Friday, April 6, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline

“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”

Alan Cohen

This is often a terribly difficult thing to keep in mind. I’ve found the more often than not, other love me more than I love myself. Others are more kind to me, than I am to me. There is something fundamentally wrong with this.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What causes Counter Dependency?

I found most of this information from Barry and Janae Weinhold articles on the subject. I liked this as well because they also talk about trying to heal yourself from it.

“So, what causes counter-dependent behaviors? A failure to fully complete the two most important developmental processes of early childhood: secure bonding and emotional separation. When not completed at the appropriate age, they drive adults to addictions, recurring conflicts, problems with closeness and intimacy, victimization by others, and unfulfilling and unsuccessful relationships. From birth to about three years of age, all children need help in completing the processes of bonding and separation.
Secure bonding with parents and others, which usually starts at birth, allows children to develop a sense of basic trust and safety. It involves a deep attunement between parents and children that includes lots of physical contact, holding and nurturing touch, and giving the child pleasant reassuring messages. Children need to know they are loved for who they are and to feel wanted by their parents.
Secure bonding also provides a solid foundation for children as they to begin to separate physically and emotionally and allows them to gradually move away from mother and father, exploring their world safely and securely and learning to become emotionally autonomous human beings. Children also need guidance and support in order to become emotionally separate from their parents. More secure the parent-child bond, the easier it is for children to become emotionally separate. Ideally, children should be emotionally separated from their parents by about age three.
What happens during early childhood that interferes with emotional separation? Our clinical research, which we write about in our book, The Flight From Intimacy, indicates that the most common cause of co-dependent and counter-dependent behaviors is developmental trauma caused by subtle disconnects between parent and child that prevent or disrupt emotional attunement during the first three years of life. If these early disconnects are not recognized and addressed, they eventually create patterns of isolation and disengagement that cause people to fear intimacy as adults.
Although people often don’t remember many of these early traumas, they are visible in their relationship histories. Emotional abuse by a parent or other adult can include withdrawal of love, verbal abuse, a lack of understanding or respect for the needs of the child, and attempts to over-control the child’s activities. Strong adult indicators of undetected childhood developmental traumas include fractured relationships, abusing others, depression, divorce and addictions. Adults who were physically or sexually abused as children have difficulty being close to others. With physical abandonment, something tangible happened. Emotional and spiritual abandonment or neglect are more difficult to recognize because the parent was physically present but emotionally absent. They neglected to support the child’s emotional needs for touch, holding, and comfort. While subtle forms of abandonment or neglect are more difficult to identify, they leave deep scars just the same.

People with counter-dependent behaviors generally have problems with intimacy because their emotional needs were not met as children. Eliminating counter-dependent behaviors requires that people lower their protective wall of defenses around early wounds and learn skills that help them experience authentic intimacy. “
My mom and my aunt have told me many stories about me growing up that demonstrate how I hated to be left alone, hated going to bed, hated falling asleep alone, hated leaving. I don’t think I was every abused emotionally or otherwise, but there may have been some unintentional neglect. My parents in an attempt to always make sure that one or the other parent would always be home with us had a schedule where my dad would work during the day, while my mom was home with us but asleep (though still there if we needed anything), and when my mom went to work our dad would be home with us when we slept. As a result I know my connection to my mother is very weak because she wasn’t as prominent in my early memories. My father being a product of an abusive military home also didn’t have a very good idea of how to deal with a small childs emotions and failed to understand and support my emotional development or needs and generally dismissed them. My parents definitely over-controlled our day to day activities. We had an extremely full and structured sport, club, and instrumental agenda 6 days of the week. I don’t think my parents meant anything harmful by any of this. Hell, I doubt they ever realized it would affect me like this. We all reacted to this differently. Regardless, it still affected me pretty adversely.  

“We found that healing trauma in relationships requires redefining intimacy to include the conflicts and struggles that are a part of the healing process. This means telling the truth about who you really are, what your needs are, sharing power, finding soul-evolving solutions to all conflicts and being willing to openly share your life with your partner on many levels: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Authentic intimacy involves seeing your partner as a complete and separate person with some traits you like and some traits you don’t like. It requires negotiating with your partner to meet your needs for closeness and separateness. Most importantly, it requires being willing to ask for what you want one hundred percent of the time.
Once you expand your definition of intimacy to include healing each other, your relationships will shift dramatically. You’ll find more opportunities for intimacy that help you create an intimate partnership relationship.”

I like this idea of redefining intimacy. It’s something I’ve been working on in therapy, though without that specific description of my path. It’s not easy though. I’m learning to express what I need more often and to enforce the {few} boundaries that are actually important to me. And surprisingly, they’ve never produced the detrimental effects I thought they would. Learning to accept that I’m not perfect and that some conflict is not only okay, but healthy, is definitely a new experience. I have no illusions that I’ll be able to do this properly every time, but I’m trying. It even seems to be working.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What are the symptoms of Counter Dependency?

In their book Flight from Intimacy, Barry and Janae Weinhold (co-directors of the Carolina Institute for Conflict Resolution) provide a good list of characteristics associated with counter dependency. Along with having trouble getting close to people and sustaining intimate and romantic relationships counter dependent characteristics include:

  • Having limited ability to feel emotions in regards to romantic relationships (such as justified anger or sadness) < --- I would also include having a limited ability to not necessarily feel, but to identify, admit, and express emotions in a healthy way.
  • Having a tendency to say no to new ideas from your partner < --- Only if they’re wrong or it’s something I really don’t want to do otherwise I’m open to whatever my partner wants to do, though I will say no if my self-image is too skewed to get past my anxiety. That’s more anxiety related issues though, not necessarily counter-dependency.  
  • Feeling anxiety while forming close relationships < --- Big time.
  • A need for perfection < --- Yeah. In myself for sure. If I’m very honest I think what causes a lot of my doubts about relationships is that they are not the “ideal” of every need I envision in my mind.
  • Being afraid of letting others control you < --- No one can control me. No one.
  • Being consumed by the needs of your partner < ---- Often.
  • Refusing to ask for help < ---- I wouldn’t even know how if I wanted to. This is something I am actively working on though. Still, I hate having to ask for help. Hates it, precious.
  • Becoming easily bored < ---- I carry a massive shoulder bag filled with books, notebooks, drawing supplies, my netbook, etc. in the emergency case that I find myself bored. Boredom is a terrible, terrible thing.
  • Needing to constantly seek out new thrills < --- I love this.
  • Having a tendency to work long hours during the week and on weekends < --- Hm. I submerge myself in my personal projects and pursuits more than my job. If I’m in an obsessional phase of creativity though I will work on these things to the exclusion of all else, or if I’m doing something else I’ll only be able to think about doing that thing, and will be anxious until I can get back to working on it.

Have You Ever Done These Things?
§  Attempted to hide normal fears, anxieties, or insecurities from others < --- I do this All. The. Time. All the time.
§  Felt the inability to identify and/or express important feelings < --- There ya go.
§  Attempted to always “look good” and always be “right”? < ---- If I am not my idea of “good” I will refuse to go out in public my anxiety will be so high. It’s not that I always need to be right, I just usually am. Hah. No, really, I actually don’t have a problem being “wrong” outside of a professional environment.
§  Felt a lack of trust in other people’s motives < --- Usually.
§  Felt victimized by the actions of others < --- Yes, but I actually have been. I have felt the paranoia that people may be trying to victimize me when they may or may not be though as well.
§  Felt anxious in close, intimate relationships < --- Always.
§  Been reluctant to ask for help from others when needed < ---- Yep.
§  Preferred to work alone < ---- Yes and no. Depends on the thing I’m working on.
§  Been in constant fear of making a mistake.  < ----- This has been my entire academic and most of my professional experience. Also my “fears” for relationships.
§  Had low tolerance for frustration, marked by temper tantrums or fits of anger when frustrated < --- Please, anger is my deadly sin. Especially when I was a teen by frustration, anger, and fits of temper were of EPIC proportion.
§  Been unable to relax and had a constant need to be engaged in work or activity. < ---- I often joke about not knowing how to be lazy and that I need help learning how to relax. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of learning this.
§  Felt afraid of being smothered or controlled by the needs of others < ---- Not so much afraid of it so much as if I feel like I am I push away until I have the space I need again.
§  Had little awareness of the needs or feelings of others < --- Not really. I’m pretty hypersensitive to the needs and feelings of others. I usually have an easier time identifying what other people need than identifying what I need.
§  Tended to sexualize all nurturing touch < --- I always worry that people will interpret physical affection from me as having a sexual motivation even if it doesn’t. And if it’s a guy I always wonder at what their “real” motivation behind any kind of physical contact is.
§  Been addicted to work, sex, activity, or exercise < ---- Yes. Yes. Yes. And Yes.
§  Been afraid of commitment < --- Or so I’ve said.
Co-dependent Behaviors
§  Clings to others
§  Acts weak and vulnerable
§  Is overwhelmed by his or her feelings
§  Is other-centered
§  Is addicted to people
§  Is easily invaded by others
§  Has low self-esteem
§  Acts incompetent
§  Has depressed energy
§  Acts insecure
§  Acts weak
§  Feels guilty
§  Craves intimacy and closeness
§  Acts self-effacing
§  Has victim behaviors
§  Is a people pleaser
§  Suffered neglect as a child
Counter-dependent Behaviors
§  Pushes others away
§  Acts strong and invulnerable
§  Is cut off from his/her feelings
§  Is self-centered
§  Is addicted to activities or substances
§  Is “armored” against others’ attempts to get close
§  Has falsely inflated self-esteem*
§  Tries to “look good”
§  Has manic energy
§  Acts secure
§  Acts strong
§  Blames others
§  Avoids intimacy and closeness
§  Acts grandiose
§  Tries to victimize others first
§  Is a people controller
§  Suffered abuse as a child

*I wear a mask of high self-esteem.
In myself I can clearly identify characteristics of both co- and counter-dependency. I work hard to mask all displays of co-dependence though. If you saw me on the street you would never know I was often overwhelmed by my feelings. I always appear calm, collected, and in control. You would never know I have low self-esteem because I appear very confident. I don’t admit to feelings of guilt unless it’s to my advantage. I’m a people pleaser in some respects but even when it comes to things like my obsession with cooking and feeding people this is often portrayed as my love for the art of cooking. Which to be fair, it is, however it wouldn’t be as enjoyable to me if other people didn’t enjoy what I’m cooking as well. I know I have these characteristics but I don’t show them.
I always want to appear competent and independent. Which I am. I just have all these emotional undertones that I also struggle with.
And none of this is to be confused with someone that is happily single.  Some people are perfectly happy to be single, independent, and not in a relationship. I also think it’s possible to be perfectly independent in a relationship which is what I would like to find. But if you actively choose to avoid developing relationships and come up with a list of reasons why they’ll never work so you might as well not even try (Guilty!) those could very well be signs of counter-dependency.

I still haven’t explained why this might develop as a coping mechanism though…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Counter-Dependency in Borderline Personality Disorder

What is counter depenedency?
Counter-dependency is the flipside to co-dependency but they both lie along the same spectrum of issues. They’re essentially an opposite response to the same motivation. The underlying reasons for these types of behaviors are:
1. Low Self Esteem brought about by feelings of shame
2. Fear of being alone
Codependent people are often seen as clingy, weak, insecure, and helpless without the person they are attached to. Counter-dependent people tend to appear strong, secure, confident and are often very successful to the outside world. They can aloof and very driven to project an image that makes them seem wholly self-sustained (This is me to the core).Their inside world is not so different from the codependents though. They often feel weak, insecure, fearful, and needy. Where a codependent acts and displays these tendencies, a counter dependent will hide them at all costs because these kinds of emotions register as shameful. Often it’s easier for someone who is counter-dependent to function better in the working world while failing at relationships. This happens because they’re afraid to get close to others, and avoid intimate situations as much as possible. It’s also imperative that no one see their hidden weaknesses or vulnerabilities. They put a lot of effort into convincing the people around them that they are doing just fine and don’t need anything from anyone. It’s an outwardly directed flight from intimacy.
Counter-dependent people try to control everything in their environment and restrict the amount of love, intimacy, and closeness people give and receive in their lives. Which as you can imagine will create intense feelings of loneliness, alienation, and even an internal desperation for intimacy that they can’t consciously open themselves up to receiving.
Everything is about hiding. Hiding “weaknesses”. Hiding vulnerabilities. Hiding anything that someone else could use against them. Unfortunately hiding the neediness that someone may feel can often result in an indirect manipulation to control what people see and the intimate situations that they are involved in.
While people who are co-dependent often want more physical closeness and touch, those who are counter-dependent want that intimacy but are afraid that it will suffocate them or that it will allow their partners the power to dominate them in a relationship. This leads them to quickly erect boundaries to protect their emotional states. For me, this is not quite true. I crave physical contact. I need it. For me, it’s a way of being close, providing that illusion of intimacy, without becoming emotionally vulnerable. Physical intimacy distracts from emotional intimacy and I can hide the latter while devouring the former.

“{In either case} couple relationships often contain intense competition and conflict and little authentic intimacy. People with co-dependent behaviors will create a conflict when the relationship is not intimate enough. Those with counter-dependent behaviors create a conflict when the relationship is too intimate. Much of couple conflict involves a struggle to determine how much intimacy and how much separation partners can tolerate in their relationship.”
I don't need you.
This is me all over. I’m more afraid of my relationships when they begin to get to close. I begin to doubt, feel suffocated, push away. My thoughts run away with ideas of not being good enough, not being able to provide my partner with “what they really need” {even though what they really need really isn’t my decision}, losing my own identity by becoming a couple, etc. The emotional pressure that comes with true intimacy is often overwhelming. I try so hard to find a balance of close but not too close, but when you’re the only one doing that and your partner wants something else, conflict is destined to arise.
Being counter-dependent is to take a position in relationships to ensure one is not dependent on others for emotional security, status, etc. Everyone has psychological defenses in order to cope with life. A counter-dependent's defenses are like emotional calluses. To be counter-dependent is almost like being a walking contradiction of emotion. There is this deep-seated fear of intimacy which leads to an emotional isolation, but at the same time there’s an increased need for the state that is feared. It’s a good explanation for why counter dependents are sometimes caught in approach-avoid/push-pull conflicts when it comes to intimate relationships.
I think part of the reason I was so open to poly and open relationships was in order to avoid true one on one commitment. Growing up I often told people I had a fear of commitment. I would tell people this, even when I craved it. I did this because I didn’t want to expose myself, expose my needs, to the eyes of anyone else, lest they judge me for not being able to obtain the thing I wanted. I was taught that independence was “strong” so wanting to be in a partnership which naturally has a healthy amount of emotional dependence would be “weak”. These relationships also let me maintain an emotional distance where I didn’t have to worry about anyone relying on me for too much support because there was always someone else to share some of the pressure.
For a very long time in my life I told everyone, and myself, that I didn’t want someone to be emotionally close to. I would laud the physical and the fun and brush off the emotional as “girly stuff”. I was to tough for that sort of thing. To a large extent I still portray this attitude, but I’ve had a lot of time alone with my thoughts and honest reflection about who I am and I can recognize that while I refuse to show that I need such emotional closeness, I do recognize that this is something I do want and need. I also recognize that I’m not sure how to get it.
It just feels so much safer to build this impenetrable fortress around my heart than to appear in any way vulnerable. Why does this happen? Stay tuned.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thank you to all my Readers!

Hello Hello Everyone,

I reached an amazing milestone this weekend. This little blog found its 200th follower =) I really appreciate all the support and insight I’ve found from my Readers. For as much of myself as I put out into this space, I receive so much back as well. I love hearing from people who have questions, who want to say hello and let me know they’re reading along, who think my insight helpful enough to seek my advice, to those that share their stories and let me get to know them in some ways, for all those reasons and more you’ve made this little blog of mine so helpful for me and therefore helpful to others. I even appreciate the inconsiderate asshats out there that leave their little hateful comments. You’ll notice I leave those up usually because it’s important for me to remember that there are people out there that don’t understand, don’t want to understand, or can’t understand, and it motivates me a little more to try and explain.

So thank you for joining me, for visiting me, for stalking me and lurking in the shadows (and especially for putting up with my dry and sometimes bizarre sense of humor). 

I hope you get as much out of this blog as I do.

I find it wonderful and crazy when people take the time to share their experiences with me. It’s so funny. I get lost in my own head, my own little world. I know I’m putting my darkest self-analysis out there for all to see, and yet, I’m always pleasantly surprised when people say to me, “I’ve been following you and reading your blog for months. I relate to…” this or to that. I know I talk a lot of very serious subjects, and it probably makes me a little unapproachable, but I’m always happy to hear from people. Even if you don’t have anything more to contribute than a ‘hello’. It reminds me that I am actually reaching out to people, which, as many of you well know, is important to those of us that feel so often alone.

In many ways those of you that have been with me for a very long time probably know me better than a lot of the people in my real life. If you ever ran into me out on the street though, you might never recognize me for the person I actually project. It’s often like leading a double life. One on the inside and one on the out. Having a place to just be me and let the inside have a voice has been a great experience (and will continue to be I’m sure).

I would keep up this blog on my own, but it’s you, my darling Readers, that have made this so enjoyable and even more insightful than I thought it could be. I really appreciate it.

Hugs and Love,


Oh! And don't forget to check out my Guest Post today =)

Guest Post: BPD and Codependency in One

A very dear Reader of mine has graciously agreed to open up her life a little and share with us some of her experience living with BPD and Codependency. So without further ado, here's what she has to say:

I think my codependency issues started in childhood with my mother. She was very unhappy in her marriage and my brother had many issues stemming from his brain damage and I was her perfect, beautiful princess. The light of her life. My entire purpose in childhood was to keep my mother from slipping into madness. She has told me, in therapeutic adult conversations recently that she never intended to make me feel like I had to be that. She was praising me, telling me that was what I was. I get it. I had similar talks with my dad about his verbal abuse and the tension from his neglect and having to care for my mother. Talking with them both, separately, six months ago helped clarify a lot of stuff and a lot of forgiveness was spread around. I have felt so much freer since. If you can talk to your parents without fear that they will kill you (anything else you fear might happen isn’t actually that bad!) then you should. Forgiveness and understanding have many health benefits for both parties, including lower blood pressure. Talk to them before they die and it is too late. I digress.

I moved around. A lot. We moved on average every 2 years from my infancy on. I never developed attachments to anyone my age until junior high school, when I fell in love with someone I met on a pre-internet communications service (I am not a spring chicken lol). I was 13. We had a long distance, fantasy driven relationship with about four actual in person meetings. Granted I would stay for a week or more or he would, but it was mostly a virtual romance. I spent all my time locked away writing to him, talking to him on the phone, writing emo poetry and fantasizing about our future. He raped me to break up with me and I never heard from him again (I tried to contact him because I was confused and hurt and abandoned). We did talk briefly years later, but it wasn’t real closure.

After that, I made friends with the other outcasts and had a semi normal teen hood. I was a juvenile delinquent but I never really got in trouble. I always had a female friend who I was totally codependent on. I had never had friends and my only model for female relationships was with my histrionic mother. I would spend most of my time doing random teen stuff with my gal pal and sport fucking the boys. I literally saw myself as a damaged whore, so I played the part.

College came; I did more of the same. Teamed up with my fellow BPD gal and we ran wild. She was one of the few people I have met who made me feel retarded. She was brilliant and I adored her. I had a big breakdown and returned to the nest and met my ex-husband. We were both early 20s and he had a codependent relationship with his mother. We loved each other intensely in our childish, selfish ways. Our relationship died when his mother died, a year after we were married. The rest of our marriage was our codependent need to stay together, despite making each other miserable. We both even were violent with each other at times. I punched him (unprovoked) in the gut full force one time.

Last year, I finally got the nerve to leave. I knew he wouldn’t let me go without someone else to take my place, so I opened our marriage and he found a girlfriend. Next time I asked for divorce, he agreed.

I was so determined not to be like him and have to jump immediately into a new relationship for safety. I wanted to. There were opportunities. I am attractive and professional and men adore me. I decided to go back to my sport fucking ways and just have fun and be independent and kill my codependent ways for good. That’s when I met my friend.

I hadn’t really had a lot of BPD symptoms during my marriage, partly because I had no privacy for self-harming or self-reflection or anything, also because I was in such a depression. I think I just dissociated most of the time. I didn’t have impulses. I didn’t have much of anything. Except the occasional violence, like punching my husband. My BPD really came back upon the divorce. I was suicidal all the time. I couldn’t take a bath because I ideated blood filled water. I had to toss out the razor I used to trim my bangs. I scared myself. I didn’t think I could live alone. Completely alone, no roommates, only my dog. I made it through, though and then started to enjoy my freedom.

Until I started seeing my friend. We started out on fire. Spent an entire weekend together at a hippie festival. Then we took road trips and went camping. We spent way too much time together. I fell right into my codependent ways. I suddenly felt like I couldn’t live without him and he was the key to my happiness. I texted him incessantly, constant fear of abandonment. If we weren’t together I was worried he would disappear forever. It got bad and I got really nutty. He left me for a less crazy woman. That didn’t work because in a totally manic delusional state, I sent her a stream of messages and told her way more about him than she needed to know that soon. She kept him at arm’s length while they dated for a month or so and she dumped him. He blamed me, but came back to me.

So now we have been riding this rollercoaster of distrust and emotion and we have come to a place where he admitted it is my BPD that stands between us. My acting out. My abusive texting. I can be quite vicious. I am not allowed one "freak out" (his words) for two weeks. April 9 will be two weeks. I have been good so far. I don’t feel bad about him requiring this of me. I really do deserve it. I always paint the other guy as the bad guy, but in this situation, much of the fault really falls on me. Can you imagine getting 20 texts over the course of a couple hours, getting progressively more hostile, then coming out of a meeting and reading all 20 at once? That’s the kind of thing I would do. Sometimes a couple times a week. Not good.

Therapy is helping immensely. Living my life is helping. Having a person who forces me to take time alone and won’t let me give into my codependent tendencies is helping. My ex enabled me by allowing my abuse unchecked (I did for him as well). Having someone call me on my shit is so great. Yes, it sometimes leads to me beating myself up, but my coping is getting better and I can appreciate him for still being there for me, despite my nutty behavior.

I am breaking the BPD and the codependency. I want to be able to have a healthy relationship with myself so I can with others. Focusing on me over the last year has helped. All my energy for ten years was focused on the marriage, not me. I am making up for lost time.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...