Loved ones with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder in or who was in their lives need more understanding and to learn how to implement and enforce their own boundaries.
There is a strong tendency for Loved Ones of someone with BPD to fulfill a codependent role of enabling the person with BPD for so many reason. Among, them, ‘the walking on eggshells’. The trying to keep the peace. In effect, you are trying to avoid the next inevitable cycle of the person with BPD’s subconsciously ingrained repetition compulsion. A repetition compulsion that is constantly triggered from the person with BPD’s subconscious because they are trying always to repair old past core trauma in the here and now. That is not effective. Cannot be done. And loved ones cannot help the person with BPD in their lives with healing core trauma that is triggered from the past. That’s why people with BPD need effective professional treatment.
Loved ones, cannot, however, change the person with BPD’s cycle of abuse. The more you experience this cycle of abuse, until you understand its repetition reality, the more you may feel a desperate need to have them stop it. It just isn’t that simple.
Without healthy boundaries what results is codependent, enmeshed, enabling, relating. Relationships between those with BPD and non borderlines contain a toxic dynamic. It is a dilemma and a dance wherein those with BPD need too much but what you give can’t ever be enough for them. It can’t be enough because you can’t be the borderline for the borderline. The borderline needs to find him or herself and learn, emotionally, how to be who he or she really is. Borderlines, not having a stable sense of self or identity try to live through you. What does that mean for you?
Codependence has many definitions. When it comes to loved ones of a person in their lives with Borderline Personality Disorder, it is your codependence and/or enabling that is your part of the toxic dynamic dance between the Borderline and you.
In the relationship between the BPD loved one and the borderline there is also a dance wherein loved ones often end up sacrificing the ‘Self’ inside – losing themselves to the losteness and neediness of the people with BPD in their lives. What’s the alternative? Is there another way? How can you maintain your sanity in an insane situation? How can you maintain your mental health in a toxic relational dynamic? Can you?
Boundaries and limits implemented, communicated, and up-held by loved ones of those with BPD are truly gifts that you can give the person with BPD in your life today as well as yourself. Your boundaries – boundaries that you have every right to and need for your own well-being will plant seeds that each borderline has the opportunity to grow from if and when he or she chooses to. Boundaries are gifts that you can give yourself and the person with BPD in your life. That person may not appreciate your boundaries or what they could mean for them too but you can’t let that stop you from having the boundaries you need or you will be living from a codependent enmeshed and enabling dilemma that will, sooner or later, demand that you save yourself. It is a very painful way and place to live. It is choosing to suffer emotionally when you really do not have to.
It is not as simple as just telling a loved one with BPD what your boundaries are. It is a gentle process of first coming to understand more about BPD, and the boundaries you need to stop rescuing and stop putting their emotions and demands or needs (always) ahead of your own. It is about learning how to skillfully communicate what you need without invalidating or being critical of the person with BPD in your life. That takes knowledge, understanding, and practice to be able to effectively do. Loved ones will benefit from learning how to do this and how to detach from trying to rescue or change the person with BPD in your life. The only person you can create change in, is yourself. The more you are in the middle between a person with BPD and their bottom, or a bottom, the more you are enabling them to stay the same. You cannot force or explain enough ever to change another person, let alone someone with the defenses of Borderline Personality Disorder.
© A.J. Mahari, January 5, 2010 – with an up-date September 25, 2016 – All rights reserved