DSM 5 Impairment 8 – Perceptions of others selectively biased toward negative attributes or vulnerabilities
A Sad Story
When I was a young lad, for the most part, I maintained a tight control on my feelings and actions. However, losing it involved this so called “pent-up” anger that felt like a boiling turmoil that just exploded at the slightest provocation, usually at my dear brother who was six years older than me. By the end of grade 2, after a couple of vicious fights, my reputation was set, and I never had to fight again.
I learned at an early age not to let it erupt against people, but it was always there. For me the target of my anger was games. I never played games for fun; I played to win. It was as though winning was a kind of proof that I was important, that winning showed I had value. If I lost, the game pieces would fly across the room, and I would storm out of the house in a huff to the laughter of my siblings and nieces and nephews (we were close in age).
The greatest challenge for me was golf. I was reasonably good at it, shooting in the mid 70’s, but that was never good enough. One bad shot and the clubs would fly. I remember once in a tournament, after three putting on the green, I heaved my putter into a nearby bush. After searching for a few minutes, I had to leave it behind and finish the game putting with my 3-iron.
In a way, this outlet was a blessing. I had to learn to control my anger to save myself from hopeless embarrassment. I had to develop a positive disposition on the outside and never let my anger show up in public. Unlike a lot of others with BPD, I never let my anger lose on people. There were no shouting and screaming matches. I never struck my wife or anyone else for that matter. I kept my anger for myself. But there is a price to pay for suppressing such powerful feelings.
The Silver Lining
But there is also a blessing. In time it led me to my search for peace. I have found my quiet spot, my place of contentment. And I am now in a position to help others find that place for themselves.
Place of Contentment
There is a quiet spot hidden is a secret place,
That cannot be reached by searching or striving.
There is gold there that is beyond the riches of kings,
That cannot and must not be mined, saved, or spent.
There is peace there that can be easily shattered,
And the tighter you hold it the faster it slips away.
This peace can only be experienced one moment at a time,
But each moment is timeless.
This is where I find the answers to all my questions,
Where the stresses of the world meet the desires of my heart,
Where the Earth meets the sky and the flowers always bloom,
Where the eagles majestically soar and the robins joyfully sing,
And the struggles of life and death melt and fade away,
Leaving just a residue that nurtures and molds new life.
This is the quiet place of refuge built by my soul,
A place of peace where I am fully aware of my own being,
Where I find peace and the will to be more than I am,
Where I create love to be shared with everyone I meet.
My Five Suggestions for Borderliners
- Whenever we feel harassed or persecuted, we stop and take a deep breath and say this is probably just in my mind. We stop and tell ourselves, “I am better than this. I will be the adult and behave like an adult.”
- We then refocus on the mental state of the other person rather and try to soothe them. This can usually be done by just being emotionally quiet and listening while observing their voice and body language. It helps to focus on their eyes and try to show compassion and understanding with our own eyes.
- We wait for them to complete their emotional outburst and assure them that we have heard their concerns and then focus on the issue at hand rather than at their emotional outburst.
- If we lose it and blow up, we do not let it build to shame and self-blame. We remove ourselves from the situation and regain control of our emotions. We tell ourselves that this person is not rejecting us or our ideas but that they simply disagree with our thoughts or actions. We go back and apologize and focus on the problem not the personality conflict.
- If this outburst is with a loved one, we again remove ourselves from the situation, take a walk or whatever works to calm ourselves and then return. We apologize and let this person know how much we love them and want to work out a way to have a better relationship. We tell them the reasons for our outbursts and how difficult it is to respond at times in a loving manner. We ask them to work with us to set up cues to prevent disagreement from blowing up and ruining our relationship.