WHEN LOVE IS JUST A FOUR-LETTER WORD
Understanding the Borderline Personality
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
This article is for survivors of a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them. It is not intended for anyone with BPD traits! If you suspect you have borderline personality features, what follows could feel injurious to you! Please leave this site immediately and seek alternative web content that may be more congruent with your personal views and needs.
If you've ever been involved with a borderline disordered individual, you've struggled with massive confusion. The great disparity between their words and actions alone, has you running in circles, and trying to make sense of it all. Should you believe your lover when he/she states they "love you more than anything, and all they want is your happiness" ~or should you accept their destructive, diminishing behaviors as proof that all those declarations aren't actually true? You'll reluctantly doubt their emotional health and sanity, because one minute they're adoring you, but just an hour or so later they're shutting down, cheating on you or wanting to break up!
Add to this, the Borderline could make statements to you about needing to break up~ but the very instant you agree that this is possibly a sound choice, they'll accuse you of wanting out! When you're involved with someone who has BPD traits, it seems everything you say to them gets turned back on you.
I'd had this happen years ago with a Borderline who engaged my assistance. After only two sessions which went very well, she phoned to say that she didn't feel comfortable pursuing this work with me. As I validated her concerns and addressed how my methods might not be a fit for her (based on what I'd sensed was her resistance to even consider healthy change), she accused me of wanting to terminate her as a client! That was her own projection; she needed me to be 'the bad guy' and abandon her, so she could retain her inner-narrative; "nobody can help me/everyone leaves," and managed to find serious fault with me, just as she had her former therapist.
You've probably gone through this in your own dance with a Borderline, but do not take it personally, or try to convince them that they authored the upset between you. This is their cognitive distortion at work, and you're not gonna change that. Many Borderlines who call me looking for "healing," reject it as soon as they discover that emotional growth is the central part of this process. Growth brings change, and change is scary for most of us, but it's especially terrifying for someone who lacks any inner stability. Thus, they generally remain pitiful, tireless seekers of something they cannot accommodate, and don't actually want.
Borderlines are deeply insecure. They'll act-out their ambivalent feelings and fears surrounding attachment, with anyone close, even the professional they're engaging for help. They will do with their clinician, precisely what they've done with you! A solid, meaningful therapeutic alliance jostles their defenses, and makes them want to retreat. They'll solicit constant reassurance that you won't kick them out of treatment~ but they'll test this relationship to see how far they can push the envelope with last-minute rescheduling, missing appointments, self-sabotaging (to avert growth), ignoring productive suggestions, etc.
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