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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: She left 3 years ago and I’m still in so much pain...  (Read 191 times)
Fewer than 3 Posts
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What is your sexual orientation: Gay, lesb
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Broken up
Posts: 2

« on: August 04, 2020, 06:19:08 AM »

I have spent my life holding out for that truly extraordinary person and as a result, I’m now in my mid-50’s and have not had many relationships. I’ve always had a very meaningful but unconventional life, with a lot of love and loss, but for the most part I’ve been really fortunate. Even though I’ve lived all over the world, connect with people relatively easily and have been truly lucky enough to work for myself, I’ve also spent the vast majority of my life alone. I was a child prodigy and as such was a human doing, and didn’t have much support as a human being. In short, despite many good friends, I’ve really felt some profound periods of loneliness for much of my life.

I appreciate depth and intensity and connection with people, but had never really met anyone whose intensity and focus on things that really matter matched my own. And at 48 years old, while living in her hometown in another country (she was living in my hometown in the US), we met online and with nothing to lose and no expectations, we bared our souls in long letters and over Skype. She had just emerged from an 18 year relationship that ended over her discovery of her partner’s affair. Because of the timing of her breakup - she was still living with her former partner but said that it was an amicable divorce and she would be moving imminently - I was very reluctant to jump into a relationship.

Although I was beginning to feel deeply in love with her with a depth and intensity that I had never experienced before, I feared that I would be the rebound and therefore encouraged her to date other people and maybe one day consider me in the future. She, on the other hand, wanted to connect and commit. She spent a lot of time convincing me that neither of us would find something this extraordinary again.

So we made a deal: I asked her to promise me that should we ever break up, she would be as gentle and kind and compassionate in that breakup as she was in getting into the relationship. Her request was more straightforward: that I would forgive her when she “f*cked up”. I promised. But I really should have gotten more clarification about what her “f*ck ups” actually we’re.

Nonetheless, we embarked on this sublime adventure and for 9 years, there was never a time when I wasn’t genuinely excited to see her. She was the definite aggressor. She was hyper-sexual, experienced and wildly confident. I was neither very  experienced nor confident.

One of the unusual things about her was her openness and bluntness. In our third text chat, we were writing things about ourselves that we were either ashamed of, aware of or wished that we could change. I was stunned when she wrote, “I’m always worried that I’ll be abandoned so I use sex to control people, to draw them into me.” While it should have been a blazing red flag, I was more focused on the courage of her awareness and admission.

She was a Professor and her ability to take in information, put it into context and frame the narrative was truly astounding. She was brilliant, and fascinating, and heartbreakingly sweet and liked to cuddle and talk in bed for hours with our noses an inch away. The first two years were sublime. And for the following 7 years, I never waivered in my love for her.

At the end of the second year, she began to change. While she had no nearby friends to speak of, I had a lifetime of them from all walks of life, and a best friend who was also my business partner. My partner’s intense focus and scrutiny was always entirely on me, regardless of who else was in the room or at the table. She would completely ignore them and either only speak to me or talk about herself. She was always studying me, watching, and commenting on it. It was completely unnerving. It was so awkward that  over time, my friends and family no longer wanted to be around us when we were together.

It became very isolating for me, and she then focused on criticizing and complaining about my commitment to my work. I’m an entrepreneur - I have to wake up every morning and create something out of nothing, which takes a lot of confidence that I don’t always have. Now socially isolated and under pressure to work less and take more time off to spend with her, my sacrifices and capitulations were never enough to, as she said, “meet her needs”. The next target for removal was my best friend and business partner. While I must sound like a complete ass-wipe, in my defense her argumentation and rationale were always so damned articulate, well argued and had phenomenal psychotherapeutic rationale as well. She was also always diagnosing me with mental illnesses. So I’d go to a psychiatrist and ask...am I? And the psychiatrist would say, “Go tell your partner to quit diagnosing you!” I’m no slouch but she seemed to know a lot about everything. In depth. And she’d study any related topic to give her that edge. Seriously- she would get into medical arguments with neurosurgeons and hold her own.

When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, she did enormous research on it so that when she went with me to the doctor she would engage on almost an even level. In addition to isolating me, she began to severely criticize me, most often in front of other people. I found myself having to apologize for her to my friends or professional colleagues, who were mortified at the fact that I was the one being hurt and humiliated and yet apologized for her. Because she did not have friends, we were often around mine, and frequently in professional settings where I would travel to a  resort to speak at a conference and invite her to come. I would work, and she would spend her time enjoying the amenities and join dinners. Those occasions were her favorite time to cut me down in mid sentence, making everyone extremely uncomfortable. I once asked her why she did that and she immediately said, “Well, sometimes you get full of yourself and come across as larger than life. And I feel like you need to be brought back to earth and cut down to size. You know you Take up a lot of space in the room, right? You need to let other people speak”. So I would try to make myself less to give her room to be more. And professional colleagues would wonder why I had changed so dramatically.

And then there was the fact that she was always sick. She did have an underlying and chronically painful disease for which she had stable treatment, but I’m talking about daily stomach upset or migraines or nausea or exhaustion. And yet her remedy was to go out and skateboard or rock climb in 109 degree heat. Every year I worked on a very time consuming and high profile project that was an inordinate feat and I worked so hard for months to pull off - and for 8 years straight she had a major unexplained illness within a week of it. Like clockwork. I’d go to the doctors with her and she would argue with them over the latest research, potential diagnoses and protocol. Each day she was sick my response was always, “I’m so sorry that you don’t feel well, how can I help, what can I do?” Either she would berate me by  saying, “I don’t need you todo anything I just need you to be here for me and listen,” but listening was never enough because she wanted me to ask questions and then I’d get berated for asking stupid or repetitive questions. The truth is, she was sick with so many different things that I lost track of what was wrong at any given time. Once, she had very disturbing unexplained muscular twitches (myoclonus) and on our way to the hospital she casually asked me, “Do you think that this could be hysteria?” Well, my event was two days away but I wasn’t touching that answer with a 10 foot pole. Over time, once she firmly gained control of me it was a constant roller coaster of being drawn into these blissful moments of safety and ecstasy and an hour later I was yelled at or treated as an incompetent annoyance. Needless to say, over the years I lost my confidence, gained weight (she was constantly monitoring my food so I rebelled when away from her), questioned my own sanity and intelligence, and lost many friends.

Yet still, the childlike side of her, the sweet and gentle intimate and emotional connection was always there. I truly saw her. And she saw me. It was so compelling that it wiped out the negative interactions.

We were both afraid to break up because we both so strongly believed that we would never find the depth of our connection again. We talked about it, frequently, at length, and it was mutual. And then one day, she left, saying that although she loved me deeply, I was unable to meet her needs. Within a week she was in a new relationship, and over the next year ran through several, sleeping with some hours after meeting them. It was hell getting my things back, as she suddenly blocked me on her phone and just ghosted me. No closure. We had regarded each other as the love of our lives and yet suddenly I ceased to exist for her and my request for the basic decency of giving back things that were kept at our mutual homes was met with complete silence. It was excruciatingly painful.

And then a year later, she returned - this time, with a marriage proposal based on the caveat that I quit my career and end my friendship with my best friend and business partner. So I did quit my career...when my project was held that year, I made a very public announcement that it would be the last one. It was my biggest asset, my primary source of income and something that I had built over 18 years. And on the very day that I did it, she did not show up to the celebration dinner because she was “out with friends”. At the dinner, my best friend and business partner had a stroke, and I rushed her to the ER. I asked my partner to meet me there, whereupon she showed up 2 hours later and mad as hell, told me that I was absolutely worthless, that I would never change and that she was leaving me. Right in front of my assistant, and my client who had come with me from the dinner. She then stormed out.

We had a final therapy appointment the following day, which was her “gift of closure to me”. One hour, say everything and forever hold your peace. I had just irrevocably sacrificed my career believing that so much would positively change and we would finally move in together and get married. That was the plan.  I had not slept for 3 days because of my project. And my best friend of 20 years was lying in the brain trauma unit with no living relative to care for her. In short, I was in complete shock.

 I don’t even remember the session. All I remember was afterward, asking her what she really wanted. She smiled and looked right through me as she wistfully said, “I want to be adored”. It was a very strange moment. I used to tell her that I absolutely adored her all the time. She sometimes cried, because no one had ever said that to her before. And yet this time, when she said “I want to be adored” it was as though I never existed. And then, she walked away.

We spoke briefly a couple more times that week, and five days later I got an email that just said, “our relationship is over and I’m cutting off all communication.” A month later, I was undergoing surgery that she had previously undergone herself. I was having serious complications and couldn’t reach the doctor or nurse, and in desperation I made the mistake of asking her if this searing pain and symptoms were normal based on her procedure. Her response was the most painful thing that anyone has ever said to me. She texted back, “Jesus, don’t you have any pride?”

Up to that point, I was doing relatively well adjusting to the shock and abruptness of the breakup. But for some reason, those 5 words just broke my spirit and it’s 3 years later and I’ve never recovered. I now doubt my own sense of reality in that I wonder - was the intensity of that love even real for her? Or was that just the love bombing of a BPD? I’ve lost my confidence, my motivation, my joy, my trust...I keep wondering, “was it really my fault?” I keep fighting every single day trying to overcome deep depression. And I feel this horrible sense of shame. “Don’t you have any pride”. The utter contempt for me and the sheer cruelty of those words haunt me.

Throughout the relationship I was aware that she was a narcissist. It never occurred to me until a few months ago that she was borderline. Our couples counselor told me. I’ve wanted closure so much and when I realized that my former partner was never going to speak to me again I spoke to that therapist. We talked about how naive i was, and my need to deal with codependency and abuse. At one point I said to the therapist, “gosh, I thought that I was formidable and could hold my own but I was no match for her”. The therapist, who saw us for 6 months said, “hey, no one is a match for a borderline”. I don’t feel like a victim, after all, I went back that second time knowing the detriments and issues, on both our parts. I still chose her. But  I’m so overwhelmed by the psychological damage, on top of the grief and sadness of losing this person that I had thought was the love of my life, and someone who once felt that mutually. She suddenly split, and the person I knew is gone. Forever. So I’ve been trying to learn about BPD and not continue to blame myself, as well as gain some closure in her absence. But considering how much it still hurts - I just don’t talk about it anymore - I’m worried about my own mental health and feel very ashamed that I haven’t been able to let it go.

The pain and grief is not about the fact that we needed to break up, it’s the cruel and callous way in which I was treated - as though I suddenly had meant absolutely nothing. I’m really sorry that this is so ridiculously long and hope that you all will forgive me for being self absorbed. I just need to let it out in what I hope is a safe place. Does her behavior seem borderline to you? Is this consistent with other experiences? Is this normal? Or am I the crazy one?

As a postscript: a few months ago I discovered by accident that she had already begun a new relationship with a polyamorous married lesbian couple (w/ a young child) a couple of weeks before she broke up with me. I never knew that she was polyamorous. She never said a word about it. Hopefully, she’s happy, and maybe two people will succeed in meeting her needs. But by the way, is lining up the next one before ending the previous one classic BPD behavior?
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Divorcing
Posts: 111

« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2020, 07:15:07 AM »

Thank you for Sharing so articulately your feelings and experience. I have no advice I am useless to myself and others due to very similar (eerily so) circumstances. I just want to let you know I understand your frame of mind at this juncture.
  Wish I could give advice on how to move on. How to clear the mind of all the ruminations. Really really wish I had that knowledge.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 182

« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 11:05:54 AM »

Hi Sontag   Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

I can relate to a lot of what you have written.  (in a nutshell - my exBPDh had a psychotic break after 21 years of marriage (27 year relationship). Over the span of several weeks, he split me black, verbally raged at me for days at a time, assaulted me (I had to hide out in a hotel for a week from him).  He cleaned out thousands out of joint bank account, started using drugs, started engaging in pretty out-there new sex-positive group activities, bought new clothes and primped himself in front of me and my child unbeknown to us for a date with a 24 year old. All this occurred in a matter of weeks, while we were still in emergency marriage counseling (which cost more thousands) and while he was insisting on either an open marriage or divorce.  We divorced in 3 months and 5 weeks after moving out, while I literally was still picking up my jaw of the floor and felt like I had been hit over the head with a two-by-four, he was juggling two girlfriends and "had fallen in love".  I had never even heard about personality disorders prior to all of this.  Never occurred to me that my ex had a mental illness because he was relatively high-functioning (although many questionable behaviors that I tolerated make sense now in hindsight).

Yes - lining up the next victim before "disposing" of the first is classic BPD behavior.  I use that word purposefully because I felt like I was discarded like an unwanted piece of trash after 27 years of unwavering love and loyalty.  I'm sure I wasn't a perfect partner but nothing I did warranted the callousness that my ex dished out to me when he abandoned the marriage.

I'm a little over two years out now and I do feel like I'm getting stronger day by day but it's a very two steps forward, one step back progression.  I resent that it's taking so long to recover particularly as I'm now aware that my ex, regardless of his mental illness, is simply a person with a severe empathy deficit and completely lacking in moral character.  A person that I typically wouldn't bother to give the time of day under typical circumstances.  I really resent that I gave almost 3 decades of my life to him and that I'm STILL wrestling with the fallout.  He's gone, seemingly blissfully, on with his life and has had multiple relationships (some overlapping) while I still struggle to get out of bed on some mornings.

I don't know what to tell you, Sontag, other than sadly you are far from alone in your feelings and maybe we should try to give grace to ourselves.  I guess recovery is going to take as long as it's going to take.

My best to you  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Divorced
Posts: 524

The surest way to fail is to never try

« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2020, 11:54:51 AM »

Hi Sontag,

Boy - thanks for your courage in sharing all of that. Must have taken some courage, but I hope you feel lighter.  And I hope you have some clarity.

There are some similarities in it all - at least from my POV as a man who lived some similar humiliating times.

Tell me .... Has anybody suggested to you that you are victim of domestic abuse?  And how do you react to the question here.

The reason why I want to ask this now is that your answer will help me ask the next question.

In the meantime, as others have said, these things really do hurt and there is no pat schedule for getting through this. Different for each one of us. None of us is happy about it, but all of us are glad that we found this place.

Welcome.  One day, you will pay this forward to the next person searching for tough answers.

Hang in there.



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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 20

« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2020, 01:18:45 PM »

Hey, if it's any consolation there's many people here who feel the same way here. Ive been out of it for well over 2 years now and I still have complicated feelings towards her and it's still hugely affecting my ability to have successful new relationships due to both fear of intimacy and being trained to adore this one problematic person.

I'm also a little older and that has a bit of an impact in itself since it's harder to start again when you're not in the prime of your life (whatever that means) and it feels like time to meet someone with a true connection has run out.

My ex moved on immediately and had a kid with a new guy... Which in some ways makes me sad but then I also remember the insanity that is being in a relationship with someone like this and how hard it will inevitably be for her new guy (whose likely on borrowed time) and the poor kid who has no escape.

All I can say is decide what you would want if this wasn't holding you back and try take the steps to achieve that no matter how hard.
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