Borderline Personality Disorder and Fear of Abandonment
What are borderline personality disorder (BPD) and my fear of abandonment like for me? Borderline personality disorder keeps abandonment on my mind. I have a long-term and near-constant fear that the people I love are going to stop loving me. This fear of abandonment caused by BPD makes me worry that my relationships could be lost at any given moment and stops me from relaxing because I feel relentlessly on edge.
There are days when my phone beeping startles me as I'm scared it's someone telling me they don't like me anymore. My inner monologue is often a stream of anxious questions such as:
- Does he still love me?
- Will she want to hang out with me again?
- Have I done something to upset him?
Fear of Abandonment and Other Borderline Symptoms
My fear of abandonment is at the core of my borderline personality disorder. The anxiety I have relating to abandonment is so intense that it fuels my other borderline symptoms. When the fear of abandonment kicks in, I'm flooded with shame as if I have done something terrible.
As a result of feeling ashamed, my identity can shift making me go from confident to worthless in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, thinking that someone I love no longer cares about me can make me so upset that I feel suicidal and have urges to self-harm.
Why Do I Have a Fear of Abandonment?
I was a very sensitive child and there were times throughout my childhood when my emotional needs weren't met. This wasn't anyone's intention or fault, rather a product of the circumstances into which I was born. As an infant, I didn't develop the skill of object permanency properly.
This means that as an adult, I sometimes struggle with "out of sight and out of mind," much like babies who think their parents have gone forever when they leave the room. When I'm having a particularly difficult day with my borderline personality disorder, I find it hard to think people still love me when they are not physically present with me.
How I Cope with Fear of Abandonment Caused by BPD
My bedroom is decorated with objects that have been given to me by people who care about me, such as cuddly toys, cards, and souvenirs from places I've visited with my loved ones. I surround myself with photographs of people I love and also create scrapbooks using bits and bobs from daily life, such as movie tickets and scraps of paper.
Keeping hold of objects that are connected to loved ones helps me to hold these relationships in my mind and reminds me that I'm loved even when we're apart. This doesn't completely eliminate my distress though. The mindfulness skills that I learned in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are the most helpful means of coping when I'm having distressing thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness techniques help me to pause and observe my emotional state, rather than behaving impulsively which causes further pain.
Cappuccino, R. (2019, June 19). Borderline Personality Disorder and Fear of Abandonment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2019/6/borderline-personality-disorder-and-fear-of-abandonment
Author: Rosie Cappuccino
You are truly inspiring with the words you have written for your book. The book is easy to understand how it must be a constant daily struggle. I've got P
T. S. D and bi-polar tho I normally manage on a daily basis quite OK. But my daughter has not long been diagnosed with bpd,,, she also had a baby last May. At this present moment my daughter thru her partner out,,, my pure grandson is now on the children at risk register and we used to be really close. She's shut me out and won't let me see my son. I feel like my world is falling apart..
Hi Jill, thank you for sharing this comment here. I am glad you find my article easy to understand and inspiring. I can hear your PTSD and bipolar are manageable for you, but it's incredibly hard for you to not be able to see your daughter, who is recently diagnosed with BPD, and your grandson. I wanted to share the Healthy Place Hotlines Numbers and Referral Resources page as there may be some useful organizations on there to support you through this difficult time. Sending you my best wishes. - Rosie Cappuccino, author on More Than Borderline blog.
wow I feel like u have just spoken the words in my head thanku
Hi Fiona, you're very welcome. I hope that being able to relate brings you comfort, although I can imagine that fear of abandonment might be an equally painful experience for you as it can be for me. I hope I can continue to write articles that others like yourself can relate to and that it can make people feel less alone. Take care.
- Rosie Cappuccino, author of the More Than Borderline blog