Years ago, I needed to buy some small piece of hardware. Since I live in Canada, I went to Canadian Tire, and since I had two small sons, I took them with me. The boys were six and four years old, I think, and they were thrilled. When we walked into the store, they sprinted away from me and disappeared down some shopping aisle. That store had tires, and car parts, and tools, and toys, and more, and I knew I had lost them.
I was not happy about this, so I bought the thing I needed and waited by the front door; they had to surface some time. When I finally saw them, I was shocked. The oldest boy had a sick look of panic on his face, and the little one had a blank desperate look as he followed his brother. They thought their father had abandoned them, and the emotions were real to them. Puppy love feels real to the puppy.
I still feel guilty about that, and I never did it again. Also, I think that was the last time the boys ran away from me in a store, so we solved a few problems.
What I learned is that adults can easily neglect and abuse children. Those little guys needed the adult in their lives to survive and grow, even when they talked back and ran away. Being a parent is an appointment from God.
Also, in the adult world, I have sometimes worked with some interesting women. In summary, they were generally pretty and intelligent, but they were smokers and drinkers and possibly drug users, and when they talked about relationships, they mostly described dramatic breakups; “He had it coming” stories. I found some of them hard to work with.
Once, when I was talking to a Psychologist that I knew, I mentioned these people, and I was advised to learn about “Borderline Personality Disorder.” I am not an expert on any subject in Psychology, but I have learned since then, and the truth is scary.
This is a disclaimer: I am mostly writing about women, here. Most people diagnosed with BPD are women, and I think there is a reason for that. Also, I am sure that men have personality disorders as much as women, but the male experience is slightly different and often described in different ways.
So who are these women who can’t get their lives working? The people I know have stories about sexual abuse as children. Their immature minds could not cope with the things that were done to them, and now they carry a heavy burden of shame and resentment, and they feel profoundly abandoned by the adults who should have cared for them. They have the panic that my sons felt for a few seconds, but extended over a lifetime. One friend with BPD told us that she started drinking at a young age because alcohol made the noise stop, and she became a struggling alcoholic.
I knew a Christian couple that attended a Bible study every week, and they hired a nice girl from another church family to babysit their children. After a few weeks the neighbors told the couple that the girl had a boyfriend who visited after the children were in bed. They eventually learned the truth, the ‘boy friend’ was almost thirty years old, and the babysitter was fifteen. I don’t know if anyone called the police, but they should have. I am sure that girl’s immature mind could not cope with what was happening, and I know her life spiralled out of control after that. If she is alive today, she probably feels like she was abused, and her feelings make that true.
There may be other triggers for BPD besides sexual abuse, but they all relate to neglect and abuse, in the formative years, with the people I know.
Imagine having a horror story written on a page, and referring to that story whenever you relate to other people. Marriage, family and friends, and employment are all viewed through one distorted lens, which means no-one can be trusted. That helps to explain other behavior, like self-medication with alcohol and drugs, and the emotional storms that no-one else understands.
BPD is a life-long disaster for many people, and sometimes life-ending. Suicide and premature death rates are high in this population.
I also know that everyone who is reading this has some burden from the past, something you don’t want others to know; and you can know, that is true about me. This is on a smaller scale than full BPD, and the issues may not be sexual, but I think it’s the same problem. Life comes with scars and we accumulate some heavy burdens through the years.
One man asked Jesus what to do, and He said: “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3)
Jesus gave us a do-over, a clean start without the burdens. I think it’s easy to miss this as truth that we all need, and not just people who struggle with full-scale disorders. We are all disordered until the burdens are taken away, and that is the business of God.
I hope that anyone who struggles with BPD, in yourself or someone close to you, will find peace from God, and a way through the BPD wilderness.
This is my experience in life:
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)