By Alexandra Kerr
To all of my friends, I’m sorry. I fully appreciate that at the best of times, I can be an utter pain in the butt, and at the worst of times… well, let’s not go there!
I am currently on the road to a borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis — a diagnosis that at first I pushed away, but after much reading around the condition, I realized explains a lot. Any time I upset a friend, or exchanged harsh words with someone I care about, I feel like my world is about to end. I feel sick to my stomach, my heart rate raises, I get sweaty, panicky and I apologize a lot. I plead for the person not to leave. I apologize again and again, and then I go back to asking them not to leave me and desperately start trying to initiate some damage-control on the situation… which is ironic because I know full well that the “damage-control” puts more stress and pressure on the situation. I understand how difficult this must be for the people around me — especially when my reaction seems so over the top for the situation, but for me, the fear is real. My fear of abandonment is real and I can’t think of anything worse than someone turning their back on me.
I understand the emotional drain this puts on people around me. I find myself constantly seeking validation by asking, “Do you still love me? Do you love me more or less than you used to?” or “Are we friends? Will you still be my friend if X or Y happens? Are you mad at me?”
I ask these questions so much more than I wish I did, and the answers are always the same:
Of course I still love you! Why?
Of course we’re friends! Why?
No, I’m not mad at you! Why would I be?
Every time I ask they wonder why, and every time I fail to put it in to words. Something in my head makes me believe our days are numbered and people will leave me — the mere thought of it is hard for me to face. Every time I ask these questions, I kick myself, but I keep pushing forward, and by then it’s too late to take it back anyway. The thought is out there, and I can’t take it back. But it is exhausting for me too. My whole body aches with the weight of the anxiety and I genuinely lose sleep at night over fleeting comments the other party probably didn’t dwell on for a moment.
I have a small and selective group of friends for these very reasons. It’s much easier to manage my life with a small group of friends — there is less drama, less worry, less sharing of my time and having to compromise between one person or another. It doesn’t always help though, I still find myself jumping through imaginary hoops
trying to fix issues that aren’t there (according to my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), this is called “mind-reading” — when you believe you know what another person is thinking without them telling you — and I’m guilty as charged).
But, to the point of this article, to those individuals who have stuck by me through each and every storm — Thank you! Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your reassurance. Thank you for not giving up on me. But mostly, thank you for being my friend, despite my flaws. It means the world to me — I promise I’m trying.