Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do Borderlines Mean What They Say?

Since I'm wrapping up my series on Lying I wanted to bring this up as well. Is it possible to say something you mean honestly and truthfully, and then have that change later? Of course.

A reader recently asked me if her borderline friend ever genuinely meant the things he said to her. This got me thinking. It’s quite possible her Borderline friend means everything he says… at the moment in time that he says it. However most decisions and expressions of sentiment are dependent on how we are feeling at the time. Something can be an absolute significant truth in one moment, and then lose its importance in another moment if emotional circumstances change.
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When you’re wrapped up in the glow of affection for someone as they are sitting cuddled up next to you, it can seem like the world is whole and you would do anything to keep it such a warm and wonderful place. The person next to you is all that matters and making them happy or doing things that make them feel good can be your absolute priority. The rest of the world be damned.

I feel like this a lot. Especially if I’ve had a particularly strong bonding time with someone. I would do absolutely anything for them; 1. Because I genuinely care about them and want them to be happy, but also 2. Because I want them to be happy because of something I did for them, for them to associate me with things that make them happy. I recognize that I think this way now, I haven’t always. I think this is the unconscious motivator for people in general (true altruism doesn’t exist, sorry), but I think the feelings are amplified with BPD.

However, when they’ve gone or are not in my immediate presence it can be hard for me to hold onto that intense sentiment, if I can hold onto it at all. Cognitively I remember and do still care, but it’s difficult for me to still feel attached or like I mean anything to the other person so the importance of what was previously said also becomes a little emotionally muddy. I know this is tied to my object constancy issues. I hate it. I really hate it. It’s not that I want to lose those sentiments. I just don’t know how to hold onto that feeling of love and warmth when I feel like I’m not a part of that persons world.

I can also be something of a flake for entirely different reasons. Mainly my emotional state can get pretty damn shitty. I’ll cancel plans and not be able to do things I’ve said I would because I can’t deal with being around people. Yes, even people I adore. I can get so anxious, or so depressed, that they idea of having other people see me like that is just unbearable. Especially if I’m having a body conscious day and I feel like a hideous monster on top of being depressed and anxious, I feel like a social pariah ready to infect those around me with my foul mood. It’s just not possible to always hold it in, put on a grin, and waltz my way through a day where I feel like the weight of the world is dragging me down. This has nothing to do with the other person, it’s all about my moods being bad, and to top it off, I usually feel guilty for having to cancel.

And then there are the times when I am sharing deep emotional sentiments with people. I admit that there have been times when I would say things and try to change what I wanted (actually live up to the things I was saying) to make someone else happy. Despite the fact that I was not okay with their decision, I wanted to support them because I think that’s what a good friend is supposed to do. I know I can be a pretty selfish creature. I don’t want to be but I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be different though, so I do try to act in ways, better myself in ways, that I think are more honorable. Like supporting the desires of others even when those desires are hurtful to me. It’s hard though. It’s hard to change. Sometimes I mess up.

Here’s a story of Ex-BPD friend, Riot, GF, and myself. GF and myself had hooked up and gone on a few dates. I ended up going back to Boring-Ex and stopped seeing GF, but remained friends. About a month later Riot decided she wanted to hook up with GF. GF is a pretty fun, sexual creature that doesn’t read much into sex other than a good time. Riot puts all the meaning of the world into each sexual encounter. I was still very attracted to GF and liked her, but I was in a relationship with someone else, so when Riot asked me if she could pursue her, I was very conflicted. I didn’t like the idea at all but I was in a relationship with someone else and I felt like I’d be sort of cheating on him to tell her I wasn’t okay with it. I also valued Riots happiness more than anything so that trumped how I felt and I gave her the okay despite not feeling good about it. They had one weekend date and that was it. GF told Riot she wasn’t interested in her in that way, in fact, she was still very into me. But I made the choice and I tried extraordinarily hard to not upset Riot. Even though I still wanted to be friends with GF and she wanted to be involved in my life as well. Except every time GF would tell Riot she only wanted to be friends and not be involved with her in “that way” Riot fell more and more in love. So even the brief friendly conversations I had with GF felt like a betrayal of my friendship to Riot. I absolutely meant what I said to Riot, that her friendship and her happiness was more important to me, but every time I talked to GF I missed her and missed the freedom to even have a friendship with a woman I enjoyed. I would talk to GF and she made me feel like the world was a better place. Even then I always, always, always maintained my distance. Until Riot started asking me to come around, knowing full well that GF still liked me, and tried forcing interactions with us. In almost every instance I cancelled or backed out because I knew my own will power wasn’t great around GF and I didn’t want to put myself in a position to hurt Riot. Then one day about a month after my break up with Boring-Ex and subsequent trip to the Psych-ER, Riot threw a party and invited us both. I was cooking and decorating for the party so of course I was going to be there. A couple of my other girlfriends were there too so I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I wasn’t going to drink, I was going to busy myself with my girlfriends and the party and not get involved too much with GF. Until Boring-Ex showed up. The guy that just had an explosive break up with me and sent me to the Psych ER showed up to a party he had no real friends at, and proceeded to ignore me. I told Riot if he would talk to me and be civil I could be okay, but he didn’t. My anxiety started spinning me out of control, my girlfriends ended up having to leave, and I just started drinking, drinking, drinking. Vodka. Straight. I was in a pretty bad state, trying to keep myself together. Riot told me I could go inside if I wanted, but then ran off to play beer pong or something. I didn’t want to be alone. That wasn’t going to help. And there was GF. She was kind and sweet and held my hand and we went for a walk around the block to help me clear my head and let me vent. Before I knew it she kissed me, and Riot in her jealousy and suspicion (which I guess was justified at that moment) walked around the corner just as I was telling GF we couldn’t do that. Riot dissolved. I dissolved. GF left. Riot kept accusing me of wanting to be with her, telling me that I never meant what I said, telling me she couldn’t trust me. Maybe she couldn’t. But it was true that I didn’t want to be with GF. I didn’t want to hurt Riot. I had two other girlfriends at the time, I just made a mistake in the moment. I’m not sure what I wanted. But it  certainly wasn’t to betray the trust of a friend I cared so much for. In certain moments I wished things were different with me and GF, but in that moment when she kissed me I wasn’t thinking about Riot, I wasn’t thinking about Boring-Ex, I wasn’t thinking at all… All I knew was that I was being held by someone that cared about me and wanted to take away some of my pain which was more than anyone else was trying to do. I just needed to not be in so much pain.

How I felt with GF in the moment was so strong that it took me a minute to regain my ability to make decisions. Then not 2 minutes later with Riot I would have given up all women forever to prove that I never meant to hurt her and that her accusations were false. I meant everything I said, but in such an emotionally charged situation what I want changed with who I was with.  

I’m not saying it justifies how I acted, but it wasn’t my intent to not keep my word.

Maybe that’s why it can be so difficult to understand if we mean what we say. Because what we want to be true ABOUT ourselves is often in conflict with what we want FOR ourselves. I absolutely want to be the kind of friend that always puts others in front of myself, but it’s just not always possible for me. I doubt it’s possible for anyone. Especially when you have so many conflicting, tumultuous emotions whipping through your mind until your ability to think and make appropriate decisions goes utterly numb and all that’s left is trying to stop the feeling of hurt.

And it doesn’t have to be something so emotionally sad or negative either. My whole life I always said I would never be one of those girls that took their tops off for attention Mardi Gras style or whatever, then after talking to another friend I started stripping on an impulsive whim to help me pay the bills when I was unemployed. I absolutely meant that I would never do such a thing for years and years, and then I changed my mind on an impulse. Like most things in human nature, people change as they grow, as their situations change and they are forced to adapt. With BPD it seems like we are "forced" to adapt much more often, especially when we have a flexible sense of self. 

For me, it’s often like the previous events in my life have little to no attachment to the current moment. My life doesn’t always feel like a continuum, more like a series of episodes on some dramatic television show. Sometimes the next scene picks up where the last one lets off, other times there’s a commercial break that has absolutely nothing to do with what I just did. It makes it difficult to apply significance to things done earlier in the series when I’m swept up in the brilliance of some new shiny piece of stimuli. I change and I adapt more rapidly to situations I’m in because I don’t feel as strong of a connection to earlier events. It’s not that I don’t want to give them more significance, but it tends to be that the things directly in front of me and in my presence have a stronger connection because I know they’re real. It’s hard for me to remember what’s real and what’s not when it comes to emotional bonds when there’s no tangible proof of them. I have to keep reminding myself. It’s a conscious effort. I try really hard to be consistent, with how I act and what I say, but it’s not always easy because I don’t perceive attachments in a linear fashion
 It’s like gravity, the closer something or someone is, the stronger it’s pull. The closer someone is the stronger I mean what I say. The further away they get, I still mean what I’ve said, but the weaker the intensity of the force maintaining that perception becomes. If I happen to get swept up in the gravitational pull of a different closer object, it feels natural to be pulled along in that orbit for a time. Until I manage to achieve an emotional escape velocity and go soaring back to where I probably should be.

Oh metaphors. It’s a rambling kind of day today I guess. 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. It is very insightful and I very much appreciate it. It helps me understand why my girlfriend of four years has acted the way she has.

    I sincerely thank you.


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