Are you going to leave me? Those six words are the Borderline’s lie.
It’s hard to write about this, and that’s ok, it has to be hard.
I’ve done things in relationships that are disgraceful, but not because I wanted to hurt those people, but because I have nascent vocabulary in how-to-give-and-receive-love language.
The one who had the rock-bottom worst of me was Bill. A lawyer in DC with southern roots. We went golfing on Saturdays, grocery shopped by searching stamped expiration dates instead of the price, decorated his apartment with Crate and Barrel furniture, gambled laundry duties on Miss America contestants, and fell into a routine I didn’t know how to handle.
Borderlines, we try on personalities like costumes desperate for one that fits. He needed from me a to-be housewife, and so I fictionally gave it. He needed from me a partner that inhales and exhales at the same pace as the other, and so I designed our existence that was fully him. And because I cut off from my truths to barely stand in his, the Borderline in me focused harder and grew louder.
Unzipping out of the to-be housewife costume for air, I would say things to hurt him while he was at work; judged him against people I didn’t know; threw his clothes into the hallway for no reason; left him at restaurants or dinner parties without explanation; cut all my hair off because he treasured it long; stabbed our Halloween pumpkin when he came home late after a weeknight out with friends; threw his art collection off the balcony and laughed as he begged me to stop, but subsequently terrified asked him, “Are you going to leave me?”
The residue of shame, after, turned anything good left in me to a yellow-green. Zipping back into my to-be housewife costume, Bill chiseled away to find trapped angels. To carve on me helped him reason against the Borderline.
“I don’t know how to find my way out of this,” I said and meant it.
“I just always knew I was meant to be with someone,” he said and meant it.
I had never been so presumptively cared for but so lonely.
It shifted; he grew exhausted. Urgently I would ask over and over, “Are you going to leave me?” The force of resentment bubbled in the place of his expired devotion, and he stopped answering. Loving me became as difficult as kissing his own lips.
I remember the blue in his eyes, as he turned away, because he was no longer in them.
“You’re not coming back,” I cried and knew it.
No love can teach a Borderline to become an un-Borderline way of being by any means. This is to say, even if it were to erase the fallacious knee-jerk reactions we give, or compound the selfish wounds we lick with discipline to be what they need; even to respect compassion that is freely gifted without levying a war of words to unhinge it, we will still be Borderline.
Borderlines are starving for the secrets between the heart and the soul. To connect, really connect, means to feel all that was lost. It’s a depressingly beautiful thing that place, because that is where we become hurt instead of hate.
They leave us because we cannot see or hear that we are lovable through their suffering to love us.
So as they go, how much time we wasted waiting for that walk-away instead of knowing them. The very raw truth, they can’t fix us, and I think that injures them more, because they want to, and it really does pain them to watch us bleed Borderline.
Are you going to leave me? This is the Borderline lie we tell ourselves to avoid seeing ourselves. We must fall harder, practice how to walk into the soul as broken, run out of options, and independently accept the friction that must be to learn how to live. Only there, in that horribly terrifying place of loneliness, is where we will meet ourselves for the very first time—without stabbing pumpkins, throwing paintings off the balcony or clothes into the hallway. Without trying to control what inevitably is out of control and surrender, to all that is us, because it’s the only way out.
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Can You Feel This: Self-Help for Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Mental Health Advocacy