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When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Cycle Through Romantic Relationships

Although I have been borderline for most of my adult life, it wasn’t until last year that I received the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). I also have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

I continue to cycle through monogamous relationships, with the most recent lasting three years. I am triggered easily when in an intimate relationship, and can quickly deteriorate from the strong capable woman I was when it began into an actively suicidal and helpless person. The relationship eventually implodes and a period of exile — which is nauseatingly familiar — resumes.

Queue the ruminating. The self-flagellation. How did this happen again? And then comes the black and white thinking — “I’ve always done better on my own so I am just going to stay single and try to find purpose and meaning without a companion.” And the generalization — “Men can’t be trusted. Relationships aren’t safe.”

For me, as a person with borderline, I do absolutely do better on my own. But what does it mean, to “do better”?

It means I feel safe. I haven’t gotten vulnerable with anyone. I haven’t been hurt, triggered or otherwise abandoned. But I haven’t been held by anyone, not kissed or hugged or told I am loved either. I am beset by feelings of loneliness, but cannot deny this time for myself feels purposeful.

I have nearly completed a 12-week group therapy course on dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and have learned invaluable coping skills. I take great pride in spoiling my cats and am rewarded with their love and affection. I have rediscovered a love for music and for singing — both continue to be incredibly therapeutic. I am finding out what feels good on a very deep and personal level. I am exploring new friendships and rediscovering old ones — it’s been curiously gratifying.

Somewhere along the way, I received the message I needed to find someone, needed to be with somebody. I never questioned this and I don’t know where it came from. I believed I needed to have someone else love and protect me in order to be happy and fulfilled.

God knows I wasn’t happy and fulfilled. The mistake I made, I think, was in believing the emptiness I felt could be healed by someone else alone. And until I can get to a place where I am feeling whole — independent of another — I suppose this is where I will stay. For now though, it doesn’t really matter.

I will sing. I might dance with the cats. I will love my children and my friends and it will be enough.

Unsplash photo via Oladimeji Odunsi