All the bridges that you burn

by Kate

come back one day to haunt you

One striking feature of borderline personality disorder– striking because it is so accurate for me– is described like this: “A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).”

I have cut people out of my life for slights that, looking back, may have been better responded to in a more measured way. When I got my diagnosis of BPD last year, it caused me to reexamine my harsh and unforgiving attitude about what I saw (at the time) as betrayal.

I managed to mitigate a lot of the disordered thinking that BPD lends itself to, even before my diagnosis, because I resolved some time ago not to be an asshole if I could avoid it. I knew that I could have monstrous mood swings and a lot of self-destructive behaviors. So I taught myself ways to be less of a jerk, and they worked, mostly.

But I know that I have that tendency to idealize people, to put my friends, family, and lovers on very high pedestals, and then feel betrayed and devastated when they fail to be everything I thought they were or could be to me. I have ruined friendships, pushed people away, and caused some very nice people to never want to be in a room with me again.

The struggle now is to separate rational, righteous indignation from… well, tantrums. To realize that my loved ones are, above all, human, and humans make mistakes. No one can be everything to anyone else, and my disorder makes me prone to try to suck the life and love out of people.

I am terrified of abandonment, terrified of being alone in the greater sense, but my disorder has made me act in ways that have caused people to get fed up and leave me. Over and over. It’s a vicious circle. Abandonment leads to greater fear. Fear leads to more abandonment.

I know that I am responsible for my own behavior. But last year I graduated, in my diagnoses, from “mild” to “serious.” Knowing that I have always been seriously mentally ill is both comforting and horrifying. Coupled with the bipolar II I was also diagnosed with (at least it’s the less severe form!) I know now that I have always been a fucking mess. And I think, considering everything, I’ve done a damned fine job of building myself into a decent, loving, caring person.

But reading through the list of the symptoms of my mental illness, I see my whole life, every relationship of every kind, all of it.

I wonder how I can change without losing myself. I wonder what the best version of myself actually is. I wonder when I’ll stop doubting my own feelings, because now I know that seeing life through the veil of my unstable emotions has warped almost every intense experience I’ve ever had.

And that’s a lot to process.