Healing From BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder Blog: Fear of Getting Older and Borderline Personality Disorder (Age Regression, Trauma)

Healing From BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder Blog: Fear of Getting Older and Borderline Personality Disorder (Age Regression, Trauma)


An interesting article written from the writers personal point of view.

Healing From BPD: A journey of living with and healing from borderline personality disorder with dialectical behavior therapy (with Debbie Corso).

One of the major components of having Borderline Personality Disorder, and often for sufferers of PTSD who were traumatized as children, is an intense fear of being abandoned.  For many of us, even sensing a change in facial expression, tone of voice, or mood in someone we love can cause us to panic and worry that the person contemplating giving up on us and leaving for good.
Of course, there is always “cause” for the things that we think. Many of us were abandoned or rejected by important people in our lives when we were children.  We have become incredibly sensitive to such situations as a form of survival. As a child, after all, it’s critical that you retain the love and protection of your caregivers.
As we get older, we may realize that continuing to engage in certain behaviors around this issue may no longer serve us and may be standing in the way of our continued healing and growth.  We may also be terrified at the prospect of giving up such behaviors — after all, won’t people abandon and reject us if we stop behaving this way?
Behaving Younger In Intimate Relationships

Often, when I am with my significant other, I engage in cute “baby talk.”  I want him to think I am adorable. A moment of realization came for me when he heard me on the phone speaking to my sister and to colleagues, and he mentioned that I am a “totally different person” when I speak to them — confident, and adult-like. I have experienced some inner turmoil over wanting to relate to my significant other as an equal but often feel compelled to relate to him as someone younger.

Behaving Younger When Re-Experiencing Trauma
I talk about in my book Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder: My Journey Out of Hell Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy of how I would frequently show up in the emergency room after feeling severely emotionally triggered.  When I would engage with the doctors, nurses, and other staff, I would go into that same, child-like demeanor and voice. During routine interviews with doctors and nurses, when they’d ask, “And your age?” My mind would either go blank, and I’d have to literally count up from the age I “felt” to my actual current age, or I’d darn well know my age and feel ashamed to tell the practitioner. I’d think, “Once she knows I’m in my thirties, she’s going to treat me differently.”
How did I imagine her acting differently? By judging me, of course. I feared she’d think, “This woman is in her thirties, and she wants me to baby her? Ha! She just lie here in the bed and wait til I’m good and ready to deal with her.”
Behaving Younger in Social Situations
When I am out and about in social situations, especially with women 40+, I find myself speaking and behaving in ways that I imagine younger people would behave (I’m thirty five.)  Often, at some point, someone will ask, “How old are you Debbie?”
Suddenly, shame will come up. I start having thoughts like “I want them to think I’m young,” “She’s going to think I’m psycho when she finds out how old I really am,” “She won’t treat me the same way anymore when she finds out I’m old enough to know better and take care of myself.”  It’s as if I want these women to treat me in a motherly way — to think I’m a new college student or something.
Do you see a theme? I seem to have had (and sometimes it still happens) a pattern of reverting to behaving at an age when I was more helpless, in an effort to get others to “save” or “rescue” me.  There is a part of me that has been desperate to receive this type of care, love, and support, and it’s repeatedly tried to reach out all of my life.  When she’s shown up, I’ve shamed her. I knew there had to be another way.
This was working “fine” for me until I started having the eye opening moments that I mentioned and then shamed myself.
In DBT, I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that there is cause for the things we think, feel, and do. Judging ourselves doesn’t help. Having compassion, understanding the reasons for our behaviors, and then seeking out and working on more adaptive behaviors that help us reach our goals of wholeness and  healing is the direction I’ve found is most helpful.
Sound familiar? Do you tend to behave in ways that you hope will cause others to believe you are much younger than you are?   How do you react when you realize you’ve engaged in this behavior?  Do you judge yourself?  Do you see cause for your reactions, feelings, and behaviors? How might it help to remove judgment and work on building new behaviors and responses?
Thanks for reading.
More soon.

Source: Healing From BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder Blog: Fear of Getting Older and Borderline Personality Disorder (Age Regression, Trauma)

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