Some of the comments that came through today have inspired me to address our fear of running into our BPD-ex’s. Why are we so afraid of running into them again? What is it about them that causes our hearts to race at the mere thought of casually running into them?
Perhaps it’s because we know that that running into our Borderline ex’s would be anything but ‘casual’. With all the drama and craziness we have endured in our interactions with our BPD exs, we have a pretty good idea of what we’d be in for should we just happen upon them out in the wild…
I believe that pain is probably one of the strongest motivators we encounter in our lifetimes. The relationships and subsequent breakups with our Borderline Personality Disordered significant others likely subjected us to an unimaginable amount of pain, a pain unlike any we have endured before. Human beings seek out pleasure and avoid pain whenever possible. Therefore, we avoid our disordered ex girlfriends or boyfriends because they are a source of insurmountable pain and grief to us.
Our ex’s and our relationships with them now represent pain, failure, sadness, discord, and disappointment. Not only does seeing the ex trigger all of these negative emotions in us, but the physical spaces that we connect to our time spent with them, are triggers as well. These negative emotions alone are tough to endure, but they are unbearable when felt concurrently as we remember the good times we spent with them.
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. For me, this concept rings very true. For over a year post breakup, driving anywhere near her home or a restaurant we frequented, makes me very uncomfortable. I want to feel the pleasure of those memorable times we enjoyed together in those places, but immediately, the realization of how things ended so terribly interrupts those pleasurable thoughts. All of this happens in mere nanoseconds, leaving me with a bothersome unsettled feeling.
I regularly frequent an area with an active nightlife where there are is a higher probability that I could run into her. These places no longer hold her awful stigma attached to them; repeated exposure will certainly help to overcome most of your fears in these situations. Here’s the good news that I think you should know: The raw, conflicted pain subsides over time, and the fear and avoidance becomes less of a worry. I do scan for her as I enter these places, but not anxiously; it’s more curiosity at this point.
At some point, I will run into her… It’s going to happen one day. I will walk into a pub or restaurant or grocery store, and there she will be. I’m not sure how I will handle that, and admittedly, the last thing I want to show her is a look of surprise or fear. We’ll see what happens when it happens. I only hope I can give her a kind, honest smile, say hello, and keep on walking.