I have known one of my peer-friends here for months now (she came to residential after I did and now we are in PHP together.) She has borderline personality and since me coming to PHP, she has been obsessed with me, wanting to know every detail about my process here. Every detail about everything. I didn’t know that this is a manifestation of Borderline Personality. That understanding would have helped me. What ended up happening was that I felt very defensive and intruded upon by what I interpreted as her having sort of a voyeuristic interest in my life. It was annoying…But, I never spoke to it. I never let her know that she was violating my boundaries, I just sort of dodged her questions and avoided the issue.. I know, I know…I should have spoken up weeks ago.
So, recently, in one of our groups, she talked a little bit about her habit of obsessing with people, but I wasn’t there for most of that group, so I didn’t really hear what she had to say about it. Then more recently, she spoke about it again and I was there and I had this lightbulb moment. First of all, she was trying to talk about me, as I am the one she is obsessed with, and I also realized how the behavior is part of her mental illness…which made me feel more compassionate about it. Not that it’s not intrusive, but now I understand where it is coming from.
I had to leave that group right after she talked about it (about 5 mins early because I had an appointment) and she mis-interpreted it as me walking out on her and promptly burst into tears. And then some of my peers said that she and I needed to talk. And the direct care person said that I really did have an appointment…that I wasn’t just walking out on her.
The awkward thing for the peer is that everyone knew about her obsession with me…It was pretty obvious. But she didn’t know that everyone had seen it. Later in the day, we did sit down and talk about boundaries and her BPD and how I had found it intrusive. And I commented about how people noticed when she and I aren’t getting along (because the intrusiveness has caused minor ruptures in our relationship from time to time.) We have a pretty strong relationship and I guess it is just clear in the community when we have issues. I think she was a bit taken aback by the fact that her interest in me was not a secret…But this is a small community of very hypervigilant people, not much goes by unnoticed.
Anyway…I have learned so much in the past week or so about my friend and how her mental illness impacts her and subsequently, the ripple effect that impacts me. And she and I have actually grown together through it. I like her a lot and I am glad that I understand her better and I am glad we talked it out. And like I said before, I have a lot of compassion for and a new understanding of what it means to be Borderline.