“Major changes, such leaps into independence and self- determination, are enormously painful at any age and require supreme courage, yet they are not infrequent results of psychotherapy. Indeed, because of the enormity of the risks involved, they often require psychotherapy for their accomplishment, not because therapy diminishes the risk but because it supports and teaches courage.” (M. Scott Peck — The Road Less Traveled.)
The winds of change will blow and blow storm after storm into the life of the false-self of the borderline until a choice is made to end the damaging storms of the winds of change. Winds of change left to their own devices, allowed to blow freely will wreak havoc in your life and more specifically in your relationships. Choose to be the kite that flies higher into the winds of bravely chosen-change.
Change from anything does, indeed, require courage. Changing all that is involved in healing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) does require an immense courage and determined desire to change. In order for one to change oneself from thinking/acting borderline to thinking/acting within the realm of “average mental health” requires an amazingly dedicated and consistent effort. It takes time and it is painful in its own right.
For years most therapists thought of BPD as a life-long condition, as a disorder so ingrained in one’s personality and identity that it was impossible to change that. I beg to differ. I think also that more and more therapists are beginning to realize that change is possible. The crux of major change that needs to take place in order for healing to occur has all to do with a person with BPD, wanting help, wanting to change and with the recognition that this sought after change will be hard work, painful work and work that essentially requires one to re-establish their persona. It is at this very deep level that change is possible. When one has BPD change takes place through the search for “authentic self”. This means that the “self” or the “identity” which one has developed must be altered, changed and virtually let go of in order to make way for one’s authentic self.
When a person has BPD one of the central things that that says about him/her is that there are aspects of self dissociated from the main, the whole, the authentic self. There are parts of self, fragmented, to one degree or another from who each individual with BPD really is and was meant to be. The very nature of this personality disorder is such that a very strong “false-self” is created, maintained and related from. The false-self must be peeled away, must die in order for the borderline to find and give re-birth to his/her true authentic self. This is a change of mamoth proportions. Change at this level of one’s being requires faith and courage. One must put that faith and courage into action.
Do not allow anyone else to define you, for you. The task of defining your authentic self is yours, and yours alone.
It must also be noted that no matter what age you are this process of change in the finding of your “true self” can only happen through the pain of trial and error. This requires risk. You must risk losing the self you know now. In order to find the self that you can be, want to be, deserve and were meant to be. Before you suffered the trauma that you did that caused you to split that authentic self into a false self or a set of false selves that operate from behind wall after wall of defense mechanisms.
Borderline Personality Disorder will enmesh you in the defense mechanisms of such a well-developed false-self that until you work hard to change this in therapy you cannot even know who you are. If you don’t know who you really are, how can you know what you want or what is and isn’t good for you. You can’t. This is why so many borderlines have no boundaries and do not know how to differentiate between self and other. It is not possible to understand the boundaries of self before you understand who that self is.
In order to change the way that you think and that you act you need to stick with therapy. Psychotherapy, I found was a way to unwind all the layers of my fragmented false selves. One by one they, and all their accompanying defense mechanisms had to peeled away. This process is very painful and takes courage because it puts you face to face with one of the hardest issues for a borderline to cope with (initially until more healing takes place) –vulnerability.
In order to continue through the process of change you must be willing to be vulnerable, to hurt, to feel it, sit with it, learn to hold it, soothe it and most importantly to respect what you feel and why and to not push it away through mind games, manipulations, push-pull dances of intimacy and like behaviors which are all self-defeating and very painful.
There is a way back from Borderline Personality Disorder. Taking the necessary risks in therapy to change takes tremendous courage and strength. I do believe though that it takes just as much courage and strength to face the daily agony of angst that is borderline pain. You CAN change. You will change when you are ready to change. Surviving with BPD means that you are strong, and that you are courageous. All you have to do is channel all of that strength and courage differently through therapy and into learning to relate differently.
Borderline Personality Disorder, for all that is said about it, and how it is defined, is after all, just “normal” taken to the extreme. It is not alien it is made up of traits that are human and found in the “normal” population. The borderline just exhibits these traits in extreme ways and emotionally-immature ways that are not age-appropriate.
If you are borderline, know that you have the courage and the strength that it takes to do the work necessary to grow and change in therapy. Find a therapist that will support you to that end.
The borderline who does not seek to risk to change is: “Wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born.” (Matthew Arnold)
“What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” (T.S Eliot)
The winds of change can be such a welcoming sought-after breeze and do not have to be the hurricane-force winds of unrelenting damage in your relationships and in your life. The choice is up to you. The key thing in this choice besides making the choice to change and to stick with it is to know that it will take some time to learn how to best take care of that precious authentic you as you discover him/her. Be gentle with yourself and know that you will learn how to distinguish what is and isn’t good for you and who is and isn’t good for you. Any pain in this part of the journey, especially, will teach you what you need to know to go on and to live a life with more fully-functional and healthy relationships.
Make a choice today to end the agony and the angst of living from a false self. Decide to take action. You have the courage that will allow you to transcend your false self. This transcending of the false self will lead you to a place where the true self can and will be found.
© Ms. A.J. Mahari – August 7, 1999