A Sad Story – A Case Study of One*
Please Note: I will use this section to add a personal application to all the technical stuff. It is my hope that if you have BPD you will realize that you are not alone and that if I can make it than you gotta believe that you can too.)
A was born into a single parent family with eight children. I was the ninth child and the seventh son. I later found out that everyone else’s father was not my father. When George (everyone else’s dad) left mom to raise the kids by herself, she was pregnant at the time, and her stress brought on a premature baby who never really got her feet under her. She died at about eighteen months due to infection from complications with teething. Looking for support, she had an affair and got pregnant with me. When I was born, she had a physical and mental crash. The other eight kids went into the orphanage and I went to live with my 76 year old grandmother. After several months, mom recooperated (pun intended), got her kids back and started to put her life back together again. Mom never bonded with me because I was her mortal sin, according to The Catholic Church, and God would soon take me anyway. Just about at that time my grandmother died and I lost my bond we shared. My thirteen year old sister quit school to raise me while mom tried to make a wage to feed her family. She never came to my games or school events although I excelled at both. I cannot remember my mother kissing or hugging me until my fortieth birthday.
Because of this rough beginning, I never developed a solid sense of self. I tried to please everyone in the hope that they would approve and show some form of acceptance and love towards me. I became a perfectionist believing that if I showed the world just how good I was they would have to accept me and love me. I must have a powerful constitution (HS) because I managed to survive for fifty-five years. That’s when I was forced to go into an extensive eighteen week, five hours a day, five days a week intensive, group therapy program. That’s when they nailed me with the BPD label, which was okay, because that allowed me to go on long term disability and still collect my salary. Paid vacation. Not.
I have been a student of BPD ever since which led to my quest to understand it, leading to the thirty-seven traits I have identified from the DSM 5* (aside: totally unscientific but makes sense to me. There I go, apologizing again – impairment 2 – for something that needs no apology. In fact, it’s a damn good idea. When I count them up looking back to those days just before the crash, I had a nine or ten on seventeen of the impairments and traits and an overall score of 242. Bet you can’t beat that.) Above all, I had a poorly developed and unstable self-image. Give me a ten on this one. That’s enough for now. Believe me, hang in there, it does get better as we will see in the following chapters.
Please Note: I think it’s time to leave the research and theories behind for a while and look at BPD from an emotional point of view. Feelings from the heart instead of ideas from the mind. So here goes. The play within the play whereby I’ll catch the conscious of the king (me)(Hamlet).
During one weekend, I attended a writer’s workshop that focused on owning our work and feeling good about it. One of the activities really hit home. We were to carry on a written dialogue with the child within. The voice of the higher self (adult) was expressed by writing with the dominant hand and the voice of the child with the other. The following is what I came up with:
Child: It’s dark in here.
Adult: Where are you?
Child: I don’t know. Mom left me here alone a long time ago.
Adult: I was always there with you.
Child: No you weren’t. I didn’t see you.
Adult: I was watching safely from a distance.
Child: Why didn’t you come and play with me? I was scared.
Adult: I’m not sure. I cared for you, but something seemed to be holding me back. Where was your mother?
Child: I never had a mother. There was a woman. She made my meals. We watched TV together but she was not my mother.
Adult: How do you know?
Child: She never held me. She never kissed me. She never said she loved me.
Adult: What about your father?
Child: I never had a father.
Adult No one?
Child: Just you. But you never held me, or kissed me, or said you loved me either.
Adult: But I was there. I didn’t do those things because I wanted you to be strong, to grow up to be a man. Surely you must remember my visits, those poems I wrote to you over the years?
Child: Yes, thank you. I still have all of them. I read them when I feel lonely.
Adult: I am sorry I neglected you. Please forgive me. But there is still time. Perhaps you can be the child of my mature years, like my grandson?
Child: Yes, I would like that. Do you have time to play now?
Adult: Yes I do, all the time in the world. We can have our own special time every day after lunch until before dinner. Would you like that?
Child: Oh yes! That would be fun. But not golf. I hate golf. How about tag or hide and seek? I can hide someplace in the dark and you can come and find me.
Adult: And yes, and we can both run for home…
Child: And yell HOMEFREE!!
Adult: Yes let’s do it.
Child: And you can hug me and say you love me.
Adult: Yes, I promise. I do love you, you know?
Child: I know.
The Silver Lining
What can we take from this? Most of us borderliners with BPD have had to survive with a wounded child, often because of childhood neglect or abuse. Because of what we have experienced, we now have the opportunity through the power of our Higher Self, to use these experiences to grow into conscious beings, to use our trials to give insight into what it means to awaken to the infinite possibilities of the universe. Once we deal with our problems with self-esteem and develop a positive self-concept, we will be miles ahead of the rest of the population who haven’t yet faced their demons and discovered their Higher Self. We can now revisit those days again and do some healing, and then pass this knowledge on to others.
My five suggestions for borderliners
- If you have no self-identity issues and no BPD problems – enjoy the read.
- If you are one of us who struggles with poor self-identity and poor self-image, you are not alone. We* can learn to accept ourselves just the way we are. We can seek a new foundation. We bond with ourselves. We bond the fragile ego-self with the spiritually powerful higher self (HS). We become our own parent and give ourselves a hug whenever we need one.
- We flood our self with self-love from the HS. We practice looking in the mirror and seeing the higher self within. We do this until we can look ourselves right in the eye and say “I love you”, and mean it, and feel it. It will feel like a rush as the HS accesses the pleasure center of the brain. When we do this, we bring the two identities, the mind self and the higher self, together. We enter into the awareness of the infinite power of our Self-identity as body, mind, and soul.
- We tell ourselves we love our self (body, mind and spirit) over and over again day after day after day, until all the old feelings are permanently erased. When confronted with a moment of self-doubt, we stop it. We tell ourselves that we are better than that; in fact, we are beautiful and powerful beings in complete control of our emotions and feelings. We make a conscious decision to let go of the negative feelings associated with low self-esteem, and embrace the positive feelings bathed with love from our higher self. We do not blame our negative mind self, we thank it for being diligent and assure it that things will be different from now on.
- Set aside fifteen minutes a day for meditation with a purpose; namely to become aware of and appreciate the presence of our higher self.
* (Last aside in this chapter: I like to use “we” because using “you” can really be hard on borderliners with an already a poor self-image that says that any kind of unwanted advice is criticism, and intervention is useless. “We” means we are not alone; we are in this together. You may wish to sign up to my newsletter and attend some of my webinars at lawrencejwcooper.ca. These are free services that I offer, because, like the Ancient Mariner, I feel compelled to tell my story to anyone who will listen.)