You're not 'too much'.
You're not 'too emotional'.
You're not 'too sensitive'.
You're not 'too difficult'.
You're not 'unlovable'.
It took me a long time to believe it and even now, from time to time, I still have moments when panic rises and I feel like nobody in the world could love me. I take a breath and ground myself in my immediate surroundings. Then, I remind myself that I have been through a lot in life (some of it traumatic) which makes me feel 'too much' and 'unlovable' sometimes. I tell myself this is not true.
Before I met my partner, I thought nobody could ever love me for who I am. I feared that my BPD-- with all my panic attacks, crying, anxious thoughts, therapy sessions and psychiatrist appointments-- would make me unattractive to any potential partners. Worse than that, I feared it would disgust, frighten or embarrass them. I also didn't know how I would cope with that happening.
Part of me thought I needed to wait and start dating when my BPD was 'better'. But I didn't know when 'better' would come, or if it would ever come. The other part of me knew that I shouldn't have to deprive myself of a chance at love (something I wanted!) because I had mental health problems.
Typical me, never one to sit back and wait, I decided to go for it. Maybe deep down, in my heart of hearts, I knew that people with mental health problems deserve and need love just like anyone without mental health problems. Perhaps, in spite of all my fears, I knew that I could love and be loved, irregardless of BPD.
I set out dating with some strict rules. I promised myself that if anyone disrespected me, spoke down to me or showed any signs that they might be anything less than fully respectful towards people with mental health problems, then I would run. I gave no second chances because, after everything I had been through, I couldn't take the risk of being hurt again.
After a little while and a few tears, I met my now partner. We both knew from the first date that we liked each other a lot. We were drawn to each other, enjoyed each others' company too much to be apart for long and fell in love pretty quick. It was easy, it was fun, it felt natural. It was love and it felt right to us. It still is and still does.
I decided to tell him about my BPD quite soon after we met because I felt there was less chance of getting my heart broken early on if he reacted badly. He didn't. I cried. They were tears of relief. We hugged. He changed his t-shirt because of my tears. We laughed. We had pizza.
Of course, sometimes there are things my partner finds hard about my BPD. He finds it hard sometimes when I am sad and he wants to take away my pain, but he can't. We think it is natural to feel sad when someone we love is upset. It's part of loving someone. It helps that we both have the understanding of emotional intensity and emotional dysregulation. We have found our own strategies to make it work when I'm especially anxious. We are open with each other and this works for us. We have a lot of humour in our life, we laugh a lot, and that levity helps.
I spent years worrying I was too sensitive, but my partner loves me because of my sensitivity. He likes the fact that it is easy for me to feel excitement, joy, love and wonder. It makes life fun.
Every day I am grateful that I went on the date and met him. I was so anxious that I wanted to cancel, but thank goodness I didn't. I gave myself a chance at love and it paid off for the both of us. I think the love we have together has been, and still is, incredibly healing for me.
I wish that nobody had to feel unlovable because it's not true. I know that lots of people diagnosed with BPD have been in situations that made them feel like there was something wrong with them or bad about them. Situations like these can take the hope out of a person and make them feel worthless. Recognising that the way we feel about ourselves often relates to things that happened to us can be a first step to glimpsing a different perspective on who you are.
Love is possible with BPD. I hope reading a little of my story is helpful.
My book Talking About BPD: A Stigma-Free Guide to a Calmer, Happier Life with Borderline Personality Disorder is out 21.10.21 and published by JKP. Sign up for pre-order alerts on my homepage!
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