Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happily Ever After and Borderline Personality Disorder

Fairytale endings. A never ending ride into the sunset with the love of your life and a passion that lasts until death do us part… with no bumps, no stress, no real life intervening to interrupt that happily ever after. Instead of all the sad follow up series that Hollywood loves to pump, I think they should create a true to life sequel after that unobtainable happily forever after.

Sometimes with Borderline Personality Disorder and the hypersensitivity and racing, ruminating thoughts that often accompany it, I think we get stuck in this idea of the “perfect” relationship. The way things are “supposed” to be. With BPD we’re more sensitive to how things affect us. Not because we want to be, but because that’s how our brain is programmed to respond. So when there’s an argument, dinner gets burned, our phone call isn’t returned, it’s like that irrational idea of who we think we need to be with has been ruined.  

The thing about films and “Happily Ever After” is: we don't actually see an endless passion in the happily ever after. It’s what we want, what we imagine, what we are told to believe we should have. But in reality it’s not what we’re given and not we life can offer. In that Hollywood “Happily Ever After” all we see is the glorious beginning of the honeymoon. You don't see the diaper changing, the fights over bills, the pms crankiness, or any of the day to day stresses that real couples go through, learn to work through, and get over. You see those first few glorious moments of romantic love, assume it’s all sunsets and pony ride forever... and that's it. That's it. You never see reality setting in.

We're lead to believe a lie. (Not that it's Hollywoods fault, just go with me) We're never shown a complete picture, because a complete picture doesn't exist fairy tales and cartoons. It's sad, but it's true.

Eventually passion fades. I’m not saying love fades. I believe love strengthens in time. But the intensity of new desire, that honeymoon puppy dog cow eyes over lady and the tramp spaghetti (messy), eventually becomes a more mature and lasting love. Sometimes I think we crave that intensity so much that we forget to live in the real world. We don't realize that comfortable day-to-day living, doesn't mean our partners don't care, it just means that they’ve evolved to that next phase of the relationship. Next phases are new changes though and change tends to throw us for a loop.  Our emotions are always so intense that we feel like that passion should always be there because we run on such an emotional high that we don't realize that other people don't have the same chemical experience. It's not that they love us less. In fact, they may often love us more. Love us more maturely in a way that has moved beyond that initial physical lust that always makes us need to rip each other’s clothes off and get inside one another immediately. In a healthy, fully romantic relationship I think the steady comfort of wanting that person by your side for now and forever replaces some of that tear your clothes off right fucking now lust. But it's not as easily readable to the BPD mind. When someone is constantly pawing you to be in their bed it's an obvious validation of their need for us. When they reach a point where their feelings have matured to long lasting appreciation and not just physical desire, the physical intensity often subsides a bit. To our minds this translates as they don't desire us as much. They're not paying attention to us as much. Maybe their needs are being met elsewhere. Maybe we don't mean as much anymore. Maybe they don't need us as much now. Maybe they’re not as attracted to us... because we can't SEE how they feel. We can't live in your brain so we'll never have 100% proof.

That display of constant physical desire at the beginning of relationships is as near to "proof" that we're important, as we can see.  When a normal relationship starts to "cool down" and advance, we're sort of still stuck in that need for intensity phase. It's often said that people with BPD are stuck at the emotional maturity level of a 3 year old. It's kind of like that with romantic desire as well. If a first date is like a newborn… Actually, skip that analogy. Bad idea.  We know what we can see and experience. We can't create a tangible, documentable display for "comfortable security". There's no "proof" that someone "just enjoys being with us." There is however proof that someone lusts and desires for us physically. We can feel the physical passion and desire someone has when they see us and immediately want to rip our clothes off and fuck til our eyes cross. That we can take stock of. How do you take stock of "enjoying someone's presence" when you're not that person? See? It's a matter of being able to understand.

Often we have this idea of exactly who we should be with. However, like Hollywood, that person we’ve built up in our mind is a figment of a grand imagination. Real people, in real life, have flaws, quirks, miss calls and texts, and occasionally need their own time and space to do their own things. That doesn’t mean they don’t continue to care about us, it just means that they’re human beings too and sometimes they have to deal with other stuff.

We can be so hyper-focused on every little detail in a relationship we don’t stop to consider the fact that other people don’t feel the same need to obsess over the health of a relationship. If you stop to take your temperature every hour of every day, you’ll see that there are very normal variations to your own temperature. You can interpret that as just the way a normal, healthy body fluxuates throughout the day. Or. You can see each step up or down in temperature and stress out about what is happening in your body that is making it vary from that textbook 98.6 degrees it’s “supposed” to be, look up every ailment possible on the internet, rush to the doctor, lost money on your co-pay, lose hours sitting in the waiting room, until finally you can see your doctor who will tell you that it’s normal for everyone to vary slightly through time. Relationships, like your own body temperature can go up and down a little. A healthy relationship should stay within a basic range. Those rare occasions when you get a spike of 104 that’s when something is seriously wrong. But if you treat a reading of 98.9 like a reading of 104, you’re going to be freaking out all the time over something that is perfectly normal.

I worry about all these things I think I need, instead of looking at what I have. I’ve never met someone that meets all the things I think I need. I’ve met people that I WANT to be the person to have everything I need. I WANT them to be. The person I imagine they COULD be, is what I want. Not the person they actually are. That’s where I think I trip up so much. There’s no realism in that kind of wish list. I keep seeing the one or two inane things that I don’t have and look where else they might be. When I find those one or two things they become the focus for just long enough to drive me crazy and realize that they’re missing the other things I needed and used to have. Where’s the line? Where’s the point where I open my eyes and say this person treats me well and I love spending time with them and everything else are just nitpicky details that don’t matter nearly so much  as finding someone that I want to be with who also wants to be with me?
You're thinking about sex now aren't you?

Where is the point where I shorten my run on sentences? Here.

I obsess over details with people like I obsess over details at work. At work it’s appropriate because the most minute thing actually is important (trust me, I work on nanoscales). People aren’t machines though. At least not until we develop reliable AI. But until then, people tend to be people, and people are can be the best versions of themselves but they’re never the best version of our imaginations.

Oh and one more thing. If things were perfect all the time, we’d get sick of that too, b/c yanno what? That’s a lot of fucking pressure. Could you imagine having to actually be perfect all the time, instead of just obsessing over how I’m not perfect all the time? Holy hell. No thanks.

Ok. Clearly I’m all over the place today. My boyfriend needs to get back from vacation tonight {insert something about proof and relationships}… {giggle that I said insert}. Ok. I’m done. Good bye. 

Sorry. I'm kind of weird today. It happens. 

Sometimes I'm embarrassed I have thoughts =/


  1. This is a great post, valid for everyone. I guess the balance resides on accepting a person that is close enough to what we need and the other accepting us if we are enough to what they need. Regarding my exgirlfriend I never understood why I had to fight permanently against certain abandonment fears of her eventhough I prove my love to her over and over through time, actions and loving gestures. Her fears just broke me down emotionally.

    In conclusion I think you made a great post, makes me reflect on my own idealization and my own capacity to simply accept and love.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nathaniel RoubideauxJuly 5, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    I appreciate you addressing this in particular, out of the many questions I asked you. I hope I haven't been a burden.

    What you're describing rings so true with my ex; she's so much better at describing what she wants and needs than she gives herself credit for that I felt completely blindsided when I got kicked from ecstasy all the way down to abject misery in the course of days or weeks. Maybe I trusted her too much. She told me exactly what you're describing: that she had unrealistic expectations and that the idea was easier than the reality. Well of course it is. It always is. Being in a relationship is heavy stuff when things get real. I would have given anything to have a chance to metaphorically hold her hand into understanding what it meant to me to love her and remind her of all the ways I went out of my way to show her. I never had a chance. There was apparently a point she says the reality of the intimacy scared her too much to continue; I never could have possibly known about that since she shut down. She was even honest that it was pretty much always going to be that way from the start of the relationship and that there was never going to be anything either of us could do about it.

    I always knew there was something a little weird about her and that she needed to be reminded that I was her biggest fan. I still have no idea how she felt about me before and after I packed up to leave, but I was crushed by her obviously holding back the truth about a pattern that's so self-destructive it breaks my heart to see how far it's held her back with relationships and work. I had no choice but to go, but I can't stop thinking about how I could have changed things. At the end of the day I know, in no small part because of your generosity in sharing so much, that it had nothing to do with me. That's not all that heartening because now I worry about her so much it hurts. But knowing is half the battle. Or something.

    I'm with Letra above. So much of what you share has me considering the reality of my own issues. Much of what people with borderline suffer with is generic to being human beings. The fact that it becomes pathological isn't even unique to y'all. I'm learning how to be mindful of and avoid my own outbursts of really scary anger, usually directed inward, that cause me to explode and scare people I love. Seeing some extremes and knowing that someone with (I guess,) more difficult impulse control problems than I have got me looking for ways to learn how to control them. I'm really proud to be starting DBT next week. :^)

    I'm glad to know you're aware of how this issue affects your perceptions of your SO. We all need to learn that as a lifeskill. Negotiating love is not easy for anyone and you've got a better head start on being mindful of the pitfalls than most people ever will. I wish you the best.

  3. Nathaniel RoubideauxJuly 5, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Sorry, I'm a little hung over. I meant:

    "Seeing someone with (I guess) more difficult impulse control problems than I have face them mindfully got me looking for ways to learn how to control my own."

    1. The only thing that is evident Nathaniel,is your complete and utter boredom with everything outside yourself.

      But the rot is internal.It belongs to you.Weather it's brain rot,or heart and soul rot is for you to decipher.

      What you should be starting next week is some self flagellation, maybe that might give you the jolt that you desire,and temper the patronising side of yourself which knows no boundries and shows no respect.

      Or you could just have another drink or two and not worry about trying to control your impulses.

      Cheers,you rudie.


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