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Having Borderline Personality Disorder and Chronic Pain Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Worthy

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I am a beautiful human person.

I live with with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and chronic pain. I am a writer. I help others. I like music, and coffee, and chocolate. I have a job. I love my dog, making collages, and finger painting! I have days with lots of joy and I have some tough days too.

Brené Brown is popular researcher, writer and speaker on worthiness, vulnerability and belonging. Brené has been quoted as saying: “You’re imperfect, you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” This worthiness is not dependent on what we do, have or accomplish.

Brené also said: “Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

This means there are “no prerequisites for worthiness.” Graduating, getting a job, hobbies, health or wellness does not equal worthiness either.

I am a beautiful human person with unconditional human worth because I exist. That’s it. That’s why.

I don’t always feel worthy, but I know it. Narratives on overcoming obstacles, building achievements and health as the “prerequisite” for worthiness are everywhere. I have come to realize that these messages are not only unhelpful, they are simply false. Existing, being, as a human being means I have unconditional worth and value. I am worthy of love, compassion and connection, too, even if I don’t always feel it. I believe that is the same for us all.

BPD is not my identity, although it is an intrinsic part of me. Both the struggle and the loveliness of my complex mind is something I accept in my life. Physical pain is not who I am either. Pain is also something I accept, and I make space for it. I have worked hard to manage the challenging aspects of borderline personality disorder, and most of the time I think I do this well. I have tough days where I continually chant to myself: one moment at a time. I use one skill at a time, I validate one emotion at a time, I practice one pause of granting myself compassion at a time. I have easier days too, but my unconditional human worth is present and real either way, within the easy and the tough.

My life and self has infinite value when I use dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills, and also before I learned these skills, both when I feel joy and when I feel anger.

Making mistakes is part of being human, and I still have unconditional human worth there too.

I am a beautiful human being.

Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D., defines unconditional human worth as this: You are important and valuable as a person, infinite, eternal, and unchanging value. Unconditional worth means you are as precious as any other person.

I know I am not alone in being on the receiving end of stigma and hurt as a person living with BPD and other health conditions. I have known pressure both external and within myself to try to “prove” my worth, to “earn” my space. If that has been part of your story too, I hope this writing is moment to breathe through that, and maybe to even breathe that thought out.

Perhaps we can instead breathe in the truth that you are a beautiful human being, too.

Your worth is unconditional.

I think this is best described in the work of Claudia A. Howard, in five points which are described as “Howard’s Laws of Human Worth.” They can be summed up as:

1. All have infinite, internal, eternal and unconditional worth as persons.

2. All have equal worth as people. Worth is not comparative or competitive. Although some are better are sports or academics, etc., we have equal worth as human beings.

3. Externals neither add to nor diminish worth. Externals are things like money, looks or performance.

4. Worth is stable and never in jeopardy.

5. Worth doesn’t have to be earned or proved. It exists.

I don’t believe that having unconditional human worth means that I act perfectly or never make mistakes. I definitely make mistakes and have not always made decisions I am proud of. This is true and I have unconditional human worth. I also don’t believe the truth of unconditional human worth is “against change.” I have worked on making important changes to my behavior, and I have grown. I live in recovery with joy and setbacks. However, growth and learned skills do not add to “unconditional human worth.” And having a personality disorder and health challenges does not diminish my worth either.

Dear Mighty friend, I believe you are a beautiful human being just as you are, as is; sick or healthy, single or partnered up, struggling or thriving, employed or unable to work. I believe and know that you have unconditional human worth too. Thank you for being you.

Photo by Erriko Boccia on Unsplash

Originally published: July 12, 2021
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