What is clearly reflected in the following quotes is the level of neglect the men experienced in their early lives, and importantly how this impacted on their understanding of their social world.
BPD Male: It was chaos…. every day I wasn’t sure what was going to happen…. whether I would eat…. have clothes to wear….be spoken to…. have a parent who was alive and a brother who was intent on snuffing me out one way or another.
The conflicts that arise for the men in this study as a result of these experiences are manifold, but primarily it is their understanding at such a young age that they will have to cope alone, manage their emotions and tolerate uncertainty, experience hunger and a general lack of care that factors clearly in their understanding of how complex trauma developed in their lives.
BDP Male: I can be walking down the street and someone looks at me wrong I can go from calm to raging so quickly…. it’s got me into loads of trouble……
I: again that sounds really challenging for you……do you think that it is part of your BPD?
BPD Male: Sometimes I think yes and sometimes I wonder if it’s me being a dick……er…. it’s not normal to get this angry and sometimes I look back and wonder what the fuck happened there……. why do I kick off like that……I always regret it and feel sorry for the other person afterwards…. they don’t deserve it do they
BPD Male: I learnt at home that life was dangerous……in kids homes you are put with lots of other angry, helpless kids and you find a way to cope…. drink, drugs, violence …. Occasionally you get someone come along whose nice…. kind to you…. but not often…. I never really understood why I was different to other kids …. they could sit and listen in school…. Plan their future…. know what they wanted ….be friends with others….me…. I just wanted to get through that day….do what I needed to survive.
It is clear that this man had learnt that the only way to feel safe whilst feeling vulnerable was to be by himself. His acknowledgement that the other children he experienced were all fighting for survival is challenging enough, but the realization that some adults are also not safe and will also potentially add to his suffering reflects how abandoned the men in this study were as children.
The themes described by participants in this section portray their early lives as unpredictable, frightening and at times abusive.