It’s Sunday, and it’s the end of a very difficult week. Wednesday through Friday, my anxiety was at a 5/5, followed by a 4/5 on Saturday. My thoughts of self-harm were just as high, and thoughts of suicide were way too high for comfort. Today I’m at about a 1-2 on everything, so I’m doing better. Thursday is Valentine’s Day, which means Tyler and I are celebrating on Wednesday to avoid day-of pricing. This will be our third Valentine’s Day together, and I ask myself daily how and why he continues to put up with my ass.
A pattern of unstable and rocky relationships is a hallmark symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder. Much of this is caused by splitting, which I discussed last week. Some of the difficulty, however, is caused by struggles with healthy attachment and an underlying fear of abandonment.
Attachment styles define how we interact with others, and are formed as children. There are generally four types of attachment; secure attachment, insecure attachment, insecure-avoidant attachment, and disorganized attachment.
- Secure Attachment: Those with a secure attachment style tend to have trusting, lasting relationships, have a good sense of self-esteem, and are comfortable sharing their feelings with friends.
- Insecure Attachment: Insecure attachment is characterized by a reluctance to become close to others and fears that their significant other doesn’t love them.
- Insecure-Avoidant Attachment: Those with insecure-avoidant attachment avoid close relationships with others and are unwilling to share their feelings.
- Disorganized Attachment: Those with a disorganized attachment style can act erratic or unpredictable in a relationship.
The vast majority of my relationships fall into the category of insecure-avoidant attachment. I avoid getting too close to others because I am afraid they will reject me. This is a large part of why I struggle to maintain friendships and avoid many social situations. I want so badly to be included, but it’s not worth risking rejection. Someone may be emotionally available for me today, but I don’t trust that they’ll be there tomorrow. Everyday, people need to re-prove their acceptance of me because I have little emotional permanency.
My relationship with Tyler, however, falls into the category of insecure attachment. Yes, I’m aware that I have not yet achieved secure attachment. However, I see it as a victory that I’ve obtained a higher level of attachment with my significant other, as compared to my other relationships. That being said, there are things I do directly because of my insecure attachment that effect our relationship. For example, I ask several times a day if Tyler loves me. I ask over and over again why he loves me. Tyler is kind and patient enough to always answer me. I know he’ll always be there, but there’s a little nagging voice in my head that needs to hear it.
I also worry unnecessarily that he’s going to die. I worry about him commuting to work, or driving in general. I even have nightmares about him dying. The thoughts can be pervasive, and it’s because of my insecure attachment. Even if he doesn’t want to leave me, that voice in my heads says that I’m meant to die alone, so he’ll be taken from me in some way. As I mentioned a few posts back, I dissociated when he was leaving to go to the grocery store because I didn’t like the idea of being away from him.
When we first started dating, I tried to push him away by warning him of all of the “issues” I had. I already knew I was infatuated by him- I knew when I grabbed his hand to dance at a line-dancing bar down in Thousand Oaks. I knew on our first date at Jupiter in Berkeley when we were so busy talking that we didn’t even notice how bad the service had been. I knew I loved him from the beginning, but I didn’t feel like I deserved him. I wanted to push him away, basically to save him from having to deal with me.
Having BPD and maintaining a steady relationship is not an easy task. Lucky for me, I haven’t had to go through this process alone. When I was originally diagnosed, I dove in head-first, trying to learn about the disorder and seeking help. However, Tyler dove in with me. He’s already read a book about BPD that is tailored for significant others, and is always trying to learn more about the illness. He respected my boundaries and waited until I was ready to talk to friends and family. He’ll clean up the house to help ease my anxiety, and go buy food when I’m too anxious to leave the house. He rubs my back and helps me slow my breathing during a panic attack, and gives me space when I’m splitting. It’s one thing for a significant other to be understanding, it’s a whole new dynamic for them to be right there with you.
I don’t have the vocabulary to thank him properly, but he knows how much I love and appreciate him. I hope everyone, BPD or not, finds their Tyler someday.
Till next time, y’all