I know that this is the type of stuff one should unload in their therapist’s office, but alas I no longer have a therapist, as I dumped mine after she made me cry. Of course, I do not have a problem with airing my dirty laundry in public, though I might come to regret it someday when an employer finds my blog. Perhaps that’s a sign I should be pursuing a writing career as opposed to a legal one…but if I’m the one who confesses, I’m under no risk of blackmail, right? In any case, I would write about my problems all day, if not for the people I love. Despite what they might think, I’ve tried to protect them. I’ve done my best to respect their privacy while preserving my own voice and my own story. Sometimes, though, because they have chosen to love a writer, my writing will implicate them.
Since the beginning of this blog, I’ve tried not to write about my relationships. Romantic, I mean. Yet recently I decided to write about BPD and, let’s face it, everything that is worst about Borderlines is brought out by relationships. There’s a common consensus that one should never date a BPDer. Or, in more colloquial terms, “don’t stick your dick in crazy”. Today, I’m writing about being in love as a BPD. Because I sometimes feel alone in my struggles, because I don’t feel that Hans should be the recipient of all my crazy thoughts, because I want to make someone else feel less alone.
Last night, I finally told Hans about my past. Well, not everything, but what I felt was relevant for him to know. Even as the sordid confessions spilled from my lips, he was joking with me. I didn’t know if it was to alleviate the discomfort he felt, or if he really wasn’t bothered by it. You would think that I was relieved that my boyfriend still loved me after learning about all my fuck-ups. That’s how a normal person would react, right? Instead, after leaving his apartment and having time to reflect, I realized that I was disappointed. Disappointed. Because I’d been waiting for the moment he would look at me differently and realize I was actually hideous, unloveable, lacking. I wanted him to see me like that, because I was tired of putting on a false façade, because then I could stop being perfect. I’m probably the only girl in the world who hates the fact that her boyfriend doesn’t get mad at her or complain about the things she does.
Crazy, right? I thought so, too. Upon coming home, I flipped open my laptop with a sinking feeling in my chest. Opening an incognito window, I Googled Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I knew a thing or two about NPD, simply because all the personality disorders have a degree of overlap and many Borderlines also have NPD. For those of you who only hear of “narcissists” in popular culture, you may be surprised to learn that NPD is not about having a huge ego. NPD is a defense mechanism for people who grew up believing that they were worthless. That underlying feeling of inadequacy is pushed aside as they strive for success, beauty, ideal love — thus creating a false self without empathy or needs. The devastating part of the disorder is that the true self, with all its authenticity and capacity for love, is smothered.
While I probably wouldn’t meet the DSM criteria for NPD (I’m neither a pathological liar nor incapable of empathy), I very much related to the false self/true self dichotomy. Few people in my life ever reach the true me, which explains why I don’t have many close friends. Hell, I rarely reach the true me. I spend entire seasons of my life completely deluded as to who I am and what I want. My false self is so compelling that she often has me convinced that she is all that I am. That I am defined by my accomplishments, my ambitions, my looks. My false self pursues relationships because she needs to be loved at all times, because that love validates her — it doesn’t matter to her where that love comes from.
Sometimes, I am terrified that my false self is the one in the relationship with Hans. That everything I do for him is to earn his love. As I stand in his kitchen, arms deep in soap suds, I wonder: am I doing his dishes because I want to make him happy or because I can file this event away in my book of Good Girlfriend Deeds? It’s a sick thought, and it tears me apart inside. What’s even worse is the thought that I am subconsciously manipulating him. Maybe because I am extremely good at reading people (a strange side effect of BPD), I know exactly what he wants from me and I give that to him. What if I’m so good at being the girlfriend I think he wants, I’ve crafted an entirely new person and stepped into her skin?
I think this is the reason why I am desperate to show him I’m imperfect. To ensure that he’s not only seeing my false self. To grasp my false self by the neck and smash her plastic body into pieces. To force myself to be real with him, because my true self is worthy of love. Because love is not about Good Deeds or A Perfect Report Card. Love is about authenticity, vulnerability, intimacy.
I want to be all of those things. This post is, I guess, the first step in that direction.
Do you struggle to be real in relationships? How has mental illness affected your relationships?
À la prochaine,