Everything feels like a provocation. Something always creates a reaction. Or does it? I recently talked about Blaming, but I want to get further into it with some other stuff I’ve found that I think provides a deeper understanding of where blame comes from for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
It is very typical for someone with BPD to honestly believe, while in the throes of a cognitively distorted thought process that everything they feel is someone else’s fault. So often, a person with BPD will take out their confusion and pain on those who try to care for them; on those who try to get close and try to stay close to them. What happens when someone tries to care or to be close for many with BPD is that once a certain line is crossed in closeness or familiarity the other person ceases to be who they are in the reality of the world of the borderline.
What this means is that instead of being in the here and now with someone who is trying to care about you and know you, if you have BPD, you somewhat dissociate from the here and now and re-play out an old relationship causing you to lose sight of both who the “other” is and who “you” are. This happens because many with BPD cannot meet their own needs and tend to look for others to do this for them. Needs and wants are often confused and left up to others. Borderlines are easily triggered when needs or wants aren’t met by people in their lives that have come to represent “object other”.
The borderline demands from the “object other”, who is being experienced as someone from their past. This other person, not knowing what is unfolding has no chance to be able to find the right response, or enough of any response that will please the borderline for long. The person with BPD then does the push-pull, in an effort to gain or maintain control. They feel out of control because they are re-experiencing painful feelings from their pasts. So unmet needs continue to escalate and the borderline gets angry – often to the point of rage, whether that rage is acted in or acted out – and demands more from the other person.
The other person, no doubt is confused, feeling attacked and like they can’t do anything “right” enough begins to pull away, in one form or another. This is the classic repeat of the borderline nightmare of abandonment.
But if you have BPD, and you haven’t worked through this you may not realize that you, yourself are causing your own re-abandonment. The abandonment is perceived abandonment. In reality they are not abandoning you they are taking care of themselves, which every human being has both the right and responsibility to do.
The Blame Game: Person A feels blamed by the borderline. The borderline feels blamed and shamed and let down and abandoned by person A. Person A then feels attacked by the borderline. Person A may attack back. The borderline then feels like a helpless victim which will then precipitate either their further acting out or acting in. Acting out often means rage, punishment, and verbal abuse aimed at the loved one. Acting in by the person with BPD often means an inner-rage often not consciously connected to and punishing the loved one in the form of the silent treatment.
Person A then feels like they’re in a no-win situation. The borderline keeps upping the ante, demanding what he/she needs and wants in often less than direct and highly manipulative ways. At this point the borderline has regressed to a child-like state wherein, for them, they are the center of the universe (this is where the BPD narcissism comes in). This is their reality. The other person, person A, has no idea now what is going on. Loved ones need to learn how break free from what keeps them from living with healthier boundaries and find their own healing and recovery.
The blame game begins right here. The borderline blames the person A for (essentially whatever those close in childhood did to him/her) everything. Usually the borderline cannot see their role in this. (Not until a certain amount of healing has taken place.) Person A blames the borderline. Then both blame the borderline’s past. Others in their lives, jobs, therapists….etc may also be blamed. No one knows how to take responsibility here and usually at this point enmeshment is deep and intense. When any two people get enmeshed everything can seem foggy and unclear. From this clouded haze each party, like a blind bird flying in the wind seeks control in an effort to protect themselves and to try to regain some balance.
For person A in this scenario you cannot “win”. You are going to be blamed because often the borderline has lost total sight of you. (Or will for periods of time) You have become someone from their past that they could not trust.
The key to understanding what becomes the “blame game” is for the person with BPD to want to get better. To want to get better means be ready to face the pain. It is only when you face the pain that you will begin to gain a healthy perspective from which you can then think in less frequently-distorted ways to the point where you will be able to recognize when you are so triggered as to blur your past with someone in your present. The process of recovery from BPD requires that each person with BPD find ways to gain more awareness of what must be learned and accepted in order to take personal responsibility for in his or her life and for the regulation of his or her own triggered dysregulated emotions.
Personal responsibility is key here as well. You must take responsibility for your needs, your wants, your pain, your actions and you must learn that there is no excuse for abuse. Blaming anyone else, even someone who abused or hurt you in childhood is not going to help you heal now. It will not help you meet your needs. It will not help you learn how to maintain relationships. It will not help you to find yourself. It will only continue to support your staying stuck in borderline suffering due to what amounts to continuing to choose to abandon your pain.
Blame is a defense mechanism. The pain is real. The pain feels immediate. It can also feel very overwhelming. If you have BPD and you do not learn to catch the triggers and see the patterns and take responsibility you will continue to drive people who care about you away and do great emotional damage to yourself and to others in the process. Blaming others will only keep you stuck in the active throes of BPD and the suffering that means in your life.
Taking responsibility for yourself and your emotions now is the only way to end the blame game and get on and stay on the road to recovery. To unwind the clues that are no doubt there in your thinking before you get into this pattern over and over again it is important to discuss with your therapist what you feel and think just before you have “blow-ups” with others, or just before you lose your temper, or just before you begin to push and pull or manipulate, control or get physically intimidating and or abusive.
What happened in your past needs to be unwound today. Blaming anyone for the choices that you’ve made as to how to cope with your past up until now is not a healthy choice. It is often a very lonely and isolating choice to make.
It is important to stop blaming anyone or anything else. Look to yourself. The way you relate to others and the ways that you experience others are generated from your own past patterns of relational experience. Experience that for those with BPD included shame of abandonment. When you open up to understanding these patterns and the ways and reasons they trigger so much emotion that is difficult to regulate or cope with you will actively be engaging the process of recovery. When you can understand the blame game you will no longer have to go there. The result will be happier and healthier patterns of relating.
These are things I think are SO important. Personal Responsibility. Take responsibility for your own actions. Stop blaming other people. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. But what is done is done. All there is now, is to move forward. Look to solutions. The past cannot be changed, so blaming the past only furthers to keep us stuck in a black hole of hurt and hindered healing. We do have a choice in how we choose to walk into our future.