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Before you can make things better, you have to stop making them worse... Have you considered that being critical, judgmental, or invalidating toward the other parent, no matter what she or he just did will only make matters worse? Someone has to be do something. This means finding the motivation to stop making things worse, learning how to interrupt your own negative responses, body language, facial expressions, voice tone, and learning how to inhibit your urges to do things that you later realize are contributing to the tensions.
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Author Topic: Divorcing a BPD after 20 years - didn't ever know what I was dealing with  (Read 200 times)

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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: divorcing
Posts: 13

« on: October 10, 2019, 07:05:37 PM »

After 19 years of marriage, my wife suddenly left me and our two teens.  She actually announced her decision to leave us to our pastor, and the altar call of our sunday Easter church service.  While this was all shocking to me beyond belief, once she left I finally started searching for answers and realized that she exhibits the vast majority of BPD traits, and had done so even during our first conversation with each other, and first dates, 20 years ago.

She trashed me to many people at our church, to her family, to many of our mutual friends, and most of them won't speak to me now.  But for 2 decades, I was her hero, she routinely thanked me (too often really) for taking such good care of her and putting up with her issues like anxiety, depression, and alcoholism.  Then one day, I was the devil incarnate, and she left everything to get away from me. 

For all our marriage, she sought help from therapists and psychiatrists, but would never tell me anything about the sessions.  I do know she was heavily medicated, 200mg zoloft daily, Klonopan, lorazepam, lots of beer and wine on top of that.

Whenever we would be out on date nights, at a restaurant, she would look around at other women in the room and start asking me if I was going to ditch her for someone better.  Like, how do you answer that?  Sometimes she would just grab me and hug me and beg me not to leave her.  No context, no conversation, just out of the blue.

She collected dozens of psych books, novels about Hitler, was obsessed with domestic serial killers.  Said she wanted to get a psych degree but had failed out of college (where we met).

The last few years she started telling me all the psych books were so she could figure out what was wrong with me.  Insisted I needed a therapist, called me OCD, NPD, control freak, etc.  I started working at home so she could go back to school, took care of all the kids and their needs, cooked, cleaned and paid for her tuition.  Then she'd tell me regularly how controlling I was, and that I was the cause of her drinking and stress.

I never took the time to try to diagnose her myself.  Not until she left did I discover BPD, read all the eggshells books, and started talking to old friends who had known us both for many years.  They nearly all told me the same thing, "we always knew she was a little off, always over-reacting to things". 

Walking on eggshells made my jaw hit the floor.  Seemed like a biography of our marriage.

Now we are in the divorce process, and she has mostly ghosted the kids.  Doesn't seem interested in anything they are doing, or anything at their school, and doesn't appear to be interested in joint custody.

I guess I'm posting this because I wonder if others here have similar stories.  Most importantly, I wonder if those stories have had an ending.  My wife had been suicidal before, but she was always so close to the children.  No she acts like she doesn't want them.  I wonder, now that she is truly alone, will her suicidal tendencies get worse? 

I have the kids in therapy of course.  But I don't know what the future hold for their relationship with their mother.  I just can't stand to think of how a mother's suicide would scar them so.

I've tried to explain to her father and sister that I think she has BPD, but when I do that, I just get a letter from her lawyer telling me not to contact her family anymore.  No response from them, and we were always very close to each other. 
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner’s ex
Posts: 842

« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2019, 08:43:19 PM »

Welcome.  It sounds like you've been through a lot.  I cannot even imagine announcing your intentions to divorce at the altar on Easter Sunday.  That's just.....wow.

You'll find a lot of support here.  There are a lot of similarities in all of our stories.    There is a member here who has a stepdaughter whose mother committed suicide.

How old are your kids?  I'm so glad you have them (and hopefully yourself) in therapy. 

It is not necessarily bad for your kids that their mother has lost interest.  I have a 12-year-old stepdaughter (SD12) whose mom shows all the traits of BPD.  mom's emotional manipulation and abuse towards SD has steadily gotten worse as SD matured.  We have had to set very strong boundaries (including blocking mom from texting SD). H got primary custody last summer.  In the next month or so, mom will likely be restricted to seeing SD about 10% of the time (most likely with supervised visitation to start).  SD is thriving now.

mom has been suicidal before, and has been hospitalized twice in the last year.  It would be tragic if her illness won, and SD would grieve.  But SD is already grieving for the mom that she wants but will never have....because her mother just isn't capable of providing that.  SD can't fix her mom, and neither can we, and neither can anyone else.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: Divorced
Posts: 764

« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2019, 09:12:21 PM »

Yes, many familiar themes. He told me that my thinking is completely wrong, and I am very badly messed up. I cannot possibly see things correctly. I've been brainwashed to think that he is crazy. Many of the horrible things he said and did were stories I made up. Our marriage was doomed to fail because of me.

I know that blood is thicker than water, and so I told his family to support him and gave up. They never did believe me. I know that much of the narrative I heard from him in separation came from them.

Our college kids were devastated when he left, and there was almost no contact after he moved far away. Of course we were blamed for the lack of contact with their father, which I know is a cop-out. Parents are responsible for maintaining their relationship with their children into early adulthood.  And don't let anyone tell you that college kids don't care when their parents split up. It's a shattering of their childhoods and their fundamental beliefs about themselves and others.

So yes, very hard things. There was a suicide attempt some years back, and I know that's still very much an issue with this type of thinking. So it wouldn't surprise me. But at this point we only have contact through the lawyers, so I don't know if his thinking is there again or not. The divorce process has been very difficult.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 135

« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2019, 10:26:28 PM »

Yes - a very familiar story to mine.  After a 21 year marriage,  I went away for a weekend and came back to my exBPDh experiencing a psychotic break - out of control raging at me for almost 3 solid weeks and then an assault (he had never laid a hand on me before).  I was absolutely idealized prior to this event so I was completely and utterly blindsided by his mental breakdown.  I saved a text from him from one hour before I walked in the door after my weekend away and it is so loving and caring.  Initially he wanted an open marriage and then when I refused, he insisted upon a divorce which occurred three months later.  It's taken me the better part of almost two years to try to recover from the shock of the abrupt demise of my marriage.  In hindsight, I always recognized that something about my exBPDh was a little off but nothing I could clearly put my finger on. His behavior was more confusing than anything else.  80% of my marriage was fantastic and 20% was hard to figure but I truly had absolutely zero awareness that he suffered from a serious mental illness.
Like you, I had never heard of BPD until I was in the midst of this crisis.  It absolutely gobsmacked me that the problems within my marriage (that absolutely mirror yours) were largely textbook BPD.  I was stunned by this realization and suddenly so much baffling behavior made so much sense. In hindsight, I was in denial that I'd turned myself into a pretzel trying to appease him over the years and I had completely lost all sense of myself and self-worth.
We have 65/35 custody of my teen in my favor.  Given my ex's sudden violence, my teen has a safety plan in place when he visits my ex.  I truly wish that my ex had nothing to do with my teen as I worry constantly about the impact he is having on my son.
My ex smeared me to all and sundry - the utter lies and venom that I've heard him spread about myself are soul-destroying and devastating. He also shared so much deeply personal information about me to friends and family that it has felt like a complete violation of my privacy.  I was sexually assaulted as a teen and he has created a narrative that I'm a broken, damaged woman as a result who he oh-so magnanimously tried desperately to help and stay with a marriage with but that I'm just too damaged and that I tortured and abused him until he couldn't take it anymore and he just had to divorce me - gak!  Complete and utter baloney based on a modicum of truth (my assault).
Even though his family witnessed his breakdown and they were also painted black by him at the time (and it was absolutely batPLEASE READ crazy behavior - in hindsight he should have been institutionalized) they minimize and deny everything to this day.  He is just going through a mid-life crisis is their official story.  I have had to separate myself from them for my own peace of mind because I simply refuse to participate in the narrative/lies/cover up that is a direct result of their shame and mortification about his breakdown.  I will not compromise my truth because it's uncomfortable for them.  I have no family members now except my teen. So, I have also spent the better part of two years grieving the loss of 18 in-law relationships.  It has been an unspeakably difficult journey at times - lows upon lows - but I'm in a much better place today - it does get better but it does seem that it takes far too long to get to this point.
I still don't have an ending (my ex has never been suicidal/too NPD).  I'm slowly picking up the pieces and rebuilding my life.  He is now basically unemployable, has alienated many friends, he is doing all kinds of strange drug and sexual explorations, has run up huge credit card debt and is juggling two girlfriends who have no clue about the existence of the other.  I recognize that I'm far better off without him in my life and he seems like an absolute stranger to me now - we just don't share the same core values anymore.
It's been a long, difficult and crazy journey that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy but I'm truly grateful to have had the opportunity to find myself and my self-worth again. I treasure my strengthened bond with my teen and the friends that were there for me throughout.  I have peace in my life now and hope for my future.
Hugs to you  Virtual hug (click to insert in post) 

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 135

« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2019, 10:47:57 PM »


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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: divorcing
Posts: 13

« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 09:33:49 PM »

Wow, I am truly stunned at the number of reads and replies my first post received in just a day or so.  At the same time that I'm saddened there are similar stories out there, I'm relieved I'm not the only one. 

My kids just turned 13d and 18s.  If they had any doubts as to my claim that mommy isn't well, they don't anymore.  She managed to avoid both of them on their birthdays.  Told my daughter she had a headache, left the state on my son's 18th.  No apologies, "just how it worked out" she said.  She used to be so close to them.

I don't guess I mentioned, she managed to get herself 1 year probation for a felony handgun violation.  Took her concealed carry to a state that didn't recognize her permit.  Left the gun in a hotel room.  Now she has to ask permission from a probation officer to leave the county.  In the last six months she managed to leave the state twice and lied to probation about why.  So not only am I worried about a potential suicide someday, she might wind up in jail instead, 3 1/2 years is the minimum if she gets hauled back in.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post.  I now have you to pray for as well, thanks to BPD.
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: separated 2005 then divorced
Posts: 15531

You can't reason with the Voice of Unreason...

« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2019, 10:14:30 PM »

Do not fret whether she will commit suicide or not.  If she hasn't followed through in 20 years, that sounds unlikely she would do so now.  Leave the matter of her suicidal thoughts (threats?) to the professionals.  They're trained to assess or have her assessed.

If she brings up the subject, report it and let the professionals handle it.  A word to the wise... Odds are when the professionals respond she will suddenly claim she's just fine and you're the problem.  "Denial" and "Blame Shifting" is typical.  Be prepare to defend your report by having documentation of what she said.  Save the texts or emails.  If verbal, quietly record it so you can prove what you've reported.

Many of us have faced this and nearly always (unless there is real history of failed attempts) these were threats or manipulations meant to keep us off balance, apologizing, backpedaling from valid boundaries, appeasing, acquiescing, etc.

In the final analysis, she is an adult and is responsible for herself.  You now know you can't fix her, 20 years of trying didn't improve things much if at all.  She has chosen a path in another direction, you would do well to put yourself and your children as your priorities.

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