According to my therapist’s recommendation, I am reading a book about BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder. Which my Dad clearly has.
My dad was once diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and ADD. But there’s now some clear differences between BD an BPD. With BD, mood swings last for days on end, and often come with manic bursts of energy.
I never saw my dad have bursts of energy, he was always tired, often depressed. His mood swings were by the day or hour, generally.
The rage, lashing out, and splitting (diving people into black and white sides of a question, with no room for nuance) are all part of BPD, but not BD.
ADD is part of it, or can be.
Perhaps this was all supposed to come as a shock to me, but I am not really astonished.
I figured he’d fit some category. Borderline is the borderline between neurotic and psychotic. A person who had really never grown up.
The book I’m reading “Talking to a Loved One with Borderline Personality Disorder ” is about learning to live with someone like that, and there’s another book “Stop Walking on Eggshells”. They might be helpful in the future.
But the book makes no mention so far of how someone with BPD could easily be abusive, usually they come from abusive backgrounds. With the outbursts of wrath, and manipulation, why not?
The books have almost a cavalier attitude toward the people stuck living with a child or parent like this (though, if the child id like this, it is usually is the parent’s fault, unless they’re adopted, it’s a learned behavior). Like “you can learn to manage this person.”
I could see some use for this in a day of arrange marriages, marrying for status, etc. In other countries where that’s still the case.
But if you have a choice, what self respecting person signs on for that kind of crazy. BPD people cannot maintain relationships, and should not be in romantic ones, the most intimate, challenging kind.
BPD, giving it a name, is kind of a self defeating thing to do. The Silence, by Bastille, describes it pretty well:
“Tell me a piece of your history that you’re proud to call your own Speak in words you picked up as you walked through life alone.
We used to swim in your stories and be pulled down by their tide, choking on the words and drowning with no air inside.
Now you’ve hit a wall and it’s not your fault my dear, my dear, my dear. Now you’ve hit a wall and you’ve hit it hard, my dear, my dear, oh dear.
“If you give it a name, then it’s already won. What you good for, what you good for? If you give it a name, then it’s already won.”
Bastille is right in a way, often when we give these personality traits a name, they win. Because it’s a human failing, to think once we compartmentalize and label something, it’s less powerful.
When really, we just take it less seriously.
That’s the power of stereotypes. You call someone a hick, a diva, a geek, a nerd, a jock, and they lose some of their dignity. Between friends, being undignified is okay, even necessary, but when we do it in general, it’s to avoid thinking about the person, really, truly thinking about them. Understanding them.
You might argue, if we give it a label, people might be kinder. Like ASD, ADD, ADHD.
It seems kinder at first, but then people assume you have no choice, you become something less than human, if you have no control over the type of person you are.
I know that there are some things someone on the ASD spectrum cannot control, but those things are actually very limited. Almost all aspects of a condition can be temporary with enough years and effort. It depends on the severity.
Likewise, BPD is a condition people can grow out of, with or without therapy.
But if the person can grow out of it, could recognize it as immature, then they knew what they were doing was wrong. They might lack the self control to stop, but they knew.
I don’t like it when experts deny the obvious. That anyone with mental illness that they are somewhat conscious of has a choice. Good experts don’t deny it.
In my dad’s case, he did things the book hasn’t described so far. Threatening me physically. Being mean, on purpose, even when he was in a good mood, sometimes more so then.
My dad’s abusive nature colored most of his interactions. He had to be in control, even if things were good. So if he was having fun, he’d make you miserable so that it was in his power, he’d sometimes try to make you have fun, if he was in the mood.
Not everyone with BPD is like this. They are not all abusers. I actually have a few of the traits myself, but since I was raised in an abusive house, that makes sense, I don’t have it to the excess I’d be diagnosed with a condition.
But the temptation to always feel like the victim, to think every one hates you, and to desperately want them to love you, is part of my life. Also, the emptiness I sometimes feel.
Victims feels empty because we were neglected, and our expressions of love were usually tainted by manipulation so as to not be satisfying.
One thing that was interesting was the book said the BPD people with hug too tight and too long because they feel empty. My dad always hugged both too tight and too long…and oddly, both me and my youngest sibling hated being hugged and kissed by him, and even by anyone, as young kids. To this day both of us are hesitant to allow people to hug us, and I still don’t like kisses (I wish I did). We always wondered what made us dislike it, but the way he did felt off. My dad blamed us for not wanting to snuggle, thinking it wasn’t normal, but preditcatbly, he was the one who made it abnormal.
My aunt has excused my dad on the basis of being on the ASD spectrum, and having ADD, and BD. But I believe BPD is the correct diagnosis. The others all had holes in the theory, and he grew out of the ADD. He is still BPD.
Which brings me to my real point, my dad’s abuse is not explained away by BPD. It gave him issues relating, but it did not make him mean and controlling in the way that he was. It’s a choice to do those things.
Anyone who tries to say I should have stuck it out has not appreciated the danger of doing so on my mental, emotional, and physical health. My dad didn’t want to be helped anyway.
The bible has a passage about the same behaviors as BPD. Galatians 5:19-21 reads “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders…”
Heresies, my dad believes some weird stuff about God due to his inability to let go.
The Bible does not complicate things. Theses things are from the flesh.
Does that mean these people are all evil? No… but some are.
It’s strong language to say my dad is evil, but his delight in doing these things seems like wickedness to me. I don’t see the point of sugarcoating it.
I think we are too wimpy now. We won’t say certain people are evil. But calling it that was helpful. Because evil can be repented from, how do you repent of a personality disorder?
The bible makes no mention of personality disorders. That is not because it was behind the times, written before psychology, the Bible has many verse about psychology, stuff modern studies are just starting to catch up to. The Bible knew the power of positive thinking, laughter, and power thoughts long before we officially proved the brain and body respond to those things.
Think about it, if the Bible was right about all that, way, way before we could even measure brain patterns, then isn’t it just possible that it’s right when it makes no excuses for evil based on personality.
True Mental Illness in the Bible exists in the form of either demonic oppression, or strong delusion. Otherwise, we are held responsible for our mental health.
Jesus told his disciples “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Meaning, we can choose to be troubled.
David said “Why so downcast oh my soul? Hope in the Lord” indicating he could turn his soul to hope, not despair.
There’s lots of others verses. I recommend “The Utter Relief of Holiness” or “Free to Live” by John Eldredge, for more on this subject.
In cases like mine, a lot of what we feel isn’t caused by our choices. But everyone has that problem. People can just be jerks.
Our culture encourages us to blame everyone else for how we feel, and not do a thing about it. Just to sit in it.
But while we can’t blame ourselves for being mistreated, we can’t just let those people control our lives. Think about it, you want the person who hurt you the most to be the one calling the shots in your life? Not me.
Maybe you can be classified with a disorder. Maybe some of it never goes away. It’s possible that we never forget what it was like to be abused. But that doesn’t mean we have to act like victims the rest of our lives.
If God gives me the time one day I will have lived longer not being abused than I did being abused. But even if I don’t, I’ll have an eternity of better than I can imagine.
One thing abuse forces you to learn, if you would be free, is that you can’t let people shape your idea of a good life. God is the only one who can give you that image. You will settle for less than you could have otherwise.
It’s not just optimism, people. I have to believe that if I want to ever move on.
A lot of trouble would be saved if people told each other one thing: You can believe what you want… but only believing in the right things will lead you to freedom.
And there are things that will free you if you believe them. The Bible calls them the right steps.
So, BPD or not, we decide what we will be.
Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.