She likes me, She likes me not. | Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (BPD)





I recently decided to let my walls down a bit when it comes to connecting with others.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a blossoming friendship with my coworker. For the most part, things have been going well, though I must admit that figuring out boundaries, not getting too intense, and not worrying that every little thing I do will suddenly cause her to "hate" me have been difficult.  Such are the challenges of one living with Borderline Personality Disorder.

I like my coworker very much. She's bright, happy, friendly, and we have quite a few things in common. I enjoy her company and look forward to seeing her each day.  The admiration seems mutual, though I do catch myself having feelings for her that go a bit beyond friendship.  I've always been intense like this. Gender never really mattered to me. I have fallen head over heels in love with people, regardless of it.

I know I am probably idealizing her (another symptom of BPD) and that I am probably a bit euphoric that I am actually getting along so well with another person.  Thankfully, I have been attending DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) - this is my second year now, so I am able to recognize when feelings get intense and when I am crossing over into emotional mind. I am able to see that blurry line between admiration and going over the top.

I must be doing a good job of modulation and regulating my emotions around her, since I was surprised with this batch of macaroons from her on my desk this morning. Wasn't that so nice?



Even so, I feel like I was coming on a bit too strong today. I kept making excuses to be around her and to chat with her.  To be fair, it seemed like she was, too. Maybe this is normal?

What probably isn't "normal" is when I notice a change in her facial expression, composure, or if she turns down an opportunity to do something with me over the weekend, that I go from fully composed and flying high to intensely insecure and fearful that she will completely reject (abandon) me.  That is where I need to bring in my skills. 

I do extend compassion to myself, though, since as a child, reading slight changes in facial expressions, tone, and demeanor were an unconscious survival strategy in an abusive household.

In addition to using Wise Mind to keep clarity around how unrealistic it is for someone to suddenly dislike a person completely and totally and never want anything to do with them again over a random comment, etc., I want to continue to practice my Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills, which are also proving helpful.

In particular, I am focusing on:

"Relationship Effectiveness:
Getting or Keeping a Good Relationship

  • Acting in such a way that the other person keeps liking and respecting you
  • Balancing immediate goals with the good of the long-term relationship
QUESTIONS
1. How do I want to feel about myself after the interaction is over?
2. What do I have to do to feel that way about myself? What will work?"

(above is an excerpt from Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Dr. Marsha Linehan)

I'm working hard on number question #1, and with regards to question #2, I held back the other day when I was experiencing extreme anxiety. I wanted to cry to hear and ask for her support. It wouldn't have been appropriate in the workplace, and it may have really pushed her away. (Sure, she may have been really supportive, but I wasn't willing to take the chance.)

I experienced abandonment as a child more than once, so it's understandable that's I'd react by frantically avoiding "real or imagined" abandonment (as it is outlined in the Diagnostical Statistical Manual), but I am an adult now, and I want to stop running. I want to have a real friendship.  

This is challenging, but I am sure it will be worth it (and it already is).


Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

6 comments:

  1. i do this all the time and never relized it... thanks!

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  2. Amazing insight as always Debbie x

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  3. Hi, my acc in twitter is protected so don't know if you'd see a message to you, but wanted to say thanks for your blog. It's so interesting. Im not bpd but identify with a lot of the symptoms and things you cover here. Especially this one about friends. It's scarily accurate for me and is one of my worst traits that gives me problems. Thanks for sharing your experiences x

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  4. Oh wow, I just found your blog, and it's like reading the diary I don't have, down to the details. Please keep writing. My bpd symptoms are mostly in check with dbt, but I'm overcome with depression right now. And reading this makes me at least consider getting out of bed for some water.

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