Series

Life Traps | Pt. 5: Abandonment

Posted by Maria

TRIGGER WARNING: contains talk of self-harm, suicide, abuse, and the like.

Moving on from the Life Trap of Failure I briefly talked about in my last post, it’s time for the big one for us BPD sufferers – Abandonment. One of the central pillars of being a borderline is the instability of relations ship that often stems from the fear of abandonment we carry. 

A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Abandonment:

The fear of loss guides my life, I worry about being left alone. I believe my loved ones will leave me one way or another, be it death or something less dramatic, such as growing apart. 

Being alone is hard for me, when it happens I try to keep myself occupied with work, TV, or things like gaming. Addictions become a coping mechanism, they make life that tiny bit more tolerable, the anxiety is too much to handle. 

The fear of losing someone brings with it a lack of trust, that may come out as me being controlling, jealous and possessive. I may demand you to stay, to know everything about you from where you are to what you are thinking at a given moment. Knowing gives me a sense of control.

Relationships become hard since I can’t cope with a loss of contact. Things you do or leave undone might trigger a response in me that tells me you are about to leave. Answering the phone becomes a mandatory task, if you don’t, I will freak out. I truly believe I might lose you soon if I already have not.

In moments of separation, I can react with rage, accusations, and mistrust. You don’t care, You don’t even want to be here!

I might choose an unstable partner, it may be that the person will be unavailable, it might be a long-distance relationship, or maybe they are just very busy with their life and can’t be there for me as much as I’d like. 

I can keep a distance from my friends, it won’t hurt so much when they leave, yet at the same time, it hurts when they do it to me. 

Even if everything goes by nicely, I feel like it can end at any moment. I wait for the separation and test you with it to see if the time has come. Whatever happens (if I leave you to avoid being left, or you just get fed up with my game), I will feel abandoned.

Alright. Time to dissociate while going through with this!

As a Borderline person, as mentioned before, the fear of abandonment is one of my belief-systems core pillars. I was always alone, I am alone now, and I will be alone in the future no matter what. That’s just how it goes for me. 

Mostly these days I’m terrified of being left alone by people around me dying. 

That, to my understanding, started from a very young age, from the dreams where my mother was killed in various ways and has continued since in my friends dying, partners getting to accidents or telling me they have terminal illnesses. Even my first dog validated this fear more by dying of lymphoma, a particularly nasty type of cancer. 

The ‘lesser’ fear is from being cheated (apparently that’s something I have to tackle at the moment, I’ve been seeing dreams of my husband cheating on me – he has done nothing to prompt them), ditched, or just abandoned for no particular reason. The Life trap of Subjugation is a partial factor here, as when I stopped letting people walk over me they typically turned around and left in a very hurtful fashion.

My earliest memory of being scared that I’m abandoned is from when I was a child, being difficult, as children can be, and watching my parent walk away as if they will just leave me there. Of course, that isn’t the case, but being a child at the time, all I recall is the pain and the tears and crying. Please don’t leave me!

Then there was the separation of my parents, I’m not going to go into that right now, and the fact that my sister moved out and suddenly, leaving me alone in the room we used to share. 

My friends turned from buddies to bullies within a summer,

I changed classes in school and I think from that forward I never trusted anyone again. I mean, one of the previous ‘friends’ of mine even grabbed me, practically assaulting me with threats and physical contact, one evening when I was coming home from a new friend’s place.

The few friends I had later on in life have either died or I’ve become so distant with them that I don’t feel comfortable even contacting them. I mean, they moved on from me, why bother them. Some tucked tails and were revealed as abusive and taking advantage of me.

How I cope with loneliness varies.

Mostly I drown myself in games, Youtube, or Netflix. In the past, I used alcohol and ate myself to oblivion. People gave me compliments when I was drunk, all the way from being more fun to being amazingly flirty. 

There was a time when I had a partner that enabled this behavior, brought me snacks and sweets, carried home alcohol, even encouraged my flirting with others as he saw it as an easy way to get me in the ‘mood’. Sometimes I changed my chips to pills and kept snacking.

But what to do when the substances and attention-seeking are not enough?

Well, in my case, it was self-harm. My body bears the scars of darker times, and they will probably never fully fade. Somedays I wanted to die, and so I tried it out. Lucky for me I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to taking any sort of life, and so my attempts (yes, there were several) typically ended before I got hurt. 

Gaming became my main addiction, these days I play with my husband and he has a very strict policy with me when it comes to them. Wifely duties and chores have to be up to date, and I’m not allowed to forget that real life is well, here. It was easy to live all day every day in a game, I could be and do anything I wanted!

Trust issues that stem from the fear of loss haunt me every day, and my husband (bless his soul), has chosen to be with me even when he knows all of my demons. I can’t imagine it is easy to hear things like “I don’t trust you.”, “It’s better if we separate.”, or “You are leaving me, just like the rest of them!”. 

I don’t make friends anymore, as nobody is trustworthy in my eyes. This belief of mine became even worse during my separation from an ex of mine, when most of my family rushed to his side, abandoning me and then telling me it is my fault they did that. When you get blamed for someone else’s actions, it really cuts on that faith in humanity you used to have. Especially if it’s your own flesh and blood doing so.

So, I stay away from people. 

My husband, being the only one I’m comfy with, is on an invisible leash. Amazingly though, he manages to fight it without being mean or hurtful. When he doesn’t answer his phone or send me updates on his whereabouts, I panic. When he speaks Hebrew on the phone to his clients, I panic. When we argue, I panic.

And, as borderlines go, sometimes I adopt the mentality of “If I hurt him first, he can’t hurt me!”. Let me tell you that ride is wild and not as fun as you’d expect from a rollercoaster of that caliber. Would make for amazing TV though. Very entertaining when you’re not the one in the pit, taking all the hits. 

When it comes to my past partners, they’ve been pretty much not the bring-home-and-show-off -type. Car thieves, alcoholics, small-time druglords, mentally unbalanced, you name it. A borderline persona and someone who will carve your name into their skin with a knife and threaten to stream their suicide online does not go well together. And, as the summary flashes, most of these people were unavailable or long-distance, or just otherwise occupied. 

What does the book say about the Life Trap of abandonment resolving then?

I will start understanding relationships and the continuity of them, I wouldn’t be continuously worried that I will be left alone. I’ll be able to cope with it without escaping to my addictions or getting overly anxious. I will be able to handle normal, temporary separation situations and will have the skill to pick people around me that are more stable and trustworthy. Slowly I will learn to let go of the controlling and jealousy, and to trust people.

That sounds lovely. I want that!

To this day the shadow of abandonment and the fear of being alone controls my every waking moment. Thanks to my husband, I now believe that even if something happens, I’ll survive (in my previous relationship I was lulled to believe that I can’t survive without my partner, so this is a huge step up), not that it should be the starting point that anything terrible would happen. Just as it shouldn’t be the starting point that I think of people, especially my husband, as cheaters and abusers. 

I have struggled to get here, and I still have loads more road to walk. Right now though, I feel as I have support, and should my legs get tired, someone will be there to let me lean on them.

How about you? Have you struggled with loneliness or abandonment?

Let me know in the comments below!


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