I don’t know for sure, but I’ve got a hunch that Borderline Personality Disorder is a huuuuuge boogeyman that people get saddled with. Big surprise that the DSM gets it wrong AGAIN.
If it were to occur spontaneously in a person, then we could call it a personality disorder. Let’s say you grow up a member of the Brady Bunch or the Huxtables and end up with an inability to regulate emotions and a fear of abandonment and a need to be saved…well then, I might believe that there is something worth looking into.
But if you are raised in an environment that is so poisonous that you can’t tell up from down, that’s not a pathologically distinct diagnosis. It’s a reaction to trauma and more likely chronic PTSD than being broken. So why do so many professionals and amateurs alike treat victims of abuse like perpetrators?
If you’re predisposed to anxiety and depression and you’re seeded with traumatic situations early enough, then your brain is going to become wired a certain way. The good thing is that there are workarounds.
We shouldn’t be shaming people or locking them away or keeping them sedated on medication indefinitely. Mindfulness helps, but so much of how mindfulness is taught feels like bullshit. The method doesn’t work because the message gets lost.
What works for me is telling myself what I know to be objectively true. I am alive. There is breath in my lungs. I have done things in the past that make me worthy of love. No one has all the answers. No one is perfect and not everyone is out to hurt me. I don’t owe anything to anyone. Obligation, shame and love are not the same things. Things get better.
These lessons are recent and in constant flux. My first instinct is not always kind or good. I have to slow down processes and not work from reaction but intention. My heart has been knocked about so much that it’s my job to make sure it’s in the right place.
And my head…well…that was majorly fucked with too. But I try not to take it out on anybody, including and especially myself, these days.
There have been many times in my life when I have had to let go of existing beliefs in order to start healing. Those times were the scariest. Going from a bad but known place to the unknown and uncertain is precarious. Unmoored, you can be tossed and turned and end up even worse off. The risk is high but the reward, if you can swing it, is a semblance of peace.
It requires strength and hope. So much hope. Defiant hope. Think of the bubble it would take to lift the Titanic to the surface every day for a hundred years. The effort is enormous. Yes, you get strong. And yes, the reward for being strong is that other people rely on you and people expect you to just be able to solve your own problems all of the time BECAUSE you’re strong.
I’ve seen people who have been so hurt that they attack. I was intentionally raised to be that way. I remember the endless and infinite lectures from my mother. When I meet people who act like her, I run for the fucking hills. I’m proud of that fact because the alternative is to internalize someone else’s damage out of the need to recreate trauma bonds.
At this point in my life, for whatever reason, I come off as commanding and wise. The things I say get into people’s heads and bounce around. I’m an actual influencer in the lives of people I know. That’s a lot of power to have. If I were less scrupulous I would use it to my benefit. But even with scruples, I can still hurt people. There was this line about James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem in Meet Me In The Bathroom. He had been going to therapy an exorbitant amount of times a week for years so he had powerful tools at his disposal.
I don’t want to fuck with people’s heads for bad. Only for good. And I want to be consistent.
All of this is how I know I’m not my mother. I just need to keep reminding myself of all of this.
I got out. I got away. I got better.