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Skills we were never taught
98
A 3 Minute Lesson
on Ending Conflict
Communication Skills-
Don't Be Invalidating
Listen with Empathy -
A Powerful Life Skill
Setting Boundaries
and Setting Limits
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Author Topic: Spouse is BPD waif. New here is this term known?  (Read 12178 times)
NotPerfect
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« on: February 14, 2013, 11:41:54 AM »

My spouse is BPD. She has all the symptoms. But I think she has been able to deny it and escape the BPD diagnosis because of how she presents herself.

Her therapist and psychiatrist both endorse her going to DBT.

She is on Wellbutrin, Xanax (daily), and is on Abilify.

What she does not do is outwardly direct her anger and rage (except toward me)

She directs it inside and it eventually leads to suicidal thoughts.

She attempted suicide twice as a young teen as a result of sexual abuse that her parent knew about and did not stop.

The hard part is that after 10 years in the relationship I am just realizing that her form of manipulation is to steers the conflict so that she is always the victim.  I truly don't think she does this as a conscious malicious act, but she has been the victim all her life, has been institutionalized, has a BA in psych, almost done with her masters in psych and has seen what happened when her borderline mother acted out (rage, manipulation, harassment, vandalism) after her parents split up.

She will say confrontational things and then when I react I am made out to be the bad guy.

I recently started just asking for an apology.  That was even worse.  It spiraled into a serious suicidal vortex within 24 hours in which she was admitted and evaluated at the hospital. ( They wanted her to spend a few days inpatient, but released her on the condition that I would stay home with her and keep the medicine, car keys and hide all the knives)



I have so much more to say, but cannot over do it on one post.
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 01:47:05 PM »

I highly recommend starting with the Lessons.

Demanding an apology from her is unlikely to do anything helpful. BPD is a serious psychiatric disorder. You can't just demand that someone suffering from BPD simply stop handling their emotions inappropriately, any more than you can just demand that a schizophrenic stop hearing voices.

DBT is good and appropriate therapy for BPD.
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NotPerfect
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2013, 02:02:02 PM »

Thank you. 

Right now I am overwealmed with a sensation like before you jump off the high dive.

I am just realizing this could either be the begining of our real relationship or it could be the end.

I could also just be an A-hole and a brute, and I feel drawn to play that role because it would perpetuate the current norm. 

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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2013, 02:16:13 PM »

Hi NP,

I dont understand the context of the term - 'Waif'

In fact, to me it carries a negative connotation, and my first reaction is that it is condescending and somewhat disrespectful.

But I admit I dont understand your intended usage - can you help explain it to me?
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NotPerfect
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 02:40:26 PM »

I searched "borderline waif" and it is one of Christine Lawson’s Four Borderline subtypes

The Waif (Vulnerable) is helpless, fearful and fragile. She is vulnerable and dependant on others. She lives in emotional chaos and forms deeply enmeshed relationships with others. She turns to addictive behaviors to self-soothe and lives in a permanent pattern of panic attacks and suicidal episodes. These are both expressions of her pain and a way to attract soothing, sympathetic attention from others. She seldom exhibits harsh or volatile traits. She often looks for males to rescue her.

The bold print are the things she does. The things in red are contrary to this definition.

She exhibits volitile behavior when under stress. 

However, she is high functioning and seems to have some other mechanisms to elicit the desired status quo.  (scenarios in which she is the victim)

We have been together for 10 years and I am now wondering if we are together solely because I have the ability to both save her and enable her to be the victim.  Like I said I am not perfect.

But minor things seem to elicit the most volitile reaction and when I don't back down it can get very ugly. Not physical, but really nasty. 

It must be more complicated than this.

Am I doing what she does? Trying to categorize people.  My view has always been that some people fit into a type and some do not. She says she does it so she can understand people.  I think she does it as an extension of black and white thinking. 

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yeeter
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 02:45:33 PM »

We have been together for 10 years and I am now wondering if we are together solely because I have the ability to both save her and enable her to be the victim.  Like I said I am not perfect.

The great thing is that both of these are items completely under your control.  Several of the lessons deal with this tendency of enablement and codependency - you do have the power and ability to break these habits.


Thanks for the definition - it wasnt anything I had seen before.
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2013, 02:50:39 PM »

Are people talking in these terms on here? or is it just you have BPD or you don't.

It took me a while to realize she is BPD and not just: depression, PTSD, anxiety, emotional irregulation, suicidal spiraling thoughts.

I realized that the spiraling thoughts are a form of dissociation after the last suicidal episode.

And the uncanny way that every incident eventually ended up looking like she was the victim.

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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 03:02:07 PM »

We use the BPD term.

But past this, we dont spend a lot of time focused on different flavors or 'labeling' (sometimes high functioning vs low functioning). 

Instead, our focus is on things WE can control.  And our own actions and behaviors.  By working on ourselves, we learn to interact differently and thus the dynamics of the relationship changes.  But improvement pretty much always starts with ourselves.

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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 03:11:32 PM »

So, BPD covers everything?

I guess everyone has their unique presentation of BPD.

Ok.  I need to do the lessons.

I am afraid of how she will react when I no longer do what she expects. 

What happened in your relationship when you followed the rules?

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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2013, 03:20:35 PM »

My wife was exactly the same way... .  she also was not active with people but started a texting EA ... .  and turned me black as black... .  after 19 years she turned from being this loving woman (which she informs me was an act) and a whole new side came out... .  I've seen glipses before ... .  but never like this.  She has so much hate and anger towards me that she has bottled for years from past arguments going all the way back to 22 years ago. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2013, 03:24:23 PM »

What do you mean "active with people" and "texting EA"

Is this some terminology I don't know.  Or do you mean she was a loner?
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2013, 03:33:08 PM »

Yes she was kind of a loner.  It would take her months to form friendships.  In fact some of our good friends thought she hated them for the first year.  The EA stands for emotional affair.  She was great at having a "fantasy man" through facebook or texting, but honestly if she was with people in person she is shy and not very outgoing... .  unless drinking or drunk... .  which is how this texting affair started... .  she was a drunk bridesmaid before the wedding and he was a groomsman.
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2013, 04:12:46 PM »

Ok.  I need to do the lessons.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Read. Post. Practice. Read some more.

Fear of how she will react is covered (read about FOG)

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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2013, 04:38:28 PM »

She exploaded on facebook when I got her an iPhone in October. 

She posted that I am verbally abusive and she has lived in fear of me for the last 10 years as her status.  She got alot of validation for that one and several help line numbers, shelter addresses and several other women telling her that a man like me will never change.

She also told the world when she was released from the hospital at 4 am after being suicidal. She failed to mention I was the one who took her there when I knew it might lead to divorce, luckily the enabling psychiatrist determined that her meds were not working right. So I was off the hook.

Do most BPDs refuse to ask their peers their opinion.  I have often asked her to compare what I say with her peers, but she won't. She'll post on facebook that she was just released from the hospital for being suicidal, but she won't ask the teacher she's known years if her husband says this. 

It's like like she is hiding and dodging the truth. 

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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2013, 09:18:05 AM »

She will say confrontational things and then when I react I am made out to be the bad guy.

I went through a lot of that. Eventually I came to understand it a bit--My wife would get angry about something. Her mom was an alcoholic who would rage horribly when she was drunk... .  and wasn't really safe when sober either. So she grew up knowing that she wasn't allowed to express her own anger. i eventually realized that what she would do was push my buttons until *I* would express anger (at her).

Then she could blame me for "yelling at her"... .  I bet you know the pattern

What I finally learned was that when she started pushing my buttons, I just had to get out of contact with her for a while. I knew that eventually I would blow up at her, and it wasn't something I wanted to do. I would leave her to her own devices. I usually go for a walk because it would allow me to calm down. Sometimes I would call a friend to talk while I was out walking. Other times I just get some exercise.

The other consequence was that my wife wouldn't get the release/distraction from her own angry feelings--If I yelled at her, she could turn it around and be the victim in her own mind, and didn't have to confront her own feelings of anger (or whatever she was feeling). If I left, she was left alone with whatever she was feeling. It wasn't very comfortable for her, I know... .  but ultimately it proved to be one thing that helped our relationship.
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2013, 10:18:20 AM »

Not Perfect -- (good name, btw) -- back towards your start . . .

A little late into this, but yes -- very clear match on the Waif model, and I tend to use that term internally as it fits us very well.  More cynically, I use "Victim-for-Life."

We have a near same model as what you are describing in our house.   Have you read about the Kaufman Drama Triangle, as well?  It is a very important part of this game.  Three roles -- Vicitim, Rescuer, Prosecuter.  To get yourself out of this, you have to step off the triangle.

In our case, been together about 12 years, have three kids -- 10, 8, 5.  Momma/Mrs. Somewhere has pretty much been a Waif since we met.  Allways tries the Porcupine Cover -- that she is wantabe tough, and then retreats to Waif.  Pulls this on just about anyone she can.  Poor me this, poor me that.  :)id it on me for years, so I could play the other end of the game -- Rescue/Hero.  When that does/did not work for her, she would roll to the Petuant (Passive-Agressive) model.

Since Rehab (she is back about 70 days, now -- Eating Disorder), she was trying to do the Paint Me Black routines, on and off.  That is where you are placed in the other corner of the triangle as the Prosector -- gives them an extra reinforced Drama Triangle.  But I will no longer play any of the roles, have walked off the Fantasy Theater stage, and am just sitting in the audience.  She still tries the projector/projection games on me out in the audience . . . but I just sort of smile and wave from the balcony.

Like I say, things have been a little off-the-rails around here, too.  Re-hab took away her coping mechanisms.  What has really screwed things between us is because I got some real help for me.  On her side she is avoiding the BPD tag as she also has the formal education, like yours.  They really (really, really) do not want the stigma and self-responsibility that incurs.   In our case, she is a LMSW.  Heaven help the people they would help.

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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2013, 10:47:32 AM »

I believe it's called the Karpman Drama Triangle. There are victim roles, but raising awareness around the roles we play on the triangle  (rescuer, persecutor, and yes... .  we spend time in victim, too... ) helps to change things.
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2013, 01:29:17 PM »

She will say confrontational things and then when I react I am made out to be the bad guy.

Then she could blame me for "yelling at her"... .  I bet you know the pattern  I know the pattern indeed.  I am known as a cruel husband to her family, friends and co-workers. I wish I could tell them the truth, but I have boundaries about my personal information and that of my friends and family.  Also, I would only look worse if I tried to explain.

I would leave her to her own devices. I usually go for a walk because it would allow me to calm down.

The other consequence was that my wife wouldn't get the release/distraction from her own angry feelings... she was left alone with whatever she was feeling. It wasn't very comfortable for her, I know... .  but ultimately it proved to be one thing that helped our relationship.

when I leave her with the uncontrolled thoughts she becomes suicidal. Even if I leave before it even becomes heated.
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2013, 01:39:29 PM »

We have a near same model as what you are describing in our house.   Have you read about the Kaufman Drama Triangle, as well?  It is a very important part of this game.  Three roles -- Vicitim, Rescuer, Prosecuter.  To get yourself out of this, you have to step off the triangle.

In our case, been together about 12 years, have three kids -- 10, 8, 5.  Momma/Mrs. Somewhere has pretty much been a Waif since we met.

 They really (really, really) do not want the stigma and self-responsibility that incurs.   In our case, she is a LMSW.  Heaven help the people they would help.

Thank you.  I got a little lost in the metaphors. 

We have two kids 4 and 1 1/2.  If I pull all the stops on support we are all screwed. As it is now the house is a bit of a sh@t-hole.  I do what I can, but I can't do it all. Heaven help me if I ask her to clean, her superficial facebook friends and relatives will say " Why doesn't he clean? " She plays the sexism card. What can I say to that? 

I am already over loaded.  I am self employed and can make my own hours, but if I don't work I don't get paid. To her it's like I have all the free time in the world.  Meanwhile, if she gets off work ealry she goes shopping and posts pics to her facebook style analysis group until she picks up the kids and brings them home to a kitchen with old food on the table, a full sink, and no clean dishes.

I know what I need to do, but it is really great to be in a forum where people know what I am going through.
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2013, 01:53:56 PM »

OK.  I hope this isn't petty.

But, how the hell do I get my wife to hold her own with the house cleaning when the slightest mention of it means I am a sexist?

Not to mention anyone giving advice to her is saying,  " He thinks just because he is a man you will do all the cleaning"

I admit it, I was a slob when we met.  I haven't been a slob for years.

I know people will say just don't play into her game, but I have 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old.

I want them to grow up to be normal and a filthy house is damaging.
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« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2013, 02:52:52 PM »

We all have different SOs.

Mine cannot watch the kids for more than two hours without becoming overwhelmed. 

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« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2013, 03:06:29 PM »

I believe it's called the Karpman Drama Triangle. There are victim roles, but raising awareness around the roles we play on the triangle  (rescuer, persecutor, and yes... .  we spend time in victim, too... ) helps to change things.

You are correct.  Thanks.

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« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2013, 08:03:45 PM »

This is not a BPD issue per se, so I am a little confused why you are bringing it on this forum, but hey, whatever. 

Always a very good subject IMO.  Sexism in relationship to marriage and cleaning would mean that you expect her to only do stereotypically female type chores while you do the stereotyped male chores. 

Or it could mean that you are doing the labor outside the house bringing in the income, and she is expected to be doing the labor inside the house.  Really the only time this comes up now a days is when the woman is expected to work fulltime and also do all the chores.

The only thing that either of you should be looking at is fairness of division, and that is the ONLY thing that feminism is looking at, equality.  If it is not equal it is not okay.  Who does what is just a matter of preference and negotiation.

Now, down to division of labor.  How divided is your labor?  I know from experience that taking care of those two kids at that age is about 8 hours of physical labor per day including housecleaning.  Where are the kids all day?  Daycare takes that down to about 3 hours a day.  How many hours do each of you work?  That goes into the division of labor.  It doesn't matter how you divide who does what.  Negotiate on that and divvy up everything until it feel really, really fair.  And be honest, and don't stop the process of deciding who does what until both sides feel it's fair.  Okay?  Good.  Done.  Now moving on to... .  

Slovenly behavior.  Hygeine comes first for kids.  Don't be obsessive about cleanliness unless you both are, but it needs to be safe.  Go by what the average person would think of as hygeinic or what a doctor would recommend.  Esthetics?  Neat or messy?  That's just what you have to work out.  You should end up either somewhere right between you two or have rooms that can be messy, rooms that are clean or some combination.  Keep negotiating until both of you have to be okay with it. 

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« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2013, 08:16:40 PM »

It sounds like she is a classic waif borderline, particularly with the smear campaign, (google borderline smear campaign) but I am a little confused as to your role in things here.  You say you yell at her all the time.  A lot of people consider yelling at a spouse all the time as abusive.  I am wondering if you feel this is normal and expected behavior towards your spouse.  I know in some cultures it is normal.  Chronic yelling wouldn't be okay in my marriage and that would be something that I would expect an apology for each time or I would take it as abusive. 

It sounds like you have a classic waif borderline, but your behavior makes things a little bit messy to look at.  Can you clarify?

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« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2013, 08:18:55 PM »

Or picking your battles.  Is there easy functional solutions that don't involve a huge emotional discussion.

Go for solutions ... .  

-if you can afford it hire a housecleaner.

-make a chores board (sometimes its miscommunication of expectations-Dearman is good here).  


It's good to remember radical acceptance too... .  this person may not be capable.  :)o what you gotta do to keep the hygiene clean and the kids tended too.  And monitor for your resentment.  Having a mentally ill partner often means being the healthier person in the relationship with more responsibility/the caretaker.  It's not equal, it just is sometimes.
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« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2013, 09:58:16 PM »

I have this problem and in my case it does come from a BPD  characteristic.

With my partner it is about "herself", she will do what I would call headline acts... A flash meal, buying showy items, grand gestures, in other words the things that will gain praise and popularity. But anything that is just mundane that gains no real praise eg cleaning, prepared regular meals at normal times, going to the store for mundane things like bread and milk, never. There is no "glory" in them, and her level of responsibility/duty is not sufficient alone.

Only thing i will stay is that demanding these things need to be done causes her to dig her heels in. If I ask her to help me do something then she may make some effort. Making a song and dance with over praise for chores doesn't work either as it that comes across as sarcastic/patronizing.

It is an area I find I have to just use a lot of acceptance and just do the bulk of mundane stuff myself, cant be bothered with these unwinnable battles. Learn to live with some parts of the house looking like a garbage tip, its not the end of the world.

It is a disability, things just wont be normal. Changing your expectations so that you are less resentful is something you can do
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« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2013, 11:20:38 PM »

when I leave her with the uncontrolled thoughts she becomes suicidal. Even if I leave before it even becomes heated.

There are resources for when someone is suicidal. (There is a SAFETY FIRST link here if that is coming up) Posting on this forum isn't timely if it is happening NOW.

My experiences were milder. My wife has never attempted suicide, but has done some self-injury. It was both scary and crazy-making for me to experience.

A few times when my wife was self-injuring or sounding suicidal, I did say "If you don't stop that I'll dial 9-1-1 right now." (With my cell phone out and only needing to press "send" My wife did back down a few notches at this point. I'm pretty sure she knew I wasn't making any sort of idle threat--I *WAS* that close to dialing 9-1-1.

One time I was just at wits end (actually prior to finding this forum.) I just had NO patience left. I managed to go out the door with a parting comment of "I am going away because I'll say or do something I regret if I stay with you right now." I left on a LONG walk. Probably 4 miles out, and just as far back. I think when I made it back I was still too upset to go inside so I went off in another direction for a bit longer. It was at least two hours. I think I returned to find her sobbing instead of raging. Later I discovered that she had written self-hateful things on her body with a permanent marker. Much later I found out that she had also thought enough to decide how she would commit suicide.
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« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2013, 08:05:47 AM »

This fight has several parts:



  • You want your wife to take a larger share of house cleaning than she is. (This desire is completely valid on your part.)


  • Apparently, she does not want to take a larger share of house cleaning tasks. (This desire is completely valid on her part.)


  • There is no ultimate answer coming from God about what the fair balance would be.


  • When you speak of it to her, she accuses you of sexism.

    I doubt you are being sexist... .  but whether you are being sexist or not, there is no way to convince her that you aren't, and trying to convince her of this will just be invalidating, and make your relationship harder to live in.

    I would add that in many arguments/conflicts you will likely hear your wife say things that are hurtful accusations and just plain wrong or untrue. YOU don't have to believe them. The best EASY thing to do is to pretty much ignore that part of it. Don't invalidate her by proving that you are "right."


  • It sounds like she is complaining about this to others and getting support for her side of the story.

    Sorry to say, but that is outside your control. Let it go. You won't do any good pulling them into your fight with your wife. Besides they may not even agree with her, you never know.


  • "how the hell do I get my wife to hold her own with the house cleaning?"

    You can't control your wife. You can't "get her to do something." This is true whether she has BPD or is emotionally healthy and mature. Time to let go of that.




Pick your battles. Using the tools to negotiate this with her is hard work. If it is really important to you, go ahead and make the effort. The first useful step in this direction would be to stop invalidating (nagging) her.

Hiring a house-cleaner is much easier if it can fit your budget.
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« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2013, 08:12:46 AM »

Great advice given here

How are you doing with the lessons reading notsoperfect?  Any particular ones that jump out as especially relevant to your situation and you can work on?

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« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2013, 09:08:15 AM »

Before you say this is petty.  Imagine your SO "pantsing" you in front of the neighbors once or twice a month. Definition 2.C.www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pants

My SO always leaves the blinds up and about once a week I have to hit the deck when I am caught unawares walking by a window neked. I have an old Victorian with windows that come down to about 24" above the floor so anyone who happened to be looking would get the Full Monty.

We live in an area of close by houses.

It's hard to put into words why this is upsetting.  Forcible boundary violation is the only way I can sum it up.

A few years ago she diagnosed herself with Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195 which gave her permission to leave the blinds open. But this doesn't explain why she does it all year round.

I can say to myself.  "She's being self-centered by not considering my basic right to privacy"

Or I can say "She leaves the blinds up because it makes her feel like she is safe when other people can see in"

She is a victim of sexual abuse in the home as a child.

What else can I say?  What do you say to your SO? 
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Can You Help Us Stay on the Air in 2020?

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Our 2020 Financial Sponsors
We are all appreciative of the members who provide the funding to keep BPDFamily on the air.
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