PV MIrror, Mar 25-Apr 1, 2011, issue # 128, pg 19

Last week’s article described many characteristics of the Borderline Personality Disorder (BP). This week I am focusing on how their behavior affects the people who are or have been involved with them.

Do you feel controlled?

Borderline’s need to feel in control of others because they feel so out of control themselves. So much of their environment is, or at least feels, out of control to them that it is very important to control what they can. They are anxious and gaining control over something or someone calms them down. Ultimately, they are trying to make their world more predictable and manageable. They put people in no-win situations and create chaos.

Are you left feeling like you can’t do anything right?

Continual blame and criticism…they may be blaming you for something “real” that really happened but they tend to exaggerate it or sometimes they blame you for things that are not real; never happened. The blaming can become verbally and emotionally abusive. They can have drastic mood swings and sudden emotional outbursts. They may also respond by making threats, setting up no-win situations, or giving you the “silent treatment” for hours or days.

The challenge then becomes more intense and complicated because Then, if you respond by objecting to the criticism or try to defend yourself,you are then accused of being too sensitive or over-reacting. You start to feel like your only choice is to take whatever they dish out. They cannot take any criticism. They are extra sensitive which makes it very difficult to have any healthy or productive discussion after an outburst or when they are unfairly blaming you for something. This makes it impossible to change or improve the relationship. It seems like the non-BP is always walking on eggshells, always the one adapting, desperately trying not to upset the BP.

“My mom always acted like nothing happened”

…and then they act surprised when you are still upset. Then you feel baffled and frustrated because the Borderline doesn’t seem to understand the impact of what they’ve done which makes you angry because they never accept responsibility for their behavior. So who is really right or wrong here? You start to question if you did over-react or if it was all of your fault. That’s called, “crazy-making”. Again, change cannot occur on the part of the BP since they believe they haven’t done anything wrong. Essentially, everyone has to change to accommodate their expectations.

Constant chaos

Is the borderline in your life addicted to drama? Do they seem to attract or create chaos? Just when things are going good and there is a calmness, possibly even a routine, they seem to do something to disrupt it. It’s like they can only stand it so long because it’s so foreign to them. “I love to be busy, I can’t just sit around”.

The rest of us are “so boring”

Everything and everyone is “so boring”. “Boring” for a borderline is anything not completely chaotic or extreme; extremely challenging, stimulating, exciting or extremely complicated, tragic, or dramatic. They seem to thrive on all of the details of their own drama or someone else’s. “Oh my God, you won’t believe what happened to me now”.

So…are you crazy or wrong…

…because you like downtime or home-time, or if a day off or a weekend doesn’t need to be packed with activity? Are you crazy because you like routine and predictability such as a regular mealtime or bedtime, or if you find it very satisfying to read a book or take a walk alone? BP’s always seem to need to be busy or distracted. Some become very angry with their partner and accuse them of being boring or unsocial, and insist thatsomething is wrong with them (the non-BP)because they don’t want to accept every invitation or do something every minute.

“Everyone else thinks she’s great”

In social situations, the female BP can be very engaging, gracious, and endearing. The male BP, especially in work situations, can seem confident, self-assured, and charming. Since they cannot stand to be alone, this is where they shine. It’s where they get positive reinforcement and build their self-esteem and self-worth. The external world is where they thrive.

Borderline’s need people around. They do not know who they are. A sense of inner emptiness and chaos leaves BP’s dependent on others to figure out how to behave, what to think, and how to be. Therefore, being alone leaves them without a sense of who they are. This is why they make such frantic efforts to avoid being alone.

Recommended reading:

1) Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem, Roth, Kimberly and Freidman, Freda, (2003), New Harbinger Publications, Inc. ISBN# 1-57224-328-7

2) Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, Mason, Paul and Kreger, Randi, (2010) New Harbinger Publications, Inc. ISBN# 978-57224-690-4

3) Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship, Lawson, Chrisitne, (2000) Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ISBN# 0-7657-0331-9