Reinventing self… The BPD unstable sense of self and identity rears its ugly head again


Split Identity

I had reached a point where I stopped posting at weekends, to give my readers a break (as my posts are usually very long and people don’t have time to keep up with everything) and also to give myself time to write my posts and work on other things, such as my life story, studies and life in general. But now I’m doing a 30 day challenge, not posting at weekends seems like cheating, but I was going to stick with my not posting rule, having already got 2 full weeks of posts scheduled. But sometimes you just need to let stuff out and scheduling it for later in the month just doesn’t feel right. Hence, today’s post. It starts with random sentences, things that came to my mind last night, then goes on to explain what these things mean to me…

I’ve been here before, too many times to count.

yesterday I signed the papers that officially end my employment.

another door closes

I lock the door on it and throw away the key.

Combined with other recent events another version of me is gone

another identity

time to reinvent myself again

who will I be this time

where will I go, what will I do

unstable sense of self and identity

never knowing who I am

looking back at versions I don’t recognise

who was that person?

where is she now?

I realised that this is a pattern in my life, one that is integral to my Borderline Personality (BPD) diagnosis. I adapt my personality to ‘fit in’ to a given situation or role, I am what people in that context expect me to be, but this is not a thing I do by choice it just comes natural to me and the reason for this is that it is the ‘unstable sense of self and identity’ one of the key diagnostic criteria for BPD. And once for whatever reason I am no longer in that situation, the person, version of me, who was there dies, vanishes and it is like she never existed at all. Even more so if there has been any kind of trauma associated with the reasons for ‘moving’ on as then all connections with that place and time are also cut dead. Sometimes I grieve for the passing if it had been a good time, other times I look back and just think ‘huh, so what’ .

But the worst part about it is it seems I am doomed to repeat these cycles, as I have since as far back as I can remember from early childhood I can picture ‘me’ social, with ‘friends’, picture me after that phase ends ‘me’ loner, reclusive, again as a teenager, again in early adulthood, again, again, again… Only a few close long-term friends, all others gone with the wind – those few close ones are the important ones, but the others left their marks in many ways – memories good and bad, trust and betrayal, closeness and distance. And each of them would describe me (if you were to ask) in different ways, those that see me as the quiet, shy, studious girl would not recognise the girl who others knew – confident , loud, life and soul of the party – precious few have seen/know that both are one and the same. this is the manifestation of unstable sense of self and identity – I do not know who I am, how can anyone else?

I adapt to the given situation like a chameleon changing colour to suit its background. This is not an art, nor a deception, this is a very real version of me. It draws people in, attracts them (in more ways than one!) people love me, want to know me – but to also fosters massive amounts of jealousy, people hate how friendly, popular, attractive, clever and interesting I am (I’m not being big-headed here, another thing those that dislike me assume – I am recounting what others say about me – cause I just don’t see what they see). All those wondrous things that make people want to know me also make people want to hurt and destroy me – and some have gone to extreme lengths to do just that at times. Others fear me (why? again I do not know) and will keep their distance. I can connect with ease to people from all walks of life, from young to old, rich to poor, clever to uneducated… the list goes on.

So, the chameleon like ways of having an unstable sense of self and identity have their benefits because I can ‘fit in’ anywhere, but like I say at the same time I don’t fit in anywhere… I have just locked away two other versions of me, at work I was quiet, kept my head down and just did what was needed (other than being off  with BPD), the other persona was a loud, fun party girl version of me – known by everyone the ‘centre of attention’ in the pub. So who am I at this moment in time?

As I sit here writing, studying, reading, it seems this reclusive persona is the current leading contender, but staying in all the time wears me down too. I was juggling all three recently, now there is just this one. I know that there needs to be a balance to fulfil all my needs but where do I start. It feels like I am having to constantly re-invent myself, time will tell where I go from here. I wonder how much of these different elements of my personality come out in my writings – can you see a different version of me in the different things I write?

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20 comments on “Reinventing self… The BPD unstable sense of self and identity rears its ugly head again

  1. i am so with you about the “inventing oneself again” and “the unstable sense of self and identiy”
    who i am – the big question of my life
    will i be able to answer it before i die?
    not sure.

    maybe the journey makes us who we are?

  2. Though I wouldn’t say I have BPD, the manifestations where there prior to my transition. Having GID often gets people to comparing you to BPD, BDD, AvPD, and many other conditions where “identity” and “nature” are similar. It’s a common accusation and stigma against people like myself in certain medical minds, and having experienced a time of turmoil that was situationally like BPD I can relate, but only on that level. I think like GID that BPD while having a causal factor, is strongly tied to society and the social nature of human beings. People in our world believe in individuality, but abhor it at the same time. They want you to be, well, “yourself”; but expect you to “repress” that identity and conform to the social standards (to be upstanding citizens). The expectation is contradictory, “Be yourself and be like everyone else.” They want you to blend, to fit, to conform, but turn around and hate you for it. BPD in my opinion, is a social dysfunction and a variation in the human condition much as it is in my case. My GID was caused by the conflict with social constructs, and an internal conflict with what I was taught and the reality of who I was naturally.

    I was very much in an identity crisis in many ways when I first was diagnosed, but since then I have realized the persistence in that. I have treated the condition as is recommended and preferred (myself) and this has proved beneficial to alleviating symptoms similar to the above mentioned possible diagnoses of my condition. I guess I am lucky in some senses, because the stress of GID has a strong connection to BPD sometimes leading to its unmasking. Before transition I suppressed my own identity to fit in, but even as I was then I was a “non-conformist” because of the persistent interference of natural behaviors. I had to conform certain things like military standards, and for other figures of authority but that was just how it is. I had the “rewrite” the book when I realized what was wrong. But, I didn’t choose to be rigid about the manifestation (gender identity) my sense of self expression I just was. But more to my point is that things like GID and BPD are made worse, even caused by the social contradiction of individual freedom and normalized conformity. Everyone on some level wants for others to be “More like them”, but they themselves are “self-repressing” and conforming to others. It seems like an impossible dynamic if you ask me. Conform, be yourself, conform, be yourself. It’s essentially an assertion of will that, “I want you to be you, but only with in the confines of what I am really willing to accept”.

    So I find (not as a stereotype of all people) the way we see others intrinsically as a culture is in conflict with the realities of human nature. Being a chameleon can be a blessing, and a curse; as can being unable to adapt ones identity to the environment. It’s more like an argument for balance than anything. Meaning it is essentially difficult to meet the demands of a society that can’t seem to make up it’s mind about the self. I find adaptivity to be no less valuable trait than fixedness, it’s entirely an environmentally dependent phenomenon. We are all different in some way, and ultimately I hope society adapts to reality rather than any attempt at the reverse. This comes from our desire to adapt and survive, and the conflict with our fear of change. I realized as a person, even if my identity became completely different, that I would still be me. I am me whether I wear a green hat or blue, whether I am a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Taoist, an Atheist or anything fundamentally different. Your experience is as much a part of you, your identity as is your adaptive or fixed nature. I guess in some small part it all depends one whether one sees change as generally positive or negative.

    • Indeed all so very true. It is not uncommon for people with BPD to have identity issues regarding their gender and or sexuality as well, another reason for stigma and discrimination :/ But as with all things in life it really is down to society, most if not all conditions are socially constructed if you have the mind to see the reality of the condition!
      I particularly resonate with your line “I want you to be you, but only with in the confines of what I am really willing to accept” as I have basically had this said to me! I have to put the straight-jacket on certain behaviours and actions (although I am not fully in control of them anyway, I have to try) because the are not behaviours and actions befitting of a monogamous relationship, but I do ‘want’ to be able to be faithful, so in this one instance I am determined to try, but were this “I want you to be you, but only with in the confines of what I am really willing to accept” a more broad requirement I would have to refuse to conform as it is just not a way one can live long term – it would serve only to encourage the growth of resentment and further deterioration of mental health! :/

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  11. Hello. I have been changing my identity and personality like every 2 weeks or so. For a little while I will be real conservitive and only wear dresses and even want to wear head coverings. Then I will get rebellious and want my nose pierced, cause I like Indian culture. Then I am a hippie, then I am a mormon. Is this a regular thing of BPD? It’s kind of annoying, but its honestly kind of exciting, too. I never know who I will be from week to week. I really do not have a set identity. I get bored with the status quo and have to rebel. But then I don’t want to upset my conservitive friends, I want them to like me, so I have to conform. Frustrating. Any advice?

    • This kind of identity issue is one trait of BPD but alone it is not enough for a diagnosis as there need to be at least 5 of 9 traits for that. I do think that it can also be ‘normal’ to go through identity issue phases as well, especially at certain points in life. To be honest I would just enjoy being different, so long as you are happy, enjoy standing out from the crowd 🙂

  12. Hi, it seems to me that part of the reason for not having a stable sense of self is fear of rejection and abandonment. I am going through similar feelings and it is leading me to this conclusion. Part of the reason for fear of rejection and abandonment is fear of isolation, of being left alone with oneself. The more you face yourself, the more you accept yourself, but it is hard to deal with you. I often edit my thoughts before saying them out loud. Sometimes, I appear to have a ‘delayed’ reaction to outside events and this makes me look weird and inadequate. I want to have the ‘right’ reaction, rather than a natural one. Hence, trying to ‘fit in’ and acting like a chameleon. People don’t like chameleons. Sometimes I think people would accept a murderer more readily than someone who has no sense of self because they can’t ‘pin them down’. Read this on an astrology website for Saturn transit in Scorpio, “Are you going to be good or whole?” Unfortunately, dealing with outside relationships, at work for me mostly, has led me to believe that I can’t be myself. I cannot let myself be who I am. It is not accepted. For example, a higher-up ever so slightly making fun of you or your background, and my not being able to defend my self for fear of getting fired. Of course, I can always get another job, but there is a question of references and people screwing you over just because they can. So, you keep quiet but inside it builds. This resentment of yourself that you cannot defend yourself against trespassers of your soul. Maybe writing down exactly what you are thinking the moment you are thinking it can transform self. But we don’t always get a chance. Or more almost never. Meditation helps a lot.

    • Thanks for sharing, indeed the sense of self and the difficulties this creates has a huge impact on many aspects of our lives, we never really feel like we ‘fit in’ any where 😦 being different is both a blessing and a curse!

  13. The above blog/article you have shared is to familiar and so real for me as well. it becomes exhausting after a while that is when I don’t want to be around anyone. i don’t know how many times I’ve said I hate my life in my life so far, but it’s scary I can tell you how man years I have truly felt this way. I fear when I can no longer run from how I feel, , do and deal and apply all that i know, when your alone and only your cat you have that does not judge you and of course you’d do anything for her. I tell her she’s the reason i come home at night …. she give me a reason to do it again another day for her , another day for me.

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