Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder, Part-2
Remember last time when I talked about the friend that “wouldn’t be my friend anymore” if I didn’t blow up frogs with him? Well, my boundaries as an adult haven’t gotten much better. For example:
“Sure, honey. You can go back to your job as a stripper. It’s just dancing, right? I’ll totally overlook the fact that you are shaking your naked jiggly bits at strange men. Just don’t leave me.”
I’m paraphrasing, but I spoke basically those same words to my ex-wife, who also has Borderline Personality Disorder (and was in fact the first time I ever heard the term before).
Now, I’m sure there are some open-minded guys out there who would legitimately have no problem with their wife being a stripper. There are few guys who I’m sure would be totally turned on by it. Well, I’m not one of those guys. I’m old-fashioned, and by old-fashioned, I mean “jealous and possessive.” What I wanted to say was:
“You are my wife. Yes. They’re your jiggly bits, but the only person I’m cool with you shaking them at is me.”
But did I tell her that? No way! She wanted to do it, so I said “do it.” Then went and cried about it, just like I cried about the frogs.
That’s my own biggest boundary problem. I’m terrified both of asking for what I want and telling people what I will and will not accept from them. And that really sucks.
Now… it’s not just our own boundaries people with BPD have problems with, but respecting the boundaries of others, too. Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s pretend that what follows is a series of text messages between me and a former girlfriend of mine (we’ll call her Justine, because it’s not her real name, but it’s a totally hot name for a girlfriend to have, in my opinion). I’d like to say these hypothetical texts are wildly exaggerated, but in reality, they probably aren’t. And yes, we BOTH use proper grammar when we text.
JUSTINE: “Sorry, Bruce, but I can’t see you this weekend. My son has a paper I have to help him with and I’ve GOT to get this project done by Monday.”
BRUCE: “You need space because you want to work on your art? But the weekends are my time with you! You NEVER wanna spend time with me anymore.”
JUSTINE: “I know we haven’t seen each other much lately, and I’m sorry. I hate to not see you, but I really will be too busy.”
BRUCE: “Guess I’m just not very important to you. You must not love me anymore, so I’m gonna send you mean, accusatory text messages and try to make you feel like a total waste of flesh. You hurt me, so I’m gonna hurt you.”
That’s paraphrasing. When I’m in “the zone,” I just do it. I NEVER admit to it… at least not until after the fact. I’m working on it. And then, after five or ten minutes with no response from her, I start again.
BRUCE: “I’m sorry. I’m a terrible person. You deserve better. I’m breaking up with you because I totally suck and should be destroyed.”
And another five minutes. No response from her.
BRUCE: “Please stop ignoring me! I don’t ignore you! Can’t you see how much this is hurting me?”
And in less than two minutes…
BRUCE: “Don’t leave me! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’M SORRY!”
And then I go cry, just like I did for exploded frogs and wiggled jiggly bits. And ten minutes later, I get a reply.
JUSTINE: “Um… I was driving. Stop being such a drama queen, Bruce.”
BRUCE: “I’m sorry.”
JUSTINE: “It’s OK.”
BRUCE: “Please don’t hate me.”
JUSTINE: “I don’t hate you, but I have to get to work now.”
BRUCE: “OK. I’m sorry.”
Ten minutes. No response.
BRUCE: “Please don’t leave me!”
I know, I know. Pathetic. I’d like to say I’m not that bad anymore, but considering I did something almost exactly like this when I opened my eyes this morning, I’d be lying.
Keep in mind; I’m new at all of this. Don’t look at me as the wise old sage with all the wisdom. I’m figuring this out as I’m going along.
So anyway, once I realize the abandonment is only perceived, I’m able to get hold of things quickly, but I do find myself apologizing more and more these days. Hey, at least I recognize that my behavior is wrong.
Now… When the abandonment is real, when the relationship really is over, I’m much, much worse.
BRUCE: “Fine then. You don’t love me, and that’s because I’m unlovable.”
JUSTINE: “You’re not unlovable, Bruce. I care about you a lot. I just can’t be in a relationship right now.”
BRUCE: “That’s OK. I understand. I can’t be in this world right now. I love you and I’m sorry for what I’m about to do. Goodbye.”
And that, boys and girls, is where the booze and pills start going down the old gullet. And that’s where I’m gonna leave (but not abandon) you for this time.
It’s an old writer’s trick. The cliffhanger. Always leave them wanting more.
Your brother in arms,
Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner
(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)