Refusing to Let Life Kill The Dream You Dreamed

November 23, 2010 Becky Oberg

Due to a mechanical problem that knocked out my heat--which can lead to serious problems in Indiana during winter--I spent a few days at my parents' house. During church that Sunday, their pastor played a clip of Susan Boyle's audition on Britain's Got Talent. Although it wasn't the point of the sermon, I realized that this clip is an excellent metaphor for life with borderline personality disorder (BPD).


As they tear your hope apart

Boyle freely shares the hope of becoming a professional singer, and that she wants to be as successful as Elaine Paige. Immediately, everyone present seemed ready to tear her down for daring to hope.

At :28, judge Simon Cowell displays a look somewhere between "oh-dear-God-no" and "get-me-out-of-this-torture". At :45, a woman rolls her eyes. At :56, a woman gets this "what-is-she-thinking-it'll-never-happen" look. Were it up to the crowd, she wouldn't have even had the chance to try.

So how does this tie into BPD? Because we carry a hostile crowd inside of us. When we dare to dream, our voices in our head mock us. When we dare to hope, they tear us down. The voices don't want us to have a chance at the life we dream of--a life without being controlled by our symptoms.

So different from the hell I'm living

Boyle finishes the first line of I Dreamed a Dream and the crowd erupts into applause. Even the judges are pleasently surprised and quickly become enraptured by the sheer beauty of her voice. The audience gives her a standing ovation well before the end of the song.

"I am so thrilled, becasue I know that everybody was against you," said Judge Amanda Holden. "I honestly think that we were all being very cynical, and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever."

Every person alive has something beautiful inside. However, we often internalize superficial judgments. A 75-pound woman may believe she's fat based on airbrushed magazine pictures. A high school valedictorian may think he/she is stupid due to a learning disability.

It doesn't matter whether other people are reinforcing these myths. Once internalized, the myths are as good as true in spite of what the facts are. As the song bluntly states, "Now life has killed the dream I dreamed."

So different now from what it seemed

Ironically, Boyle seems just as surprised as anybody else present. At 3:48, she starts to walk offstage, but is quickly directed back on. When judge Piers Morgan votes yes, Boyle gasps and smiles. When judge Amanda Holden also votes yes, Boyle replies "Amanda! You too?" Judge Simon Cowell votes likewise, and she dances in delight.

How can you not feel like joining in? Someone written off by the crowd, someone mocked for daring to believe things can be better shuts everybody up. It's a common theme in literature for a reason--but actually seeing it happen in real life makes it all the more inspiring.

While we may not be able to sing like Susan Boyle, all of us have the potential to be a similar story. As I've often said before, I was considered a hopeless case. One crisis counselor--actually, just plain "crisis" might be more accurate--threw my chart across the room and said "She can wait eight hours to talk to someone else." She hadn't spoken with me yet--she knew I had a diagnosis of BPD and that was enough for her.

She was so caught up in the superficial--in this case, a diagnostic label--that she didn't believe anything beautiful could happen. She didn't believe my case could improve. In fact, she told me that it was common for "borderlines" to "get kicked out of mental health centers".

True, I did get worse before things got better. But with the right medication and right therapy, a person can overcome BPD. Even a hopeless case.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2010, November 23). Refusing to Let Life Kill The Dream You Dreamed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from

Author: Becky Oberg

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