it can be done
I was hanging out on a writing Discord the other day when the topic of personality disorders came up. I was eager to share my experiences with BPD, but before I had a chance to reveal my diagnosis, a stranger began complaining about their borderline ex. Which led to this exchange:
Stranger: Well they can’t validate themselves it’s why cluster Bs seek external validation
Me: truth. hard to validate yourself when you aren’t really the same person minute to minute. hard to have a sense of perspective on the world
Stranger: Sadly this likely means we’ve both been in relationship with a cluster B
Me: nope. am one
Maybe when I was younger I would’ve been offended and lectured this person. But I decided anger only begets anger, so I spoke to them calmly and compassionately, and their tone quickly softened up. We ended up talking over DMs for a little while. They asked me honest questions about my disorder, and I answered them in kind:
“The hardest thing to accept about people with BPD (I think) is that almost everything they do is an attempt to alleviate some sort of emotional pain. So even if they do terrible things with terrible intentions, it’s still just coming from a place of need and a desire for emotional relief. And it’s a paradox for everyone around them because you’re the victim of their actions, but they’re the victim of their disorder. Hard to know how to place blame. The borderline person is the easy target, but sometimes I wonder if it would be better to think about BPD as like a little demon that lives in their head, or poison. Something that controls them and makes them do desperate things to escape their feelings. Then we could all just blame the disorder and not the person who has it.
Problem is, in reality, they’re inseparable. The person and the illness are the same thing. And the people around them have to simultaneously remember it’s okay to feel hurt by them, but also to show them compassion. It’s like loving an enemy. Creates a lot of cognitive dissonance for someone in your type of position. I haven’t quite figured out how to achieve a balance between hating my illness and having compassion for myself. Can’t imagine how hard it must be for the people I know.”
I like to think I changed their view of BPD, even just a little.
Misery and Mystery, A Novel
There comes a time in every young writer’s life when they feel their manuscript start to change. As it enters maturity, some chapters grow, while other ones fall away. It leaves its first draft stage behind and begins to take the shape of a beautiful new story. It is at this crucial, delicate moment that the blossoming manuscript finds itself in need of a wider audience.
It has entered its beta reader phase.
Now that my novel draft is approaching the 20K word mark and I’ve decimated it with color-coded pens, it’s time to present it to a few select readers to make sure it’s not incomprehensible. But the story isn’t finished yet, and it’s still very vulnerable. If I’m not careful, I might accidentally put my fragile work in front of someone who Just Doesn’t Get It and end up with feedback that’s less than constructive. (I once carelessly chose a beta reader who asked if my sci-fi novel really needed to have aliens in it.)
Fortunately, I work at a university with a lot of well-read people. Several of my colleagues have been kind enough to help me fix up my writing while assuring me it’s engaging. I owe them a ton, but I’m hoping they settle for a humble coffee or two–at least until their efforts help propel me onto the New York Times Bestseller list. (Or so I can dream.)
Last week, you met my cat, Yara. Now please say hello to her sister, the President of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, Pumpkin!
This cat is hilarious. She’s the most talkative animal I’ve ever known. She prowls around our place groaning like an old man and meowing for no reason. She’s also very spunky and enjoys springboarding off the side of our bed at three in the morning. My boyfriend calls her his Cooking Buddy because she follows him around the kitchen, hanging out in the least convenient spots on the floor and doing her best to trip him.
Pumpkin keeps us entertained (even if we’d rather be sleeping). I like her more than most people.
I owe a lot of people a lot of coffee. You can help by buying me a cup on Ko-fi right now.
The first chapter of my novel is available to read on Patreon! It’s not free, but nothing is.
I’d link you to my Twitter, but… *gestures widely*
Thanks for reading the Miss Misery Newsletter. Remember to show someone empathy today.