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bpd2

I was told to write out what I would say to you if I could tell you how to make a relationship work with someone with BPD, someone like me.  For some of you it’s too late.  The damage is done.  I’ve hurt you irreparably, broken trust, and shattered security.  We’ve already reprogrammed our relationship to be what it can despite those things, and I deal with the wave of sadness that hits to think of all the things I lost by not being able to tell you what I needed, by not knowing myself.  Each and every one of you has asked me what I need from a partner, but even as much as I’ve grown in the last couple of years, I couldn’t put them into words until they were worded as advice for someone else.  If that isn’t just the portrait of BPD, I don’t know what is. My hope is that this can clarify some things, maybe starts some dialogues, and definitely give us some blueprints on how to move forward and forge stronger, healthier bonds.

Sometimes I need reassurance that I’m important, and I have said this over and over again.  I don’t need to be your top priority, but I do need to be one of them if you’re going to call me a partner.  Sometimes I need a little extra attention.  Nothing grandiose.  Just a reminder that I’m loved.  It’s never that I don’t believe I am, but it’s nice to hear, see, feel it from you.  I need random messages and occasional outpourings of emotion from you, not constantly, but I need it not to vanish for weeks at a time.

I need you to hear my words not my tone or body language.  I need you to believe my words not take them as passive aggression or sass.

I need to feel secure, and when i ask for clarification on what seemed like a small action to you, I need you to not take it as malice or suspicion.  I’m just trying to understand.  Sudden changes in tone, behaviour, or levels of interaction will be internalized if I can’t mention them to you and get them out of my head, which is running through every reason why it’s all a sign you’re about to leave me.  I’m not saying these changes aren’t natural or understood, especially when something is happening in your life.  I’m just saying I might ask.

I need you to talk to me.  I need you to let me talk.  This all boils down to communication.  I’m going to overthink things, and getting it out helps.  Weird things cut deep sometimes, and all I need is to mention it so it doesn’t fester.  I need to know we can have an open dialogue without you lashing out at me.  It helps me stay calm and rational.

I need you to know I worry about pushing you away.  I worry about being too complicated.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I worry.  Mostly I worry about whether or not you’re happy with me, whether you’re still happy with me, whether you stay because it’s become routine.

I need honesty, even when I might not like it, because I need to trust that you will tell me the bad things along with the good so I don’t constantly wonder what you’re thinking but not saying.

I need balance.  I need you to trust me to handle my issues on my own first before you swipe in to try and fix it, but I also need you to know that if I’m reaching out to you I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t want to add to your stress, and I’m doing what I can and taking steps every day to do it better, but I can’t always do it alone.  It took me a long time to be able to ask for help, and if I do it means I trust you with my life and my heart.  Please understand this.

I need you to know my triggers.  I’ll never ask that you avoid them, because part of learning to cope with them is getting used to processing them, but I do need you to be a little sensitive to the aftercare if you’re going to trigger issues.  I need to know I’m safe having a reaction to things with you.

I need you to give me some control.  I need to feel competent.  I need to feel like you believe I’m competent.  I need you to not be condescending.  I’m an adult, and I’m fully aware of what’s happening and what I need.  When I feel like I’m being coddled, babied, or invalidated it triggers everything, and I forget I’m strong and stop trying.  I need to not stop trying.

I need you to be clear, patient, and observant at times.  Especially when it comes to your needs and issues.

I need you to trust me to adjust my behaviour when I am wrong.  I need you to trust me to understand when you need a little space, but I need you to eventually come back from that space. I need you to trust that nothing I do is malicious, and help me be a better partner.  Lastly, I need you to trust me to be doing everything I can to be a better version of me every day.  I’m not happy being this difficult to live with.  I’m not complacent in it.  I’m not making excuses.

This is not a list of things you have to learn to do for me.  This is a list of things we can learn to navigate together.

I don’t believe we are stuck.  I believe things can be improved even after years of unhealthy habits.  No, you can never really start over, and there will always be old wounds, but healing is a powerful thing, and all of my relationships are strong, or we wouldn’t be in them.

I’ve done a lot of my own reading and research, but maybe it’s more helpful from a voice that’s not mine…

Which is why I’m here.    I was asked whay advice I would give to a partner of someone with BPD.  This is what I said.

Aloha.

 

Go now, feel.

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Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406

 

This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing.   I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle.  What happened behind the scenes was even worse.  I convinced myself I was a fraud.  I convinced myself I was worthless.  I convinced myself there never had been hope for me.  I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself.  Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me.  The power I felt in telling a part of my story.  The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine.  My life.  That was not a lie.  That could not have been false.

I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl.  What I have not written about is the backsliding.  What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed.  What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes.  It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives.  The answer is yes, it’s worth it.  All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.

We’re told healing is hard.  We’re told it’s a process.  We’re told it’s painful.  We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives.  We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens.  What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea.  It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner.  It doesn’t change learned behaviours.  It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness.  It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break.  Healing is not curing.  Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.

The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low.  My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love.  It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin.  In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it.  These things are no longer buried under me.  They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life.  There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.

You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”.  You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.

 

Mental illness is no joke, nor is it something we can ignore.  You can find all manner of statistics on the percentage of children, adolescents, and adults will some form of mental or emotional disorder, but it continues to be almost taboo to discuss in polite company.  On any given commute train I can hear all the details of someone’s physical struggles, and it’s a story of strength and challenges overcome, but most stories about mental illness or emotional struggles end in “well, what can you do?  She’s crazy!”  This social attitude has lead to two things.

First, it has given the world the idea that it’s acceptable to ignore, or even mock, the issues of mental illness.  To those who live with it, depression is not just an unwillingness to be happy or overcome life’s obstacles, but a crushing inability to even fathom doing so.  We have very few resources for people who struggle with these issues, and the ones that do exist are costly and unstable at best.  In the end, many are labelled as “helpless” or “chronic” and left with the options to either heavily medicate to an almost nonfunctional level or to wing it with little to no support.  Either way, it generally leads to a very isolated life.

Secondly, it has opened the door for a lifetime of excuses and scapegoating, usually because the first condition exists.  Mental illness is not an insurmountable obstacle.  It just takes work, time, and a lot of inner fortification.  For years I have had people tell me, “you don’t know what it’s like”, which is always true.  No, I don’t know what anyone else’s personal struggles are like, but they have no idea what mine are like either, and I refuse to get into a “woe is me” pity war.  Everyone has mountains to climb.  Those with additional imbalances and emotional scars may have extra obstacles in the path, but nothing makes the climb impossible but death.

The harsh reality of mental and emotional illness is that it doesn’t stop life from coming at you.  You don’t get a reprieve from adulthood because of a rough childhood.  You don’t get a pass on responsibility because someone else may have dropped the ball on you at some point in your life.  There are no mental wheelchairs or emotional hearing aids, but there is no excuse for refusing to try and live life, especially if you’ve made the choice to have children, go to school, or start a career path.  It took me years to learn this lesson, and a few more to learn that no one was going to be able to help me when I really needed it if I wasn’t willing to at least try to help myself first.

There is a happy medium here between being labelled a nut job, told it’s all in your head, and deciding there’s no way you can ever be functional.  It’s called life, and we all have to live it to our best abilities no matter what tools we’re given.  I will always give support to someone having a bad day, but never sympathy for someone using these struggles for anything but an opportunity to grow as a person.  I don’t believe coddling helps anyone, nor will I sit by and listen to someone blame bad choices on something that possibly can’t be controlled but can be mitigated.  The words “I’ve got this issue, so you should have expected my bad behaviour,” is a cop out and an insult to everyone who has overcome tragedy, loss, or illness in his or her life.

We owe it to ourselves and others who are fighting along side us to do everything we can to get through this life together.  Everyone has the opportunity to make excuses.  Those who choose not to are the ones who will get the support they need when the time comes.

 

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I’ve been working away from home on a temp assignment for a week.  It’s week one of a 30-day stint in New York City, and when I signed up for the gig I was excited.  I don;t live extremely far from NYC, so I wasn’t excited as much for that as I was to get some time to see friends who live here and sort some things out within myself without any external distractions.

What I missed in that sentiment was the key word: myself.

You see, my life is one of community and support structure, and while this is often fantastic, it leaves me to the disadvantage that I don’t know how to process and cope alone.  This is the exact opposite to how I lived my life just a handful of years ago.  I was independent.  I liked being on my own.  I was also extremely antisocial, borderline suicidal, unhealthy, and angry at the world for no reason other than that I didn’t know how to relate to it.  Then I found where I belonged, found family and community, and I blossomed and learned to be a part of an amazing puzzle.

Well friends, this puzzle piece is nothing put a misshapen blob here by myself.  The first few days were fine as I settled in to a routine.  The next few days were full of chaos at work, but my days off and late nights with no one to talk to have left me a frazzled mess of meltdown after meltdown.  Today I was having fibro issues, so my plans to go do and see and experience something new were thwarted.  Then I tried to go swimming only to realize I don’t fit back into my bathing suit yet, which lead to a monumental break in composure. Hubby is busy preparing for a weekend trip with his girlfriend, so he’s unreachable, and everyone else local or not is out living their lives.  I know, how dare they not be around to cater to my ridiculous need for uplifting!  I was shocked as well, my friends.

So, I have a few options.

1. I can sit here and feel sorry for myself whining about it all on the internet for the next three weeks. (oops).

2. I can revert to old behaviours and  really make a mess of things.  This means I stop eating or sleeping and start inviting strangers I meet on the internet over for sex I won’t even enjoy.  Then I sit alone feeling worse about myself than I did before wondering why no one likes me, telling myself it’s because I’m a fat pathetic loser who doesn’t deserve love and that I’d be a fool to think anyone would ever find me desirable.  Ya, that’s the person I want to be again.

3.  I can get over myself and do what I came here to do…besides work tha

Map of the New York City Subway Español: Plano...

Map of the New York City Subway Español: Plano del es:Metro de Nueva York Français: Carte du métro de New York en octobre 2011. Română: Hartă a metroului din New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

t is.  I can see things I’ve never seen or done in NYC before (there’s always going to be something).  I can spend time with the best friend I’ve had the longest, since it’s been years since we’ve been this close for more than a few days.  I can use this time to refocus and re-center, to sort out my goals and how to move towards them from here. I can sort out my emotional needs and the chaos that’s been brewing within me lately, and I can make better choices about how and who I want to spend my time and energy on concerning pending relationships.  I’ve been so scattered and unstable lately that it’s spilling over to friendships, my marriage, and my personal life.  I can choose not to go back there.  I can choose to want better choices.   I can remember why I signed up for this, and I can love it.

Part of the remaining time here will be spent rekindling my old sense of adventure and independence, something I’ve sacrificed a lot of in the last several years, and learning to do it in a way that enriches my life not enables a need to escape it.  It doesn’t mean I won’t be lonely or miss my family, it means I will learn better coping mechanisms.  I’m not a child, and my poly lifestyle is not a security blanket.  I’m a free woman, and I intend to act like it, at least until it’s time to clock in to work.

Go now…do something by yourself!

Aloha!

 

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