The Setup Setback: Abandonment and Impulsiveness issues with Borderline Personality Disorder

Do those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to act or behave in ways that set us up for our worst fear: abandonment?  This post explores this question with my own personal example.

As some of my Twitter and Facebook followers know, I have been going through a stressful ordeal. And while I can't get into all of the details (they aren't really necessary to illustrate this anyway), I believe I experienced something this morning that many others with BPD can relate to.  I myself have noticed this pattern within my own life, and while I am working super duper hard at Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to build a life worth living and to not act in impulsive ways that make the situation worse and that I'll later regret, I am only human, and I'm not perfect.

In addition to not being perfect and being a human being, with BPD, I experience my emotions much more intensely, sometimes with sudden onset, especially with emotions such as anger and anxiety. 

While these days I usually have enough of my Wise Mind available to slow things down and be mindful by putting space between the initial thought or emotion and any action I take, this is not the case 100% of the time. This morning, I did not think about the potential long-term or even immediate short-term effects of my actions -- I only did what would make me feel better in that moment. 

And, when I do act impulsively, I nearly immediately feel remorseful and regretful for my behavior, wondering how I could not have possibly slowed things down in order to avoid yet another fiasco due to emotion dysregulation.

This post is not about me now bashing myself for the error or being intolerant with the reality that, as well as I am doing, and as much as I practice my DBT skills, there will be times when I don't live up to the goals I set for myself around my recovery.

I acted impulsively and did not carefully consider how my actions would directly affect the one person in my life who is really there for me right now and standing by my side. Now he's angry, which is very difficult for me to tolerate.

I wonder how much of this was a subconscious pattern, now revealed in the light of retrospect, that I engage in to push people away during difficult times. I've described a similar event before as a preemptive strike -- I'm afraid you might abandon/leave/reject me, so I'll act in a way that is so horrible and upsetting to you that you actually do, and we get it over with.

Sound familiar?

I am upset right now, as I must live with the consequences of relieving myself of anxiety by acting out on an impulse and not slowing things down. Hardly seems worth it now, but all I can do now is damage control and engaging in skills that will help me to not only feel less distressed but to also help me to prevent myself from making matters even worse and more distressful.

I'll be digging into my Distress Tolerance skills. In particular:

  • Distracting with activities:  I've barely left the house since I've been working from home. I need to get out of my pajamas, put some makeup on, and go somewhere. Anywhere. The grocery store to get something to make dinner would be a great start.
  • Self-soothing:
    • Vision: I think a ride to the ocean to see the shore and smell the salty air is in order. When I get back home, I'll light my candle that smells like the seaside.
    • Hearing: Time for Enya.
  • Improve the Moment: 
    • Vacation: Immersing myself in a good TV show or two or a movie

Every moment is a choice. I choose to stop myself in my tracks, slow down, and improve the situation as much as I can.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

1 comment:

  1. I have intense emotional rollercoastering moments too and I have found ways to create self fulfilling prophecy of being abandoned as well. It's like I woke up to this a few months ago. I've damaged some burgeoning relationships - fortunately this has been with people who have similar issues and they've recognized what I'm doing. The remorseful news I feel after it is intense.

    Thanks for posting these. While my therapist doesn't think I'm BPD (I don't like labels either so I feel better being an enigma, ha ha), the DBT skills are helping. I need to get on to working on them. It will be a lifelong practice session.

    Thanks for posting. I am glad to read that I'm not alone and that others are dealing with similar issues.



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