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VIDEO: "What is parental alienation?" Parental alienation is when a parent allows a child to participate or hear them degrade the other parent. This is not uncommon in divorces and the children often adjust. In severe cases, however, it can be devastating to the child. This video provides a helpful overview.
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Poll
Question: Did You Stay in Order to Help your BPD Partner?
Very Much So
For the Most Part
Not Sure
Possibly, But Not Likely
No, Not At All

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Author Topic: POLL Belief 9: Did You Stay in Order to Help your BPD Partner?  (Read 6116 times)
Lucky Jim
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« on: October 24, 2017, 01:06:18 PM »

Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with BPD

This article has helped many start the healing process and accept our partners dysfunction more than any other article on the site. I often read on the Crises board, how do we move past this?. Well, let's all take a look at the false thinking that holds us back and share our own thoughts and experiences in this regard.
 
                Belief that you need to stay to help them
"You might want to stay to help your partner. You might want to disclose to them that they have borderline personality disorder and help them get into therapy. Maybe you want to help in other ways while still maintaining a “friendship”. The fact is, we are no longer in a position to be the caretaker and support person for our “BPD” partner – no matter how well intentioned. Understand that we have become the trigger for our partner’s bad feelings and bad behavior. Sure, we do not deliberately cause these feelings, but your presence is now triggering them. This is a complex defense mechanism that is often seen with borderline personality disorder when a relationship sours. It’s roots emanate from the deep core wounds associated with the disorder. We can’t begin to answer to this. We also need to question our own motives and your expectations for wanting to help. Is this kindness or a type of “well intentioned” manipulation on your part - an attempt to change them to better serve the relationship as opposed to addressing the lifelong wounds from which they suffer? More importantly, what does this suggest about our own survival instincts – we’re injured, in ways we may not even fully grasp, and it’s important to attend to our own wounds before we attempt to help anyone else. You are damaged. Right now, your primary responsibility really needs to be to yourself – your own emotional survival. If your partner tries to lean on you, it’s a greater kindness that you step away. Difficult, no doubt, but more responsible."

It took me a long time to grasp that helping someone might be unhealthy for me as well as for my BPD spouse. It felt good to be needed and seemed noble to play the role of White Knight/Supportive Husband. Yet caretaking is a way to avoid caring for oneself, although back then I probably would have denied that I had my own issues to be addressed. In many ways, by being a caretaker I was just enabling my spouse to act out on her turbulent emotions rather than confront the trauma behind them. At the same time, caretaking gave me an excuse to avoid looking within, at my own wounds.

I also thought that I could crack the BPD “code” and figure out a way to salvage our failed relationship. I’m an over-achiever and viewed my spouse’s BPD as another challenge to be overcome. Little did I appreciate the complexity of BPD; instead, I continued to operate under the fantasy that it could be cured through my efforts.


More information:

Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (full article)
1) Belief that this person holds the key to your happiness
2) Belief that your BPD partner feels the same way that you feel
3) Belief that the relationship problems are caused by you or some circumstance
4) Belief that love can prevail
5) Belief that things will return to "the way they used to be"
6) Clinging to the words that were said
7) Belief that if you say it louder you will be heard
8) Belief that absence makes the heart grow fonder
9) Belief that you need to stay to help them.
10) Belief that they have seen the light
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 04:40:01 AM »

I stayed because I loved him. I tried to help because to me that is part of loving someone. When I discovered the complexity of the illness and my own shortcomings I stayed for the same reasons.
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 05:16:07 AM »

Nicely put Sadly. I also love my children and can see how it's impacted 2 generations thus far and want to protect our children from the impacts of her subtle / not so subtle chaos.
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 08:02:21 AM »

I stayed because I loved him. I tried to help because to me that is part of loving someone. When I discovered the complexity of the illness and my own shortcomings I stayed for the same reasons.

Same here. For the last half of our marriage, mine has had horrific medical problems. When he was here, I endured because he needed my help. Now of course, he's on his own. He is actually quite ill now and is living in an area not close to anyone he knows.

My therapist believes that the low-level aspects of BPD that I struggled with early in our marriage came to the top as he lost more and more control physically. She told me almost two years ago that we needed to separate because he was in a downward spiral that would drag us down. I was so horrified. Then he had four more surgeries including two that went very bad. Following the first one, a friend gave me some material from Al-Anon, and I knew that I was codependent. I was enabling his mental issues along with helping him with the physical issues. The therapist worked with me on coping strategies because I wanted to stay. Then it got so very much worse.

In our case, mutually agreeing to separate at least eliminated that from the list of things to blame me for.
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 05:30:20 PM »

i voted "not sure".

while in the relationship, i did feel obligated and responsible to my partner, i felt that leaving would absolutely crush her, i couldnt do that, and i felt i was too invested to do so anyway.

when our relationship ended, this belief did not apply. it was not my place to help her with anything.

as it might apply to whether id known about BPD during the relationship, its difficult to say. id have been tempted to disclose it. id have been tempted to play therapist to her. id have been tempted to leave, too.
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 07:00:04 PM »

I voted very much so.

For me it had become a way of life and was an addiction.  A challenge the sort of which I never back down from.  The chance to really make a difference to someone, to help them heal, and to be there no matter what.  Even after the multiple police visits over DV and having turfed my ex out onto the street, I could not bring myself to let go of this quest to save him.  He had reinforced the belief all along by his feigned helplessness and reliance upon me, even when I encouraged him to do the things he was clearly capable of doing for himself. 

After I left him by throwing him out I later helped him to move out of a really awful halfway house into a homeless people's accommodation and 'lent' him a laptop, took the calls, answered the texts and continued to put him over my health, my sleep, my sanity, my own crisis situation at home. 

It was as though if I was no longer helping I had no purpose, no validation and no payback.  I'd put so much into this and hoped upon hope that he could get the treatment we'd fought for.  For us, for our relationship and for any chance of the future we'd dreamed together.  But it was that - a dream, and in fairness was it really for him that I was helping and bending over backwards like this?  No.  It was for me.  It was so I could have what I had wanted and believed we could have together.  It was also so that I didn't have to face my own issues.  This was the toughest belief for me to conquer.

Love and light x
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2017, 09:41:19 AM »

Excerpt
in fairness was it really for him that I was helping and bending over backwards like this?  No.  It was for me.  It was so I could have what I had wanted and believed we could have together.  It was also so that I didn't have to face my own issues.  This was the toughest belief for me to conquer.

Wow, you nailed it, HQ!  Right, it was really for me that I was contorting myself to help save my BPD partner, in pursuit of some ideal in my mind about what our marriage could be.  Note that I said what it "could" be, not what it really was: a see-saw of turmoil, drama and abuse.  Helping, as you suggest, also provided me with the perfect cover to avoid confronting my own wounds.

The concept that helping could be unhealthy was foreign to me, which is probably why I clung to this belief for so long.

LuckyJim



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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2017, 10:20:18 AM »

Excerpt
The concept that helping could be unhealthy was foreign to me, which is probably why I clung to this belief for so long.

I hear you on that LJ.  Although I worked hard not to enable, I had put myself firmly in the starting position of rescuer and ended up in victim mode.  How could he behave this way towards me after everything I'd done for him?  Surely things HAD to work out in my favour and it all fall into place... .It was a selfish perspective and one that got me hurt.

It had never occurred to me that helping could be unhealthy either.

In a session with my counsellor once, I blurted out that I've always bounced between being a rescuer and a victim.  I'd identified that as an issue about myself which wasn't serving me and that was before I'd read about the Karpman Drama Triangle.  Boy was that an eye opener!

Love and light x 
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2017, 10:27:28 AM »

I've always bounced between being a rescuer and a victim. 

And lets not forget I'd imagine you've been placed as the perpetrator by your pwBPD as well... .round and round we go!     
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2017, 10:52:15 AM »

Absolutely.  My guilt at ending things was raised to the maximum level at every opportunity.  It was terribly traumatic the way I was shown how awful I was for hurting him.  There were suicide attempts and self harm galore and all I wanted to do was save him.  In the end I had to choose to save myself.

Love and light x
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2017, 11:23:05 AM »

Absolutely.  My guilt at ending things was raised to the maximum level at every opportunity.  It was terribly traumatic the way I was shown how awful I was for hurting him.  There were suicide attempts and self harm galore and all I wanted to do was save him.  In the end I had to choose to save myself.

Love and light x

Thank you for articulating that. That's the realization I've had this month. I can't save him from himself, and every hurtful interaction comes from someone who is a whirlpool of despair that I can't pull him out of. Yesterday he sent yet another hurtful email. I briefly acknowledged and moved on. I slept fine last night and feel good today. He also said he's not going to share his medical problems (he's quite ill with a potentially dangerous problem) and efforts at finding a place to live anymore. I see my therapist this afternoon, and I'm guessing that she is going to emphasize that I'm not responsible for anything that happens many states away. He doesn't want me involved anyway.
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2017, 01:04:54 AM »

I'm not sure. At first I wanted to help and heal but later I was trying to hang on to her and  to find the strength to let go.
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2017, 08:23:43 AM »

To be honest, his first breakdown happened after first 2 months (of 2 months) that we were together. The crisis came abruptly and the intensity of it made me almost suicidal. The night that it reached its climax, I called a line for mental health at 3 a.m. I was completely driven insane.
The young doctor that picked up the phone immediately told me that I am dealing with a pwBPD and that I am not insane nor in need for psychotherapist, but if I stay any longer I sure as hell would be. She advised me to break all contacts. I began informing myself about the topic of cluster b immediately.  Agony lasted few more days, I decided to give him benefit of the doubt, but it only served to assure me I was indeed in a relationship with a person with BPD. As tough at it was, I decided to go full NC.
I began seeing that same doctor, and I'm getting better day by day.
I see it like this- we had 60 good days, and 10 horrible. The good were the best, but horrible almost made me hurt myself. Bad outweighed the good.
I didn't stay to help him.

Later I found out he was very much aware he has BPD. But he decided not to tell me about it, but only of his depression. I could have lived with the depression, but I never signed for BPD.

Do I feel bad for not staying with him to help him?
I have to say- no.
Reading this forum, I see that is the futile job. People gave half of their life helping their disordered spouses, and they were stil left and manipulated and taken for granted. There is no point in fixing the unfixable.
I decide to focuse the energy on me, fixing and healing myself, instead of him.
I can and want to be healed, and that is the one thing I can control.
I don't see nothing bad or selfish in that.
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2017, 10:59:15 AM »

I believe I stayed for the kids so they would not be mistreated by her if I left.  I thought I could handle the BPD behaviors against me but I could not.  We have 7 children and 2 special needs.  What kind of father would leave a house with 7 children rang through my head (and still does sometimes).  I thought her bad behavior was because of the pregnancies - she would tell me that.  But things kept getting worse.  I tried so hard to make it better by giving in, acquiescing, doing what she said until I realized I had given up everything and it was not enough (gave up my family of origin, playing with my kids, time with my Dad in hospice, friends, making my own schedule, etc).  I didn't put together everything I did to enable the above behavior until I started getting help. 

I agree that I am a trigger for my exwife.  Just my being around her makes her change and become aggressive.  Me showing up at an exchange can give her a lot of stress.  I could see this later in our marriage.  Matter of fact she would even tell me, that just looking at me makes her hate me even more... .  she wrote me in an email a few years before the divorce that she hated me so much that now she hates the kids because they remind me of her so much. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2017, 12:50:02 PM »

Excerpt
I believe I stayed for the kids so they would not be mistreated by her if I left.  I thought I could handle the BPD behaviors against me but I could not.

Same here, Sluggo.  I thought that I owed it to my kids to stay, in order to provide a stabilizing influence for them, to balance out all my Ex's turmoil and drama.  I thought that I was the right calm and kind person to help her, but it turned out that I nearly destroyed myself in the process, at which point I was of no help to the kids.

LJ
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2017, 05:02:49 PM »

This belief really hits home for me. My exuBPDw left our marriage to be with her affair partner. Even though the marriage was over it didn't necessarily mean that being deeply enmeshed was over. I still recall the first appointment with a P after the split and she wanted to know why I was in her office, I gave her the back story and she said "Mutt, you're enmeshed" It felt strange but comfortable at the same time.
 
 Strange because she was sleeping with another man and my intuition was telling that this is wrong. Comfortable because I had been to this place many times in the past, I was her savior after all. I played the savior role in all of my r/s except for now in the present I relinquished that role to exercise healthier r/s behaviors and not ones that validate me as a good person because of something that I can do or offer to someone else.
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2017, 07:53:31 PM »

LJ,

Excerpt
it turned out that I nearly destroyed myself in the process, at which point I was of no help to the kids
.

Thanks for sharing that.  Sometimes on those hard days emotionally that come and go now, I have to remember that I also was nearly destroyed. 

Sluggo
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2017, 07:56:10 PM »

Mutt,

Excerpt
It felt strange but comfortable at the same time.

sometimes when my exwife unloads on me verbally or makes huge problems, there is a part of me that feels very comfortable in that.  Like the comfortable feeling of sitting in my favorite recliner chair. 

Sluggo
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« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2017, 04:04:22 AM »

Not.at.all. Period.

Go to psychoforums, there they pour their heart out. You will understand why you won't be able to help them. Instead you will lost yourself.
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2017, 10:48:19 AM »

I stayed to help him, not in the actual sense, but because I felt that all other women will RUN. I knew that only he could work on his issues, or enact change, but I felt that I was probably his best chance of having someone that would willingly tolerate his awful behaviors. Not because I liked it or didn't think I deserved better, but because I have a high tolerance and never bought into the whole "it's all your fault Ceruleanblue".

I guess I came to see that staying also didn't "help" him, or if it did, he didn't appreciate it or want it. He wants to be a mess, or he'd change it. He wants to hurt people, and after he didn't think he could hurt me as much anymore, it lost it's appeal. Sick, but I feel it's true.
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« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2018, 09:12:30 AM »

I was probably his best chance of having someone that would willingly tolerate his awful behaviors. Not because I liked it or didn't think I deserved better, but because I have a high tolerance

Hi CB,

This I can also relate to.  I remember thinking that if it wasn't me who stayed by his side, NOBODY would ever cope well enough to do that.  Stress tolerance is a quality I possess a high degree of too, yet coupled with my low regard for my own needs this isn't a good thing when it comes to my own well being.  I'm glad you came to realise that wanting to change has to come from himself.

Love and light x 
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« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2018, 09:44:30 AM »

I voted "For the most part." While she didn't give me an opportunity to stay after the discard, I did very much try to encourage her to get counseling and we had conversations about BPD. These felt like some of the most intimate moments of our relationship, which scared me. It scared me because it was finally clear how little intimacy there was before that, and I was just starting to notice that there was more to her than she let on during our marriage. I would have loved this part of her just as much, but she had no desire to help herself. It wasn't until I found out that she was lying about going to DBT (see my earlier very hopeful threads on bettering) that something snapped in me and I saw how much destruction she was capable of causing. More recently, I've started to really think that there's a big piece of her that thrives on chaos. There's also a big piece of me that thrives on care-taking. So, that revelation has really helped me detach. Again, she didn't really give me much opportunity to stick around, but I also stopped trying to open doors she had already closed. For example, I know she would be happy to have me in her life still as a "friend" (or rather, supply) if I was open to it. That would just give her more opportunities to create chaos and use me to triangulate whomever the new people are in her romantic life. No thanks.

I agree with you CB - I was also probably the best chance she had, maybe not to tolerate her behaviors but to create an environment to be honest and learn healthier coping mechanisms. I didn't expect her to become a different person, but I did expect her to learn her triggers and to learn how to stop scorching the earth around her with dishonesty and destruction. A therapeutic separation (which I offered) could have done this. But, she had no interest. So, lesson learned.
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« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2018, 11:04:37 AM »

I absolutely stayed in order to help my STBX. He's the one who left me, just about a year ago.
I'd been in therapy and working on strengthening boundaries and not personalizing his illness, and I think that may have hastened his leaving. Regardless, his leaving turned my world upside down. Now, nearly a year later, I'm almost giddy realizing that I will eventually be divorced, and I'll be starting a new chapter--probably the final chapter given my age--in my life.
Today, it is rainy and overcast, and I'm not feeling giddy, but I am feeling okay, and I am grateful my STBX gave me the opportunity to work on some deep-seated trauma of my own.
TMD
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« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2018, 11:13:18 AM »

I voted very much so.



It was as though if I was no longer helping I had no purpose, no validation and no payback. 
Love and light x
This really speaks to me, Harley Quinn.
I have been working with my T for the past year on "repurposing" my life. My STBX gave it purpose, or, perhaps more accurately, I assigned purpose to my life by helping my STBX.
For a while after he left, I felt adrift. Now I'm feeling more centered, more stable.
But, wow! Yes, I used the r/s to provide purpose to my life.
TMD
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« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2018, 10:18:37 AM »

Friends, There are many reasons for staying, yet I think helping/saving is a pervasive one because it seems to reflect well on oneself.  We tell ourselves that we are doing the right thing by serving as care-taker to someone in need.  It seems noble and provides a "cover" for what is really going on.

It took me a long time to realize that it was pointless to go on trying to save someone who on some fundamental level had no desire to be saved.  In other words, my BPDxW was far from being on-board with my efforts, so it was more of a way to martyr myself rather than face the painful truths about my marriage.

What are your thoughts?  Were you playing the martyr role?

LuckyJim
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« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2018, 01:45:28 PM »


It took me a long time to realize that it was pointless to go on trying to save someone who on some fundamental level had no desire to be saved.  In other words, my BPDxW was far from being on-board with my efforts, so it was more of a way to martyr myself rather than face the painful truths about my marriage.

What are your thoughts?  Were you playing the martyr role?

LuckyJim

Hey LJ
I didn't feel like I was martyring myself when I was with him. How it felt was that he had an illness--diabetes or cancer or heart issues--that was appropriate for me to take care of.
However, what really really resonates with me here is that I stayed with someone who didn't want to get better. Even his T had mentioned it, what the T said was, "Until STBX gives up his attachment to being mentally ill, he won't get better."
So maybe I was martyring, but it really didn't feel like it. I kept pulling myself out of the situation, and asked, "Hey TMD if STBX had cancer would you stay?" And, yes, I'd have stayed.
Now, I ask myself if I'd stayed with someone who had cancer who wouldn't do anything to heal himself.
Now, I wouldn't. I'd leave. You can't fix what doesn't want to be fixed.
Great thread,
TMD
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« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2018, 02:10:11 PM »

Excerpt
I stayed with someone who didn't want to get better.

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You can't fix what doesn't want to be fixed.

Right, TMD.  Exactly what I'm talking about.

Let me relate a quick story.  My BPDxW had serious back surgery.  Afterwards, Doctor ordered her to rest and keep her back free from strain for the next 30 days.  Instead, within days my Ex was out swimming, driving a car, riding a skateboard and moving an air conditioner.  I had a meltdown.  When her back pain recurred, we went back to see the Dr.  I related to the Dr. that my Ex was not following Dr.'s orders.  Dr. got angry and said to my Ex, "Look, you are an adult and know the consequences of disregarding my orders.  If this continues, I will refuse to treat you."

By then, the damage was already done and my Ex needed another back operation, and then another (by a different surgeon, of course).

As you put it, TMD, she didn't want to get better.

LJ


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