Why BPD Can Feel Like My Super Power
In my experience as a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD), my condition can sometimes feel like a special power. Like when I engage with someone I can immediately sense how they’re feeling. iI is much more noticeable when they’re upset or trying to hide their feelings. This generally means that people trust and like to talk to me, because I have the ability to ask them what’s wrong and know when they mean “everything,” even if they say “nothing.” Though, like most special powers, this one can cause a bit of chaos.
Say I walk in to a room and say “Hi” to my significant other (or a friend) and the tone in their “Hey” sounds a bit different than usual. Instead of rationalizing and thinking, Oh, they’re probably having an off day. Maybe it’s something to do with work or school. If it was about you they would tell you. My brain completely bypasses that cognitive process and suddenly, my nerves are on fire. They obviously hate you and are going to leave you! It’s all your fault. You’re a terrible person! This quick shift can feel like I’m already experiencing an abandonment that hasn’t even occurred yet. Which can understandably get frustrating for the person I’m interacting with, because remember, to them this all started with a simple, “Hey.” For me though, that interaction means so much more, because my brain has already decided that they hate me. This means changing my mind about it can create a vicious cycle.
When they promise they’re not leaving me, I ask for extra validation to make sure they’re not lying. Then I feel bad for being so much of a “burden,” which in turn makes me feel like they’re going to leave me. Rinse and repeat.
This cycle has potential to cause the “abandoner” to feel as if the “abandonee” doesn’t trust them. I can promise you that for me, this is not the case. I do trust you! If anything, because so much of my disorder is often rooted in past trauma and fear of being left, such extreme feelings such as these are a compliment. It means I care about you so much that not having you around feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen. Remember, no one with BPD wants to experience such volatility in their sense of self and in quality of interpersonal relationships. Many of us wish we could just take words at face value instead of creating a whole narrative behind them.
Maybe if I wasn’t as hyper-aware of others’ emotions as I am, seemingly little things like this wouldn’t be such a trigger for me. Then again, I probably wouldn’t be able to offer the top tier love and support I give to the people who need it. This is my super power after all, and with great power comes great responsibility.
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Thinkstock photo via Malchev.