Borderline Personality Disorder related hyper-sensitivity can sometimes feel like a special power. Like how when I engage with someone I can immediately sense how they’re feeling, and it is much more noticeable when they’re upset, or trying to hide their feelings.
This generally means that people trust and like to talk to me, because I have the ability to ask them what’s wrong and know the cases in which they mean “everything” even if they say “nothing.”
Though, like most special powers, this one can cause a bit of chaos.
Say I walk in to a room and say “Hi” to my significant other or friend and the tone in their “Hey” sounds a bit different than usual. I don’t rationalize by saying, “Oh, they’re probably having an off day, something to do with work, or school. If it was about you they would tell you.”
Instead, my brain completely bypasses that cognitive process and suddenly, my nerves are on fire: “THEY OBVIOUSLY HATE YOU AND ARE GOING TO LEAVE YOU IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT YOU’RE A TERRIBLE PERSON.”
This quick shift can feel like I’m already experiencing abandonment that hasn’t even occurred yet. Which understandably can get frustrating for the person I’m interacting with, because remember, to them this all started with a simple “Hey.”
For me though, that interaction means so much more, because my brain has already decided that they hate me. This means that changing my mind about it can create a vicious cycle.
They promise they’re not leaving me. I ask for extra validation to make sure they’re not lying. I feel bad for being so much of a “burden,” which in turn makes me feel like they’re going to leave me. Rinse and repeat.
This cycle has potential to cause the “abandoner” to feel as if the “abandoned” doesn’t trust them. I can promise you that is not the case, we do trust you!
If anything, because so much of our disorder is often rooted in past trauma and fear of being left, extreme feelings such as these are a compliment. It means that we care about you so much that not having you around feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen.
Remember, we don’t ever want to come off as obsessed, insecure, needy, or “crazy.”
No one with BPD wants to experience such volatility in their sense of self and in quality of interpersonal relationships. We wish we could just take words at face value instead of creating a whole non-existent narrative behind them.
Maybe if I wasn’t as aware of other people’s emotions as I am, seemingly little things like this wouldn’t be such a trigger for me…
Then again I probably wouldn’t be able to offer the top-tier love and support I give to the people in my life that need it.
This is my super power after all, and with great power comes great responsibility.