Once upon a time, my poor boundaries led me to unceremoniously, unkindly dump a faithful friend. My mother clearly identified it recently as me devaluing this woman who I loved. Idolatry and devaluation are opposite ends of an interpersonal problem that many people with borderline personality disorder have. Someone who you once loved deeply becomes someone you want nothing to do with.
I didn’t find out about the “strong borderline traits” portion of my diagnosis until May of 2019. I had been diagnosed with it by a new doctor who wanted to take me off of my medication. I very clearly knew that if I stopped my medication, I would become unstable, and I wasn’t going to let a doctor do that to me. I asked to be transferred to a different doctor. My new doctor told me that I was right, the other doctor was wrong, and that I am just bipolar and have generalized anxiety disorder.
Now, I know that behind closed doors my current doctor and my previous doctor surely had a conversation about me rejecting treatment for BPD (borderline personality disorder), and that led to my current doctor choosing to obscure that part of my diagnosis from me. He did it to ensure that I would continue treatment and not reject his care. This happens more often than you would guess. While I do feel somewhat betrayed and wish I had possessed this clue as to how I can get better long ago, I don’t hold it against my doctor. It turns out, my full diagnosis is “bipolar II with mixed-state and rapid cycling episodes, generalized anxiety disorder, and strong borderline personality disorder traits.” After being assured by my current doctor that the BPD diagnosis was wrong, I had no reason to suspect that I was being deceived.
It’s common for people with BPD to reject treatment. BPD has a horrible reputation with much more stigma than something like bipolar, which is seen as more physical and less socially damaging. No one wants to be told that there is something wrong with them, and if you look up the symptoms of BPD online, it’s easy to believe that everyone with BPD is manipulative, untruthful, abusive, and generally evil. Some people with BPD are all of these things, it’s true. But not all. And not everyone has all of the symptoms. You can qualify for a BPD diagnosis while showing only a handful of symptoms.
I really hurt this woman. We had gotten really close. The truly sick thing was, all I really needed to fix the situation was to tell her that I needed to hang out less and spend more of my free time by myself. It would have been a simple and easy conversation to have, but at the time, my boundaries were so poor that I could not imagine a middle ground between spending every free minute I had with her and completely barring her from my life. As a result, this lovely and undeserving woman believed for years that there must be something awful and wrong with her. I deeply regret devaluing her. I am so grateful that she forgave me and is giving me another chance.
The person I was 5 years ago, before I dumped her, was really not a great person. I was in a codependent abusive relationship in which I disregarded anyone’s opinion or desires outside of my partner’s. I was abusing over-the-counter cold medicine and was deep into lies about episodes, claiming to be in an episode every time I stayed up all night or had unexplainable signs of drug use to cover my own tracks. This friend stood by me through awful and exhausting behavior. I did not deserve her friendship then, and I’m trying to earn her friendship now. Even though she gives it to me freely, I owe it to both of us to treat her with dignity and respect, and especially kindness.
Reconnecting with this amazing woman makes me face and analyze the horrible behavior I displayed four years ago. There are many things about my life at that time of which I am ashamed, but I’m also inspired to prove myself as a reformed woman, someone better, who learned from where she’s been. I now know that if I feel I’m spending too much time with someone, all I need to do is ask for more time alone. That’s all. Just ask. Knowing that now, and comparing it to what I did instead, brings me so much guilt and sadness.
I am so, so grateful that she forgave me. Thank you, amazing friend. You know who you are.