You’ve dealt with them, you may work with or have a relationship with one, and we’ve all had our run-ins with Borderlines. While I’m not the type of licensed professional who is qualified to diagnose someone with BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder, I’m pretty darn certain that Amber, who called my radio show, would fall in to that category. Why? While our call was super cool with the usual positive, supportive Life Coaching chain of conversation, it was the emails she sent me following that took me back! Whoa!
As is typical of a Borderline, one minute they love you and you are the greatest thing since the Internet, and the next minute you are a hated infecting virus! Classic Borderline. Let me tell you some about Borderlines then tell you my story of Amber.
BPD first shows up in the teens and early 20’s, most usually, as poor performance in school and at work. These individuals are the ones who start the fights and arguments, create all the drama and are generally disruptive to the peace of those who come into contact with them. While there is believed to be a genetic component to BPD, it is also believed that neglect or abuse can trigger the disorder. A statistic I found said that 1 in every 25 people have some element of BPD in them, but I found that number to be crazy high, yet, if true, I’m not off the mark in saying that you’ve dealt with a Borderline before.
Before I tell you my story, I want to share some of the characteristics of Borderline Personality that led me to believe I was dealing with one:
• Views of others can shift dramatically without warning
• Extremes of either idealizing or undervaluing people
• Quickly changing emotions
• Anger that can quickly become inappropriate and intense
• Impaired perceptions and reasoning leading to misperceptions
Here’s my story. Amber called my radio show for Life Coaching about how her college professor was always singling her out, sort of picking on her, and making things difficult for her. While our call ran the usual course of trying to figure out what was going on and how she could rise above this, the call wasn’t the problem. In fact, I found her call quite inspiring and a very positive exchange. I was talking to the good Dr. Jekyll.
What became problematic, and an interesting study on a difficult personality, was the emails she sent me thereafter. The emails started out nice enough as she simply wanted to know where she could find the Podcast of her call so that she could listen to it. She was told that her particular call was pre-recorded for future broadcast and the Producer would let her know when it broadcast so that she “can listen on the website”. All my show podcasts are archived at joanjerkovich.com after playing on the radio show.
Ten days later an email thread from the evil Edward Hyde began, based on her misperception that I had no intention of ever broadcasting her call. What? Was I going to record a call for my show only to delete it? A crazy misperception that came out of nowhere. Yet, her emails included the following excerpts in a full-out personal attack on me:
• You are not a nice person
• I regret taking my valuable time to do that show
• I really disrespect your words…
• You are not what you represent on that radio broadcast and I feel better letting you know that
• You are out of order but you are not worth me getting real angry
• I hope to never have anything to do with you in the future
• You are not an honest person
• I will not end this statement in peace
BIBLE! She really wrote all that in her emails! Tee hee…little did she know at the time, I pegged her rather quickly as a problem personality and intentionally let the email thread play out to see where she would take it, thinking it could make for good radio commentary. I’m patting myself on the back for calling that one right, as play it out she did! Yet, not surprisingly, once I was able to show her clearly how she was in the wrong, and once I called her out for her misperceptions, she abruptly dropped all correspondence. I didn’t get an “I’m sorry”, or “my bad”, and I’m certain that she will hold on to her victim mentality. No surprises there. Needless to say, she’s not a fan of “The Joan Jerkovich Show”! Listen to me discuss this incident on my Podcast titled “Joan’s Borderline Caller?”
So, how do you deal with a Borderline? Here are some tips I found and listen to the Podcast for more:
• Be consistent and predictable
• Don’t allow them to manipulate you
• Don’t rescue them
• Make them take responsibility for their drama
• Give them honest feedback
• This is where I got duped!—Don’t take their side when they think they’ve been treated unfairly by “those awful, mean people”
• Keep your cool and your sanity
• Don’t let them suck you in to their drama
Yep, I got sucked in, but not without my eyes wide open. It was quite the rollercoaster ride but made for good radio!
Want to know if you’re dealing with a borderline? Link to this online test from psychcentral.com.
Click HERE to anonymously send Joan your question!
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