One of the things I find terrifying about Borderline Personality Disorder is the twisted way we perceive ourselves. In our minds, we don’t really exist. And if we do, we probably should stop with it and be like everyone else. Or worse yet, adopt a way of being that pleases those around us. I have been through the shadows of never being enough. Of not being pretty enough, fit enough, fast enough, fun enough… But how did I escape it all? Let’s find out!
What is the true self?
The true self refers to an individual’s authentic, fundamental nature that exists beneath societal expectations, roles, and external influences. It’s often seen as the core essence of a person, reflecting their innate values, desires, emotions, and identity. This means that beyond the roles and masks people wear in various contexts, there is a more genuine and unfiltered version of themselves. What’s more, it aches to come out.
From a psychological standpoint, the true self can be seen as the collection of traits, characteristics, and preferences most aligned with an individual’s inner feelings and beliefs. It represents the aspects of a person that aren’t shaped by external pressures or the need for social approval.
During my two years of therapy, I worked on the different parts of myself. There was the Shade, Harsh, Doomsayer, and even a Shield for those proper dissociation moments. At the core of it all, however, was the Child.
This Child was terrified. She didn’t want to be left behind, constantly yanking the threads to all the other aspects with the force of desperation. She was the ruler of my inner world. And She was only a child. Evidently, it was time for me to birth another side, the Adult.
I set out to put my inner world’s Chaos back into Order. The Adult became the Matron of all beings, accepting them with grace and benevolence. She will forever protect the Child, and wield the weapons of negativity in an appropriate manner. The Matron allows all my aspects to live freely in my mind while binding them to a set of rules.
This progress, this change from the Child’s rule to the Matron’s, was perhaps the single most crucial part of my recovery. And consequently, to find my way back to who I truly am.
Chameleon life, constant change, and lack of stability
In my past, especially as a Borderline person, I had no solid identity. I recall being pretty sure of who I was as a child, but as I grew older, I lost it. I lost it in the demands of my parents and friends. Its trail vanished into my past patrons and those who would use my broken self to their amusement. The instability and insecurity in my life from my childhood to early adulthood cemented the chameleon in me. I was to work toward being liked. Not toward being myself.
These days, the Matron, the queen of my mind, holds a firm grasp on the threads of emotion. I couldn’t have found my way without my therapist, who specializes in schemas. With her guidance, I was able to separate parts of me in order to take a proper look at them. Soon, I found out what the various defensive mechanisms are for, how they work, and what triggers them.
I related to each and every one of those parts of me and felt somewhat ashamed I neglected them. Finding the Child hit me especially hard. People have thrown, mauled, abused, and tyrannized her… all the things you could imagine. Her fearfulness was absolutely heart-breaking. She was completely and utterly broken.
My inner narratives
All the narratives I came up with broke that Child. These stories I partially told to myself, courtesy of my incredibly imaginative, cruel mind. On the other hand, the tales were whispers with the voices of my parents, sister, teachers, and other people in my life. My mind was overflowing, exhausted. And the Child was withering away in the shadows, trying to find hope in the embrace of Hatred and Anger.
Back then, in my darkest times, my narratives were horrifying. I demanded perfection of myself and punished myself for not reaching it. I thought of myself as trash, useless, and a monster. Of course, I also treated myself as such. The constant critique in my head paralyzed me. I even stopped writing for a long while due to someone having a meltdown because I would rather write than play with them. Of course, I only asked for a cautious 1 hour of writing time.
Today, things are different. The Matron has a good chokehold on the sides of me that would start bullying the Child. Consequently, my self-confidence has gone up. If I’m not allowed to abuse myself, then nobody else is, either. Seems like a clear-cut case for any average person, but for a Borderline, it was a new concept altogether. I can’t even begin to tell you how free I feel these days!
Finding myself – what it took
Finding myself again took a ton of tremors. I knew my whole life what I wanted to do and be. How I wanted my life to go. But I was just too scared to go toward it. The threat of being left alone was too much to bear, after all, the people around me led me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own.
And then the worst of the worst happened – my world came crashing down. The light of justice revealed the lies that my then-patron had fed me. The delusion I had been living shattered. The dragon in the sky was no more. Afterward, I had nothing but the Maw of Chaos to look into.
And look into it I did. I nearly went mad, like, properly mad. I didn’t know how to live, who I was, what I needed to do. Without my husband I would not have been able to come out the other side alive, I don’t think. The world I knew turned to ashes, but so too, died the expectations and bonds I had in relation to my captors. For the first time in my life, I was free.
Turns out our true self is not so easy to snuff out. It was just waiting there, like a good friend, a loyal companion, ready to serve me once more. I named her Lumina.
Lumina’s light shone so brightly that it blinded me. It was the part of me that I repressed, tried to kill, and drowned in the deepest, darkest pits of my personal hell. And yet, it shone.
Lumina cast her light into my inner world and showed me the Truth. I understood what I truly wanted to do, to be, once more. But it wouldn’t be easy. The mountain on which my graceful guide stands is full of treachery. The loose gravel might make me fall, and the cracks in the stone might break my legs. But there was hope. Lumina became my hope.
It’s like I said on Twitter once. Getting here took a boatload of luck and hard work. And it’s not over yet. But at least now I have my eyes open, and my head clear. Clear of the voices of the past, and clear of the self-narratives that made me stay within those bad places and relationships. I survived the world’s end. And, to top it all off, even without the hollow relations I lost, including my family, I’m no longer alone.