I have to be real, and I can’t keep stuffing my feelings and pretending that I’m okay when I’m not.  That’s part of “finally coming together.”  Too many times in the past I have pretended, not wanting to offend people or risk having someone mad at me or losing relationships.  But then I sit there and steam inside, and don’t trust anybody because I never know when they are going to hurt me again, and I’ll just take it, and go on pretending.  It’s not working.

I’m reading Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.  None of my therapists has ever wanted to diagnose me with BPD, although I do meet the DSM-IV-TR criteria.  I’m learning a lot about myself from this book.  I hope to learn how to fix some of this.  The author, Marsha Linehan, includes a table of Behavioral Patterns in BPD that she has identified in the women she worked with in developing DBT.  All of the items in the table describe me very accurately:

  1. Emotional vulnerability: A pattern of pervasive difficulties in regulating negative emotions, including high sensitivity to negative emotional stimuli, high emotional intensity, and slow return to emotional baseline, as well as awareness and experience of emotional vulnerability.  May include a tendency to blame the social environment for unrealistic expectations and demands.
  2. Self-invalidation: Tendency to invalidate or fail to recognize one’s own emotional responses, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.  Unrealistically high standards and expectations for self.  May include intense shame, self-hate, and self-directed anger.
  3. Unrelenting crises: Pattern of frequent, stressful, negative environmental events, disruptions, and roadblocks – some caused by the individual’s dysfunctional lifestyle, others by an inadequate social milieu, and many by fate or chance.
  4. Inhibited grieving: Tendency to inhibit and overcontrol negative emotional responses, especially those associated with grief and loss, including sadness, anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, and panic.
  5. Active passivity: Tendency to passive interpersonal problem-solving style, involving failure to engage actively in solving of own life problems, often together with active attempts to solicit problem solving from others in the environment; learned helplessness, hopelessness.
  6. Apparent competence: Tendency for the individual to appear deceptively more competent than she actually is; usually due to failure of competencies to generalize across expected moods, situations, and time, and to failure to display adequate nonverbal cues of emotional distress.

Which ones of these am I showing right now?  All of them.  Particularly #6, #1, and #2 for today.  But they are all typical for how I go about life.  Some of them seem contradictory, like the inhibition and overcontrol of emotional responses in grieving; and emotional vulnerability.  But both of them fit.  I wish that I could feel something about losses such as my brother’s suicide a year ago.  I feel like something is missing, but I’m just numb, and pretty much was from the night that I got the news.  And I wish that every little thing didn’t hurt me so much that it feels like I will always hurt, and there is no escape.

Or unrelenting crises and apparent competence.  People who don’t know me well tend to think I’ve got my act together.  I’m pretty good at looking like I can handle just about anything.  But I fall apart so easily.  And I attack myself, and I go passive and try to disappear, dissociate, and be invisible.

I hope that as I continue to read, and also to work on myself in therapy and try to apply it in real life, that I will learn how to change some of these patterns.  Right now it seems hopeless.  But I’m trying not to hide it anymore, and I hope that will be a step in the right direction.  I also hope it doesn’t turn around and bite me.