Developing a trusting relationship when you have Borderline Personality Disorder can be difficult. There’s never truly a clean emotional slate. I don’t honestly believe that’s true of any human being. We all have a past and experiences that contribute to the person we become. Everyone has emotional baggage. When you have Borderline Personality Disorder you don’t just have baggage, you have a storage unit. Being able to wade through our emotional past to move into a new chapter of our emotional future is difficult. We’re hyper-sensitized to what we’ve experienced in our past. When you have tried and been confronted with so much pain, loss, and abuse, our ability to trust shatters. Not only does it feel like the our trust has broken for the current relationship, but it’s like we’ve created a trust debt.
You start off with a certain ability to trust. Every negative experience, every bad encounter, every experience of abandonment and rejection is like having your trust stolen by an emotional mugger. You begin to become sensitized to it. Instead of getting used to it, you feel each new experience quicker and more intensely. Until you’re feeling those problem feelings before they’ve even occurred, when they might not occur. The mere perception of those problems can be the trigger pulling away that remaining trust. Now multiply that by the fact that the people that betrayed that fragile developmental trust were the people that a person should be able to trust. Your mother, your father, your first love, relatives and close family friends.... when the people that should treat you with kindness and care for you, are the people that destroy your ability to trust in the first place; it taints the experience with any people that you're "supposed" to trust. The way that love can translate to pain when all you know of love is pain... translates to trust as well. When all you know of people that you "should" trust, is betrayal, all you know to expect is betrayal.
Refilling that bank is so much more difficult than depleting it as well. So difficult it can feel impossible. No matter how many good things happen, it’s like they just sit on the surface. They sit outside the vault door to be swept aside when it’s opened up, but never contribute to filling up that hole of debt.
Sometimes you can go into a relationship tentatively, but receptive to a potentially positive outcome. Hell, we can rush headlong into it without realizing we need to consider what we’ve been through. Eventually we hit the wall though. Usually it’s when we realize we’re starting to open up to a person and express those vulnerabilities we need to protect. Our source of trust is already depleted, sometimes to the point of being non-existent. All that exists is a thin sheet of ice that we’re carefully dancing around, trying to avoid falling through, b/c instead of a nice watery pool to buffer the fall… all that exists is a deep void of nothingness.
Unfortunately at the very first sign of less than honest or trustworthy behavior, which can often be a misperception on our part due to so many reasons (but not always! Bad people do happen), there isn’t much of a buffer to soften the blow.
Developing trust at the beginning of the relationship is extremely important. If trust is broken early on, if that idealization turns into a rapid fire situational devaluation, we don’t have anything to support our hopes of a positive outcome in the future on. All we know is the negative. Rebuilding that trust takes 2, 3, 10 times as long as it took to break it, and it never quite reaches that level before. It just gets lower and lower and lower and lower every time.
When you’ve had this experience since childhood, it’s no wonder we bring this into our adult relationships. It’s not necessarily fair though. Some people are very decent and well intentioned. The people in our future, hopefully are not the people that hurt us in our past. That’s something we really need to keep in mind. Be mindful of our past experiences, because there are lessons and warnings we should not forget so we don’t repeat those bad relationships. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that this is a new person, not the person that has done this to you before. Easier said than done, it takes time and often years of therapy to be able to do this successfully, but if we can keep it in mind, even if we don’t feel it…. Maybe we can make it a little easier to fill up a bit of that trust debt which we’ve accumulated in the past. Add a little bit more of a buffer to our present and future relationships.