Rather than focus on how my last friendship ended specifically, I’m going to open up more generally to how relationships have played out their tenure in the past. I know that I can only speak for myself, but I know that a lot of BPD, sufferers of Depression/Anxiety, and many others have similar social ‘obstacles’ or boundaries that come into play in handling social settings. It can be an extremely daunting challenge…one that many choose to avoid and recluse from. But, I’m hoping that by opening for you a small window of understanding, you may be able to see things a little more through the eyes of someone who lives with social fears.
First off, there are some things I’m going to have to tell you about myself. Social interaction is the cause of far and away the most influenced anxiety in my life…that is, anxiety caused by some outward thing, not just caused by “clutter and chaos” in my head. It’s really hard for me to explain, and I’m sure even harder for you to understand, but…relationships scare the shit out of me. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Even the most basic of relationships for me are difficult, uncomfortable, and entirely intimidating. I have huge trust issues which prevent people from getting at all close, and I enter relationships with so many guards up I literally refuse to allow myself to become even the least bit vulnerable. Most people upon hearing this are surprised because I’m such a social person. And that’s true…I am an extremely social person. “But you just said you hate social interaction” you’re likely thinking to yourself. Well, I don’t hate it, but yes…it’s extremely difficult. But the thing is, I also have a fear that is far greater than that of social interaction, and that is what right now is an near uncontrollable fear of abandonment. This is a common trait in people with BPD…you likely only need to read the opening paragraph of any book on the topic to find that out. But it’s very true. This fear, at times, has overwhelming control of my life. One specific piece of this fear that I have been focusing on is working through the fear of losing my family, and trusting that my wife is not going to abandon me. (I want to make a very clear side note here…Sherry has never done anything that has been the cause of this fear. I have an amazing committed and supportive wife. These fears are rooted so deep, and Sherry just has the unfortunate privilege of working through the rubble with me) I know that for Sherry, it’s been extremely difficult that I have so strongly gripped to that fear that she is going to leave me, that I’ve actually done things to push her away. I have very literally done things over the years to sabotage our relationship. It’s like I’m so paranoid of what I fear will happen, that in turn I do something to actually push things towards making it happen. You see, I build my walls very high. I keep them well guarded, and I defensively attack anyone who gets near. I’m humiliated and even ashamed to admit it, but I can literally count on one hand the number of people I have ever allowed inside those walls.
So back to the question of friendships ending. Most friendships that I have had over the years, like most people, just kind of slowly fade away. Without even realizing it you just kind of drift out of each others lives. There’s also friends that I have pushed away. My method of doing this, although not always, is most often complete avoidance. I stop returning calls. I stay clear of places or events where I might run into them. I do everything I can to make them think I may have just walked off the earth. It’s sad. It’s pathetic. It’s true. But then there’s those friends that I have lost. That in my mind have either abandoned me, or been taken from me. They’re the daggers…the relationships that are pure gasoline on the fire that is my greatest fears. I have had a few of these over the years, and they have had monumental lasting influence on my life. They’ve fuelled those fears of being left…abandoned. They’ve provided the bricks and mortar for building my walls…my inability to trust. All of these things anchored in my mind like concrete. And now I have the task before me of chipping away all that concrete, and brick by brick disassembling those walls.