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VIDEO: Could it be Borderline Personality Disorder? 17 million people in the US are affected by Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD traits. People suffering with traits of this disorder often have a lifetime of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" relationships. This is a disorder of extreme fear of rejection and limited executive function.
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Author Topic: Always scared  (Read 2685 times)

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« on: August 06, 2009, 11:19:11 PM »

Does anyone struggle with the (in my case constant) fear that you'll be "busted" for bad behaviour? The result being subjected to a rage or sobbing accusations that you've done the wrong thing and how could you do this after all they've done for you. But the bad behaviour is, like, having your dad over for dinner and not telling momster (divorced), or not defending her when she's being "attacked" by dad. Or being caught talking about her to pretty much anyone, even when you're just venting after a fight or you've been hurt by her actions.

I'm a grown woman and I'm sick of being afraid I'll get in trouble for making the choices that feel right to me. I'm sick of coming up with "feasible" explanations in my head for almost every scenario in anticipation of the moment I get busted doing the "wrong" thing.

But then, how do I know when she's making a valid point? How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish? How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?

I'm just always scared.
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2009, 12:01:15 AM »

I know exactly the feeling of being scared, even over irrational trivial things that most people would not give a second thought. Learning about and practicing detachment ( although not depersonalisation ) has helped me take more things in stride, but fear has always been a major component of my emotions.

Distance, space from the triggers of fear gives a healing place to ponder your situation without stress. And training out fear-based auto-reactions to the rest of reality just takes time and dedicated practice. I think people here might call auto-fear response a flea  PD traits

I find it difficult to trust people and not be scared that I'm being manipulated, especially in a trusting intimate relationship. So, I try to stay rational, and if I feel scared, I just make sure that if it escalates to feeling panic, that I chill out, take a rest, and calmly evaluate the situation before reacting. Getting more control over that automatic knee-jerk reaction to my triggers has helped me train myself to think about it first, which has reduced ( though not eliminated ) the times that my worrying gets the best of me.

As for auto-running escape scenarios in your head, I do that too. Including for escaping burglars, violent criminals, etc... I'm the one who always knows where the exits are, and sits nearby & facing them smiley.

I try not to dwell, but sometimes it makes me feel better to feel prepared. I just set a time limit on how long I dwell on it. As for the momentary fleeting 'oh noes', well... they lessened for me over time, but are still there to some extent.

I take time to actively think about good things that I like, and to study or make things with my hands, and be involved in the world, so my brain has other things to teeth on than the past.

I don't know whether your parents are messed up, and how messed up they are, but if you always feel scared, as an adult, then you owe it to yourself to take some time off from them, to figure out why you feel scared, and what solutions to that are. If they are actively mean, a solution may be less or no contact. If they are no longer mean, but their very presence reminds you of unresolved issues, a solution might be to resolve those issues with them through counseling. If they are no longer mean, but they refuse to or are incapable of resolving issues, sometimes the only solution is distance, and finding ways to mediate the accompanying inevitable pain which, at least, is less than the pain of staying in contact.
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2009, 12:50:03 AM »



Yes indeed, I know that feeling well. Your fear is the internal mother. My sister was once taking a walk with me and her baby daughter in a lovely spot near the ocean. We had to walk carefully over some rocks, and she turned to me and said, "Don't tell Mom." We were in our 30s. Our mother was thousands of miles away. She thought our mother would disapprove of walking over rocks while carrying the baby, I guess, and it was her first thought. It was just so instinctual, the fear. I used to come up with elaborate justifications for why it was okay for me to go out for an evening with my friends and not spend it with her...I was married, running a department at work, owned my own home, well over the age of majority, etc., etc. She didn't even have to ask, I just automatically went into that mode.

Something that might help is Tools: US: Do not allow others to 'rent space' in your 'head'. Another thing that helped me was to get at the beliefs I was unconsciously holding that led me to the fear. For example in your post I read:

But then, how do I know when she's making a valid point? How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish? How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?

If I break that down:

How do I know when she's making a valid point?

(My view and instincts are not valid. Hers outweighs mine.)

How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish?

(Having my own point of view and making choices about my own life is cold and selfish.)

How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?

(She determines how much I am supposed to give. Family means sacrificing your autonomy.)

Once you identify the beliefs, you start to work on them, because they're not really that logical.

I like lovemuffin's distinction between detachment and depersonalization. Detachment would mean that you can feel some space and calmness in relation to her reactions, which gives you room to make your own decisions without fear. What you're concerned about is depersonalization ("cold and selfish").



P.S. If you haven't already, please go introduce yourself at New Members Please Post Here First.


What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2009, 01:16:06 AM »

blackandwhite, your post was very helpful to me, even though I am mostly out of contact, I still ask myself the same questions lightanddark does about my responsibility / duty, what I owe them, when I am overreacting, wrong, selfish, doubting myself, etc..., and I ask these questions not only because of my family, but just in navigating every day relationships.

Thanks for the reality check that we are of value too, my views and instincts are valid, especially instincts to protect myself, and my own future family.

I am so amazed and surprised and grateful to find this wise, and understanding support. Thank you!

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I DON'T have to save the day? Wow!

« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2009, 06:19:51 AM »

Blackandwhite's point about "me having boundaries" = "me being cold and selfish" is something I definitely struggle with.  It took a long time for me to realize that I have a right to be me, even if that "me" is occasionally offensive to other people.

I live(ed) in MORBID FEAR of offending people.  Naturally, I'm a pretty bold person, but I surpress that boldness all the dadgum time, because I'm constantly afraid of how I'll be viewed.  I have no concept of social etiquette, etc...

Then I realized something: I'm pretty darn quick to forgive someone ELSE for offending ME, or for behaving "badly." Especially if they didn't realize they were doing it!  I'm like, "Whoa, we're all human, we're all allowed to make a few mistakes."  But when it comes to me, I quake in fear that I've done something terrible.  Now that I've realized that I'M also human :P , I'm trying to give myself the same grace that I give other people.

I'm so glad you posted this.  This topic is exactly what came up with my T. last week, and I've been processing through these emotions recently.  Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your fear with us. 


Minds are like parachutes---just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can borrow mine.
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2009, 09:17:59 AM »


Glad you found that exercise helpful. Uncovering the hidden beliefs behind the feelings was one of the best things my T has done with me, and I use the exercise a lot, just mentally. If you're struggling with something you could post it here and ask for help with that--might get some interesting responses.


P.S. "Cold and selfish" is exactly what my mother would call me when I instituted boundaries or even just lived my life, thus the elaborate justifications for me taking an evening with my friends. I think the phrase is in the BPD playbook.

What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2009, 08:12:58 AM »

Thank you for the exercise.  That is exactly what I needed to hear.   grin

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Posts: 20

« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2009, 09:19:03 AM »

I have this exact same issue!

I have a really bad obsession with trying to fix myself, and forgive others for the things they do to offend me as well!

oh man - how do you get over this? I am so happy that others deal with the same issues like this.

this is my main problem - i am goign to repost something i posted in my newbie thread.

"anyway - i have issues now where i apply guilt in ANY situation to myself before i ever even begin to think that someone else has done something wrong. It has sort of become some sort of obsession for me, i think. It has also caused me to be in low self-esteem, and the edge of depression.

Because my mother gave me imaginary rules to live by, everything i do, i seriously question - like BIGTIME!"

so yes, i deal with it too. wish i had more to actually help.
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2009, 12:51:34 PM »

I know exactly the feeling of being scared, even over irrational trivial things that most people would not give a second thought.

Exactly, and we children of BPD parents waste so much time that should be spent on our own families, our careers, etc. because we are always so hyper-vigilant about our parent's feelings. I went back to my home town and went out to eat with my sister-in-law and she didn't want us to sit by the window in the restaurant because "someone might see us." I'm NC with my mom who lives in an assisted living place a few miles away from where we were. "Do you have any idea of how ridiculous you sound?" I asked her. Fortunately, she burst out laughing and we took the window seats after all. But I know all about that cloud of fear.



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1 Acknowledgment- we begin by acknowledging and working with our feelings.

2 Self-Inquiry- we then probe the feelings - it's important to find a way to explore your feelings that allows you both to be present with them and to stand a little aside from them.

3 Processing- become aware of what has been useful in the journey you've just taken, regardless of how it all turned out.

4 Creative Action- start something new with real enthusiasm for the doing of it, rather than out of the need to prove something.

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