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VIDEO: Could it be Borderline Personality Disorder? 17 million people in the US are affected by Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD traits. People suffering with traits of this disorder often have a lifetime of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" relationships. This is a disorder of extreme fear of rejection and limited executive function.
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Author Topic: Difficult detachment during my divorce with BPD  (Read 178 times)

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Person in your life: Romantic partner
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« on: November 08, 2018, 11:42:48 AM »

We fell in love, got married, sweared we would never divorce as this was our second marriage.  I was divorced from a man who showed very little emotion.  I was thrilled to find someone who wore his heart on his sleeve.  Ten years later, I have realized he cannot control his emotions and the slow but steady crazy-making of the last 10 years.  Things were not good, but I was blind-sided by his desire to divorce 6 months ago.  When I listen to his reasons for wanting divorce, he sites past fights (years ago) that have been twisted and warped in his mind and in his narrative, I have been assigned the role of a mean and cruel person. 

I am devestated to leave a man I love, knowing he has not accurately processed the events of our past, become paranoid, and thus rejected me based on false recollections and conclusions.  NO  MATTER HOW I TRY TO REORIENT HIM TO HOW THE SITUATION REALLY WENT, AS WELL AS APOLOGIZING FOR HIS PAIN AND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY PART, HE IS FIRM....THIS IS THE END.

We've been in contact, saying we miss and love each other.  We've spent time together and had a wonderful time.  But he will not reconsider as our "patterns" would not be "broken" if went back in.  Yet, he does not want to analyze these patterns, avoids talking about these patterns, and refuses to follow conflict resolution guidelines I've tried to put in place for YEARS..such as "no name calling", "no use of every, always, never", "no bringing up the past once a fight has been resolved", "stay on the topic".  HE CAN DO NONE OF THESE THINGS.  AND HE IS A PHYSICIAN...EXTREMELY SMART. 

Will he eventually miss me?  Do undiagnosed BPD's realize their behavior in retrospect or are they able to carry their false stories to their grave? 

He is now sleeping with someone else, and has done NO therapy.  He relies on his BPD mother and NPD father for support. They all planned this divorce about a year ago behind my back (I found emails and texts as such). 

The betrayal is immense on so many levels.  I want relief.  I have no gone no contact, as I spiral down from his blaming and shaming that seems to happen each time we connect.

HELP - the grief is horrible
All members still incontact with their partner should learn to use the basic relationship tools to better manage the day to day interactions.
If you are evaluating a decision to stay or leave, please post on Conflicted and Deciding
Wicker Man
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Person in your life: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 363

« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 02:21:50 PM »


I am sorry you are going through this.  I remember the pain and confusion when my relationship with my undiagnosed ex fell apart.  It was very sudden and caused quite a lot of cognitive dissonance for me.  We went from happy to broken in a week.

Therapy has been very helpful in gaining some insight and perspective.  If you do not currently see a therapist I would suggest you find one.  I got a referral from a friend and the therapist and I were a good match.  It is an incredibly personal relationship -so you may have to 'shop around'. 

Try to find a therapist who has some experience with BPD -mine currently treats several people suffering from BPD, so he is well versed in this complex disorder.  He has great compassion and understanding for people with the disorder as well as people who have been in relationships with them.  I did not want a therapist with a reactionary point of view on BPD who might vilify my ex out of hand because of her disorder.  Mine has an even hand.

Journalling and posting here here on BPD Family has been helpful as well.  The act of having to put thoughts and feelings in a semblance of order enough to articulate them has been cathartic. 

Getting out and taking a daily walk also helped immensely.  Depression comes easy with the breakdown of a relationship.  Please remember to take care of yourself -eat, sleep, and some sort of exercise.  I remember when these simple things were a herculean feet. 

As dark as things seem now remember it will get better.  Keep reading here and posting -this is an amazing community.

Wicker Man

        A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 06:29:52 PM »

Thank you Wicker Man,

How long til you feel you "turned the corner"?

Were their any key mantras or pieces of insight that really helped you? 

Did your ex ever express any regret or realization for how she treated you?  What is your relationship now?  Do you feel you CAN be friends with a BPD ex...or does the lying and manipulation continue?

Thanks again for your support.

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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 06:55:47 PM »

Hi Marie,

I understand the pain and confusion you are experiencing right now and sending you a warm supportive hug! It's been about 15 mths since my BPDxH ended our relationship under what felt like a lot of delusional excuses. I was absolutely devastated...for about 9 mths.

I undertook an enormous amount of therapy and self-inquiry and concluded this came down to my own self worth: "Why on earth would I fight for love, attention and a relationship with a person that cannot "see" me or value me."

This man cannot "see" past his mental illness (for lack a better description). They cannot see or value themselves. Do not allow your value to be defined by this man or his family - only YOU have this privilege. 

When you feel you are mourning the lost of certain things you would do together - do them for yourself, by yourself or with a friend. Start by practicing to love you xoxo
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2018, 07:04:40 AM »

Hi Marie,
 I'm so sorry you're going through this. My STBX left in August 2017. I cannot begin to explain how devastated I felt--sobbing in the hall, collapsing to the floor unable to stop crying.
 Like you, I felt betrayed. By my STBX and his psychiatrist.
 It has now been nearly 16 months. You will feel better. I promise you will.
 I began turning the corner around April, which was 9 months. What helped was the support of my T, my friends, and my family--not necessarily in that order.
 Additionally, my doctor helped because I couldn't sleep. The anxiety was horrible; the grief was hard.
 You will get through this. Writing helped me. Checking in on these boards helped me. Crying helped. Dancing helped. My animals (dogs, cats, farm animals) helped.
 What didn't help: Refined carbs and drinking. I needed protein and water. I needed to treat myself tenderly.
 I look back on the past 15 months and feel like a part of me was missing. I wasn't quite present. When I mentioned that to a friend, she told me that actually I'd been missing ever since I'd married my STBX.
Taking care of him pushed taking care of myself to the back burner. I am now more front and center.
 When my sister told me last August that I would get through this, I didn't believe her. That's how bad I felt. But I have managed to navigate a very difficult divorce--still ongoing--and I have to say I am feeling pretty good.
You will, as well.
 Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world... Einstein
Wicker Man
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 10:35:32 AM »


There does not seem to be a silver bullet for healing. I force myself to eat right, to keep fit, I read and read and read.  I spend my time in therapy trying to sort out what happened and how to proceed with and process that information.  Time helps, but time alone is not enough -one has to actively participate in the healing process. 

Early on I fell into a cycle of rumination hashing through the relationship over and over.  Re-running through conversations.  The rumination made things worse for me.  The more I dissected the relationship the worse I felt. 

I stumbled upon the idea of BPD while reading a book by Jordan Peterson (12 Rules for Life) he mentioned in passing someone who cut themselves and had BPD -mine was a cutter when suffering dysphoria.  She had been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.  Both of these conditions respond well to a safe and nurturing home -so I was hopeful in the beginning of our relationship.  We had strong support from her family as well.

Learning about BPD explained a lot of what I experienced in our two years together and also instilled in me an enormous sense of pity for her.  Ironically, this made healing more complicated for me -I realized she actually did not have much executive function in her decision making process.  She reacted to her emotional maelstrom and was lashing out at me because of the immense pain she created within herself. 

This is an explanation -not an excuse for her actions.  In the moment she could be incredibly hurtful -there was no room for compassion from her when seeing the world through a red fog of pain.

Did your ex ever express any regret or realization for how she treated you?
Tragically yes -she fully understands her part in the destruction of our relationship.  She broke up with me -it was the crescendo of a 7 day rage.  It had been the 2nd break up and it caused me to have an 'epiphany' (up beat way of saying minor breakdown) and I realized she would one day leave me and there was going to be nothing I could have done to stop her.  So... I agreed with her to end the relationship.  I heard from a mutual friend she is still waiting for me -we have had no contact for a year.  As a tragic point of fact 4 months into no contact she had my sur name tattooed on her hand and is still wearing our engagement ring.

People with BPD can understand what they have done -but they also cannot necessary learn from it or stop themselves from repeating the same mistakes.  From my readings I have learned shame plays a huge part in the psyche of someone suffering from BPD -mine feels immense shame for pushing me away and in the moment believes she will perish if our relationship does not one day continue. 

My relationship caused enormous cognitive dissonance for me -the woman I loved, perhaps more than any other human being, was emotionally the most dangerous person I had ever known.  It felt like I was in love with two people: the woman I loved and the woman who hated her. 

There were extenuating circumstances in our relationship (international) and if I had accepted her apology and continued with our engagement it would have likely ended life as I knew it.  I likely did the right thing for me in discontinuing the relationship -but it was the single most difficult thing I have ever done.  It felt like a matter of life or death -I know... a bit dramatic...

I do not think I could be 'friends' with her -I miss her more than I can say, but without treatment her life will not end well.  She will either begin a relationship with another abuser or find a 'nice guy' like me and destroy what might have been a healthy relationship.  Therapy is not available to her per se in her country.  Mental illness is seen as weakness and largely shunned.   I love her and could not stand to watch the slow motion train wreck which will likely be her life --my watch is done.

Manipulation is an interesting word.  I never saw manipulation -I saw an utter lack of impulse control, binary thinking (all good / all bad) and her feelings being facts.  She did horrible things to us -but it was never premeditated.  She seemed to be acting out in order to throw bandaids on her enormous emotional wounds.  She cheated on us 2 or 3 times and it was always out of fear and desperation -afterwards more shame.  The last time she cheated on us she literally suffered auditory and visual hallucinations (this is likely the phenomenon which caused the schizophrenia misdiagnoses when she was a little girl).

Lying... She was terrible at it! -she did not lack for practice, she just wasn't good at it.  She lied to try to 'protect' me and herself image.  She could not talk about her transgressions.  She could not understand why she did what she did, she could not cope with her actions, and yet she could not stop the behaviors --so lying was the only alternative left open for her.  Once again explanation --not an excuse. 

I have spent time reading on boards for people suffering from BPD -so often they talk about being compelled to do things which they know are destructive.  Pushing away the people they need most.  It is truly a tragic disorder full of pain.  I liken my ex to someone literally on fire -she runs around trying to stop the flames, but in the running the flames are only fanned higher.  She tries to love, to hold someone tightly and the fire engulfs them both.  Abandonment as a self fulfilling prophecy -what she fears most she creates.

Perhaps I have turned the corner.  I have some level of understanding and acceptance  -but I still have extreme pity for her.  I actually wish I could be angry with her -but I liken it to being mad a cat for being a cat.  She is severely ill, in incredible pain -and emotionally dangerous. 

I have read many people here on BPD Family who feel their BPD partners move on to a happy life after a break up. I am of the opinion their life is still a living hell --full of pain and inner turmoil.  That doesn't help us, the people they hurt -but it gives me a level of understanding.

Your situation, after 10 years of marriage, is markedly different from mine and I am so sorry for your pain. 

Do you hope to try to reconcile?  Have you spoken to your husband about it?  Has he been formally diagnosed?  Would he consider treatment?  DBT has shown to be quite successful -if the person with BPD wants the therapy for themselves.  It is not something which can be done for another person. 

With therapy a relatively healthy relationship with someone suffering from BPD is possible -without therapy the chances are slim.  It takes enormous work for both parties to make a successful relationship with such a serious mental condition in the mix.  Both parties need to learn new skills.

Wishing you well,

Wicker Man

        A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 04:38:18 PM »

WOW - thank you to all who weighed and are weighing in.  This is so incredibly helpful!

My husband has not been formally diagnosed.  He is a physician and barely goes to see a doctor himself for ANY ailment. Considering shame is at the core of this issue, I don't think he would ever be able to actually accept something like this (unless his suicidal ideations get worse and is forced to get treatment). 

He also has NPD and histrionic traits.....safe to say he's cluster B.  The reason BPD fits him the best is the drastic emotional shifts, the misperceptions and erroneous conclusions about others intentions, the paranoia, the lies, and the chronic insomnia.  As I started zeroing in on these behaviors, I was labeled "bipolar" and I slowly became the REASON for his emotional reactions, his lies (he said had to lie because he was "scared" of my anger so that makes it my fault because I am scary), and his insomnia.  He also developed gastrointestinal issues, that were due to the stress I caused him.  His BPD mom soon got on the train of "Marie is the problem" and as a family unit they planned a divorce behind my back.  At one point, I felt something was going on, and I snooped in email and texts to find that, indeed, there was a lot going on behind my back.  Connections with other women, backstabbing with his parents, and lying...straight up lying...about me.  I felt like I was drowning in the inexplicable, as my husband continued to do things to actually sabotage our relationship (wouldn't allow me to go to his parents with him for dinner, left town on the weekends and didnt invite me, talked about how mean I was in front of his kids, etc.).  I had NEVER known, through my life, my friends' lives, or even television, that this sort of craziness existed in family relationships. 

I had no clue what BPD was until my husband explained to me that his mother was the way she was likely because she had borderline personality disorder.  My relationship with my mother-in-law was so confusing, and difficult, I starting reading everything I could on BPD.  It helped me understand my MIL.  And then I realized....the male manifestation of BPD described my husband to a tee.  I felt sick to my stomach for a week.  I spent many months in denial.  But I ended up being a spectator to the disintegration of my own marriage.  I felt as if I was screaming inside a sound proof glass bottle...everyone could see me struggling but nothing I said or did could change the distorted reality being created around me.

Do I hope to reconcile?  I did hope that for 6 months, but he kept to his story that I was a "selfish, cruel person who was mean to his children most of the time" and that we "didn't get along" and we "tried".  Looking back, I do think he had someone on the line, making it easier for him to let go.  I discovered he deleted all my pictures off his instagram page 2 months before asking for a divorce.  My heart wants my family and my life back, but only certain parts, and that just isn't possible unless he got help.  Not within my control, unfortunately.  What a waste of a beautiful, smart, loving man.  Makes my heart hurt more.

Right now I'm working on ME, figuring out how and why I couldn't keep boundaries, understanding how I tolerated what I did.  I didn't have a vocabulary around these behaviors before (gaslighting, triangulation, etc.).  This experience almost requires NEW VOCABULARY to be created...because "crazy" just doesn't describe the insanity of living through it.

Wicker Man
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 04:59:48 PM »

Right now I'm working on ME... 

Are you seeing a therapist?  You have a lot on your plate.

        A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 10:22:44 PM »

I have been dumped before in relationships (I accept my sizable part of these breakups - I manipulate, sabotage...) but nothing like this before.  We are still married (but separated 7 years) and our two young kids live with her.  In the past, my ex-girlfriends had set firm boundaries during the breakup.  They weren't cruel or vindictive, just very firm.  But with my BPD wife, no such boundaries exist.  I guess the word is "discarded".  There is no concern about how I might be feeling.  I have been figuratively thrown out the 10th store window without a net.  At least in the past, my girlfriends were HUMAN and showed compassion for my pain and grief.  BUT I NEED TO REALIZE THIS......UNTIL I DO, THERE WILL BE PAIN.  I don't know, maybe I have to create the boundaries myself???
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2018, 10:44:21 AM »

Dear Marie,
I just want to give you a massive hug  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  Your story resonates so much with mine! 21 year marriage to an unexBPDh that imploded in a 14 day psychotic BPD rage that completely and utterly blindsided me.  Your description of your ex's behaviors rings so, so true to me.  It's almost like we were married to the same man with the gas lighting, blaming, splitting etc.

Like you I never wanted a divorce, I turned myself into a pretzel to try to cling to our marriage.  Like you, I wanted the good side back but not the crazy.  I was blindsided by a terrifying days long rage but honestly, so many red flags were there all along that I chose to ignore.  I beat myself up so much about this - why?  Why did I put up with all of it?  Why did I think that I deserved so little respect?  Why did I lose all perspective?  I did have a very dysfunctional childhood so I certainly lacked healthy role models as a child and maybe I was repeating patterns but honestly, like you I simply had zero familiarity with the types of subtle behaviors that my ex exercised prior to his complete dysregulation this time last year.  I had no concepts for them and really had a hard time pinning them down when they were being practiced on me other than my gut kept telling me that something was off.  Like you I questioned why I tolerated so much and didn't stick to boundaries but honestly, I'm a very transparent care-taking type.  I didn't have it in my toolbox to anticipate that people play these games with others (regardless of conscious intent) because I'm a straightforward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, fundamentally honest person.  I was naive and clueless  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

It's been almost a year since our breakup that led to our divorce.  I won't lie it's been the most difficult year of my life.  I grieved so, so, much in the early months and I think this is healthy and something you have to do and lean into.  Now I'm mostly through that stage although I anticipate that grief will keep popping up.  I'm at peace for the most part now and 100% committed to putting myself first and my own self-care (while still being the best parent I can possibly be to my teen son).  It is a tough road but doable and ultimately, despite my complete reluctance to take it initially, it's the best way for me in the long run.

Wishing you strength and peace

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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 03:54:50 PM »

Marie, I can relate so much to what you write. The anxiety and confusion. The feeling that the pain will not stop. The desire to undestand and make sense of things. And the hope to make the other person understand by reasoning.

I was also labeled bipolar (and autistic) for questioning his behaviour, I was the reason my ex had to lie, that he is stressed out. In my case even being the reason some pipes froze in his house. This because when he was at my place for two days he couldn't look after his house, not because he hadn't done a proper job insulating the pipes. Warped thinking and paranoia that were the base for his "true" experiences of events.

We didn't have such a long relationship as yours. Ours lasted about 2 yrs and ended 7 months ago. The first 5 months were horrible. Much of what people have already written made me get through it. Excercise, try to eat well, try to sleep well, journaling, talking. SOmething/somebody else to focus on: pets, animals, children. Time.

I just want to add two things that I find helpful now and that I try to work on. One is radical acceptance of the disorder. I know, it does not make sense that a person behaves like that and trying to understand is a natural instinct I guess. I do this. And I hope this doesn't sound patronizing but I also try to shift perspective. What if he had been in an accident, if he died, if he had some other serious illness. Things happen. How do I handle the behaviour without trying to understand.

The other is acceptance of all my thoughts and feelings. This was/is at least an issue for me. That I feel things that I do not want to feel. And blame myself for it and also for things that I think I could have done differently. Anxiety, hope, anger, shame, sadness, in a nice mix. I try to accept feelings that appear and meanwhile work on me and focus on what I need and want.
All members still incontact with their partner should learn to use the basic relationship tools to better manage the day to day interactions.
If you are evaluating a decision to stay or leave, please post on Conflicted and Deciding
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