Potted Plants

A reader commented on a post written a while back that dealt with the mix of Borderline Personality Disorder and psychopathy:

There was talk of renaming BPD as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder in the DSM-V. That didn’t happen, but the title seems apt. My BPD family member is intensely emotional – so much so that she cannot manage her emotions enough to function in society. Your “fear” of abandonment doesn’t seem to result from intense emotions. Where, then, would this need to retain people come from? Does it have to do with your flexible sense of self? Who are you when you’re alone?

My “fear” of abandonment is one that is hard to describe.  Many afflicted with BPD report that they need others to validate their own existence.  I do not.  I have nothing to prove to anyone, not even myself.  I do have a weak sense of identity, primarily because of the unconscious switch between masks that I wear on a daily basis.  I care little for others, but I always want someone around.  The picture is cloudy, at best.

I always try to surround myself with others when I am not busy working on projects such as this blog.  I want to know that I have resources available should I need them.  Those around me are those resources.  They can exist solely to alleviate my boredom or to provide an ear when I need to process a part of myself that is hard for me alone to digest.  (The latter gets to the weak identity – with an identity so weak, I do need confirmation from others as to who I am in my latent state).  However, I return little of their energy.  What I do give is practical and my closest friends have come to accept that such is the limit of what I will give.

Essentially, I prefer those around me to be like potted plants: requiring minimal care and always available for my needs without their own wants and desires.  My former spouse left citing my inability to provide anything but the most fundamental needs for one in a relationship.  There was no “love” nor true companionship; it was merely a partnership in which we shared financial resources and I would occasionally provide support in other areas.  As with a plant, I would prune and take from them, assuming that they would always regrow for additional taking.  Most humans do not work that way; they did not either.

So what does this have to do with fear of abandonment?  The key piece of the answer lies in the last sentence of the reader’s comment.  My identity is weak and confusing between the psychopathic switching of masks and the borderline’s damaged identity to begin with.  When I am alone, I am confused and distraught as there is no mask to wear.  There is no situation that would require a certain mold in order to gain benefit.  It is purely freeform.  Like reading a book with half of the chapters missing, I am left with key insight in many areas, but little comprehension of the whole.  It is frustrating and debilitating.  I can weather any storm and solve any problem except for completely understanding how I function.  Psychopathic traits and borderline traits tell me key pieces of the puzzle I am, but do not spell out the larger picture.

If I’ve been truly abandoned, that means that I lost someone that was close to begin with.  Those people have the insight that I do not when it comes to myself.  I require little of others.  I do require, however, the insight of others for finishing the puzzle in front of me.  A lot has changed since the time in which my spouse left me.  I am infinitely more self-sufficient and much less distressed by those that remove me from their lives rather than vice-versa.  However, I still want my potted plants around.  I want to know that I can take from them at any moment and that they will still be there, and will regrow, until I discard them.

Image is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Use of this image should not imply endorsement by the image author, Terence Ong.

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