Home page of BPDFamily.com, online relationship supportMember registration here
June 24, 2019, 11:21:15 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Clinical research study - participants wanted ---> Click here
Board Admins: Harri, Once Removed
Senior Ambassadors: Cat Familar, Flourdust, Mutt, Only Human, Scarlet Phoenix, Turkish
Ambassadors: Enabler, FaithHopeLoveKC, formflier, GaGrl, I Am Redeemed, itsmeSnap, Ozzie101, Swimmy55, zachira
  Help!   Groups   Please Donate Login to Post New?--Click here to register  
bing
Near or in break-up mode?
What Does it Take to Be in a Relationship
Is Your Relationship Breaking Down?
Escaping Conflict and the Karpman Drama Triangle
Emotional Blackmail: Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG)
95
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times  (Read 229 times)
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« on: May 22, 2019, 03:19:15 PM »

For a first post, I’ll try to be brief.  I am in a marriage relationship with a bright, passionate, lovely woman, who I think also has undiagnosed BPD, based on my own perception that she meets DSM criteria, and my emphatic “yes” answers to the introductory questions in the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells.”  (Also I am a physician, so this isn’t completely outside my expertise). My relationship could echo the line from “A Tale of Two Cities”: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 

We started seeing a therapist a few years ago as a couple, but she quickly backed out because she didn’t think it was really helping us. She insisted, though, that she was fine and I had the problem, and demanded that I continue therapy on my own so that I could get my head straight and “become more loving.”

She has set a deadline of 4 years from now (when our youngest will be over 18), at which time “if things aren’t better between us” then she plans to get a divorce, leave, and set up a new life out west (she hates the East Coast). This threat now hangs like a guillotine blade over everything I do.  I myself have since waffled between sadness and despair (not typical emotions for me) to relief (hoping she will actually make good on her threat).  For now, I am hanging in there for my kids; I think they need my stability.  Also, she is downright sunny when not triggered.

Ironically, my wife reads voraciously about abuse and relationships, and really has helped me to see our struggles for what they are, though she has no insight into her own role (she is always only the victim of other people). She has pushed me into therapy, which has actually been helpful in restoring my sense of inner balance and has been a useful tool for coping with her. 

I’m not sure what I want now other than a support group of sorts to help me keep my sense of reality, which is under recurring attack. Thank you.

P.S.  Is it the style here to keep all discussions related to myself on one thread, or to start threads based on a particular issue or new concern as they come up? 
Logged
PLEASE - NO RUN MESSAGES
This is a high level discussion board for solving ongoing, day-to-day relationship conflicts. Members may appear frustrated but they are here for constructive solutions to problems. This is not a place for relationship "stay" or "leave" discussions. Please read the specific guidelines for this group.

livednlearned
Retired Staff
*
Online Online

Gender: Female
Person in your life: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 11342


We can be mended. We mend each other.


« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2019, 04:56:07 PM »

Hi Greenbrier,

I can understand why you feel like there's a guillotine over your head. It does sound like a way to control, without allowing much room for growth.

By control, I mean an empty threat or ultimatum in which you have to be perfect. A tall order, for sure.

The projection about abusive relationships sounds like a very well-read projection on her part  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

What are some of the day-to-day behaviors that most concern you?
Logged
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2019, 07:14:32 AM »

First, let me say that long stretches of calm can last as much as a few weeks.  These are happy times for me and if they are long enough, I can almost be lulled, but I still fear that any time the proverbial “other shoe” might drop. I have learned that even in good times my wife is not a “safe person”—anything I tell her is fair game to be twisted and thrown back at me in bad ones. 

In the bad times, the main problem is that she becomes a blowtorch of anger.  Her rage can be sudden, intense, and out of proportion to the trigger. And it lasts sometimes for days—then it may vanish as startlingly as it began.

She is “allowed” (feels entitled) to get as angry as she wants to be about the slightest infraction, real or perceived. I am not similarly entitled to express any anger or show any weakness.  If I express irritation I am generally told that I can’t be angry because whatever I’m upset about is my own fault.  Any expression of fear or inadequacy on my part also makes her nervous and leads her to fall apart. (It’s like she is saying “Oh, you’re going there, well then watch me get there faster and scarier”).

But as devastating as it is to have someone enraged at me because I accidentally woke her up, or left some dishes out, or forgot to repair something she asked about last week, or failed to open a door for her at the restaurant, or any other perceived insult or slight, worse still is the devaluation, and the distortion of reality that comes with it.

One issue is that she can take the slightest wisps of information and weave it into a vivid picture that replaces reality.  She reads voraciously when she is troubled, and then weaponizes that information.  She has been very good at using me as a blank canvas on which to paint devastating portraits of pathetic psychological weaknesses of various kinds.  I may be a malignant narcissist one day, or an emasculated “mother-enmeshed” man another day.  Currently I am deemed schizoid (I don’t really meet any of the DSM criteria, but I am not demonstrative enough for her liking and had casually told her 20 years ago when we watched Star Trek, that I admired Mr. Spock for his calm and rational approach)

If I have forgotten to do something for her or fail to open a door for her, it is because I don’t love her.  In fact I don’t love anyone for I am incapable of love, for how could I love anyone when I was deeply scarred by my childhood, under an oppressive narcissistic mom and somewhat absent father, etc. 

If I overlook something like a drippy faucet or weeds, it’s because “you are a squinter who squints at things because you learned that as a defense mechanism to avoid psychic pain from your mother.”

If I want to hire something done rather than DIY, it’s either because I am a malignant narcissist who feels that manual labor is beneath me, or else i am defective in that I feel inadequate because my overbearing mother never let me spread my own wings (never mind that I lived successfully on my own all through college and Med school).  If I relent and do the thing myself she’ll patronizingly say, “now don’t you feel proud for learning a new skill?”

Her constant theorizing and projecting keep me ever off balance and her in control.  I went from feeling fairly normal in my 20s, to head whirling, fighting against the insidious vision that I must deeply pathologically (and pathetically) flawed and unworthy, and lucky to not be already divorced and on my own. 
Logged
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2019, 02:36:39 PM »

I’ll share a bit more information about some major conflicts that have lurked in the background of our marriage.  These have been sources of some of the resentment that gets resurrected at times.  I will not claim that I am entirely blameless.  Her “side” is not entirely wrong.

One problem is that we moved from the interior of the U.S. to a suburb of a large east coast city.  This happened during a discreet training phase of my career, but when child number 2 came along, we decided to drop anchor and stay.  She doesn’t like living out here as it is culturally very different from farm country, and both of our families are “back there”.  This has become an unforgivable sin on my part.  I have apologized over and over, and we even came close to moving back, but I can’t reverse time and unmake this tragic mistake.  We both have different memories of the early decision making process.  My recollection is of her participating in the decision; Hers is of me steamrolling her, and dragging her helplessly and cruelly against her will.  There’s a lot more that could be said there, but she’s not wrong that it was my desire that won out at the time.

Secondly, there is my mother.  She is an overbearing person who probably also has uBPD (a story for another time).  She has irritated my wife almost since the day they met.  This has sputtered off and on since then.  About five years ago a major conflict arose regarding my mother. My parents made hints that they might like to move out here to be closer to their grandkids and also so we could help care for my dad who is aging.  I think the possibility of her moving into our vicinity so scared my wife that she pulled out all the stops.  The blow by blow is something I can elaborate later if needed. 

We eventually sent a firm list of boundaries to my mother.  This covered things like how often she could visit, the need to call first before stopping by, and so forth.  Well, my mother raged, then one day sent a snarky comment about my wife (all via text to me; and I stupidly don’t keep my texts secret from my wife).  I didn’t really say anything in reply because I could see that my mother was reeling from the list of demands / boundaries we had sent her.  My rationale was twofold: “I’m not going to dignify that” and “I can see why she might be ticked off—let her have her anger”.

Well, before I could have added 2+2, my wife was angrily throwing clothes in a suitcase to leave, shouting “we’re done” and promising divorce.  I was able to talk her down but had to agree to say some harsh things to my mother.  “She insulted your wife and you didn’t have the balls to defend me.”  I apologized.  I’ve been periodically castigated for my failure ever since.

She now has my mother painted as a malignant narcissist and gone “no contact”; I became in her mind a “mother-enmeshed man” who feels a “disloyalty bind” to my mother that will forever sabotage my marriage.  I was open minded enough to read (at her insistence) the book “the Mother Enmeshed Man”, and I really didn’t recognize myself in any of the case studies.  I feel like my wife had created a paradigm almost out of thin air, and for a while pushed it rather tenaciously.  Any protest on my part merely reinforced her vision.

In analyzing my mom, my wife would read book after book, and share snippets with me.  She also analyzed communications from my mother (letters and texts): “See here, this shows how she is abusive”. “Look at this example of manipulation.”  “Ooh boy, do you see the projection here?”

Sometimes, I would practically spit my drink out, as I realized how much these tidbits of information also applied to my wife’s behaviors toward me.  She is totally unaware of any problem on her part—she is always the victim of others’ sinister plots, and always a brave bloodhound of truth.  A few of the books she has had me read have reinforced to me the reality that I may be in an abusive relationship.  The famous diagram of the “cycle of abuse” could be taken from my own diary entries from month to month.
Logged
Gemsforeyes
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 412


« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2019, 03:52:24 PM »

Dear Greenbrier-

I’d like to welcome you to our family.  These relationships are tough, really tough, especially with the constant threats of leaving and divorce hanging over your head.  It’s a pretty natural feeling to sometimes dream of saying “let me help you pack”.

I understand how you can be made to question everything you think you know pretty much everyday.  That feeling of “man, everything I know is wrong!”.  But you know way more than you think you do.   Still, it’s exhausing to twist yourself inside out trying to make, or keep a BPD loved one “happy”, when they themself have no clue where that happiness lies.  It’s somewhere in that black hole of emptiness.  There is a saying... “don’t set yourself on fire to keep another person warm”.  I try to keep this in mind when dealing with my uBPDbf. 

As far as posting here, feel free to start a new thread as a new topic strikes you, and to also respond to others’ posts.

You may already know this, but many of us “nons” who have uBPD partners can have codependent traits (more pronounced if your mom or another family of origin member is BPD).  Not our faults.  Doing work around codependency can help.

There are many great tools on this site to assist in understanding your RS (reducing conflict)and improving communication with your W.  These skills will also help with your kids, who no doubt have been impacted.  When your W abuses you, she also abuses your children... at least that’s my opinion.  Please also do some reading on (and active practice of) Self-Care.  Keep in mind that you are not your W’s employee regardless of the list of chores she had made for you.

I take it your parents did not move back east to be closer to you?

How do you FEEL about your W at this point?  You deserve to feel good about yourself.  I know I’ve jumped around a lot.  Sorry.  Please talk about a few things you’d like to get specific help with.  This is a safe space for you to say whatever’s on your mind. 

Warmly,
Gemsforeyes

Logged
Warriorprincess

*
Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 18


« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 07:47:38 PM »

Dear Greenbriar -
I think your W and my W are twins. So many of the things you described, and even the words your W has used, are the same as my W to me. I’m new to this site and am reading through posts that catch my eye and trying to learn what others are going through and what has helped. I have received more compassion from other posters here than I had hoped for, and the site has some very concrete tools for coping and reducing conflict. I wish you all the best.
-Warriorprincess
Logged
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2019, 12:09:12 PM »

Thanks, Gemforeyes and Warrior Princess. It’s easy to feel isolated.  Realizing that others have similar stories provides a context where one doesn’t feel as alone.

Gem, I appreciate your advice.  Coming to recognize and understand the problem has taken some time.  I’ve definitely thought about my role in the “dance”, and will also peruse the resources here as I get time. 

Regarding my parents, they decided not to move out here, and my father subsequently went into a nursing home and has since died.  I did pay him a visit a few months before his passing, and I’m extremely glad that I did.  It gave me a kind of closure that I would otherwise be struggling with now. 

My relationship with my family of origin is currently all but severed.  My mother is now cut off from my wife and the kids, though I can still communicate with her.  She sends cards at holidays.  I would say that I am “very low contact”.  My extended family are also cut off; An aunt who once was a positive influence in my life told me that she doesn’t care to hear from me again.  Because my mother comes with her own drama, I’m at peace with this. 

I’m a bit lonelier now, partly because of all this.  Also, it seems that my wife and I are unable to make and keep a lot of friends—But I hasten to add that mostly this is because they move away (and then they drop into our yearly Christmas card list), or because we just can’t find time to connect with our busy schedules.  Only rarely has this been due to emotional turmoil. 

The constant conflict at home has been wearing on me.  Overall, though, I can say that I’ve seen some improvement and things aren’t quite as bad as they were a few years ago.  I’ve learned a lot, which has helped.

In years past I would either be a silent sponge (allow my wife to rant while saying nothing, which sometimes “contained” her but would often only make her angrier), or I would be a big time “JADE”-er.  I’ve learned the wisdom of trying to acknowledge her without getting drawn in to the futile exercise of arguing or defending, as this rarely resolves issues, and only seems to escalate things further out of control.  A simple “I see what you are saying there, but I disagree with you” goes much further than hours of gassing on about how I see the facts or rebutting her at each point.  She also tends to “up the ante” constantly in arguments. 

I’ve also learned to avoid dancing to the threat of divorce (or other threats). Mostly I shrug and say something like, “Well, you’ll have to do what you think is best.”  This seems to have succeeded; Mostly she has stopped threatening to move out or divorce me, but it still pops up from time to time. 

As far as “self care”, I am working on it:

—I see a counselor about every other week.  She has been a validating presence, and has been very helpful in suggesting tools to enhance the marriage.    She has also told me to take care of myself.
—because my wife doesn’t like to see me sitting around at home I have discovered the joys of “Happy hour”, at several establishments. If I am efficient enough at work I can squeeze in 30-60 minutes to read while sipping a Manhattan. 
—I have bonded well with my two boys, whom I love deeply, and they take up a lot of my free time at home.
—Faith helps.  Our Sunday ritual of church and lunch out afterward is usually very pleasant.  Also I am in a once a week small study group with my boys that is refreshing. 
—My work is actually therapeutic for me.  When I arrive at the hospital, numerous people greet me with “Good morning, Dr. Greenbrier”.  I spend all day conversing with people and these short visits are mostly pleasant interactions (I’d estimate a ratio of about 7 pleasant to 1 unpleasant).  Work is long, with 11 hour days plus some weekends, but I feel competent and appreciated there.

Reading has been enlightening. These are the 2 books I have found most helpful so far:

—“Stop Walking on Eggshells” by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger
—“I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me” by Kreisman.
Logged
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2019, 04:55:32 PM »

Well, I can’t resist a tidbit of of the blow-by-blow.  When my mom talked about coming out here, it triggered my wife.  She resorted to threatening divorce: “If she comes out here I will leave you; tell her that.”  I did, and now I am at fault for having done so—“It was PLEASE READty of you to tell her I’d leave you; you were happy to make me the fall guy.”  When I point out that she had asked me to do this, she’ll reply “typical strategy of a narcissist to blame the victim.”
Logged
Warriorprincess

*
Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 18


« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2019, 10:36:34 PM »

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my W tell me, “Typical strategy of a narcissist.” It does no good to respond that it’s impossible to be both a narcissist and codependent at the same time! I’m trying to learn that once my W is triggered, I should really ignore what comes out of her mouth (well, not totally if I’m using the skills on here, but half the time she won’t even remember what she said after she’s calmed down).
We were at the airport last week coming back from a trip, and her suitcase was 1 lb over the weight limit. At first she was just going to pay for it, but then she saw it was $100 more than the typical fee. I asked her to take some things out of the suitcase since I had room in mine, and I know she was embarrassed since she had snickered 5 mins previously at a stranger doing the same thing. She snapped at me, “What? I’m going to make all these people wait while I rearrange my luggage?” I said, “Yes, just step aside and do it.”
Now I understand that she was most likely mortified at her mistake, so, while she did rearrange her luggage, she had to attack me to make herself feel better. Suddenly, I was awful for making my W and boys wait for me while I took my 85-year-old mother with dementia to the bathroom, now they had to wait in the long, long bag drop line (when it was short before the bathroom trip), I never think of anyone but myself since I get to go through security faster since my mom will get a wheelchair, and I think I know everything since I told my W what to do about the suitcase, etc. etc. I managed to stay calm until she insinuated that I intentionally get my mom a wheelchair so I can go to the front of the security line and board the plane first. That’s when I lost my cool and was angry with my W actually until the next day. At the time I was ready to rant and rave on this site, but when I was ready to write, I wasn’t angry anymore. That led me to reflect on what my “triggers” are and write down for later practice how I’d prefer to respond rather than getting angry.
I think that’s progress, so i wanted to let you all know! Thank you for your support and advice, Greenbriar, Gemsforeyes, livednlearned and Harri!
-Warriorprincess
Logged
Greenbrier

Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 9


« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2019, 12:08:50 AM »

Excerpt
That led me to reflect on what my “triggers” are and write down for later practice how I’d prefer to respond rather than getting angry.

That sounds like a wise practice.  So far I have been merely retroactive rather than proactive.  I have been writing down (in my journal) what did happen in the past, rather than what should happen in the future. 
Logged
Gemsforeyes
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 412


« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2019, 06:59:33 PM »

Good day -

I’m really sorry about your dad, Greenbrier, but glad you were able to see him before he passed.  Don’t know how I feel about the fact that you’re essentially cut off from the rest of your family; but if you’re at peace with the situation, well that’s what matters.  If you’re not really at peace with it, you deserve what you want.  BPD partners are often threatened by relationships with family and friends and can have a strong tendency to isolate us from others.  Painful stuff. 

I’m heartened to know you’ve got a good relationship with your two boys and have special time with them.  Does your W stand back and support the alone time you share with your boys?  Do your boys discuss their feelings or concerns about their mom with you?

Self-care... yea, it’s a struggle... but finding that hour after work with your manhattan and reading material in friendly surroundings is great for you!  That’s  yours and yours alone, so try to keep that close.  It’s pretty sad that you work so hard and have to “steal” time for yourself to feel relaxed without pressure.

I find that journaling is a gateway to a LOT of disclosure -for me.  It brings my own feelings out into the light, things I don’t  really want to see at times... but really helpful in figuring out what I needed, and need to do.  Steps to take, things to talk about in therapy, boundaries to try to establish with my uBPDbf (and others).  Things I failed to do in my 19-year marriage.  The boundaries are for YOU.  That comes in time.

You know Greenbrier and Warriorprincess - something that I see, and feel a bit anxious about, is that I generally live in this sort of “anticipatory” state.  When I know there is something I need to bring up, I roll it over in my head, and over and over... so he doesn’t flip a table (not literally).  Also...  and I have stepped into and out of this rs over the last nearly 6 years due to his rage... he is a snoop!  Is that normal, I wonder...  seems everything in my home is free game for his eyes.  At any rate, the other night he slept over and I knew he’d wake up before me in the morning and wander around.  I have a large paraffin (hot wax) thing that’s plugged in that I’ve been using for my bad hand.  I explained to him that in case he wonders what that large tub is, be careful!, cuz that hot wax could spill.  Now keep in mind, it’s NOT in a place you would walk or see clearly, but if you went snooping, you’d see it!  He laughed and said, “OK, I’ll be careful.”  Funny, right?  But I HAVE to anticipate that something bad COULD happen!

Warmly,
Gemsforeyes

Logged
Warriorprincess

*
Offline Offline

Person in your life: Romantic partner
Posts: 18


« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2019, 03:07:22 PM »

Thanks, Gemforeyes and Warrior Princess. It’s easy to feel isolated.  Realizing that others have similar stories provides a context where one doesn’t feel as alone.
Hi Greenbriar and Gemsforeyes. I couldn’t agree more about how helpful it is to hear that others have similar stories. I feel a whole lot less isolated. Thank you again. Greenbriar, I am happy that my new practice of thinking about how I’d like to respond in the future is resonating with you. Just to know that I’ve prepared a bit is helping me feel calmer about life in general. I think this is also related to what Gemsforeyes said about living in an anticipatory state. (“But I HAVE to anticipate that something bad COULD happen!”) I completely get that and have done it several times this past week with my W. I said “I’m sorry I don’t have all the clean clothes put away...I don’t want you to get frustrated about not finding your things.” I’m trying to ward off the blow-up that could happen if she wakes up angry one morning and can’t find a certain shirt or pants to wear. Then I’ll hear about how lazy I am and how I want everything done for me. So even though I’m reading “Stop walking on eggshells” I am still very gun-shy about how my W may react about any number of things that could happen in day-to-day life.
A simple “I see what you are saying there, but I disagree with you” goes much further than hours of gassing on about how I see the facts or rebutting her at each point.  She also tends to “up the ante” constantly in arguments.  
This is such a good point, Greenbriar. I definitely need to practice this more.
Great self-care list!!!!! I started with my new counselor last week and she’s terrific. She told me she could tell my W has BPD by the stories I told her and the language she uses; she feels that our boys have been traumatized and we all need therapy. I agree and all of us have appointments. I agree with Gemsforeyes that you should safeguard your time at happy hour because that’s just for you. Isolation is real, and I’m trying my best to make plans (and KEEP them) with friends and my family. In the past I’ve been told that this shows I lack a commitment to my immediate family (W and 2 boys) which is not true at all. I have been known to say to her, “I am allowed to have friends.” I still have to fight the guilt that comes when I’m told I am not giving enough to the family. My work is absolutely a refuge for me too. I feel competent and in charge there; it’s somewhere I don’t have to feel not good enough. I’d work late every night if I knew I wouldn’t be reamed when I don’t come home at 6:00pm.

Hang in there! Happy Father’s Day!
-Warriorprincess
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 03:13:36 PM by Warriorprincess » Logged
Can You Help Us Stay on the Air in 2019?

Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Less than $500 to go - Fiscal year ends June 30th
Help us make the year - Fiscal year ends June 30th and we are short a bit
We have many volunteers here. We thank them all. It takes more than just volunteer time to run a site like this. It takes money. But not a lot, if we all chip in.
37<2/font>
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2019, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!