Impairment 12 – Significant impairments in interpersonal functioning b. Intimacy: Close relationships often viewed in extremes of idealization and devaluation.
My Sad Story
When I look at idealization, I can see that it was important for the women in my life to be perfect. I remember when my psychiatrist hit me with the bombshell that my mother might be partially to blame for my BPD and subsequent breakdown. I reacted with anger and disgust. How could he dare blame my mother, she was perfect. It took me several weeks of intensive therapy before I could begin to see that my mother did neglect me. I also remember that after my family conference, which was an important part of my therapy, my brothers informed me that we did not have the same father. Bang. Suddenly it all made sense. I was my Catholic mother’s mortal sin. I later discovered another family secret. Her first child had also been conceived out of wedlock and had died at the age of two due to pneumonia. Bang again. She could not let herself love me because I would probably be taken by God, too, in punishment for her sin. All my life, my absent father had been the object of my devaluation and my mother had been the object of my idealization. Once my eyes were forced open, I could see her for who she really was, and I loved and respected her all the more for doing the best she could with what she had been given. When I learned that my biological father wanted to marry my mother and her nine children, and that she had refused because she was Catholic, and was still technically married to George, I stopped hating my father. Hate, including hate for myself, slowly disappeared from my life.
A Creative Moment
Desperately Seeking Normal
Feeling safe with women became rare for me.
I could not give them what they wanted.
I could not make them love me
The way I wanted to be loved.
I did not know how I wanted to be loved;
I did not know how to love.
I realized that to get what I wanted from women,
I would have to be the perfect son, the perfect lover,
Convincing them to give in and love me.
I became skilled in the art of providing them
With what I thought they wanted.
But this could last only so long
Until they discovered my love was inadequate,
And their infatuation would turn to contempt.
As time went on it became harder and harder
To feel safe with women.
Gradually I concluded that they were too demanding;
They could not be pleased; they could not be trusted.
And so I went from one to another,
Getting what I needed for a while,
And then turning cold at the first sign of doubt,
Thus rejecting before being rejected.
I held on to this pattern, resisting change, and ignoring pain.
So when I finally found “her” I threw myself into “us,”
Hoping the “me” would go away.
But here too there was no completion,
Only sacrifice and determination.
I denied myself, my desires, and my dreams,
And threw myself into a born-again Christian marriage.
I had no identity,
Except the one I had created for my wife and children.
Like a chameleon I took on the colours of my new environment,
Appearing so competent, so complete, and so masculine,
The perfect husband, the perfect father.
But there was another part of me
Being smothered beneath the blankets.
So I sought out old ways to solve new problems,
And so it would be the patterns of youth again,
Two of me,
Living in the same body,
The same mind.
And I kept the two ME’s separate,
Except for the consummation of sin and guilt.
God, wherever you are, have mercy on my soul.
The Silver Lining
Once we find the source of our self-devaluation, we can begin to understand the reasons why we think and act the way we do. Our journey through Borderline Personality Disorder will eventually lead us to the point where we must pursue and accept the truth before we can go on. The key is to understand that our BPD was formulated during infancy and childhood and that the child in us is never to blame. Once we understand that, we can begin to see just how courageous that child was and begin to respect and cherish that dear little soul in us. We also come to the realization that our mother, or father, or whomever we want to blame, is not guilty either. They did the best they could with what they had. Once we discover that key to life, we can begin to live a life without blame or shame for ourselves or for others. Once the judgement and the anger have left our hearts, we can begin to see the love that is all around us, for ourselves, for others, and for life.
My Five suggestions for Borderliners:
- We seek the truth. This is the purpose of therapy, so we get help if we need it.
- Once we discover the source of our pain and suffering, we accept it for what it is. It is merely the child within us asking for help. We need to be soothed by the only one who can do it, and that person is our self. We are our own parent. We are our own lover. No more devaluation.
- We recognize the people in our lives who have wounded that child within us. No more idealization. We try to understand what was happening in their lives to cause them to do what they did. We accept that they did the best they could within the circumstances they had been given.
- We forgive ourselves. We were not to blame. Nobody is to blame. It just was what it was. We let go of the shame, the self-blame, the self-hate, and the self-loathing. We accept that we did the best we could under the circumstances. In fact we did a hell of a good job.
- We recognize once again that we are eternal souls that are here to expand and grow through the powers of love. We feel the love for those who have contributed to our lives, negatively or positively, to help us grow into the powerful people we have become.