Our Achilles heel. After several years of huge efforts in therapy, with meds and a wide range of tools and lifestyle changes, I have managed to reach stability in most spheres of my life. To unfamiliar eyes, I seem almost “neurotypical”. An achiever. An overachiever. But romantic love is kryptonite, I easily lose this delicate balance at a crazy speed, I rapidly find myself lost in the anxiety of risking to love someone, the shock from this loud voice that tells me I don’t deserve to be loved, the immense fear of loss and abandonment; and the confusion of mercurial thoughts racing through my mind. I freeze. I do not understand. I feel frustrated. I panic. I fuck things up. I runaway. I regret. I ache. I repeat.
I hate you. Love me.
I hate you. Don´t leave me.
In regular life, I am lucky to have thriven to be a confident person. Nevertheless, I am still an emotional illiterate. I connect far too easily with other’s emotions. Involuntarily, bring them into mine too. But I am still an intense robot with erratic wirings. I feel a deep desire to love, but once I get a chance, I feel an urge to escape or to burn it down. Senseless. Isn’t this what you wanted so much?
My last relationship ended a week ago. I called it over. Now I’m back in this room I hate so deeply. Where doubts and despair arise. Unbearable loneliness kicks in. Why does it seem I can’t keep a romantic relationship? Why does it trigger me so much? Why do breaking up takes me to the core of questioning my own existence? Anxiety always takes over. I find it hard to leave my house, to take a shower, to go to work, to reach out.
Anxiety doesn’t let me sleep, and if I manage to close my eyes shortly, it’d wake me up with that horrible rush of adrenaline that warns your body it must awake, danger is nearby. When I manage to sleep with the help of prescribed medication, nightmares visit, and it’s hard to wake up.
What is he doing now? Does he miss me? Was I enough? Did I fuck up? My immediate thoughts lash me, they are always targeted to tear me apart, to make sure I don’t forget I am this poorly put together monster that can’t be loved, that won’t ever be truly loved.
Anxiety has ways to diminish me rapidly. All its symptoms manage to make me ill within a week or two. Insomnia. Vomit. This horrendous sensation of electricity or uncomfortable tickles across my body, my hands, my feet. The constant state of alert. The unstoppable crying. The giving up, oh the giving up so soon!
I acknowledge that losing my romantic partners is my most explosive trigger. It opens the door for all my insecurities, my fear of abandonment, my lack of value, my search for identity, my capability to love, my worthiness of being loved. I’m sad to say I almost inevitably call myself a worthless whore. It breaks my heart, my mind, and my body. And putting myself back together after these crises is the hardest I’ve ever had to do.
Romantic love seems to be our burden, that hope we desire so much, and we’ll hardly accomplish. The emotional expenses of loving someone seem overwhelming, they come with a great cost that sometimes we can’t just afford.
Romantic love has tried to kill me, several times, it has taken me to inflict serious harm on myself. Hospital bills and serious consequences. It has made me a ghost for long after until I am able to overcome it. It has isolated me. It has made me forget about priorities like my family, my friends, work, myself. It has made me believe I should not live. I am not worth it. I am incapable of being loved; I am broken, far too broken to repair.
This time I know better, I have learnt to love myself more. I recon as difficult as it was, ending that relationship was a good call, as too soon there were many red flags that could not be ignored. Between the sadness, I am proud to have decided to take care of myself and spare me bigger problems in the future. It was an action based on loving myself. This time, although I find it hard to believe, it was not my BPD, it was my determination to not take shit from anyone that brought me here. And although this separation brings me back to this dark place, I am confident this time I know how to shine to make it better.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and called my psychiatrist to ask for medication to smooth these upcoming days. For few hours, some days ago, it amazed me to feel sad and grieving without wanting to die, to embrace my mourning like a “a normal person”. It lasted few hours, only for the duration of the pill’s magic in my brain, but it felt so good, it gave me hope. No human being will ever be free from unpleasant feelings like sadness or anger, they are a natural part of life, but being able to experience them without the common peaks and intensity of BPD has allowed me to focus my strength on carrying on.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and called in sick for work just one day. I acknowledged I needed a break and granted it to myself. But just one day, the next day I’d have to move on to my regular activities, because in the past I have fucked up so many things at work whenever I have lost my senses. Not this time.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and reached out to my friends. Told them I needed company and a pair of ears to vent everything in my chest.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and got in touch with a nutritionist that provided me with a diet that kept me surfing as healthy as possible, to stop the vomit, to help with anxiety in every way possible.
I have prepared for anxiety and have made a list of things I could do during the day, to stay busy, to pamper myself, to do in case of feeling too extreme. Having a plan makes me feel more secure.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and meditate every night before sleeping, try to practice being here and now, and often choose guided audios about selflove that make me burst into tears but empty my pain enough to sleep.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and as of tomorrow, I’ll dedicate time in the morning to making myself feel beautiful. I will continue doing so with or without a partner.
I have prepared for the anxiety flood and have tried to focus outside of me. Buddhist philosophy advices to connect to others’ pain when experiencing your own. Doing something to try to be there for others during their painful days has reminded me we all ache, we can keep each other company and we can care for each other.
I have tried to put everything in my power into place to make this horrible ride less deadly. I have only managed to get to this level of planning after 25 long years of different kinds of therapies and treatments, the length of my journey along my mental illness. It has not been easy, and it is not yet easy. But I know better now. I want to love myself. I want to thrive. I am worth it. I am worth it, no matter what the voices in my head say. I am surfing this tsunami very well. I have learnt. I want to be better.
Reality is romantic love will come and go several times in our lifetime. Don’t believe anxiety nor the voices in you head. Love will always come back, and it will never abandon you if you love yourself kindly.
Reality is, do not compromise your wellbeing for the fear of having to go through the painful path to part ways with someone. Not all couples match fully. Things don’t always work out. It’s not always your fault. Shit happens.
Reality also is, don’t believe this bullshit society implants in our heads. We don’t need to desperately look for a partner to be complete, to share life. Single life does not equal loneliness nor failure.
Are you familiar with Isaac Newton’s 3rd law?
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Yeah, I have come to believe physics can also help. Extreme anxiety, sadness or anger, such as the ones we experience with BPD are great forces, if we manage to tweak them and channel that same intensity into a different direction, we can create positive things from painful ones.
Romantic love is hard as fuck, but please do not let it try to kill you.