Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

By Guest Blogger: Richard James, 26. Richard is a night auditor from New Hampshire and a graduate of Dartmouth College. He was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2006.

“In my life, relationships are like rubber bands. They stretch and snap back so many times, but eventually something breaks and there’s no way to repair the damage.” -Kiera van Gelder, The Buddha and the Borderline

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I never know what kind of reaction to expect when I tell someone about my diagnosis. The conversation is rarely a pleasant one, typically after I’ve suffered an emotional breakdown on a stressful day or sometimes in response to being asked why I no longer maintain a relationship with my family. Most people show some level of sympathy, even if they don’t really understand what Borderline Personality Disorder is. Some people express doubt or disbelief, especially if they’ve heard the negative stereotypes associated with the disorder, and assure me that I’m “not that bad.”

There is a wide range of experiences among people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but one thing we all have in common in interpersonal relationships is the core wound of abandonment. I don’t fully understand how it comes to be, but deep down I hold the belief that I am inherently unlovable, hard-wired to believe that even the people I care about the most will one day abandon me, and the best I can do is delay the inevitable. Often this fear of abandonment goes hand in hand with serious feelings of depression and a sense of emptiness. Imagine that you are in a room full of people you like, but you secretly believe that they all hate you and that they’re just too polite, or afraid, to tell you how they really feel. The intense fear of abandonment warps my perception of reality and causes me to sometimes act out in strange and unpredictable ways.

Most days I can suppress the idea that no one really loves me, but it’s always sitting in the back of my mind, waiting to be triggered. On the wrong day, the slightest perceived rejection cuts deep and will send me into a full panic. Maybe a friend had to work late and canceled dinner with me. Maybe someone took a little too long to respond to a Facebook message.

Immediately I think about the worst case scenario–that it’s finally happened; they’ve realized I’m not worth their time. By the time I realize I’m overreacting, the damage is done. I’ve yelled, cried, and left several voicemails pleading with my friend not to abandon me.

The first couple of times I subjected someone to this sort of treatment, I smoothed things over successfully. I explain that I was having a bad day and that I misread their intentions. I tell them about my mental health issues and that I’m working on getting better. And I am.

But as I grow closer to someone, anyone, the emotional stakes get higher. My outbursts become more frequent and desperate. The thought of losing a close friend drives me to engage in self-destructive behavior. The pain that I inflict on my loved ones pales in comparison to the fear and disgust that I feel about myself, but it’s still an undue burden, and eventually it’s too much for some people in my life to tolerate. They tell me that they’ve had enough, and suddenly my fear has been realized–I’ve brought about the exact thing that I was fighting to avoid. Each time I destroy a relationship I can only hope that I’ve learned enough to keep from repeating my mistakes in the future, and to stop asking the question…

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Love

19 Comments

  1. Awiski

    Greatly written I do believe at sometime in everyone’s life they can feel that way. At least with me it was just part of growing up and when you don’t have any girlfriends in high school then you get married its weird to keep all your guy friends.

    Reply
  2. kcsmum

    Thank you for blogging here, Richard. I’ve lived most all of my life with a feeling that no one loves me “enough.” Sometimes I can’t even define “enough” but I can always feel it. I’ve never really spoken about this before. You are very courageous.

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  3. Dear Richard,

    You are very brave to talk about this. I applaud you because the more it’s talked about, the more educated people become.

    Understanding Mental Illness, makes it less scary, for people that put a stigma on those who have an illness.

    If more people talked about it, the stigma may disappear sooner. That is my hope.

    Be good to yourself, and believe people when they show you, who they are.

    Best Wishes to you.

    Reply
  4. vivi howe

    You described it very well. No beating around the bush, no sugar coating. That is a great explanation. You know your weakness now built on your self esteem. Good luck and you will conquer this.

    Reply
  5. Richard,

    I can see why Jun wanted you to guest blog. Your story was soul-bearing and painfully honest, just as Jun writes; no sugar coating!

    We have some wild and funky behavioral issues in my family, as well, although the diagnoses are not iron clad. Interestingly, the higher the IQ, the more problems, it seems…! lol You may just be too smart for your own britches, Richard!

    To graduate from Dartmouth is a BIG accomplishment. Also, with so many people looking for work, you’re working a night job. Not even knowing you, I can see some greatness in you already. Learn to love yourself, and everything will get better from that point forward.

    Someone very close to me went through drug rehab (for IV heroin addiction; his IQ is in the highly gifted range, by the way). He learned that almost all behavior-type issues stem from misconceptions about other people, just as you mentioned. He worked A LONG TIME on freeing himself of those misconceptions. What you mentioned in your guest blog is what my loved one told me. When you allow yourself to be upset by someone breaking plans – first realize that you most likely have nothing to do with it, so change your thinking when this happens – leaving yourself out of it. Nine times out of ten, the rational explanation they gave you is the real one, unless they had so many things going on they just didn’t add it all in – as would be the case with me, because I’m too swamped with responsibilities to enjoy much of a social life. 🙁

    Try to be as positive as you can be; it really helps, but it can be a constant battle!!!!!

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  6. Richard

    Wow, thanks for all the kind words! Talking about mental health issues can be difficult, but it is absolutely worth it when I see this sort of reaction. You guys rock <3

    Reply

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