The Grace of Abandonment Issues (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder have an intense fear of abandonment. Many times, this is because we experienced it early on in life. Many of us have even developed a keen ability to detect what we perceive to be behaviors that might precede someone abandoning us.

While I still experience these extra sensitivities from time to time, they have also evolved in a way that allows me to have incredible compassion and love for beings who are abandoned or appear to be abandoned, and I wouldn’t trade that in for the world.
I’ll give you an example.
I must be the dog whisperer (even though I actually have two cats who are my babies), because I often find dogs running in the middle of the street, literally with their lives in danger.  Today was one of those days.
Meet Gracie, an adorable King Cavalier Spaniel who was just seconds shy of being hit by a car on a very busy road this morning.   I saw her running, stopped my car, and began screaming.  There were bicyclists around who stopped traffic. I called to her and patted my knees, “Baby, Baby!”
She came running to me.   Her ears looked matted, but she looked well fed.  She had an old dirty collar on, but there was a name tag and a phone number.  The bicyclists and I called but kept getting voice mail. We left messages.
I decided to take Gracie to Petco to get her a treat and some food.  I didn’t know her story. I just knew that she looked quite frightened, was shaking, and had pee peed on herself in fear. My sensitivity around seeing any being having this experience is quite high.
My instinct is to comfort and care for anyone or anything feeling this way — as I think is the case for most human beings.  I suspect my experience is a bit more intense as a highly emotionally sensitive individual.
Even though it’s quite unrealistic given my current living situation, I wanted to keep her. I wanted to make it all better.  I refused to take her to the humane society at the suggestion of my boyfriend. I couldn’t bear to let her go through any more trauma.
I left a few messages for the owner:
  • I have your dog.
  • I have your dog — if this is an old number and you’re not Gracie’s owner, please let me know so I know how to proceed.
  • If Gracie is your dog, and you can no longer care for her — with complete non-judgment, I want to help, please call me.
Gracie’s Mom called back a few minutes later, frantic.  She said that Gracie must have gotten out of the car when she stopped at the gas station.  We met up, and Gracie went back to her Mom.
I was happy, because things worked out as they were “supposed” to, right? But there was also some sadness in my heart — the sadness that came from the place of so closely relating to my interpretation of this animal’s experience and wanting to keep her in my life a little bit longer.
Emotional? Yes. Expected and reasonable? Yes.
Thank you Gracie for helping me see the grace in the person I’ve become despite and because of my own abandonment issues.  I love you little girl.

What DBT skills did you noticed that I used in this situation?
Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

14 replies
  1. Caroline DowntheCenter
    Caroline DowntheCenter says:

    What a wonderful story! I have a feeling that you don't see more dogs than other people – you just are the first one with the big heart that compels you to stop. This is such a perfect example of how the "symptoms" of BPD can manifest themselves in a wonderfully positive way. Thank you for sharing!


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