Hello, and Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a tolerable one.
I somehow managed to get through it.
Anyway I’ll dive straight in, as I want to talk about something very difficult to admit to. It’s something I’ve often wondered about – whether it’s just me who experiences it, or whether it is in some way an aspect of BPD. Apologies for the length of this, it’s a bit of an essay, but it’s the first time I’m externalising these thoughts.
I had it said to me in the past, by a ‘friend’ who turned out to be rather nasty to me, that I was ‘obsessed’ with a guy. While I accept it probably appeared that way to her, she didn’t know the whole story and had no right to say what she did, in the way she chose to. I knew it wasn’t just a case of obsession. But…. funnily enough I think I can be ‘obsessional’ about people and situations. I just don’t like certain words being used. Odd to say but I actually would prefer it to be referred to as ‘fixation’, rather than obsession. Obsessed creates a negative feeling of shame for me, possibly because of this friend who was quite offensive in her use of the word. Whereas to me, fixated means my attention, my care and my feelings of love are ‘fixated’ on one person. It’s more about the emotions and their direction, rather than ‘You’re obsessed’, which indicates a flaw in me. My friend actually said the words ‘This obsession you have with ______ isn’t normal’ – well, gee, thanks for that. I’m not ‘normal’. I do recognise it isn’t HEALTHY. But that’s not to say there is something fundamentally wrong with me as a person and I am abnormal or bad because of it. I can recognise it as unhealthy and if I could click my fingers and stop it, I would. But I can’t. It’s obviously a part of my mental illness, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one to feel this way about people.
Thinking back on that situation, it may well have been my BPD coming through there. I admit when I like a guy, I can’t stop thinking about him. He fills up my senses. He captures all of my emotions.
The next part I talk about is really hard for me to do, because I fear judgement and exposure of my ‘craziness’. I worry people will get the wrong idea about me and run with it, rather than hearing this for what it is – a confession to try and help others not feel so abnormal and ashamed. I don’t particularly want to talk about this, although doing so might remove the burden I feel, hiding such a hideous feeling part of me from the world. So please respect what courage it takes to admit to this:
The last man I was fixated on, we were never ‘together’ but he was stringing me along, messing with my emotions and I was his ego stroke basically. I don’t know if he really didn’t know this, or if he did and it’s what gave him his kicks, but despite how shit he would make me feel sometimes, I felt like I was in love with him. That’s why when he hurt me it broke me and I ‘overreacted’… in his opinion… because I cared about him a million times more than he cared about me. I don’t think he cared about me one ounce.
There were many times we’d fall apart and not speak for months – well, he certainly didn’t speak to ME anyway! But we’d fall back together. He obviously got bored of his latest ‘conquest’ and wanted an ego stroke, and me, being naïve and totally inexperienced with men and also having low self-esteem and a mental illness, I was a prime target. So I’d always go ‘running back’ to him. Whenever we drifted apart, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I would cry most days about him. I would go on his social media and because he had a public profile, I could see what he was up to. I would seek out pictures of him. I would look at those whom I knew were his closer friends, and if their profiles were equally as public I would look at theirs too, to see if I could find out anymore about how he was, what he was up to. I would collect the photos together and sit looking at them – not in a psycho kind of way, but to cause myself pain and heartache. I was in almost constant pain anyway most of the time. But having these sessions where I looked at photos and listened to sad music, it allowed me to experience the pain in a way that made sense. It nurtured the heartache. I know what I’ve just said likely doesn’t make any sense to you, but it did to me at the time. In a way I was punishing myself over and over again, for not being good enough, and for losing him….. In reality it was actually his loss, not mine. But I couldn’t see that at the time.
I knew he was into racing, and his team would always do well. So whenever there was a race I’d watch the final results online and cheer him on. But he never knew this. This was purely for my own emotional benefit. I would feel proud of him. But he’d never know this. I know it makes no sense, but it fulfilled a need in me at the time. I wasn’t ready to let go of him. He was ripped away from me. I hadn’t made the choice. So I needed to decide when to let him go. I needed to feel in control of that.
With the latest man I fixated on, I’ve done things quite similar, only we never had a ‘relationship’ of any kind, only a brief ‘professional’ one. But I felt an almost instant attraction to him. He’s nothing like the previous guy whatsoever. Maybe that’s why I liked him.
Even after seeing him once or twice, the times in between seeing him were agony. I physically hurt from missing him. Hence realising I was dealing with transference more than anything else. I spent days crying and feeling sick from not seeing him. I couldn’t sleep or eat. Life seemed to stop. I lived from week to week for seeing him, and dying inside in between. So my answer to that became ‘Look him up!’ – I thought that would stop the sadness and pain, if I could see evidence of him online.
I looked online, I ‘googled’ him… any way I could learn more about him, and feel ‘closer’ to him than reality would allow. I found out enough to know we had quite a bit in common, though a couple of major differences. From what I learned and pieced together with other observations / assumptions, I concluded that he’s very intelligent (more so than me…enter feelings of inadequacy), creative, musical, quirky / individual, funny, respectful, possibly a little nerdy, doesn’t know how attractive he is, he’s compassionate, caring, an attentive listener, sensitive, conscientious, trustworthy, emotionally available and not afraid of commitment, given that he’s married and having a child. He appreciates poetry and writing. And he plays music.
This led me to discover, through looking for photos / videos of him (because I missed him and needed to know that although he’s gone from my life forever now, I can still see him and feel connected, until I’M READY to let go!), that he was in a band of sorts and wrote songs. I had a listen, and now one of the songs he wrote is stuck in my head. It’s driving me mad now actually – it’s on a constant loop, it’s really catchy and cleverly written. I even burst out singing bits of it occasionally and have to stop myself. It also turns out that someone who was in the band with him, is actually also in a band with someone I went to school with – someone who was best friends with my brother and in a band with him, and who also happens to be the first guy I ever had a crush on. Spookily small world! And a bit funny that both the first and last guys I had feelings for were both in different bands with this one guy. Something poetic in that for me….
I also do the same, looking at photos, listening to depressing music, and crying my heart out. I guess it’s a part of grief for me. It’s the way I’ve learnt to cope with losing someone from my life. The trouble I have is if I do this at the wrong time, the emotions will flood in and overwhelm me, and lead me to harm myself, so I try not to allow myself to do this too often.
I was reluctant to share this information as some would quickly shout ‘STALKER!’ at me. But to me ‘stalking’ would be taking the information I learn and using it to contact him or turn up where he’s likely to go. This is not something I would ever do. I am respectful of his space, his privacy and his life. I’m only accessing things that are publicly available. And I’m only doing it to work through my own emotions…. either to hurt myself or in an attempt to heal myself, by stopping the despair I feel from losing him prematurely. When I’m in intense distress, just knowing he’s still alive, and remembering him helps, yet at the same time I admit it does also hurt… to know he’s there, just out of reach – if I wanted to I could contact him, but I’m not silly. I know boundaries, I fear rejection and I’m just not that person.
I am no threat to him or his personal life. I keep myself to myself. Even with what I’ve found out I still don’t know very much about him in reality, and never will. I’m fine with that. Obviously I would’ve liked to have known him better. I would love a friend like him, but I understand the reality is we’re eternally nothing to each other. I don’t know details about where he lives or where he works, and even if I did it wouldn’t mean a thing. I’m a very ‘inactive’ person when it comes to what I find out about people. I’ve always been an online detective, even with a friend in the past who I found out lied to me about something major. I don’t use the information to do anything. It just helps things make more sense to me. It helps me move forward. Or I use it to model what I like / dislike about people generally.
In this case, I know what I want in a man in the future. I know 100% it cannot and will not be him. But I can still admire qualities in him and use that to better my own future. Likewise, things I learned about the previous guy helped me to see him in a different light, that eventually helped me move on, and now I know what to avoid in a man, and I know how I deserve to be treated. I’ll only very occasionally look at his profile now, but just because I’m a nosey cow! And whenever I see anything I feel nothing for him, only disgust at how he treated me. It’s wonderful to be free. Last year I hardly looked at anything to do with him – I had far too much on my plate anyway, and that distance from information / pictures / memories etc released me from his spell. So I do know this fixation with the latest guy will go in time. I do need to stop clinging to any scraps of information I find on him, but again that will happen in time and I’ve got to be the one in control of that. It’s all still incredibly raw, so if this is a part of what I need to do to get over him, I have to allow myself to go through it, and not beat myself up for it.
It’s very hard to do that last bit…. because my morals tell me what I’m doing is wrong. It’s NOT normal. It feels like a violation of someone’s privacy, yet at the same time if it was private it wouldn’t be accessible on the internet – just like people could be doing the same towards me as I speak – someone could be reading what I write on my blog, without my knowledge… they could be looking at any accessible photos of me. If this is done because someone knows me and has feelings for me, but they realise it can never be, and it’s only to feel closer to me or to hurt themselves – as much as I wouldn’t want that for them, it would be okay, as they can only see what I choose to make public. If however they’re gathering that information with the intention of stalking me, contacting and harassing me, making me feel uncomfortable or to otherwise mess with me and hurt me, then that would be ‘stalking’ and would NOT be okay.
While I admit that some would think of what I do as a couple of steps away from being a stalker, I assure you in my case I’m not. For one, I’m too lazy to be a stalker. I’m too shy to be a stalker. And I DO know right from wrong, and hate to do anything wrong. What I’m experiencing now is ‘admiration from afar’ and ‘breaking my own heart over and over again‘… nothing more. Give it a few weeks / months and I will stop looking, I will hopefully begin to forget him, that’s my aim, and I will move on. For now this is what I need. I don’t have a shut-off valve, where I can magically stop thinking about someone. Life would be so much simpler if I did. I need these little windows to be able to appreciate his existence, until I am in the right place to release him from my heart. If I had these taken away from me now, I would fall apart. I would not be safe right now, especially as I’m unsupported.
My anxiety in talking about this, is that someone will read it, know it’s me talking about him, notify him, and he’ll make it so I can no longer see anything about him anywhere. This will drive me to despair. It’s bad enough to have lost him forever. To know that I can never communicate with him. But the thought of someone reporting what I’ve said here, which it’s taken a lot of courage to share, and denying me the ability to heal my broken heart in my own way and my own time, leaving me completely cut off, with thoughts that I’m despised and a bad person, I honestly couldn’t live with myself.
Believe me, I already feel like a terrible person… 1. For having these feelings for him in the first place. 2. For telling people, including him, about these feelings. 3. For being unable to let go of him, and clinging on to any reminders of him, wherever they might come from. I don’t need to be made to feel any worse.
I’m not for one minute saying I can excuse this behaviour just because perhaps it’s an aspect of BPD, but if it’s something that is actually quite common in people with BPD, then perhaps I don’t have to be quite so hard on myself and can see it as a part of my illness, rather than something ‘bad’ about me as a person. I know I’m a ‘good’ person… whatever a good person is! I know I’d never hurt a fly… literally. I would never wish to cause anyone upset, pain or make them uncomfortable. I’m a peaceful person. A private person (though I have started speaking out about mental health a lot in the last year or so, so it may not seem this way). I have boundaries and respect boundaries. I have a lot of empathy for others. I’m not a dangerous person, or a scary person. I’m not into harassing people. I’m not into breaking the law or getting in any sort of trouble. Even when I harmed at the therapy session I was more concerned with apologising, how it affected the therapists, and whether I was in trouble. I didn’t care about me! I’ve never been in trouble, and I never want to be.
So anything I do is always aimed at me. My self-harm is about me. My anger is taken out on me. My fixation on someone I’m emotionally attached to is about me, my inner experience and hurting myself. I am slightly masochistic and seem to be most ‘comfortable’ when in emotional turmoil. I know this is something I have to work on. I don’t snoop on people to get closer to them. I do it to FEEL closer to them, internally, though the reality is I’m no closer and eventually feel further away, as I witness them continuing their lives whilst I’m the one stuck, hurting over them. I said I’m a ‘good person’ I never said I’m not ‘messed up’…!
My belief is that this is an aspect of BPD… and it would make sense. We feel emotions intensely. We ruminate. We experience issues with attachment and abandonment. So if we feel strongly for someone… attached to them, then losing them will make us claw after any last remnants of them, as it feels like an abandonment… like they’ve been wrenched away from us and we were powerless. That’s the biggest troublesome emotion for me at the moment, the powerlessness. The despair we feel without them leads us to desperately seek out reminders of them, to ease the pain of loss, and to feel we still ‘have them’ (even though we don’t), until we decide it’s time to let go.
I admit when I feel I love someone it’s probably more intense than the average person. I’m not a smothering kind of person though. I very much respect personal space and time, and I actually NEED time alone. The thought of having to be attached at the hip to someone for the rest of my life, fills me with pure dread! But when I fall for someone I fall hard. I don’t feel these sorts of attachments to just anyone. Just the ‘lucky’ few. It’s rare. It has its positives. If the person returned my feelings I would be a fully committed, passionate, romantic, affectionate partner to them. I’d give them the world. It’s just unfortunate that I develop these attachments to people I can’t have, or those who are wrong for me and abuse it.
It’s a horrible feeling being this way. I feel like I’m too much… too intense to function in society. I think I’ll be alone forever because 1. Nobody will ever be attracted to me. 2. My mental health is too difficult for anyone. 3. My love is too intense it’ll scare anyone off.
And knowing that I get like this – that I get these strong emotional attachments, fear abandonment and quickly develop strong feelings for people who could end up hurting me… it makes me shut off from the world. It makes me not want to meet anyone I could fall for… to not put myself out there. Because it does feel like a flaw. And the emotional rollercoaster you go on when you form one of these attachments is sickening and potentially deadly. I have felt like ending my life because of these intense attachments. They make me feel very unsafe. So that’s why I don’t put myself in a situation where this might happen now. That’s why the attachment I formed at therapy took me by surprise and messed me up. Because I had planned to not feel that way about a man again, not anytime soon. I thought I was safe. And then I met him. And now I wish I hadn’t.
Anyway I’ve got a couple of appointments starting next week, to talk about things like this I suppose. Two sessions won’t fix this, but I’ll take what I can get and see where it leads me. Can’t get much worse than it is right now. Hopefully I might learn a little about why I get so attached to people like this, and have difficulty letting go. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn a different way of experiencing emotions… less intensely, or if this is my lot. I just hope one day I can find someone who can tolerate my love for them. Right now I don’t feel worthy of anyone.