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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: Is BPD behavior driven by low self-esteem?  (Read 21127 times)
renaissance
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« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2007, 01:32:20 AM »

hi again, oceanheart..

hope you're managing okay. i still say that you're a brave gal joining the support forum for former/present partners of a BPD-sufferer, while you yourself suffer from BPD. i don't know your history, but again, my estranged wife certainly came by her BPD honestly - the hard away. to this day, i've yet to hear of a more heartbreaking story..unless love biases us.. wink  anyway, i will keep you in my prayers..i often, being catholic, prayed for st. jude to help intercede and help my wife and myself. i've publicly admitted to my own issues and hold fast to the belief that we all have issues, which being in an intimate relationship will necessarily expose. that's the drag of them..and the wonder of them. ultimately, our experiences with others makes us all better people. we cannot completely regret our experiences..as adults we make choices and are responsible for them. yes, some of us have been 'burned' more greatly than others - those with children who tell such sad stories of their partners using children against them, etc. that's a tough one. i'm fortunate in that my former partner is not a 'malicious' type. we both grew weary in our efforts to make our own relationship work. she acknowledges her own BPD, which was a huge step for her, and it's my hope that she continues on her healing journey, which she began roughly a year ago in therapy. it will be a tough, long road for her. she didn't leave me in too good shape, yet..i am her silent cheerleader. likewise, i cheer for you. i am in the group on this board who holds a compassionate heart and prays for the best for all of us. i do myself nor her any justice by holding a long grudge. i can tell you that the pain, sorrow, disillusionment, and yes, genuine anger, are at times all present..all jockeying for position. it will be a long healing process for me. i wish you continued health, peace and strength. in closing..any words of advice..any..perspective..you may offer to someone who's had to 'walk away' from a loved-BPD? for in my heart, and from my understanding of the healing process, it is only by her fighting this in the absence of an intimate partner does she stand a chance.the combination of my love and co-dependent support of her, simply made it all too intense..to much for her..and for me.  cry
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« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2007, 01:33:29 AM »

My exuBPDgf talked openly about her low self esteem and seemed to use it as a tool for gaining reassurance...in my brief encounters with her after this her shame was palpable.

Yes, shame. That's an emotion frequently explored over on Resouces for Individuals with BPD]the BPD Recovery forum[/url]. A deep, lasting primal shame. I may be wrong in my observation, but I believe those who were sexually abused seem to have the worst time with it. I was fortunate to not have had to experience that and thus escaped that heavy burden. Because how heavy a weight that must be - to feel ashamed at your own existence.

"...a tool for gaining reassurance". In therapy when I was about 20 (and had all 9 DSM-IV BPD criteria), my therapist wrote in my evaluation, "Marni has difficulty reassuring herself." I never really understood what that meant until later. I wanted to be reassured I was a good person but at the same time I couldn't trust anyone enough to believe them when they did. I certainly couldn't find internal reassurance, because inside there was a howling abyss. I was my own Iron Maiden (no, not the band, the torture device) - meaning how could I reassure myself when I hated myself and tortured myself with my own self-hate?

People with BPD do themselves a great disservice by seeking external factors for reassurance. Yes, we all like to hear now and again that we're valued and loved. But BPs rely on that for their sense of self-worth. That's maybe why they're such black holes of need sucking the air and energy out of everything around them, such endless buckets with a hole in them that never can be filled.

No matter what we as nons say to our loved ones with BPD, it will never be enough. Not until they have a solid sense of self, a core of self-love. Then others' reassurances will be lovely, but not necessary.
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
Bumpy Road
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« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2007, 01:43:48 AM »

I'm thinking the last part (which I bolded) is because 1) it's hard for anybody to change deep-seated and long-standing behaviors and thoughts; 2) he literally may have no idea how to help himself because maybe he wasn't taught in childhood to be independent or competent; 3) he may believe he is not worth helping, that he is an utter piece of sht and thus is beyond help; and/or 4) his defense mechanisms - denial, projection, B&W thinking - all conspire to make it seem as tho everyone but himself is to blame.

Yup,

I'm not dBP but I am HPD (low/med-low), LSA (goin' nuts) , the related PTSD's and whatever else my T throws my way.

I am learning about my own issues. I am still learning about them.

Zero esteem, sad, can’t understand what feelings are valid at times, confused about love, yadda yadda yadda...

I have learned that all my life (am almost 41 now) I have nevee realized how messed up I was. I discovered the sexual abuse stuff in my early 20's and thought that I had handled/addressed that 15 years ago - and I also thought that must have been all that was wrong/different with me.

Now I am learning that is not true at all. And I have learned that I have’nt finished healing/recovering on that problem and also that I have a ton of other issues to still discover and fix.

40 years old, and I truly have almost no emotional and relationship coping skills. I used to beg my T to disagnose me as BPD (not her) 'cause I thought I fit the bill.

I don’t know how to approach an issue

I don’t know how to feel about things

I dont even understand enough about boundaries to know what kind of boundaries I should have

Worse than that – I DON’T KNOW WHAT BOUNDARIES I AM ALLOWED TO HAVE (see the issue with that one)

THE POINT IS – I DOTN HAVE THE SKILLS – HOW CAN I EXPECT THE BPD TO BE ANY DIFFERENT?

I DIDN’T SEE THE PROBLEMS IN MYSELF – HOW CAN I EXPECT MORE FROM THEM?

It's very very hard to see the problems that we each may have. Esp. when you dont even know who/what you really are. It is very hard. Sadly or Positively, this is one of the things about me that keeps me still hopeful for my dBPxso to get better. I encourage her to stay in T, but the T and I think she has entered quit mode. That bites. She knows she's ill, but she has no clue. Just like I knew I was ill but had thought I had already fixed myself from it (i had lied to myself and created a false-self)  it's hard to come out from behind those walls, esp. when you dont know they even exist.

and then, if you do see it, like I do now (and I think xso kinda does to) it's terrifying because you realize you are not equipped to deal with it.

I have the emotional coping skills of a very young teen (if that) I have a fake set that I have lived by for years. I must have made relationships hell to the girls I was with.

Oh well, gotta fix me. I hope they can all get better, esp. mine  cry

bumpy



on ending just wanna throw this out, cause it want to come out

my poor girl, thinks she has brain damage. She knows she’s ill but thinks it brain damage. Worst part of that, she truly thinks I am the cause.

On top of that, she truly know I love her more than anyone and I am the best person she has met to support her, but she think the brain damage may never go away. Seems like she’s just giving up on life –again (but not like the normal BP traits) –giving up giving up  and that’s difficult for me to accept.

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oceanheart
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« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2007, 02:08:41 AM »

hi, renaissance!

I'm doing really well, tho I did have one flare-up at my brother this holiday. It wasn't major, but I'm embarrassed about it and upset I wasn't able to handle it better. But I'm going to call him tomorrow after he's been back home a day and apologize. Other than that, the holiday was wonderful! I love Christmas! Hope you had a good one, too and that the new year coming up is good to you.

Thanks for calling me brave, I get what you're saying, but it really isn't hard to be here because 1) The people here are wonderful and have been extraordinarily gracious and compassionate and welcoming (THANKS EVERYONE! YOU"RE ALL AWESOME!); 2) I don't take what others say personally, unless I know what they're saying is true of me. And if it's a true, bad thing about me, then I just seek to change it. Anyway, I like that kind of feedback because it helps me grow even healthier; and 3) I do see the pain of the "nons" (and I was one myself, too) and that always humanises someone for me, because I sure know pain, too, lol.

Thanks, too for your prayers. It's really nice to know someone is pulling for me enough to PM the Big Guy about it grin I am touched by your compassion for me.

those with children who tell such sad stories of their partners using children against them, etc. that's a tough one.

I hear you on that one. That's where my understanding and compassion hits a bit of a wall. I had a relationship with someone I'm convinced was NPD and he treated his children so crappily that in the end, thats a major reason why I left (the other was the way he treated me). I wish I could have taken them with me, but I couldn't, something I'll always be sad about. I find it really hard to forgive him, especially since he used them to get at me, without any concern for them. To him they were mere objects to be used or controlled or abused. And he was way too sneaky and cunning to do anything I could call the law on him for. He was already being investigated when I met him (talk about ignoring red flags).

I know he hated himself. I know his dad used to punish him by spanking him with a 2X4 after making him go pick out the plank and bring it to his dad (!). I know he didn't feel good inside. But once he started taking it out on his kids, I lost all sympathy. I guess that makes me a hypocrite...

anyway, I hope your ex-partner has success in her efforts. It's good to see she is trying. Whether it "works" is all up to her and her willpower and motivation, but it is awful nice to have you pulling for her, even if it has to be - for your own health - cheering from the far bleachers.

Quote
any words of advice..any..perspective..you may offer to someone who's had to 'walk away' from a loved-BPD? for in my heart, and from my understanding of the healing process, it is only by her fighting this in the absence of an intimate partner does she stand a chance.the combination of my love and co-dependent support of her, simply made it all too intense..to much for her..and for me.

I'm sad for you that your two souls were not at the right time for each other when they met. Letting go - especially when love is still there - must be so hard. Letting go when all you want to do is hold on tight... it's such a bittersweet thing you have had to do. You're letting her go to let her heal. Please try to remember that when the pain gets bad - that you've done this hard thing out of love and compassion, from your kind heart. And that this is what you had to do: because if you have co-dependency tendencies, the very best thing you could do for her is exactly what you have done. Letting her go will let you heal, too. Turn some of that compassion back on yourself, give yourself time to grieve and mourn, and then move on. (((renaissance))) peace be to you.
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
renaissance
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« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2007, 02:24:18 AM »

oceanheart...your tender thoughts towards the end..moved me to tears. i'll have to write more at a different time. i've cried so..and lately, i've triedmy best to avoid tears because they drain me so much. but i know in myheart that i have to cry..and i have many,many more left in this pain-filled reservoir.  :-X

blessings...

and to you, too, bumpy..my heart goes out to you as well. i've followed your story, too, as much as possible..but you post a lot.. wink
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oceanheart
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« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2007, 03:04:25 AM »

Bumpy, your avatars always crack me up (even if they're not supposed to. They just are fun!)

So you're LSA, huh? Late Stone Age? Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus (a skin disorder)? A Life Saving Apparatus? A Logistics Support Area? a member of the Lute Society of America? Or a chemical cousin to LSD? grin Sorry, just being silly as it is 2:15 am and I'm tired. Forgive my ignorance, but what is LSA?

I have learned that all my life (am almost 41 now) I have nevee realized how messed up I was.

There's an old joke that goes: A young man asks a wizened old farmer if he has lived on the farm all his life. The wise old guy answers, "nope. Ain't done living yet." or something like that, I'm horrible at telling jokes. grin The point is that just because the first half of our lives was fraught with dysfunction doesn't mean we're done living yet. There's so much more life to be lived. I'm 36 and have struggled most of my life. But hopefully we'll have much more time to make things better. Even if we only have one more day to live, it'll still be lived better because now we're aware and awake and can see possibilities we never could before, and because we have hope, right?

I'm sad to hear you were sexually abused. I can't imagine what hell you had to go through. It's very brave of you to be candid about it, and to have faced the fallout from what happened to you. Be tender with yourself in your confusion about how to do things, ok? It's obvious you weren't given the opportunity to grow into the healthy adult you had every right to be. The boy raised by wolves wouldn't be expected to sit at tea with the Queen and have perfect table manners, now would he?

I hear you about boundaries, btw. I'm still learning. It's really hard to know what's appropriate and how to handle things in an assertive way. I was taught that above all, I had to be nice, even at the expense of my own feelings. That I was supposed to put others' needs above my own, which unfortunately left me vulnerable for years to predatory or exploitative people. When I was able to accept and love myself (after the past 2 hard, intense years of work), that's when boundaries began to make sense  - I valued myself enough to protect myself, since boundaries aren't about making the other person do something but about what behavior we'll accept for ourselves - and I was able to work on using them with other people.

Quote
She knows she's ill, but she has no clue. Just like I knew I was ill but had thought I had already fixed myself from it (i had lied to myself and created a false-self)  it's hard to come out from behind those walls, esp. when you dont know they even exist.

I hear ya. I always knew something was "wrong" with me, but didn't have a clinical diagnosis until right after my breakdown (that's the 2 years ago I mentioned before). The term BPD had been bandied about previously, but nothing came of it and most of my therapists focused on the misdiagnosis of bipolar. It would have been so much more helpful if had known sooner, but perhaps I wouldn't have been ready to change then. Who knows?

Quote
if you do see it, like I do now (and I think xso kinda does to) it's terrifying because you realize you are not equipped to deal with it.

I have the emotional coping skills of a very young teen (if that) I have a fake set that I have lived by for years. I must have made relationships hell to the girls I was with.

Oh well, gotta fix me

Bumpy, you're not broken, ok? You don't need "fixed". You may not feel whole right now, but nonetheless you are a valuable person who just needs to learn a skill or two. Really, that's it. You're in therapy and you're doing hard work. You ARE equipped to deal with it, otherwise you'd not be going and would be hiding behind your defenses, which is not what I see you doing: you're out there taking on your problems. And that's what it's going to take to get the skills you need. They'll come, you'll see! It's too bad your xSO can't see that, too, and get her act in gear. It's gotta be painful for you to watch her give up - kinda like seeing someone go tie themselves on the train tracks as the train's speeding towards them, adn then pushing you away when you go to help untie them.

Be well,

Marni

ps - renaissance, you go cry, ok? It hurts so bad, doesn't it. But man does it hurt worse when we won't let ourselves cry: there is more suffering in refusing to feel than there is in feeling the pain. Just know that there are good people here who care and who are crying along with you. We'll all get through this, bumpy ride or not  wink
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2007, 12:41:45 PM »

"No matter what we as nons say to our loved ones with BPD, it will never be enough. Not until they have a solid sense of self, a core of self-love. Then others' reassurances will be lovely, but not necessary."

Oceanheart,

You said this in an earlier post and it really hits home. What I'm wondering is, how do you get there? How do you help nudge your BPD toward acceptance of themselves and realization of themselves as deserving of self-love and of the love of others?
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oceanheart
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« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2007, 06:22:37 PM »

Minion, great question.

Short answer: you can't.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but that's what I perceive to be the truth: There is nothing you can do as an intimate partner to get your loved one with BP to start loving themselves.

I always find myself quoting over and over something JoannaK once said: "BPD is a disorder of intimacy."

For whatever reason, people with BPD have a fundamental belief system of distrust: they believe everyone will hurt, abuse, ignore, neglect - in some way harm them. They'd look twice at a handout from Mother Theresa, lol!

Any attempt on the part of the non to provide feedback  - even positive feedback - will most likely be viewed suspiciously. They will not trust your motives. They will feel manipulated. They will lash back or shut down or ignore you or do something awful to themselves to prove you wrong. They will not believe you.

For the most part, people with BPD have come by this paranoia fairly honestly, as renaissance said. We've all heard their (our) stories, some are pretty horrible. If you have been exposed at an early age to a threatening world, maybe you can't help but continue to see the world as a threatening place. Especially when no one comes to your aid or protection and you're forced to face it alone, scared and without any skills. Even when given  - in the present day - compassion, understanding, and support from those they love, the early "training" shapes their perceptions of you and everything else despite reality.

So, how do they (we) get to the place they can love themselves?

Short answer: I don't know.

Often on FtF I speak in the "royal We" tense, as if I'm the BPD spokesperson, or as I like to joke, the BPD poster child  8) But I hope everyone who reads what I write knows I can only speak about myself and my limited perceptions. I give that caveat because all I know is what worked for me, and all I can do is extrapolate that onto the experiences of others, using what insight I may have gained during interaction with people with BPD on Resouces for Individuals with BPD]BPDRecovery[/url] and in group therapy.

So I guess I'm trying to say I don't have the answers. And I could be wrong. Plus, I had to do most of this on my own, without much of a support system in real life, so I have an admittedly skewed POV - one you might call militant self-reliance I had to be really strong and had to be very internally motivated in order to get better. Keep that in mind, because it does bias my interpretations.

My own personal process back to being a human being was very long. Ten years ago I took a slew of psychological tests at my university's counseling center. I wanted to try to figure out what was so wrong with me, and then fix it. I took one test on self-esteem and I scored lower than 99% of the college students who had taken it. I hated myself worse than almost everyone else in my peer group. It's sad that when I read back over all the results of those tests I took, BPD is so very x-x-x-xing obvious, it screams from the pages of results. But for whatever reason, I didn't get diagnosed and I didn't get "fixed". It took me 8 more years of hell to get here. But I DID get here.

So how did I get here?

Short answer grin : Resouces for Individuals with BPD]BPDR[/url].

Long answer: 2 years on BPDR of making myself vulnerable to others and engaging in conflict (and learning how to do so productively) and exploring my past issues and helping other people and stripping away all the traces of denial and defenses and realising I wasn't alone, I wasn't damaged, I wasn't evil. By asking for help and listening to it and actually doing what was advised. By stopping cutting myself and stopping drinking and stopping sleeping with people who didn't care about me. By learning boundaries. By learning patience. By learning humility AND pride all at the same time. By learning how to take care of myself even if I didn't want to. By accepting compliments even when I didn't believe them. By looking in the mirror and seeing the humanity in myself.

I wish it were easier, but it's not. I wish we could help all of our loved ones with BPD to love themselves, but we really can't do all that much. I wish I could bottle recovery up and release it into the drinking water like flouride, but I can't.

The only way I could see for a "non" to help is to love themselves first and if they choose to stay with the BP, to have air-tight, bullet-proof boundaries. That's only going to work for for those BPs who are already serious about recovery.

Happy New Year, everyone: may it be filled with peace and joy and so much more happiness than your previous years!

Marni
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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2007, 06:34:58 PM »

Happy New Year Ocean,

You said you were helped by the BPD Recovery board... what about therapy?  And, if so, specifically what kind of therapy?

Bitzee
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renaissance
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« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2007, 06:42:22 PM »

oceanheart,another outstanding reply. you're a diamond to this forum and a shame so many of our 'haters' can't appreciate it. my second major in college, after organic chemistry was psychology, so bear with me as i frequently say, 'i  know just enough to be dangerous..' 

two things that you bring up strike me as key: (1) you did it on your own, out of the context of an intimate relationship. it's my intuitive belief from my own experience with my estranged wife, that it will actually require her to recover on her own, without an intimate partner. because, as joannak says, and you've paraphrased, BPD is indeed a disorder of intimacy. intimacy, the greater it becomes, uncovers more and more numbed away hidden pain in the BPD-sufferer. this necessarily makes them feel more vulnerable. FEAR...that's the operative word..then drives them to 'act out' behaviors to try and 'get it right this time' by often re-playing past destructive scenarios. additionally, it is a disorder of emotional regulation, an inability to properly interpret or regulate emotions. once an emotion envelops them, they must create a situation to fit the emotion..thus the common 'acting out' once again. at any rate, i believe that these persons need to develop that proper sense of self on their own, without any help, as oceanheart has done, in order for it to 'feel like' they truly did it themselves. somehow i feel that is key..and intimacy short circuits this process.

number (2) is easy: time..and lots of it. years, in fact would be necessary..because it is a personality disorder it may not be simply 'corrected' via psychopharmacology. wouldn't that be nice? a 'BPD pill'? don't expect one. you can treat some of the co-morbidity - depression, anxiety,,,but a disordered mind, a pattern of thinking and relating to the world in a rational, emotional sense? that is gonna take some form of psychotherapy, perhaps the dbt that receives accolades, and lots of hard work. day in and day out practice..learning how to interrupt a reaction to a sudden feeling by intercepting, interpreting and giving an appropriate response if one is indeed required.

summary? they gotta do i on their own..and it;s gonna take a lot of time, patience and hard work. no short cuts..

excellent post, marni   
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