Stephanie asks: One year after my ex broke up with me, I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. We had issues; I was clingy/jealous, he was avoidant/promised more than he could keep. I offered to seek treatment, spend time apart and try again, but he said he needed a “clean break” and since then he has ignored me whenever possible. I haven’t been involved with anyone since as I am terrified of being left by and/or hurting another person. I am also not over his lack of empathy after the breakup (blanking me in the streets). Weeks after, he started dating someone new and they’re still together.
I don’t want to resume the relationship but wonder if I should inform him about my diagnosis as it contributed to things. I wonder if him ignoring me and jumping into a new relationship is his way of protecting himself/forgetting past hurt. He knows I’m truly sorry and in treatment. Do you think it would be useful for him to understand that I have a mental disorder? I don’t want him to feel absolved from everything because “I’m crazy” either. We’ve had no contact in 6 months.
I imagine that this is a very vulnerable time for you as you navigate your diagnosis. Now that you have an explanation for some of your thinking, emotions and behaviour, there is undoubtedly a period that follows where you press rewind on your mental tape, watch back previous events, analyse your own actions and his, and wonder how different things would be if you could turn back time and you were both aware of your BPD. There can also be a temptation to assume that because your actions were in part influenced by the BPD that ipso facto his actions were too, and that’s not to discount that there will have been an element of that but if everything is put on your diagnosis, you won’t see the woods for the trees.
In order for you to begin to truly take care of you in and out of your interpersonal relationships and to move on from this experience which has clearly hurt you a great deal and pushed on your abandonment and rejection buttons which will be very heightened by the BPD, it’s critical that you where possible, distinguish between disorder-led behaviour and thinking versus what is being influenced by the actual circumstances that you’re in. I say this because I’ve heard from many thousands of people who were clingy and jealous with an avoidant, Future Faking partner who also have experiences in their backstory that contribute to fear of abandonment and being involved with people who fit a type that taps on old issues and allows them to continue in a pattern where they can try to right the wrongs of the past, gain validation, and try to fill voids created by their needs being inadequately met by their parents/caregivers. The overwhelming majority of these don’t have BPD and I say this to you because I don’t want you to write you off.
The degree to which you needed to gain some independence in your life (emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually) so that you can be interdependent in your relationships reflects the degree to which he needed to allow himself to be more depended on (not codependent) so that he could be interdependent in his own relationships. As a result of your involvement with him, the pain, fear and guilt that came to the fore and the way in which you reacted prompted you to seek help and get a diagnosis—you needed this breaking point.