Dear Client with BPD

You came to me from a colleague with those dreaded words “You got to deal with this one; it’s borderline personality disorder.” I aged three years just trying to get you to sign my policies and consents. But by the time we were finished drawing and picking apart your family tree we were bonding in mutual amazement — mine at your brave story and you of my piecing together of your story.

Your letter and expressions of appreciation meant a lot and as I hold it in my hand I wonder how to help you hold on to those positive emotions even when childhood feelings of abandonment and worthlessness overwhelm you and the pull to devalue and sever our valued connection rages within you. All I can do is continue to be consistent predictable hopeful.

I wonder if you know how I experience our relationship. This is what I wish to share with you:

You light up the room with your energy and color even when it’s chaotic. I love your talents: teaching sewing baking. I love when you save some of your cookie batch for me and bring it in begrudgingly but bravely when you’re mad. I love our little private jokes that never stop making us giggle.

I love the cleverness and the fortitude with which you fool yourself into believing what you believe about people and situations. I love the intelligence it took to braid such elaborate stories and the vehemence with which you hold tight to the sinking ship even as I hold out my hand. You’re so full of energy; I try to help you channel it away from the crushing rocks during the storm and onto the serene shores of self-compassion.

You’re slowly healing it’s up and down and up and down gradually climbing that mountain. I’m so proud of you and of me for our hard work together.

You try to convince me that you’re bad I’m bad I’m abandoning you you’re abandoning me you’re a fake I’m a fake you’re mean I’m mean. I put that Gorilla Glue under my feet and keep assuring you we are both flawed precious humans. I’m not going anywhere.

You struggle in your traps; unable to move left or right without being bad guilty or a failure. I feel your torment and reflect it back when you trap me. We’re trapped together until I gently slip out inviting you to give yourself the same permission.

I know you will hit your head hard on that “borderline ceiling” — that moment when your terrified inner child pulls the plug on your fearless new way of living because she isn’t fully convinced it’s safe to let go of the old survival rules. We’ll both feel devastated yet I will be a strong guide and cope with my disappointment and frustration on my own time.

Do I go home and bang the pillow against the mattress some days? Sure! I hope you do too. This is how we let the feelings move through us. Please know I take care of myself and you need not worry.

I believe in you and I can contain and hold your pain. It’s not too much for me or too ugly. You deserve to be heard and I am interested. I’m so sorry your parents weren’t able to give you that.

Thanks for being brave and trying the new intervention I trained in. Thanks for having faith and cheering me on. Thanks for helping me help you. Thank you for believing in our work.

And as I sit on the beach a tall icy piña colada with your name on it cradled in my hand my feelings are as human as yours. I’m so glad to be away… and I miss you so. I see you cheering me on: “Just one? Have another! You deserve it!” always adding that caretaking “don’t forget the suntan lotion.”

You are “good enough” and precious and Hashem loves you and so do I. And soon you will know it in your gut.

I hand you a square of paper with a smiley that says “I like you.” And we sweat a full hour before you can take it from my hand. It’s not a trick; it’s just how I feel.

Your Therapist