I thought a good place to start would be with my story so far, an analysis of how I've become the person I am today. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have spent a lot of time reading and writing in an attempt to figure out why I am the way I am so I can fix it - I'm a natural problem solver. I'm hoping that by writing a full explanation of why I have developed Borderline Personality Disorder it may help others recognise similar patterns in their own life, either that or just bore them to sleep..
It is clear that I was born with a very sensitive personality type ('The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You' by Elaine N. Aron was particularly helpful in my understanding of this, I shall write more about the book at a later date). It takes very little to upset me and I find my emotions overwhelming and difficult to tolerate at times. I had three older siblings who didn't take too kindly to my arrival and who took every opportunity to bully and torment me that they could. I clung to my mother because she showed me abundant love and affection but my mother’s own neuroses bled into the relationship, most importantly her unbalanced view of love being based on self-sacrifice and her constant sense that something is about to go wrong at any moment.
I had a good relationship with my dad whose open-minded and analytical approach to life encouraged my own natural leaning in that direction, however my dad came from a generation typically afraid of the expression of emotion and my temperament often met with dissaproval. My mum’s ‘no nonsense, common sense’ approach also rubbed off on me, however, her reliance on her role as mother lead to her unconsciously encouraging my clingy, needy dependence upon her, in psychological terms this is known as an 'insecure attachment' (see Bowbly's attachment theory) and is a crucial factor in the development of insecure personality types. I felt so bereft and vulnerable without the constant presence of my mother that I screamed hysterically if she even went upstairs without me.
Going to nursery and school was, frankly, traumatic for me. My very apparent sense of vulnerability made me an easy target for bullies, further reinforcing my unhealthy attachment to my mother. In one sense I only felt safe when I was with my mum – no-one could bully me then and I felt soothed by her affection, on the other hand, I unconsciously picked up from her a strong sense of impermanence, of impending catastrophe that left me feeling even more insecure and vulnerable.
My parents did not understand my highly emotional outbursts and often told me that I shouldn't feel and react the way that I did, I was subject to 'tough love' which only had the effect of invalidating my experience, I felt that it was wrong to be me, to feel what I felt.
To cope with this lack of security I contrived mechanisms which allowed me to ‘read’ people and adjust my behaviour in order to minimise the possibility of them rejecting me and leaving me alone and unloved. Essentially I never felt secure enough to be myself around anyone else. Due to my strong, analytical and over-active cognition I even developed fantasy scenarios that all kinds of people could see and hear what I was doing even when I was on my own, so I didn't even learn to be myself when I was alone. I also developed the habit of constantly conversing with people in my mind, second-guessing their reactions to my thoughts. I developed these behaviours as a very young child in order to protect myself from the universal fear of abandonment and rejection. Being a very young child I was unable to create strategies that effectively addressed the issues I was having. Inadvertently the part of me consumed by fear compounded the damage already done. I never felt safe, I felt uncomfortable around people and not even comfortable on my own. I withdrew; I was constantly under the influence of my mother’s negativity. I became depressed.
Being cursed with more than my fair share of intelligence I started developing ideas about the world; I thought about all manner of things and began to form strong opinions and beliefs. Unfortunately, my rational way of seeing the world clashed rather dramatically with my emotionally immature way of coping with life’s perceived dangers. Instead of trying to reconcile the two I continued with my old strategy – deny myself, deny what I feel. I wanted to be what I was not so I told myself that I was. In essence, I developed a very strong personality but it had no firm foundations to rest on. My sense of self was dangerously fragile and evanescent.
Inevitably, when I started having romantic relationships I transferred the unhealthy attachment from my mother to my new significant other however, I knew if I acted on my clingy, insecure impulses I would become unattractive so I played the game of emotional stability that I didn't feel. I was alone, conflicted and tormented inside and hated myself for it. I chose partners who were unsuitable for me because I was grateful to be loved and wanted – I equated sex with acceptance. I would continue to cling to men I would have been better off without because of my fear of abandonment.
This is a simplified explanation of how I developed as I did into adolescence, how my personality was constructed. A lot of my blog will be about how I am trying to undo the complex knots that I have tangled myself up in. How I can finally be at peace with myself and live a happy, balanced life. I very much hope that my insights and attempt at recovery will be useful to those with similar experiences to myself.