Thursday, April 18, 2013

What is a Healing Relationship?

This post is a going to be a little different. I would like some audience participation please! Feel free to remain Anonymous.

Borderline Personality Disorder is often referred to as a disorder of relationships. Relationships take two and both people are responsible for their words and actions. That said, having BPD brings a lot of additional complications, stress, and outright problems to our relationships. That’s not what I want to focus on today though. What I want to start thinking about is: What exactly is a healing relationship? This is something that is going to be as individual as the person experiencing it.

I’m not talking about building that idealized dream relationship here. I don’t care if Prince or Princess Charming has perfectly white teeth, long flowing black hair, and a master’s degree in basket weaving. These aren’t the things I’m talking about.

It’s good to think about the things that we want from healing relationships and some basic things that we should strive for.  Strive for in ourselves, in what we bring to our relationship, and how our relationships contribute to our growth.  

I think it’s important to think about, because if you’re anything like me, you may not have a great idea of what a healthy, healing relationship is. Or any idea at all.

 So what are some things that can comprise a Healing Relationship? 

  • When relating to someone in pain, you have to extend yourself and yet remain within your own boundaries at the same time. A healing relationship maintains the proper balance without becoming too enmeshed or too shut down.
  • Mutually Empowering: Both partners should support each other and build each other up. No one should tear the other down. This is especially important for those of us with quick tempers and outward acting anger issues that tend to lash out in frustration.

  • Authentic
  • Trusting
  • Respectful
  • Compassionate
  • The ability to look to one another for help and support. Cooperative.

  • There is no blaming! This allows people to feel safe to speak up, make mistakes and learn from them. Having a relationship where you feel safe to speak your mind, assert your feelings, and therefore work to meet each other’s needs is pretty essential.

I purposefully don’t want to make this list very long. Once you begin to tally up to many items, the more unobtainable that list becomes to fulfill. I want to think about those big, main things that are necessary for you.

For me personally a healing relationship is:

  • One I feel safe within.
  • One that allows me to grow. 
    • To grow within myself and to become the best version of myself. 
  • One that accepts me. Not one where I feel stifled or feel that I need to hide who I am.

Really that’s what I want at the base. I need to be accepted. I need to grow. I need to be safe.

Healing relationships can be any sort of family, friends, or romantic partners. They can also be temporary. Sometimes we meet people and for whatever reason they have to leave our lives. Just because a relationship doesn’t last forever, til death do you part, does not mean it can’t be meaningful and healing.

So! How about you? What do you need in a healing relationship? What have you found in your previous or current relationships that you find to be very healing? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Relationships and BPD: “Knowing” it won’t last

I’ve heard from many loved ones of people with BPD over the past few years. A recurring theme I hear a lot of is:
"My Borderline boyfriend/girlfriend/loved one said they “know” the relationship won’t last and they will end up alone."
Does that mean she doesn’t want to be with me? Does that mean he’s thinking about breaking up with me?  Does that mean they don’t care about me?

Often this can come at times when you think things had been going well, and seem out of the blue. I’m going to make a wild statement and say that 95% of this has to do with our own fear and our own inability to see our self-worth. I don’t know a lot of normal relationships that don’t have at least a little doubt or a few
I often think I have too many problems, too much baggage for someone else to deal with. Even though I actively work on my own issues myself, I feel like I’ve had so much shit in my life, it’s hard enough for me to wrap my head around it sometimes. How can I possibly expect someone else to?
Sometimes I just don’t know how or why someone would want to stay with me. Despite everything I do, or how much I care or love, I simply cannot internalize the idea that someone else applies a worth to me that runs that deeply.  I’ve struggled with this my entire life and it’s something I still struggle with and am actively working on in therapy, but that doesn’t mean it’s something controllable.  Not to mention, I can be mood swingy (despite my medication and trying to hide it) and irritable, short-tempered, and just not feel like a very fun person to be around. When the person I care about sees me like this, it feels like I’m actively handing them a piece of kindling to add to the fire that will eventually consume our relationship. The more of this they see, it feels like a countdown clock starting in my mind, losing more and more time with each transgression.
Sometimes, for me, the depression and/or anxiety is consuming. I don’t want to be around myself, let alone anyone else. I know this sounds counterintuitive to the Borderline need to not be alone thing, but it’s never that simple is it? Depression and anxiety compound those fears and feelings. Depression is serious business (be it situational or chronic) and the sense of alone that you feel is consuming. When you’re depressed and feel like you’re going to lose someone. You feel alone coupled with the idea that you’ll be left/lose the person you love so it’s a doubly whammy of depression and loneliness… and you may not have gone anywhere yet! Just the thought can make the feeling real.
Sometimes, like I’ve been doing recently, we start thinking about all of the reasons we’re no good for that person. Or nit-picking at things, looking for reasons, why the other person isn’t good for us. It’s not really a conscious thing though. For me it’s a gut punch of anxiety when I feel like something is incongruous with my personality or my experience. Like they’ll never be able to relate, or we’ll never be compatible enough, etc. That sense of not being enough… whether we’re looking at them or ourselves, mostly boils down to us (except obviously in the cases of abuse and the simple fact of the matter that some people just aren’t really compatible, and some people are just jerks). I mean in those relationship situations where you feel genuine care for each other, it’s often a projection of our own fears onto the situation. Not necessarily the obvious fears, but the buildup of the lifetime of them.  Have I mentioned how important therapy can be to helping us sort ourselves out, which in turn contributes to helping us cultivate healthy relationships?
Now imagine this happening inside our head.
Sometimes I just want better for the other person. I know in my head that this isn’t my decision to make for them, but I feel guilty that I can’t be someone that isn’t so messed up, for someone that I care about.
I think Projection of our fears onto the other person, and onto the relationship, is a big issue though. Often, without intending to, we look for issues or magnify things that have happened so that they’re out of proportion. Having Borderline Personality Disorder goes hand in hand with a sensitivity to rejection and a hypersensitivity to any negative stimuli. Hell, the hypersensitivity to the perception of negative stimuli. When we’re so afraid of losing someone, or being abandoned as just a general feeling of existence, there develops an expectation of it. You can fight viciously to hold on, or push it away by preparing for the inevitable to happen.  I think this particular “knowing” is often that preparing for the inevitable.
The reasons behind it can be different, but often the feeling is the same. A vague sense that something isn’t right. Mounting anxiety when we see our loved one. Especially when they do something nice for us, there can be feelings of guilt. Irritability. Turning to dread. Mental ruminations that were once controllable thoughts able to be pushed aside start to fester and repeat closer to the forefront of your mind. These can inspire paths of thought from smothering suffocation to lashing out in anger.  The trick is to put  a stop to them before they get out of control. Which is a real trick, indeed. We have to be able to catch ourselves in the act of these Negative thoughts and actively fight to change this mentality. This takes work.
I also don’t want to downplay the fact that there could actually be real problems. Maybe one partner doesn’t think they’re big problems, but to us they can feel huge. And for some reason all these mental question marks boil back down to, is this going to be okay forever? Probably not. Run! Instead of taking a more productive approach of communication and fixing the problem.   
There is also the very real possibility that you just aren’t meant to be for whatever reason and that special spark isn’t there. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. I’ve broken up with a lot of people that I actually liked and didn’t want to hurt because after a month or two, we just aren’t compatible in the ways that count. Just because we’re Borderline doesn’t mean this doesn’t happen. It’s usually these people that really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes so much either because they haven’t been around enough to really get to know the nitty-gritty of who we really are. They’re still getting the pretty fa├žade that we try to show the world for the most part.
I can’t speak to everyone’s situation, because we all have different issues. The best thing to do is to ask why they “know”; ask why they feel that way. Remain open to their answers. Don’t cut them off. Don’t judge their response. Let them know what is reasonable, and what might be their fears running away with them. Reassurance and a strong sense of involvement are very important at times like these. So often we think, we know, we’re too bad/too broken/too damaged for someone… when maybe (and maybe this is just my hope) what someone else sees isn’t such the terribly distorted reflection that we are accustomed to. Reassurance of your feelings and your relationship is important. Probably for both partners, not just the Borderline half.  
How about you? Have you ever felt this way? Do you know why?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lucid Analysis - Trials in Therapy: The Good, The Bad, and The Anxious

Since I decided not to break up the positing of my last article on Adolescent BPD Diagnosis you get my Lucid Analysis today! 

Well I went into therapy Thursday thinking I wouldn’t have much to talk about. How many times have I said that and how many times have I been completely and utterly wrong. ::sigh::.

First off, the awesome.

xRoommate and her boyfriend are getting married. They announced their engagement. I am so utterly through the roof with happiness and excitement for them. You’d think I was the one getting married I was so happy for them. She’s just so important to me I want so much for her to be happy. I’ve known her a long time, through other boyfriends and stuff. I’ve never seen her this happy with anyone before. I’m so thrilled. We chatted a bit the day they announced, then more the next day while we were at work going over some of the fun wedding detail type plans and stuff. I was just all bouncey and giddy happy. Then later when I was at the gym her now Fiance texted me and asked me if I was available to meet up with them for dinner. Of course! I got to their place and he drove the three of us to the restaurant, me bubbling over with questions about all the stuff and details and plans. We sat down and Fiance about burst, “Okay, I can’t hold it in any longer. Will you be my Best Haven?” ::Happy shock face:: “Of course I will!!!”

If you’ve been following along with me for a while you know that me and my friends aren’t exactly conventional in pretty much anyway. They’re have a pretty big wedding with a pretty tiny wedding party. The two of them, xRoommates brother standing on her side her “Man of Honor” if you will, and me on Fiance’s side the “Best Woman”. Or as they’re calling it simply, Best Brother and Best Haven. I guess all day she’d been waiting in anticipation because we’d been talking so much, but they wanted to ask me in person and it was killing her knowing that they were going to but having to wait, haha.

It’s really amazing for me. They’re the closest thing I have to family here. My actually family being 500 miles away, a couple states over. It really means a lot to me. Therapist was concerned that I might be worried that things would change because they were getting married. But honestly no. They don’t want kids so there won’t be that kind of change. They already live together. What else is there? I realize I’m oversimplifying this and marriage is a big deal and I do have a realistic picture but I don’t see things changing much at all except a formalized commitment of their love and desire to support and keep each other happy forever. They’re really awesome together. I completely support that.  Plus I get to help with all the wedding planning and the Bachelor/Bachelorette party which is super crazy fun and I’m enjoying the crap out of that!

Therapist is really happy that I’m happy. About this anyways.

Things with Tech Boy are continuing to progress. I’m not sure how I feel about it though. Literally. I actually can’t figure out if I have feelings.

There is one feeling I have. Anxiety. He’s been progressively more and more awesome. All of those concerns I had that were the cause of our breakup he really seems to be putting in a lot of effort to fix.  I see it. I recognize it. I can’t help worrying that’s it exactly the right amount of enough, but still too late. He looks at me with those big brown eyes, the way he kisses me, the way he holds me, the way he leans up against me… I know how he feels for me. I really don’t doubt it. I’m worried he’s going to tell me though. The thought of him telling me he loves me chokes me. It suffocates me. It fills me with anxiety and I don’t know what to do and it makes me want to pull away. I don’t feel the same way. Not yet. I’m not sure I will or that I can. Not anymore. I did at one point. At least there had been points where I was getting there, but there were just so, so many times when I  go to that high and something happened and I plummeted to a place of heartbreak.  I had to be brought back up too many times and I’m just not sure if I can do that again. Don’t mistake that as me saying I’m actively trying to inhibit myself from doing it.  I just don’t currently feel myself going in that direction. I feel comfortable. I feel safe. But I don’t feel  passion or intensity. I don’t feel the kind of love that… I had in my mind as being that thing that holds my heart to someone. I did tell him from the start that I didn’t know what I wanted from him and that I wasn’t ready for a relationship, but it’s clear that isn’t where he is. It’s also becoming clear to me that I don’t know what I need.

Therapist reminds me to breathe. To stay in the moment. She’s not entirely sure I’ve ever experienced healthy love. I may have loved Friend. I loved Evil-Ex. I loved The One. But they were all abusive or complicated and unhealthy situations that weren’t good for me. I love xRoommate and her Fiance. I love Zoe and my Sister but it’s not the same as that intense, passionate romantic love.

I’ve been trying to stay in the moment with him. Trying not to worry about the future. But it’s freaking hard! I don’t want to hurt him and what if I do? I don’t want to be his first major heartbreak. That would be terrible! Therapist reminds me though that it’s not my choice to make decisions for him. I’ve actually been very upfront with my needs and he’s his own person. Relationships are an emotional risk and hearts are something each person gets to put into play, not something for the other person to choose what to do with.

The simple fact of the matter is: My heart is still a little broken. And not in a still pining for a past love kind of way. I’ve had a lot of trauma and abuse in my past. As much as I would like to be healed from it; as much as I feel I ‘should’ be healed from it; (It’s not fair to myself to use “shoulds”! healing happens when it happens!) as much as I have healed already. I am not quite there yet. It also takes me a long time to love. I am a very guarded person. I am deeply self-protective. This should surprise no one. I don’t fall in love easily. I haven’t finished my healing yet. I still have a ways to go.

Therapist helped me walk through what I might do if he were to tell me he loved me. It’s good to prepare so as not to panic and freak out/push away in the moment. Honesty is simply the best way to go. That I see everything he’s been doing, the work he’s done and the changes he’s made. How much it means it me, how much I do care, but I’m not there yet.

It’s scary.

And then there’s work. Meh. Things were going pretty awesome for quite some time. Things are shuffling a little now though. I moved buildings, got a new office-mate. She’s even less social than I am and doesn’t speak much English so there’s just not much communication in general. I feel very upheaved. I don’t like that at all. I was feeling very much a part of my team for a while which is incredible for my productivity. Now I feel isolated and kind of thrown off on my own.

Therapist has noted this about me on many, many occasions. It’s very important for me to feel a sense of connectedness to my surroundings; a sense of connectedness to the people I’m involved with. Without that sense of connection I become extremely detached, isolated, and cutoff. I need that aspect of human interaction; team interaction at work to maintain my positive, productive focus.

It’s weird. This move in particular doesn’t feel like a very big deal to me, but I guess it is? Show’s what I know sometimes. Meh.

Then there’s The Guy. Ugh. Sometimes we have to work without outside contractors. Sometimes those outside contractors are the most obnoxious people that you can possibly dread to ever work with. I never let the men in my group see me complain, but as they were all complaining about them first, I didn’t feel so bad… add a little bit of my signature Haven snark and wit my ranting fit right the hell in. This guy has been working on one of my projects for two weeks and making me absolutely miserable. We’ve gone to his bosses already. Nothing to be done there. There is one other options though…. ::holding it together:: One day at a time. I can get through this. I’ve dealt with worse.

Grrr though! I’m a rocket scientist space nerd. I just want to do my mechanical analysis and fabrication! I don’t do construction politics. I definitely don’t have the patience or people skills to babysit a 45 year old man-child that’s dead set on causing trouble, wasting time, and being a jackass just to be a jackass. Do your damn job. Get it over with. Go back to doing something you want to do. Move on. People drive me bat shit. Surprise!

People save me too though. xRoommate and Fiance. K and Twiggy. Dwarf (I usually just refer to him as one of my buddies but he’s always around and looks like he fell right out of The Hobbit movie). My friends are really important to me.

Borderline Personality Disorder is often described as a disorder of relationship. Our healing can really be broken into two different paths. Healing ourselves and Healing relationships. I can’t honestly say one is more important than the other. Relationships are an evolutionary process. Both are important. 
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