BPD and Crisis
Borderlines are not unfamiliar with what feels like crisis after crisis to them. What they need to recognize is that you cannot heal without learning to make new choices when you come these inevitable crisis points. Healing from BPD means learning to endure and work through each crisis.
What is a crisis?
A crisis for those with Borderline Personality begins when there is a trigger or are triggers that instantly cause a dissociative re-living of past trauma and/or abandonment as if it were, again, happening in the here and now. This is now termed Emotional Dysregulation. If you have BPD and you haven't yet learned what this means or how to learn to begin to change this seemingly programmed automatic response, which is based on old ways of thinking, I help my clients to re-frame these past traumas, heal them, and stop experiencing being triggered back to them. The crisis of those with BPD is an emotional one that has deep and painful roots in early childhood insecure or lack of bonding, unmet need, unattuned mirroring between mother and child and/or abandonment trauma, abuse, neglect and so forth.(added December 21, 2013)
Often many people with BPD (or not) think that having what feels like more feelings than you can hold is a crisis. They often also think that changes in distance between themselves and others (we all flow in and out, closer and more distant as there is an ebb and flow to relationships) is a crisis as well. Anything that seeks to separate the borderline from cognitive-distorted beliefs and the accompanying feelings is often experienced as a crisis.
Most see being in crisis as a negative thing, an undesirable painful 'out of control thing'. While there are times when a crisis brings forth danger, trouble and or the threat of unpleasant consequences more often than not a crisis is a chance to make needed change. It is a turning point.
What we often identify as a crisis is actually a turning point of opportunity presenting itself in the course of whatever we are dealing with. While it can be a painful attack of a disorder, or a painful living example of coping skills that one may lack, or an insight about oneself that brings with it a lion-share of grief, each turning point is an opportunity to learn, grow, recover and to heal. Every time you let one of these opportunities pass you, you are making an active choice to continue to suffer.
What is a BPD crisis?
In Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) even just feeling something can constitute a perceived (or real) crisis of some sort. If one has been dissociated from feelings for a long time those feelings are then perceived as being more outside of oneself than a part of oneself. This can be very frightening and overwhelming. Not being able to sit with, hold, work through and come to an un-distorted place with the thoughts that drive those feelings (often) leads a borderline to believe and to feel he/she is in a crisis.
At the heart of each and every borderline crisis
is the pain of the
Core Wound of Abandonment
The challenge here is to learn that the presentation of a lot of emotion does not have to be so overpowering. Whether it is overwhelming or not, however, you can learn ways to cope with it so that you do not end up feeling and or being in crisis each time your feelings rise up. It is the processing, understanding, and integrating of these very feelings that feel so threatening that is the way to find your true self and to recover.
Borderlines often are dependant upon others to mirror to them who they are and what they need and should do, feel and say. Often borderlines find themselves in crisis when they somehow threaten the security of the connection to the people that they feel they need in their lives to be safe and okay. Yet, just as often, borderlines feel compelled to break these connections out of some maladaptive protective attempts or the simple reality of the very complex need to sabotage these connections in order to re-play out past experiences, usually of abandonment.
There is a co-dependant neediness, often, that sees many borderlines manipulating to meet their own needs through others. This is ripe territory for an inevitable crisis, not to mention a very valuable one. If you can hold your frustration, anger, abandonment etc long enough to endure the loss of any relationship in your life (and borderlines usually lose quite a few over time) and learn to meet your needs and soothe yourself then you can begin to turn your life around from being needy to being much more healthy. This is an example of how a crisis can be a very worthwhile challenge that can result in much positive growth and change.
A well-managed crisis can also bring about a rather sudden insight that can lead to just as sudden a recovery over time. When things change quickly as they often do with new insight into oneself it can absolutely feel like a crisis of sorts. So much new information and often some of it that leaves a person with a lot of grief can feel just as devastating and difficult as a crisis of negative and isolating or disconnecting proportions.
What a crisis actually is (more often than
Many a crisis is, in actuality, a shifting and separating from old beliefs, old patterns of thought and behaviour, pain that was clung to and in fact kept you stuck with it often alienating you from those around you, illusions, delusions, and maladapative coping skills that no longer work but only serve to make things more painful in the long run. Simply put many a perceived crisis is actually learning, discernment, growth, change, risk, new feelings to hold and work through as one begins to break free of old lifetime scripts or patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Borderlines must experience some crisis in order to heal and to recover. It is not so much the crisis or the fear, anxiety or pain that are the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is how you choose to deal or cope with all of these feelings, insights and changes.
In the truest meaning of a crisis - a turning point - each borderline must realize the value of the lostness of all of the pain and grief and let that teach him/her how to make new choices. For if you continue to make the same choices, you will not only continue to go through the same crisis over and over again, but you will inevitably get the same results - the same negative, overwhelming, annihilating borderline thoughts and feelings that lead you to act in ways that only perpetuate the very crises you seek relief from in your life.
© A.J. Mahari, October 21, 2001