If we are raised to feel that we are different, that we don’t belong, it can be so hard to feel that we are part of the human race. We may have grown up in a family that didn’t really get us. They may have been involved somewhere else and not had the attention to give to a child who had needs and feelings and sensitivities they didn’t understand. And in not being met, mirrored, nurtured, affirmed those powerful needs and feelings often get buried and in being buried they become more confusing and gain in intensity and power. The power of these frustrated needs, feelings and sensitivities may not come to awareness until much later in life as we become aware of a deep ache or pain or undergo a crisis or a painful series of crises that we cannot really resolve.
These frustrations will often cause us to reach for substances, relationships or things out side of us to help us deal with the pain but not in a way which actually connects us with the truth of what we have endured and felt inside. In fact often these means of coping will actually be done in an attempt to deny or numb our pain and may stop working for us. When they do we will then be forced to confront what for years has been there quietly simmering away beneath the surface, erupting with great power and intensity when provoked.
The intensity with which these buried feelings erupt may frighten and scare away others. Others may judge us for something that really wasn’t our fault. They may shame or avoid us due to the fact that they believe that we are bad, irrational or wrong in some way for reacting as we do. But the truth is until we can become conscious of how we react as we do we are not really to blame at all, we are just in the midst of acting out old unconscious patterns of pain and trauma. And we may be, over time, forced away from any kind of connection with others, sent off into the lonely stratosphere of lonely psychic outer space compounding the degree of attachment trauma which caused our wounds in the first place, creating an seemingly endless feedback loop of pain with no short circuit.
Defences form, reaction patterns which block us from love. We become fearful of attaching, fearing that new attachments will mirror old ones, which often happens before we become conscious. Due to the trauma of our upbringing we have not yet developed good protective boundaries which help us to guard and protect and nurture our true feelings, feelings which in never being mirrored we really haven’t learnt to understand, modulate or express in ways that others with less sensitivity and insight will understand.
Here we finally find ourselves deep in the world of the borderline.
What is the border line that we are living on? The border is that fine line which separates our present day conscious awareness, the daily functioning mind from the deep sea of our simmering, fluid and at times chaotic unconscious or subconscious mind. Here simmer all the myriad complex feelings associated with experiences which we have endured throughout the course of our entire lives. It is a deep sea scape that contains all kinds of memories, triggers, imprints, reactions, impressions and feelings. Often this sea overwhelms the land for us. It may rise up through the grass of consciousness waterlogging the landscape and making us feel foggy, nauseous, unstable, dizzy or ill. It may overcome our conscious mind with all kinds of fears and feelings that we associate back to the times of trauma where we were not held, loved, mirrored, empathised with or understood.
This’ sea may often become like a liquid lava simmering wound that rises up in us, shocking and dismaying others. We find ourselves sent to the outer Hebrides of our social circle for time. We feel shock too, shame and feelings of deep disgrace. Why did we have to react like that? Why couldn’t we keep our feelings under control? Why can’t we just be normal for fucks sake? People are right. We are bad. Let’s punish ourselves again by drinking too much, self sabotaging, self harming.
These kind of judgements just block us from really coming to know what the wound within us is, how it operates, why it is forced into overdrive in reaction to certain triggers. Until we gain this understanding our borderline is overwhelmed and the land on which we stand becomes like a bog threatening to swallow us whole at every turn. We are not bad, we are hurting for a reason and until we address the hurt, have it acknowledged, find ways to soothe and comfort, until we learn to stop re-enacting it over and over and feel and separate out all the feelings contained within it there will be no healing for us.
Until we can acknowledge that there is a deep wound hurting inside comprised of a tangled up web of painful feelings and past pain arked into action by present day triggers our borderline will continue to be threatened. We will have to live through the pain of seeing how our reactions and thoughts in response to triggers affects both ourselves and others in order to gain insight and understanding. Judging ourselves or being judged by others will do little to help us understand the true roots of what is occurring. Judgement will leave us feeling bad, it will send us into exile and it will be the cause of even more attempts at numbing or self harm, possibly even suicide.
My blog today is inspired by a wonderful book I am immersed in : The Borderline Personality Survival Guide. It is a deeply intelligent and compassionate take on a so called ‘disorder’ which debunks many of the myths of BPD which is one of the most maligned personality diagnoses in modern times. It explains that contrary to what is thought those with the personality disorder are not irrational and attention seeking, it explains how those with BPD have brains that are wired more intensely, they feel emotions in a heightened way and have a greater sensitivity to the environment.
Due to critical experiences of being abandoned or traumatised (due to the environment not being able to respond to them in a way which helps them to develop self awareness and self acceptance) they seem to over-react and be crazy. What is really happening is that they are having a reaction to pain and invalidation that is totally natural for them, much as others might like to judge it as OTT.
Further more the responses of others to them lead most people with this kind of psychology to feel like they do not belong or come from a different planet. The feelings of aloneness and emptiness can be extreme and cause them to indulge in behaviours like addiction, sexual promiscuity, self harm and suicide all as a way to deal with the pain of the emptiness that they have little understand of or support in dealing with. The saddest thing is that this pain, which is a pulsing raw nerve that never stops throbbing will be rubbed or grated on by others misunderstanding. They may throw out judgements right left and centre which lead the BPD person to feel even more alone. This is where books such as the one above have such a lot to offer, in clearly outlining the territory of the condition they provide compassion and understanding into what is not an incurable condition.
Healing comes for the borderline only after they come to know in depth why they feel the way they do. Healing only comes when they understand that the world or other people’s failure to understand as well as their criticism and judgement comes from an incomplete misunderstanding of the true roots of their so called ‘affliction.’ Without this understanding borderlines will blame themselves for not being better or different. They may just wish they could be like others, but then they would not be themselves. They will try to change their guise to fit in, trying to become what you want them to be but since their True Self then becomes lost on some level the pain continues to increase. When they fail to understand the roots of their own fears and pain they will tend to project them but awareness may need to be triggered many times in order for them to come to understand more deeply what is going on.
Until borderlines and the rest of the community come to understand that there are those amongst us who are more emotional and sensitive and need help to love and accept themselves as they are, those who are more likely to be impacted upon by events that may not affect others in the same way we won’t really get a true insight into what should not be a life sentence but an opportunity to understand the ways in which humans being wired differently react in different ways. Until the borderline can learn to validate their inner reality instead of sacrificing it or diminishing it or expecting others who lack the intelligent capacity to validate the true roots of their pain and reactions they will not heal and understanding will not come.
At the end of that process the person with BPD may come to see that they are in fact a part of the human race. That it is okay to be who they are and to struggle in a world which does not always understand and often feels affronted by their very way of being. For we cannot expect everyone to always understand but there are those out there who can and do wish to promote some kind of understanding. We can then stop the process of demonising those with BPD and exacerbating the extent of their emotional and spiritual isolation by misunderstanding and buying into myths which come from an incomplete insight. We can bring the scapegoat out of the exile we sent them into in the wilderness and value the gifts of gold they bear for a feeling wounded culture.
In finishing and re-editing this post I would like to included below some of the ways people suffering with borderline symptoms and issues can best be helped. It comes from an excellent site BPD Transformation which I have found today :
1) Listen to their story. Learn about what past and present experiences are causing their distress. Develop a shared understanding of their problems based on their history.
2) Learn about what they want to change in the future. Develop a shared understanding of their needs and dreams.
3) Understand fundamental human needs for security, dependence, respect, and independence.