Push Me – Pull You : The Push-Pull Cycle form blogger Haven’s Beyond the Borderline Personality


Brought to you by a fellow blogger who I highly regard and respect.

Push Me – Pull You : The Push-Pull Cycle

The Push-Pull cycle in Borderline Personality Disorder is complicated. There’s a million different variables that lead into and cause various episodes of this; love, fear, abandonment, dissociation, object constancy, splitting, etc. I’ve talked about the push-pull cycle, mentioned aspects of it in various places, but I don’t believe I’ve tried to pull it all together in one place. So let’s do that.

Push-Pull – is a chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without apparent cause or reason. It’s that back and forth feeling of wanting to be close to someone, letting them into a more intimate and vulnerable position in our life, being suffocated, or becoming afraid of that vulnerability, needing to escape [potentially] being hurt, fearing the loss, acting on that fear, and then desperately trying to get that person back from fear of that abandonment, often by apologizing profusely and doing everything we can to be perfect for them again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Often for me this breaks down to two key factors; wanting to be intimately close to someone, and fear of being hurt/abandoned by them at the same time. The closer you allow someone to get to you, the more vulnerable you become to the reality that they are now in a position to hurt you more than other people. If you keep people at a distance you have a safety zone, an emotional buffer. But this doesn’t allow for true intimacy.

It’s that whole threat of intimacy. I want to be close, but I want to be safe too. The closer someone gets, the more able they are to hurt me. So someone gets too close, I push away. Half the time I think it’s for their own good! I know my issues. I’ve ruminated on the millions of possibilities that could happen if someone gets close enough to see the “real me”. The illusion of perfection will be shattered in the tarnished portrait of the bad person I really am. For as much as I want love, want to love, I don’t always believe I deserve it because I know how much has happened to me, everything I’ve done, all my baggage is too much to place on another person. What right do I have to unload all of this onto someone? So pushing away really is for their own good after all. Of course I’m rationalizing, but it’s true to me regardless. But then I’m left alone, I get lonely, and I miss the closeness that was there, and I want to pull back.

For the most part I think it’s a fear response. Fear that we will be left, that we aren’t worthy of being loved, that people are lying and trying to use us… an endless list of other things. We need reassurance and it takes a lot of energy to show us that. Unfortunately it’s a part of our nature to need this. It’s also a part of our nature to feel smothered by it, push it away, fear the loss of it, frantically try to retrieve it, and repeat the cycle endlessly, for as long as someone will let us.

From my article on Baiting and Picking Fights:
There’s something else though. An element of, if the other person will allow me to push, stay with me through the hurtful things I do, it ‘proves’ that they won’t abandon me. The more we can push away, the more baits and barbs we can throw, the more fights we can pick, the longer they show that they’ll tolerate it or try to work it out with us, the more we can believe that they mean what they say and aren’t trying to deceive us … If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong. Either way we’ll know something for sure, and it stops (momentarily) the constant second guessing going on in our heads. Believing someone, trusting someone… I know I’ve been hurt so badly that I can never fully do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I just have to test the fences to be sure.

I think what triggers unstable behavior in relationships is the magnitude of intimacy. The closer the relationship, the more invested we are, the more frightening the possibility of it ending becomes. Funny, that this is almost always a self-fulfilling prophecy. We become frightened something will happen, we act in ways to push people away, to distance ourselves from them, before they can hurt us, and this very act is what starts the downward spiral into the destruction of the relationship. It sounds clean cut when you look at it like that, but it never is.

The pushing away is gradual. Often we don’t even recognize the things we do that manifest as pushing people away. Our thoughts and actions seem quite rational to our traumatized mind. No one sees it coming, not even us most of the time.

Hypersensitive to feeling trapped! This is one of the biggest triggers that makes me push away in relationships. It’s coupled by the sensation of being smothered. Boring-Ex smothered me. He’d coddle me. I would see him and I would have no room to express myself, be myself, I would lose myself because he would criticize when I did express myself. His personality was so overbearing that I could feel the air being slowly sucked out of my lungs whenever I was near him. I didn’t feel like I could be me, and the only way I knew to reestablish that was to eliminate the problem that created this deficit; the relationship. I did try talking to him about these things, but he wasn’t the kind to compromise.

That’s not to say that everything that goes on is purely in our own minds and created by our fears. Things are often brought about by how the other person treats us. I’ll do so much for people, pull people close, meet their needs and demands, and then eventually I’ll flip. I’ll be completely overwhelmed by what someone else wants when it’s not what I want. This often happens because I’ll take on so much responsibility for “our happiness” that I don’t express what I need in a constructive way. Instead, I’ll feel like I’m losing my sense of Self to their needs, not my own, that what I’ve just been doing is now too much, being taken advantage of, a demand instead of a desire, expected not appreciated and I’ll have to Push away to regain control of my own situation. It’s not quite the same as the traditional Push-Pull explanation, but the sentiments match up. It inspires feelings of resentment and resistance coupled with the borderline flipside desire to not be abandoned and needing approval. Can’t be too aggressive otherwise we’ll push people away irrevocably, can’t be too passive and just let things slide because then we’re just being taken advantage of and the resentment builds to explosion.

A Non may have done nothing wrong, they may have unintentionally triggered us, or they may be someone that we’re afraid to get too close to because we can see the potential for an intimate relationship. Seeing the potential doesn’t mean we’re prepared to deal with it though. For me, and for many with BPD, there is a lot of abuse, a lot of hurt, a lot of pain in our past, and each new relationship is an opportunity to repeat that process. We have to move slow, emotionally. I often move fast physically to stave off the emotional intimacy that I really need. When I sense things getting too close, closer than I prepared to handle, I need to reestablish a safe zone, I push back. Sometimes this just means taking some space, sometimes it manifests as baiting and picking fights, sometimes it means dropping off the radar completely until I’m ready to rejoin humanity. What I want is to be close, but not too close. I can’t figure out how to do this without pushing away and pulling closer. Allowing someone in, and then forcing them back out.

How do you cultivate trust when you’ve been so wounded? How do you cultivate trust when you don’t actually know how to trust?
Finally, this also happens when we plain just don’t want to be with someone anymore. I’m not going to lie. This is exactly what happened with Boring-Ex. I wasn’t attracted to him when we were together. The only time I was attracted to him was when we were breaking up. I absolutely believe this was because I was more afraid of The Loss and not necessarily the loss of him. So I would pull him back to me, despite the fact that I knew deep down that I didn’t really want to be with him. It still FELT like I did. In the moment I absolutely believed I needed to be with him. It was the fear of that loss that triggered my need to pull him back to me though.
The Push-Pull cycle is insidious. It sneaks up on you. Neither person may notice it at first because it begins so small. Only once it escalates do you really realize what is happening.


Feeling frustrated, abandoned, and hopeless


So its been around 24 hours since I cut for some relief. I have had a pretty uneventful lazy day today but for some reason desire to cut again. I am lonely. My son is off at my brother’s house and I am alone as usual on saturday nights. I have had a relaxing peaceful day compared to the previous days this week though realize that I am not cared about as much as people say they care or as much as they pretend to care. I hardly ever get phone calls from others anymore without me calling them first and I feel as if I may be a burden to people rather than a friend. People lately who claim to be my friend or who claim to worry about me or care about me do not seem to truly act as if I matter or they care about me. Hardley ever do I get any calls from anyone to check on how I am doing or how I am feeling but yet I am always concerned about others wellbeing and caring whether they are okay or how they are feeling.

I have alot going through my mind after truly thinking about why I am feeling the way I am feeling. I am actually thinking I may decide to stop seeing my mental health support worker as she is one of the people i am confused about her views and her lack of action regarding my last post. I also am starting to feel some resentment with the whole situation as why was she not around when I needed her to get my children back. why was no one there for me to help me get my children back and why does the system always seem to help the ones that are liars, manipulators, and who pretend to be such great parents but yet behind close doors the child is living in darkness as i did growing up when they sent me home. my worker is also my “friends” worker and should be a mandated reported but is aware of somethings that I know for a fact should have been reported but she does not report her. She also seems to turn a blind eye to things with some in my opinion irrational belief that it is no ones business really how one parents their child and no one has a right to judge others parenting. yes i understand the struggle but how much damage is she going to allow before taking a stance or will she never take a stance and be part of the problem by allowing what goes on to continue.

I am not sure I am able to separate the 2 aspects and not be resentful with my worker knowing she is turning a blind eye to what occurs at my “friends” home. I am not sure I can continue to be attached or trust her knowing her stance with this situation but yet sort of deciding that I should not talk to her about real issues and should just pretty much realize she cannot help me the way I need help even though she had earned my trust and has shown me she cares about me lately she has also shown me the opposite and I have felt her distance and her lack of empathy. I have felt her pushing away and detachment from me and maybe I should just forget about it all and walk away before it gets too damaging for me and the anger causes me more distress. Maybe i just need to not really be friends with any of her clients as that seems to be creating a different view of her for me and making me feel differently about her. It is making me feel as if she is not trustworthy and as if she condones neglect and abuse. She also just wants me to mask things and push them away and pretend I am okay and all is alright even when they are not. She wants me to not talk about what is wrong and not get ver this stuff when i truly though I had found a person in my life who I could talk about this stuff with and possible get through the shame and pain of my abuse. but yet then she got scared and ran from me emotionally. then she decided she could not handle me and that inside me and so she backed away and detached herself. Well now I just feel abandoned. She may not have physically abandoned me but yet she has emotionally abandoned me and left me alone. Now she is trying to push me to get someone else in my life that ill take me forever to get to that point where I may be able to trust them enough into knowing whats inside me and letting it out and working through it if that is even possible as it never really has fully been able to happen since something like this always seems to happen when I get to that edge. Either I run from it or when I am not running from it and feel trusting enough to let someone walk along the journey with me and help me through the darkness into the light they seem to run from it. Well there I am still stuck and never feeling as if I will ever get through any of it. Maybe I just need to escape it permanently. Maybe there is no point in continuing on. Maybe there si no reason left for me to try anymore. Maybe I need to let go of life and the burden of believing things will get better and stop being disappointed with i never getting better. Maybe I need to do something to finalize my life.


Environmental Change is often My Way of Escaping Pain


i do not own this picture nor the thought behind the words….

I understand this feeling though I have taken the evironmental change as an escape and ended up in a worse place than I was before running from the life I had. I have also done the change everything on the outside and still did not feel anything different inside. I have done this my whole life since I was raised by my mother who tried to change the environment we lived in but never changed herself and alls we ever did was move so i learned that way of life though we always ended up back where we were orignally from. Now I am 12 hours away and when I moved here things got worse and although they have settled somewhat I still feel just as miserable inside. just the past few days I have thought about moving away escaping this place and trying to start over again only to realize I cannot because I am forever stuck here. But if i one day decide it is ok for me to leave I am going to make sure that it is not under an emotional circumstance and a desire to run, avoid, escape, or to start over because I go wherever I move and if i have not changed the inside of me then there is no sense in trying to change everything around me.