Splitting is a symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD) I was unfamiliar with until recently despite having been diagnosed in 2015. Splitting is a coping defense mechanism people with BPD use to avoid rejection or being hurt. It means that someone is either good or they are bad. There are no good people who make mistakes. There are no bad people who are nice sometimes. It is black and white, good or bad.
I know this feeling, and I recognize it in my own behavior. Splitting feels like self-destructive behavior. I can get consumed in my anger toward people. All my memories with that person become tainted, bad and wrong. Just thinking of them fills me up with anger.
Hatred builds up deep inside my body, flows through me and consumes me. I obsess over this hatred. I want it to go away. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about it at the same time.
There is a rational part of my brain that tells me to try and ignore these feelings, but the emotions are sometimes just too strong for me to move past. My personality disorder does not mean I’m broken, but it does mean I think and do things a little bit differently than the average person.
It’s a reaction to the fear of abandonment, the rejection and hurt that I cannot face. The idea of being rejected is so abhorrent to me, it’s easier to just tell myself that person was evil, and everything they ever did was part of some sick plot to humiliate, hurt or upset me.
The initial anger and bitterness fades eventually. In the meantime, I perceive everything that person does as being meant to hurt me further because that person is not a good person. They don’t care.
It’s like you can be my best friend or my worst enemy. There is no in between. There is no middle ground. Unfortunately, splitting can often isolate people with BPD, and it’s difficult when you are a victim of this behavior to see a good side to that person either.
It is the classic, “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” For me, eventually, the anger will fade, but it takes a lot to overcome that completely. Unfortunately, it does require work on the other party as well.
Actions speak far louder than any words ever can. After all, most communication is nonverbal. As someone with BPD, it is so easy to start perceiving things as an insult or slight when they were never really meant that way at all. It takes time and reassurance to come back.
One thing I have been told my entire life by teachers, friends and family members, is that I need constant reassurance that I am, in fact, a good person or that what I perceived wasn’t actually meant that way at all. I even need reassurance that I’m following instructions correctly! I will turn everything around as another reason to hate myself if left to my own devices.
Splitting is not reality. I know that. In the cold light of day, I can pull myself back from those thoughts, but when you’re caught up in that twister of emotions, it can be so difficult to break free.
I’m incredibly lucky I do in fact have a support network that treats me well, cares about me enough to put up with this and helps me along the way. It’s a road that goes both uphill and downhill. I am sincerely grateful to all who listen, soothe and love when it feels like I am on a steep ascent. I am grateful to have people who refuse to give up on me even when I do feel like giving up.