The search for the "real", "true", "authentic self" can be a very long and painful one for those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is an angst riddled journey that many do not get past. The lack of "authentic self" - this lost self in BPD is a testament to the inability of those with BPD to mature emotionally. This emotional immaturity is very painful and for many devastates their attempts to find their real selves in meaningful and consistent enough ways that foster the kind of growth and work that is required to recover from BPD. It leaves those with BPD, until and unless they get enough professional help, between a rock and a hard place.
I receive a lot of questions from those with BPD about finding themselves and about knowing who they really are. As most who have begun to heal and who know BPD from the inside out can attest to, one of the most difficult aspects of this personality disorder is this lost self - the abyss of lack where otherwise healthy individuals have a strong sense and understanding of who they are.
It is from this lack of self that borderline behaviour stems. So much of what borderlines do and say -- the seemingly endless self-destructive behaviour and behaviour toward others that is, to say the least, very painful and often abusive -- is the result of arrested emotional development. Without the emotional development that those without personality disorders have those with BPD are left to flail in a parallel world where all that is true for them (from the past) in the here and now is situationally unrelated in the here and now for those who do not have BPD - loved ones - the non-borderlines.
Lacking a working sense of "true self" and an equal lack of understanding of "true self" borderlines who often are constantly triggered back into their pasts living at best very fragmented (dissociative) "reality" in what is essentially a lost "here and now" borderlines live in a different emotional universe.
For those with BPD it is not at all uncommon to not know who you are. Even trying to grasp what knowing who you are might really mean is very difficult. Borderlines experience life from a false self that was created when as young children they were overwhelmed with pain by events or circumstances, perceived or actual, that left them feeling overwhelmed, helpless and victimized. Feeling helpless and victimized in the past was a "normal" reaction. However it is the playing out of the "repetition compulsion" of early life events that is a large part of what arrests emotional growth which plays a major role in the development of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Early life events are replayed out in repetition compulsions in an attempt to resolve conflict that is usually housed deep within the subconscious. This is the root cause of projection, projection-identification, transference, and the like. It is the borderline constantly re-living events by giving home to this unresolved conflict on those around him or her in the here and now.
In the process of recovering from BPD, which is the journey From False Self to Authentic Self finding ways to increase one's awareness about the core wound of abandonment and the shame of abandonment along with facing the abandoned pain of BPD and beginning to resolve borderline rage are key parts of being prepared for recovery - the very recovery many are still finding somewhat elusive.
For those with BPD who are actively working to recover, coming to know who you are is a gift that unfolds when the time is right in the healing process. In the meantime, however, each person with BPD will know something about who he or she is, to some extent or other. But, not to the extent that those who do not have a personality disorder know this about themselves.
What is crucial, I believe, is beginning to explore and practice self-acceptance even before one knows who he/she is by radically accepting what you know about who you are and what you don't know about who you are right now, without judging that. This might sound impossible or confusing but it can be done. In fact, if you don't come to some basic understanding of being kind and caring with yourself now it can prevent you from getting to that "authentic self" that awaits your discovery and longs for your comfort, nurture and love.
Don't hold out self-acceptance and self-love until you KNOW who you are. Part of coming to that understanding is loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you know yourself to be right now -- or even the absence of that self-knowledge - if that makes sense?
This can be very challenging for those with BPD however because often the pervasive polarized experience that leaves the borderline fragmented self overwhelmed with the core beliefs that one is too damaged, too broken, too unworthy to be found, and known let alone loved by self or others or to find hope and ultimately, recovery.
Knowing who you really are has all to do with knowing what you value, what you want in life or out of life, what you can and cannot give, what your needs are, what your boundaries are - and the meeting of those needs in healthy constructive ways. Therefore there are practical measures that can be tangibly known in your search for self.
I also believe that for those of us who have (or have had) BPD and/or other personality disorders to some extent who we really are and our understanding of that is an on-going process and can be expected to be over our lifetimes.
A.J. Mahari lives in Ontario, Canada. She is an author, speaker, life coach, bpd/mental health coach, and self improvement coach. She has been described by many as an insightful and astute student of life’s ups and downs. She is not, for the record, a mental health professional. A.J. writes all that she writes from her own life experience. Therefore she asks that you keep that in mind as you read her writing – her Ebooks or listen to her Audio Programs or work with her as a your Life Coach.
Disorders - Borderline Personality Disorder
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