BPD, Mental Health

Fear of Abandonment: “You’re Going to Leave – Aren’t You?”

For sometime, or else for as long as I can remember, I have experienced an intense fear of abandonment. A few years back whilst working with a therapist I was told that this, alongside other symptoms I was experiencing, could be classed under “borderline tendencies.” 

Now, without having had an official diagnosis of BPD or for having BPD tendencies I was unable to fully comprehend the symptoms I was experiencing and therefore was unable to seek appropriate help. The possibility of either diagnoses being true was, and still is, truly terrifying with such a vast stigma bolted onto the disorder with “borderlines” being classed as manipulative and attention-seeking (and difficult to treat). That image was definitely not aligned with who I try to be: someone that people trust; a loyal, supportive and kind sister, daughter and friend. If I truly was “a borderline” then the image painted of BPD by the internet and health websites would greatly conflict with the core of who I was.

Between bouts of fear and anxiety about this I tried to do my research around what BPD actually was and I found that, amongst multiple symptoms, an intense fear of abandonment was something I could really relate to. However this symptom isn’t one that is unique to BPD and so will be something that a lot of people, with different diagnoses, will experience. Therefore, I felt it would be worth writing about my own experience in an attempt to make my fellow abandonment-phobes feel less alone.

If I am to reflect on my life thus far, I realise that my fear of abandonment has greatly impacted my ability to maintain and commit to interpersonal relationships. Most relationships I’ve had with others have terminated abruptly and any relationships that are currently normal and quite happy are also very new. Any long term relationships that I’ve somehow managed to sustain have definitely had extremely frictitious moments and have remained intact only with extreme patience and forgiveness on their part. 

The reason behind all of this seems to be the “hurt them before they hurt you” approach my brain has adopted. The bold assumption that, at some point, all the people I have connections with in my life will end up leaving me  sets the foundation for actions I might take following these suffocating feelings. It will usually go one of two ways.  I will sit with these made up but intense feelings of rejection for a long period of time only to redirect that as strong feelings of anger towards this person. Usually, this will result in an explosive episode where I say to the person things that I know will hurt them and hopefully have them hate me, forever. (Mind you, I never really have a full recollection of these episodes.) Or when the realisation that everyone will leave hits me in the moment, but I have no idea what I must have done to upset them to make them leave, I will intentionally do something that I know will make them angry as if attempting to provide a reason for them to hate me.

Honestly, this all seems quite contradictory- if you don’t want them to leave you, why do you keep hurting them? I promise you, if I knew why I would tell you. Unfortunately, I don’t. I would assume it’s the result of some form of previously unprocessed trauma that has led you to have difficulties in certain cognitive processing. However, though this is all still a big mystery to me, I do plan on doing my research and contacting people that can help me understand and start healing thereafter.

One big self-care tip I would advise, however, is to be kind and forgiving with yourself (something I could also do more of, let’s be honest). Fuck-ups happen, everybody makes them. It’s definitely not an excuse to repeatedly hurt people who love you and we must take responsibility for our healing so as to prevent similar events from occurring. However, in the words of Black Widow “don’t judge people on their worst mistakes.” You’re more than what you do at your worst. What actually defines you is what you do to be the best version of yourself. So do me a favour and don’t give up on yourself. Be kind and be forgiving. 

A little self-love won’t hurt anyone 🙂

Stay safe and well and I’ll keep you updated!

With love,

Arya x