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When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Cling to People to Save You


It is funny how stories from our childhood can be suddenly triggered to re-enter our memories as an adult. Lately I’ve been reminded of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” As a child, I couldn’t understand why the boy would tell such an obvious lie, especially more than one time. As an adult with borderline personality disorder (BPD), though, the story now looks completely different, something entirely new.

My illness often impacts my perception of reality, and admittedly, I never refuse attention. I’ve never approved of my attention-seeking actions, though, I’ve never thought they were OK. I simply just can’t help myself in those moments that I feel that I’m in crisis —the pain and desire to be comforted outweighs any logic that would tell me what I’m doing is wrong.

I’ve been told I’m incapable of real and sustainable relationships because of this manipulative behavior, a behavior that often happens on its own. I’ve also been told by my therapist that it is impossible for people to handle anyone who is constantly in crisis, it is simply unmanageable and emotionally draining (not to mention unfair). So why do I keep sabotaging myself?

The reality is I cannot comprehend how to be loved otherwise. I don’t believe people will love me and stick around if I’m genuinely fine. I also do not trust myself — I fear if I try to make it through a crisis moment on my own, I might actually die. Lastly, I don’t always see that I’m attempting manipulation or seeking attention in the heat of the moment. Sometimes it is well after the fact before I realize, before I apologize… but often it’s definitely too late.

I’ve recently made some amazing new friends: beautiful women who seem to see past every last one of my flaws, loving ladies who accept me completely as I am, even knowing I’m “damaged goods.” I feeling myself pulling them when I begin to panic, though. I tug at my friends when I’m in crisis, desperately craving a savior to stop me from my own demise. Just like the villagers who grow tired of the boy’s false cries of the wild, though, I know these people will become immune to my outcries for help before long (and honestly I’m afraid one already has).

All I want is to actually have people who love and care about me, borderline personality disorder and all. I want to be more than another statistic, another borderline who dies by suicide, another person who dies alone. I am committed to entering recovery, I am committed to bettering myself through dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). I can only hope that I can do these things, that I can save myself, before these amazing friends give up and leave, because “nobody believes a list, even when he tells the truth.”

Unsplash photo via Lillia Beda