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Author Topic: Hi, 40yo w/ some npd traits, married to uHFBPDw  (Read 189 times)
jomo564

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Posts: 10


« on: May 05, 2019, 01:05:07 PM »

so hard to summarize our incredibly complex and confusing selves, life, relationship. I believe my wife of 5 yrs (together 10) is uHFBPD. I have read all the books, talked to several therapists, etc, it fits so well but no one but therapists outside our house sees it or knows about it at all. I'm here because I'm tired of being so alone and having this all be secret and presenting a false face to the whole world including our families and "closest" friends.

uHFBPDw is a super person with lots of positive traits and life success, from a home w/ an alcoholic (& maybe NPD) parent. She shows a bright face to the world, but with me whenever she is scared or stressed she goes into a rage if I don't do exactly what she wants and instantly fix the problem.

She calls me more names every 6 months than everyone else put together my entire life. She curses me, belittles me, and in the worse rages uses whatever I've shared with her about my insecurities and personal issues to hurt me and tear me down. She'll get paranoid and not believe me about basic things - if I said the sky was blue she'd say I was lying. She's threatened to call the police, get me fired, lose me custody. She threatens to leave a dozen times a year, sometimes browses for apts for rents, occasionally packs a suitcase or even goes to a hotel.

When her rages pass, she's super-sweet, acts like everything is normal, even if it's just a few minutes later. It takes me hours to calm down, sometimes days if she's done something like pulled the car over, slammed the brakes, and run onto the shoulder screaming about how she wants to die (because I asked about being out of the house for a day for business, when we had a young baby - stupid of me but still an extreme way for her to react, right?).

Outside of this she's like a dream spouse, amazing in a million ways, and I am absolutely committed to staying. I married her knowing she was like this (it was from the beginning), I have my own problems that make me a difficult spouse, and I am not even close to considering leaving. But I do want to learn how to make it better.

I have tried learning the strategies, but I am absolutely terrible about it because I was emotionally neglected (book "Running on Empty" speaks to me), and I have some definite narcissistic traits (though diagnosed as not having NPD). I identify with many of the descriptions of NPD, but it is mild enough that I can face it and work on it (and am in therapy).

I am insecure (I feel worthless inside so I need constant love from outside), defensive & argumentative & always have to be right (because if I did/said something wrong, I am horrible and bad and worthless and should die), hate being blamed or criticized, take everything personally (if you said I should have put that nail in differently, you are saying I'm wrong, incompetent, therefore worthless).

This makes it extremely hard for me to validate, stay calm, not take things personally, understand her words are driven by her not by me or something I did, maintain boundaries (to walk away is to admit I can't handle it, which means I'm a worthless failure), avoid arguing about irrelevant facts, accept that we have different experiences of reality, etc. I can't be validating when I feel invalidated & attacked, and I feel that so easily - imagine how often I feel it with a partner who is actual critical & blameful! I'm very bad at seeing other people's emotions, handling when they are angry at me (or disappointed, hurt, sad).

I am here to finally talk about this to anyone but therapists, and to look for tools that I can deploy despite my own issues. I feel helpless to fix things by myself after so many years of trying and wish so badly that she would face her issues and seek treatment. But she almost never admits fault in anything, and is absolutely unwilling to ever admit that she could be dysfunctional or "disordered" in any way.

She coped with a very difficult childhood through independence, competence, but also denial. She insists it only had positive effects on her and so everything unusual she does is my fault. I think for her, to face that she might have any degree of any flavor of "disorder", ie to be flawed and not perfect, would mean that she was completely bad and ruined and worthless. (I guess I can understand that!). My therapist says uHFBPDw is not even close to being able to face her condition and I shouldn't try.

What I'm looking for here:
  - What de-escalation strategies would work for someone w/ my issues?
  - Do I involve family/friends? So far it has all been a shameful secret. I know she would see it as a horrible betrayal for me to talk to anyone she knows. But I feel so alone and desperate for help and support. I think her side of the family might believe me, I have no idea what behavior they've seen from her but they know the history and have seen various issues from various family members.
  - How can I get her to face it and seek treatment? Even if it's a years-long strategy, it would at least give me hope for someday.
  - How do I stop her from verbally abusing the children? If I do anything but support her, she says I'm undermining her and destroying her authority, that I have to always side with her in the moment even if I tell her later in private that she was lashing out and being inappropriately harsh.

It's been really hard to recognize this problem or work on it because I don't want to admit it, when she's not raging I want to pretend everything is normal (as does she), and because I don't have time and energy for more problems. I have to earn money, parent the children, take care of myself, keep the house from leaking, work on my own emotional issues, I can't take any more "projects", I've already cut all my hobbies and almost all my fun, relaxation, entertainment.

Thanks for listening.
  - Jomo564
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 04:58:52 PM by Harri, Reason: confidentiality » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2019, 05:23:39 PM »

Hi jomo and welcome!  I am glad you found us and are reaching out for support.  We do get it here and are working on similar issues.  Many of us have our own issues that definitely impact us and our relationships so we can help there too.

Those same traits we have, can, like you said, make it more difficult to use some of the tools and strategies we talk about here, but the good news is that learning them and applying them help you, not just make changes in your relationship.

Excerpt
  - What de-escalation strategies would work for someone w/ my issues?
For you or your wife?   Generally, once someone is dysregulated the best thing to do is step back and allow them to self-soothe.  When they are in the mist of a lot of strong emotions appealing to their logic, and getting through, is going to be very difficult.  How to you handle things now?

  -
Excerpt
Do I involve family/friends? So far it has all been a shameful secret. I know she would see it as a horrible betrayal for me to talk to anyone she knows. But I feel so alone and desperate for help and support. I think her side of the family might believe me, I have no idea what behavior they've seen from her but they know the history and have seen various issues from various family members.
You need support and sometimes sharing with those close to you is the best way to get it.  Isolating does not help and secrets can be dangerous.  Do you have one or two friends you can talk with?  Sometimes the family members have a harder time keeping things separate, especially if their own FOO (family of origin)  have similar issues or are enablers.  Now that you are here, you have us as well.  We can help you and we have many members who are quite good at applying the lessons we talk about here.   

Excerpt
  - How can I get her to face it and seek treatment? Even if it's a years-long strategy, it would at least give me hope for someday.
I am not sure it is possible to get her into treatment if she thinks there is no problem.  We have an article that I think might help you and then we can talk about it some more:  https://bpdfamily.com/content/how-to-get-borderline-into-therapy

 
Excerpt
How do I stop her from verbally abusing the children?

I think this is something better discussed during a calm and relaxed time.  All people will get defensive when called on their parenting behaviors. 

It takes a great deal of energy and strength to be in these sorts of relationships.  The only thing you can do is take care of your side of the street and get a handle on your own emotional health.   A lot of our members have had success by doing this; taking control of their own mental health and changing the way they interact and communicate with their partner can improve the relationship.  It is a lot of hard work but it can be done.

I hope to hear more from you soon. 

Again, Welcome
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Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. ~ Pema Chodron
jomo564

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2019, 09:01:00 AM »

Hi jomo and welcome!  I am glad you found us and are reaching out for support.  We do get it here and are working on similar issues.  Many of us have our own issues that definitely impact us and our relationships so we can help there too.

Thanks for the quick reply. It's nice to talk to someone about this stuff for once.

Generally, once someone is dysregulated the best thing to do is step back and allow them to self-soothe.  When they are in the mist of a lot of strong emotions appealing to their logic, and getting through, is going to be very difficult.  How to you handle things now?

It really depends on a) how attacked I feel (does it seem to be about me?), b) if I can do something to help. If it's not about me, and I can help (or at least empathize), then it's fine. If it is about me (blaming/criticizing me), and I can fix it, it hurts, but I grit my teeth and do it.

But say she's blaming me for something I can't really fix, and often for an imaginary reason (she has many fears and rules about how to do things "safely", with no objective basis). I sometimes get defensive and argue.

Another thing that really bothers me is when she criticizes me saying I did, said, or thought X, for motivation Y, and it's not true. When I don't agree with her mind-reading, and stand behind my viewpoint as being objective truth (and this is for topics that only I could know, like what I thought, or why), she reacts like I'm invalidating her. But it's not like I'm disputing her emotional experience, or even some situation we both experienced but maybe noticed the facts differently.

You say "step back and allow them to self-soothe" - I guess I have a hard time disengaging when she's trying to talk to me.

  - You need support and sometimes sharing with those close to you is the best way to get it.  Isolating does not help and secrets can be dangerous.

Ok, so here's a question on these lines: what do I say in couples therapy? Sometimes we are talking about incidents that only make sense in light of her personality, like (imaginary example but with the right flavor) "she stormed off to stay in a hotel because I ate the last piece of a cheese she was secretly planning to snack on".

Our therapist might go into the Freudian symbology of cheese (or food), or try to promote better communication (and in many situations that's helpful), but at the end of the day, an extreme action like this makes no sense outside of personality disorder; and trying to analyze or address it w/o that context just feels like a waste of time.

I don't know how to answer typical therapy questions about my feelings, memories, plans for next time, etc, without saying words like "severe dysregulation", "personality disorder", "borderline" etc. I think it's hurting me to keep up a fake reality, but she can't face how extreme and unusual her actions are.

It takes a great deal of energy and strength to be in these sorts of relationships.  The only thing you can do is take care of your side of the street and get a handle on your own emotional health.   A lot of our members have had success by doing this; taking control of their own mental health and changing the way they interact and communicate with their partner can improve the relationship.  It is a lot of hard work but it can be done.

I hope so, thanks for the encouragement. I tend to not be very good at taking care of my own health (physical or emotional), my coping strategies are about stoicism, repressing pain, and powering through. But my therapist says I should take better care of myself (as does my wife), so...I will try.
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