I always put this down to perhaps I’m a horrible person. I seem to go through friends like nobodies business and always blame myself when the friendship falls apart.
Since my diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder (or Emotional Dysregulation Disorder, whatever you want to call it), researching the illness and the way other sufferers perceive the world has helped me realise that I’m not entirely to blame and it is my point of view of things that is askew. Most importantly I realised I am not a bad person, I just feel and deal with things differently from most of my “mainstream” friends.
A while ago I wrote about the “Marmite effect“. The Marmite effect to me is the black and white thinking pattern that people with BPD show. People with BPD have no, or very little grey area. This means they either like something, or they hate something. I call this the Marmite effect, because you either love Marmite or you hate it. There is no middle ground. You can read more about the theory and the development of black and white thinking here.
Because of the black and white thinking patterns, people with BPD find it very difficult to integrate both the “good” and “bad” sides of their personalities. They can either see themselves as “all good“, or “all bad“, there is no in between. Unfortunately this thinking pattern applies to other people too.
From a BPD point of view, I find that sometimes friendships are WONDERFUL. I mean, I trust the person with my life, love them with every part of my being and would walk on hot coal for them.
Then something happens. Something turns. My friend might (unknowingly) do (or not do) or say something that triggers me. It could be meant in a completely harmless way, but then I get it into my head that they hate me, because in my world, they can only love or hate me, there is no in between. In this situation I withdraw. The problem most people with BPD are aware of is the fear of abandonment. If I withdraw, I’m doing the rejecting before I’m rejected and that gives me control over the situation.
It can also work another way. A friend could do something on purpose to upset me.
Recently, a friend told me that they need emotional distance from me because of my behaviour. Again, my perception says that they must hate me, as from my point of view there is no in between, there is no grey area. To ensure I didn’t get hurt, I completely cut her off. The fact that I thought she hates me, turned to anger that she didn’t understand my situation, I don’t have BPD on purpose, I don’t act this way on purpose and mostly I am quite a “quiet” borderline, I very rarely have external tantrums.
The hardest thing for me with the idolising and demonising, is the memories associated with that person. For example, a few years ago I was in a good relationship with a man. At the time I idolised him and thought he could do no wrong. When I found out he was cheating and left me, it all turned around. I hated him (and still do) more than anyone else in the world. All the happy memories turned into bad ones. Because I demonised him, I hate even the memories that should be perceived as good, but because he is labelled as bad, all of the memories bad. I feel like I lost eight years, because I can’t look back at any of those times and be happy because he is there and he is bad.
I wonder how I got to this place. I remember my friendships from when I was a little girl and they were all like this. Very intense because of my emotions, easily switching between idolising and demonising.
My conclusion from this is that although I’m not “normal” compared to my friends, this suffering is “normal” for a borderline, so therefore I’m not alone in feel this.
Interpersonal dysregulation is common. However, we must remember that we aren’t bad or unlikable people. It is important to recognise that relationships are similar to emotions, they can rollercoaster up or down and move quickly between the good and the bad. It is widely agreed that people with BPD feel emotions more intensely than others, so if we compare this to relationships, it is no surprise they are so intense for us.
I wonder if I will be able to maintain relationships in the future now I’m starting to understand my diagnosis. I hope I will, but I also want friends who understand how difficult it is for me too.
Love Sailor xox
Some interesting further reading on BPD relationships…..
Why BPD relationships are so complicated – BPD central
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