consuming. A vow is made to never let someone so close, ever, ever again. Well, with one exception…

It can be that the people chosen truly are uncaring, people not worthwhile that do not care to stick around or aren’t looking for anything beyond a superficial friendship. These people don’t tend to stick around anyway. But the people that you develop a firm belief in, the thought of them leaving is a waking nightmare. Also, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who’s to say the fence would not have held up forever had you not felt the need to test the foundations? Would they have left if you had not created the circumstances that pushed them being their tolerance? By the time that thought occurs, it’s usually too late to let it go.

3 comments:

  1. Again, you put this in a way that I almost believed I could have wrote this.

    Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm a non and in a serious friendship with someone with BPD and it is very very hurtful to say the least to be tested constantly and even more intensely with time and then the push/pull. Makes me feel so worthless - the push. Seems almost coldblooded and well-thought out. The disgust - yes, that's the emotion - that I sense in the push period. I want to stay - but he makes it so hard. I feel broken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had the push-pull cycle with many friends. At least from my experience it has never been thought out or deliberate. It's always a fear response from getting to close to someone. It doesn't make it any less hurtful to deal with, but it's not deliberate.

      We can definitely be cold-blooded. As can almost anyone who believes they're about to be hurt by someone, as irrational as it may be. But it's where the train of thought goes.

      Try setting boundaries with your friend. Let them know how much you care, but also know that you won't allow yourself to be hurt the way they've been hurting you. You'll be there, but they have to reciprocate.

      Delete

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