I have an admittedly unhealthy habit of, maybe at least once a month, checking out the subreddit for /r/bpdlovedones. What it's intended as is to be an online support group/safe space for people who are dealing with or trying to escape from an abusive relationship with someone who suffers from borderline personality disorder. I say it's unhealthy of me because I've already and successfully moved on from the people in my life who were ostensibly suffering from BPD and wreaking havoc on my well-being. I was regularly going on the subreddit during the fall-out. By all accounts I should have moved on from it just as well. Yet I can't wrest myself (albeit with much less frequency) from wanting to see how other people going through, in real time, what I had. It's a bit of a self-defeating kind of habit, isn't it? I suppose it comes from the same impulse, if I were to make a comparison by way of a somewhat amenable pop culture anecdote, of looking up your ex on social media to see how they're doing, who they might be dating now, etc. It's just this very base and entrenched need that's born from a kind of bitterness, I realize, the more I do it, somewhere between wanting validation and imagining myself rehashing different scenarios to let myself slip into what it would have been like if things went another way. The other posters on the subreddit are only proxies for my ego.

The way I'm rationalizing it is to apply it to just broader strokes, so-called toxic habits of the people I may be dealing with day-to-day who might be displaying certain shades of BPD behavior. To name a few: an inability to accept personal responsibility, extreme emotional dysregulation that's inappropriate to the situation, and open discussions of self-harm and suicide as a manipulation tactic. I think the subreddit does a good job of (rightfully) calling out any posters who might be lapsing too much into self-pity without taking any forward steps to better their own possibly codependent habits, the very habits that would enable for them to go on for as long as they did in putting up with the abusive behavior in the first place. But that in itself is probably another thing that's difficult for me to wrap my head around.

I suppose it isn't easy for me to explain, without sounding petulant, how I wish there was less of an onus put on victims in the general space of mental health discourse, and not really just within these online spaces specifically. I think not the least of what I worry about is how we seem to tacitly put a lot of unduly responsibility on people in these unfortunate situations who aren't equipped to understand what they're going through to be able to parse them in a way that doesn't make them feel, in the end, almost deserving of what they went through. Generally, I tend to think that the overall language needs to adopt an aspect of interiority, that abusers need to be made to be reminded of their actions as being harmful, and to label plainly the connection between such harm and these actions.

People involved in these topics in a victim-survivor sense tend to talk about extreme mental illnesses like BPD as a hopeless situation in terms of being able to fully reconcile the person's personality. Even an apology and attempts to make amends would ring hollow to someone who's been coached into believing that they can only expect nothing but contempt from that very same person. Added to that how nebulous these mental illnesses are, how much to even understand them requires one's own volition, first-hand, to want to research these things. Another aspect of why I probably derive this visceral thrill from lurking the subreddit is how much I'm still coming to terms with the very concept of abuse. I'm willing to bet that most of these people are doing much the same in learning through shared experiences the fact that what they went through was, indeed, abuse.