Borderline Personality Disorder Makes Me Live With My Heart on My Sleeve
I don’t mean to live with my heart on my sleeve.
I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. Quite a few have come and gone, but that’s just life, right? It’s not the end of the world, right?
Sure. Of course it’s not literally the end of the world — that’s absurd. But it is the end of something. It’s the end of something in my world and in my world, I have the misfortune of feeling everything on a whole new level on intense.
Losing someone important leads to questions and doubts, especially if there is no closure. It leads to anxiety and a fear of letting someone else in.
That’s what borderline personality disorder (BPD) does. We love and we love so fiercely, so purely. Being told to “get over it” or “that’s life” or “you’ll meet other people” and of course, “it’s not the end of the world” does absolutely nothing to someone with BPD other than feed all of the negative emotions being felt, and they get bigger.
Included in my story are pieces of writings — both written to different people who were in my life one day, and gone the next. I feel it’s important to show the progression — or lack thereof, maybe. Kind of a timeline of how long something like this can affect someone with BPD.
Letter #1: December 2015
I think I took you for granted, and you took advantage.
My biggest fear was losing you and you knew it. I told you. I begged you. I made you promise you wouldn’t be like them — I couldn’t lose you like them. “Please don’t vanish from my life,” “I’d be an idiot to lose a friend like you,” that’s exactly what you said.
You’re one year gone — what the fuck happened?
One year gone, one year of silence. There is no excuse.
So what went wrong? Your thought process to just abandon without a word or explanation. Just total silence.
Nothing justifies this.
I guess I thought you’d always be around, that I was important to you. And now in your absence, I’ve lost myself. I’m tearing me apart and going through every little detail, except the details are hazy now. Like I have the evidence of your presence but my mind isn’t connecting the dots anymore and I just wish so badly that I could forget you altogether. Because you’re one year gone.
You’re one year gone and as much as I hate it all I can say is… I miss you.
“Get over it, that’s life. People come and go, it’s not the end of the world,” but it’s not like I can just shrug it off and pretend my whole world didn’t change because of it. Like nothing is missing from everyday life. There is no replacing this person who left, no matter how angry and hurt I am at them for leaving, it’s them and they were important to me.
How are we expected to trust other people when the ones that were crucial to your life, people you trusted wholeheartedly, just up and left? Decided this friendship or whatever kind of relationship just wasn’t worth it — because being around someone with BPD is too much to handle. It’s true that it’s hard to handle a lot of the time and I know it. I’ll be the first one to admit it. But there’s nothing much more I can do about it other than just try and manage the best I can every single day, because it’s a part of me. A huge part. This is who I am.
I love wholly, honestly and to a fault. My heart is open and beating on my sleeve for everyone to see.
For me, one of the hardest things about living with BPD is the idea of letting go. Accepting the fact someone’s gone and most likely I’ll never know why, nor will they come back. Letting go of what I had left of this person — the photos and memories. Those certain songs we loved or that reminds me of them will sting for a long, long time.
Letter #2: June 2016
I spend so much time living in anger these days that I think I’m starting to forget the good things. And maybe I should… but the thought scares me. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. I’m not sure if I should go on as best as I can like you never existed, or just try keeping the bad in the very back of my mind and remember an old friend held so bittersweet in my heart. Because it had to have been real at some point, right? So here are 10 things I want to hold onto for as long as I can, even if they sadden me to think about at the same time:
1. Your childlike sensibility; watching The Cartoon Network on your couch with your cats. I never thought I’d miss that innocence you’d held onto now that it’s gone.
2. Your “granola” upbringing, courtesy of your hippie mother. You loved nature and would feed the squirrels outside your window. I miss you feeding the squirrels.
3. Blue eyes. Beautiful.
4. Your intelligence — the random facts and trivia. Always something new to say.
5. Unashamed, but quiet for the most part, like me.
6. The texts you’d send when I wasn’t at school, asking where/how I was.
7. Your laugh; contagious, and always made me smile.
8. How open you were. How comfortable it was to be in your presence.
9. Your forgiveness when I messed up bad… something I could never fully seem to do in return for you.
10. That bond we had, like in the movies. Like sisters separated at birth.
And despite everything — all of the bad that’s happened — I cannot and will not regret you. Because no matter how badly things ended, no matter how hurt I was (am), you were my sister. For the better part of five years we were inseparable. We were sisters.
I regret a lot of things.
I will never regret you.
So I’ve managed eventually to come to a place of some sort of acceptance. But it took a long time. It has taken years. And that’s only just for a few people — there are more that still weigh on me every single day. But if I can get to that place with these few, then I know that there’s a very real chance I can with the others. I’m holding onto that thought so tightly.
My biggest fear has always been losing the few I let in. I’ve faced my fear time and again and you’d think I’d be stronger for it, better for it, but the truth is, I just became even more afraid. And I hated them for it — for walking away, leaving me lonely. But it’s only now — ever since my BPD diagnosis — that I understand. At that point, most of the anger turned from them and back onto me. I expected so much from them. And they never signed up for this — someone so afraid and fragile. Someone so unstable. Overly emotional. I idealized them: my best friend, my confidant, my brother, my sister, my favorite person. And in my panicked attempts to hold them closer, I only made them push even farther away and it broke me. Every time. Even worse is never having closure.
Letter #3: March 2017
I guess I’m learning I don’t need you — not really. Not in the way I was so convinced of. Of course it’s the saddest thing when two people grow apart when they’re so ingrained into your everyday, your first instinct to go to them. It’s always the saddest when you really thought you’d last.
I think you’ll always be there somewhere in the back of my mind.
And today that 3OH!3 song came on shuffle and my immediate reaction was joy, remembering every single time we sang it together, but just a fraction of a second later joy faded into a stomach-turning sadness. Because you’re the only person I want to sing along to this song with, but you’re not around anymore, so I try my best to avoid the band altogether. I know — I hope — that as time goes on, the sadness won’t be nearly as painful. Five or 10 years from now I will hear this song and you’ll still be there, but I’ll smile and be able to sing along again. I’ll let myself feel it. I’ll let your memory wash over me and it’ll probably still hurt a little. I’ll feel everything that went with having you in my life — the good and the bad. I’ll feel it all and I’ll miss you all over again and slowly but surely, I’ll learn to be OK with that.
If you’re reading this, and you know who you are, I’m sorry for what went wrong. I know my anxieties make no sense to you. My, at the time, undiagnosed BPD made you even more confused. Because I have more bad days than good. I’m stuck holding onto people who left long ago and I hold grudges longer than anyone should. I’m hard to love, but you were here at one point. I think that means you did. Or at the very least, I know you at least tried. That’s my hope — I’m hard to love, but I hope you tried.
Honestly, I can’t say I like living with my heart on my sleeve — it makes me vulnerable in so many ways and easy to be taken advantage of.
I have been let down. Led on. Betrayed and abandoned too many times to count in my 24 years by people I thought I knew and trusted, that I thought cared about me, loved me. And maybe they did. Or maybe they didn’t. Either way, living with my heart on my sleeve like this opens me to being hurt again and again. But it also has shown me the kind of love and loyalty I possess. How it’s nearly impossible for me to give up on someone/something I care about unless they do first and even then — if I love you, I love you. That’s it. And that’s what they left behind; the same love the heart on my sleeve can’t stop looking for. So though it leaves me open and vulnerable, it’s also probably my greatest strength.
Unsplash photo via Caique Silva