Endings and beginnings have always seemed indistinguishable to me. A doorway is the same no matter which side you look at it; the only thing that’s different is you, and the place you choose to stand.
So I suppose that’s as good a place to start as any.
Two people ended friendships with me recently (ftr, this was a related event, not a hellish coincidence). And it feels so weird to write that out, to see the words before me and know that a multi-year phase of my life is over.
Not just mine, of course. My HSP is profoundly injured, betrayed beyond words — meanwhile, I’m feeling phenomenally better. Certainly the best since I got that message, the we’ve gotta talk that hangs over your neck for hours, just waiting to fall like a guillotine blade.
What I’d thought was going to be a discussion about needs and boundaries (the latter stressed most particularly) turned out to be a multi-page, single-spaced ambush. I was insufficient on multiple fronts: my mental illnesses suspect, my new friendships cultish, my attention fickle.
I admit: I can be a difficult person to get to know. I’m deeply guarded in person, and spill my guts here in silence (like any good writer). I slam the portcullis of my emotional keep and raise the drawbridge when I’m sick or injured. I went through cancer treatment more or less on my own, hopping back and forth across cities and AirBnBs for months. And I was very much okay with that. During the entire year, I only cried twice.
I’ve learned to seclude myself from IRL social events for the most part, because people are (as my dear Dom!Kylo would say) variables, and I have to control variables in my periphery so carefully due to my BPD. As I’ve mentioned before, life with BPD is not fun. Even now, with management and medication, the smallest things can trigger a spiral.
A commercial. A song. A glance.
It’s taken a long time to learn my limitations, but they are incredibly well-defined. And one of them, which I make sure is absolutely clear, is that I have really strong emotional boundaries. HSP and I are a team, unbreakable. We love and care for each other, and if we’re looking to team up with another couple for anything — whether that’s friendship or poly activities — we’re looking for them to be as much of a solid unit unto themselves as we are.
We are not going to fall in love with our other partners. Full stop.
That rule is for other people's safety as well as mine. I am not always fun as a primary partner to HSP. I’ve done and said many a thing I regret, and it’s only through six-plus years of his truly unconditional love (in addition to the aforementioned thurpee and meds) that’s let me be on the reasonably functional level I am today.
I am explicit about this. That I am the very model of almost-adult humanoid, but that what’s beneath the emotional shell I’ve built is fragile.
The best analogy I ever read about having BPD is that it’s like having no skin. All your nerves flayed open, even mere air agonizing to the touch.
When I was a little kid and was upset — screaming, crying like kids sometimes do — I got thrown in a cold shower. Told to shut down. Shut up.
When I was a teenager and had no idea what to do with these emotions that were coursing through me like fire, absolutely wrecking me, a parent drunkenly beat me. They later said they hadn’t known what else to do.
My father lived in our unheated barn for three years, badgered and berated yet prevented from leaving. A virtual prisoner. As I grew older, more of that rage that floated through my house like woodsmoke was turned on me.
Fun fact: it took me a long time to realize that the toxic thing I was shown for the first two-thirds of my life was not genuine affection, but a need for power. A drowning person can drag someone else down with them. Sometimes, that’s even the idea.
It’s hard every day to know that I carry that awful memory of a human in my DNA. That when I look in the mirror, I see the face of the person who hurt me. A person I look more like with every day that passes.
This is why I am Elegy, first AND last of her name. I have HSP, and friends. There’s no in-between.
So to you, who are surely reading this: if I did not let you in, it was because I was scared of you. What you could do to me. What pieces of my heart you might rip away, discarding them like they’re nothing.
Because in life, there is darkness and there is terror — and humans are the cruelest monsters of all.
Today I’m watching that unfold before me as my HSP crumbles, devastated by the loss of friendships cast away like they were nothing — all because I articulated my boundaries and did not budge. All because he let them in, and I could not. Because I would not — could not — change to suit another.
Being proven right is an absolutely godsawful feeling, but at least I, personally, am safe. Far away in Castle Elegy, behind walls of memory and stone.
Help will always be given to those who ask for it. If you or a friend are in crisis, contact information is available at: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help