May 24, 2024, 06:24AM

Abandonment is a Gift

What if we could flip the script on our biggest fears?

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4th in a 4-part series for Mental Health and Borderline Personality Disorder Months: click links to read part onepart two and part three

I turned 55 this week and gave some thought to healing, moving on, letting go of negative elements of my life that might bring on BPD symptoms. The thing about a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis is there really isn’t a cure, but it’s critical for us as those dealing with its effects to manage our own mental health to the best of our ability.

One night this week I woke up in the middle of the night and heard what seemed like a voice in my head with a message. I’m not religious, but can be spiritual and feel a sense of connection to ancestors and deceased loved ones and that’s where the message felt like it was coming from. It was simply these words: “The abandonment is the gift.”

It really had me thinking. I spent a lot of time meditating until it began to make sense. Fear of abandonment is a leading symptom of BPD. But why would I be sad, sorry, hurt or upset about people who make a choice to walk out of my life, when the feelings I experienced in those relationships involved stress, exhaustion, disappointment, anxiety, hurt, sadness and fear?

Why would I upset myself over toxic people, often narcissists or energy vampires, essentially broken people, just because I have some unrelenting sense of loyalty? Possibly I’d overgive to broken people as a way of trying to heal some broken part of myself. Not terrible, but co-dependency is a lame job I didn’t know I had. I’m quitting, along with the also-unpaid “savior complex.”

We learn from a young age that letting go is giving up, and to fight. But the truth is that empowerment can sometimes lie in detachment. I’ve often admired others’ ability to do this. It’s simply time, in my double-nickels senior citizen-pancake-discount era, to learn it myself instead 
of being ruled by my emotions; not easy in a world where they’ve dominated me for so long. Emotionally: chemotherapy is bad, but cancer is worse.

Attachment is often rooted in fear, and fear is exhausting. We can’t control others, only ourselves and our own reactions, the more we can focus on this truth, the better. In BPD there is a “favorite person” concept but we're really the only ones who can serve in this role, while external people who provide any act of kindness should be treated with gratitude. If we have a handful of people in our lives who render random acts of kindness, we’re blessed.

How people treat you is a reflection of how they treat themselves. In relationships where people “abandoned me, ” I can walk away knowing I gave it all. I wasn’t in it to receive anything back, it isn’t my fault if others aren’t capable of returning love, and I don’t think hurting me was necessarily intentional. It doesn’t make it hurt less, but spending energy on being angry won’t fix anything. In order to heal, moving on is the only option. As a reiki master I can say that holding onto anger and negativity in life creates physical and mental pain and anguish in the body, and I have no interest in giving that amount of energy or power to any other human.

Letting go isn’t giving up, it’s making a choice to energetically shift love in order to water gardens that will actually grow: people, places, things that you want to bloom. 

  • I was raised by a mother who had borderline personality disorder and growing up in such an environment was like living through an emotional whirlwind. In an effort to try to understand my mother better and improve my relationship with her I read several books on the topic 'Walking on Eggshells' and 'Understanding the Borderline Mother' are two books that come to mind. This four part series on borderline personality disorder are as insightful both in its descriptions and prescriptions as anything that I got out of the many books I read on this topic... My mother was tormented by events from the past that she could not get out of her head such as insults, slights and mistreatment by others as well as regrets over her own behavior and wishing she would have handled events in her life differently. As pointed out in these helpful articles there is no cure for BPD but there are ways to manage it. Perhaps what helped my mother the most was that she allowed the creative, artistic, imaginative right brain aspects of herself to flourish. Painting, knitting, craftworks and being constructive created a lot of positive energy which helped to displace the negative emotions and thoughts from the past that were consuming her. The process of writing was also a huge benefit to her. It allowed her to organize her thoughts and self reflect. There is a wise saying that I heard years ago " If you want to know what your face looks like look in the mirror. If you want to know what your mind looks like write down your thoughts and then read what you have written".... There is much truth to the title of this piece 'Abandonment is a Gift'. There can come a point in relationships where people offer nothing positive and bring mostly conflict into our lives and act as dead weight and if you allow them to they will pull you down in which case it is best to cut them loose. It does help though and is probably essential to have people in your corner who love you and are there for you through thick and thin even if it is just a few people. Also when it comes to abandonment on the micro level the ability to abandon the toxic and negative thoughts from the past which act as a poison to your present day mental wellbeing is perhaps the biggest gift you can give to yourself and it is also one of the most challenging things for people with BPD to do. .. Thanks for writing this thoughtful series on Borderline Personality Disorder Mary and good luck to you on your journey through life

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  • Thank you for this comment, which essentially made the difficulty of writing this 4-part series worth it. I could write another entire 4-part series on navigating motherhood while struggling with BPD (maybe next year..). I had tears in my eyes while reading about your mother, as needless to say I empathize with her. On behalf of my own children who were raised with another who was struggling, I also empathize with you because I know that must not have been easy. Our emotional volume as I mentioned is consistently stuck on 10 and trying to remain neutral when it comes to the emotions involved in raising children is a constant daily challenge. I'm glad you read those books for support, and for any other support you may have received. Thank you again for reading and for your feedback.

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  • I look forward to your next BPD series when ever you get around to it. You are right that growing up with a BPD mother wasn't easy but perhaps life is not suppose to be easy and we all need to be challenged in one way or another . Looking back I feel blessed to have the mother I did because on balance and in spite of some of the struggles she was a remarkable and loving person. I would venture to guess that your children probably feel the same way about you and through time will appreciate you even more.

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