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Author Topic: Do they ever get help?  (Read 1549 times)
Cooper10

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« on: June 29, 2013, 05:42:46 PM »

I'm new to the board and just ended the final iteration of my two-year off-and-on emotionally traumatic "relationship" with my undiagnosed exBPD boyfriend.  The details are characteristically horrible, and likely don't bear repeating.  I'm just curious whether anyone has any encouraging stories of a pwBPD seeking help, sticking with it, and getting better.  If so, what finally prompted them to get help? For so long--like so many others, I'm sure--I wanted to save and help and fix him.  I've thankfully let that go and come to understand that it's not my responsibility or within my abilities to do so; nevertheless, I know how badly he hurts and how unwilling he is to face any of this, and I wish he could be healed.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Relatedly, I recently read a book called Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist by Margalis Fjelstad which I HIGHLY recommend to any non struggling with a pwBPD.
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Surnia
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 03:37:02 AM »

Hi Cooper10

and  Welcome

So sorry to hear what brought you here. And good to hear that you found some insight through the mentioned book. I agree with you, a great book.

To answer your question: There are some persons with BPD who are reaching out for help and are following the treatment. Others are staying in denial.

I think it is important that we "NONs" know that it is up to them. The person with BPD have to do the first steps. When we are in the caretaker role, we are perhaps even averting this.

How do you feel in your new situation?
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danley
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 08:25:14 AM »

Sometimes it takes a professional to help these individuals. As a loved one you can only do so much. It's pretty much up to the individual to get help. It has to be because they realize they need help and they have to also WANT help. As a loved one, you can offer support and encouragement but things need to be taken to the next level and that next level would ideally be up to the individual. Sometimes I think we believe we can encourage them to healing. But our hands are actually tied because it's not up to us.

I've suggested to my ex that he needs professional help last month after a serious conversation. It seemed like No matter how much effort, support, encouragement, and validation I gave throughout our relationship,  it was not enough to help him. In my eyes, my ex got stuck in those pleasantries but never took things to the next level in self healing. His fears and anxieties were No match against my help. Its as tho I was enabling him in a sense. His fears stunted and overpowered his being and mind... . almost possesed like. He had seen a counselor before but said she didn't understand him or was one sided. He went to see a different counselor and he stopped going after a few months because he said he felt fine and good about himself. Idk if he's currently seeing a counselor now. He has a stubborn edge and pride to him that makes me believe he probably will try to fix himself rather than admit professional help is what he needs. Sometimes these self fixings end up being temporary. Him trying to fix himself is what he's tried before and I believe to an extent he can resolve certain issues on his own. But the deep core issues that he fears can only be drawn out and worked thru with the help of a professional.
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Sharkey167
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 11:06:58 AM »

My ex is getting help. However that only makes me feel bad because then I think "maybe she'll get better now." Which is false and dangerous.

She may learn to deal with things better but I know ultimately she will always struggle with this and be who she is and it will always be an emotional roller coaster with her.
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Lucky Jim
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 11:32:17 AM »

Hey Cooper, In my view, those w/BPD are reluctant to take responsibility for their actions and have limited self-awareness, so that it is very difficult for a pwBPD to seek help, or, if they do, to stick with regular treatment.  My BPDexW repeatedly began therapy and then dropped out a few sessions later, citing some slight on the part of the T or saying that she didn't "like" the T, so it never went anywhere, sad to say.  So I'm skeptical about the ability of a pwBPD to pursue treatment.  LuckyJim
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Cooper10

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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2013, 06:09:02 PM »

Hi Cooper10

and  Welcome

So sorry to hear what brought you here. And good to hear that you found some insight through the mentioned book. I agree with you, a great book.

To answer your question: There are some persons with BPD who are reaching out for help and are following the treatment. Others are staying in denial.

I think it is important that we "NONs" know that it is up to them. The person with BPD have to do the first steps. When we are in the caretaker role, we are perhaps even averting this.

How do you feel in your new situation?

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.  Specifically, Surnia, as to how I'm feeling now, I tend to vacillate a little between acceptance and sadness.  I'm definitely in the best place I've ever been.  For so long I really thought I could be patient or kind or gracious enough or say the right things to help.  I can't though, and I accept that.

It just makes me sad when I really think about it though.  It's a personality disorder.  A sickness.  It's as though his character is broken, in a manner of speaking.  But it's the very nature of the sickness that prevents the treatment.  In the end, it is his choice and one only he can make, but when I wonder if he has the capacity to see that and make that choice at all, that seems unfair.  It feels so hopeless to watch someone you care about continue --seemingly unnecessarily--to cause themselves more and more pain.

I always hoped the end of our relationship would be the catalyst for him to get help, but then I remember that interpersonal turmoil is familiar to him, so perhaps this pain is no different than any other he experiences. It clearly is not the catalyst and of course I can't continue to subject myself to emotional hell on a hope of healing I've never seen.
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2013, 02:38:36 AM »

Cooper... .

At first I thought threatening to break up with my exGF would be what shook her into seeking help.  It did at first.  But she was only doing it so I didn't break up with her.   So she wasn't really committed to it and it eventually fell by the wayside.

When I finally broke up with her I thought that might be what finally drove her to get help.  And it did.  But only because she wanted to keep me in her life in some capacity and so that soon fell through as well.

When things actually got worse after the break up, during our "lets be friends" attempt, I thought going no-contact with her might be what finally got through to her. 

Sadly, that has not been the case.  It's very humbling to realize that even after so much idealization and admiration from her, I might not really have that much significance to her.  But at least I can console myself with the fact that NO ONE will have that much significance to her EVER.  Nor should they.  If she only gets help out of a desire to keep someone in her life, she will never be able to get anything out of it. 

And you know what?  That realization actually helped me with something.  I've often had a fear of another guy being "worthy" of her actually dealing with her issue.  But I now realize that that's not actually even possible.  Cause its NEVER about the other person.  It's about HER.  If she DOES finally see the light and follow through on help that actually helps, it won't be about anyone else except her.   Even if she is with someone else at the time.  That realization helped me a lot and showed me I put too much of my own self-worth on whether or not I was good enough for her to deal with her issue. 
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thelword

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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2013, 01:52:56 AM »

My ex was in therapy a year and a half(we were together 2)and until I broke up with her. I didn't see any changes except the occasional therapist talk. She told me her therapist said I was her trigger (which I now understand). Also how the ex and therapist were working on her black and white thinking, which also never changed while I was with her.

She did develop an unhealthy attachment to her therapist though. She told me she wat scared her therapist was going to stop seeing her (abandonment issues) and also her therapist told her she needed to be more forthcoming. Theres no doubt she lies, omits things, and only tells the therapist what she wants to hear. Honestly I don't understand how a therapist could ever get through with this disorder.
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mcc503764
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2013, 05:52:53 AM »

This is the reality of the situation.  Ultimately do we want to see them "better?"  of course we do... . we love them, we care about them... . but ask yourself, what does that mean?

This is a personal battle that they have to face!  No amount of care / concern is going to make a lightbulb come on in their head and change them.  They have to face their own demons, we cannot do that for them.

Remember this... . even if they get "help," what's to say that they will be the same person in the end?  What's to say that YOU will be the same person?  What happens to YOU along this process?  How long can YOU hold on?  My point is, what is this doing to YOU?  There comes a point to where it becomes too emotionally exhausting and you may have to make the choice to walk away... . Ask yourself this, are you caught up in fantasy thinking?  The thinking of a "happily ever after?"  If you are, you need to work on letting that one go because it's not likely!  (I apologize for the harshness, but this is reality!)  I know that I was, and still am to some extent, but the harsh reality of the situation is, that until they see the errors in their ways, why would they change?  What's in it for them?  No amount of care/concern is going to help them "get better," you can only control yourself and how it effects YOU!

And if they do decide to get help, remember that it's a process that you will not see any results or change overnight.  I know we'd all like to think that this is like a cold... . take an  antibiotic and after a week or so you'll feel better?  NOT IN THIS CASE... .

Point is, try and take some of your care / concern for them and apply it to YOU and YOUR life... .

MCC

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Validation78
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2013, 07:08:11 AM »

Hi All!

As Surnia reminds us, it's up to pwBPD to seek the help they need to get better. As compassionate human beings, we want what we think is best for our loved ones, however, we must leave it in their hands!

That being said, we must turn the focus on ourselves. At my first T session after I insisted my pwBPD leave our home for good, I was told, in very clear terms, by my T these things, since she knew that this was a pivotal moment for me:

Your H has BPD, PTSD, and severe CoD

He is a very sick man

You and he have been doing DBT for over a year, and he isn't doing the work, you are

He isn't going to get better (unless HE decides to do the work)

You have a long life ahead of you, you decide how to proceed

It was all I needed to hear. Direct and to the point. Do I care if he gets help? Of course I care. However, I care more about my mental and physical well being than I do his!

Best Wishes,

Val78
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patientandclear
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2013, 05:32:29 PM »

I found this thread very thought-provoking.  Cooper, like you, I believed the end or temporary suspension of our r/s might be the catalyst for some soul-searching & change.I was devastated & so confused when he lingered on the introspection & change tip for a nanosecond, and then immediately got with his ex gf, a woman he'd denied having a serious attachment to when we were together.

I thought we were special enough to prompt change. Like Cooper said, I underestimated his familiarity with emotional turmoil.  This did not feel unusual to him. I do thing he took it very hard. But in a horrible way it fit in with what he already thought about the world--love will fail you, it's all lies we tell ourselves to get through.

What I am now starting to see, in a later stage of recovery from al this & with the help of being in contact with him, is that my hope he would change was unhealthy.  He has mightily resisted any even subtle implication that there is something wrong with him.  He is going to go on being how he is. My only choice is how I want to relate to that actual person.

We've actually had a decent r/s post-breakup except when I decide to try to help him see the light in some fashion. That Does Not Work.  Fundamentally, it's pretty arrogant & disrespectful too.  I never understood that till recently.
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Cooper10

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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2013, 03:17:37 PM »

Patientandclea, would you mind talking a little bit about how you decided to remain in contact with your ex and what that looks like?  I've cut off contact a number of times completely, but it seems that what happens in the mean time is that the tension of the silence builds for both of us and when it breaks, it's like a dam of explosive emotions and things we've been holding onto for the months of silence.  We run into one another a fair amount, so I've contemplated trying to be "friends." But he cheated on me and hurt me so badly so many times that I'm not sure that "friendship" could be remotely healthy or productive.  It couldn't be meaningful (I don't want to know how many girls are in his life) and it would have the potential to be more hurtful.  I also consider that when/if I start dating someone else seriously, I'll likely need to cut my ex out completely, which could cause more hurt than what we've already endured.  Finally, I try to challenge my own motivations in wanting this friendship; I wonder if on some level that is my last ditch attempt to be there for him (which, like you said, is arrogant of me).

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mcc503764
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2013, 05:21:18 AM »

Patientandclea, would you mind talking a little bit about how you decided to remain in contact with your ex and what that looks like?  I've cut off contact a number of times completely, but it seems that what happens in the mean time is that the tension of the silence builds for both of us and when it breaks, it's like a dam of explosive emotions and things we've been holding onto for the months of silence.  We run into one another a fair amount, so I've contemplated trying to be "friends." But he cheated on me and hurt me so badly so many times that I'm not sure that "friendship" could be remotely healthy or productive.  It couldn't be meaningful (I don't want to know how many girls are in his life) and it would have the potential to be more hurtful.  I also consider that when/if I start dating someone else seriously, I'll likely need to cut my ex out completely, which could cause more hurt than what we've already endured.  Finally, I try to challenge my own motivations in wanting this friendship; I wonder if on some level that is my last ditch attempt to be there for him (which, like you said, is arrogant of me).

In my situation, I wouldn't consider my x a "friend," but I wouldn't consider her an enemy either... . does that make sense?  I guess it's a point of indifference? 

I acknowledge that I still care, but that "care" doesn't consume me nearly as much as it used to.  I guess I "care" from a distance? 

I've tried the "friendship" game, but that just doesn't work.  Largely in part because of our dynamic.  I've never known her as anything else than a partner, so the transition to "friendship" doesn't work.  I think it's possible, but there HAS to be certain rules / boundaries in place for a "friendship," and honestly, my x doesn't have those and come to think of it, either do I!

In a "friendship" setting, things for my situation usually go well for a week or so, but then it turns into a "dating" situation.  Old feelings get brought back to the surface along with old hurts.  This obviously causes conflict.  It's very easy to slip back into familiar routines (the routine that put all of us here in the first place!)

Then my x will play the "jealousy" card, and talk about her dating life and all of the men that she has been with since me.  I've asked her not to do that, but she still finds a way to sneak in certain tidbits that still hurt me... . that's not much of a "friend," and the fact that I still get hurt, tells me that I still do have feelings for her on some level... .

So, I've focused and worked really hard to try and numb myself from her actions.  I am still accepting the "reality" of the situation.  I still care for her, and I want to see her get better.  I still have empathy for her as a person, so I guess the casual txt / communication feels ok.  It's still nice to hear from her every so often, because I do care for her... .

I guess I got to the point to where I was sick of being weighed down by anger and hate.  I have focused on letting it go and moving forward.  my LC with my x has proved that to my x and to myself!  The anger / hate were interfering with my life too much, it was in still allowing my x to control me?

So, that is where I am at.  Not sure that it's the best route, but it works for me (at the moment... . )

MCC
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patientandclear
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2013, 02:30:51 AM »

Patientandclea, would you mind talking a little bit about how you decided to remain in contact with your ex and what that looks like?  I've cut off contact a number of times completely, but it seems that what happens in the mean time is that the tension of the silence builds for both of us and when it breaks, it's like a dam of explosive emotions and things we've been holding onto for the months of silence.  We run into one another a fair amount, so I've contemplated trying to be "friends." But he cheated on me and hurt me so badly so many times that I'm not sure that "friendship" could be remotely healthy or productive.  It couldn't be meaningful (I don't want to know how many girls are in his life) and it would have the potential to be more hurtful.  I also consider that when/if I start dating someone else seriously, I'll likely need to cut my ex out completely, which could cause more hurt than what we've already endured.  Finally, I try to challenge my own motivations in wanting this friendship; I wonder if on some level that is my last ditch attempt to be there for him (which, like you said, is arrogant of me).

Hi Cooper.  A caveat before I answer: I am all over the place right now about this friendship.  Some days (hours?), I still think I can hang onto or get back to a clear, good place where we can care about one another in a non-distorted, healthy way.  Other days (hours?), I feel like this is utterly corrupted by the emotional inequality of a situation where he is chronically disappointed in me & I can't help but be seeking his approval and good favor by trying to perform well -- and I think I need to just stop trying.

The long story short is that after he pursued me, proclaimed fervent love for me, and then left me, and then got cold feet after exploring getting back together, I was devastated, but I tried to stick around & be his friend for a couple months because he claimed he was working in therapy on his intimacy issues.  When I realized he was actually pursuing some kind of intimate r/s with a woman I work with whom he'd previously dated (though he never really admitted that to me -- I had to learn from mutual friends that he'd been talking marriage and kids with her), I decided I couldn't stick around for what seemed to be coming next, and I asked for NC.  Had no contact except one little ping from him, for 10 months, during which time I learned about BPD and thought I had assimilated the idea that we couldn't be partners because everything is a trigger, he has no insight and prefers to go get a new woman to digging in and fixing real issues with any particular woman (I'd learned he'd had a long sequence of short passionate affairs all of which he suddenly ended).

At this point I got in touch & offered a "true and enduring friendship." I think I did this out of genuine love for him and a desire to redeem something of value out of the sad mess that our romance had turned into.  He accepted.  I wasn't prepared for the intensity with which he plunged into the friendship -- he basically treated me like his partner without being acknowledged as such, and without a sexual r/s (he is pretty traumatized by sex I think, so this was in some ways his ideal r/s -- close when he wanted it, remote when he wanted it, no rules, and no sex).  I was very susceptible to the idea that I was still super special to him -- it was a balm to the wound that was still so sore from his previous abandonment(s).

We'd get super close (emailing, texting, talking about The Profound Questions Of Human Existence), then he's suddenly push me away, going nearly silent.  Once he proclaimed out of the blue that he only wanted to be friends, and this explained the distance.  (I'd never suggested otherwise and it was not in my mind that it could be otherwise.)  It went on like that for months in roller coaster fashion, which I learned to radically accept -- I spent a lot of time on the Staying board, and let him know it was OK with me for him to come & go as he pleased.  I would say it was going well -- we were developing a sort of rhythm and trust, we went to some important, deep places together, it was an important r/s to both of us.  We had hard times when I would hurt him inadvertently by not completely intuiting what he wanted me to understand, but we were able to discuss these problems and do some basic repairs -- pretty unusual for BPD dynamics.  I felt like it was a success story.

Then out of nowhere, he announced he was going to sell his apartment and move away -- maybe coming back after traveling, maybe not.  He left within 3 weeks of deciding this.  I was really heartbroken -- it felt like a reprise of the initial abandonment scenario, only this time, because there were no rules and there was no acknowledgement of our intimacy, he could be completely blase about it.  As a friend of mine said, "he can only be intimate with you by denying it."  I toughed it out through those three weeks being up front about how I was sad about this and would miss him, but without declaring my eternal love or anything (I would summarize my feelings for him in this period as having put my romantic love for him, which still existed, on the shelf to allow our friendship to grow in its own right, and see where it took us).  When he left, we were on good terms, but the day he left was the last day he ever sent a text, even though up till then it was constant narration of his thinking, the events of his day, things I should read, things we should discuss, etc.  It was as if when he got on the bus to go, he wanted to change the entire scene of the play of his life, and I was just part of that, so he just hit "pause" on us.

From his travels he sent periodic sweet intense emails, but wasn't connected to me in the daily way he had been.  I dealt with it.  But finally he arrived in a new city and within 36 hours of getting there, decided to move there.  I replied and asked, essentially, ok, but have you considered what  you are leaving behind?  And he stopped writing to me for almost 3 months, only resuming when I wrote him again asking if those questions had rubbed him the wrong way.  The answer was yes, in a big way, and we are still mired in the aftermath of that mutual hurt.  Meanwhile I think I've unearthed the reason he landed in the new city -- his long time gf is there, a woman he's been obsessively focused on throughout the string of short passionate romances, though of course he described that r/s to me as abusive and horrible.

That's my story.  The conclusions I draw from my little experiment in post-r/s friendship are that the lines will be incredible blurry unless YOU keep them clear, in your own mind and for your BPDex.  And if you do, you will be less useful to them, as the ambiguity is attractive to them -- the continued validation that you find them attractive, compelling, good, despite the mess made of the romance.  But also, no matter how strong the connection feels, it is subject to being upended suddenly when it no longer fits their needs -- when another r/s or life project sweeps into their sights and displaces you, and you are no longer needed.

If I were to do it over again, I would either not try this, or, if I did try it, I would be much more rigorous with myself about not allowing any expectations of permanency or stability to creep in.  When I started it, I said I would only engage in the friendship if it was mutual, respectful, warm and reciprocal.  But it was so much of all of those things for a while that I got sucked into forgetting that it wasn't going to be able to stay at that level.  He was no more going to be able to commit to that kind of friendship with me than he was a romantic partnership.  Ultimately, it would not make all the bad feelings go away, so he'd need to try something new, and if that was incompatible with our special friendship -- oh well.  And he cannot tolerate being questioned about such decisions -- he not only used silent treatment but was quite harsh and aggressive when he finally resumed communication, punishing me for questioning how he'd suddenly reconfigured everything.

Some BPD themes I'd never seen in our romance crept into the friendship, which was interesting.  He began to suspect me of having a "hidden agenda," trying to "save" him, when I didn't share his particular ideas about something.  I suspect he would have appreciated more validation than I did, but I certainly wasn't trying to save or change him in the ways he suspected.  He confided a pattern of feeling incredibly engulfed and losing himself in past relationships, and said he was working on individuation and defining himself outside of a relationship, a project I completely respect and which helped me push pause on my feelings of romantic love for him.  He never rages overtly but I began to see the intense sublimated anger which he had worked so hard to discipline and hide.

It certainly has illuminated that the initial idealization stage in which the sun rose and set with me in his eyes was a completely superficial, desperate grab at happiness -- it didn't involve a deep understanding of him by me or of me by him.  We got a lot closer to that this past year as friends, but it didn't make the bond any less susceptible to sudden rupture.  In some ways the fact that the r/s feels more real has also made this fraying we're going through now sadder and more painful.  I love him very much and I've tried hard to act with integrity toward him, me and our relationship, though I haven't been perfect or brilliant about it -- I've been very committed to trying to be a real friend.  And we're still in this very painful place.
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heartcoaster

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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 07:12:11 AM »

I'm sad to say my optimism has run out on the prospect of my ex ever getting help.  In fact, I suspect her family has it just as bad so the chances of them recognizing her need for treatment is pretty much nonexistent.  I know she will always be like this and just need to do what I can for myself to move on and be happy.  She convinced the therapist that I was the problem and I incorrectly assumed the therapist would be aware of the earmarks of BPD.  I know full well you can't make someone do anything against their will and that any help in the future will have to be 100% motivated by her and her alone.
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2013, 07:48:08 AM »

I'm sad to say my optimism has run out on the prospect of my ex ever getting help.  In fact, I suspect her family has it just as bad so the chances of them recognizing her need for treatment is pretty much nonexistent.  I know she will always be like this and just need to do what I can for myself to move on and be happy.  She convinced the therapist that I was the problem and I incorrectly assumed the therapist would be aware of the earmarks of BPD.  I know full well you can't make someone do anything against their will and that any help in the future will have to be 100% motivated by her and her alone.

Remember therapist only know what you tell them.  Sure you would like to believe that they have insight and should be able to pick up on certain things, however unfortunately this is not the case.  As far as the BPD “getting help,” let that overwhelming feeling go.  People will seek “help” when they want to.  When they see the need to do so.  That’s a personal choice and this fact should be accepted as such!  There is nothing wrong with having empathy for them, but it gets to the point to where you can want in one hand and s$#t in the other and tell me which one gets the fullest the fastest?

MCC

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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2013, 08:05:40 AM »

Just like alcoholism or any other problem, you have to acknowledge the issue if you're going to have any shot at fixing it.  I'm not expecting her to acknowledge it but will be pleasantly surprised if that happened down the road.
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2013, 07:41:46 AM »

Patientandclea, would you mind talking a little bit about how you decided to remain in contact with your ex and what that looks like?  I've cut off contact a number of times completely, but it seems that what happens in the mean time is that the tension of the silence builds for both of us and when it breaks, it's like a dam of explosive emotions and things we've been holding onto for the months of silence.  We run into one another a fair amount, so I've contemplated trying to be "friends." But he cheated on me and hurt me so badly so many times that I'm not sure that "friendship" could be remotely healthy or productive.  It couldn't be meaningful (I don't want to know how many girls are in his life) and it would have the potential to be more hurtful.  I also consider that when/if I start dating someone else seriously, I'll likely need to cut my ex out completely, which could cause more hurt than what we've already endured.  Finally, I try to challenge my own motivations in wanting this friendship; I wonder if on some level that is my last ditch attempt to be there for him (which, like you said, is arrogant of me).

Hi Cooper.  A caveat before I answer: I am all over the place right now about this friendship.  Some days (hours?), I still think I can hang onto or get back to a clear, good place where we can care about one another in a non-distorted, healthy way.  Other days (hours?), I feel like this is utterly corrupted by the emotional inequality of a situation where he is chronically disappointed in me & I can't help but be seeking his approval and good favor by trying to perform well -- and I think I need to just stop trying.

The long story short is that after he pursued me, proclaimed fervent love for me, and then left me, and then got cold feet after exploring getting back together, I was devastated, but I tried to stick around & be his friend for a couple months because he claimed he was working in therapy on his intimacy issues.  When I realized he was actually pursuing some kind of intimate r/s with a woman I work with whom he'd previously dated (though he never really admitted that to me -- I had to learn from mutual friends that he'd been talking marriage and kids with her), I decided I couldn't stick around for what seemed to be coming next, and I asked for NC.  Had no contact except one little ping from him, for 10 months, during which time I learned about BPD and thought I had assimilated the idea that we couldn't be partners because everything is a trigger, he has no insight and prefers to go get a new woman to digging in and fixing real issues with any particular woman (I'd learned he'd had a long sequence of short passionate affairs all of which he suddenly ended).

At this point I got in touch & offered a "true and enduring friendship." I think I did this out of genuine love for him and a desire to redeem something of value out of the sad mess that our romance had turned into.  He accepted.  I wasn't prepared for the intensity with which he plunged into the friendship -- he basically treated me like his partner without being acknowledged as such, and without a sexual r/s (he is pretty traumatized by sex I think, so this was in some ways his ideal r/s -- close when he wanted it, remote when he wanted it, no rules, and no sex).  I was very susceptible to the idea that I was still super special to him -- it was a balm to the wound that was still so sore from his previous abandonment(s).

We'd get super close (emailing, texting, talking about The Profound Questions Of Human Existence), then he's suddenly push me away, going nearly silent.  Once he proclaimed out of the blue that he only wanted to be friends, and this explained the distance.  (I'd never suggested otherwise and it was not in my mind that it could be otherwise.)  It went on like that for months in roller coaster fashion, which I learned to radically accept -- I spent a lot of time on the Staying board, and let him know it was OK with me for him to come & go as he pleased.  I would say it was going well -- we were developing a sort of rhythm and trust, we went to some important, deep places together, it was an important r/s to both of us.  We had hard times when I would hurt him inadvertently by not completely intuiting what he wanted me to understand, but we were able to discuss these problems and do some basic repairs -- pretty unusual for BPD dynamics.  I felt like it was a success story.

Then out of nowhere, he announced he was going to sell his apartment and move away -- maybe coming back after traveling, maybe not.  He left within 3 weeks of deciding this.  I was really heartbroken -- it felt like a reprise of the initial abandonment scenario, only this time, because there were no rules and there was no acknowledgement of our intimacy, he could be completely blase about it.  As a friend of mine said, "he can only be intimate with you by denying it."  I toughed it out through those three weeks being up front about how I was sad about this and would miss him, but without declaring my eternal love or anything (I would summarize my feelings for him in this period as having put my romantic love for him, which still existed, on the shelf to allow our friendship to grow in its own right, and see where it took us).  When he left, we were on good terms, but the day he left was the last day he ever sent a text, even though up till then it was constant narration of his thinking, the events of his day, things I should read, things we should discuss, etc.  It was as if when he got on the bus to go, he wanted to change the entire scene of the play of his life, and I was just part of that, so he just hit "pause" on us.

From his travels he sent periodic sweet intense emails, but wasn't connected to me in the daily way he had been.  I dealt with it.  But finally he arrived in a new city and within 36 hours of getting there, decided to move there.  I replied and asked, essentially, ok, but have you considered what  you are leaving behind?  And he stopped writing to me for almost 3 months, only resuming when I wrote him again asking if those questions had rubbed him the wrong way.  The answer was yes, in a big way, and we are still mired in the aftermath of that mutual hurt.  Meanwhile I think I've unearthed the reason he landed in the new city -- his long time gf is there, a woman he's been obsessively focused on throughout the string of short passionate romances, though of course he described that r/s to me as abusive and horrible.

That's my story.  The conclusions I draw from my little experiment in post-r/s friendship are that the lines will be incredible blurry unless YOU keep them clear, in your own mind and for your BPDex.  And if you do, you will be less useful to them, as the ambiguity is attractive to them -- the continued validation that you find them attractive, compelling, good, despite the mess made of the romance.  But also, no matter how strong the connection feels, it is subject to being upended suddenly when it no longer fits their needs -- when another r/s or life project sweeps into their sights and displaces you, and you are no longer needed.

If I were to do it over again, I would either not try this, or, if I did try it, I would be much more rigorous with myself about not allowing any expectations of permanency or stability to creep in.  When I started it, I said I would only engage in the friendship if it was mutual, respectful, warm and reciprocal.  But it was so much of all of those things for a while that I got sucked into forgetting that it wasn't going to be able to stay at that level.  He was no more going to be able to commit to that kind of friendship with me than he was a romantic partnership.  Ultimately, it would not make all the bad feelings go away, so he'd need to try something new, and if that was incompatible with our special friendship -- oh well.  And he cannot tolerate being questioned about such decisions -- he not only used silent treatment but was quite harsh and aggressive when he finally resumed communication, punishing me for questioning how he'd suddenly reconfigured everything.

Some BPD themes I'd never seen in our romance crept into the friendship, which was interesting.  He began to suspect me of having a "hidden agenda," trying to "save" him, when I didn't share his particular ideas about something.  I suspect he would have appreciated more validation than I did, but I certainly wasn't trying to save or change him in the ways he suspected.  He confided a pattern of feeling incredibly engulfed and losing himself in past relationships, and said he was working on individuation and defining himself outside of a relationship, a project I completely respect and which helped me push pause on my feelings of romantic love for him.  He never rages overtly but I began to see the intense sublimated anger which he had worked so hard to discipline and hide.

It certainly has illuminated that the initial idealization stage in which the sun rose and set with me in his eyes was a completely superficial, desperate grab at happiness -- it didn't involve a deep understanding of him by me or of me by him.  We got a lot closer to that this past year as friends, but it didn't make the bond any less susceptible to sudden rupture.  In some ways the fact that the r/s feels more real has also made this fraying we're going through now sadder and more painful.  I love him very much and I've tried hard to act with integrity toward him, me and our relationship, though I haven't been perfect or brilliant about it -- I've been very committed to trying to be a real friend.  And we're still in this very painful place.

Wow, this is quite a huge insight into how it is to remain friends.  Even at this less intense level, they still devalue and turn people black with any difference of opinion.  Truly a disordered mind.  And there isn't a thing we can do about it.
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2013, 06:21:21 PM »

Patientandclear thank you so much.  Your post was incredibly insightful, validating, and thought-provoking and I appreciate it.  At the very beginning, my relationship with my ex was long distance.  He refused to commit to me, but wanted to talk to me all the time when it was convenient for him. I knew nothing of BPD then, but, in an effort to create some healthy boundaries, I told him that we had to be "all or nothing."  I explained I was willing to do "all" and be in a committed relationship, but this in-between, be-there-when-he-wanted-to-talk-to-me business was not going to work out.  I was trying to protect myself from getting used and hurt.  He completely freaked out.  I had hit a nerve.  He wanted to have his cake and eat it too and threw a two-year-old fit when that got taken away from him.  Ultimately, we did end up dating off an on, but that was tumultuous and horrific.

I, too, was very susceptible to the idea that I was special to my ex.  I would grasp onto "objective" evidence that with me, it was different.  He may have had superficial or physical relationships with the other girls, I thought, but I was the one he really cared about.  I was the one he would come back to.  But when I separate from that and look at it objectively, I have to realize he was saying all the same things to them that he was to me.  Sure, maybe he meant the things he said to me like "I realized [another ex] wasn't the one for me" -- or even the superlatives like "you're the best friend I've ever had" -- but those statements were only true for him in the moment he said them.  They were probably echoed to the other girls and just as true for him in the moments he spoke to them. 

In any event, your post is validating because I really do think, at least for me, all or nothing is the way to go (and for me, that means nothing).  It's interesting because the only reason I would still entertain the idea of engaging in a "friendship" is because I still have feelings and want to try to alleviate the tension of no contact--a "friendship", of course, can't exist when there are still feelings.  But as I grow more and more detached, I realize I don't need, or really even want a friendship with him.  Like you've described, that would just be as destructive as the relationship.

To my original question, it still makes me sad, but I'm accepting more and more the notion that--issues or not--they have got to take responsibility for their actions.  Only they can get help.  It's as simple as that.  It's painful to watch, and my gosh I hope that for my ex so much because there is a great person in there, but I can't count on it.  I can't ascribe to a mentality of giving up hope for him--anything is possible.  But I think I have to separate giving up hope for him from giving up hope for a relationship for us. Healing for him would be a long and painful road, and it's one he isn't even starting to walk down.  I have to focus on my own healing and move on.  I can't sit around waiting for something that may never happen.
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