At the very core of a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD), there is a longing, a yearning, a need to be understood. We are often told we are manipulative, selfish, needy, clingy and that we can never get enough of what we are seeking. It is not manipulation that is our motive. That has always been used to categorize the way that we approach things. Rather, it is a desire, a deep desire to be unconditionally accepted and loved by those who know us. In order for that to take place, you need to come into our world.
Just like a child needs to be understood, those of us with BPD have certain perspectives and parts of our personalities and thought processes that will never be grasped if you try to love us and do not have an understanding of those parts. We don’t want those parts, we didn’t ask for them and just like a child, we struggle to find our way, to explain our way in a world that stigmatizes and categorizes us.
Yes, we can have a dark side. We also have a side that is light, love, loyal, generous to a fault. We want you to be happy. We want you to love us back. The pain we feel when we hurt others or are misunderstood as to our motives is enough to make us want to take our own lives. That is our reality. Because we can’t handle that pain, we act out in different ways to try to get rid of it. Whether it’s harming ourselves or others, giving into our addictions in an attempt to self-soothe, we just want it gone. It is a pain that others cannot understand who have not walked this path. It rules us, defines us and makes our lives hell sometimes.
We try to adjust and make ourselves “respond normally” to situations that overwhelm us. We want to be and act the way you want us to, and we try so hard. Our loved ones walk away in frustration and we are left with the pain. I have come to understand that many of us will never be understood in this life. It is up to us to try our best to change and adapt ourselves to the norms of society. A society that is foreign and scary to us.
We don’t ever mean to hurt you if you love us. If anything, we love you too much — it’s too big, it’s too much to handle. We will go to the ends of the earth to show our love for you, but it is misconstrued. To you we are over the top, too much, our ways are to grandiose for you to consume. What we feel is wanting good for another is seen as manipulation and trying to force ourselves, our needs and our wants on you. Like a big happy dog, filled with joy and love, we are all over you, licking and jumping and asking for total attention. We retreat with our tail between our legs, realizing that we are too much.
The other disorders that cloud our minds, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar, depression or panic disorder, blend into our efforts to make us even more misunderstood. The medications we take have a way of changing us also. We don’t recognize ourselves. In the ocean of confusion we face day-to-day, we seek that one thing that will anchor us to us.
Yet, there is no such thing as stability in our lives. There is no such thing as peace. We are so used to the turmoil that we give in to it. All I ask, on behalf of all of us fighting this fight and trying to please you, be understood and exist with you, is that you try to understand us and how God created our brains. The path is long and hard and I would not want to be you on the journey any more than I want to be me. Yet without your understanding, we cannot coexist. It is sad and heartbreaking that we cannot give back to you what you want. That part of us was never developed and does not exist in our brain. We can’t know something we never knew. So we rely on you to teach us and lead us to that place that makes sense.
Those of us with BPD will have glimpses and snippets at times of what it feels like to process things the way you do. But it will often never be our norm. We lack the capacity for consistency. This angers you and frustrates you. Us too. With my very last breath, I vow to help others understand our journey. No matter what that means, no matter the sacrifice, whatever it takes, I will fight for those of us with borderline personality disorder to be understood.
With you on the journey.