BPD Recovery in Reality: Sometimes We Slip Up (and it's only human)

 
Okay. I'm not trying to make a bigger deal of this than it is, but I wanted to share something with you.  As most of you know, I am in recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder.  I no longer meet enough of the criteria to have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. With this in mind, I still do meet SOME of the criteria, and I still am (and will always probably be) an emotionally sensitive person. 
 
Tonight I had a reaction that I hadn't seen in quite some time. It was a pretty human reaction, but normally I turn to my skills instead of act from "Emotion Mind."  Not always though.  I'm going to tell you what happened because it doesn't serve you or myself to try to portray myself as if I have it together 100% of the time, that I never act out emotionally, that I'm always skillful, and that I have no room to grow.
 
Tonight a friend (a person I'd actually met, hung out with, and spent time with) unfriended me on Facebook without a word. This has never happened to me before.  I found out because I went to message her about a funny memory I had of us.  I felt really sad. I thought it could have been a mistake. I messaged her to ask her what happened, and she said that I was "way too confrontational." In that same moment, my roommate was calling to me from downstairs that he was upset that I broke something of his (which was a total accident).  I felt very overwhelmed.
 
In addition, I've been coping with some emotional vulnerabilities, such as some health concerns (I need to get an exam that makes me very anxious, and it's difficult to sit with not knowing what might be the cause of my ailment), my business partner is taking off some pre-planned time which means I'm doing more work and feeling a bit stressed, and some OCD-related stuff that has been quite dormant has resurfaced and caused me distress in connection with EDNOS. I'm doing the best I can, managing well for the most part, but these things definitely do affect my ability to cope effectively.
 
In that moment when I received the reason from my (I suppose former) friend, I felt quite judged and offended, but more than that, I honestly had NO CLUE what she was referencing.  I am usually quite mild mannered but have said some things to others in the heat of the moment, in anger, or in a knee-jerk emotional reaction situation that I've later regretted. I couldn't think of a single time this had happened with her, though.  Unfortunately, I likely in her mind proved her point by saying a very rude comment and then blocking her. It was as if I lashed back out, feeling vulnerable, embarrassed, and angry all at once.
 
A lot of shame came up after that. I didn't want to sit in that place for too long.  I then texted her twice apologizing and trying to rationalize my behavior.  I then had thoughts and interpretations that this must have made me look "crazy."  I also talked to my roommate. I actually expressed to him what I wrote to my former friend, and he said, "What are you crazy?" which of course didn't help.
 
I was flooded with familiar feelings from the past, as the incident that happened today, which is pretty isolated and rare in my life nowadays, is something that used to be routine.  I used to jump from one impulsive behavior to the next, reacting in a knee-jerk way and then regretting and trying to do damage control.  I got scared that I "went there." It used to be such an ugly state that was pretty constant.
 
I went into black or white thinking (one of the symptoms that I still suffer).  I had to remind myself:
 
"Debbie, you are human.  What you did was not kind, and it was rude, and it was not skillful. You weren't acting from your highest self... But am I a horrible, evil, person because of my reaction and chosen action?  Am I no longer in recovery because I made a rude comment to someone who hurt my feelings? No, of course not."
 
But when you have BPD or some of the traits, (or if you're very emotionally sensitive), it can be easy to jump to the worst case scenario, i.e., "I slipped up and acted from emotional mind instead of getting skillful, so I am XYZ!"  Of course this thought ran through my mind.   I decided to practice what I preach and fill out a DBT Emotion Regulation 1a worksheet.
 
As I filled it out, I came to realize the number of emotional vulnerabilities I was experiencing. Are these an excuse to behave in an unkind way? No.  But seeing it for what it is did help me have compassion for myself around why I did behave in a way that was not the best choice.
 
In my work, I talk as a peer about how the skills have changed my life.  I think sometimes this creates an added pressure to always be skillful (which is impossible), or to feel shame or embarrassment if I do not meet my own high expectations around how I "should" be now that I am in recovery and co-facilitating DBT groups. It's unrealistic, and it does not help others to set such a high and unachievable image of perfection.
 
So there you go. I slip up.  My emotions sometimes get the better of me.  I sometimes don't act in the most skillful way.  I'm human.
 
I am going to forgive myself for this incident, reflect upon how I can better handle things next time something like this comes up (hopefully not another unfriending, lol), and move on.
 
I find it's helpful to check in with someone who cares about you and run emails and messages by them first if you're unsure and emotionally charged.  A thought for similar situations in the future.
 
 
I hope this helped you in some way.
 
Thanks for reading.
More soon.
 
In kindness,
Debbie
 
 
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7 comments:

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    2. Hi Jeff. DBT Self Help is an excellent website with lots of DBT worksheets available. Hope this helps!

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  2. You know, hearing about stuff like this is really helpful. I don't know how it's so easy to forget that we're human, but it sure is!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Margaret. :)

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  3. Very helpful! That's why I wanted to work with the Dbtpath- because of the experiential side.It doesn't make you any less expert on the subject or less of an incredibly valuable resource or instructor that you've experienced this firsthand. It's such a resource!

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    1. Oh, thank you so much Shikka! Saw this, and it literally made my night!

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