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Author Topic: The Five Stages of Abandonment - Susan Anderson, MSW  (Read 2971 times)
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« on: August 31, 2011, 10:29:58 AM »

The Five Stages of Abandonment

Susan Anderson, MSW


Everyday there are people who feel as if life itself has left them on a doorstep or thrown them away. Abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness. People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the woundedness of earlier disconnections.

Abandonment represents core human fear. We have all experienced it. When a relationship ends, the feelings harken all the way back to our lost childhoods when we were helpless, and dependent. Our adult functioning temporarily collapses.We feel shattered, bewildered, condemned to loneliness. As we apply the tools of recovery, at the bottom of abandonment’s pain, we discover a wellspring of positive change.

Abandonment is a cumulative wound containing all of the losses and disconnections stemming all the way back to childhood.

Here are the five stages of abandonment: Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Anger, and Lifting – introduced in the book JOURNEY FROM ABANDONMENT.

1: SHATTERING - Your relationship is breaking apart. Your hopes and dreams are Shattered. You are devastated, bewildered. You succumb to despair and panic. You feel hopeless and have Suicidal feelings. You feel Symbiotically attached to your lost love, mortally wounded, as if you’ll die without them. You are in Severe pain, Shock, Sorrow. You’ve been Severed from your primary attachment. You’re cut off from your emotional life-line.

2: WITHDRAWL – painful Withdrawal from your lost love. The more time goes on, the more all of the needs your partner was meeting begin to impinge into your every Waking moment. You are in Writhing pain from being torn apart. You yearn, ache, and Wait for them to return. Love-withdrawal is just like Heroin Withdrawal – - each involves the body’s opiate system and the same physical symptoms of intense craving. During Withdrawal, you are feeling the Wrenching pain of love-loss and separation – - the Wasting, Weight loss, Wakefulness, Wishful thinking, and Waiting for them to return. You crave a love-fix to put you out of the WITHDRAWAL symptoms.

3: INTERNALIZING – you Internalize the rejection and cause Injury to your self esteem. This is the most critical stage of the cycle when your wound becomes susceptible to Infection and can create permanent scarring. You are Isolated, riddled with Insecurity, self- Indictment and self-doubt. You are preoccupied with ‘If only regrets’ – - If only you had been more attentive, more sensitive, less demanding, etc. You beat yourself up with regrets over the relationship and Idealize your abandoner at the expense of your own self Image.

4: ANGER – the turning point in the grief process when you begin to fight back. You attempt to Reverse the Rejection by Refusing to accept all of the blame for the failed relationship, and feel surges of anger against your abandoner. You Rail against the pain and isolation you’ve been in. Agitated depression and spurts of anger displaced on your friends and family are common during this turbulent time, as are Revenge and Retaliation fantasies toward your abandoner.

5: LIFTING – your anger helped to externalize your pain. Gradually, as your energy spurts outward, it Lifts you back into Life. You begin to Let go. Life distracts you and gradually Lifts you out the grief cycle. You feel the emergence of strength, wiser for the painful Lessons you’ve Learned. And if you’re engaged in the process of recovery, you get ready to Love again.
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2011, 07:44:21 PM »

3: INTERNALIZING – you Internalize the rejection and cause Injury to your self esteem. This is the most critical stage of the cycle when your wound becomes susceptible to Infection and can create permanent scarring. You are Isolated, riddled with Insecurity, self- Indictment and self-doubt. You are preoccupied with ‘If only regrets’ – - If only you had been more attentive, more sensitive, less demanding, etc. You beat yourself up with regrets over the relationship and Idealize your abandoner at the expense of your own self Image.

I had read this book four years ago when healing from another relationship, and think because of childhood abandonment issues this is always the process for me.  However, I did try to go LC with my ex and I thing that the reason NC is so powerful is each time I reached out to her I re-opened the wounds of the internilization stage, the self doubt, the scarring the being heart sick at realizing they don't even feel this stuff. Almost like self harming to continue to try and "be friends". I am back 3 weeks no contact and these feelings have already healed which is great but, this huge progress for me.

RAGE? Have had none so I wonder if I will eventually get there? We Shall see
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 03:13:00 AM »

1: SHATTERING.

This is somewhat how I felt last year in April.

My dream, our dreams as we had talked about them were shattered. I felt very hopeless, I was in shock and I cried all the time. I didn't have suicidal thoughts per se, but I did get overwhelmed by the "I wish I don't wake up in the morning, rather that than this pain" feelings when I went to bed.

2: WITHDRAWL

I went through some of this one too. In April and the first half of May. I wanted him to come back, yet I didn't. I knew he was bad for me, knew he was just gonna hurt me again, because I already had a feeling that the man I fell in love with was a fata morgana, an image created by him for me to believe in. Just as I had. I lost a lot of weight and stopped functioning properly for a while.

3: INTERNALIZING

I wasn't really isolated. I had some good friends who were trying to protect me, to keep my mood up and comfort me when I cried. I did manage to really laugh a few times, forgetting him and the pain for longer and longer at a time. In the latter half of May, I only really thought of him when I was alone and bored, or when he was right there in my face, so I tried to spend most of my time with friends and to ignore his presence as best as I could. It failed a few times and I broke down in tear. I still idolized the image I fell in love with, but the "it was only an image" was settling deeper and deeper into my core. I had regrets. I regretted not walking away at his first betrayal of me. I regretted not having taken care of me, but having comforted and assured him instead.

4: ANGER

Odd to say, but I think this phase was with me throughout the 3 previous ones. Mostly because I knew that his reasons for dumping me like he did were pure BS. In his mail he had thrown blame all over the place but ultimately it was all my fault. And since I recognized this pattern from our disagreements and arguments during the relationship, I was fairly quick to say "oh Hell no, you cannot blame ME for YOUR failings". I did see the mistakes I myself had made. But they had nothing to do with the things he claimed at all.

From mid June to early November I sometimes went through some of these stages. But as we had gotten back in contact and were "trying to give it a real chance, starting from a different place", it was mostly the Anger stage that popped up every now and then, especially when he started acting a bit possessive or when he crossed some boundaries that he was aware I had. For a while it really felt like things were starting to go better on his part. The more I treated him like a friend only, the more he seemed to wanted to show me that he wanted to be more than a friend. I didn't respond overly enthusiastically to his flirtings or his jealousy of my male friends, but I didn't withdraw from him either. I stayed pretty neutral, apart from the few times we talked about where we "were with each other now". Those two times were the only times that I expressed anything more than just friendship towards him.

5: LIFTING – your anger helped to externalize your pain. Gradually, as your energy spurts outward, it Lifts you back into Life. You begin to Let go. Life distracts you and gradually Lifts you out the grief cycle. You feel the emergence of strength, wiser for the painful Lessons you’ve Learned. And if you’re engaged in the process of recovery, you get ready to Love again.[/color]

This started for me in mid October. I begun to use my right to say no to doing stuff with him and did my own things instead. I hung out with friends more and more and he often tagged along. I didn't refuse him tagging along, but my focus was on having fun with them, not having with him. And the more I focused on my friends over hi, the more intent he became at "showing off" that there was more between us than friendship. Cute nicknames that he used to call me when we dated, preferably in front of others. Buying me things and telling me about it in front of others. It embarrassed me at times and I started to feel trapped. And in December, I felt strong enough to let him know that "Hey, you're not my boyfriend, so can we stop the gift giving?" AND live with the consequences, already having a feeling of what those would be.

Since this year started, I have had two relapses into Withdrawl and they have lasted for less than an hour each. He's less and less on my mind. He's not the first thing on it when I wake up, nor the last thing on it when I go to sleep.

I think of him, or rather, I think of what the relationship did to me and who it turned me into when I read these forums. I think of his reactions that are spot on what many people here describe. But I don't think of HIM. I don't miss HIM or those things.

Today I am going to the doctor to get a referral to a psychologist. Because I do need to know why I fell for his fata morgana in the first place, so I can avoid it happening again.

And I am feeling better just knowing that this place exists and that I can come here and talk to others who's lived through the same.

   
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 03:35:59 PM »

I am just now reading this book... .  so far looks like it has something to offer.

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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2013, 05:04:13 AM »

Prior to reading any books on BPD I read this book based on a recommendation from my therapist - how validating!

Susan Andersen explains the stages of abandonment with such simplicity and explained not only the loss of connectedness I had with myself whilst in the relationship but the loss of connectedness with my partner whilst in the relationship. My entire being was driven by my own fears - I got into the relationship due to fear, feared leaving the relationship due to guilt and my own fears of being alone and feared my own emotions when the relationship resolved itself.

I equated with the shattered stage to a tee - I was so disjointed with reality, couldn't eat, sleep or function and was very confused about why I felt the way I did. This book explained it very well and the reasons for it.

Abandonment is real - after reading the book and discussing it with my therapist I had come to the realisation that the 'shattered' feeling I was experiencing was unresolved trauma from my childhood. It became apparent that I too grew up in a BPD household and was choosing relationships that was reminiscent of what I knew - it was the norm.

I took some work to get to the Lifting stage however the journey was so worth it. I no longer look back at regret for meeting my ex - I thank him to opening my eyes to my own need to heal.
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 09:30:38 PM »

For mine, the damage done during the INTERNALIZING phase is the most serious. Long after they have gone, we have been painted black and we have stopped trying to find decency or closure from them, the little voice in our heads... . the inner critic... . can do some massive harm.

Long after I felt my depression had lifted, I came to experience some cripplingly low levels of self-esteem. I didn't trust myself and I didn't trust other people. I couldn't meet anyone's gaze for too long. And public speaking or any sort of group attention paralyzed me with fear.

Upon re-reading this article (thanks GreenMango for bumping it up), after a solid 20 months since the final break-up, I realise the many subtleties of the damage a borderline can cause. We need to remind ourselves constantly that what they are implying with their discard and abandonment of what seemed to be so special (even to them) should not be taken as truth. We cannot let the behaviour of a mentally ill person define us. We need to believe ourselves and not them. Such hard work... . and such a layered type of cruelty... . but the only way to fully recover from these things is to absolutely not INTERNALIZE too much. Explore yourself and why you jumped in but do not take on any more than your share. It is a slippery slope and energetically ensures ongoing supply to them somehow!

I find this a fascinating and dangerous phase in the abandonment process... . and really hard to shake!

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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 09:33:08 PM »

I also read this book after my break up.  In fact I've read it a few times.  I'm still in stages 2 - 3.
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 10:40:45 AM »

I think that I'm at the Lifting phase of this, but occasionally find myself at 3 or 4.  At #3 I'm not beating myself up per se', because I know it wasn't about me, but learning from the experiences (yes, I had two ex's with PD's) and doing my best to grow from it.  #4 is a bit tricky.  I don't necessarily feel anger toward them, but more so at myself for ruminating about it at times.  I'm not depressed, but am thankful that I'm out of it.  None of us deserve to be treated that way.  I'm working through my own issues now that allowed that to happen.     
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2013, 10:03:16 AM »

Many of us arrive at bpdfamily right after a breakup and we feel like we have shattered into a million pieces.  The hurt seems unbearable. The self-defense mechanisms that we hoped were protecting us from pain are gone.  Can you relate to this fight or flight mode, with growing feelings of shame taking over? Or maybe you're in shock and not feeling much of anything?  What can we do?

SHATTERING

Your relationship is breaking apart. Your hopes and dreams are Shattered. You are devastated, bewildered. You succumb to despair and panic. You feel hopeless and have Suicidal feelings. You feel Symbiotically attached to your lost love, mortally wounded, as if you’ll die without them. You are in Severe pain, Shock, Sorrow. You’ve been Severed from your primary attachment. You’re cut off from your emotional life-line.



Tips for moving through this stage:



  • Focus on this moment.  Trying to plan getting through a whole day is too big a challenge.  Take things literally one minute at a time.


  • Try to avoid numbing out with alcohol, drugs, food, or sex– it will slow down your recovery and could make things worse


  • Breathe. Even just a few deeper breaths will signal the nervous system to relax, and bring much needed oxygen into your body.


  • Get very specific, focus on your senses, and concentrate on one thing for as long as you can, like the taste in your mouth, or the air passing through your nostrils. This might be 30 seconds at first, but it will grow if you keep trying.


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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2013, 11:54:42 AM »

  • What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?


Coming to terms with, and trying to wrap my head around how this person I loved and trusted above everyone else could devalue me overnight in such a cold and harsh manner.  I am a problem solver and I have a need to understand.  Why did he do that?  How could he do that?  This person that I was so close to, that I thought I understood to be so much like me!  I could never ever treat someone like that.  Nothing made sense.  My mind couldn't resolve it.  In some ways I am still a little stuck here, trying to understand.

  • What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?


I knew something was wrong when I couldn't move on and I felt so stuck after a month or so.  I have always been able to get over things pretty quickly or at least feel like I am slowly moving forward.  I was moving in circles.  I was barely functioning.  I was on a desperate search for answers.  Found myself here after googling.  This message board has saved my life.  One of the ambassadors suggested I go to therapy, I did and still am in therapy.

  • What mistakes did you make and what did they teach you?
 

While in the relationship and looking back: ignoring my gut.  Ignoring HUGE red flags.  When out of the relationship trying to "chase the end of the rainbow" and get back what I had that I though was so great.  Trying so hard to see that person I thought I knew and somehow make things be OK.  Thinking I had to make things OK to move forward.  (still a little stuck here too).

  • What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?




Talk to as many trusted people as you can, therapist, friends and family members. Share your story here.  You are not crazy and you are not alone.  Before this mess I was a very confident person with high self-esteem.  My ex broke me down to nothing.  I am getting myself back.  If I wasn't sharing my story that wouldn't be happening.  

Learn what you can about PDs... .in the beginning it may be your obsession, but also try to spend equal time, and then much more time, working on yourself and learning about tools to help you, such as mindfulness, radical acceptance, etc.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Enjoy the beauty of nature.  Exercise and eat healthy.  Put all the care and concern you put into your ex into yourself. This may be hard at first, it was an extremely uncomfortable and unnatural concept for me to do but with practice it gets easier.

I think one of the things people on this Board have in common is a good soul.  Believe it and let that light shine.      

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« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2013, 04:26:09 PM »



  • What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?


The physical part of it.  My relationship ended violently and I had a broken bone that required surgery. I struggled with weight loss (12lbs) and trouble sleeping.  

  • What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?


I took time for myself and focused just on the physical repair,... the surgery,  the physical therapy,... trying to eat and trying to sleep.  I went for long walks.  About the only thing I could do.  I walked over hill and dale.   Anytime I got upset or wanted to reach out I went for a walk.   Probably helped me lose those 12 pounds


  • What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?
 

I didn't make many mistakes at this stage because I was very isolated and insulated from things going on around me.  The mistakes came later.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

  • What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?




Just get through one day at a time and take care of the very simplest of things.  Eating, Sleeping , and Breathing.


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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2013, 05:21:08 PM »

What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?

Waking up in the morning. Breathing. Doing anything that I was supposed to do. Not crying. Not ruminating. Knowing it was for the best, but not picking up the phone.

What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?

I have such a vivid memory of locking myself in a room and crying for the entire weekend. I literally put in my CD player, "Here without you" by Three Doors Down and hit repeat. I gorged on vodka and cheesecake. Anything to help with the pain.

What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?

What mistakes didn't I make? My coping skills were awful.

What I've learned now - in perfect 20/20 hindsight - is that my inability to cope had a lot more to do with me then it ever did with him.

What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?

Therapy.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

But really, taking the time to slow down and honor every little thing you do for yourself. If you wake up and get in the shower? That is an act of honoring myself. Brushing my teeth. Brushing my hair. That's still taking care of myself. It's hard to see that in the depths of what this stage brings.
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 05:35:27 AM »



  • What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?


The biggest challenge of this stage, for me, was realizing that I had no support network.  Not only had my SO just dumped me and started a relationship within 4 days, but not one single friend reached out to me.  My dad called me every night for the first week, and then silence.  No one in family came to my new house to help me unpack, no friends either.  I felt completely devalued and unloved.  Truly, the silence that I felt from my community was possibly more damaging than the relationship being abandoned by my bf.  I reached out to so many people, and had them react in silence.  Unless they wanted something from me- volunteering my time to help them with something.  It was over 4 months before an office mate, a woman who I considered a best friend for over 10 years, actually held me and listened to my story.  And before that time, no one called me.  And after that time, no one called me.  No one even poked me on FB.  No one from my community reached out at all.  :)evastating.  

  • What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?
I got talk therapy, acupuncture, massage, took community college classes, and fitness classes.  Ate well, swam a lot, took hot baths.  I don't know if any of this helped, but it took up time in my day.  I really shattered into very small pieces.  I am not the same person I was before this happened to me.  I did have long time friends from outside my immediate community call regularly, which was the only thing that brought me through those dark days.


  • What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?
 In hindsight I think that continuing to try to reach out to people was a mistake.  The empty promises of "I'll call you and we'll do lunch/go on a walk/hang out" coupled with the vacuous loneliness and betrayal I was feeling added to the pain.  It taught me that people will be nice to my face but not really care enough to be a friend.  (These were people I had thought were "real" friends)  I have cut almost everyone I knew out of my life- really, in so many relationships I've realized I was the hard hitter doing the heavy lifting. Being betrayed by my life partner and my community was devastating. I have had so many acquaintances say, "But at least you have a lot of friends."  That is how it looks from the outside, and how I perceived things until this break up.  And then I became the hot potato, and no one wanted to catch me.  I felt like I was free falling for years.  I am making a few new friends, but really I just look forward to the day when I can move to a new community.  I don't have the energy for this place anymore.  I tried a therapist who advertised working with people who had been in a relationship with BPD, and that helped a little.  I saw her maybe a dozen times, but she seemed to have less knowledge than me about this disease. (Granted I was obsessed with finding out more after reading about personality disorders)

  • What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?




Stay away from alcohol.  Eat good food. Exercise regularly.  Get therapy, changing therapists if you don't think its a good fit.  Allow yourself to feel the pain, knowing eventually you will move through it.  It has been over 2 years for me, and I still experience deep sadness, times where I still want closure- but I know I will never get it.  The only thing I can do is keep working on me.  I'm learning what a healthy relationship looks like and trying figure out how to get there from here.
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2013, 03:47:22 PM »

What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?

Surviving. My shattered stage lasted until shortly after I moved out. That pain in the chest is real. The insomnia was nearly debilitating. There were days that I had no business being at work. I lost weight. I called my EAP and used the hotline. Some therapists were helpful, some weren't. My self esteem was long gone and I was an empty shell. Not admitting to anything, but I will concede that I can "identify with" suicidal feelings. I was hung up on the idea both from her and from some misguided and misinterpreted advice that it was pretty much my fault and even if it wasn't, it was still up to me to me to fix it. I attached my self worth directly to the success of the marriage. It was tough pill to swallow because I didn't see failure as an option but it was an impossible situation to fix. The ex was very good at taking he mask off: I didn't bother seeking advice from friends and family who were soon blindsided by the split. She had our therapist completely fooled. All of that together had me fooled into thinking I was the problem.  


What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?

Moving out for one. Of course in the beginning I saw it as a "trial separation". A whole 2-3 weeks later I knew I wasn't going back. No meltdowns, nobody telling me how a real husband should act. With a son, it was hard in the beginning. Getting past the shattered stage was slow-going but rewarding. There was no single thing that did it for me; it was many little things. I started with running. I couldn't finish a mile a year ago, now I'm training for a half marathon. I started a journal (OK, I've fallen behind on it since). I reconnected with old friends. To keep me from drowning in my sorrows, I would look in the local newspaper for activities to do; they may not look all that cool, but they were different. I still go to a support group that I found on there. I would go out for drinks, but kept my living area "dry" for a while.


What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?

Most of my mistakes had long since been made by this time. For that stage, I'd have to say was attaching my self worth to another person. I got a wonderful son out of the marriage, so I can't say I regret much of it. I'm coming up on the 1 -year anniversary since the separation and I'd have to say that I'm becoming a happier, healthier, and much more grounded person that I would have without having gone through the shattered stage. I was burned right to the ground with nothing left and I learn to appreciate the little things and rebuild a life that's completely by my own design.

What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?

Remember that it gets better.

Take your focus off (detach from) the BPDer as much as possible. This takes time and practice, but you can't heal from the shattered zone if your focus is on someone with whom shattered is their normal place. They may be horrible people to us, but their disorder comes from being shattered at an age too young to be emotionally capable of recognizing and coping with what happened. You will go through an anger phase, but hanging on to your anger and hurt will not heal you.

Don't see being shattered as being a 100% bad thing and consider that there is a reason for it. It's basically rock bottom. You can't get any worse. It's all uphill from here.

Remember that you are a person worthy of love and respect. You may think your life is over along with everything you've ever cared about. Your ex was just one person. You may have your share of people that starshine mentions that locked the doors and shut off the light. F**k them. Your ex and those people just moved out so you can make room for better people in your life. Over time you will meet people who will love you and respect you and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. This one thing other than my son) is what has made this whole experience worth it.
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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2013, 08:06:21 PM »

It's been 7 weeks for me and I feel like I might just be starting to come out of this stage. I went immediately into PSTD -- having panic attacks throughout the day and night, waking with a pounding heart and unable to breathe. Couldn't go anywhere on my own, had panic attacks while driving. Felt despondent, powerless, hopeless. Just wanted the pain to stop. Isolated myself in my room and stayed in bed virtually all day. Barely ate. Felt how it must feel to be suicidal, though I knew I could never do it because of my children.  I felt like I'd been yanked out of a socket and had no more life force energy of any kind left in me. All my dreams and trust and view of people and life shattered in a million little glittering pieces. Could not feel any positive feelings at all. I felt like a tiny child who could only curl up in a ball and cry in anguish day and night.


What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?

Being awake during the day with all my pain.

The shock of seeing myself in such a state.

Shame at seeing myself so non-functional and unable to detach from him emotionally.

The sheer physical withdrawal, unbearable cravings and longings which felt like a drug withdrawal.  

What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?

I got a somatic therapist asap to help me with the panic attacks and PSTD.

I did a "cord-cutting" session with a hypnotherapist to help me release some of my huge energetic attachment to my former partner

Out of desperation, I swallowed my pride and allowed myself to show up totally broken and vulnerable to several friends so I had different people to talk to because my need to talk and communicate my anguish was so huge it was more than just a few people could support

I took 3 - 4 hot baths a day

I made hot water bottles and slept a lot so I wouldn't have to be aware of all my pain when awake

I shut out most of the outside world and cried rivers and rivers of tears

I started getting massages to help with the physical w/drawal from my partner

I used chamomile tea with valerian drops to drug me a little so I could fall asleep at night

I occasionally did TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) when I couldn't sleep b/c of panic attacks in the middle of the night

I got support from friends to take me out of the house for a walk in the fresh air every few days (couldn't do it on my own; afraid of breaking down randomly in public)

All of these have helped

What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?

I think everything I experienced was a natural response to the trauma.

The one thing which didn't help was turning anger on myself (and continuing to idealize him, when I had huge reasons to be angry at him)... .and blaming myself, believing I was at fault, thinking "if only" thoughts which only hurt me more and let him off the hook

What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?

For me, having VALIDATION that what I was experiencing was normal and that what I'd come out of was atrocious has been really really really important. Because I really felt CRAZY. I get this validation from my T, and from people who love me and care about me. It's still really important; shards of the broken pieces are still showing up all the time.

Also, being told to just let myself feel everything I was feeling was advice that has really helped me. MyPyneappleDaystold me to imagine I was in a hospital with 3 limbs in traction, bandages all over, bruises, hooked up to an IV and catheter. She said the emotional trauma I'd experienced was no less severe... .and that I shouldn't expect to be up doing "normal" things for a long time... .and to be very, very gentle with myself. I continually have to return to this when my expectations for how much better I "should" feel don't match my reality.

I've found these boards really helpful for catharsis of sharing and for validating my experience by reading others' similar experiences.

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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2013, 05:23:11 PM »

What is/was the biggest challenge of this stage for you?

1: facing how small my support network was. i had gone all in with my wife and her family - in fact one of the reasons i was so happy when i got married is that i got quite a social system. and when she went, most of my life went with her. i have no sibs, no children, one parent, who is delusional, a boatload of cousins, but in another country, and truly great friends, but in another city. there are few to no persons in my community i can call. this has nothing to do with her, it's my issue, but it's none the less real for that. i'm not a gregarious guy and the prospect of building a circle of friends close-by at my age is mortally frightening.

2: maintaining my sanity. i couldn't sleep and still require medication to get a full night in. i felt my mind cracking and on a few occasions tore out my hair. i felt as the universe was smiling on what she did. for the first time in my life I had panic attacks. i wept till i howled. i'm a schoolteacher so i had much of the summer free to ponder dying (i used the Samaritans extensively for a while). people say it's one day at a time, but it isn't. it's morning to afternoon to evening. i cannot believe i've survived.

3: remembering that our marital situation was at most 50% my fault, and that her deceit and departure was 0% my fault. i was badly gaslighted afterwards, and it's only very recently that i'm coming out of that. she has revealed enough now for me to realize that her side of the marriage was a tissue of lies.

3a: just trying to understand how the person who chose to marry me and whom i chose to marry could do such a thing, and could be so blithe afterwards about doing it.

five months on almost and i'm not out of it. when i read that people think they should get over this in a matter of weeks i marvel.

What actions did you take to cope with Shattering?  :)id they help?

1: write it out, write it out, write it out. write it out to myself, write it out in emails to friends, write it out here.

2: i went back to the well, and the well had water. i mean, i went back to the network i grew up in but had neglected. the week after it happened i talked to the priest who has attended to our family. he got me a therapist. the therapist got me a psychiatrist and a lawyer. the lawyer will get me an accountant if i need one. all this has been wonderful, but still, half the people i talk to i have to pay.

3: finding this website, and i really mean that.

4: reaching out in any way for social connection. the few friends i confided in were magnificent. myPyneappleDayshas been very good. i confided in a few workmates, who gave me their time and sympathy beyond what i had any right to expect. (all of these validated that what my w did is indefensible; two called it 'unforgivable', one said it was a good thing it wasn't him she did it to because ... .) one of my workmates pointed me to alanon (my w, like many BPs, abused alcohol, so i legitimately qualify). but it wasn't all successful, and when it wasn’t it made my life temporarily even worse (my mother has made jokes about the situation).

5: but i wonder also if just time has helped, in that the hormones or whatever that were released in my PTSD are subsiding.

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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2013, 05:50:11 AM »

What mistakes did you make at this stage and what did they teach you?

i did a common non-BPD thing - i grasped and grovelled, and in order to assuage her in the hopes of reconciliation i took responsibility where i shouldn't have. i was JADEd. my wife is, objectively, a liar, an infidel, and an adulterer, and has played the i-have-the-power card to narcissistic perfection (myPyneappleDayscalls it ‘sadistic’). i played the humiliated card to perfection, but it came right out of my bones and i don't know that i could have dealt any differently. this behavior of mine will only have confirmed in her own mind her sense that she was the victim, and has left me mortified to think back on it. the lack of self regard is meat for therapy sessions.

What other tips and advice do you have for helping move through Shattering?

stay away from alcohol (as starshine says). stay here where you will see how very many others have had experiences similar or identical with yours, so that you can be validated in your correct belief that what has happened to you is an outrage, whatever the emotional bases for your SO's behavior, and so that you can see that you are not alone. also read about BPD from a professional point of view, which may help you depersonalize. remember that you're in PTSD. get into therapy. accept whatever kindness you receive (i have become much more appreciative of my colleagues and acquaintances). don't put a clock on your recovery: your brain and your heart are two different organs and you may come to know that what happened to you is unjustifiable while still not really absorbing and feeling it. don't beat yourself up, but do examine your own patterns. pray, if you're so minded.
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2013, 03:25:44 PM »

After the initial shattering and withdrawal of our breakups, we often start making the pain of rejection and abandonment about us, about our unworthiness.  Have you become convinced that you are unlovable, defective, destined to be alone?  Our self-esteem has been battered to the point that we don't think we'll recover, so we may start to isolate, cutting off loved ones and friends.

Susan Anderson writes, "Abandonment is a cumulative wound – rejections past and present merge.  It's time to clean out the insecurities, feelings of worthlessness, and shame that have been festering since childhood.  Your task is to dredge up the bottom of the swamp and sift through the muck to salvage what's important.  You begin to reconstruct."

INTERNALIZING

You Internalize the rejection and cause Injury to your self esteem. This is the most critical stage of the cycle when your wound becomes susceptible to Infection and can create permanent scarring. You are Isolated, riddled with Insecurity, self- Indictment and self-doubt. You are preoccupied with ‘If only regrets’ – if only you had been more attentive, more sensitive, less demanding, etc. You beat yourself up with regrets over the relationship and Idealize your abandoner at the expense of your own self Image.


Tips for dealing with Internalizing:



  • Accept your separateness – your uniqueness and wholly separate self is something to celebrate, not an indication of unworthiness


  • Celebrate your importance – respect and value your existence, others will follow.


  • Face your reality – railing against what has happened won't lead to healing; acceptance and action toward change will.


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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2014, 09:34:42 AM »

Have you begun to feel that something has shifted, lifted?  For me, the first glimpses revealed themselves when obsessive thoughts of pwBPD began to wane.  Later, there were several more shifts – a lightening of the heaviness I had been carrying for so long.

LIFTING

Your anger helped to externalize your pain. Gradually, as your energy spurts outward, it Lifts you back into Life. You begin to Let go. Life distracts you and gradually Lifts you out of the grief cycle. You feel the emergence of strength, wiser for the painful Lessons you’ve Learned. And if you’re engaged in the process of recovery, you get ready to Love again.

According to Susan Anderson, "the primary task of lifting is to let go of old attachments and lift from its grief, with your feelings intact."


Tips for moving through this stage:



  • Take your feelings with you – we want to be careful not to overlift, which means we bury the feelings that we dealt with in grieving.  If we repress what we have discovered, we just end up building another wall to intimacy.


  • Pursue an old dream – maybe there is something you always wanted to do, but put on the back burner.  Find the lost parts of yourself and give them life again.


  • Bring love into the present moment – when we are with someone else, we connect to our capacity to love while being very present with the other person.  It may be just a moment with a friend, a neighbor, or a child, but this practice expands our capacity for love, and helps lift us out of our old emotional agendas.


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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2014, 09:57:11 AM »

For me just the realization that his demands were not really about me was so lifting. I felt like the I could breathe again. I have learned so much on these boards that now I can see what he is doing and it all is easier to process. I can rationalize his chaos and that makes me emotionally more sane. I can see the rages and see what really triggered them - and no - it wasnt me. Smiling (click to insert in post) It wasnt my hair, my clothes, my food... .

I have learned to come out of my shyness and seek others, make friends and have a social life that was non-existant before. He always saiad I was incapable of that. I have come to see that there is a world that thrives and keeps on pumping with awesome new things to discover. I want to talk to people - I want to meet people.  Smiling (click to insert in post) Not sexually, well, at least not now, but just see what other humans do, see how they think, and what they do to have fun. I feel like I've been in a cage for 17 years... . Very lifting.

I went back to school - furthering my education. For someone that wasn't allowed to work (because of the kids... . yeah right) I find this amazing.

I think the thing that lifted me the most was just saying to him, my uBPDh, I wanted out took a huge load off my back. I felt like I could literally fly... . Time to be that monarch butterfly I guess.
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« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2014, 10:05:07 AM »

One of the big indicators for me that I was entering this end stage was Christmas,  surprisingly. Just little things like being able to shop for new clothes and not be fretting that they "wouldn't show off my figure" or be wrong in some other way. And being with my sons + 1 gf, my mum, my sister and her family on Christmas Day, all having a great time like we used to. And to think at one time I thought those relationships would never recover from the damage they'd sustained. And at one time my thinking had been so skewed I'd even stopped valuing them. I will never ever let myself get into that situation again. From now on my family comes first.
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« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2014, 11:00:42 AM »

To be able to sit here at my desk in perfect bliss.  When I was with him, I was only able to have a few stolen moments of it.  While he "appears" happy out and about town trying to "show" his "happiness" to the world, I am here... . alone in my chair, not changing or pretending, just being me.  It is good to be me! 
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« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2014, 11:05:19 AM »

Nice ... . Just what I needed and when I needed to hear it. Lifting. It happens. Reassuring to say the least. The obsessive thoughts... . wow. And I thought it was just me.
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« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2014, 07:04:58 PM »

Yes, the obbsessive thoughts about the ex have waned,and its such a relief, I no longer have a constant loop going off in my head, sure there are times when this still happens but not as badly, and I  recognise when its happening and I can stop it, and I smile,congratulate myself, and off I go... .

My life dosent seem so heavy anymore

I can enjoy time with my family without the spectre of the ex

I still have periods of anger or sadness, but they are dull in comparison to what I was a few months ago, and its ok to feel this way.

Im going to be ok.

For anyone reading this and struggling- please believe that this is possible for you too xxx
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« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2014, 07:17:03 PM »

The obsessive thoughts. Yeah. Count me in there. Thinking of all the could have, should have, would haves.  It can get overwhelming. Even on days you think you're strong it's so easy to slip back. So easy.

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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2014, 12:32:44 AM »

im in the same boat, shifted from just utter suffering to resentment and hate to almost sympathy.

however her framework of thinking is still having some effect inside my head and so the running and desperate thoughts are still rampant, trying to take it one day at a time sounds a lot easier than it is... .

joining a box club tomorrow... . my burnt out stressed out constant state of being is slowly fading (i hope!) , god i just wanna skip to the part when i see this as a growing experience not a tragedy... .

cant wait for the dark side of it all to lift once and for all
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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2014, 02:26:34 PM »

I have come to see that there is a world that thrives and keeps on pumping with awesome new things to discover. I want to talk to people - I want to meet people.  Smiling (click to insert in post) Not sexually, well, at least not now, but just see what other humans do, see how they think, and what they do to have fun. I feel like I've been in a cage for 17 years... . Very lifting.

This is just so hopeful and uplifting, Monarch!  Thank you for expressing it so well.  Congrats on going back to school, too – I am right there with ya, and it feels good.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

And being with my sons + 1 gf, my mum, my sister and her family on Christmas Day, all having a great time like we used to. And to think at one time I thought those relationships would never recover from the damage they'd sustained. And at one time my thinking had been so skewed I'd even stopped valuing them. I will never ever let myself get into that situation again. From now on my family comes first.

Wow, Arctic, that is a great realization.  It gives me hope for my own family situation.  :)id you do something specific to repair the damage?


Yes, the obbsessive thoughts about the ex have waned,and its such a relief, I no longer have a constant loop going off in my head, sure there are times when this still happens but not as badly, and I  recognise when its happening and I can stop it, and I smile,congratulate myself, and off I go... .

This is great news, recycled.  What technique works best for you to stop the obsessive thoughts when they come?

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« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2014, 09:35:19 PM »

Heartandwhole, ive found the article on ruminations to be the best resource and has provided the best technique for me, the emotional filing cabinet,I read this article at a time when I had come to the realisation that my healing, my life my choices were all about me, I am in control now, not the ex, not anyone ME.It reitterated the fact that if I start ruminating, or having excessive bad memories about the ex, I can stop them, Im in control, Ive felt powerless for a long time, during the r/ s and even before,Im slowly learning to be the mistress of my own universe, and I feel good about it.Love4 menotu also suggested a similar technique, I say

Not right now

In my mind, its short, non judgemental ( my previous phrase was somewhat derogatory to the ex:)), it works for me too and Im finding I dont have to use it as much.
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« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2014, 01:33:11 AM »

Yes, the obbsessive thoughts about the ex have waned,and its such a relief, I no longer have a constant loop going off in my head, sure there are times when this still happens but not as badly, and I  recognise when its happening and I can stop it, and I smile,congratulate myself, and off I go... .

My life dosent seem so heavy anymore

I can enjoy time with my family without the spectre of the ex

I still have periods of anger or sadness, but they are dull in comparison to what I was a few months ago, and its ok to feel this way.

Im going to be ok.

For anyone reading this and struggling- please believe that this is possible for you too xxx

I'm so glad, recycled.  It's a really valuable tool.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=103396.0

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« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2014, 02:03:36 AM »

Heartandwhole did your family suffer damage because of your situation? It's just my family are one of the main reasons I left I nearly lost them!
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« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2014, 07:01:27 AM »

Heartandwhole did your family suffer damage because of your situation? It's just my family are one of the main reasons I left I nearly lost them!

Hi loz,

No, my family wasn't damaged by my relationship with pwBPD, but the r/s really opened my eyes about the dysfunction in it, if that makes sense.  I learned a lot about BPD, and my own unskillful coping strategies, so when I "changed" my behavior, it rattled my family a bit. 

After what I've learned, I now suspect that my brother might have BPD/NPD traits.  My father died at the same time as my breakup with pwBPD, and since then my r/s with my brother has been very strained.  Basically, I'm not "cooperating" in the role that I always took in the family dynamics, and naturally, that causes friction.

Loz, have you experienced any sense of weight coming off since you made your decision to put you and your family first?

 
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« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2014, 03:01:38 PM »

Oh I'm sorry to hear about your father! I do my relationship with my parents is pretty well back to normal now which is a relief! When my ex realised that I prob won't be coming back his parting shot wasn't at me but my parents that they are miserable interfering in laws. He is obsessed with them! I don't know how he thinks saying things like that will win me back! I still pine for him every day all I remember are the good times am waiting for the anger to come over him! I still have doubts as he hasn't been diagnosed either he might change etc it's hard to stop myself texting him! My family want me to be happy but if I went back they don't want anything to do with him how's that make me happy?
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« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2014, 04:00:08 PM »

After the initial shattering and withdrawal of our breakups, we often start making the pain of rejection and abandonment about us, about our unworthiness.  Have you become convinced that you are unlovable, defective, destined to be alone?  Our self-esteem has been battered to the point that we don't think we'll recover, so we may start to isolate, cutting off loved ones and friends.

Susan Anderson writes, "Abandonment is a cumulative wound – rejections past and present merge.  It's time to clean out the insecurities, feelings of worthlessness, and shame that have been festering since childhood.  Your task is to dredge up the bottom of the swamp and sift through the muck to salvage what's important.  You begin to reconstruct."

INTERNALIZING

You Internalize the rejection and cause Injury to your self esteem. This is the most critical stage of the cycle when your wound becomes susceptible to Infection and can create permanent scarring. You are Isolated, riddled with Insecurity, self- Indictment and self-doubt. You are preoccupied with ‘If only regrets’ – if only you had been more attentive, more sensitive, less demanding, etc. You beat yourself up with regrets over the relationship and Idealize your abandoner at the expense of your own self Image.


Tips for dealing with Internalizing:



  • Accept your separateness – your uniqueness and wholly separate self is something to celebrate, not an indication of unworthiness


  • Practice lovingkindness – it can be very helpful to write/imagine dialogs between your inner wise parent and the hurting little child in you.  By treating yourself the way you always needed and wanted, you affirm your value and self-love.


  • Face your reality – railing against what has happened won't lead to healing; acceptance and action toward change will.






How has internalizing affected you?

What has helped you lessen the injury to your self-esteem since the ending of the relationship?






*The 5 stages of abandonment grieving from The Journey from Abandonment to Healing are:

Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Anger, Lifting
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« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2014, 04:42:08 PM »

I was so subtly controlled in the last year of the relationship that I gradually lost all self worth.  I didn't think I was worthy of a relationship with her.  I was broken down too small fragments of what I once was.  I thought I was in control of the relationship but painfully realized that I was just a puppet on a string.  After 4 months out of the relationship and much therapy, time and soul searching I have really begun to recover my lost self esteem.  My therapy has been a real blessing.  I did not have a deeply troubled childhood but I have learned that due to my dad's controlling behavior and my mother's use (emotional incest) of me (the oldest child) as a grown up type figure to bounce things off of that I have deep seated passive aggressive issues and fear of engulfment issues. I am working through them and I can feel the changes in my actions already. I am also obviously pretty codependent.
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« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2014, 01:32:54 AM »

I dont think I had much self esteem to begin with.

During the idealisation period, I felt as if I was the most beautiful woman on the planet.

When the rs ended after an intense period of devaluation, I felt like a discarded shoe.

What has helped?

Truthfully?

I dont know yet.
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« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2014, 03:23:21 AM »

I was so subtly controlled in the last year of the relationship that I gradually lost all self worth.  I didn't think I was worthy of a relationship with her.  I was broken down too small fragments of what I once was.  I thought I was in control of the relationship but painfully realized that I was just a puppet on a string.  After 4 months out of the relationship and much therapy, time and soul searching I have really begun to recover my lost self esteem.  My therapy has been a real blessing.  I did not have a deeply troubled childhood but I have learned that due to my dad's controlling behavior and my mother's use (emotional incest) of me (the oldest child) as a grown up type figure to bounce things off of that I have deep seated passive aggressive issues and fear of engulfment issues. I am working through them and I can feel the changes in my actions already. I am also obviously pretty codependent.

Waifed, I'm sorry you had to go through that at home. I can relate to some of it, too.  You are doing great work, I'm glad that therapy is helping.  I also feel that my therapist helped me see myself in a different way, like see my strengths and what is good about me.  It's so easy to forget, especially when we are so focused on our partners who need so much.
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« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2014, 03:28:22 AM »

I dont think I had much self esteem to begin with.

During the idealisation period, I felt as if I was the most beautiful woman on the planet.

When the rs ended after an intense period of devaluation, I felt like a discarded shoe.

What has helped?

Truthfully?

I dont know yet.

I hear you, recycled, and not knowing is a good place to be – it's open to possibilities.  I, too, was in a very vulnerable place when the storm of BPD hit. Have you been "sifting through the muck" with a therapist, too?  All this pain was inside, waiting to be triggered in my relationship.  It hurts like hell, but it's a great opportunity to dig in and change beliefs that are causing us to attract unhealthy.  Hard work, I know.   
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« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2014, 05:29:34 AM »



Excerpt
I hear you, recycled, and not knowing is a good place to be – it's open to possibilities.  I, too, was in a very vulnerable place when the storm of BPD hit. Have you been "sifting through the muck" with a therapist, too?  All this pain was inside, waiting to be triggered in my relationship.  It hurts like hell, but it's a great opportunity to dig in and change beliefs that are causing us to attract unhealthy.  Hard work, I know.  

Its the hardest challenge in my life so

far.

I have had 2 sessions in therapy, I bleed emotion as soon as I sit down,I dont think Ive ever expressed this amount of raw pain to anyone, ever.Well I did to the ex but... . a potato would have shown more empathy.We are digging, together, myPyneappleDaysand I, its enlightening, and frightening.I am remembering and realising things from my past that I had blocked out.I am starting to really see how I have reached this place in my life.It scares me.

I am grappling with the fact that maybe my mother is BPD.

I just cant bring myself to believe it, but it lurks on the perifery of my thoughts.

There is just so much H&H, so much sometimes.I know im making progress, I know I can do this but its a battle, for me, sometimes against myself.

Thanks for listening.
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heartandwhole
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 3589



« Reply #38 on: February 02, 2014, 05:53:24 AM »

Its the hardest challenge in my life so

far.

I have had 2 sessions in therapy, I bleed emotion as soon as I sit down,I dont think Ive ever expressed this amount of raw pain to anyone, ever.Well I did to the ex but... . a potato would have shown more empathy.We are digging, together, myPyneappleDaysand I, its enlightening, and frightening.I am remembering and realising things from my past that I had blocked out.I am starting to really see how I have reached this place in my life.It scares me.

I am grappling with the fact that maybe my mother is BPD.

I just cant bring myself to believe it, but it lurks on the perifery of my thoughts.

There is just so much H&H, so much sometimes.I know im making progress, I know I can do this but its a battle, for me, sometimes against myself.

Thanks for listening.

It's been such a challenge, and you are not alone in suspecting BPD in your family.  I'm there, too, and it has been an eye-opener to say the least.  I suspect that many of us "Leavers" resonate with this behavior from our FOOs, and  have grown up with disordered/traited family members without realizing it.

Big hug to you, recycled. 

It hurts so much when our partners don't empathize with us.  I hope you won't be offended when I say that your line about the potato having more empathy cracked me up 

 
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When the pain of love increases your joy, roses and lilies fill the garden of your soul.
RecycledNoMore
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 457



« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2014, 11:33:00 PM »

Potato<< << I d too! Bc its true!
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Popcorn71
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Posts: 483



« Reply #40 on: February 18, 2014, 02:33:45 PM »



How has internalizing affected you?

What has helped you lessen the injury to your self-esteem since the ending of the relationship?

I felt totally worthless and thought that it must be something wrong with me that caused him to leave for somebody else.  The fact that he left for somebody far less attractive, less educated and with nothing to offer him but everything to gain from him, made it more hurtful.  We had a good life together and a nice home.  Much of our lifestyle was due to my contributions.  To realise he threw all this away just to be rid of me, really hurt.  The fact that he would rather be with a woman of a much lower standard, really hurt.  I do not mean these comments in a conceited way, but I am being truthful.  Many people have told me that they think he is mad and cannot understand why he dumped me for her.  That makes me feel that in some way, I must be totally worthless because he chose her.

In a strange way, he gave me a gift that has helped regain some self esteem.  Due to him cutting off all financial support before we divorced, I was forced to get a job.  The first job I got was making me very unhappy and he tried to use that to get me to allow him to move back into our home.  He told me that if I let him come back, I could afford to give up the job.  At that time, I couldn't allow him back due to his bad treatment of my son.  So I stuck to my guns and carried on working.  This was when he moved on to the replacement.

Thankfully, I soon got a new job.  This second job has turned out to be an incredible help to me.  I work with fantastic, caring, people.  I help other people in the course of my work, and the fact that I get so much positive feedback has made me feel much better.  I am starting to see that I am a nice person.  I am a good person.  I have a lot to offer and people like me.  I am not the worthless POS that he made me feel like!
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