WITH A BORDERLINE
A Matter of Attraction and Revulsion
By Shari Schreiber,
you're presently involved with a borderline disordered individual
or you've finally stepped away from one, you've been struggling
with wanting someone who has caused you great harm. It
seems that regardless of what they've put you through, you just
can't get them out of your head or move completely beyond the
longing you still feel, which triggers fantasies about having
them back! Don't worry, you're not going crazy--you're just hurting,
and needing it to stop.
may be obsessing about what he or she's feeling or doing, whom
they're dating/sleeping with, and wondering if they're thinking
at all about you. Your feelings of shame and emptiness
are so unbearable, that it's easier to divert your focus to him/her,
rather than sitting with the painful emotions you have to feel
in their absence. What's happened is, you're busy living inside
their life instead of yours--and as much as you need
them to return, you could be fearing it as well.
not unusual for folks to resuscitate these conflictual relationships
over and over again, anticipating that "this
time, it'll be different." You've
given a great deal of thought to both sides of this rupture--and
you're fairly sure you'll be successful, if they give you just
one more shot at making it right. But regardless of how well you've
prepared yourself for this, it never turns out the way
you've wanted it to--and in fact, it typically leaves you in more
torment and shame. You might chastise yourself for going back,
which only compounds your depression--and inevitably makes this
vicious cycle repeat.
are lots of little movies that play in your head about chance
meetings, finding him/her on your doorstep when you return home
from work, getting a furtive call in the middle of the night after
they've dropped you on your head and moved on to someone new--and
even though you know they're toxic for you, you've kept
wishing and hoping they'll want you again.
for someone who's made you feel bad about yourself
confuses and confounds your rational mind, so let's begin understanding
how and why you could want somebody who's brought so
much pain and destruction into your world. Confusion feeds chaos.
You're just looking for a way out of it.
you've loved a Borderline or not, it's human nature to try and
figure out troubling/perplexing issues associated with someone's
weird or aberrant behaviors--or nobody'd be making those chilling/creepy
movies about Charles Manson, or anybody else who's displayed psychotic
or sociopathic traits! The fact that we can't relate
to these folks makes them fascinating puzzles that we keep wanting
to figure out, because they don't fit with our
definition of "normal."
have said that their 'most recent' Borderline wasn't someone they'd
necessarily seen as the most beautiful or brilliant in their dating
history~ yet their obsession with this one, has them
trapped in maddening confusion. This is our clue about childhood
experiences which created an early template of sorts,
that's uncannily being replicated within this present-day dynamic.
child is in love with their parents. They see the parent as
a god, who's entrusted with their care and protection.
When this 'god' is rejecting, critical or abusive, it's painful,
frightening and confusing to a small child, which forces him to
split off the dangerous, injurious parts
of his mother or father in order to remain attached. You acquired
this survival tool as a kid, and it's still in place for you~
but it works against you as an adult.
child doesn't automatically stop loving his/her parent, when they
act in crazy or cruel ways! What he or she does instead, is compartmentalize
or box-up those bad behaviors and divorce
them from the parent, so they can remain in-love so to speak,
with Mom or Dad. This is exactly what you've done with
your BPD lover, and it's made you deny and invalidate some very
important personal feelings and perceptions.
opposite of Love, is not Hate . . . it's Indifference.
and hate are similar emotions, as they both invoke passionate,
intense responses in us, which force us to
feel. Every person who's involved with a Borderline has
learned to discard or shut-down painful emotions since
early childhood, and this has left them incapable of distinguishing
between healthy endeavors and harmful ones.
hindsight, you might believe you had a "great childhood,"
or "very loving parents" ~but as compared to who? In
short, what other frame of reference did you have for what genuine
love felt like?
who've become adept at getting rid of difficult or dangerous emotions
since they were very young, have no inner compass to guide their
decisions. Their extra-sensory aspects (instinct and intuition)
cannot function properly and alert them to impending harm or danger,
because when some feelings get shut- down, all
feelings become impaired. Hence, if we've gotten skilled at staving
off sadness, frustration, rage, etc., it's basically impossible
to feel joy and glee.
and intuition are our built-in survival guides, which are with
us from the time we're born--but if we've grown up in an environment
that's chaotic or conflictual, or we've survived criticism and
abuse from a parent, we had to start managing excruciating emotions
about that, by making them "not matter" or locking them
away. Discarding various feelings early in life, leaves us with
inner emptiness and deadness, where feelings are supposed
to reside. We crave a sense of aliveness, but we're unable to
access it for ourselves, because literally half of our emotional
repertoire has been abolished since we were very young children~
which is why roller-coaster relationships are so darned appealing!
Borderline reawakens intensely positive and negative
emotions--but one thing we're certain of, is that we're Feeling~
which relieves our inner sense of deadness or emptiness. Dead
people don't feel pain~ so in some way, we welcome it.
you've adored a Borderline, you've loved the good times and
the bad. Even when their interactions have felt diminishing
and damaging, you've felt unusually alive within that
struggle. Just striving for their affection and care has been
challenge. Whether you've felt attraction or revulsion
for a Borderline, you've been flooded with passionate feelings
which catalyze heightened/intense sensations that are enlivening!
Without them, you could feel a sense of nothingness,
which has you trying to escape this feeling with someone who predictably
triggers your anguish. This is the vicious cycle you learned how
to accommodate as a child, when you sought affection and care
from your parent--and found neglect or abuse instead.
this repeatedly happened with your ex, you had the feeling that
you couldn't live without him or her, but your inner conflict
was very primitive.
It paralleled old ego wounds from childhood that have remained,
and shaped and predicted all your romantic choices~ because that's
what feels familiar to you.
are initially captivating, enchanting and irresistible. Even if
we think that he/she is out of our league, they relentlessly pursue
us to where we begin to accept that they find us worthy
of their attention/affection, and start trusting that it'll be
safe for us to let down our guard, and love them. I hate to say
this, but that's precisely when your troubling experiences start
are intoxicated by The Chase--not the capture. The moment they
sense you're hopelessly hooked, they lose interest, and their
distancing and acting-out behaviors begin. By now, you're emotionally
invested, and you're in far too deep to walk away. Even if their
positive traits are overshadowed by hurtful negative
ones, you keep fantasizing that if you try a little harder, things
will work out--but they won't. You feel toxic shame
left over from childhood when you fail with them, which makes
you feverishly attempt to redeem yourself in their eyes, but this
is a pointless exercise that keeps you tortured (albeit
your relationship with a Borderline ends, it's incredibly painful
because you haven't just lost him or her, you've lost yourself.
When the chaos/drama of that affair stops, so does your ability
to self-activate and feel aliveness. When you feel nothingness,
you're spiritually bankrupt and disconnected from your Self. The
despair you've wrestled with during your dance is excruciating--but
the pain of it helps you feel something
other than deadness, so you hang onto it with
all you've got, which is key to your obsession with
Borderline did not author these horrible feelings in you--he/she
simply reinvigorated them.
persistent need to become close again with this individual, is
your natural response to the awful shame you've felt from being
emotionally exiled. This horrible feeling might
drudge up childhood sense memories with a parent who ignored you,
shut you out emotionally, or withdrew affection and attention
when you did something that disappointed or upset them. The problem
is, they didn't treat your behavior as bad, they made
you bad--and you suffered for hours,
days or weeks until you apologized for crimes you hadn't actually
committed, just so Mom or Dad would speak to
you again! When the Borderline rejects you, those archaic shame
wounds you had to endure as a child ("I'm not good enough")
are instantly reactivated.
you're apart, you feel adrift, guilty, empty and unable to focus.
Even if you're the one who's walked away, you doubt your
decision, because it feels so lousy being apart from him/her!
You probably grew up presuming that 'right' choices brought good
and favorable feelings, but this is a false belief. Right choices
are typically the hardest to make, because they force
us to adhere to our true convictions, which develops character
and integrity. These key aspects of our emotional growth aren't
about doing the 'easy' stuff--if they were, everybody'd
be doing it!
emotional development, comes moral development. Both are attended
by adult capacity for reasoning, empathy, impulse control and
the capacity to accept/tolerate delayed gratification.
This requires big-picture principles, and a reasonable threshold
for frustration. Borderlines are emotionally infantile, in the
sense that their ability to manage difficult emotions and self-soothe
is non-existent. The primal needs for instant gratification are
profound--and just like with a small child, if you're unable to
be readily responsive to their wishes and demands, they throw
a tantrum, cut-off from you or triangulate
that we're attracted to people who match our own level
of emotional development, the inability to self-soothe during
these episodes can have far reaching implications for non-borderlines
as well. Your compelling drive to remain in relationship with
a Borderline doesn't just happen in a vacuum--in other words,
it's neither accidental nor incidental. When adult interactions
are intensely painful and frustrating, they're replicating a relational
blueprint you struggled with as a child.
Borderlines and the people attracted to them, incurred similar
types of wounds to their developing sense of Self, and isn't it
simply natural to be drawn to someone with whom you have
things in common, or who echoes personality aspects in yourself?
Well, this coupling
is a lot like that--it feels as if you've found your 'soul mate.'
There's a similar vibration/frequency you two share, due to childhood
abandonment issues. While the nature of those early difficulties
were alike, they've played out in different ways for each of you.
You've compensated for self-worth injuries and insecurities by
becoming a people-pleaser and super-giver. The Borderline has
compensated for insecurities by being a seducer, super-user~ but
the scars from that early time in life remain.
hurts as horribly as it does, because you have been here
before! You've become adept at putting your childhood agony "behind"
you, presuming it would stay dead and buried. The BPD lover simply
excavates all that ancient trauma to your sense of Self, but it's
repairable. Now is your opportunity to finally Heal.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
here, to determine if you're in an abusive relationship!
MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME??
may phone for assistance, but I
do not offer online/written therapy. Only emails under
150 words are read, due to time constraints. Please
be clear/concise, and expect a straight answer within four to