I just spent a few minutes ordering (used) books about Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders from Amazon. There’s still so much I don’t know, especially about my own BPD, which trips me up constantly, in spite of my attempts to be mindful and think before I act (or react).
For example, a few months ago I unintentionally alienated someone I valued as a friend. Actually two people were involved. What happened was I went on a rant because a second woman hurt my feelings, and rather than discuss this privately with her, or simply move on and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience, I decided to write a rant and publish it. No, I did not identify the person in my rant and yes, what this person had said to me (in private) was extremely mean and hurtful (and definitely not true either). But could I just move on or let it go–or just tell the person how hurt I was? No, instead I had to turn this person’s private message to into an angry blog post. After I realized what I had done, I removed that post, but its repercussions still haunt me. This individual is absolutely convinced I am a malignant narcissist with evil intentions and has said so in public. I’m not, but based on my behavior at the time, I can understand why someone would think this is the case.
The woman who I wrote that scathing post about wasn’t someone I knew very well, and her low opinion of me (which it turned out had been low from the beginning–she just didn’t like me, which is okay, it happens to everyone) really didn’t matter too much, since we hadn’t been “friends” for very long. But in the fallout from that bad decision I made to call her out publicly, I alienated someone else whose friendship I really DID value–because it turned out that person was friends with the person I ranted about. I didn’t know.
I also did something else to anger the woman who’s friendship I valued (basically, a blatant invasion of her boundaries), but again, at the time I didn’t realize what I did would be hurtful to them. I was just so…CLUELESS. All of this impulsive borderline shit I was pulling came off to others as MALIGNANT NARCISSISM and since then I’ve had that label slapped on me by someone who mattered to me and a few who never really did. Being thought of that way by someone I value really hurts. It hurts a lot. That’s about the worst insult I could ever get (strangely enough, when I was younger, the easiest way to insult me was to call me TOO SENSITIVE, ha!)
But I deserved it too. Putting myself in my alienated friend’s shoes after the damage was done, and thinking about how I would have felt if someone did the same thing to me, I couldn’t deny that I would have been extremely angry, to say the least. Also, the timing of my actions was just too weird. I didn’t know I was hurting anyone, at least not consciously. I really didn’t. But how would my friend know I didn’t know? Why wouldn’t she think it was malicious and intentional?
The problem with having BPD is the obtuseness that comes with it. In that sense, it can resemble Aspergers because you just don’t KNOW what is appropriate. You simply are not aware of when you’re acting out, manipulating or attacking someone. I think this is one of the little-talked about things that separates BPD from full-blown narcissism. Borderlines can just be so fucking clueless. We are so out of touch with ourselves and who we really are that we don’t even have a false self to pretend to know what it’s doing. We really don’t know what the hell we’re doing and even when we think we have our behaviors under control, they still sneak out, without our even knowing. It makes you really feel crazy and out of control when later on it’s pointed out to you (as to a two year old) WHY what you said or did was wrong and WHY someone was hurt by it, when you thought it as just a normal reaction at the time and you had no earthly idea it would be so hurtful or damaging. But when you do become aware, it’s so OBVIOUS that you say to yourself, how the hell could I not SEE that?
BPD is a sort of blindness. You get so tangled up in your own emotional state you literally cannot see how you may be hurting others. You may not be throwing screaming temper tantrums or throwing things across the room, but the harmful actions come out in other, sneaky, passive-aggressive ways. You don’t WANT to hurt others, but you do anyway because YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. It sucks because as a person who does have a conscience and struggles constantly with guilt and shame, I feel remorse when I realize what I have done. The problem is, by the time I become aware, it’s often too late to repair the lost friendship. They have already given up and moved on. BPD destroys relationships.
I feel like even with the DBT skills I’ve been using and the reparenting techniques I’ve tried recently, that there is so much about this awful disorder I don’t know. I don’t know myself as well as I should. Dammit, I DON’T TRUST MYSELF! My Aspergers/Avoidant PD mitigates my Borderline symptoms to some extent, but they still come out. I avoid others partly because I’m afraid I might hurt them. I don’t want to be this way anymore.
I feel like I need to educate myself much more about BPD, and just knowing WHY we do the things we do and act out in passive aggressive ways without knowing what we’re doing, will help. So that’s why I just ordered some new books. I need to spend some more time reading and less time unintentionally creating drama, stupidly thinking that it’s “right.”
This journey of self-discovery is amazing most of the time, but sometimes facing the truth about yourself is unbelievably painful.
One last thing–if you are reading this (and you will know who you are if you read this post), I want to say I’m so sorry. I was wrong.