Love in the Time of Borderline
My superpower is that I move through the world without skin.
You can’t tell. My fake skin suit looks very real.
But it’s true. I don’t have skin. I am a bundle of nerves and raw muscle and sinew and blood and wounds.
It’s hard to love someone like this.
There’s a double meaning in that.
It’s hard to love someone who is like this and it’s hard to love someone when you’re like this.
I want to be in love. I have been in love. I tend to love with my whole heart and kind of immediately. It can be off putting.
I remember reading John Irving’s “The 158-Pound Marriage” a long time ago, and while I think describing yourself in quotes from literature is indulgent and gross, I’m going to ask you to indulge me grossly.
“…she is vulnerable for the same reason that she is strong. Whatever she puts her love in, she will trust. She will wait you out, she will put up with you — forever — if she loves you.”
This is the truest way I know how to tell you about myself. I wish I’d written it. I wish I’d written something better. I haven’t. Yet.
I think this is sometimes a good quality. It doesn’t feel good. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel good. I also think it means I lack solid boundaries and look to others to meet my emotional needs instead of learning how to fulfill them myself.
I have borderline personality disorder. If you don’t know about it, congratulations. It’s hallmarked by unstable relationships, fear of abandonment perceived or real, unstable sense of self, self-harming behaviors, difficulty regulating emotions and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts and well, suicide.
But really, it just feels like I don’t have skin.
Everything is the most.
My deepest, truest, most honest fear is that if I tell you who I am, you will leave me.
Here’s what it feels like to be left: dying.
That’s it really. It feels like I’m dying.
OK fine, I’ll describe it.
I can’t get any air and I can’t move and I can’t feel anything and sometimes I weep in the shower and my body feels like it’s going in all directions and I don’t know if I can sit still and I want to talk to people but I don’t want to talk to people and I want to connect but I can’t and everything feels like I’m being stabbed right into a bundle of nerves and I can’t tolerate the pain for one single second more and I can’t get air and nothing will fix it not words or movies or weather or music or sex or food or drugs or people or…
That is what it feels like to be left.
My real deepest, truest, most honest fear is that if I tell you who I am, I will have to feel all of that again.
I cannot weep in the shower again. I cannot contain my body and my sadness and my rage and my loneliness again.
I can not.
I can not.
I want to be in love. I want to be held and meet the person I think is so electric I can’t stand to be away from him and he will feel the same about me and we’ll dance and have a whole night where we just break dishes and scream into the void because it feels good to do that sometimes.
Maybe you think that sounds crazy and maybe it does and maybe that’s the idea of love from the perspective of a person with a mental illness.
Here’s what I also believe love is: horrible jokes you tell each other over and over, telling the truth no matter what, back rubs, dancing in the kitchen in the middle of night, nasty f*cking against walls and on the bed and the kitchen floor and in public if that’s your thing, coming over and tasting this melon to tell me if it’s bad, radical acceptance of every part of this beautiful human in your field of vision, lazy Sunday afternoons listening to Joni Mitchell while it rains.
This is what I want.
What if I got it?
How can I enjoy it?
What will I do if it leaves?
What do I do?
I am so tired of being alone and I am so scared of not being alone because I know I am hard to love and it’s inevitable that you will go and I can’t stop thinking of myself weeping in the shower so I keep you at arm’s length.
But that’s not a life.
I go out into the world without my skin. I try again. I hope this time you won’t leave. Or if you do, maybe I am better equipped this time. I take medicine and go to therapy and meditate and stuff so that’s good, right?
I don’t like this.
I want my skin. I want the skin I was born with, but somehow lost along the way.
I want to love you in a way that is fearless.
I want to know that I will be OK. Eventually.
This piece originally appeared on Medium.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.
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