I Thought My Borderline Personality Disorder Was My Superpower, But Now It's a Curse
“I’d like to talk about whether it would be better for us to transition from a romantic relationship into a friendship. Is that too heavy for you to discuss?”
My boyfriend of only six months, also my first real boyfriend, wrote this message to me in my second week of a hospital stay. In that moment I remembered my Mighty article which described my mental illness being more of a superpower than it is a curse. As soon as I saw the message I knew I was about to feel the full weight of the curse, which will disappear the superpowers.
The beginning of our relationship had been full of ecstatic highs and emotional depths. We seemed to be such a colorful and compatible meeting of minds and hearts. He even appeared to be fully on board with my borderline personality disorder (BPD) and read many of my Mighty articles responding with profound insights and support. I felt now that finally my BPD was going to be more of a superpower than a curse.
But factors outside our control, which I cannot fully detail, led to a relapse of my mental illness centered around falling out with a close friend of mine. This left me dissociating from extreme stress, self-harming, and highly reactive to criticism with overwhelming, rapidly shifting emotions and pain.
It was a rapid change. I went from being a romantic to being tortured by the second month of our relationship.
My boyfriend felt romance and pleasure had left our relationship and our differences were now incompatible. It was time to transition to a friendship.
But as soon as I saw the transition message I knew my BPD curse would not allow it. I knew that I was about to be visited by the BPD wolf of abandonment. It had been a good five years since we met, but he always knows me intimately and how to attack at the very core of my worth in the space left by the break up. I would have to be ready for a fight for my life, where the superpowers would feel absent.
This is how that fight goes.
It’s Saturday. I’m alone in my hospital room all day. No visitors in lockdown. I hold the wolf at bay until after lunch, but then we are face to face. I write a poem about the meeting with the wolf:
The wolf of abandonment finds me and makes me suffer,
Beyond what I think I can endure.
I try to pretend he isn’t there.
I try to pretend I am rational, articulate, intelligent; exempt.
But he is not to be ignored or negotiated with.
If he has his sights on, you will have to endure it.
No hiding. No escape.
By mid-afternoon I abandon all attempts of pretending that I am OK.
I sit in my hospital room looking out over the peppercorn trees,
Trying to find anything to distract.
Eventually an antipsychotic is given to me.
But there is no real way to make the wolf less psychotic.
Still I keep trying.
A mediocre movie on the TV
The dive response in my shared bathroom sink,
Immersing my head in cold water
My temperature does come down.
But I can not satiate the wolf.
He wants me to hurt myself and at his insistence I am convinced,
But hospital makes me safe.
The afternoon nurse reaches me somewhat,
But she makes the mistake of assuring me that every break up is this bad;
No, the primal.
I opposite action it down to the dining hall.
I eat alone at a corner table, unable to talk to anyone,
I put my head down on the table for short periods for respite from the wolf.
My hands shake.
I pass the young borderline guy with curly hair and he looks at me in the know,
He immediately recognizes the wolf.
Back in my room on my bed the wolf makes one more attack,
Trying to land a fatal body blow.
I writhe. I weep. I call out.
The nurse asks what level my self-harm urges are,
I break down trying to say catastrophic.
Later, a sweet natured student student nurse comes into my room.
She wants to understand why I self-harm.
I don’t tell her what the wolf wants me to say.
External release of internal torment, I offer.
She compliments me incredibly.
It reaches me for a moment,
But my inner wolf won’t let the compliment break through.
Somehow her sweetness and innocence helps claw me out of the jaws of the big bad abandonment wolf.
I take more medication.
Binge on some sugary shit.
And fall into a land where the wolf can no longer come after me.
He doesn’t get what he ultimately wants.
I am stronger.
Until we meet again.
Once finally free from this cursed wolf later that night I write to the object of my abandonment, because I knew he would be worried about why I haven’t replied to any messages:
“I have had a horrific day. I’ve been in a very bad way in very intense pain. Let’s have no more messages until I’ve seen my psychiatrist. I will let you know when I’m ready for a video chat… This is vital for me right now and this is really all I can say now. Thank you and I hope you are alright.”
To his credit, my about to be ex-boyfriend replies:
“I’m really sorry for how you’re feeling… Please take all the time you need and discuss things with your psychiatrist. I won’t send you messages after this one until you want to message me. Big hug!”
I heart his message and realize that the wolf and he are actually two very separate entities. The breakup is simply a way of bringing the wolf back to life. But the abandonment is much more primal, goes much further back in my psyche.
Though there is much pain still to come (including the actual break-up chat), I know I will survive the big, bad abandonment wolf of my BPD. Things would continue in a cursed fashion for most of the rest of the year (especially in the world’s most locked-down city) but at the back of my mind and in some part of my heart I can see one day soon my superpowers will return.
In my article, I named those superpowers as passion, depth of thought, profound friendships and an abundance of empathy, which I can say are still with me even in the darkest darkness. I have not lost the gifts even if it feels they have left me. Just as the curses of my BPD also stay with me.
Like Rogue from X-Men with her cursed powers of sensitivity, my goal is to learn to find the middle ground between superpower and curse. I seek to live daily with them both where I treat them as loving friend and vicious enemy, respectively with exactly the same weight.
Getty image by GC402