Monday, 26 March 2018

It was my letting go that gave me a better hold

I think one of the most common misconceptions that comes with a Borderline Personality Diagnosis is the attachment and fear of abandonment. You will read outdated articles on google confirming that everyone with BPD is 'crazy' and 'psychotic' for experiencing these symptoms (even though it is part of the illness). They will tell you to GET OUT of the relationship as soon as possible and to stay away because they are DANGEROUS. All this language surrounding the symptoms can impact the way we respond to someone who experiences heightened fear of abandonment and attachment issues. There is also a way to maintain a relationship and understand how serious these symptoms are when you have untreated BPD. 

I believe that everyone will experience attachment and abandonment issues in their lifetime. As a human being, we thrive on love and care in relationships. However, as soon as we sense a loved one may not reciprocate the same feeling back, we go into panic mode driven by the fear that we are not good enough for them. From my experience, no matter how many 'right' things you do in a relationship, they can come to an end. I realised this wasn't because anyone was at fault, it had just rn its course. Unfortunately, at the time, I was untreated, I held onto relationships due to the fear of being left alone with my own thoughts, feelings and emotions. I relied heavily on partners to validate my experience because I didn't know any other ways to validate them myself. It wasn't because I was 'crazy', 'psychotic' or 'dangerous', it stemmed from my nature vs nurture as I was growing up. I grew up in an invalidating environment where my needs weren't getting met. As a child, it would have been a big ask to have me learn all these coping tools on my own. I was fortunate enough to have learnt them through dialectical behavioural therapy program before I lost my life to my illness. 

Ways to describe the fear of abandonment I have experienced over my time: suffocating, terrifying, restraining, paralysing. Each time I sensed a partner wanting to leave me, it was driven mainly by my own minimal self-compassion I had for myself at the time. Over time, I was able to build up self-compassion and realise my self-worth on my own. I learnt these skills by being by myself and removing myself from seeking invalidating relationships. Being able to validate my own thoughts, feelings and emotions definitely help me stay on top of emotional attachments and fears of abandonment. It's not as terrifying anymore or consuming all because I have learnt to sit with those uncomfortable feelings alone. 

I have been alone in rooms where I feel like no one will be there for me. I have been left alone in some of the most terrifying situations in my life. I have been in and out of a whole range of emotions that have come with being attached to certain situations and things. This is part of being human. It is normal to feel these things. There is nothing 'wrong' with feeling fear. Its what you do to cope if things to change and your expectations of others get the better of you. This doesnt mean you are at fault for seeing the best in everything and everyone. If you can reflect and see that, then that can be used to your own advantage. 

I believe it is up to everyone to educate themselves and understand that these behaviours of abandonment are driven internally. These aren't done as 'manipulation', these are driven by feelings of fear (hence 'fear' of abandonment). Once I learnt to let go of my attachments and radically accept people come and go, I know at the end of the day I am always going to rely on myself. Having that self-management breakthrough when experiencing BPD is one of the best feelings in the world. I obviously can lean on people and other outlets for support, however, I am not terrified of being alone. As being alone has prepared me for anything life may throw at me. 

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