“I need space.”
It seems like a harmless phrase, a simple request. It should be easy enough to accommodate; you simply allow some silent time to pass.
But, that’s always what they say before the breakup. It’s what they say right before closing the door on what you thought was forever friendship. It’s what they say before they leave.
For someone like me with borderline personality disorder, those three simple words feel like a death sentence.
People with BPD fear abandonment and struggle to develop healthy relationships. We feel chronically empty and often try to fill that void by surrounding ourselves with others. Sometimes this means that we attach ourselves completely to a single “favorite person.” Other times it means we throw ourselves into risky situations in hopes of feeling “alive.” The method to our madness matters not, though, because it always ends the same… with space.
Just hearing that word sends me into a tailspin. All the times I heard it in the past echo in my ears, while every memory of watching someone walk away replays inside my head. I feel a knife stabbing me in the heart as tears stream down my face, all because of a simple word: space.
I don’t know how to handle it, nor do I even comprehend what anyone means when they ask for it.
How much space? What did I do wrong? Is this how it ends again? Why does everyone leave?
The thing is, though, I’m tired of losing people. I don’t want to continue to drive people away with my clingy tendencies and inability to provide space. I just want to make the people I care about the most happy, even if that means I’m not.
For me, this means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable: being on my own. It also means pushing myself to constantly act skillfully by utilizing all that I’ve learned in therapy over the past two years. I need to learn to tolerate the pain and endure the silence. I must remain in wise mind and consider all the facts before jumping to conclusions about someone else’s intentions.
Most importantly, though, I need to respect the people in my life enough to let them have what they need. I must listen and provide space when someone I love asks for it.
I hope that with time and effort, I can learn to understand the concept of healthy space. Not only for the people I love the most, but for myself, too. After all, space may feel scary right now, but it’s not really a “bad” thing at all.