Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org under the name Clara Bridges.

Memory Monday – “Waiting to fall – BPD and obsessive attachments”

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With the exception of my ‘Home page’ and my post on BPD and invalidation, this week’s Memory Monday post has had more than three times the number of views of any of my other posts. It is by far the most consistently viewed post; and the most frequent search engine terms that lead people to my blog, are centred on obsession and attachment.

These are powerful feelings that evoke powerful responses, which can include shame and guilt. Obsessional emotions can ‘feel wrong’; they can make us wonder what it is about ourselves that means that we get taken over so completely by a force we feel unable to control – a force entirely centred on another human being. The obsessional feelings may be temporarily intoxicating, but something inside may nag at us, wondering if this is all a sign of deep trouble. What does it mean? Why me? Do other people feel this way?

If you feel the way described in this post, you are certainly not alone:

https://lifeinabind.com/2014/06/21/waiting-to-fall-bpd-and-obsessive-attachments/

I searched for information on obsessions, when I was in the middle of a particularly difficult obsession with a friend. I may have written this post many months ago, and I may have had particular individuals in mind when I wrote it, but it is as present and as difficult an issue for me now, as it was then. Whether the feelings relate to a friend, a partner or a therapist, the intensity of an obsessive attachment has brought me, repeatedly, both the most intense highs and the most painful lows. It seems to me that therapy, in particular, is a cruel form of unrequited love in which attachment can be necessary for healing, but the boundaries of the relationship may serve toΒ make the obsessional nature of the attachment even more painful.Β 

I have tried, in this post, to give a very personal take on what an obsessive attachment feels like, how it comes about, and why it happens. We will all have our own particular versions of ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’, but I hope there is enough commonality here that my main purpose will have been achieved – that you will feel less alone with these feelings. Less shame, less judgement; more understanding and more acceptance. I think our obsessive attachments are trying to tell us something – and if we’re in therapy (or even if we’re not), it may be a major part of ‘moving forward’ to try and work out what that is……

 

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13 thoughts on “Memory Monday – “Waiting to fall – BPD and obsessive attachments”

  1. Your original post is exceptionally good. I have not thought about this as well as you have, but it seems to me that depending on another person to bring about meaning in your life (you being generic here, and not you as a person) cannot work – even if it appears to at the time. In that sense obsession operates as a drug.

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    • Thank you so much, your feedback is always really important to me πŸ™‚ I have often thought of obsession as a drug, both in terms of how it functions and the feelings it engenders. Ultimately, I know that you are right in terms of not being able to depend on another person for meaning – part of the battle I think, is not just finding new and more helpful ways in which to think, but being fully emotionally convinced of them, and then internalising them so that they are ‘felt truths’. That’s why the ‘wonder’ of therapy doesn’t lie in debate or intellectual analysis or even in ‘talking things through’, but in the completely indefinable interaction between therapeutic process and relationship, and the million and unpredictable different ways this can play out as life unfolds. I can already see very slow shifts in certain patterns of thought that I have always had, and I hope that one day my sense of meaning will come at least partly from within, rather than being based so exclusively on other people….

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  2. You articulated exactly how I feel regarding the “transference neurosis” I’m starting to develop for my second therapist. I had a similar obsessive attachment to my first therapist too, sigh. I really really relate to that feeling you describe.

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    • Thank you so much for reading and for letting me know you really relate to these feelings. They are so so hard to handle and it’s taken such a long time for me to get some perspective and insight into them, and the process is still continuing. But it’s been immensely valuable to actually see that ‘transference neurosis’ in action within therapy, and the amazing way in which it sheds light on past events, thoughts and feelings. I think until you experience it, it’s very hard to understand how that aspect of therapy works. I really hope that what you’re going through in terms of feelings for your therapist(s) is helping in terms of understanding other relationships as well. I should add that for me, although it’s important to recognise the transference, it’s also important for me to validate the intense feelings I have for my therapist as a person and a therapist i.e. to accept that not all my feelings are a result of transference and that I have real feelings towards her as as real person, and not simply as someone she is representing. This makes it more complicated, but also more ‘real’ for me…..I’m not sure how you have navigated this particular issue, and whether you find this confusing too?

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      • I agree, the feelings are confusing and some of the feelings aren’t transference, but real feelings toward my therapist as a person. πŸ™‚ If you are lesbian or bisexual, it gets really confusing too as there really IS all sorts of very real feelings! πŸ™‚

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      • Trust me, even if you’re not, you can still be taken by surprise by those feelings, some of which I’m sure are ‘real’! πŸ™‚ I chose an older female therapist precisely because I thought that was the type of therapist I was least likely to develop obsessive feelings for. Turns out it made no difference. It doesn’t stop me seeing her as my mother one day, and anything but, the next. Perhaps I need to question the ‘even if you’re not’ statement – which reminds me, there’s a very interesting article about BPD and sexual orientation/gender of partner (as two different ‘factors’ in the analysis) that I found and that I would like to share soon. It indicates that for many with BPD, the choice of partner seems to be much more about ‘the person’ than it is about the person’s gender – so someone might describe themselves as having ‘generally’ a heterosexual orientation while still choosing a same-sex partner….sorry, going off at a tangent there πŸ™‚

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  3. It doesn’t allow me to connect to the link. Booo

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  4. “Whether the feelings relate to a friend, a partner or a therapist, the intensity of an obsessive attachment has brought me, repeatedly, both the most intense highs and the most painful lows. It seems to me that therapy, in particular, is a cruel form of unrequited love in which attachment can be necessary for healing, but the boundaries of the relationship may serve to make the obsessional nature of the attachment even more painful.”

    This is exactly how I feel. And especially about my own therapy and therapist. I’ve only started seeing her over a month ago (and have since been diagnosed with BPD), but from our first meeting I felt an intense attachment. I can never get her out of my mind. I want to go see her every day, a week seems like a month. I don’t like the boundaries. It drives me crazy, and I don’t quite know how to just make it stop.

    Just started reading your blog and am loving it. Started with your first post and reading from there. Still a lot to go. Being new to this whole BPD thing, and still in the ‘learning phase’ it’s really helpful, so thank you. πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you SO much for your comment, it was lovely to hear from you, and I’m glad you go in touch and many apologies for my continued delay in getting back to you – the bugs/illnesses of the winter are still ongoing and I have not been able to stay up as late (and therefore spend as much time on the blog!) as I would like….I’m so glad you are finding my posts helpful – I ‘learned’ in exactly the same way around the time of my own diagnosis, and as you know, I experienced all of those feelings of intense attachment and obsession…..as I wrote in my latest post, everyone’s journey is different and so the way in which your own feelings develop, and how you find your way through them, may be very different to the journey I have taken and have taken….if there is one thing I would say is that in this area, as indeed in many areas, it is precisely the desire to make something stop which can be a hindrance whereas if it can be tolerated, the ability to sit with the feelings and ride them out, can be the start of finding a way of managing….and of course all of that is very very very much easier said than done!!

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      • I’m still the same person that wrote the original comment, just started a new (more fitting) blog. We’re going to be entering Winter soon this side of the world, but I like the cold, and bundling up so don’t mind it. Thank you for your reply. It means a lot. You’re sort of my ‘hero’ in this blogging world… Let me explain. You’re the inspiration I wrote about (on my about page), and the reason for starting up my new blog. It always feels as though you’re writing for me… I relate so strongly to most of it. I get what you’re saying about how the desire to make something stop can be a hindrance… Makes sense. So I’ll just go with the flow and see where it takes me. Discovery is part of life (and healing) after all. Thanks again! πŸ™‚

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      • I never thanked you for this lovely comment – thank you! πŸ™‚ don’t think I’ve been called a ‘hero’ before….! But it’s wonderful to be able to inspire, so thank you for saying so πŸ™‚

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  5. Pingback: The Highs & Lows of the Therapeutic Relationship – Journey Toward Healing

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