If you’re going to read one post I write, please let it be this one

Because I think it’s pretty important. Not self-important. Don’t get me wrong. What I’m saying isn’t an opinion I want you to agree with or think of as important. Rather, it’s something that I see at the very core of BPD, and I honestly never realized it until now. So if this can provide any insight to anyone else and save them the hours of research and therapy that I went through to arrive at it, I’d be thrilled.

Great (and not-so-great) expectations.

Expectations. It’s kind of a huge and all-encompassing topic and therefore carries the potential to have me blab on about it for pages and pages and pages so apologies in advance in case this gets out of hand. It represents, to me, the Problem with BPD, the issue that I can’t let go of, can’t get over, can’t navigate and just can’t shake even if I can pretend everything else in my life is zippi-dee-doo-dah fine.

Specifically, the expectations that I have of other people – and, more specifically, just those closest to me.


My expectations are frequently, without a doubt, crazy. They are wrong. They are unrealistic. They are totally insane. But if you have BPD, you know how bloody hard it is to even temporarily ignore them, let alone get rid of them. They are always there, just waiting for someone to get close, and the second they do – WHAM, you are transformed into a raving lunatic because so-and-so clearly doesn’t care because they didn’t do this, and they didn’t say that, and they obviously should have done this and because they didn’t you should kill yourself to show them how heartless they are, etc. etc. etc.

You want to shake yourself, slap yourself, shame yourself for being so embarrassingly whiny, juvenile, needy, clingy, entitled, self-centred, and just plain psychotic. 

Anyone thinking, “OH MY GOD, I know, right??”

I hope so, because this is really painful and self-abasing for me to type out so I’d feel better about it if anyone at all could relate. It raises points that have to be raised if I’m ever going to get better, but it also reveals a side of myself that I absolutely loathe. An identity that I have always referred to as ‘Crazy Bitch.’

Crazy Bitch doesn’t come out as long as no one is close to her (which is why, coincidentally, at the times that my life was going the smoothest, I essentially had zero close friends). As long as no one is there to unleash her on, she grumbles away, imprisoned and powerless, but growing increasingly resentful until she gets a chance to really shine. As soon as someone seems like they really do care – she is lightening quick, assuming, demanding, jumping miles ahead, ripping down all boundaries (healthy and otherwise), and all the while building fragile fantasies and sky-high expectations of a long and fulfilling future with this person – who, by the way, will obviously telepathically intuit her every need forever. So as long as it all works like that, she’ll finally get what she wants – hooray!

Except it doesn’t. Ever. Obviously. And then Crazy Bitch is really in her element. Shattered hopes are her forte. She takes over everything else about my personality and makes it about her needs, her wants, her oh-so-delicate feelings. Screaming and raving at the person who has done absolutely nothing wrong, she will usually jump straight to hurting them – verbally, emotionally, physically, whatever – and hurting herself to show them just how horrible they are and how much they are the problem and she is just an innocent, downtrodden victim.

Just writing about Crazy Bitch makes me realize why some people have such a deep-seated hatred towards borderlines after being hurt by them.

It all goes downhill pretty fast from there. And then Crazy Bitch has a new entry in her massive catalogue of “Reasons to Hate Life and Everyone” because yet another expectation wasn’t met. It’s why so many borderlines hide behind extreme cynicism and pessimism: we claim to have no expectations whatsoever of life or people, because both are shitty and you can’t rely on them. But don’t be fooled: our expectations are, in fact, higher than just about anyone else’s, higher than the most naïve of optimists.

Before I’d heard of BPD – i.e. for about 25 years – I really believed Crazy Bitch was the real me, which was pretty devastating, as you can imagine. To be honest, I guess I kind of still do believe it a lot of the time. But at least the seed of truth is there now, even if it hasn’t grown into full belief and realization yet: DBT and therapy have helped me to realize that Crazy Bitch is actually a mask, even though she felt so real all this time. How do I know this? 

Because everyone I know or read about who has BPD can relate to what I’m saying. Every single one of us is Crazy Bitch when they’re in full-blown borderline mode.

So what’s more likely: That we are all the exact same person deep down, with the exact same reactions and feeling across the board? Or (more logically) that we’re all exhibiting the exact same symptoms of an illness, and it’s dominating and masking our real personalities underneath? 

The root of my despair and depression were the incredibly negative things I’d been telling myself to try and counterbalance my expectations, which I knew were way too high and unrealistic to be normal. No one cares, no one loves me, no one understands. None of those thoughts were not necessarily true. What was true was that no one ever cared, loved, or understood enough. And, as Karen pointed out, that “enough” would keep even the best relationships in my life from ever being anything positive because they were only, for example, 99% supportive or understanding (at best!), and not 100% perfect all the time, so Crazy Bitch demanded that I end them or keep them at a distance. 

So the “enough” needs to change. The expectations of what other people should or can do to care for me need to lower significantly. But how?

That’s what my therapist and I are supposedly going to be working on over the next couple months.

Step number one is concrete and relatively easy, so I’d recommend giving it a try. Step one involves making a kit – both real and metaphorical, ideally – to satisfy your own expectations.

Picture the times when everything goes to shit. The times when you’re on the edge of (or even in) a BPD frenzy. What do you need? What do you want? Leave other people out of it for the time being. Don’t fall back on the typical BPD “but I’m helpless when I’m upset” answer: i.e. that you want someone to validate you and take care of you. When you refuse to continue the pattern of putting the blame and expectations on someone else, you realize that what you actually want is simply to feel validated and cared for. So: what can you do to make yourself feel validated and cared for?

This is huge. Like, really huge. If this works, this is going to be a massive hit to the hold BPD has on me. If I can learn to actually turn inwards and take care of myself instead of automatically turning outwards when I start feeling awful, that alone will eliminate the majority of the times when I feel Crazy Bitch is in full control. I feel really hopeful about it – so hopeful that I also feel kind of sick and terrified because of, you know, the whole issue with hope/expectations.

But anyway…  What about you guys? Do you have any kind of (real or metaphorical) kit for meeting your own expectations? Any tips?

-Cat Earnshaw xxxx


Author: halfasoul

I am a lot of things, but for the purposes of this blog, I am a textbook case of borderline personality disorder (BPD). My intention is that this blog give others with BPD - as well as those that care about them - perspective, insight, and hopefully, even a little bit of hope, help or comfort regarding the nature of this very strange and overwhelming disorder.

32 thoughts on “If you’re going to read one post I write, please let it be this one”

  1. Hi Cat,

    It really shouldn’t surprise me that once again, I start reading one of your posts, and if feels like I’m reading about me, or reads as if I could have written it 🙂 Once again your honesty is raw and so appreciated, and I guess encourages me to write what I am about to, because I am not proud of any of it. Apologies in advance about the length…..

    I always knew my definitions/expectations of friendship were way over how anyone else defined it, but for years it didn’t matter too much because I never let anyone get beneath the surface, never wanted anyone to really know me. I went through six years of suffering from panic disorder (alongside bpd, which I didn’t know I had) without telling a soul, not even boyfriends of the time. The only time my expectations became a real problem and came to the fore were with those boyfriends (or people I cheated on my boyfriends with). One instance, of many, was the devastation I felt when my then boyfriend decided we shouldn’t have rooms near each other in college because he was finding it hard to create some space between us – I just couldn’t understand why, if he loved me, he wouldn’t want to spend 24 hours a day with me, and didn’t, for example, necessarily want me hanging round in his room if he was trying to work….or as you put it, he cared, but clearly ‘not enough’, in my mind, anyway….

    But I never really thought much more about expectations until many years later, a few months ago in fact, and a few months after I’d received my diagnosis. I wrote the following in a letter to my therapist of the time (almost as a summary of my thoughts during the therapy process):

    “I thought it might be best if I talked to a few more people about what’s going on with me, or at least part of what’s going on, so that I’m not so ‘alone’ with my difficulties. And I have, over the last few weeks, felt that that might be possible. However, in some ways that’s dangerous, and the last thing I want is a bigger group of people whom I relate to weirdly, who I end up feeling like I want to push away at points, and who could potentially trigger me. So it often feels that keeping everyone in the dark, having no one really know me (or almost no one) is by far the safest and better option for everybody, and that’s certainly how I’ve always felt, until more recently.

    On the other hand, maybe if I understand how this weirdness happens, and what the key factors are, I can share enough of what’s going on, with some of the ‘right’ people, without having things go wrong. Trying to figure it out is difficult as there are only a small number of ‘test’ cases.
    At what point, and why, do different friends/people become (or not become) people who I: have massive expectations of; get suspicious of; feel don’t care about me; misinterpret; have a tendency to read things into what they say or do, or don’t say or do; feel wronged by; often want to push away and regret how much I’ve told them; feel wary of; feel jealousy, with respect to their attentions and time; test, either consciously or unconsciously? I think it’s a complicated picture involving different parts or stages: it’s about me sharing lots of personal information about myself and my feelings and thoughts; it’s about the other person having either explicitly or implicitly given some sort of commitment to ‘be there’; it’s about me trusting the other person; and it’s about me testing that trust and commitment by revealing ever more ‘difficult’ things, including ultimately how I feel about my relationship with the person concerned, which makes it not just personal for me, but personal to them.”

    Like for you, it’s very much a WHAM process for me – I can relate to someone perfectly normally, and the second I ‘let them in’, they’re instantly in a different category and how I relate to them (in my mind, even if I can resist it ‘in practice’), changes completely. Sometimes it’s in relation to a friendship, but sometimes it turns into an obsessive (almost ‘in love’) type relationship – either in actuality, or in my head.

    For years I was ‘very close’ to an extremely good friend from school, who herself has bpd. But that closeness still did not extend to me telling her anything about my mental health difficulties or bpd or panic symptoms. But we related to each other absolutely fine, I had no expectations of her, cared about her deeply and always thought about her needs and tried to always be as sensitive as I could to them. I wanted to care for her and look after her, which was difficult as we live several hours apart. I knew she had difficulties communicating either in writing or by phone, and never pressed the issue, and didn’t mind being ‘the giver’ in the relationship, or always making the first move.

    Fast forward several year to just this last week. This is someone I still, at heart, care about, despite over the last year my having made several (almost successful) attempts at pushing her away and wrecking our friendship. And yet I had to literally force myself, and fight against my version of ‘Crazy Bitch’ , and try to raise up the ‘better me’, so that I could send her a brief message of support on FB because I knew she was devastated as a dear pet (her main companion) had just died. And this is on top of several other difficult situations she is going through and knowing she has been having suicidal thoughts again. But bpd me was sulking and wanting to stay silent, unwilling to offer out support, feeling unwanted, betrayed, unloved and pissed off. bpd self could only think about how her own needs had not been met and about how once again she had been let down. And all because said friend had offered to talk by phone this last week (a rare event) but then not responded to my messages about when she would like to talk. Bpd self suspected this may be because friend was having a really rough time for one reason or another, but this didn’t stop her feeling hurt, wanting to push friend away, hurt her, ‘break up with her’ and give her the silent treatment. This was yet another instance when friend had offered something/said something which turned out to not happen or not be quite true.

    How utterly utterly awful that all sounds, I know it does. Like you, it often horrifies me. But in some ways what horrifies me more is that sometimes I just don’t care that I can feel or act so terribly, or iat least it feels like I don’t care about it. I don’t know if that’s because the ‘caring’ is inaccessible (because at those times, I don’t feel like i care about anything, and I guess it’s possible it’s mild dissociation), or whether the ‘caring’ just isn’t there at all.

    How did I get to that place with her, how did we go from friends, to being in a place where we’re trying to build up friendship and trust again, after it all went so horribly wrong time after time? It all happened in some ways quite simply and quickly. Last summer I had an overwhelming urge to confide in her about what was going on with me, as I felt she was the only person who could understand. I craved understanding, more than anything. And once I told her one thing, I had a burning desire to completely unburden myself and tell her everything. No holding back, no boundaries, nothing secret. And that was our undoing. She _did_ become not just a friend of whom I had impossibly high expectations, but in my head, it became an obsessional relationship, full of idealisation, intense emotions, putting her at the centre of my universe. And of course she ‘let me down’ and I devalued her, so many times….she was perfect one minute, but she didn’t provide ‘perfect care’ the next……

    Although I no longer have those obsessional feelings about her, it’s still the case that she and another friend I have confided everything in, are powerful triggers for me, and bring out my version of ‘crazy bitch’ on a very regular basis. But what really cemented my realisations about expectations and what a key part of my bpd that is, was actually ‘watching it happen live’ as it were, with my ex-therapist. It’s one thing to know something in theory,but another to actually observe it happening in yourself.

    I knew from the very first session (as you did with your current therapist) that this was special – here was someone who understood me as no one else did, and as I knew that the therapy was time-limited I started grieving its end, even from the beginning. So even from the start I was conscious that I was idealising her, and hugely respected her, but that was about the extent of it. Until, that is, I wrote her that letter that I copied an extract from above. It took me a few days to write (as it was quite long – what a surprise 😉 ) – at the start of it she was a therapist I got on with exceptionally well and who I idealised, but my the end of it, it had happened, WHAM. She was the centre of my universe, my feelings for her were intense and my thoughts were about her almost constantly. And the weird thing is, I could sort of sense it happening as I was writing. I sort of realised what I was doing. That in writing it all down, in ‘unburdening myself’ even more than I did in therapy, in seeking to draw her even closer in this way, I was also turning her, inadvertently, into someone who henceforward would trigger all sorts of thoughts and feelings and expectations in me. When I saw her at our next session I was devastated at the start of it because I had heard her say goodbye to her previous client and be really nice to them (and why ever shouldn’t she be?!) but it was like a knife in my heart because I wasn’t the centre of _her_ universe and I was intensely jealous of her relationships with other people.

    I also turn outwards when I feel awful, and it’s absolutely because I want to feel validated and ccared for. And like you, I expect others to completely intuit what’s going on and to be mind readers. Because, quite obviously (or at least that’s how it seems in bpd logic) if I have to tell someone how I’m feeling, or if I have to ask for support, it means the other person doesn’t care, because if they did, why wouldn’t they know, or at least ask?

    Sadly, I don’t have a toolkit, or any tips – I’m very much ‘in it’ at the moment, and struggling to find my way through. But anything you or anyone else can offer, would be incredibly helpful. My ex-psychiatrist, and my current therapist, said that I need to realise that there is no such thing as ‘perfect care’ and that coming to terms with this, is my key task in therapy. so i completely agree that this issue is at the core of bpd. And I would like to feel as hopeful as you do, scary though that concept would be. But at the moment it’s hard to see my way to that – how on earth can I make myself feel validated cared for, when it still seems to be (because of bpd logic) that that’s just a completely contradictory statement. The whole point is (or so my head thinks) that I need to feel validated and cared for by someone else – doing it for myself (just as asking someone for a hug, or asking someone for support) would invalidate and undermine the whole process. By its very nature, validation and caring still feels like something that someone else needs to do in order for things to be right, and for my life to be meaningful. And I can appreciate, intellectually, that perhaps that isn’t the case. But my heart doesn’t believe it, and that’s the problem.

    So I’m really looking forward to hearing about how the next couple of months in therapy unfolds for you, and what that toolkit might look like in practice…..and I hope that one day we might both be brave enough to start using it 🙂

    Take care,

    1. Stllhiding…I wanted to say a big thank you to you for sharing so openly and honesty. It’s people like you and Cat who are helping me admit and face up to my BPD symptoms

  2. My concentration is terrible, so have spent ages reading and re-reading this post, including the comment below from ‘Stillhiding’. Quite a revelation!

    Wow! You’ve done it again, Cat…. Made me feel as if you were writing about me.

    Recently, I have struggled in a never-ending full-blown BPD-drama. It’s not just about one thing, but over many. I said before that I don’t know a lot about BPD. I can relate to some of the info but nothing has come so close in helping me identify what this whole BPD means for me. You seem to have wrapped it up brilliantly – things are never enough.

    Expectations are a taboo subject for me right now. For years, I have been thinking that my extreme isolation comes from fearing what others expect from me. Suddenly I realise it is more about them not meeting MY expectations…. And, yes, they are extremely high unachievable expectations. To save myself from the hurt, I push everyone away and live in my bubble.

    Crazy bitch sounds like some kind of time-traveller because she lives inside me too. This post is huge for me, thank you for sharing. Your honesty shows great courage. I notice you only have 1 month left of DBT. I am due to start two-years MBT in January. I plan to research more about BPD, this has been an excellent starting point.

    1. Thank you so much ‘other Cat’ (if you don’t mind me calling you that!) 🙂 . I think there can be a ‘snowball effect’ when it comes to honesty and openness. Posts like Cat’s certainly inspire me to reply with my thoughts and feelings and not just to appreciate the posts but stay silent – not just because the posts themselves have such an amazing impact and make me go ‘wow’, but also in case there’s even the slightest minute chance that a comment I make might help someone even 0.5% as much as the posts of others have helped me. What country are you in ‘other Cat’? I only ask because both you and Cat seem to have access to a wider range of therapies than I’ve encountered in the UK. My thoughts are with you as you learn more about bpd, and struggle through the intense ups and downs and drama….

      1. I’m in London. In my experience, the services were there, but people didn’t necessarily offer them. Most places in the UK have specialist services for Personality Disorders, or maybe I’m being naive. Have you tried googling what mental health services you actually have in your area? That was quite an eye-opener for me. Are you part of a local mental health team?

  3. Thanks Cat. Apparently there is a ‘personality disorders pathway’ in my area, but there’s no information on how to access it, so I will have to ring up. Did you do this through your GP? I’m not part of a local mental health team, and was told by my previous therapist that the NHS does not have the resources to help those who need help but who are ‘managing’, as I am i.e. holding down a job, raising a family etc. I had the maximum number of IAPT sessions and was told I could go back, but CBT is definitely not for me. I have only seen my GP once in recent months but am going back soon, and could check is they’re willing to refer me on to anything else. How did you get to have the support of a local mental health team, if you don’t mind me asking? I have a friend in another part of the country who is registered disabled due to her bpd, alcohol dependence, OCD etc, and although she has a mental health worker and attends STEPPS, she doesn’t get any form of free counselling or MBT from within the NHS…..

  4. How am I only seeing these comments now?! Whoops, I missed out! Thanks for the comments and for being so honest, StillHiding and “Other” Cat (Cat the First? haha). Until I got into all the therapy and DBT stuff, I never realized how important it is to validate the risk people take in simply being honest – particularly people like us. So I want to say I really, really appreciate how you take the time and effort to give me and anyone reading this your thoughts, which are always so insightful. My follow-up post to this post is another bit of a bombshell (or at least the concepts in it were quite the bombshell to me), and I think they kind of go hand-in-hand, particularly regarding the Crazy Bitch thing (umm I now feel awful typing that, for reasons that become clear in my most recent post). I want to clarify that I think “Crazy Bitch” has been my catch-all term both for my BPD symptoms (which are one entity) and my very much emotional self (which is another separate entity but one that is very connected to my BPD of course). It has probably not been a helpful term and it’s one that I have adopted based on my own frustrations with this, as well as a general agreement with the very negative and hurtful views of BPD that some people have. I guess what I’m saying (in the MOST long-winded way possible) is that none of us really are “Crazy Bitch” as much as “Incredibly Hurt and Self-hating Person” and I hope my latest post clarifies what I’m starting to learn on that front… I don’t want anyone to think I’m calling them that! – Cat xxxx

  5. Don’t worry Cat the Second 😉 he he……I didn’t think you were calling anyone (apart from your own entities which you refer to) ‘Crazy Bitch’ – if we identified with her (which I did), it was only because we recognised those same things in ourselves, it’s not that you were pointing them out or labelling them or indeed us…..but like you, I tend to worry about how what I say might be construed, so I hope this is at least partly reassuring!! Take care xx

  6. Now pals, I write to you all – I may get the names wrong and am so full of tears each time I read a blog like one of ours,
    This is a synopsis of my current waterloo, I am grieving the loss of my brother whom I loved so much and who suffered with various mental illnesses for 18 out of 33 yrs of his existence. I had to harass to be be told this very June maybe just a day or two before his 33rd birthday, that he had been recently diagnosed with BPD and al – check out this post if you can: http://marieabanga.com/2014/06/06/somebody-tell-me-what-is-wrong-with-my-brother/
    In the process, I realized that all what I had also been through was some ‘mental illness’ too. Indeed, I attemped suicide in 2009, did several irrational and even manic stuffs, went hyper hyper, committed adultery over and again, and ended up fleeing my marriage, kids and family. I am determined to get to the bottom of this before it gets to me. I see a psychiatrist on Tuesday although my mum is so terrified about that because she thinks psychiatrist means medication and meds mean dope con side effects – zombie and etc.
    And so, thank you all for your posts, we really aren’t alone 🙂

  7. Hi

    You are very aware of your disorder and unlike many sufferers of BPD you seem to accept full responsibility for the havock it has caused in your interpersonal relationships.

    If this is the case how much are you able to control these urges when they surface? For example if you feel you are about to rage are you more mindful of it and can stop it or is it a running freight train that needs to run its course before coming to a slow simpering apologetic stop?

    1. Hi there,

      Mindfulness has helped me to gain quite a bit of control over these urges but learning about “part work” (basically the idea that you have these inner parts with specific agendas/behaviours that you can switch in and out of… I’ve written a lot on it in later posts) has helped the most I would say. When I switch into a part, it feels like I have zero control – I have to enact the scenario exactly as that particular part (“Crazy Bitch” as I refer to it in this post) demands. Now I am learning to stop letting the switch flip. By observing and acknowledging that part and the role it’s played, I can avoid mindlessly falling into its clutches. I do, however, have a lot more self-compassion since writing this post, as well as a lot more meditation/mindfulness training. Hope that helps! xx

  8. Hi Cat,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and being so honest about the “crazy bitch” that is released in you when expectations are not met. Your blog post was beautiful, emotionally honest, and insightful. I have to be honest and say that I burst into tears, no, I bawled when I read your post. Just straight up choked up in heaving sobs that left tear streaks and mascara smudges all over my face.
    I don’t struggle with BPD. I am a Non as they say I suppose. But my most recent boyfriend realized he had BPD and began therapy at the end of our relationship. Although he sought out therapy all on his own, he says he doesn’t believe in mental disorders and diagnoses. Thus, he believes that Borderline is not a personality disorder, but rather, a maladaptive pattern of handling stress.
    The point is, I had no idea about any of this stuff or his struggles when we first started dating. I had never before, to my knowledge, experienced mental health issues in a relationship, and so his behaviors several months in left me rather puzzled and confused, rather than worried at first. I have always tried to be very consistent, stable, and level headed in my life. I have felt lucky to feel grounded to a place I call home and to have a solid sense of who I am and what is important to me. I realize now in retrospect how utterly fortunate I am to not struggle with my identity, and and how unsettling it must feel to do so.
    When I met my ex-boyfriend, we immediately hit it off and became fast friends. It wasn’t long before we began to date and become emotionally intensely intimate. He opened up to me about his past relationships and his struggles. I felt so much empathy for him. He told me that he felt he could be himself around me, that he was comfortable and felt safe. He told me that he admired and adored me-he loved that I could be exactly who I was and always be true to myself. He told me I was an excellent listener.
    We talked about what a relationship meant to each of us and the kind of relationship we both wanted to be in. But it seemed to me, the more I met his expectations and met him with equal adoration (ie wasn’t running away), the more he expected of me and the more he tested me. He told me he wasn’t used to not having to constantly chase, he told me he wasn’t used to a girlfriend being a friend and treating him well, while also being a lover. And then, two weeks after he asked me to commit to him and to meet his family, he told me that he had been asked out on a date by a dude, and wasn’t sure if he was totally straight. Then he told me he wasn’t sure anymore how he felt about me. Was I a friend or a girlfriend?
    I became confused and hurt and I pulled back to clear my head and to take some space. He became clingy and wanted to spend all his time with me again. And then abruptly, a week later, he broke up with me saying that he wasn’t 100% sure if I was “the one” and he couldn’t handle the uncertainty.
    The next day, he emailed me to state how deeply he cared for me and how much he wanted to be in my life, to support me and to give to me in all the ways I had supported and given to him. That he hoped he could still be in my life. And he signed his name with “love.”
    All of this was so utterly heart breaking and confusing for me after having this guy be so wonderful to me in the beginning. I had never experienced anything like it-the intensity, the closeness, the seeming seriousness, and then the complete flip-flopping of feelings and the black and white thinking.
    However, the saddest part was several months later. I decided to move away to a new state to pursue a new job. When I reached out to him for comfort and emotional support after witnessing a tragic climbing fall in the mountains, he responded in anger and frustration with how I had conveyed the message. He said I didn’t convey the message “the right way” or appropriately, and thus, he felt it was unfair to him and that I had thrust this information upon him. He then went on to unleash an angry tirade via email about how he had realized that he felt misunderstood in our relationship and that I hadn’t been empathetic and supportive enough after we broke up. He told me he needed someone who could sense his needs/thoughts/feelings without him having to voice them. He said that since he felt upset and angry with me and had all these unresolved feelings, he couldn’t be my friend anymore nor offer me emotional support.
    I did my best to respond with empathy for him and his feelings, while at the same time expressing my own pain and confusion and establishing a boundary.
    This happened almost two months ago. We havent talked since.

    I cried when I read your post because it described his high expectations, his need to have things go exactly his way, and the resulting frustrations when those expectations are not met, perfectly. I cried because it is heartbreaking all around. I don’t hate him and I don’t hate borderlines. I can empathize with the pain that he and other borderlines must be feeling in order to demand and expect so much of others. It’s demonstrative of so much lack and need in earlier times when caring, nurturing, and love were desperately sought and not obtained. I feel for that. And, at the same time, my heart is severely bruised and torn up from a love relationship that ended up verging on emotional abuse. I tried, valiantly and as best I possibly could, to meet his needs, to be supportive, to meet those expectations. It’s taken me over a month to realize that it is impossible to meet unrealistic expectations. Yet there are still weak moments when I blame myself and think-“what if I had said it this way or phrased it that way? What if I had somehow someway done MORE?” It’s so hard not to take it personally because I got slammed with guilt, blame, and shame. I pride myself on being a caring, supportive, understanding friend. I felt wounded in the area that I love the most about myself.

    Please know that there are people out there who deeply care for you and love you and are trying the absolute best they know how to give you support, empathy and love. It may not be phrased exactly perfectly or in precisely the style you think is best. But it is genuine and it comes from a place of love and caring. If a friend or lover didn’t care, they wouldn’t even try or make an effort.
    I hope it works out for all of us one day. I hope we can all find a way to heal from our wounds and connect with others in a real, gentle, and patient manner. That goal- of finding inner contentment and peace is worth it.

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for reading and especially for commenting. I am very thankful to be able to say I’ve grown a lot since writing this post – I’m no longer at the mercy of what I once called “Crazy Bitch,” but I still have infinite sympathy and compassion for those who are. It’s truly inspiring and moving to see that that same sympathy and compassion can be felt by someone who doesn’t even suffer from BPD – kudos to you for being such a great human being! 🙂 And I think you already know this but I can tell you with 100% certainty that deep down, your ex knows that you tried, that you cared and that you deserve so much better than what he gave you. The ways I treat(ed) people when I was in my full-on BPD throes are among the things I regret most in life – I felt driven to say and do so many things I didn’t mean at all, and I know your ex probably feels the same. There’s nothing more you could have done than show him support and love without losing yourself or your own boundaries in the mess of BPD. And I will say this too: a lot of the love that people showed me while I was at my worst is only being received/felt by me right now (i.e. now that I’m capable of receiving it)- so it’s possible that you will actually “help” your ex years from now when he finally learns to help himself. Take care and thanks again for the wonderful comment. xxxx p.s. love your name 🙂

      1. Hi Cat,

        Aww, thank you. I can’t tell you how much better your words made me feel. Truly. It’s almost therapeutic for me to hear those words from someone who can empathize with what I’ve gone through. This whole experience was such an upheaval for me-I never knew a relationship could be so intense and so awesome and then so utterly painful a short time later. I think what I struggle with the most is his accusation that I didn’t understand him enough and that I didn’t express empathy in the “right” way. In truth, I’ve learned a lot about BPD since we split up which now allows me to understand him and what happened much better. But it was just so confusing in the middle/end of our relationship because he had never seen a therapist or gotten any kind of help and he didn’t know what was going on for him (he thought maybe it was depression). He was confused and I was confused, and yet, the expectation was that I was supposed to know, relate to, and understand exactly what he was going through and to be there for him-even after he broke up with me. It’s unrealistic. And yet I’m still sometimes hard on myself because I saw the best in him and I know he’s a good person underneath it all, and I so very much want for him to get better for his own sake and happiness.
        Anyway, your words really helped me to give myself equal compassion and to restore hope that maybe one day he will heal when he is ready/able.
        Thank you, Cat!
        And thank you for the name compliment-I do still believe in that sentiment, even with a broken heart. 🙂

  9. I am slowly making my way through your blog… I do not suffer from BPD, but I suspect my recent ex (of two years) does. I wish I’d realized what was happening a lot sooner, maybe I could have done things differently. Logically, however, I know it’s not my battle to fight. I have to let go. Everything that Trustinlove described I went through as well and now my heart is broken, confusion fills my head, while my home is vacant of someone I love dearly. Thank you for showing me the other side of the coin… I know I will find healing in the understanding.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Liza – you have no idea how it makes my day to think that my ramblings give even a little bit of help to someone! And I hope you continue to make it through this difficult time knowing, as you say, it’s not your battle to fight. Hugs xxxxxx

  10. This is so me. I am Crazy Bitch! Or, as you’ve described, Crazy Bitch is inside me, and that is not who I am. Thank you so much for writing this post! I realize it’s months old now, but is definitely going to be a talking point at my next therapy session. Love your blog, everything I’ve read so far is so familiar and helpful. Kirsty xxx

    1. Thank you, Kristy, I’m so glad you are enjoying it. 🙂 Yes, loving Crazy Bitch is not always easy but it sure works a lot better than hating/strangling her, which was my default strategy before all this! Hugs and best wishes as you continue the brave work of tackling these things in therapy, please keep me posted xxxx

  11. Oh my god this is literally me 😦 it’s so painful and makes you feel like a hideous person. It’s so exhausting living with such anxiety and fear that you will always be let down. I have been trying to master it (I’m having dbt too) but it’s SO SO hard – I just hope one day something will click and I LL be able to feel a bit better about it all.

    This is so so relatable so please don’t feel like you are the only one!!

    1. Suzuki, my thoughts go out to you, and I’m sorry to read you are feeling so low. But I could not disagree with you more. Suicide is not the only way out. I took another way. And nearly four years after writing this post, I cannot believe how much my life has changed for the better. Not saying this to be annoying and smug or superior — just with the hope that you will see it is possible to heal. Therapy, medication, and constant practice in changing my thought patterns have helped me find the real me (not the BPD that I thought was my true self). I am sending you love and hope, my friend, I hope they make it through the wifi waves to you. xoxo

  12. This post had me laughing and in tears at the same time. Well, metaphorical tears as I don’t do crying.
    I only realised really recently that I expect things of people. And reading Life in a bind’s post had me realising that a number of other relationship failure’s was about that too. I don’t know what my expectations are. But, okay. Because it doesn’t play out with friends – I know everyone will eventually turn away, regardless how close I am, so it doesn’t come into play – it took the mess up of therapy, and hearing a random comment as part of a voice message he left me (of course I read through all the exchanges we had over and over) about hoping one day I won’t be so completely devastated by non-responsiveness to realise that I expected things, and he never addressed it, he never told me about it. I see, too, why he thought I’d be manipulative with others (he told me he thinks I keep people off balance to protect myself). I’m not. I don’t get close enough to do that. My friends disagreed with him. But I’m beginning to understand why he thought I would. I’m beginning to realise how much he actually did understand, and realising how much I messed it up – it was him who did – means that although I had processed the end, I haven’t any longer. I processed him ending it. But it was more me. Although of course he should have been able to handle me and stay with me even if I told him we couldn’t do it. He should’ve known and heard all I wasn’t saying and all that I really meant. Logically, uh, I’m not sure what logically he was meant to do (definitely not end it!).

    What do I do to get it from myself? Letters to myself. I’ve done it often. Learned to tell myself what I need to hear. It feels weird, especially because it really feels as though it isn’t me writing (splitting myself more than I already do), and I don’t do it when I’m not present as then I feel as though I’m talking to a wall.
    I feel like though, however much we can give to ourselves, sometimes there has to be someone else there to reiterate it all (which in my life there isn’t)

    1. Oh man, yep, I spent so long fixating on what other people do/should be doing towards my own emotional health – letting go of it is WAY better! I promise. Five years after writing this post I can say I’m far from “healed’ or 100% emotionally independent, but I’m a lot further through the hard work of learning how to manage and feel my own emotions before involving or blaming anybody else. I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart, Eliza, it’s truly an awful way to feel xoxox

      1. I like your line about learning how to manage and feel your own emotions. That’s what I want to be able to do (well, first be able to identify them logically).

        Why do you keep on keeping on when it all seems like a waste of time? Or when you feel like you’ve not gotten anywhere?

      2. Hi Eliza, so sorry I didn’t get a notification about this second comment so it sat here for a week! :/ You are right that the first step is identifying emotions! Have you ever done any DBT? Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is one of the few tried and true methods for helping with BPD (and for many emotional and mental health issues, actually). It uses many different tools and makes you develop a bunch of skills, all with one goal in mind: managing emotions. For me, it was perfect (though it did NOT seem perfect at first and I was still incredibly angry and frustrated) because I was a complete slave to my emotions… they made me act certain ways, feel certain things, and ruin my life even further. Once I could identify what I was feeling, I could start to tolerate some feelings better. Then I could draw boundaries and do things to help myself so the feelings didn’t escalate into things I’d regret (“I’m feeling incredibly angry. I need to leave this situation if I don’t want this anger to control my actions in the next few minutes”). Then I could ask people close to me for what I actually needed (that is still the scariest one fyi)—”I need to feel like you understand what I’m saying” or “I need help focusing on something else at the moment.” And finally, one day, I realised I could be that person to myself, almost like there are two people in my brain sometimes now: the BPD/damaged part (which is not nearly as strong or powerful now that it’s something I recognize) and my true self, wiser and kinder and looking out for my own feelings like a friend.

        When I feel like it’s all pointless or I haven’t made any progress, I won’t lie to you… it still usually takes another person’s involvement to help me up again. Somebody reminding me that I’ve come a long way, that I still have a lot to do in life, etc. etc. I really wish I could say that I don’t rely on that anymore, but I’m not quite there yet. That’s why I focus/work pretty hard to keep myself from ever getting too low though. Not sure if it’s the healthiest long-term thing to do (almost feels like avoiding emotions in some ways??) but for now, I take brain health vitamins, I eat pretty well, I limit screens, I try to get sufficient sleep, I monitor what “voices” I hear during the day (avoiding world news, upsetting movies/tv/news footage, toxic social media crap, etc.), I do NOT drink alcohol (even one or two glasses noticeably depresses me for a few days), and I don’t force myself to be around people or conversations that upset me.

        But I will say this: the world clearly needs more people who can feel—it’s already teeming with people who feel nothing, no compassion, no regret for their actions, no sadness at what humans do to each other. The world also needs more people to be their unique selves, to share their story in the hope that someone else identifies with it and feels at least a little better that someone understands. And the world needs people who are capable of learning from human mistakes; people who have lived through (or even done) stupid, messed up shit (e.g., bullying, abuse, psychological damage) and they can help stop it from happening again if they ever see it.

        I can be one of those people. That is the thought that helps me keep on keeping on. YOU are one of those people, too! I’m not going to say mental illness is a gift in some ways, because we both know that would be dumb and trite and insulting. BUT I know it is a vulnerability that has forced me to be stronger than I would be without it.

        I hope any of that made sense and that you can take some comfort from it, Eliza. Please do look into DBT in your area if you haven’t before, and don’t settle for a therapist that doesn’t seem helpful either – I had a horrible time finding a competent therapist and would always recommend that you ask one very important question: “How many people have you cured of BPD?” xx

      3. Re DBT I just saw a psych who will ask my GP to put a referral through. The system here is national health so wouldn’t get a choice about who to see. Or whether I’d even be offered DBT (or MBT). And the waiting list to see someone is 3 -6 months – which doesn’t count the waiting list to learn DBT. So I wouldn’t actually be given a choice of who could teach it either. But first I need to wait for the letter (than see my GP, than he’ll put a referral through et al).

        A saying I love which you’re reminding me of is hang on, because you never know when someone will say because of you I didn’t give up.

        I definitely know what you mean about the 2 people in your brain :). I actually asked AH (ex therapist) about it once. I told him that the letters I wrote to myself made me feel crazy (as you say, 2 people) he told me I don’t have split personality disorder as I wouldn’t be as aware of it all. Though journaling through dialogue helps me more than writing to myself, at the moment. Have you ever done that?

  13. Yep, I have, that is a great exercise! I have sometimes written out things that seem to come more from a demon than myself – literally. Horrible words filled with hate and darkness, that, only a few days later, I can’t believe *I* wrote. The therapist that I ultimately ended up with (and yes, it took almost a year to get in… ugh.) was very experienced with what she called “part work”—the idea that we all have “parts” of ourselves/our minds that we switch between. But in people with BPD and some other mental issues, just a few parts will absorb all the bad stuff, making them the garbage can for emotions or feelings or memories we don’t think we can deal with. Anyway, long story short, she helped me identify these hidden “parts” and help them feel heard, understood, and released, so you can be a whole integrated person again: a healthy mind. I don’t think my work of this type is done, but I really think it’s incredibly helpful and makes the most sense out of everything I ever experienced in terms of mental health care. Your main/conscious parts learn skills to deal with emotions (the DBT part). Then, you use that knowledge to help yourself – that is, the parts of you that still carry terrible memories and emotions but don’t have the tools to heal or deal with them. In this way, you become your own therapist, your own best friend, your own saviour. I mean it’s obviously a lot harder than I’m making it sound lol. But yeah, you’ll have a huge leg up and be able to go faster once you DO get into therapy if you can start learning the DBT skills now (with apps, websites, a DBT workbook, etc.). No one should be unleashing the scary parts of themselves without professional help though, so don’t start on that. Just focus on soothing those parts when they do crop up, assuring them that they are heard and you are slowly learning how to heal them. I hope you get great help and that your GP can fast-track you if possible… mental health problems are the new cancer tbh, it makes me so frustrated that Western health care honestly puts more money into giving old men boners atm than it does preventing and healing sick, tortured minds!!! xoxox

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