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Author Topic: What pw/BPD traits do and think makes 100% sense  (Read 353 times)
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« on: September 06, 2019, 09:22:10 AM »

What pw/BPD traits do and think makes 100% sense within the context of their perspectives.

I posted a comment similar to this the other day and I have been asked a few questions. I thought it would be good to put the topic on the table (so to speak).

Let me explain the idea a bit and then, for the sake of exploration, assume its true and explore what it means from a practical sense (if it is true).

The basis of my statement is in contrast to the 'batPLEASE READ" crazy comment that are always made. I'm suggesting that what we see is not crazy, just a different context.

Le's start with a very serious mental illness, a Paranoid/Delusional Man. Obviously, if he thinks the squirrel in a tree is a trained CIA killer, it makes sense that he might trap and kill it. He is acting rational for the world he perceives.

Let take a not so serous mental illness, a highly depressed man who lost his 20 year younger lover. Obviously, if he is sitting a home late a night and distraught that he can never replace her, life is valueless without her and he kills himself. It makes sense. He is acting rational for the world he perceives.

Let take a clinical illness, cancer. Let say a women has had a history of cancer, struggled for years but is is remission. Let say she comes down with more treatable cancer. After years of chemo and radiation, she may feel she has had enough and it makes sense that she refuses treatment.

In all cases, it's context.

Most of us would conclude that the first example is crazy. We wouldn't conclude that for example 2 and 3. We understand the context.

My point is that BPD traits, are more like #2 and #3, than #1.

So within the context of BPD traits which include very significant fears, impulsive thought patterns (instant gratification), and poor coping skills, what someone does makes perfect sense to them. As much a lif emakes perfect sense to anyone.

Why is this important?  Because if you understand that persons context, you can better reason with them, navigate around them, predict them, not take them personally.  This is not to say that when they are at war with you or lashing out that they are not accountable - when anyone is at war with you or lasing out they are accountable.

Just that it makes sense to them to so this. If they talk to someone with similar context, they would understand it perfectly.

OK, 29% of the population has an addiction or mental illness. How can this information help us in a practical sense?
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2019, 10:09:40 AM »

What pw/BPD traits do and think makes 100% sense within the context of their perspectives.

...what we see is not crazy, just a different context... ...He is acting rational for the world he perceives...

I understand the thrust of your examples, but something seems a little bit off -if not unfair.  I.e.. The cancer patient who has suffered undeniable pain and no matter which reference frame we chose, whether subjective or objective she is doomed to a life of pain which will end sooner if not later. 

No amount of intervention will change her concrete and undeniable prognosis, whereas the psychotic 'squirrel assassin' and the depressed man's actions only 'make sense' in their narrow, dysfunctional, and self harming subjective reference frames. Objectively their actions make no sense from a societal view. 

If either of these later two had sought psychological intervention there is a good chance their subjective frames of reference may have changed.  There is a chance their thought patterns could have been brought closer to a more regulated and acceptable baseline. 

Excerpt
Why is this important?  Because if you understand that persons context, you can better reason with them, navigate around them, predict them, not take them personally.

This is precisely why I had to wonder at the concept of my ex's actions making 'sense'.  It was the inconsistency of her actions and the unpredictability of them.  The notion of things making sense when you are in love with someone who lacks object consistency and struggles with object permanence confuses me.  I can intellectually understand why her actions may be erratic, but I am not sure it is fair to say they make sense.  Amnesia during stress.  Amnesia if drinking.  False memories. 

Ok... As an example when she had a psychotic break and the trees and rocks had faces and were talking to her.  Intellectually I understand she was under crushing stress and she had an 'episode' --I accepted this was her reality in that moment and I told her I would help her anyway I could.  She said 'You cannot understand'  I agreed, but told her I was there for her and would support her on her 'mission' if I could.  Whereas it was painful to see her in this state I felt trying to overlay my subjective view of the world (rocks are more or less stoics) would have only given her more stress via cognitive dissonance.  Although I accepted this as both of our current realities it didn't make sense to me.

I can intellectually attempt (in vain) to assign motivations for her behavior from my readings about BPD -but it is a huge leap of faith to say how she lives her life makes any sense.  Yes, she had a childhood so bad it is astounding (her mother considered leaving her in the snow to die as a little girl after divorce -if this was not a false memory...).  Yes, she may have malformations in her limbic system, yes she has learned crushingly horrible defense mechanisms. -but to say her actions make sense is problematic for me.


Excerpt
Just that it makes sense to them to so this. If they talk to someone with similar context, they would understand it perfectly.

Making sense and understanding something are different concepts as I have learned them. I.e. If someone with BPD explains a specific psychotic break to someone else who has had one they later person may understand the idea of a break, but what the former person experienced during the break may not make any sense to the later person.  E.g. Rocks talk to me -that makes no sense to the person to whom rocks don't speak -but they can understand the idea of a psychotic break. 

Maybe I am mincing words... No... I am definitely mincing words, but maybe it is important.  I still have a lot of compassion for my ex, and I really did love her.  I did my best to accept the bad with the good -but at no time could I say her actions made sense. 

She broke us in a rage and then spent a year posting on Instagram trying to undo the break.  I know she meant every words she said from the horrible to the lovely and sweet  --I also feel very strongly she has little to no control over her emotional state -so if I accepted the sweet things and had gone back I believe in my heart of hearts there would be hell to pay when the pendulum swung back. 

This makes no sense to me...   Even if I understand it.  I feel it is crucial to accept the behaviors we experienced in our relationships as real, it is even more important to accept we cannot cherry pick the good and ignore the bad. 

We love(d) people who experience soul crushing emotional pain and as a result of this pain they can be pretty rough on us -we have to accept this and act accordingly... whether it makes sense or not it is an objective reality.
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2019, 10:56:18 AM »

Excerpt
The cancer patient who has suffered undeniable pain and no matter which reference frame we chose, whether subjective or objective she is doomed to a life of pain which will end sooner if not later.  

thats the context.

if i just told you "someone is dying and refuses treatment", you might initially say "that doesnt make sense".

if you know the context, it makes more sense. when i heard that robin williams committed suicide, i was devastated. i knew hed struggled with depression in his life. i thought to myself "if only he could have hung on". then we learned that he had recently received a parkinsons diagnosis. suddenly, i completely understood. he was terrified of physically and mentally deteriorating and he wanted to go out on his terms.

remember, this thread is about "pw/BPD traits". for most of us, our partner wasnt suffering from clinical, diagnosable BPD. when you get into clinical BPD, you start seeing legitimate mental illness. things that look more like example 1 than examples 2 and 3.

when marsha linehan was in an institution, burning herself, banging her head into walls, it wouldnt make sense to most of us. it would look "crazy". it made sense in her mind, if you read her describe it. but its not something most of us can relate to. its a bit closer to example 1. but most of us werent dealing with that.

take a lesser but still extreme example, cutting. not something most of us do or can relate to. cutters will tell you that doing so releases pain and tension for them - makes sense to them. i think most of us can grasp and accept that, even if we cant very well relate to it. this is probably somewhere between example 1 and example 2 or 3. more of us dealt with this, a lot of us didnt.

take a far lesser example, extreme jealousy (not a trait, but an associated behavior). a lot of us dealt with it. you glance at the opposite sex and get a dirty look and an accusation. that might come from low self esteem, the jealous person comparing themselves to the person you glanced at. it might come from extreme fear of abandonment, that glancing at the opposite sex confirms that you ultimately have eyes elsewhere, and would leave given the chance. it might come from deep distrust...could be of the opposite sex in general, romantic partners, the belief that you arent good enough and other people will fail you or leave you...it could come from personal experience of being cheated on. wherever its coming from, it makes sense. its extreme, but it isnt crazy.

take mirroring. not a bpd trait, but a behavior we all do, though people with bpd traits take it to an extreme. why do we do it? to bond. to connect. to put our best foot forward. someone who is deeply insecure, desperately wants to be loved, accepted, and fears rejection will take it to an extreme. its sad and self defeating, because its hard to be accepted if you arent who you are, but it makes perfect sense.

take eating disorders (a trait). people with eating disorders may be dangerously thin, and continue to starve themselves, for a variety of reasons. maybe they are punishing themselves. maybe its a compulsion. maybe they have a distorted view of themselves and believe they are overweight. we can see with our own eyes that they are not, but then we see plenty of people we consider good looking, who dont see themselves that way (another example actually). this is extreme, it may dip into mental illness, but most of us can ultimately grasp and understand it. its probably between example 1 and 2.

the point is that theres a difference between mental illness and extreme behavior (or even common behavior taken to an extreme). not everything that doesnt make sense to us initially is mental illness. context is everything.

Excerpt
How can this information help us in a practical sense?

some people make a very good living studying serial killers. why? to better understand them. to be able to predict their behavior. potentially to know how to deal with them, to treat them, to inform and protect the population. it would be of no help to simply dismiss them as "crazy", even though to many of us, they would be.

if youd told me eight years ago that better understanding where my ex was coming from, rather than simply seeing it through the lens of how i felt/my own pain would ultimately help me heal, and that it would teach me more about people in general, id have called you "crazy"  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 11:11:10 AM »

This makes no sense to me...    

Of course, this is where many of us get stuck. How many of us, at the time, realized the love was a huge over-reaction. We all get that the negative part was an over reaction.

My point is that this is how this person emotes. It makes perfect sense. They often struggle with why we don't emote the same way (hence all the insecurity).

If you listen to Harvard's Aquirre, he comments on the exemplary intelligence of many of the BPD teens on his floor. People with BPD can reason just as well as we can.  Sometime its visceral reasoning and sometimes cerebral reasoning.

We do this too - visceral reasoning and sometimes cerebral reasoning. I have friends who are overweight, on a diet, and eat dessert every time we go out. Are they bat$hit crazy?

My question is, to you (everyone) is if we move away from the "bat$hit crazy" idea, which is scary to some of use, what does it mean from a practical perspective to those in a relationship and those out of a relationship?
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2019, 11:36:25 AM »

My question is, to you (everyone) is if we move away from the "bat$hit crazy" idea, which is scary to some of use, what does it mean from a practical perspective to those in a relationship and those out of a relationship?

I suppose the way I look at it this.  I vaguely understand Heisenberg's observations in quantum mechanics, but they make no intuitive sense whatsoever.  We just have to accept and understand them as a provable reality. 

I have never been in the 'crazy' camp, nor have I ever been in the 'run' camp.  I do believe we need to accept the behaviors, good and bad, of our our friends, family and loved ones (all of them) or else we will find ourselves very lonely and unhappy campers. 

If we denounce someone as 'crazy' then there is no common ground we have created an unsurpassable and insurmountable rift.  Which, in my opinion, makes such a pronouncement counter indicated and harmful for all involved.

I always believed Dream Come True's rage was motivated by fear -right or wrong that was my understanding and I acted as I thought was appropriate.  Yes -if I had instead taken the tack of 'you are crazy' then things would have gotten even worse.  Keep in mind I was a short timer and wasn't worn down to the point where I ever doubted myself or took to heart the vitriol.  From my understanding this likely would have changed in a protracted 'war'. 

'There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.'
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I know and acknowledge Dream Come True is likely a genius -she had amazing intellectual horse power and is creative (to the point of sometimes verging on psychosis).  She isn't dumb, she isn't crazy, she has trouble with her emotional state and all the fallout which this entails. 

I have never dismissed her as lesser than me -However, I just don't feel it would be in my best interest to be close to someone whose emotional state makes them unpredictable and untrustworthy.

I believe, Skip, we are on the same page my question is a matter of word choice. I accept her actions.  I now feel I understand her actions -but they don't make sense to me. 

Ok...  One last subjective example... She tattooed my name on her hand 4 months into strict no contact.  8 months later, after our brief 2 day discourse in my vain attempt for closure, she began using my surname on her social media account.  This makes no sense to me, but I understand and I believe she is unable to let the relationship go and at times I would guess we may still be together in her mind.  I accept this as her sad reality. 
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2019, 11:49:57 AM »

cutters will tell you that doing so releases pain and tension for them - makes sense to them.

While I was in the throws of the relationship I always did my best to accept her for who she was the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Dream Come True is a cutter.  I told her it was ok and that I understand -she got mad a hell!  I asked her to give me a moment to explain.  I told her I had in the past gone running very very far to hurt myself.    (I lost a 25 year old friend to Swine flu and learned about it in an email)  I ran and ran ultimately fell to the pavement a few times -but when I made it, bruised and bloodied, back to the hotel I had made some sense out of my reality.  I accepted that my friend was gone and we would never speak again.  I traded emotional pain for physical pain and it made me feel better -it is just my method is socially acceptable.

Dream Come True was shocked I understood and through understanding felt truly accepted.  We worked on more socially acceptable methods for relief.  Ice cubes, rubber bands, twisting an earring I had given her or wearing one of my shirts I had left her (the latter two if she was specifically missing me). 

For her NSSI was to either 'restart time' time could speed up to the point where she felt it froze completely or to feel something when suffering dysphoria. 

I stand by my notion I can understand and accept things which don't make sense. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2019, 12:13:35 PM »

Ok...  One last subjective example... She tattooed my name on her hand 4 months into strict no contact.  8 months later, after our brief 2 day discourse in my vain attempt for closure, she began using my surname on her social media account.  This makes no sense to me, but I understand and I believe she is unable to let the relationship go and at times I would guess we may still be together in her mind.  I accept this as her sad reality. 

I don't know much about her or the situation, but what she did was very powerful and it got your intention.  Do you think that was the point?



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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2019, 12:37:31 PM »

I don't know much about her or the situation, but what she did was very powerful and it got your intention.  Do you think that was the point?

Perhaps.  The only contact I had had within our circle of friends was with the only friend she had never ghosted  -44 she was one of our roommates and she and I had become fairly good friends.  I was the first boyfriend she thought was good for Dream Come True.

After we broke down 44 was, at first, trying to get us back together.  When I explained my observations she said I would have left her too.  She had never seen the part of Dream Come True to which I had been prevue --44's message to Dream Come True was always 'He is not coming back'.  

edit -- She had a tattoo commemorating the date of her abortion and the sleeve she has, which she said she hates was inspired by the guy before me.  Just makes me sad for her.

I believe(d) fully (until you asked... thanks... Smiling (click to insert in post) ) the tattoo was her simply not accepting reality.  I learned about it much much later -so she did it and didn't tell me about it.  She should have known me well enough by then to understand I am as good as my word.  

I had explained ad absurdum breaking up was painful, brief, permanent and would only happen once...

Ok... That isn't fair it happened twice.  The first time she broke up with me at week 4 and I told her she is a lovely person and I will miss her.  She was poleaxed -She reacted as if I had said 'Big ball purple monkey'!  She had no idea what I was talking about.  I said we are done -you said so yourself.  She recanted immediately and I explained MAD, the cold war and how the nuclear option is no an option if she wanted to be with me.  We either both win or we both lose -there is no single winner in a relationship -team... blah blah blah.  In hindsight I should have stuck with 'Big ball purple monkey'...  I forgave too much due to youth, bad habits, cultural differences, lost in translation, and blind childish optimism.  I had always been a cynic and it served me well until I suspended disbelief and dipped my toe into the realm of fantasy...  Nothing 18 months of therapy couldn't fix... ugh...

So... I don't (suddenly... thanks again...) know if the tattoo was not accepting reality, a grand gesture to get my attention or simply my name makes a really cool graphic? The net result was it reaffirmed my resolve she is not a healthy person and redoubled my pity for her.  

I am fond of Douglas Adam's concept of the S.E.P. field... Someone Else's Problem.  You turn it on and no one can see the problem anymore... as it is someone else's problem.
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2019, 09:29:54 AM »

I think most of us act on what we believe at any given time. If I have a thought that someone is out to hurt me, and I believe that thought (maybe I interpret the behavior as threatening, according to my conditioned way of perceiving the world), then I will probably act in a way to protect myself from him/her. I may "put a wall up," withdraw,  confront, etc.

If I perceive stones talking to me, and I believe what I perceive, then I will probably react one way. If I hear what seems to be stones talking to me, but I don't believe it, (I just tell myself that I'm hallucinating/made a mistake), then I will most likely act differently.

As I see it, when a pwBPD (or anyone) behaves in a challenging and/or disturbing way, he/she is believing something that we may not understand in the moment. In my relationship, I remember pwBPD telling me once that he felt in his whole being that he needed to get away from me (he had had a disturbing dream about us, I think)— that leaving was the 100% absolute right thing for him to do.

However, within 24 hours he didn't believe that anymore. He thought that his belief was the result of a trauma reaction to the disturbing dream he'd had, and he wanted us to be together again. At that moment, that was his 100% truth (until it changed to something else).

Similarly, when I believed that what I was experiencing with pwBPD was a viable romantic relationship, I was ready to do a lot to sustain it (which included changing my behavior). But later, when I felt traumatized and exhausted, and stopped believing that our relationship was healthy and viable, my behavior changed completely and the relationship ended.

My point is that if we believed what pwBPD believed in any given moment, we might just act in a similar way. That goes for anyone, in my opinion, because we all perceive reality through unique lenses. Some lenses seem extremely distorted to us, some seem very much like ours.
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2019, 10:36:53 AM »

Most of us would conclude that the first example is crazy. We wouldn't conclude that for example 2 and 3. We understand the context.
I think this is a helpful way for us to look at what BPD is.

Similarly, when I believed that what I was experiencing with pwBPD was a viable romantic relationship, I was ready to do a lot to sustain it (which included changing my behavior).
Hear, hear heartandwhole.   Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

My question is, to you (everyone) is if we move away from the "bat$hit crazy" idea, which is scary to some of use, what does it mean from a practical perspective to those in a relationship and those out of a relationship?
I'm out of that relationship. Using one of the people in your example Skip, I think this is what it means to me. I'll try to be practical here.

"Let take a not so serous mental illness, a highly depressed man"
→ The state of this man being depressed (if I'm his SO) at the start of our relationship wasn't my fault because I didn't cause his depressive tendencies. But the dynamic* between us may have perpetuated or increased his depressed symptoms.

"who lost his 20 year younger lover."
→ I didn't do that.

"Obviously, if he is sitting a home late a night and distraught that he can never replace her, life is valueless without her"
→ His appraisal of his life being valueless, that's not my thought I put in his head.

"and he kills himself."
→ While I may be of course terrifically distraught if my partner did this, and I would have done as much as I could to prevent it (seeing as I care about this person's wellbeing)—after all required grieving and processing is done—the final decision on his decision to act is out of my control.

"It makes sense. He is acting rational for the world he perceives."
→ Yes.

I think practically this would allow us to come to some acceptance that a lot of things weren't our fault. With that in mind, it would then make it easier for me to see what my actions and participation was at the dynamics/dialogues between us. Drilled down—I'm thinking—did I invalidate her when she wanted validation?; was I more focused on being right rather than doing what is helpful for the relationship?, etc.

One of the things I've considered was, OK, if she wants to go out and use the 'cheating tool' on me, my best action is to set the limit, and if she goes out and does it, despite my heavy involvement to brainstorm practical solutions to the issue—her cheating is out of my control. I own my limit setting, she owns her own actions.

Something that I found strangely useful around understanding 'fault' and 'pity' was actually the children's book The Weatherhouse. Maybe a lot of it starts with knowing what our turf is, and what isn't, then knowing where we're supposed to be effectively doing our housekeeping.

I'm hoping other people will come in with thoughts on your example Skip.
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2019, 11:30:02 AM »

...if we believed what pwBPD believed in any given moment, we might just act in a similar way. That goes for anyone, in my opinion, because we all perceive reality through unique lenses...
@Heartandwhole I agree up to a point.  I think the wildcard or perhaps better said, fly in the ointment is the factor of emotional regulation.   I have only truly lost my temper a few times, which I should guess would be classified as emotional dysregualtion -but even in those rare rages I still retained an inner voice trying to calm myself. 

It was a strange and disconcerting feeling to be trying to talk myself down and momentarily not being able to --the feeling of being out of control.  However, there was always a remnant of 'self'.  I was in a rage, but I was still holding on to my baseline worldview, albeit by a thread and doing everything I could to regain control.

At no point in our relationship did I lose my temper with my ex -I cannot even imagine what that would have looked like... The negative spiral of two people emotionally dysregualted would have been incredibly ugly.  She did just fine raging on her own.

The thing which confused me the most was my ex would seemingly have shifts where there was nothing left of her previous state of mind.  Impulsive behavior could utterly trump her baseline state.  Rage had a similar effect -there was no rational self to which appeal could be made.  I had to listen, try to be supportive and let her rage run its course.

I agree -if I felt abandoned or betrayed I would be very upset, but for me to lose sight of all manner of evidence to the contrary is difficult and frightening to imagine. 

Someone lacking object permanence is a most difficult concept for me to imagine.  I just have to take it on faith that this is a phenomenon and simply wonder at what it must feel like --Understanding versus making sense.
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2019, 09:41:07 AM »

Hey Skip.  Hardly ever post anymore, but I was reading this and it reminded me of a convo I had with my T about the same thing that made me chuckle.
My T was telling me about a young boy ( I think like 10-12ish)  who was defecating in the middle of the living room repeatedly.  Sounds crazy right?  When he asked him why he was doing this, he said it was because  everyone would leave the room when he pooped on the floor and he could watch what he wanted or play video games on the TV.  His family would leave him alone.  Results he wanted,  but a "crazy" way to get that result.  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

Something else to consider,  not only does a pwBPD's behavior make sense in the context of their perspective....it tends to work for them.  I don't mean work, like it helps them function well in relationships and society.  I mean it gets the results they expect.
Generally in a soft caring manner, you have to stop giving them the result they want/need and the behavior will tend to change over YEARS.  You have to be the adult.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

Psychotic breaks are a different animal, but in a general sense the idea is the same.  Their actions in the context of their current reality make sense.









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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 7924


« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2019, 01:31:26 PM »

Well said.
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Wicker Man
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: Attempting to reconcile after my affair.
Posts: 507


« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2019, 10:39:40 AM »

There have been some thoughtful examples and @WileyCoyote's post is well done -but 'Makes sense' is still hard for me to accept.

Here is an excerpt from an article a person with BPD wrote about trying to cope with seeing an old friend (ex favorite person*) at a work function.

"Object permanence is the ability to realize that objects can still exist even when they can’t be observed. In this instance for me, that meant being out of work (this former friend was someone I worked with) and being with my family caused me to forget she still existed and that our friendship was still over...   ...If I stay in the present, then I hopefully won’t dwell on the fallout with her and go through my list of what I “should have done.” If I do find myself focusing on her, I can use my skills [DBT] to draw my attention back to the moment, to my body, to my breath..."

https://themighty.com/2018/03/object-permanence-bpd-borderline-personality-disorder/


*Favorite Person is a person who someone with mental illness relies on for support, and often looks up to or idolizes. Common with borderline personality disorder.[/size]
https://themighty.com/2018/06/im-a-favorite-person-bpd-borderline-personality-disorder/


This is the sort of confusion and uncertainly I have been trying to articulate when I took issue with the idea of their perspective or worldview making sense to them.  

I saw a lot of push pull behavior from my ex directed inwardly and as a result it seemed like she felt she couldn't always trust herself.  There were things she did impulsively which she had a terrible time reckoning after the fact.  Almost as if someone else had been the perpetrator of these actions and she had to clean up the mess.  Impulsive reaction rather than thoughtful action must cause a lot of confusion and cognitive dissonance I should imagine. E.g. being a moral person and impulsively putting one's moral code on hold as a momentary patch for painful emotions --Experiential avoidance.

Experiential avoidance :has been broadly defined as attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, physical sensations, and other internal experiences—even when doing so creates harm in the long-run.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_avoidance

She admitted when she drank she could literally forget about our relationship -after these episodes there was emotional hell for her to pay.  She never articulated, per se, what might have happened during these lapses in memory (and judgement), but I have a pretty good idea...

My grandfather was a hard man from hard times --he said to me once "Don't trust anyone... not even yourself".   Ironically... he told me this when he was still drinking a couple 5ths a day.
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