Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder

Abandonment and the Borderline Personality

Abandonment issues are the first criterion in the DSM IV criteria for diagnosing BPD.

The DSM IV criteria states:

Criterion 1: Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
“The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behaviour. These individuals are very sensitive to environmental circumstances. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans (e.g. sudden despair in reaction to a clinician’s announcing the end of the hour; panic of fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment). They may believe that this “abandonment” implies they are “bad.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Their frantic efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviours, which are described separately in Criterion 5”


As Stop Walking on Eggshells rightly puts it “People with BPD look to others to provide things they find difficult to supply for themselves, such as self-esteem, approval and a sense of identity… fill the black-hole of emptiness and despair…’ this can affect any – relationship, family, friends, partners. For me this criterion is most evident in my relationship with my partner. Even my friends who know very little about BPD have picked up on how I meet this criterion, with comments having been made at times when I am in crisis along the lines of “You always go off the rails when Chris isn’t around”. I think that sums it up pretty well really!

Basically, if my partner is away – which sometimes he has to be for work or TA (Territorial Army) the anxiety of being separated overwhelms me. Initially I don’t even recognise that I am struggling and by the time I do I have already spiralled out of control. Death can seem a viable alternative option to the potential loss of a relationship for the person with BPD, whilst at the same time we can’t understand why anyone would want to be with us anyway as our self opinion is that low. As with all of the criteria it is hard to talk about ‘abandonment’ without touching on other criteria as there is much overlap and intermingling of the actions, reactions, triggers, behaviours etc that ‘meet the criteria’ but I will try to keep the focus on abandonment as closely as possible.

Now the worst part of this problem is that while longer separations obviously have a larger impact, even short separations trigger anxiety, stress and paranoia. For example; He calls to say he is heading home from work, the journey takes one and half hours – all is well and good. One hour and forty-five minutes later he’s not back… panic sets in, my rational mind is screaming at me ‘It’s only 15 minutes, there’s probably just traffic’ but the BPD mind is already crawling with paranoid thoughts and refuses to accept the simple traffic delay explanation, and even the sort of paranoid thoughts that non-BP’s might have of ‘Oh shit, what if he’s had an accident’ are irrelevant – for the BP the only way this delay can be explained is in a manner that means abandonment and rejection of me ‘He’s leaving you’ ‘He’s seeing someone else’ and all kinds of nonsense, self-depreciating crap along the lines of rejection and abandonment. Then 2 minutes later the door opens and he comes in complaining about the traffic which held him up, but for the BP it’s too late you are angry with him, for abandoning you, you hate yourself for being stupid, paranoid and having these thoughts and fears. Intense feelings of sadness, loss and fear wreak havoc with your mind. You don’t want to feel like this but you can’t control or stop it, that’s the reality of BPD. You cry with distress and embarrassment, whilst at the same time being relieved that he is home. Luckily I am not one of the BP’s whose anger is externalised, as I know that for those who do ‘act out’ on their anger they would probably ‘attack’ their partner at this point with unfounded allegations about their late arrival home, maybe even physically attacking the non-BP. For me though the anger is internalised and self-directed, I want to hurt myself for having had these thoughts and feelings. The only good thing about short separations like this is that it is over quickly and you can get back to what passes as ‘normal’ after a few hours of distress. Longer separations however can have a huge sometimes life-changing impact…

When my partner went to Afghanistan initially I was okay, I understood why he was going, when he would be back and I had made plans to occupy myself so that I could handle him not being around. Or so I thought… It didn’t take long for the BPD to kick in and spread like an infection through my thoughts and feelings. Within weeks I was certain of the following irrational paranoid BPD thoughts

  • He didn’t want me; I was a trophy girlfriend to cover his own shame at loving someone else who was not as attractive or clever as me. He could show me off to his family and friends whilst keeping his true love hidden on the sidelines.
  • He was cheating on me with god knows who whilst he was over there
  • He was going to die out there and abandon me for good

I hated him for leaving me (part of criterion 2- idealization and devaluation) and wanted to do anything to avoid being abandoned by him. So I began making plans to leave him, and told him as much in our emails. This must have been very difficult for him to handle being 3000 miles away and unable to talk to me properly to understand what the hell was going on. Bearing in mind, he knew about my BPD at this point but had never read anything about it, so he only knew of it by name with no understanding of what it meant in reality. Impulsivity also kicked in around this time; I was so convinced I was now practically, for all intents and purposes, ‘single’ that I needed to feel wanted again. I was going out drinking lots, barely sleeping, barely eating. Then the recklessness kicked in on top, promiscuity prevailed again – what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; I was so convinced he was up to no good over there and I was alone, so why not sleep with whomever I wanted? It’s not like I have any difficulty attracting men. I also started to examine my sexual orientation frustrations (yes, I actually question this often, although I realise now that for me this is part of my BPD unstable sense of self and identity as with all my career changes). Gradually the recklessness, impulsivity and self-injurious behaviours increased in severity until I was cutting again and eventually as he returned home for leave I overdosed…

Just to demonstrate that this is all invasive, not just about the closest relationships, here are a few other examples of the insignificant, everyday life events that also trigger rejection and abandonment fears –

  •  There is no post today, or there is post but none is for me – even junk mail is better than nothing, otherwise I feel the postman has abandoned me, people sending post have rejected me; it’s like ‘huh great, no –one likes me enough to send me a letter, or even a bill’ (sickeningly sad I know!)
  • A friend cancels a night our cause they don’t feel well, or have to work – they don’t like me anymore, they would rather work than hang out with me, I’m a useless friend therefore they have abandoned me.
  • The hit count on my blog is low today – even my readers have abandoned me, I’m a useless writer.
  • I’ve lost a subscriber/follower on my blog/twitter – I must have offended them, I’m a useless writer, they are rejecting me.
  • The end of a therapy session; just as you are getting into it – despair, you are not worthy of extra time (of course it’s nothing to do with the next client waiting to be seen…)

The other thing that happens with abandonment fears is the ‘frantic efforts to avoid’ being abandoned which in addition to the things I have mentioned above also leads to behaviours that can been seen as manipulative or attention seeking – such as pestering texts, emails and phone calls, but rather than stating that you just want them to help combat your fear you instead say things that may be abusive (not necessarily to the other person; it could be about yourself) things that act to push the person away or make them feel guilty, when all you really want is for them to come to you; for example you might say something like ‘I don’t need you, I don’t want you here, you’re better off without me…’ you just want them to feel bad for ‘leaving you’ and come to you, but for some reason those words seem impossible to just say – a cry for help, lost in translation…

Can you imagine how hard it is to have to battle with these emotions every day? It’s a living hell when even the smallest action or reaction triggers feelings of rejection and abandonment, it makes you feel so small, insecure and pathetic that you can’t handle these things without an overwhelming, intense emotion reaction that you REALLY don’t want to be having!

Of course this is just my experience of ‘Abandonment issues’, other BP’s may experience this in different ways. One way I am glad I don’t experience this is in the ‘inability to allow their partner to have their own life and friends, a belief that healthy independence in their partner is a threat to them. ’ which is an issue for some BP’s – thankfully I can handle and accept this, well so long as I have my own plans for the time he will be off doing his own thing…hmmm, maybe this is a ‘bit’ of a grey area for me (blimey, a bit of grey in my black and white BPD world! Lol) I have major issues with people being late for anything, things ‘ending’ or people cancelling/changing plans – all classic BP reactions to ‘real or perceived rejection or abandonment’.

Do you have BPD? How do abandonment issues affect your life?

Thank you for reading!  If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments 🙂



Self-published author whose first book Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories and poems is now available on Amazon. S.L.Grigg lives in Bromsgrove with her family. Working in the NHS and enjoying reading, Pilates and travel, amongst other things when she isn't too busy writing.

61 thoughts on “Abandonment and the Borderline Personality

  1. I was married once, he deployed and I went through this same thing. I was a mess, and it was before I was diagnosed. This really puts it in perspective. I am late for everything so that if who ever else is late I wont know. If there not there I just take off with out a phone call. I feel like crazytown sometimes, but it gives me massive anxiety. Also, I am fine when my partner goes out with his friends as long as I have plans, and if he doesn’t text or call, I will end up getting drunk and making out with someone just because I am convinced he is with someone else. Even if its his family picnic in the middle of the day. I am so sick of feeling like this.


    1. Do you have any support? a therapist? It can and does get better. It takes a lot of hard work, and often some difficult decisions but if I can do it anyone can 🙂


      1. I have a therapist, and I am working on it with DBT. But after living like this for at least 20 years…since I was 13 yrs. old. It is really hard to change my thinking patterns and emotional reactions. I want to be more normal and I want to have a real relationship, and I am going to keep trying. Reading about it, and sites like yours help me so much, thank you.


      2. I know how you feel, you will get there. I’m 37 now and although I didn’t know until I was 33 that I had it I almost certainly had it since I was a teenager, the last 4 years have been the worst and best of it all and I now consider myself recovered, it’s still there but now I recognise and deal with the feelings and emotions appropriately but it is difficult to learn to change as you say… keep up the hard work, you can do it 🙂 x


  2. Hi, I just wanted to encourage Craig about having stable romantic relationships. I just celebrated my 39th wedding anniv. & despite having all the emotional distress & dysregulation, my husband has stuck w/me & told me he remembers the GOOD times while I concentrate on everything I’ve done wrong. He absolutely doesn’t “keep score” & reminds me of all the joyous times we had raising two children (& being foster parents, too).

    I have a list of “Cognitive Distortions” from DBT & reread them as I am an expert at all of them!

    I go to individual therapy weekly, as well. I have the dx of bipolar 1 but fit in right w/everyone in the DBT group–sought it out myself as “regular” therapy (& being on bipolar meds) were not doing the trick. DBT has been a lifesaver. “Done it” for 2 years, by choice & would do longer except therapist retired (not because of me!)…

    So now have new therapist recommended by bipolar meds provider (psychiatric nurse practitioner) & both agree that I must stay in therapy (probably for life) due to many emotional issues (PTSD as well as other stuff). Therapist doesn’t care about labels & dxes but deals w/symptoms that are interfering w/having a good quality of life–no matter where they fall in in the DSM.

    BTW I just turned 59 years old so have been at this mental health stuff for a long time!


  3. This line really hit home for me: “It’s a living hell when even the smallest action or reaction triggers feelings of rejection and abandonment, it makes you feel so small, insecure and pathetic that you can’t handle these things without an overwhelming, intense emotion reaction that you REALLY don’t want to be having!”

    I am just getting over a huge emotional road bump after my boyfriend went out with his friends for the night. I initially was ok with it, even wished him a fun time out! But through the course of the night, I got worked up (as you mentioned) because I have nothing to fill my time. I became angry, hurt, upset, and just besides myself by the time he came home. I imagined all sorts of fun he was doing without me (how dare he exclude me?), and how he and his friends must be having quite a laugh at my expense!

    The thing about it is I KNOW I am being irrational, yet there is NOTHING that seems to soothe me once I get past that point of no return. I ended up staying in bed the next day, thinking crazy thoughts, depressed, and really just wanting to die. Since I have insight that my feelings are inappropriate to the situation, I will simply stay silent and avoid interaction with him until I have a handle on my thoughts and feelings.

    We have lived with what he calls my “bat-sh*t craziness” for over a year now. But it is only very recently I have learned there is a name to this craziness and there is even treatment!

    I think it is worse to know what is going on mentally and emotionally is not normal or what I want, yet I have no control to stop it. That is the most frustrating aspect of this. Thank you for sharing. It really helped me to understand myself a little better and not feel so alone in my “bat-sh*t craziness”.


    1. Hi Suzy, I know what you describe so well, yes it’s really horrible to have these reactions, volcanic explosions from a ‘nothing’ trigger and knowing you don’t want to feel like that but being unable to stop it 😦 It does get a little easier to handle and manage once you learn more about your condition and get some help/therapy for coping mechanisms. I hope now you know what it is that you can get the help you want to improve, and at least your boyfriend (hopefully) understands your ‘silent’ times are not a reflection on him, they are just your way of getting over these intense emotions and once you feel ‘safe’ again you are back, that is important for enabling your relationship to survive, you need that space without interference! 🙂


  4. No the home help team has ended because I was too depressed to talk to anyone. Just gotta wait until my next apt on 26th.

    Sounds like your ex was too controlling, which is the last thing u need regardless of being ill or not.

    Sorry for the delay in the response, have been in a pretty bad way recently. No motivation to do anything, just lost the will. Everything is now just an effort and I just dont see the point to it all any more.

    I lost my job, my girlfriend, everything around the end of Feb. Even claiming benefits, I havent been able to sort out yet, Ive tried, but then u speak to someone on the phone, asking black and white questions, showing no empathy, asking me stupid things like how much my tennant that I share with earns for a living etc. I sublet to him for 350pm so I cant be asking a stranger for proof of his income!

    I also am self employed with my own online business but it doesnt make anything really, and I just feel ovewhelmed by the complexity and difficulty I face in getting myself sorted out.

    The moment I try thinking about everything I need to do, it almost feels like a short circuit, just cant think clearly or focus and i just feel an intense build up of pressure and just break down and start crying, tiring me, so then all I want to do is lie in bed.

    My dad is pretty worried, telling me to live at his, but I cant even do that to get fixed because my stepmom has never accepted me, has always been a strained relationship and her tone i have constantly had to put up with is again just another thing I find difficult to cope with.

    I feel distressed constantly, I have a couple of good friends, but frustrates me like u said, cause they just dont get it. My mind needs a rest from all this; the only thing that calms my emotions, the only thing that brings tranquility to my thoughts is when I think about suicide. The thought of peace, the pain gone….its a very calming feeling I get when I think of this, but the thought of following this through, something in me just finds it hard to do.

    Whether it the initial pain, or the uncertainty of success, the initial fear of jumping in front of a train is probably what deters me, but I can feel im getting close to breaking point. Just finding it hard to see any options left ;(


    1. Hope the appointment on the 26th went well?

      Indeed he was, I’m sure it just escalated my symptoms.

      Apologies for my delay also, I was having a bad time at work, I went off sick with stress for a few weeks as it was that bad, I then left my job but have already got a new better one and am happier again 🙂 I know the feeling, motivation only seems to come for certain things at certain times, anything else feels like a waste of time… :/

      Have you managed to sort out your financial situation now?

      I agree with what you say about suicide, when you are that low thinking about it does bring some peace that other people would never understand, I think it is fear of being unsuccessful and just ending up in a huge mess that stops us more than anything else – the thought of being in pain/disabled/severely injured but alive is worse than anything when you just want to die 😦

      I hope things are getting better for you x


  5. So you were with someone for 16 years previously? And I take it you had BPD throughout all this? How did u both manage for so long?

    Its still early days for me, just waiting to start DBT and got a further apt on 25th March so kinda just in limbo right now. Spending a lot of time dwelling on the past, relationships and friendships lost, wishing I could have them back, kinda wish I could tell them and they will understand and come back to me. I miss the good times we had, god u got no idea how much it hurts knowing all that is lost. Hate myself for losing them, hate my mom for making me end up this way…all these years wasted and never put to best use, as copious amounts of thought and feelings and changing moods prevents me from seeing something through to the end. Negativity always sets in, feelings of “theres no point” or “Ill never fit in with others within this field of work anyway, so why waste time learning or going through all this stress to end up feeling like an outsider by these sort of people.”

    And I fall back onto my comfort blanket, isolating myself from others to prevent feeling pain from their tones, their looks they give, comments them make..Coping only work best when I am on my own and not have to face all this. But then just brings it own other set of emotional problems.

    Turns out an EA support group I was hoping to attend tonight has also been cancelled due to lack of members. I was so pleased to find out one existed, now feelings of despair sunk in again, negativity sinks in, feelings like, “He is just saying that because he doesnt want me there. ” other anrtgy thoughts emerge, like “Well why didnt he say he will let me know if it starts again, or say he will keep my details and if he can get enough interest then he will start again!”

    It kinda upset me a lot. Think what I really need is just copious amounts of support right now, and i feel like I got none.

    THe home help team also upset me. They give u a no to call if u feel suicidal, are there for u if u need help. But just becuase on some days I didnt feel comfortable talking, or told them I feel uncofmortable talking to different random people that were sent, they end up saying they will cancel their services with me as I dont want it!

    I was screaming inside when they told me this. Its not like I dont want help, I have called them previously when I was oneday feleing suicidal, but because I am not talking to them on occassions that they call cause I dont feel like it, they go and do this to me! .


    1. Yeah, 16 years together and while I wasn’t diagnosed during that time I definitely had BPD, although I think most of the time my symptoms were not so bad but there were episodes when it was bad too. I think managing all that time was not so much about us having a relationship more that I was shut off from everyone and everything else. It was just me, him and our children. He had friends, mine were neglected. The times it got bad were when I ‘tried’ to have a life in some way, such as seeing friends or going to work, then he would get mad and I would get ill (BPD ill) as he controlled and manipulated me back into conforming to his expectations of a wife/mother. So I guess it wasn’t so much coping with my symptoms more keeping me under the thumb and his control to the point I had no symptoms as I was nothing… 😦

      It’s hard to do but you need to try and let go of the past, learn from it where you can, think about the things you did wrong and how you can avoid doing those things in future (even if on the surface you don’t think you were the one in the wrong, look deeper as in any ending both parties have played a part).

      I still feel like I don’t and won’t ‘fit in’ but I have come to accept that the bad parts of me I will try to improve but otherwise it is ‘their’ problem not mine if people cannot accept me as I am, and also their loss! I am not going to change to conform to other peoples standards and expectations because then I wouldn’t be me. I may be an outsider and it can be lonely, but the people that matter will see beyond that and love me for who I really am, after all would other people change themselves to please us? No, so why should we? 😉

      I have never felt like I have any support, and not being funny but I really don’t, all I have is my private therapist that costs £40 an hour so I can’t afford to go very often. No support groups or NHS treatments of any kind, no DBT, home team, social worker – Nothing :/ even family and friends are few and of no real help as they don’t ‘get’ it. Reading and writing about BPD have been the most helpful things to me, because I really don’t have anything else to help 😦 I have had to get better on my own, and in some ways I think that has been the best thing even though I have isolated myself in many ways being detached from handling other peoples emotions so I could learn to deal with mine first has made a huge difference 🙂

      Have you asked the EA guy to let you know if/when they may try again? I think you should contact him, calmly and ask him to keep your details on record and to let you know if the group will be starting up because you are very interested in being part of it even if you have to wait, stress how important it is to you and ask if he knows of any other similar groups you could attend. I know its hard to do this when your emotions are raging, you feel abandoned and just want to hide under a rock,but do it because it may be the best thing you did as you may get a positive response; but be prepared for a negative response so that if it doesn’t go well then it won’t hit you so hard that you are being let down again.

      Similarly, I think you need to talk to the home team, tell them what you have told me here, explain your anger, fear and why you don’t feel like talking at times but that doesn’t mean you don’t want, need or appreciate their service, you need to know it is there like a security blanket but find it hard to reach out at times (this is most likely due to BPD dissociative phases, I get like this too and I HATE talking on the phone even when I am well so calling someone up when I need help is something I will avoid with a passion, even though I should reach out! :/)


      1. I found this blog very interesting Sharon and so moving . This is the first time I have heard someone’s personal perspective of having BPD, and with such honesty and courage.
        It’s helped me very much to relate to someone who I strongly suspect of having BPD. This has never been diagnosed ( as far as I know ) and is not something I suspect she has considered ( perhaps she is in total denial). I will continue to read your blogs to keep myself informed. It’s not like she s asking for help, but her behaviour totally fits everything I have read thus far on this site.


      2. I hope she will seek help if she is suffering because she will need it to get batter. And I do hope that she does not destroy her relationship with you before she realises she needs help…


  6. Thanks Sharon.
    I have read that suffers can completely heal but can take anything upto 10-12 years for this to happen? From your experience from speaking with others, do you know if this is true?

    Yeah I think relationships can make matters worse as I can remember there was a period of a few years where I hadnt dated anyone, I could still tell things werent right within other social relationships, was always dificult, but my moods were less unstable.

    Then I started dating, about 4 relationships in total over the last 4-5 years which lasted from a couple of weeks to about 12 months. And on each of these occassions, I found I was becoming more unstable, probably due to my black and white way of thinking as well as my insecurities, paranoia and distrust that I couldnt shake. And then your outbursts of rage soon put an end to things.

    I’ve never been violent tho, very much a pacifist, couldnt even hurt a fly, but I think the emotional outbursts stem from not being able to deal with certain situations in a more composed manner; when the turmoil starts building inside your head.

    And then when you break up, the dreaded fears of being abandoned, push you into a pretty bad place for up to a few months until your mood begin to stabilise again.

    But we all want that closeness that a relationship brings, we all want that fairytale relationship to have a happy ending, one which is filled with trust, stability and contentment.

    Has there been any sufferers that have managed to hold down a relationship for a long time and that are still together? Its nice to think there are some out there 🙂


    1. Hi Craig 🙂

      I have also read about complete healing, from my experience and what I’ve read I’m not convinced about complete healing. I think it will always linger just beneath the surface and could easily be triggered again if things got bad enough. Myself, at the moment I would not meet the criteria for diagnosis now, I am a great deal better but even being this strong and well I can feel the tensions of the unstable emotions warring at times. Any emotion I feel is so much more intense than what other people feel and the mood swings are so dramatic, I can be in tears and devastated by something happening one hour and the next almost full on manic happiness, like bipolar mania, highs and lows only instead of lasting days and weeks as they do for bipolar sufferers its minutes and hours with BPD :/

      I have been single for a year now and my moods are much more stable than they were. I have slept around a lot in the past year (a BPD thing for sure) but without any emotional attachment it did not cause the same effects as a relationship when things went no further.

      Indeed in many ways I crave that fairytale relationship but I have come to realise that (as the Maroon 5 song says) fairytales are full of shit (one more stupid love song I’ll be sick, lol).

      Before my fiancé, who I was with for 3 years, I had been with my children’s father for 16 years until he died, and I know of people who have been together for 20-50 years despite one having BPD, so yes it is achievable to hold down a long term relationship with someone with BPD but I fully believe that the non-bpd has to have a very good understanding of the condition and the BPD themselves must want to get better and be continually working on recovery, it is (I think)where one or both use the condition as an excuse or refuse to accept it is part of their lives that it becomes a problem.



  7. After 35 years of mental torment, having to put up with doctors sending me on my way telling me to take some anti-depressants, (which i rarely took) I was finally diagnosed as having BPD yesterday. The day before my 35th birthday. Which is today. Great way to be spending it! lol

    I remember when I was speaking with the psychiatrist, how emotionally unstable I was, in tears, until she came out with the diagnosis.
    My emotions switched to calm pretty instantly, it was quite a surreal feeling.
    ALl this time, all I wanted was some kind of closure on what the issue was, never happy with previous advice given. I felt so relieved, but now reality is beginning to sink in.
    Ive allowed for many negative influences to come into my life over the years, the road to recovery all seems too overwhelming, too much. I cant stand a single day of feeling this emptiness, seems such a struggle to get rid of the bad influences and begin focusing on the good. I can feel myself screaming inside as I think about how much of an uphill struggle this is gonnna be. No quick fix and patience is something Ive never been pretty good at.

    There seems to be a lot more support about which is good. But I have a question for the author of this blog.

    When were u diagnosed, and how long ago? And over time, how have your feelings changed? But also, if you can imagine this, if you didnt have your partner, how much harder do you think it would have been for you to cope with?

    Thanks for writing the blog btw, I could relate to a lot that you wrote. I just live in hope that things can now change for me :/


    1. Hi Craig, Sorry to hear of your diagnosis, especially the timing 😦

      I was diagnosed in 2010 just before my 34th birthday (although not the day before at least!) I don’t think my feelings have really changed over time, I have just learnt to handle them a bit better, although there is still a long way to go. at the time I thought having my partner was helping me to cope with it, but looking back now after all I have been through while I was with him and in the past year since I left him I would say that actually he made things worse alternating between coddling me and controlling/manipulating me at a time when I had more than enough to deal with without those additional pressures, worries and confusion.

      Keep hoping and keep fighting, it’s worth it even when you don’t feel it is. You can get better, it may not go away completely or forever but you can learn to cope and deal with it much better 🙂 If you have any other questions feel free to ask and I will answer as best I can 🙂
      Sharon x



    Oops–just lost reply I started. Try again! Through DBT I learned I could control the irrational behaviors described above, which I thought were out of my control. I learned how to push the “Pause Button” which means to stop the thoughts that come before the behaviors (which seemed instantaneous but if you really try you can Pause & consider your thoughts before they lead you to do certain behaviors).

    Example: I was taking an evening class & called home during the break (pre-cell phone so it was a land line) to talk to my husband & I kept getting voicemail. He was supposed to be home. So I kept calling over & over–still voicemail. My thoughts immediately went to thinking that he knew I wouldn’t be home until 10:00 & I had never before called during a break so he was at a bar w/a woman!

    I became very agitated & wanted to leave the class right then to go home as the anxiety was escalating very fast. But I used several DBT skills: Breathing techniques to decrease anxiety & clear my thinking; then using the question–What evidence do I have that he is off w/another woman? Examine the evidence: The phone is not being answered. That’s it. That is not enough evidence to come to the conclusion of my husband is off bar-hopping w/another woman.

    So when I was driving home I was gripping the steering wheel & saying out loud (I was alone!): I don’t have enough evidence!

    And guess what? I saved myself a lot of internal turmoil & emotional distress by not “feeding” that theory of his bar-hopping by analyzing the evidence & I saved an irrational scene of bursting in the door w/all barrels blasting accusing him of all manner of cheating on me.

    Why didn’t my husband answer the phone? He was talking to our 2 grown children (great husband of 40 YEARS & loving father) & our phone automatically went to voicemail when the line is in use.

    *****************TRIGGER ALERT in PARAGRAPH BELOW*********************

    I have had to “Pause” & “Examine the Evidence” & use numerous DBT skills many times a day in order to control those thoughts & behaviors that I thought were out of my control. And thank goodness as I was getting so badly triggered that I couldn’t stop the disturbing thoughts that led to rash & dangerous & hurtful behaviors. I was so out of control that I didn’t think I could go on & feared another suicide attempt.


    1. Thanks for sharing Suzanne, I think that ‘pause’ you describe is something I am learning to use also, it is hard to do but I’m sure it will get easier with time and practice. Jumping to ‘panic mode’ or ‘overexcitement’ comes easily to me as a friend who has come to recognise some of my BPD behaviours recently pointed out and she is so right, but I am getting better at slowing down and ‘looking before I leap’ so to speak 🙂


  9. I don’t know for sure that I have bpd, will be waiting to get help to get some kind of diagnosis, whatever it may be. But the “I hate you, don’t leave me” piece, and the deep terror of abandonment hit home. The person loves me, and then I can’t stop thinking of the things that bother me, real or imagined. I fall in love quickly, but then become distant, and start to imagine all kinds of scenarios for rejection – cheating primarily. When the thoughts first start I can see that they are just thoughts, but eventually I have spent so much time imagining them that I begin to react as if they were fact. Sometimes I am able to talk about it and defuse it, but sometimes not. And when someone leaves me, god… I feel so alone, confused, directionless, angry, sad, unloveable, worthless, and it seems as if I will never find love and acceptance again.

    I am trying to rebuild at the moment, after a breakup in december, but alone time is really difficult. Getting anything done is so hard… I feel like I should be with people, that whatever I’m doing does not matter, and just lost. On the one hand I am afraid of repeating this cycle, on the other I feel like life would be so much easier if I had someone to base the structure and meaning of my life on. This hardly seems fair though.

    This is not new, but my seeing this as a pattern is.

    If I do have bpd, it explains a lot, but scares the hell out of me. Keeping up the illusion that I just need to accomplish x, or make this other change, or learn how to do “y” is becoming less of an option. I have been able to make some change, meet some goals, and still the feelings remain. Damned if I know where to go from here.

    But I do appreciate your sharing, thank you.


    1. Seeing the pattern is the first and most important step to improving it 🙂

      I was told my happiness is not dependant on another person, if I rely on another person in order to be happy then I never will be truly happy, and I think this is right, if we cannot be happy with ourselves how can we ever be happy with anyone else? how can we make someone else happy if we can’t make ourselves happy? and if we are not and cannot be happy alone, then any illusion of being happy with another person is just that and won’t last because it isn’t real and eventually we will go back into that fear of abandonment cycle because what we have is not built on reality 😦

      Good luck learning to break the cycle and be happy, it’s hard work, I’m not there yet but everyday alone I am a step closer 🙂 x


    1. Ohh no that’s not good and to be honest even though you liked her a lot she can’t have been the best therapist as the good ones would know better than to abandon a BPD who is pushing them away! 😦


  10. Hi showard76,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog because it definitely explained a lot about BPD and abandonment perception. I am a non-BP but my best friend is a diagnosed BPD and I have a question because this may explain a few things… I was always confused because we have such a great and close friendship (we are practically roommates we spend so much time together) but then at times she will become really cold towards me, seemingly out of the blue, and act as if I just don’t exist. This is really hard for me to take and actually makes me so fearful that SHE will abandon ME (haha, ironic b/c I am the non-BP). I never knew what caused her to get into these modes and I thought it was just something within her (like a chemical mood swing) or what was going on in her life, but after reading your post it seems that there may be a connection to her feeling abandoned by me when this happens. Like if I have been away for a day and then come back I can find her in this mood, or if I’m over her place but I go into another room for awhile to take a phone call, etc.

    So here are my questions… a) could this be related? Do you think she feels I have abandoned her and is now acting cold as a defense mechanism? b) what is a good way for me to deal with this? Its very hurtful when she gets into these moods but I can’t exactly bring it up to her because she gets very angry when I do ask if everything is okay. Should I just ignore these moods until they pass? c) what is the purpose of her acting as if I don’t exist? Does this serve a purpose? She has also gotten into moods where she is blatantly verbally abusive or mean towards me, but to be honest these moods I am alright with because of the disorder and the fact that I feel she has no control sometimes over her angry reactions. The ignoring of me and the feeling she gives me that I don’t exist is way more hurtful.

    Haha sorry for the long post but figured I could get some answers here! Thanks a lot, and I enjoy your blog! 🙂


    1. Hi Juniper,

      Thanks for the comment I’m glad my post was helpful. In answer to your questions, I think abandonment fears probably are the root of her behaviour and it sounds like she is also ‘splitting’ (see my post on this subject for more info, it is more common in romantic relationships, but can happen in any very close personal relationships). As hurtful as it is dealing with it at the time would probably be best handled as seeing it like her anger outbursts, it is a reaction she has not got full control over. You could try talking to her about it at a time when she is not in the middle of the reaction to let her know what you are experiencing. For her acting this way is a coping mechanism to detach from the feeling of being abandoned, to learn to control this, and the angry reactions, she first needs to gain awareness of when, how and why they are triggered for herself, therapy would help with this as it has for me – I have learnt to be able to recognise these things, at first it was only after the event, but now I am much better at seeing things happening that could cause these reactions and do what I can to stop it spiralling out of control. Does your friend have any help/therapy? Does she acknowledge her BPD and want to get ‘better’? These things are important if she is going to improve, if she is in denial or refuses/does not want help with it then there is unlikely to ever be much change. Hope this helps? Sharon x


      1. Hi Sharon,

        Thank you greatly for the reply. Yes my friend is in therapy, she does individual therapy as well as DBT. She does want to change but I don’t think she’s fully grasped what many of her behaviors are or how she can affect others. Although she acknowledges that she has a BPD diagnosis, I’m not sure she really understands what this means, she seems to think it is more of a mood swing disorder such as bipolar. (Which I know can also be a dual diagnosis, but is definitely different). Your advice will be heeded, and I will accept that these moods are the same as the outbursts, something that she can not control. When they do happen though, what would be the best way for me to handle them in the moment? If I am sitting with her and she is being very dismissive or cold to me, should I continue to sit with her until she comes out of it on her own? Do I try and engage her in some kind of pleasant conversation (non related to the mood) in order to get her out of it? Or should I just remove myself until she comes out of it? (Not sure if thats the best idea, especially if the perception of abandonment caused the mood). I will read your posts about splitting as well.

        Also, I have one further question… she has told me (and I’m thankful she’s been so honest with me about this), that she has a really hard time apologizing to me, and she’s not sure why. Its true, I have witnessed her apologizing to others but when it comes to me, even back when she used to have extremely angry outbursts and say horrible things to me or curse me out, as bad as she may feel afterwards she just will not apologize to me, and instead acts as if it never happened. I’m not upset by this because I do understand that she couldn’t control the outbursts, but is there a specific reason related to BPD why she may find it very hard to apologize?

        Thanks for all the advice and for your time! I must say, you are an inspiration to us all having dealt with/dealing with difficult life hardships while being there to give advice and help to others who need it. I’m now an avid fan of your blogs!



      2. It takes a while to fully understand what BPD is and how it affects you, maybe reading my blog would help her? I think engaging in some pleasant unrelated conversation may help as distraction from moods often helps change them as we stop thinking about them, I definitely think removing yourself is likely to make things worse. I’m not sure on the apologizing, though I suspect it may come back to splitting again, which would make her feel her anger was justified (even if it was not) and therefore make her feel she has nothing to apologize for because you ‘deserved it’ but her conflicting emotions make the part of her that knows this is wrong want to apologize hence her struggling with it because she is not sure which part of her is right – the bit that wants to apologize or that which thinks there is nothing to apologize for.


  11. Thank you for being candid about your thoughts and feelings. This is my husband, who refuses to seek treatment. I am grateful to know I am not loosing my mind, but in the same reality, I am losing my husband. I wish you the best. Sadly, my husband has pushed me away, accused me of false things, and is in the process of divorcing me. I have never fully understood what made him do things like this until now.


    1. Sorry to hear that, I hope understanding goes some way towards easing your pain with the knowledge that he lives in a constant whirlpool of pain and may never be able to be truly happy 😦 x


  12. Thank you so much for sharing this. It helps to read about other people’s experience.
    My behaviour has been alienating people that have been so good and kind to me. I think I might have just ended a relationship with a great man over something small (he spent the evening with me but said he cant stay fo the night, because he had to work. I reacted very badly, to put it mildly. I cried all night thinking he might be sleeping with another woman) and I’m honestly not sure I will be forgiven again. in his last msg, he said he’s thinking about me constantly and still cares about me, but he cant tolerate my mood swings anymore.
    It was easier in the past, because after a similar fight, Id convince myself that it was always their fault and I pick the most evil, lying, cheating men. But this time, I know he was sincere and he’s not seeing anyone else. And he seemed really hurt. This has forced me to try to look at things from other people’s perspective. I dont want to ignore my condition anymore and I wanna do something about it.


    1. It is always good when we reach that point where we realise what damage our behaviour causes and are ready to do something to change it. I wish you all the best in improving, it is hard and takes time but we will get there! 🙂


  13. I am so sad my bpd wife and i are currently divorcing (her choice) and i adore her as do our two children because of her drinking they are probably going to be awarded to me,after reading this and understanding i so wish that i had understood a long time ago i have made so many mistakes with regards to this


    1. Sorry to hear about your situation, I can imagine your wife is divorcing you because she feels you have/will/are abandoning her so in typical BPD fashion she is doing ‘anything’ to avoid this perceived abandonment the only way she knows how – by getting in first and leaving you. Don’t blame yourself but also try (hard to do) not to blame her, it is this horrible condition that is to blame, it destroys so many lives. I hope your wife manages to get some help and eventually so relief from her BPD and I hope you get through this too!


  14. I always try and think of ways that I’m not ill, just an attention seeking so and so. But then when I read things like this it makes me think “shit, there IS something wrong here”. It’s difficult to let the denial of being ill go and accept I’m not just a bad person and there is something wrong.


    1. Yeah, I think it’s societies expectations that make us ‘hate’ ourselves all the more as others convince us that we are just ‘bad’ people rather than ‘ill’ 😦


  15. Wow. Well that was a bit too familiar. I thought I was the only one who panicked if my husband is away for a second. If he’s out for longer than I expect I always see him with another woman in my mind. It’s horrible because others would say that I don’t trust him but that’s not it. With BPD it’s we just don’t understand why they wouldn’t be cheating on someone so worthless.


    1. Exactly! and even if not ‘cheating’ the belief that they would rather be doing anything than be with us because we are so worthless is also on our minds all the time! 😦 Like you say it’s not even a ‘trust’ issue it’s so much deeper than that :/


      1. OMG!! im now divorced…but that was such an issue when i was married…thinking hed want to cheat on me and all that you both have said. ever since childhood i have battled with abandonement/rejection up to this very day. feeling rejected from jobs i intv’d for, friends, family. Ive always felt i was worthless since i was a toddler i beleive. Thank you showard76 for posting a blog on just just abandonement alone. and again ty for creating this web site.


      2. Thanks for your comment Kimberly, I have written posts on each if the DSM criteria for BPD. I’m glad you found the post helpful 🙂


    1. I thought that one might actually ring a bell with a few people as I suspect that even plenty of non-bp’s get upset with low views/comments!


  16. This post really hit so hard for me – it definitely resonated and I could feel all of those things you were feeling. I pray that the two of you will take the time to acknowledge BP for what it isl
    Love Light Magic and Joy to you both



    1. Thanks Sevae,
      I’m finding it really difficult writing about these things, but think it’s important to get it out – as a kind of therapy and also to help others 🙂 x


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