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Fear of Abandonment: You're going to leave me, and it's all my fault

I haven’t abandoned (ha) this blog. I’m still here. It’s just been, well, a lot lately.

My last post was in July. I said at that point that I had another three posts written and mostly ready to go. That was true. But the third post I was working on at the time of posting was incredibly triggering for me, and I quit writing, and I did drop the blog idea for a while. I got most of the way through it, so I just went back and wrapped it up quickly. That will probably be my next post.

August was a very busy month for me, with an annual camping trip, working my crazy schedule and driving back and forth between provinces, and the anniversary of my “adoptive father’s” death. I have a full post in mind dedicated to him. At the beginning of September, I was planning to start writing once things had settled again. But like I said, it’s been a lot recently.

September, I was diagnosed with Autism. I think I was the only person surprised by this development. Most of the responses I got upon telling people of this new diagnosis ranged from “no way, I never would have guessed” dripping with sarcasm, to “ok and this is news how exactly?” Apparently I was the only person who didn’t know this. Except for my family, that is. That’s been a bit of a fight, as my mother in particular is very against this diagnosis. She told me I needed to “talk to a professional” and “quit trying to collect every label out there”. I guess mental health issues are Pokemon, and my psychiatrist’s years of schooling don’t matter, because it doesn’t agree with my mother’s Google Doctorate. I’m not speaking to her for this part at the moment. I’m incredibly hurt by this. Going back to my post in June, talking about the Imposter Syndrome and how my brain was trying to tell me that I was latching on to things to try to be “relevant” or whatever stupid shit it says, a lot of this is fed by my mother always telling me I need to stop trying to collect labels. I’m apparently obsessed with labels, and I need to just get over myself and be an adult. Needless to say, adjusting to this autism diagnosis with her words echoing through my head has not been a fun process. It’s now December and I’m only just starting to actually accept that I am autistic, and it explains sooooooo much.

October, I was diagnosed with thyroid disease. I knew this was coming, but I hoped it would hold off a while longer. My mother has Graves Disease, her sister and father both have Hashimoto’s. If you’re unfamiliar with all of this, essentially Graves Disease is when your thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone, which is responsible for a lot of things, including your metabolism. Hashimoto’s is on the other end of that spectrum, where your thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the hormone. Based on my tests, I fall on this end of the spectrum. Now, thyroid disease isn’t necessarily Graves or Hashimoto’s. Those are actually autoimmune diseases. They’re also hereditary, which is why I knew this was going to happen sooner or later, and why I would say I probably have Hashimoto’s. It’s still too early to tell though. Realistically, there’s a pretty good chance I will have to deal with this for the rest of my life. At this point in time, I simply suffer from hypothyroidism, and have begun taking Synthroid to fix my levels.

November, I started a new job, kind of. I’m still with the same company, but in my line of work, we subcontract out to other companies. I am now doing a full time, permanent job just outside of my hometown, for the foreseeable future. I actually love this job, much better than the last one. For one thing, I’m not in a truck anymore, I actually get to stay in a shack for my shift. That means I can move and stretch and actually cook hot meals for myself. But it also means I’m not driving from province to province anymore. There’s a lot to learn and know with this job, so I’ve spent the past 3 weeks focused on learning the job. I’m starting to get the hang of it (for now, a lot changes out here), so I can turn my attention back to things like this blog.

I also celebrated my 28th birthday a few weeks ago. Woo, getting closer to 30! So yeah, it’s been a lot. Update aside, here is the next post I had initially planned to make. The only other notable changes that really matter moving forward is that I am seeing yet another new therapist, who is honestly amazing and already has been helping me so much, and I am on a mood stabilizer that has definitely been helping as well. A recent new medication to try and help with pain management has destabilized me quite a bit, but I am planning on stopping this one, I just need to wean myself off. Moving on!

Borderline Personality Disorder has nine diagnostic criteria. In order to be diagnosed with BPD, you need to meet at least five of those criteria. Me? I meet all nine. According to the psychiatrist who diagnosed me, I am textbook BPD. The next big challenge is going to be figuring out what is BPD, and what is Autism.

The nice thing about BPD is that it’s technically “curable”. It’s one of the only mental health conditions that you can “cure”. There’s a reason the word cure is in quotations, though. It’s a lifelong battle, but you can get to a point where you no longer meet the five diagnostic criteria. It takes an incredible amount of work and therapy to get to that point, but it is possible. There are a few different models of treatment you can try, with DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) supposedly being the best for BPD. Personally, I find DBT very difficult, and it just doesn’t work well for me. I was struggling HARD, and made absolutely zero progress in about 6 months. I just couldn't seem to get the hang of it no matter how hard I tried, and it just made me more frustrated, which made me more resistant to it. My current therapist and I are using a model called IFS, which I find to be so much more effective than DBT ever was.

I still have a long ways to go before I can even begin to write about IFS, or DBT, and the process of “curing” BPD, but I figured I would talk about the nine diagnostic criteria, and how those nine points affect my life. Keep in mind, not every BPD person meets all nine criteria, and it looks different for everyone. I have decided to split these nine points into nine different posts, so I can go further in depth about them without these being obscenely long. So, here goes.

The nine diagnostic criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder are:

1. Fear of Abandonment

2. Unstable Relationships

3. Unclear or Shifting Self-Image

4. Impulsive, Self-Destructive Behaviours

5. Self Harm

6. Extreme Emotional Swings

7. Chronic Feelings of Emptiness

8. Explosive Anger

9. Feeling Suspicious or Out of Touch with Reality/Paranoia

Let’s start with Fear of Abandonment, shall we?

I can’t help but laugh at the irony of this one. Having BPD means that I’m terrified of people leaving me, abandoning me, but I also expect it. It’s not even just a matter of “oh, they’re too busy to deal with me”, or anything like that. I expect it because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having BPD means that we expect everyone to leave, but we also force people to leave.

This one does kind of go hand in hand with Unstable Relationships, but I’ll talk more about that in my next post. Essentially, I latch on to new people, and get very easily attached. But I also have major trust issues, which honestly, I think I’m justified in having. I have a gigantic wall up around myself at all times, and it’s very rare for people to see past that wall. More specifically, I have several layers of walls. Once you get past the first wall, I let you see past the mask. But once you’re past the first wall, I latch on. It’s at this point that things get rocky.

True to the nature of Unstable Relationships, things are either great, or they’re really, really bad. I’m still learning about this, but it’s called splitting. It’s like a switch gets flipped. One minute, you’re the greatest person ever, we get along so great, you’re awesome, you’re fantastic, I love you, for lack of a better term.

But once that switch flips, and I start splitting, you’re the worst. You’re evil, you’re out to get me, you’re playing me for a fool, you’re using me for one reason or another. Doesn’t even matter if that reason makes any logical sense whatsoever. I lash out. I get downright nasty and vile. I’ve accused people of only sticking around because they’re taking pity on me. There’s absolutely no way that people actually want to be around me, be in my life, be friends with me. It’s not possible. Of course, that’s the “nice” part of my splitting.

I honestly can’t think of specific things that I’ve said in this split state, but I can guarantee that everything that comes out of my mouth is downright nasty. I go for the low blows. I look to inflict as much damage as I possibly can. I often refer to it as going nuclear. When I split, you better run for cover, because anything that gets caught in my blast radius is fucking decimated.

This is what I mean by self-fulfilling prophecy. Because, shocker! No one actually wants to put up with my bullshit and abuse. Some people stick it out longer than others, but eventually, everyone leaves.

Everyone leaves me.

And it’s all my fault.

Now that I’m aware of it, I can’t really blame people for leaving. Doesn’t make forgiving them any easier, though. If holding grudges were an Olympic sport, I’d be the reigning champion for the past, I dunno, 25 years? At what age do people start holding grudges?

I’m not saying every single person in my life has left, but the number of those who have left far outweighs those who have stayed. Most of my own family have left, and almost every friend I’ve ever made are long gone. There’s even been a few points in my life where all of my family walked away from me. I wasn’t on speaking terms with anyone in my family, including my parents. I’ve been able to get my shit together enough that I was speaking to my parents again, as well as both sets of grandparents, but that’s about it. My brother and I don’t speak, not that I can blame him really. I was pretty nasty to him in particular growing up (more on this coming later). I used to be fairly close to my mom’s sister, but we aren’t speaking these days either. Haven’t been in years. Since I started this post initially, I’m no longer on speaking terms with my parents. It’s a rollercoaster like this all the time when it comes to my family.

The list of people who have “left” includes a lot of people I’ve lived with over the years. The longest I’ve lived in any one place since the age of 17 is 9 months. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve lasted more than 6 months at any one place. I’m happy to report that I’ve been in my current place for over 2 full years now. It’s been 2 years this past September, but it’s only because I got a good paying job and I can actually afford the rent on my own, mostly. My first two roommates lasted less than a year and a half, though honestly, I firmly believe they were equally, if not more, at fault. I won’t get into it, but things weren’t great all around. I do accept my share of the blame, but I am not the only one to blame with that one. That’s all I’m going to say.

Out of all the people I’ve lived with over the past 10 years, I still speak to 3. The first, a friend from high school, who I actually didn’t see much because of our opposing work schedules. It was technically his mom’s place (long story that's not mine to tell), and let’s just say she didn’t speak to me the last couple weeks I was there. The next, my best friend for the past 10 years, give or take. We lived together very briefly, for about a month. It was not a good time for me. I was incredibly depressed, and the friction (at least from my side) was getting to be a lot. I ended up moving in with a different friend briefly, but I really don’t want to get into that one either. All I’ll say is that one wasn’t really my fault either. I contributed sure, but I wasn’t the most problematic person there. It ended with me calling the cops, just for reference. Again, I’ll accept my share of the blame, but it wasn’t all on me. The third person, I’m actually only just starting to talk to again. We had a pretty bad falling out, and completely cut ties once I moved out. I reached out a little while ago, because I did owe her a fair bit of money, as she helped me out with rent a few times. I wanted to know how much I owed her, to get it off my conscious. I told her at the time that I had been recently diagnosed with BPD, and apologized for how awful I was. I’m still surprised she accepted my apology and said she’d be interested in being friends with me again. Also since I initially started this post, I’m happy to report that we are friends again, we’ve hung out several times, and we talk fairly regularly.

Back to the topic of abandonment though. This one is honestly a double-edged sword. It’s living in constant fear that people are going to leave you, that you’re going to screw things up so bad, say or do the wrong thing, and that person is going to leave you. It’s clinging so tightly that you become suffocating, overbearing, constantly needing to talk to people, constantly needing their attention. But it’s also waiting for them to leave. It’s being unable to truly, fully put yourself out there, and let people get to know you, because that’s just giving them more knives to plunge into your back. It’s always being on the defensive, trying to figure out what angle they’re playing. Trying to figure out why this person is even taking the time to talk to you, or to hang out with you.

Are they killing time? Are they using me? Is it pity? Or do they just not have anyone else to bother with?

Why are you talking to me?

How long until you leave, too?

These questions are forever on my mind. These questions are why I can’t trust anyone. These questions fuel my fear, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Except make it worse, of course.

There comes a tipping point, where I’m no longer desperately latching on to whoever is in my life. There comes a point where those questions echo so loudly in my head, they drown out everything else. And that’s when I split. My fear of abandonment, my paranoia, gets so bad, and so loud, that instead of sitting around, waiting for people to leave, I force them to. I “force their hand”.

If you’re going to leave me, it’ll be on my terms. Because it hurts less that way.

If you’re going to leave me, it’ll be because I kicked you out. I’ll fight you, and push you out the door myself, because it hurts less that way. Then I’m not sitting around, being used, or being pitied, or whatever else my brain tells me about you. Then I’m not sitting around, waiting for you to jab another knife in my back. Then I don’t feel like I’m constantly backed into a corner, constantly on edge, constantly waiting for that blow to come.

But the thing is, only a few people have ever “stabbed me in the back”. I don’t really want to get into those stories, because those people aren’t worth my time, or my energy, or my words.

This is what I mean about holding grudges though. Anyone who’s ever left me (aside from those few people) has left me because of my own doing. And when they do leave, and they do prove me right, I hold a grudge against them, and I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back, and I’ve suffered the ultimate betrayal.

They’re not leaving because they chose to. They’re leaving to get away from my Reactor #4 level of toxic nuclear meltdowns. They’re leaving because I am the problem. I am unhealthy. I am toxic.

That’s not being self-deprecating, by the way. That’s fact.

When people ultimately leave me, it’s my own doing. Because I’m so afraid of people leaving me, I don’t know how to have a healthy relationship with anyone. And because of my BPD, I only operate in extremes. Either you’re the best person, and I want to spend all my time talking to you, and hanging out with you, and I need your attention all of the time, or you’re the worst person, I hate you, you’re just trying to stab me in the back. It’s all black or white. There is no gray with BPD.

I’m trying to learn how to actually be friends with people. Learning to trust people and let them in, but also learning how to care for others. It’s not that I don’t care, per se, but I have a really hard time understanding other people’s needs. If they’ve got shit going on in their lives and they don’t have the spoons to talk to me, obviously it’s because they hate me, they’re leaving me, they don’t care about me and they can’t be bothered with me anymore. Logically, I can understand that they’ve got stuff going on, and they can’t give me the attention I need, but it’s not because they hate me. It’s because I’m not the center of the universe, and people are allowed to have shit going on in their lives. But going back to a previous post, that logic is trapped in a closet buried in the back of my brain, while the emotions scream over it.

I don’t know why I struggle so hard with this specific point. Maybe it’s the autism, maybe it’s the abandonment issues, or maybe I’m just generally a terrible person. The only thing I do know is that it’s probably the main reason people ultimately leave. No one wants to put up with that. It’s not fair to them. It’s something I need to work on with my therapist for sure. I don’t know how to control it at this point, but I know that until I do, people are going to keep leaving. I’m aware of it now, sure, but it doesn’t help to actually change it. I don’t know how. I don’t currently possess the tools I need to change that.

But I am trying. I’m trying to learn to have healthy communication with people, to better voice my needs, and where my head is at. Sometimes, I just need reassurance that they’re still there, and that tends to help a little bit with that feeling of abandonment. Lately it’s been getting hard again. Lately I’ve been feeling so alone and abandoned that it hurts to my very core. And that’s when the emotions take hold, and I lash out. Just last night, I hit a breaking point, and had a complete breakdown that lasted 4-5 hours. I cried for 3.5 hours straight, with more intermittent crying throughout the rest of the night. And I lashed out quite a bit. Because instead of taking other’s feelings and needs into account, my emotions took control and told me they didn’t care about me, everyone hates me, and it’s time to start kicking people out the door. Eventually, I did manage to get a slight grip on my emotions again, and after a somewhat decent sleep, I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve still got a long way to go though. And I’ve got a lot of therapy to go through before I can be a decent friend, let alone a good one.

Until then, there’s one thought that will keep echoing in my mind.

You’re going to leave me, and it’s all my fault.

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