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Author Topic: I introduced my close friend with BPD to some new friends and it went very wrong  (Read 78 times)
toledochew
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Friend
Relationship status: single
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« on: February 27, 2021, 07:09:34 AM »

TW: self harm mentions

I met my friend online when I was a young teen - we used to be a part of a small group who all shared a niche common interest. Everyone chatted often for a year or so, but when things fizzled out, it left just us two. Our relationship without the group was intense, extreme, and unhealthy. I ended things temporarily with an ultimatum that she seek help, and during some months apart, she did. She was diagnosed with severe Borderline Personality Disorder. We eased back into the friendship with our own new knowledge and tools.

Continuing on, we both made our own lives but remained very close, with occasional intense ups and downs that I more or less learned how to handle. We even met in person a couple of times (I flew to her house) and had a wonderful time. I also met my girlfriend at the time who would be my primary support when something intense happened.

As is common with BPD, my friend struggles with self-harm addiction and boundaries, among other things. I also happen to struggle with a self-harm addiction, and unfortunately, there have been times when my friend's actions or words have triggered me. My girlfriend insisted I put a hard boundary down around this. I agreed and asked that my friend not speak to me about matters surrounding self-harm anymore. Adding to this, more recently (past year or so) I noticed my friend starting to develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I didn't want any part in this either, though it didn't pose any danger to me, so I just told her I didn't want to speak to her when she was drunk/drinking. Texts were fine, but no phone calls. Unfortunately, we have had varied success with these two boundaries, with a lot less success after I unexpectedly separated from my girlfriend a few months ago. In fact, in the past month my friend has sent me pictures of her injuries (which hasn't happened in years). It's obvious that my friend's mental health has been declining steadily, her therapy is decreasingly helpful, and my ability to be firm with boundaries is flimsy at best while I'm learning how to navigate life alone.

Despite all this, I've made a nice new group of friends from school online. Plus, I've always wanted to bring my friend to a special family spot and this year I finally made the initiative for her and her dog to come with my family on our trip this summer.

Since we live so far away, I haven't had to really think about protecting people in my daily life from being affected by the intense and somewhat uncontrollable parts of my friend. The only experience I've had is with my ex, and we quickly learned that friend doesn't have the ability to have a healthy relationship with ex, so, I kept her isolated from that part of my life however I could. But as I was growing closer to my new group of friends, one person in particular, I wanted to know what friend thought. My friend is really important to me, probably the most important now that ex is gone. I wanted to share these new people with someone I loved, so I invited friend to join our online game night.

We started to play on discord (voice chat, no video) and everything was okay for the first hour or maybe even more. After that, I noticed a few mild signs of trouble starting to form. Friend said some things slightly out of character, and I noticed some hypersensitivity, jealousy, impulsiveness, and stress. I did my best to talk her down and reassure her in the way that works for us. More time passes and the signs of trouble start to become more obvious (to me).

Behind the scenes, my friend is using some attention-seeking behavior while I'm trying to concentrate on the game. Then, her laughter became louder and more manic. At this point, it occurs to me that she has probably been drinking. I'm slightly upset and uncomfortable, but I'm well-practiced at enduring these situations in day to day life. Even if she was being destructive, I choose to put my energy into the games and my other friends while still doing my best to support her. Her behavior is out of my control and I cannot emotionally invest in every crisis that we encounter.

Keep in mind during all of this we are continuing to carry on conversation with the group. I don't believe that anyone notices that anything is wrong but I know her vibes. Her inappropriate texting becomes more frantic. I am doing my best to keep my energy where it belongs, but now she says that she's "done something wrong." At this point, I figured she was just going to admit to drinking. She tiptoes around it until I'm insisting that she tell me whatever it is. Eventually, I gathered that she not only self-harmed, but did so (and was continuing to do so) while actively engaged in games and a voice call with me and my new friends.

Of all the suicidal struggles, boundary difficulties, misplaced aggression, and other intense situations we've encountered, I don't think I've ever felt so violated. Suddenly it struck me how poorly this could have gone. I put the emotional wellbeing of my new friends on the line, and my own reputation and new, important budding relationships. I calmly finish out the round and explain to everyone that it's time to call it a night.

The hardest part is not being able to just escape the situation after something like this happens. Now my friend is texting me how sorry she is, she knows I'm going to hate her, what a horrible person she is, that I don't have to talk to her ever again, etc. As angry and sick over this as I am, her safety is important to me. I reassure her that I don't hate her, that I'm just disturbed and now need some space as a consequence of her actions.

After this, I'm rethinking everything. My friend does not appear to have the power to handle the responsibility that comes with being a part of my own personal connections. Those close to me would never be in any physical danger - however, emotional danger, while not plausible, is entirely possible. At her worst, my friend could subject those close to me to verbal abuse, self-degradation, harassment, obsession, threatening suicide and self-harm or even going through with it. I know these risks and choose to continue our friendship anyway. But I can't ethically accept these risks for anyone but me.

I don't know if it's safe for me to follow through with our family trip. My family knows about her mental struggles, but not the extent of them.

I need help. My friends all enjoyed her company but this is beyond PLEASE READed up. When she is out of crisis mode tomorrow, I'm asking her to leave the discord server immediately. The boundaries on self-harm and alcohol are being explicitly restated and redrawn. But what about vacation? I'm so PLEASE READing upset.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2021, 12:24:30 PM »

So you either continue with the invitation and hold your breath that she won’t say or do something inappropriate or worse among your family and new friends

OR

You un-invite her.

You’ve already had experiences which lead you to believe that it’s very likely that she will behave poorly.

But you feel guilty not supporting her as a friend. But is she a friend who can support you?
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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