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When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes It Difficult to Trust Others

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If there was one thing that I could tell my closest friends and family, it would be that I’m still learning how to trust.

As someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I feel a tremendous need to connect with others and a longing to share myself with people who can validate my experiences. When I start to formulate the thoughts I want to share, however, there’s often a roadblock in front of me.

Imagine you’re about to open your mouth, and 500 painstaking images flash before your eyes of each time you’ve ever been hurt or abandoned.

Now, imagine that you’ve tried to open up a thousand times before. Those thousand past attempts blend with the 500 images of hurt. You’re past the point of no return. You stay silent.

Bear with me for one more moment. It’s attempt number one thousand and one. You finally step up to the microphone, and someone answers. You speak, and they listen. You tell them everything, and they hold it. They don’t go anywhere.

What happens then?

Piece by piece, day by day, you open up more and more. You’re nearly intoxicated by how good it feels to unleash everything that you’ve held inside for so long. You’re empowered by the knowledge that someone cares. You’re something more than you’ve ever been.

And then, they drop the ball. Just slightly. Just once. You reach out, and they’re not there. You stumble for their hand in the dark, and you can’t find it. Perhaps, they’re a little busy that one evening, or they’ve had a personal emergency. In either case, you’ve stood before them, revealed, and they’ve failed to catch you.

You continue to fumble, reaching for their hand in the dark. You don’t know how to reel back in at this point. You’ve shared too much. Are they disgusted by you? Are they afraid of you? Is it over? 

You begin to demean yourself, begging forgiveness for non-existent crimes. I’m so sorry, you say. I didn’t mean to, you say. Please forget I said anything. Please forget I unveiled myself. Please forget me.

They return to you, unsure of what to do with your reaction. Of course I still care, they say. I just couldn’t be there tonight, they say. I love you.

In spite of yourself, you recoil from them. You recoil from the parts of yourself that could have been so foolish, so unthinking, so vulnerable.

You fear what you can become when you open your own floodgates. And yet, you do it again. And again. It feels good to release and let someone in. Someone who lets you be you and seems to like the person you are.

Until you say the wrong thing and they backtrack. Not for long. They care deeply, so they come back quickly. But, those split seconds are where everything lives and what you never forget.

And so, the pattern continues. Until you break it. 

But, how can you? How can you accept that certain friends will stay, when so many others have not?

You trust. In those nanoseconds of doubt. 

You trust. In those minutes, even if they become hours, even if they become days.

You trust because they’ve never left before. And because they love you, even the parts of you that are so ashamed.

But, what if you can’t? What if those 500 images simply weigh more than the years of kindness and affection?

What then? 

Then, you give just a fraction of yourself, just an inch until you can slowly get back up. You recognize that your pain exists in patterns. But, you also recognize that you can take control of those patterns.

You can fight

Because that’s what this condition is. It’s a battle and an opportunity.

If there was one thing that I could tell my closest friends and family, it would be that I’m still learning how to trust.

And, to be honest, I am so proud of how far I’ve come.

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Getty Images photo via Archv

Originally published: December 11, 2017
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