Thursday, November 8, 2012

Secondary Wounding and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 2

Now we know how people can cause secondary wounding. It seems kind of obvious to some of us, but what isn’t so obvious is why someone would do that. Fortunately Healthy Place: America’s Mental Health Channel breaks it down and I expound, because that’s just what I do.

Why People Cause Secondary Wounding

Ignorance is a key factor in a lot of secondary wounding. Some people just don’t get it. Some people just don’t understand because they’ve never experienced something like it themselves, so they can’t empathize properly. Whatever the reason, they don’t comprehend what it’s like to suffer from a particular trauma.

This is how I feel when ultra-conservative politicians say that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape or incest because even then god intended for that fetus to be born. Or that a person should have seen the sexual assault coming in the first place.

Something that I think is common for the people in our lives without BPD, is burnout.  When the person responding to the survivor of trauma, is simply overwhelmed. Maybe they’ve been supportive previously, but over time, after continuing to be their support for time and more time and more time, it becomes difficult to maintain until eventually the weight of supporting the survivor just becomes too much for them.

This is what happened with my 2nd best friend with BPD when we had our final fallout over GF. I was there for her and there for her and there for her, picking up her calls at 2 in the morning, talking til the sun came up, rushing over to her to comfort her and calm her as she fell apart, for nearly a year… until finally I just couldn’t anymore. I didn’t mean to, but I broke. It’s even more complicated b/c I broke into a severe dissociative episode, but when someone requires SO MUCH. ALL THE TIME. It can wear on you. We should try to keep that in mind when our loved ones need a break.

Real-time Karma or “Just world” philosophy is a mindset which teaches that  everyone gets what they deserve. It assumes that if you are careful enough, intelligent enough, moral enough or competent enough, you can avoid misfortune. Therefore, people who suffer trauma or either at fault, weak, or immoral.  

The example from HealthyPlace is, “Good girls don’t get raped.” It doesn’t have to be that overt though, and we ourselves, those of us with BPD or often the hardest on ourselves with this one. “If only I was this,”, “If only I was that,”, “I should {this/that} and this wouldn’t have happened….” We take on the belief that there is something dysfunctional in us that makes us bad, and therefore we deserve whatever hardship it is we’ve had inflicted on us. Considering the history of abuse that comes with BPD, this is often reinforced by the people that inflict the trauma in the first place.

Finally there is often a cultural influence. My culture, and many others, proclaims that hard work, self-sacrifice, and physical and emotional endurance can overcome hardship. These things are positive traits, but that doesn’t mean they will lead to successfully overcoming the obstacles brought on by trauma. It implies that all you need is to keep a “stiff upper life,” to get over trauma. Which also implies that if you don’t or can’t, there must be something wrong with you, and you are weak for needing a different way of coping. It does not indicate weakness though, all it indicates is that it’s not the right course of healing for you. Everyone is not the same and what works for one person will not necessarily (nor should it) work for another. Everyone needs to be free to find healing the way that is best for them.

Overcoming secondary wounding

Secondary wounding is like an infection. It’s that dirt that gets rubbed into a raw and open wound. It makes you not only need to heal the original wound, but now you have to heal another wound on top of that one. If it occurs close enough to the original trauma it can make that trauma even worse. What originally required a tourniquet has turned gangrenous and needs to be amputated.  So how do you overcome it?

First it’s crucial to identify the wounding experience and how it effects you, then distance yourself emotionally and mentality from it. Be careful not to detach completely, but put some space there.

This part I love, as Healthy Place says, “realize that as a general rule, the secondary wounding says more about the other person than us. This is often the result of a larger problem in society, such as the “just world” philosophy and the blame-the-victim attitudes. When you view it from this perspective, we have an argument against their assumptions.”

Finally, is an active effort that we should all probably practice regardless of secondary wounding or not: Learn positive self-talk. And practice it every day so that you have your arguments against secondary wounding experiences ready. It sounds simple, but it really is crucial. I’m terrible at this. I constantly tear myself down, so when other people say something unhelpful it’s easy for me to believe them. It’s much, much, much harder for someone to bring you down, when you know how to raise yourself up.

We have to build our emotional armor b/c let’s face it, with a disorder like BPD, wounding our emotions is pretty easy. It’s even easier when you don’t know how to fight back. It’s our job to teach ourselves. Invest in yourself. Be kind to yourself. 

1 comment:

Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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