Imagine this scenario:
You text a friend. Your friend doesn’t immediately respond.
A regular person without BPD or other major mental health disorders would probably think “Oh, they must be busy. They’ll text me back later, and if they don’t, I’ll give them a call tonight.” Right? It’s no biggie.
But here is what goes on in the minds of someone with BPD:
“OH MY GOD! They don’t like me anymore! I’ve upset them! They hate me! They aren’t talking to me!! I need to text them again to ask if I’ve upset them! They’re abandoning me!!! I’m such a bad person! I’m EVIL! I hate myself. Why aren’t they texting me back? What did I do wrong???”
So that person sends text after text to their friend, trying to find out if they’re upset with them, if they don’t like them etc, and what can happen is that friend will end up blocking them, which confirms the sufferer’s fears of abandonment, thus perpetuating the cycle of poor emotional responses, betrayal and abandonment.
So how do we fix this problem? Well, that’s a good question, and I’m not going to lie… it will take practice. And it means taking a firm control over irrational emotional responses and instead using the logical and rational part of the brain. It takes stepping back and giving yourself a reality check and asking yourself the hard questions:
1. Have I actually done anything that my friend might find offensive. Like… really done something?
2. Could my friend simply be busy? Even if I know they are home, they might be otherwise occupied with something.
3. Maybe my friend doesn’t have their phone with them or it ran out of battery/no signal?
4. Maybe they are ON the phone.
5. Maybe they are tired and having a nap.
6. Maybe they are at work and can’t look at their phone until after work or on break.
7. If my text is urgent, could I perhaps try phoning them rather than texting?
8. Is there someone else in my circle of friends who could help?
9. Just how likely is it that my friend is actually upset with me?
10. Am I over-reacting?
From personal experience, and trust me, I’m well aware of how hard it is, the best thing to do when you start feeling those very familiar fears invade your thoughts is to take a deep breath, ask the above questions, firmly tell your mind to stop stressing and then deliberately find something to occupy yourself to take your mind off it. Worrying it over and over in your mind will only amplify those feelings and make you feel totally wretched and that’s when you could make a huge mistake that makes things worse rather than better.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know it’s hard. I haven’t managed yet to “get there” on my own journey of recovery. Know that you are not alone. And whatever you do, do NOT beat yourself up if you slip and fall into the old patterns of thoughts and feelings. Remember, your feelings cannot be trusted, but your rational and logical thinking can be trusted. Practice being rational and calm and over time, it’ll get easier. Or at the very least, you will know what to do when those feelings hit you.
Stay safe. Be kind to yourself. You are valid and you are worth good things. ❤