I’m sitting in front of repeats of Inside No.9 (My favourite program of all time) and I am in a thoughtful mood. My mood has been up and down more than usual the last couple of weeks, and trust me when I say, BPD mood swings are always frantic anyway so any acceleration is particularly unpleasant. Anyway, I thought I would share what I was thinking on this Sunday evening.
I have been wondering about loneliness a lot. Trying to figure out if that is what I’ve been feeling. Turns out it isn’t. It’s not loneliness, it’s fear. Not fearful of being on my own, I like my own company, it’s been liberating since starting over to really get to know myself as someone who, has before last year never lived alone. I got to know whether I would still be a tidy person if I lived alone (I am). I wondered whether my personal hygiene would be ok if I didn’t have anybody to do it for when my mental health is particularly bad (It was fine). I wondered whether I would feel safe on my own (For the most part I do, but I did have to door stop my front door for a few months).
I eat better now, far more nutritious food, partly because I can’t digest fat very well since having my gallbladder removed and partly because I need to treat my body a bit better than I did.
Back to the topic at hand anyway. The fear I feel is not of being myself in my little flat, but being alone socially. For years I thought that I was introverted. Turns out my extroversion has been masked for years by crippling social anxiety. I love the company of family and friends when I’m feeling well enough, in fact it is a massive part of keeping me feeling well. Part of my BPD means that I have an urge to seek constant reassurance that the people I love are happy with me. This can be difficult to obtain because I don’t want to pester people but sometimes it is just something I have to do. As an example, if I have seen people on one day and I have felt content, the second I leave and return home, or those people leave and go to their homes, my mind starts to analyse the conversations I’ve had, the reactions, the gestures. Until I become convinced that something is wrong. As soon as that happens, I feel the need to seek reassurance. It’s something I fight, but unfortunately can’t help.
Fear is a terrible thing. Almost as bad as guilt for me. I have been dealing with it by over-compensating with loved ones. What I mean by this is that the fear of being abandoned or rejected is so strong that I tend to tailor my personality to please the people I am with. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give up my principles. If I disagree with someone’s view I will hold my own in a debate; but if I get carried away or even cross with a person the guilt eats me up and I tend to apologise for living.
All this got me wondering about when we develop our sense of belonging, and when we develop feelings of loneliness. I certainly can’t remember when these emotions first occurred in my life, I don’t know about you guys. It made me wonder whether a sense of belonging is something we are born with. A need to be a part of a tribe? Other people are certainly very important during our formative years; we are urged to mix and mingle with other infants and other children so that we become comfortable around others.
So maybe that’s it? Maybe we are born searching? Not for meaning, but belonging.