Articles and Handouts

Stories (Non-BPD Experiences)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The hardest part about acceptance of the person suffering BPD for me was the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" quality of the disorder and their behavior. One moment I was curled up in the arms of the sweetest, nicest man I'd ever met. The next minute I was fending off an angry tiger that was trying to claw me to death verbally.

For awhile, I kept thinking, "Oh, it's just a phase, it'll go away!" but on the contrary, the awful phases kept getting worse. Pretty soon I had a lot of trouble even remembering that sweet, nice man who used to hold me close and tell me how wonderful I was. Pretty soon I was wondering whether or not I was really the monster he claimed I was. Pretty soon I realized it wasn't me; that I had faults like everyone else but I wasn't the cause of all of his misfortunes.

That's when the sadness and anger really got going. I just couldn't believe that anyone had such violent mood swings, such insane rages, such intense dislike of himself and everyone around him. The fact that I had no name for it at the time only served to further my confusion and sadness.

We try so hard to make it work. I did, and even when I left this guy, I spent a lot of time grieving the loss of the relationship. I felt that parts of me died in the process of leaving him, and of discovering him for the pathetic wreck of a human being that he was the disappointment was a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth. It still hurts a bit today, when I think of it. It was difficult to understand and accept that he was NOT the person he made himself out to be at the outset of our relationship.

The Choices We Make

I have learned that, as adults, we must take responsibility for our own lives not let anyone or anything control our lives ... not let our role as the "victim" control our lives ... and not let the past control our lives.

I believe that codependency, like many other problems, is derived from the deep seated feeling of "unworthiness." Codependents place the importance of their life and happiness below that of others because they feel undeserving.

We really can't blame our spouse for our situation. As adults, we are responsible for ourselves. We choose to be in (and remain in) a relationship with "that person." We choose to feel, think and behave as we did. We choose how we perceived everything.

To Thine Own Self Be True

As to advice for on whether to stay or not, I stayed for 15 years. But in so doing I fell into a trap I began accepting, perhaps embracing, the accusations and "bad" things. And in falling, I lost myself along the way. Whether to stay or go, I cannot say. What I will do is pass along Will Shakespeare's rejoinder, "To thine own self be true!" Take care of yourself. Advice I am still struggling to learn how to take.

Take Responsibility for Yourself

Resist the temptation to blame the BP for all of your troubles. No matter how awful he/she behaves, you must remember that you made choices that put you together with that person in the first place, so they can't be all bad. Learning from the result of those choices is the best thing to come out of ANY relationship, but especially in one as challenging as a BP. Fixating on the BPs behavior and blaming them for everything, or constantly whining to friends and supporters about the BP just makes it harder to take positive steps.

Anyone in a partnership with a BPD (whether they were conscious of it to begin with or not) needs to do a LOT of introspection... not only about their own needs, but the choices they make (this is not to say they made the wrong choices, just that they need to clearly understand them). I'll wager that it's an incredibly common pattern of codependency and 'rescuing' in these relationships and that must be scrutinized very seriously... And that goes directly to the questions of needs and boundaries.

Don't Blame The BP for Who They Are

The main advice I give to people involved with a borderline is to tell them to realize that the BP has not singled you out to inflict upon you the pain and hurt of their problem. It took me sometime to realize that my ex husband had not deliberately set out to make my life a misery. It would have happened, to one degree or another, no matter who he had married. Blaming the BP partner for who they are is futile in the extreme and does not help the situation in any way. This does not mean that you must accept the situation but rather you acknowledge the situation for what it is and work from that point.

Are You Feeling the Borderline's Feelings?

A post from a therapist.

Many borderlines are quite adept at getting you to second guess or question YOUR motivations instead of them questioning some of their own thoughts, motivations and/or behaviors. This is part of the reason that I so strongly suggest that those involved with BPDs have their own therapist. Borderlines can be very skilled at getting others to "feel" the emotion that the BP would normally be feeling but can not.

It's part of what is called "projective identification." If the BP is being very abusive (that's what they learned by being abused and they believe that everyone close to them will treat them that way) and you start feeling angry (a normal response to being abused) then the BP can then "feel" angry because you (in their thoughts) are angry at them. Since you started it, then it's okay if they are abusive or angry back at you.

They may then proceed to tell you (even though you are not showing that anger) how it "bleeds through" or that your body language tells them how angry you are. At that point it becomes VERY difficult to tell if you're feeling your own anger or theirs. This is very painful and frightening. So is wondering if your motivations are well meaning or sound.

Suggestions from a Man Who Married a Borderline

I believe, if there is to be any chance of a successful relationship with a BP, one must first be aware that they are involved with a person who has BPD. I wasn't... and I wasn't prepared for what was to come.

One must be careful not to "buy into" the BP's anger, accusations, etc. Anger, accusations, criticism and interrogation are part of BPD. One must not take it personally. This can be quite difficult as tremendous anger, blame and accusations are almost certainly and constantly aimed at you.

Your intentions will constantly be tested... analyzed and criticized. Trust is the major issue. Don't give a BP reason to not trust you!

When entering into a relationship with a BP, one must be aware of what (who) they are dealing with. They must be aware of what is happening to the BP. They must also be patient, keep their interests, keep their individuality, keep their friends and family and keep their own self esteem intact even thought these things may be "attacked."

Marriage is a relationship for two. Even though anything you say or do can trigger rage from the BP, you cannot allow yourself to become a victim, to "walk on eggshells" and be miserable in order to attempt to keep the BP content. Often times BP's trigger their own rage without any input from you and at odd times. They can be quite happy and upbeat... and the next moment they can be hell on earth.

A BP can be quite convincing. They can convince you and outsiders that YOU are the problem. is important to some borderlines that they have the starring role as the "victim."

There must be a great deal of love in a relationship such as this to make it work. You must exhibit a careful balance of compassion and strength. The BP lives with a great deal of inner pain from their past. This is how they are packaged and how they arrive on your doorstep.

Don't get caught up playing the BP's "game." Their game has no winners only losers. Just refuse to play the game... otherwise you will be left alone... without a relationship... and with a great deal of BP's inner pain.

Howard's Story

I married a woman who "seemed" okay. I admit that I was worried when she told me I was wonderful... perfect in every way... great in bed... attractive... intelligent... different from "those other men," etc. It worried me because I didn't know if I could always live up to those fine praises.

One day following our wedding day she began to criticize, interrogate, and judge me. I was bad and everything about me was bad. She soon started in on my parents, my brother, my old friends, my past, my business... anything remotely associated with "me." I was told I couldn't be trusted I was a bad businessman, I was a bad stepdad, I was a bad husband. Everything was always "my fault."

Eventually, I could no longer communicate with ANYONE outside our home...except her relatives. So, to "keep the peace" I was attentive, careful of what I said, who I talked to, who I looked at and what I did. I had lost my identity and was continually walking on eggshells. Although she had made it clear that I was a "loser," I kept trying to win her back. Fix things. Get that old spark back between us. In short, I became (or already was) codependent.

It really hurts when you love someone who both loves and hates you...and eventually makes you love and hate them.

Use "I" Statements Instead of "You" Statements

In the case of those with BPD who don't accept or understand that they have behavioral problems, actions speak louder than words. We need to act lovingly and self protectingly, and separate their actions from who they are.

Instead of telling a person with BPD, "You have a problem, so get a grip and accept it and that you need help and that you're making my life a living hell, etc.," I've found it to be much more effective and dignified to stick to the "I" statements rather than the "You" statements.

Saying "I really feel uncomfortable when you act this way" or saying "that kind of behavior on your part REALLY pisses me off" is a much more helpful way to communicate.

I've found that keeping the focus on myself and my feelings rather than throwing blame or direct you statements at the person suffering with BPD keeps me clearer and keeps my choices of action clearer, for me.

Loving detachment has been the single most successful behavior and practice for me. Loving someone WHILE they suffer a terrible, altering behavioral disorder and loving myself enough to remove myself calmly from a situation that is uncomfortable or even threatening to me has been really effective in my life and loves with men with BPD. I was able to say "I really love you AND I'm angry with you AND I think your behavior stinks."

Don't Try to Be Your Borderline's Therapist

A post from a recovered borderline.

I don't think that *anyone* who is in a close relationship with a BP (or any seriously disturbed person) can be in a position to truly "heal" that BP the emotional closeness would make it almost impossible.

My therapist was a very sharp, highly qualified and credentialed man who was also 50 years old and thus had a lot of experience. I gave that man more shit than you could imagine.

And yet, he had this often infuriating way of remaining calm. Drawing the line, mind you, in no uncertain terms but maintaining the "blank screen" of emotions. Everything I did was intended to "get a rise" out of him not much ever did. I used to tell him he was as cold and inhuman as the Buckingham palace guards.

Ah, but in failing to react in the way I wanted him to, the projection and the emotions always ended up back where they belong volleyed to *my* side of the court. Which is the only true way I could deal with them.

There is no way on God's green earth my husband could have done that. He was just *too* close to the situation. I was able to "get a rise" out of my husband whether it be anger, frustration, worry or sorrow. Alas, for me as a BP, getting a reaction was like eating a Lay's potato chip there was no way I was going to stop at one. Getting that reaction which, I guess, validated to me that he *did* care was something that fed upon itself. My poor husband he really went through hell... and back.

In a marriage, or other close relationship there's a large amount of time spent together. And there are other purposes, goals and activities in a marriage, etc. Gotta make a living. Gotta manage a household, pay the bills. Gotta go out sometimes and have some fun. Gotta make love. Gotta raise kids, go to family reunions, mow the lawn.

My husband, even if he *were* a trained psychotherapist (which he isn't), even if he knew and understood all there was to know about BPD, therapy methodology, etc. could never have been able to muster that. He *did* pick up some of the effective ways of dealing with me from my therapist's example, but he could do so knowing that someone else was going about the nuts and bolts of working with me. He had an *ally*. It took a lot of pressure off him. And I think it was the fact that he knew progress was being made gave him the patience and fortitude to see me through it without being too hurt, worried or frightened at least in any way that would become impossible to bear.

Had I *not* sought help, I don't see that my husband loving, committed and patient man that he is could have "handled me" indefinitely. So, if any of you out there are kicking yourselves because you *haven't* had the patience to stick it out, or you're quickly losing it please don't. You *can't* "heal" the borderline, not by yourself. And if the BP in your life refuses to accept the fact that he/she is BP, refuses to seek help, or ostensibly seeks help but manipulates the therapist and thus isn't *really* seeking help there is, alas, not a whole lot you can do at least, not in terms of real recovery. You're just too close to the situation. All you can do is hope and pray for the day when the BP in your life *is* willing to do these things...

To the Borderline in My Life

I am sorry I had to leave you, and you know how difficult it was. I turned into someone I never thought I could be. I reacted to your every action. I took it personally and internalized it. I felt for you. I understood when you told me your parents never told you. I thought this was the worst abuse. I felt for you when you told me your uncle sexually abused you. I felt for you when I met your family and saw how verbally abusive they were to you. I cried with you when you asked me what I thought was wrong with you. I cried with you when I left you. I wanted so to stay with you and help you, but... you weren't willing to go through the pain.

You were not the sick one, I was. I loved you and would have done anything for you. Oh, but one thing. I forgot to cry for myself when you told me I was pathetic and called me names I wouldn't call my worst enemies. For every lie you told me there were 10 more, I had not a clue as to what the truth was. I could see the pain you were in, and I ignored the pain I was in. You had a way of getting me involved in your dramas. This was clearly my codependency issues raging, but I fell in love with a bright and sexy and sensitive sometimes loving person and felt I should stay with you no matter what. And I almost lost my being. My heart goes out to you and your struggle. I am sorry.

One more thing. Did I ever tell you that you were a gift to me? Without you I would never have gone to Alanon or therapy. You helped me look at myself. I saw a lot of you in me and it scared me as well as made me think about my own life experiences. I saw it as my dark side in action. I believe I am very lucky to have met you. I believe that not everyone is this fortunate. Your passion and sensitivity are something I have admired in you. Whether it was done to manipulate or it was sincere I will never know, but to me it will always be sincere. Thanks to you I am in recovery. I will never forget you and I will always love you, but never again.

I Was Always The One at Fault

My borderline husband predominantly placed blame on me, angrily attacking me with 'you think this is all about ME' or 'you won't agree that it's at least HALF your fault', etc. As he got worse, his blaming became more severe, turning into incredibly mean-spirited emotional abuse... the guilt/shame/anger/projection cycle accelerated even when I detached and did my utmost best to mitigate any entanglements to an absolute minimum. He'd reach out to push my most sensitive buttons so he could validate and justify his actions by trying to provoke me into the role he was defining in his head.

What I Gained from Loving Someone with BPD

I learned a lot about myself and my capacities for living life to the fullest, regardless of what is happening around me or what other people might think. I also learned a lot about the kinds of choices I make in relationships and gained an extraordinary amount of insights about my past, my patterns, and my attractions. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to examine and question myself so thoroughly had it not been for the BP.

I learned to explore the world that I live in, especially in terms of trying new things. And in many ways the adversity of dealing with the BP cemented some of my sense of spirituality. I also learned a lot about my self worth and self esteem, about what is acceptable behavior and what isn't. Also, about my own limits as a person. And, most importantly, about what a great sense of humor I have!

And that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said so beautifully "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Oh! Wicked, Wicked, Wife

I don't know where to begin I am 37, a mum, with three children & I have been married to a man only 9 months older than me for almost 17 years. (He looks about 20 years older). The last 8 have been hell on earth. He has always been moody, difficult & bad tempered but since becoming a committed Christian about 13 years ago turned into a reasonable loving man.

Previously he could be abusive when very greatly stressed. Trouble is I was always to blame (so I was told) for any problems....... If only I was a better wife, he wouldn't be like this. Yes, I admit for a time I blamed me as well. If only I worked harder, more often, kept the house just a little cleaner etc., etc. surely he would love me. To no avail. You see it's awful for him, poor soul, fancy picking me who's not perfect in every way!!!!!

We moved north 8 years ago away from his beloved family, who are far more important to him than me after all. Life has been hell. What had gone before was "heaven" compared to this.

We escaped away from running two very stressful businesses with his family. Mistake! He couldn't live without them. You see they were getting older, he didn't need to spend time with me or the kids. We were young. His parents were getting along in years and would die only too soon and he would regret not spending more time with them -who by this time were put on pedestals only mere mortals ike me could dream of reaching.

Me! well I was there to slave. By this time he had taken over an even more stressful business he was becoming more & more depressed, resentful. He just seemed to hate me more & more. Violence, abuse, selective memories. Oh why couldn't I make him happy.

Then it started to dawn on me. No, I'm not perfect. Who is? Is he? Who is the abuser in this relationship?

He now was treated for depression with Seroxat for a number of years Just made him want to sleep even more. Then he'd get up feel even more guilty, because I'd had to keep the business going whilst he was in bed. Time to punish me even more. Tell lies, Twist everything I say, Oh Wicked wife. Crap cook! Crap in Bed! Lazy! & Worst of all Answers Back & Argues!!!

He continues to take on battles in business. A knight in battle gear charging onward! No justice. Life's unfair. Wife & kids in the way. You see he has to take on the world!

And When it doesn't work out! Escape to Bed, Beer & finally when that doesn't ease the pain back to Mummy & Daddy. Standing with open arms Come back to us darling little boy we'll take away the pain.

Oh! wicked, wicked daughter-in-law how could you do this to our poor little boy.

Has anyone else been married to a yo!yo!

Back & Forward he goes. Not happy when he's with us, wanting the security of his parent's arms. Blow his business. Blow his kids. Fitting punishment for me left to keep everything going. Yet after a while when Mummy & Daddy fall short he's back again- humble, apologetic.....The cycle begins again.......

So if I'm so evil why does he want me to stay married to him? Why when I suggest a separation & he stays at "Cloud cuckoo land" not keep coming & going because its damaging the kids. Time for complete flip out. Suicide Attempt, Booze, Paracetemol and at mummy's as well Wicked, wicked daughter-in-law. How could you say whatever you said to him on the phone to MAKE our little darling do this, and in our house as well.

So back he comes "Nothing wrong with him, I'm the problem" By now even worse. Fighting in the street. Police, Court punishment. Road Rage. Arrest, Police, Collapses in a heap. begging for help Get to hospital. Told he needs to see a Clinical psychologist Solicitor refuses to represent him in court because of his anger and attitude displayed in her office.

Wait 3 months 2 appointments with Clinical psychologist cancels anymore by now not living here again, back at mummy's "Cloud Cuckoo Land." To prove a point again.

Oh! Wicked, Wicked Wife. Oh! Wicked Wicked place to live. Court, Punishment- Probation, No driving license. Not his fault all mine.

C.P tells us he's not just suffering with depression but personality disorder Nothing they can do with personality disorder until he accepts the problem and seeks treatment. So finally I decided to do some research into personality disorder and there it is staring back at me three days ago on the Internet. Borderline Personality Disorder- B.P.D

This is scary I'm sure he's got all nine symptoms. Do they know him personally! A new millennium perhaps a new diagnosis, I Don't know! I'm not qualified in these things.

But to be honest I don't care anymore. I can't stand it any longer. I've already instructed a solicitor to request a formal separation. After all I am WICKED! and that will just prove it. Oh! Wicked, Wicked, Wife. I HATE YOU - DON'T LEAVE ME.

 
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