Making Friends

I can't keep friends. I hate to go to parties anymore. No one likes me and I feel horrible about myself. Socially, I'm a mess and I hate myself for it.

I can relate to what you are feeling about socializing. For myself, I have resistance to social situations. Period. I think most people with BPD do. When I consider whether to engage in a social situation, because of my innate resistance, I cannot really trust what comes to mind because I am more than willing to see ANY excuse not to do it and assign it high value. You can say "it will be just like before so why try," or my favorite is "no one will ever understand or like me." The issue is resistance and fear.

Therefore, for me, I have to scrap whatever my logic mind or emotion mind tell me about a potential social situation. My inner self, plain and simply, NEVER wants to engage in social activities and will ALWAYS find reasons not to do it.

So what does my wise mind tell me? First of all, in this context, it is very hard to access wise mind and if I do by relaxing, meditating, focusing, centering, I am still too consumed by fear to be able to see it directly. What does come to me is that I don't need to be afraid. There is only this moment and in this moment I am fine. I must remind myself that I am bound to feel anxious in approaching a social situation. So I radically accept it. That way, when the anxiety appears, I say, "yeah, I knew you'd be there." Then I do my best to focus on the moment I am in and let go of the anxiety. I go through the situation telling myself, "it's okay. I'm okay. I don't have to worry. Let go. I'm fine right now. The future doesn't matter" and hope that amid my internal dialog I might be able to appreciate what is going on.

I'm sorry for you and for me that there's no silver bullet answer to social things (something else to radically accept!). I guess we just do our best -- move forward by taking risks, try to learn from the experience and hope that it gets easier next time. But I think to expect to LIKE social situations or for them to be EASY can only lead to disappointment and depression. Try to see how far you've come and have compassion on yourself.

If my goal is really to get better, then I have to stop beating myself up and notice, instead, any improvements or good things that happened in the social situation, and/or congratulating myself for surviving without a crisis. Baby steps. Writing it all down allows you to have a place to go to remind yourself when you feel worthless.

The other big help is to keep a gratitude journal. Every day, write 3 things for which you are grateful. I mean, I say that life is unfair and I have to struggle with some things more than others. But there are people in wheelchairs or with disfigurements or cerebral palsy and I can't even imagine how difficult social things must be for them. And there are people in the world so isolated and alone and frightened that they can't even find social situations. So I don't have it worse than ANYONE. And right now, today, this moment, I have everything I need.

This moment is really all that there is. There is a line in the King James version of the Bible that I like. Jesus says, "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Which is to say, I don't need to go worrying about the future and invent more hardships. Plenty will come my way without my intervention. Just stay in the moment as much as possible.

- Lisa

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