The following material was written for individuals trying to recover from a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them, and is not intended as a support resource for Borderlines or anyone with BPD traits. If you suspect that you have these traits, please leave this website and redirect your attention to alternative web content, which might feel more congruent with your personal views and needs.
Whether 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.
You 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. Do ya feel like you've ceased to exist?
Your feelings of shame and emptiness are so unbearable, that it's easier to divert your attention to him/her, rather than sitting with painful sensations 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.
THE UGLY TRUTH BEHIND YOUR OBSESSION
It may be hard for you to accept this fact, but you're not actually obsessing about your former lover, and the way he/she kissed, fucked or loved you~ you're obsessively thinking about you, and what you might have said or done differently or better to have avoided this excruciating outcome. You're so hyper-busy blaming yourself for their rejection of you, there's no spare room in your head to give focus to anything or anyone else!
You mentally try to replay each moment with him/her over and over, desperately trying to remember and understand what you "might have" done wrong, until you're feeling overwhelmed, and utterly convinced you made an error~ when in reality, you grew up learning, "If I'm feeling bad in this dynamic with Mom or Dad, it must surely be MY fault" and this has become your automatic reflex whenever you've hit any kind of relationship speed-bump.
In essence, this ceaseless mental masturbation you're engaging in is exclusively about You~ and it's due to deeply destructive, self-abusive inner dialogue you've engaged in since you learned language skills around the age of two!
WISHFUL THINKING AND THE TOOTH FAIRY SYNDROME
It's not unusual to see folks resuscitate these awful relationships over and over again, hoping that "this time, it'll be different." But the main reason we go back, is because the abuse we heap on ourselves when we have free time on our hands, doesn't hold a candle to the torment and agony our lover dished out to us!
You've given a tremendous amount of thought to both sides of this rupture--and you're fairly sure you'll be successful, if they'd 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 pre-existing depression, and inevitably makes this vicious cycle repeat.
There 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 discarded you and moved on to someone new--and even though you know they're toxic for you and part of you knows you'll never return to him/her, you've kept wishing and hoping they'll want you again! You're needing that little ego Bandaid, is really all this is about.
THE SEEDPODS OF A POISONOUS TREE
Yearning for someone who's made you feel bad about yourself confuses and confounds your sane, 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.
Whether 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."
Several clients 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.
Every 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.
A 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.
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE ISN'T HATE, IT'S INDIFFERENCE.
Love and hate are very 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.
In 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?
People who've become adept at ridding themselves 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.
Instinct 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!
The 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.
INTENSITY AND THE ART OF SEDUCTION
When 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 an activating 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.
When 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.
Borderlines 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 to occur.
Borderlines 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 stimulated).
BACK TO BEING WITH YOU, AND ZERO DISTRACTIONS
When 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 this person.
The Borderline did not author these horrible feelings in you. He/she simply reinvigorated them.
Your 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.
When 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!
With 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 the relationship.
Given 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.
Both 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.
This 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 truly is repairable.