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Author Topic: 8.12 | Painting your ex black - healthy or unhealthy? [for relationship partners]  (Read 13260 times)
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« on: June 25, 2011, 09:56:47 PM »

"Painting" pwBPD "black" can help those of us who choose to disengage, but it can serve to alienate those who choose to stay.  And even though we might make different choices for ourselves, should we not be able to support each other regardless of our differences in choices?

But if one side "paints" all pwBPD "black" then how does that make the "other" side feel?  I know for certain that this is exactly the kind of conflicts the staff here want to avoid and I can appreciate this effort.  I hope everyone else can also.

Because when we "paint" pwBPD "black" then that makes those who choose to stay "wrong."  Are they wrong?  Or do they have a choice in the matter?  Can those who choose to stay not make a different choice that works for them?  Or are we upset because they are trying to achieve an outcome we could not ourselves?  

I would argue that it should not be an "us" versus "them" issue.  Everyone is different.  Even pwBPD are different.  Perhaps some pwBPD are closer to recovery than others.  The woman who practically invented DBT just admitted that she herself is was/is a sufferer.  PwBPD can change, but only when they are (self-)motivated to do so.

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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 05:53:34 AM »

I agree with you on this Schwing, yet I find this is a door that swings both ways.  There needs to be mutual respect and empathy between leavers/left, and those who choose to stay.  To me, anyone who stays has every right to do so, as they are making an informed choice.  It is their life to live as they please and I certainly wish them well.  

However, when folks who have chosen to stay pass judgement on leavers/left for the pain and anger they voice, that too is disrespectful and judgmental.  :)emanding empathy and compassion of someone who has been emotionally (and perhaps financially, physically and otherwise abused) gutted (for the person they feel gutted them nonetheless) and is in a state of terrible pain is rather unreasonable.  

It is also unkind to say to someone who is writhing in grief "well you should look at what *you* did to contribute to this", particularly when they have likely already been deluged in projected blame by their BPDex.  Good heavens it feels like having your child die and then have someone walk up to you and tell you to look for your blame in the death.  To judge in this manner goes to the classic expression "Lord let me not judge another until I have walked a mile in his shoes."   None of us knows the ins and outs, the particulars of the BPD r/s of another.  We only glean a bit of information from what is posted, therefore judgement on any level assumes much.  

Just as the non does not know the pain of the BPDex, those who choose to stay do not know the pain and devastation of loss the leaver/left feels.  I have to wonder how many contemplated suicide.  How many actually acted on that thought.  How many tried to struggle out but wound up drowning in their pain, loss and self recrimination.  We don't realize that a harsh judgement on someone suffering so could be the thing that sends them over the edge.  

People who are still with their BPDso have a very different path to walk from those who have left/been left.  It is an apples and oranges situation with apples and oranges thinking.  

Perhaps it should simply be acknowledged that the pain and anger of the non who has left/been left can be a trigger to the non who has chosen to stay, and the judgement of the non who has chosen to stay can be a trigger to the non who has left/been left.  It's pretty apparent.  Again, apples and oranges... .the "sides" should not be projecting their feelings and situations onto each other as they are *very* different.    

This is a situation that demands respect and compassion of all facets of the equation.  

Just as those who wish to stay would like and deserve respect, so too does the non who has left or been left deserve respect as they work through that grief process.  Part of that process is anger, and given what many have gone through, that anger is quite justifiable.  This is a process that must be worked through, and quite honestly it seems that folks who come here to talk about this issue are obviously trying to work through, understand and come to terms with what happened with regard to both their BPDex and themselves.  So let's allow them to do so in a safe and private environment, as many who are outside of the situation in our personal lives couldn't possibly understand.  

Those of us who have gone through this and have come to the understanding that our ex is BPD have much to work through.  In time we can understand and find compassion for the suffering of the BPD ex, but that does not mitigate or invalidate our own suffering.  

Bottom line, let's simply stop judging one another and pointing fingers based only on what little we know of individual situations and instead realize that compassion must go all around.  

Let's simply recognize this issue for the terrible tragedy it is and how it affects everyone involved.  Compassion and respect are needed... .for nons who stay, for nons who leave, for nons who are left, and ultimately for those suffering with BPD.    

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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 03:25:42 PM »

You made an excellent point in another thread when you shared that you painted an ex "black" because she was of a differnt ethnicity and left you for someone of her same ethnicity.  read more... .

I might suggest that painting any group of people black as a process for getting over our own pain, is a "healing" built on very shaky foundation.  Creating false and extreme images of another person to heal is not much more constructive than using drugs or alcohol.  But some will use drugs and alcohol, or sex, or rebounding, or... .life is not tidy.

Ironically, "painting black"  is the very dysfunction many of us (as a community) complain about in people with BPD - we question why they do it - why they don't take responsibility - why do they deal on such a low emotional level?

If nothing else, maybe we can understand BPD a bit better. And maybe we can learn from the errors of their ways and rise above for ourselves.


It is also unkind to say to someone who is writhing in grief "well you should look at what *you* did to contribute to this", particularly when they have likely already been deluged in projected blame by their BPDex.  Good heavens it feels like having your child die and then have someone walk up to you and tell you to look for your blame in the death

Yes, it is unkind to do push someone in the early stages of trauma in any one direction - they are looking for and needing comfort from the storm - to be heard - that is the kindest thing.  It is one reason we have an amby program.  As a group, to our collective credit,  we tend to be most compassionate to the recently wounded.

But healing comes in stages and in the later stages, if we truly want to heal, we need to embrace the difficult and realistic understanding of what transpired  - so the we can learn from it.  

And we need to be careful not to fall for "fools gold" - it's very easy for a group of wounded people to get together and let the validation overflow and not get down to the hard part of self discovery. This is were leadership from the senior members is so important - to help the junior members rise up.  We want to mindful everyday that we are here to heal - not hide from our pain and growth.

However, when folks who have chosen to stay pass judgement on leavers/left for the pain and anger they voice, that too is disrespectful and judgmental.  :)emanding empathy and compassion of someone who has been emotionally (and perhaps financially, physically and otherwise abused) gutted (for the person they feel gutted them nonetheless) and is in a state of terrible pain is rather unreasonable.  

If I felt, that as a Leaver there were Stayers that were judging me, I too would be upset.  I'm not sure we are seeing much evidence of that on this board in my tenure here. Stayers have there hands with their own self doubt and holding on to their own commitments... .

I think some Leavers will reach to this conclusion in an effort to understand why others are challenging them... .but I don't think this is a motivation at all... .the toughest challenges on the leaving board come from the very senior leavers... .those that have lived through the entire recovery process.

I can say, unequivocally, all those that I know that have recovered grew to realize that they had a significant role in their own suffering - and it was ultimately mindfulness of their own inclinations that lead them to live a better life.  

I can also say that none got to that understanding early or easily.  Like skiing or tennis or golf, they all went through the awkward stages and struggles to get there.  

In my observations, what separated out those that made it and those that didn't was a desire to find the truth and a willingness to put everything on the table in the process.

Good discussion.

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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 03:55:50 PM »

Excerpt
People who are still with their BPDso have a very different path to walk from those who have left/been left.  It is an apples and oranges situation with apples and oranges thinking.  



I don't believe this is accurate. People new to the staying board have to do the same thing people on the leaving board do... .only they have to see their BPD partners every day.

Protecting themselves physically, emotionally, financially

Detaching a bit from their SOs to get healthier themselves. Maintaining strong family ties and friendships outside their life with the BPD partner. Not allowing themselves to be isolated and having a way to get their needs met outside of the relationship.

Setting and maintaining good boundaries

Walking away... .maybe even leaving when their partners become dysregulated.

They have to take good care of themselves first and make sure they are emotionally healthy. They have to be on solid footing before they can support their shaky partners. If their BPD partner isn't OK with them taking care of themselves they have to be prepared for the relationship to end.


We are all human. We have to take care of ourselves and get our needs met. It doesn't matter if we stay or go. If we don't take care of ourselves we fall apart either way.
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2011, 12:26:28 AM »

skips post kind of reminds me of something, with the mention of a group getting together and letting the validation overflow. i have a friend who i believe also dated a few borderlines. several of them would wind up getting in contact with each other or becoming friends, all based upon getting together and discussing him, telling themselves and each other lies about him, and yeah, "validating" each other to say the least. it drove me personally crazy imagining the spin and wild tails, the removal of any guilt whatsoever of themselves and piling it onto him, and the complete refusal, to the point of creating an alternate reality, to see their own role.

this is not a symptom of only pwBPD by the way, i think it's the danger skip is speaking to. it's very easy for anyone to fall into that line of thinking, whether it's based on lies or not.
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2011, 03:00:14 PM »

Maybe if clarify some terms and goals it might help.

"Painting" pwBPD "black" can help those of us who choose to disengage

What are we really talking about here? When we say we "paint someone black" we are generally referencing "splitting" or black and white thinking. Here's a definition from one of our workshops on BPD behavior:

Splitting[painting black]

Splitting refers to a primitive defense mechanism characterized by a polarization of good feelings and bad feelings, of love and hate, of attachment and rejection.

Splitting is a powerful unconscious force that manifests to protect against anxiety. Rather than providing real protection, splitting leads to destructive behavior and turmoil, and the often confused reactions by those who try to help.

Some degree of splitting is an expectable part of early mental development. It is seen in young children who, early on, press to be told "Is it good?" or "Is it bad?"  We hear their frustration when we answer, "Situations are more complicated" "Yes, I know all that," they say, "now tell me, is it good or is it bad?"

Normally, mental maturing advances the ego's ability to accept paradoxical affects, and to synthesize and balance complex situations.

Splitting happens whether we want it to or not--it's an unconscious defense mechanism. It protects us when we're most vulnerable, and there's no shame in experiencing it. Yet is it something to seek out actively and foster, to nurture in ourselves? Probably not. It's not a very healthy defense mechanism, though sometimes we just have to work through it and use the energy it gives us (such as by leaving a bad situation).

Part of the reason "splitting" is not healthy over the long run is because it doesn't lead to true healing. Over time, it takes a lot of energy to maintain and "all bad" view of someone; paradoxically, the energy expended keeps us very connected to the person who hurt us, and to the bad memories (which can become ruminations), rather than on the path of detachment. If we're experiencing black and white thinking, then by all means, let's bring it to the light. It's one of the key things we acknowledge in the five stages of detachment process in the panel to the right --->

And then what? Self-inquiry allows us to look at our feelings and thoughts and step a bit to the side, observe them, process them, and then decide how to act. By moving through the process, we take more ownership and control of our responses and are able to grow past early defense mechanisms. It takes time, doesn't happen all at once, and we can be generous about supporting each other through it.

Ultimately, what's our goal? To prove to ourselves that our ex was bad and we were good? To find someone new to blot out the memory (perhaps without going through the work to assure that we don't make the same mistakes again)? Or to incorporate the experience, heal from the grief, accept what was, and embrace the future? (Or something else you define?) If it's something close to the final choice I gave, then splitting, though it has its function as a defense, won't get anyone to a place of healing, acceptance, and embracing the future.

B&W
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2011, 03:15:47 PM »

There is yet another complicated layer to this dicussion.  Namely, FOG.  I know I was deep in the FOG when I was on the staying board and it took some seriously poignant remarks from my friends and especially family to help me break free from the FOG.  I am thankful everyday that those select few friends and family made those comments to me although I was initially quite upset by them.  I recently had another friend reveal to me that he wanted to make similar comments to me but was afraid to lose our friendship so he kept quiet which he now regrets.

The point I am making here is if you see someone making a terrible mistake is it always out of line to point out to them you believe they are making a serious mistake?  In hindsight, I believe someone who truly cares about you has every right to point this out to you.     
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2011, 07:34:56 PM »

I think OP was talking about just our exes... .I didn't take that to mean that ALL BPD people should be painted black... .just our particular exes.

I definitely think each situation is unique. Personally, I don't know how to think about it. My ex... .I feel... .has some add-on issues besides BPD... .and I feel she has some very bad qualities about her that I believe are aside from the BPD... .so it's hard for me not to paint her as a bad person overall, regardless of her BPD status. I am sure there are differing opinions on this... .in terms of whether BPD people sometimes know what they are doing in terms of hurting us... .or whether they don't... .but I feel they to a decent degree KNOW what they are doing.

Again, I think each situation is different and each person is different. A drug addict is different than someone who uses socially. An addict who seeks help but keeps relapsing is different than the druggie who deny their problem or just doesn't care enough to get help or care enough that they are hurting others.

I have a lot of respect for those of you who have BPD people who are trying to get counseling... .or trying to help. However, a lot, like me... .have loved ones who deny there is any problem or easier... .blame that problem on us. I have a problem with those... .
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2012, 11:12:45 AM »

I understand needing to get the anger out. It is part of the grieving process. We are all in different stages. At some point we overcome our anger. What then? We must face reality rather than hide from it. Part of that is not comforting ourselves with black and white thinking. If our  partners where all evil we wouldn't have stayed and kept trying to work on the relationship. I think at the end of the road we have to see where we dropped the ball. We didn't effectively address problems. I think the biggest part of that was fear that if we put too strong a boundary in place it would have ended the relationship. This was fear on our part. You can't have a solid relationship when you can't effectively address problems. It is important to get this part right. We can grow from this and build a solid relationship in the future. The problems with BPDs are their strong emotional swings. It isn't that they are so different it is that they are so extreme. In future relationships you will face the same issues only hopefully your partner will be more open to change and compromise than a person with BPD. This is where we can grow. How to we better address relationship problems rather than just "keeping the peace".
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2012, 12:20:09 AM »

In the beginning of the end, it is difficult to not paint the ex black because of the cruelty they ended the relationship. Some of the things that were said to me gave me considerable pause and I wondered if he was a psychopath and I was very, very confused by his behavior. BPD or not, mental cruelty is very difficult to forget and the opening of core childhood wounds, especially mine, made a long two years of recovery.

That being said, there was a pendulum of emotions I went through, from clinging to the idealized period, to the words that were said, to looking at the end and the ugliness and trying my hardest to not feel intense anger toward him. This is where the painting black comes in... in that anger my judgements were mostly to justify that anger. In retrospect I realized it was more due to my resentment of having to work through so much anger and emotional pain. I hated going through the work and yet realize it was a critical time for me as my personal growth and healing has opened my life in new directions and a budding self esteem.

He is not painted black, I see him for what he is, in his complexity and I wish him no ill will either. He is a man with limitations and is toxic in his narcissism; due to his personality disorder he is unable to obtain what he desires most-self esteem and inner peace. Until he does the hard work needed to change and heal himself, he will continue his destructive path, inner turmoil and burning bridges and relationships.

He is not painted black and it is mystifying to me that knowing I am despised and hated by this man, perplexes me that I cannot return the resentment. Life is too short for bitterness and resentment, so I gotta make do with the mix and leave the worry to my Creator. All the energy I spent working on recovery has paid off, although I suspect I will always miss the parts of him I  loved and also realize, I never wish to see him again.

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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2012, 02:20:45 PM »

To some degree painting the pwBPD black at the end of the relationship is carthatic in that it helps to sever the bonds and also to allow for all the pain and frustration to be vented.

To paint them black constantly is not a healthy activity and never achieves anything. In fact the opposite is more likely in that people switch off and then turn away.

I don't hate my BPDw, yet i cannot condone what she has done and continues to do. I have my scars and fleas to deal with and part of that is by recognising that my behavior and actions need monitoring as i know that my time with her has affected me.

This is the conundrum I feel. How much is acceptable, when do you stop, and importantly, how do you really feel about your ex?
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2012, 03:14:49 PM »

I have mixed feelings about this... .

1) I think it can be helpful if you think of all the neg things that your former partner with BPD has/had done to you and it might help you understand and cope more if you see all the negative... .

2) BUT in the same breathe, it could turn you into a dark, manipulative, truly neg person yourself who broods and just wants everybody else in the world to feel your pain. You could have been someone who truly cares about others before all this situation occured, but after painting the former black, you could have turned into the exact opposite of what you originally stood for... .

just my two cents... .doesn't mean its right or wrong, its just an opinion

MGL
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2012, 07:56:03 PM »

I think it's unhealthy to paint them black.  I don't think they can help how they are.  It would be sort of (for me) painting someone black who has like say Cancer.  I believe that the black painting is a form of hate.  Hate is never good when it comes to people.  Gray... .maybe... .certainly not white. I guess this is just how I see it.  My exBPDbf is sick and that's it.

It is nothing he chose... .he calls himself "broken" and it's really true.  I cannot ever imagine never having a real close intimate relationship with someone... .ever. 

xoxo

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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2012, 11:23:43 PM »

Excerpt
I think at the end of the road we have to see where we dropped the ball. We didn't effectively address problems. I think the biggest part of that was fear that if we put too strong a boundary in place it would have ended the relationship. This was fear on our part. You can't have a solid relationship when you can't effectively address problems. It is important to get this part right. We can grow from this and build a solid relationship in the future. The problems with BPDs are their strong emotional swings. It isn't that they are so different it is that they are so extreme. In future relationships you will face the same issues only hopefully your partner will be more open to change and compromise than a person with BPD. This is where we can grow. How to we better address relationship problems rather than just "keeping the peace".

Yes, at the end of anger came the realization the person I was angriest was me, for all the reasons you stated. I tried to address problems and ended up remaining silent when the stonewalling took place or the put-downs hidden under the guise of humor where I was the brunt of the joke. The not dealing with the issues eroded my sense of self and esteem and wore me down. Although I was hurt by his treatment and rage in the end, there was also a big sigh of relief on my part. I was tired. Thanks for the insightful comment.
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2012, 11:45:15 AM »

I've had limited contact with my exBPDbf since our breakup that will end this month.  I've sold the house we lived in and still have to deal with him so he will either pick up the furniture he left behind or will allow me to donate it to charity.  He engages me but refuses to make the decision so it requires me to contact him again.

I find virtually all of our interactions to be frustrating.  At this stage, there is a lot of push/pull.  He's made it clear that he wants to recycle (no way!) however he's also made clear he isn't willing to make any significant changes like getting a job.  We end up back in the same patterns of circular arguments/conversations and I hang up the phone extremely frustrated and having gone no where.  After six year, he knows very well how to push every button I have.

My plan is to go NC with him asap.  Yes, we had good times.  But since the idolization phase over 5 years ago, most of our interactions leave me with some negative emotions - usually extreme frustration at getting jerked around and manipulated.  He is not the father of my children and we were never married so I can have a legally clean break.  I plan to take it and move on to having healthier relationships.

Through T - I also found that my father is probably NPD/BPD or at least has strong traits of them.  I've gone NC with him entirely which, honestly, was simply a huge relief that I don't have to deal with his difficult behavior anymore.

Personally, NC works best for me.  I am happier and far less anxious without people in my life constantly draining me.  I don't continue to hold anger toward those people most of the time and have adopted radical acceptance around their condition.  Most importantly though, I realize it is NOT my job to save them or make them feel better or be weighed down by their problems. 

So, I do believe in NC because my life is far happier without the crazy-making.  I don't dwell on it - I've blocked all emails and phone calls so I don't even know when they are trying to reach me.  I now do my best to focus on positive things and people and my life is turning around.
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2012, 05:52:17 AM »

what i think is really, really crucial, is losing or working through our sense of victimhood coming out of these relationships. the pwBPD be damned. i mean, in certain ways, she is forever 'painted black'. for me thats not just throwing every devaluing thought i can think of at her, like when i came out of the relationship. but i no longer see her the same way, and i never will again, and thats fine.

but i cant overstate what carrying around a sense of victimhood can do for you in future relationships of all kinds and i speak from experience. i stipulate ive been with a few pwBPD. so its somewhat natural that i came out of each relationship feeling like something of a victim. i WAS something of a victim. i experienced some really lousy treatment. but really learning about BPD was a life saver to me. and i now can easily see my own role in all of these relationships. yes i got "screwed over", but im not a victim. i put myself in emotionally dangerous situations. i knew it then, but i really know it now.

this victimhood mentality attracted my future partners and attracted me to them. we might share sob stories and bond over them. id have these girls telling me things like they didnt understand what was wrong with the other girls, but they got me and would never treat me that way. to someone with a FAIRLY strong sense of self, and someone completely in touch with his altruistic traits, this is nothing but emotional candy that served to suck me in far deeper.

to me, thats what "painting them black" means. its all them, not you, youre perfect and did nothing wrong, and the next person will see that. i think its frankly fairly easy to come out of a BPD relationship with that impression. but seriously, ALL you are doing is setting yourself up for another. when you have been with one, the chances of being with another, or choosing another unhealthy relationship grow exponentially.

that doesnt mean i see my ex as an angel, or that ive even reached a complete sense of forgiveness toward her. i did 'devalue' her in my process. early on, just to make myself feel better, as a fairly natural emotional survival mechanism. i think some of that is okay, providing you reach a healthier, broader understanding as you recover and can deal with emotions in a less self oriented way. and frankly some of it, i think is necessary. theres a lot of legitimate 'devaluing' you can do in most cases. and a fair amount of that is finally seeing the pwBPD in a broader and healthier way. its fair to conclude something like "my ex treated me like ****". but its not fair to conclude you didnt let them. the mistake in 'painting black' is, like them, seeing things only in black and white. some members here are really stuck with the white, and need a bit of black to make things grey. we need to understand these people were unhealthy, abusers, and bad for us, and that theres nothing to ever be gained by going back.

in my case, my head was full of no shortage of things i frankly hated about my ex. throughout our relationship, it seems like i just could not stand her. id constantly avoid seeing or spending time with her. literally, i could go a month, and not miss her. "missing her" was kind of a foreign concept i never really got to experience much. until the very, very end, when i found myself crying over it. but as time continued, it made no sense to me why i was suddenly agonizing over her. wondering endlessly what she was doing and what she was up to, when before, id be THRILLED to have her out of my hair. shouldnt i be throwing a party? it was a HUGE help to me to learn about all of this, and learn everyone else had exactly the same problem. i knew i wasnt crazy. but honestly what helped me invaluably was beginning the writing down of "the list" of everything bad/wrong with her and the relationship. IT WORKED WONDERS. it really caught my heart up to my head and conjured very real feelings of anger or disdain.

so there is a big difference. i see members on here, fairly often that leave comments that just universally bash pwBPD as nothing but evil malicious blood suckers, and i dont believe those people fully get it, or have fully healed. maybe we are victims. but we are willing victims. and if we are victims, so are they. and look what that victimhood mentality does for them and their future relationship choices. think about them getting into the next relationship, bashing you, telling your replacement that theyre the greatest thing since sliced bread, and know exactly how it will end. that may have been you at a time. really. is that what you want?
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     and I think it's gonna be all right; yeah; the worst is over now; the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball…
Robhart
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What is your relationship status with them: living apart
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2012, 08:28:08 PM »

I think for a lot of us on the disengaged board  paint them totally black because we were deceived.Maybe cheated on and lied too in the process. As time goes on my exBPDgf is  not painted by me to the degree as before.

With time I have simply accepted the fact that  my exBPDgf has a severe personalty disorder which is toxic to me and can be to some others.

For those staying there are varying degrees of BPD .Also for some of the stayers the deal breaker button hasn't been pushed.(for me it was cheating)
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SerendipityChild
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2018, 03:24:38 PM »

Painting them black does help in the grieving process. The more I think of all the horrible things he put me through the less I miss him. Slowly I am realizing that I am better off without him. Each time we made up it, it did not take him long to start the devaluation and splitting. How did I live through that for 5 years is still mind boggling to me.
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