One of the big issues in this whole thing is lying. Look, I've watched enough soap operas and tv dramas to know the reasons that people lie. But on a personal level, it's much more difficult for me to understand. Maybe it's because I am so familiar with those soap operas and tv dramas and I know what the results are of lying and secret-keeping.
For those who don't know, I've been struggling with mental illness for as long as I can remember. What sticks out most in my mind is the sadness. From the time I was 12 or so, I remember that, unless I was secretly reading under the covers, I cried every night. I felt like I couldn't tell anyone. I knew that when I cried but couldn't explain why, hell even when I could explain why, I was told to get it together, that I was being too emotional, looked at like a freak. As if I didn't already have enough that made me feel like a freak. But I longed to tell someone. I played out the conversation over and over again in my mind. When my uncle and I had to share a room when my family visited, I laid awake at night going over and over what I would tell him when I woke him up and told him how overwhelmingly sad I was all the time. I never did though.
I was never very good at keeping secrets or having much of a sense of privacy. A lifetime of watching those "very special episodes" where a secondary character comes out of the closet with the help and support of one of the main (straight) characters taught me that the shame was in it being a secret, not what the secret was, and that anyone who made you feel differently should be kicked right the fuck out of your life. The only other kind of secrets, or things one lied about, were when one did something wrong, knowingly transgressed, and that seemed to have an easy solution- to not do wrong.
In the recent troubles, this other person told me that he was very afraid of disappointing people because then they would dislike him and then they would leave him. So he lied. But the lying isolated him from any help or support he might get from those he loved and was so afraid of disappointing. While I could technically understand that, personally it feels completely foreign to me.
My biological father left my life when I was five. By the time I was nine, I knew that it was absolutely his choice that he was not in my life. Right around that time, a few other people in my life also died. Not people I was terribly close to, but people I knew. My friends started to move away, their parents choosing to move them to even farther, and thus safer, suburbs as they entered middle school. This is when I realized that everyone leaves. Whether they choose to or not, everyone leaves.
I'm learning that some of the crazy behavior that bpd's exhibit within relationships stem from abandonment issues. When bdp's manipulate, lie, bareknuckle it to keep a person in their life, it's because we are so afraid that they are going to leave us. But, as crazy as it seems, on the flip side, when we do things that we know will push people away, we are doing it because we are so afraid that they are going to leave us that we do the dirty work for them.
As I grew up, of course, I was afraid of disappointing the people that I loved. I worked my ass of in school to prove that I was worthy of the love of my parents and to not disappoint them. When I got a new friend, or wanted someone to be my friend, I would learn as much as I could about what they liked so that they would like me, or like me more. I tried to always be the friend who was there anytime they had a crisis, because then it was even more important to not disappoint. But if someone was going to leave me anyway, they should at least know who they were leaving. I might have learned about stuff that they liked, but I also tried to be me as much as possible, often as loudly and even offensively as possible. I often made it downright impossible to love me and stay with me. But if a person did stay, then I felt like that meant that they really did love me and accept me, all of me. Still, there was always the irrefutable truth that they would eventually leave, even if it was not their choice. That knowledge can be very freeing, though. It allowed me to do all kinds of things, be all kinds of things, fuck up in all kinds of ways, because, unlike my friend, I wasn't overwhelmed by a fear that those I loved would leave me.
My friend had an intact and functional family. One of his sets of grandparents lived just down the street. His family lived in the same house from his early grade school days. Other than a beloved grandparent, I don't think he's lost someone close to him from his life that wasn't his choice to this day. While that's a place I'm very envious of, always have been very envious of, it also means that he doesn't know what it's like to live through those kinds of loss and come out on the other side, to know that you can be left and survive. And it's not a lesson I was able to bring myself to teach him this time.
I don't know if it's like this for everyone, but I suspect that for most people it is. When I met TyRoy, the marriage he would have done anything to keep together, did everything he could to keep together, was ending. He told me that he wasn't going to change for anyone and that if someone wanted something different they could keep walking. He was blatantly boldly honest about who he was, what he wanted, the things he knew he couldn't do for others people, for a relationship, and didn't care if I or other people thought that made him a bad person. Before writing this post, I asked him a little lying that he did in his past. Though the reasons he gave for lying in previous relationships were his own, different that what I might have assumed, he did write "most people are more afraid of the loss not the lie." I'd still posit that he couldn't be as honest as he is now if he hadn't gone through such a great loss and come out on the other side of it knowing that even even losses that great, that painful, do not kill you.