What is the one thing BP’s fear the most? – Abandonment.
So then why is it that often we cause people to abandon us?
We don’t mean to, we try everything to avoid it…
But without realising it is often the very fact that we are trying so hard to avoid it that causes it, often because people think we are lying and become frustrated with us, unable to handle the drama that surrounds us.
Let me explain…
I’m going to use the bad news I told you about yesterday as an example, because when I had my therapy session yesterday I discovered (with the help of my therapist) this problem…
As you know if you read yesterday’s post I had some news that was terrifying for me. I wrote about it here and detailed how scared I am and how a previous issue complicates my concerns. Putting it in writing like that, I think it came across just how scared I am, but for some reason when I was actually telling people face to face about it I did not feel I got a good reaction from people – I didn’t get the support and concern, it felt like people didn’t give a shit and even that they thought I was making it up.
When I told my therapist about the news I launched into the same detailed explanation of what the news was and explained the previous problem I have had that complicates it for me. When I finished she said ‘I don’t feel it’ and explained that what I had told her, just the news about a cancer scare without all the rest, she could understand that such news must be devastating, but somehow something blocked her feeling my terror. She knew I wasn’t lying, but it somehow felt unreal.
I told her that I had felt like a lot of the people I had spoke to about it also reacted that way, which comes across like they don’t give a shit and aren’t listening to me, I felt I had to ‘prove’ what I was telling them by showing them the letter. I felt like I was lying, even though it was 100% true and I had the proof it was true.
So, we examined why people had reacted this way and why I felt the need to justify and prove myself.
This is what we figured out…
The problem lies in my presentation. My attention to detail can be my own worst enemy. Basically by giving such a deluge of detailed information to people it makes them switch off, the message ‘I’m scared’ gets lost in the drama.
Yes, I am saying that BP’s create a drama out of things – but, before you tell me that isn’t so read what I wrote yesterday and then tell me that if someone was saying all that to you in person that you wouldn’t feel that the important bit (my fear) wouldn’t be lost in the detail? Can you see it?
Unintentionally, by telling people so much all at once and making it sound like ‘I know it happens to lots of people, but it is WORSE for ME!’ I created so much drama that the real message was lost – that I am scared.
As a result of the Eastenders theme tune to conclude the news I was giving I was actually setting myself up to look like I was lying (and somehow I must have known this having felt the need to take the proof that I wasn’t with me).
I set myself up for a reaction of disbelief from others, for abandonment.
Instead of the wanted, needed, shoulder to cry on, offers of help if I need it, and all round ‘support’, care and empathy. The reactions were much closer to ‘ohh right, is it your round?’, not only were people not listening, even if they listened they didn’t hear me…
People tuned out, switched off. People backed off – ohh I cannot handle another drama in Sharon’s life. This wasn’t about them not caring, it wasn’t that they don’t give a shit. I caused them to ‘switch off’, tune out and abandon me.
People did not, could not, see how scared I was.
They could not give me the support I craved, because I had given the news presented in a way that made them lose the importance of the message.
And this is why people think BP’s tell lies, this is why people abandon us when we need them most. They don’t do it deliberately, just as we don’t deliberately push them away – but unfortunately the unintentional drama we create around things makes it hard for people to get close to us, to see how scared we are, to get the message we are actually trying to give…
So, how do we stop this happening?
How can we (the BP) make sure people hear us when we are crying out for help?
How do we reduce the drama?
Well, again my news is a good example.
While talking to people in person led to the wrong responses I had already got it right with my own initial reaction to the news.
I sent a text message to three of my closest female friends which read “Ohh shit!! I’ve just had a letter calling me in for a colposcopy exam as I’ve had a second abnormal smear test! I’m scared! 😥 ”
Short, simple, to the point.
The response I got to this message were positive, caring and most importantly recognised how scared I was at the news, along with offers of help – such as coming to the appointment with me.
How come the response here was so much better than what I got later when I spoke to people face-to-face?
Because there was no drama.
At this point I had not sat down and read every detail, I had not linked my previous problems to this one, I had not blown it all up into a massive explanation of how hard this is for me.
My message had been clear, unambiguous and free of drama.
People react better to this kind of message, sure they may ask for more information and in giving it I could end up in the same place I did with the face-to-face conversations. But trying not to give so much detail actually allows people to ‘get’ what you are saying better.
You would think I would know better, you would think that given that clarity is important to me, given that one of the rules I live by in my studies (especially when doing presentations) is the KISS principle – ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. By that rule you would think I would know that for people to hear when they listen you need to keep your message brief, clear, and free of clutter.
So, how come I screwed it up so royally? I’m not really sure, but I think the sheer fact that I was so scared, so worried and gathered so much detail and information about my situation before seeing people meant that when I told them I overloaded them, and myself. And in doing that the drama of it all led to a position where you couldn’t ‘see the wood for the trees’.
After therapy I saw some other people I hadn’t already told about my news and I worked hard to avoid the drama when telling them – guess what, it worked! I kept it ‘simple’ and didn’t try to explain, clarify or justify my worries with all that ‘detail and information’ that makes the whole thing into a huge drama.
No, I just told these people ‘I’ve been called in for further investigation following two abnormal smear tests, and I’m scared’
The reaction and response was so much better. Some more of the details did come out as they asked me questions, but I tried to avoid going to deeply and heavily into the detail.
I felt so much better for it.
Of course, being able to do this KISS approach to something is all well and good when you are in a calm place to be able to make the effort to do it right, but unfortunately the nature of BPD means we are still more likely to be dramatic about things especially when our own emotions are heightened so much and amplified when we are distressed.
I won’t always be able to do it right, but at least now I know what it is I need to work on to help me prevent myself from looking like a lying drama queen.
And hopefully sharing this might help other BP’s see how this happen’s in their lives too.
The first step to fixing something is recognising the problem. I’ve done that bit here, now the job is to work on my ‘presentation’ for the future so that I can get it right first time rather than push people away when I need them most! Wish me luck!
- When life throws you a curveball – Why you should go for your Cervical Smear Test. (showard76.wordpress.com)
- How to communicate with someone with BPD (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Do Borderlines lack Empathy? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Unstable Moods in Borderline Personality Disorder (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Impulsivity and Borderline Personality Disorder (showard76.wordpress.com)
- What happens when a person with BPD ends a relationship (showard76.wordpress.com)
- A Fatal Attraction – Borderline Personality Disorder in the Movies (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Problems With Emotional Intimacy – Typical for Borderliners and Narcissists (psychologytoday.com)
- The ‘Scare’ Factor (whatyouwerentsureof.wordpress.com)
- Will You Be My Friend Again? (mybipolarbubble.com)