The Email:

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm much better now than I have ever been. I'm afraid, though, to even try to make friends or relate to people. I've been hurt so much and hurt others so much in the past. Right now I pretty much am isolated and don't talk to anyone.

AJ's Response:

I think that your fear is quite understandable. I would also think that experiencing healing and vast improvements in yourself would make things rather new. To approach relating after one has done a lot of healing from BPD is truly starting over again.

You know what happened in the past. You likely know why. All you can do about that now is grieve it and then let it go. You did the best you could with what you knew. Now, you know better and you will do better as a result.

Begin by celebrating the fact that you have healed greatly. Begin with the celebration that you have taken responsibilty for yourself and that you no longer will hurt others. Let others be responsible for themselves as well. You can only take care of yourself.

Often, after we experience great change we need time to catch up and to process all of our change. The more we grow and evolve the more we have to make adjustments in how we relate to others and in the others we choose to even relate with.

Be patient with yourself. Perhaps you need this time of isolation to just be with yourself. In this time you can become more confident with who you are now and what that means.

There is also the reality that for many who are recovering from BPD there is time that you can't get back. There are developmental experiences in the natural maturation process that you likely have missed. I know I've experienced this. So, when you set out to relate to others you do so, much healed, more mature, and so forth, but you do so without comparable experience with your peers because they have been relating and growing from a known and stable sense of self for much longer than you have. It will take time to make up some of that ground. That's okay.

Think about the choices you are making and why.

If you want to change the fact that you are isolated begin by making one or two new choices and following through on those and slowly exposing yourself to people in whatever ways you can. Pursue an interest, join a group or organization that involves your interests or hobbies. Experience being around people. Try not to have too many expectations. Don't try to push or rush connecting with others. Just enjoy making new choices, going outside, taking walks and let whatever time you share with new people just evolve and see what happens.

This response is © A.J. Mahari, February 2003