Monday, July 2, 2012

I Wanna Know What Love Is (BPD Criterion 2: Unstable Relationships)

Thanks to Foreigner for the title...haha. This time I'll be addressing the issue of unstable relationships. Below in black is what WebMD had to say to describe the criterion, but I feel the need to go on a bit of a tangent and discuss love in general (in relation to me, anyway) and I think this is the ideal setting to do it. So, without further ado...

· A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation: People with borderline personality disorder may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will “be there” in return to meet their own needs on demand. These individuals are prone to sudden and dramatic shifts in their view of others, who may alternately be seen as beneficent supports or as cruelly punitive. Such shifts other reflect disillusionment with a caregiver whose nurturing qualities had been idealized or whose rejection or abandonment is expected.

I have been reading through my LiveJournal that I started writing in at age 15 and starting to really be able to discern a pattern when it comes to my relationships. I mean, I already knew that I end up “in love” with everyone I date (and even a couple during my extra promiscuous phase that I didn’t date.) This is the main reason I don’t really know if I know what being in love with someone truly is. If I have honestly been in love with all of these people, then love doesn’t mean very much, obviously. Or, if I haven’t, then how can I determine who I was actually in love with? Or was I never in love with anyone? I really have no clue. I can sit here now and say who I think I had real feelings for and who I didn’t, but the real issue is that, in the moment, they all felt exactly the same. So, even if, in hindsight, I can determine which were real feelings and which weren’t, then what about when I’m in a situation where I’m having the usual feelings and can’t determine? I mean, I know what loving someone means. I love a lot of people in the sense that I care about them deeply and would do pretty much anything within my power to keep them happy/safe/etc... The people I love include my friends, so, in most cases, I am sure that I love the people I date. The question is was I in love with them. And then I guess the question is, “what does it really matter?” The one reason I know that it matters is to learn from my past. I want to be able to be with someone and know how I feel about them without being blinded (or even just shaded) by my need to be needed or just not be alone.
I have noticed a pretty solid pattern of being “in love” with all of my boyfriends right around the one month mark, but starting to think that way as early as a week. Surely enough, with the current guy, I went through the same thing. Right around the one month point, I started getting those googly feelings and thinking how I couldn’t live without him and hoping we’d be together forever. I even looked up the average time to say, “I love you,” and, luckily, was warned off of it by the poll and question answers basically declaring 3 months as kind of the point at which you start all of that. Even more fortunately, I started doing some research into my past and doing some really deep soul searching which led me to my current position: wondering not only if I know what love is, but if it even exists at all in a specifically romantic sense. Then there is the question of, since I’m not in love, what is this that I’m feeling? The best that I can come up with is that catch all term we hear all the time: infatuation. But how to tell the difference between that and love? I’m not sure yet.
So, it can be summed up that, yes, I have had a series of unstable interpersonal relationships. As for the idealization and devaluation, I know I’m guilty of this as well. I have a really hard time with idealizing people. I put the people in my life on a pedestal, and it’s a very high expectation to have. I don’t consciously think, “man, he’d better do everything right and pay attention to me constantly or I’m going to think he’s the worst person in the world.” That is pretty much what I do though. Logically, I know that a person cannot make me their world, but I still find myself frustrated or angry when that is not the case. Even worse, God forbid the person actually be human and make a mistake, and I automatically flip to the belief that they are terrible or don’t care about me. It is REALLY hard for me to get over the mistake after that. The worst is when I am the only person who thinks they did anything wrong, because then there’s usually not even an apology. I am the worst about bringing up things that happened eons ago because I’m angry or something reminded me of it, or, sometimes, just because I want to be a bitch. This is in both romantic relationships and others. I do this a lot with my best friend. Luckily, she has a fairly healthy emotional self, so she handles my shifts fairly well. However, when you take one of my parents, who both have psychological issues themselves, things get a little out of hand.
I think the worst case of idealization vs. devaluation that I can think of that isn’t in a romantic relationship is with my dad. We were very close when I was growing up, especially in my high school years when my mom wasn’t around and we kind of only had each other (and Brett, but he was a toddler). Since then, he has gotten remarried (to the super bitch from hell, but that’s mostly beside the point), and it has really affected our relationship. Now I rarely see him, and, when I do, I’m angry about not seeing him. It’s like I had this view of him as this super dad that worked all the time to take care of my brother and me, but he also found time to spend with us. Plus, I always had a lot in common with my dad since he was the smart parent and we could discuss things and read the same books and such. Well, now that he is with his new wife, my feelings are constantly hurt from not seeing him, and I feel like his new little family is more important than me. And it offends me when he knows all the crap I have going on and lets his wife talk shit about me. The main problem is that he is codependent as hell, and he lets whatever woman he is with walk all over him, and he becomes her little lapdog bitch and ignores the other important things in his life for her. When my mom was the woman, at least she deemed me an important thing for him to pay attention to. Unfortunately, this woman does not. In fact, she and I pretty much hate each other. I mean, I’ve heard of women not liking their husband’s daughters out of jealousy, but, really? Is that not just a little absurd?
I just wish everything wasn’t so black and white. I wish that I could be angry with someone without the feelings of hate that accompany it. Or that I could just really like someone and enjoy their company without having to constantly tell myself that I’m not really in love. I think the most important thing I need to have in order to work on this problem in particular is relationships with people that understand what my problems and patterns are, and can handle them accordingly. The main reason I end up in relationships with so many jerks, I think, is because they feed my needs, but in the wrong way. I have someone to have that back and forth love/hate relationship with- the relationships that no one should really be in. That’s not what I need, though. It’s what I want subconsciously, maybe even higher than that. I know that there is a big part of me that craves those unhealthy relationships for the instant gratification and the extreme feelings involved. I know, though, that I will never get better if I keep myself in those situations. I also know that I’m never truly happy. I just have to be able to remember that.
Still left:

  • Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  • Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

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