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Author Topic: Where do I go from here?  (Read 190 times)
Konstantine

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separation in progress
Posts: 6


« on: October 11, 2020, 05:29:05 PM »

Hello,
First, thank you to the founders and volunteers of this beautiful, supportive community. I feel fortunate I found your website.

For the last 4 years, I have been in a highly turbulent, intense, dysfunctional and abusive relationship with a man in his late 20s. Less than 3 weeks ago, after perhaps dozens of attempts at breaking up with this man over the course of at least a year, I was able to end this relationship with his “permission” to let me go.

A close family member of his has since contacted me and, after I opened up to them for the first time about what this very unique but highly toxic experience has been like for me, they in turn opened up about the immediate family’s genetic history of psychiatric disorders. They told me more than I have ever been able to piece together from him or his other relatives in the last 4 years.

Father, father’s sister (aunt),  mother and brother have all either been diagnosed with or are strong candidates of Bipolar Mood Disorder, PTSD, BPD, Antisocial Personality Disorder and even confirmed Schizophrenia. Nobody talks about any of it. I had NO IDEA.

I had deduced for myself that there were dark demons and unaddressed childhood traumas that lurked beneath the surface of my beloved’s conscious behaviour. And I have long begged him to seek professional help which he has greatly resisted and dismissed as unnecessary. However, I had never once previously considered the possibility of personality, mood and anxiety disorders - whether genetic or environmental. I had only been made aware of an ADD diagnosis in both himself and his father which I have been trying to manage as best I could. My partner even questioned  the accuracy of this diagnosis for himself. Of course, his own firm convictions about his past and present had me convinced that the problems he’d encountered were of others’ doing and not his.

This family individual planted the seed and thus encouraged me to begin researching. They were supportive in informing me that I had not deserved this treatment and that I was doing the right thing for myself by leaving and trying to heal. It was not long at all before I found that BPD - and likely also PTSD, perhaps Antisocial PD and Bipolar - were able to explain in accurate detail accounts of my own experience living with and loving this man. I am devastated, completely heartbroken and processing shock.

I feel addicted to this relationship and to wanting to help my ex-spouse at all costs, even though I know intellectually that this has the likelihood of only hurting me more. I want to tell him about what I’ve discovered and I want to encourage him to take this seriously and get the specific help he truly needs in order to transform his relationships and improve his own wellbeing. I know it’s futile, but I can’t seem to be able to let go. Of course it’s also all so recent.

I feel so sad and scared. I don’t know how I’ll ever recover from all the trauma I’ve endured or how I’ll ever trust someone again. I read your page on handling a BPD breakup which helped me, it outlined almost exactly what I’m processing and experiencing. I feel like my heart has been torn to utter shreds. What now?
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WindofChange
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Living apart two months
Posts: 243



« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2020, 06:53:42 AM »

Hi Konstantine. Like so many on this site, I understand your pain. And it is horribly, horribly painful and traumatic. You took the first step, getting out of the relationship. Are you seeing a therapist? If not, I would highly recommend that you find one. It is really helpful in processing through all of the trauma from the relationship.
There is no quick fix. Reading the literature is helpful. Pouring out your feelings on here can be cathartic.
Hang in there. One day at a time.
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Be kind always.
WindofChange
Ragdolllover

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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Broken-up
Posts: 19


« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2020, 11:42:48 AM »

I feel addicted to this relationship and to wanting to help my ex-spouse at all costs, even though I know intellectually that this has the likelihood of only hurting me more. I want to tell him about what I’ve discovered and I want to encourage him to take this seriously and get the specific help he truly needs in order to transform his relationships and improve his own wellbeing. I know it’s futile, but I can’t seem to be able to let go. Of course it’s also all so recent.

Yes I feel the same. Was considering writing my ex a letter and posting it along with the "Feeling Great" book suggested on this site...

It's so hard isn't it.

I recently was accused of interfering and manipulating though, so be mindful of that before you do anything.

I have found a coping mechanism recently where everytime I want to text my ex I write him a text in the notes section of my phone. I type everything I wanted to say and save it in there instead of sending it to him. It has been helping a little.

I have also been thinking about the reasons why I want to help and the fact that, at the moment, I care more about helping him than helping myself.

Perhaps I should buy myself the 'feeling great' book haha and practice the things myself that I want to preach to him...

I have also found the BPD breakup page here very helpful. Have you found the PDF version of this too? It has more details at the end which focus on how to actually try and move on from it;
  • Mourn the relationship
  • Self examine
  • Acceptance
  • Give yourself time to heal
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Konstantine

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separation in progress
Posts: 6


« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2020, 06:17:38 PM »

Thank you @WindofChange and @Ragdolllover.

I have taken your advice and reached out to some local trauma-focused therapists. However, I am struggling with doubt and fear even concerning therapy, although I know that it should likely help.

While I was in this relationship, I was actually seeing a therapist for around 3 years because I became so chronically depressed and anxious, and one of the reasons I feel frustrated is that my therapist never seemed to pick up on what was going on between my partner and I. Of course, the therapist was only hearing about the circumstances from my deeply distorted point of view at the time - and I think that I was confused and minimizing things big time.

However, even our couples therapist did not pick up on the severity of the issues, although a few of the red flags were definitely highlighted by her on occasion. In fact, I sometimes felt like my partner and couples therapist would agree on a fact, and I sometimes felt that I was being accused of being over-sensitive or of not perceiving things accurately. In one instance, the therapist even apologized to me after my partner produced evidence (letters to an old lover) that showed he had been lying to us all for several months about pasyt behaviour.

I believe I'm having trouble trusting anyone right about now... I feel something akin to betrayal. Did any of you encounter not being validated for your experience, whether real or perceived?

@Ragdolllover, I cannot find the PDF version of the breakup resources. Perhaps the link is broken?

Like everyone is saying, one day at a time. I know...
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WindofChange
***
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Living apart two months
Posts: 243



« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2020, 08:28:42 PM »

Hey Konstantine, I'm so glad you've reached out to some therapists. I hate it for you that this relationship and past experiences have made it so hard for you to trust. It's understandable, though.

I haven't exactly felt invalidated, but I have felt at times that my ex would turn on the charm in different situations and show others a very different side than I saw. He would be funny, sometimes flirty, go out of his way to be helpful to others, etc. Then with me he would be morose and sullen. We went several months ago to a couples therapist. I remember him being cute and silly, and thinking, "Great, he's going to charm her, too, and she will side with him." Ultimately, we didn't go back to her, couldn't make the timing work (probably a good thing).

With the couples therapist we saw most recently, he started out being charming, and would sometimes tend to monopolize the sessions at first. Then when we got into our issues, he would get angry, raise his voice to me, (these were on video due to COVID), once stomping out of the session and threatening to leave the apartment. She was able to see his true colors then. Once he was very vindictive, going out of his way to shame me for something from the past. I didn't let him do it, but I could see from her face that she was disturbed at how the session had gone.

I would say that at times, around his friends or coworkers, or even strangers, he presented himself in a much different way than when he was alone with me. It hurt me that he could be so nice and fun and helpful with them, then turn around and shut me out, or be critical of me in private. Kind of a long and indirect answer to your question. I'm sorry you felt invalidated by those experiences. I hope you can find a therapist you can trust, so you can start to heal. You deserve that!  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Ragdollover, I get that feeling, of wanting to help my ex more than myself. I was so wrapped up in him, worrying myself sick when he was depressed, terrified when he expressed suicide ideation. Wanting so much to make him happy, help him heal. While I was dealing with increasing anxiety and depression, and trauma over the really bad scenes we had. Now that I haven't been seeing him, I'm sad, but I'm not anxious anymore. No more walking on eggshells. That in itself is a relief.
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Be kind always.
WindofChange
Konstantine

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separation in progress
Posts: 6


« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2020, 10:58:04 PM »

Thank you, WindofChange. I know what you mean. For years I felt that no one would believe me, because they were always on the receiving end of his exquisite charm. Everybody loves him, I thought. And many people did. Some friends couldn’t believe it when I eventually told them he had physically abused me.

But here and there, he would do or say something impulsively that did make a couple heads turn and a few people expressed concern to me. I did not want to listen. Now that I’m not around him, and I am opening up to others, I keep feeling surprised that people are listening to me, and do in fact believe me. Some of them are not even that surprised.

This is also very true, concerning the relief that comes with no longer walking on eggshells. I would even experience that sensation of relief when my partner would go away for a week on a school or business trip. It amazed me how chronically anxious I would feel when I was around him – and drained too! All the time, so completely exhausted.

How has it been for you, WindofChange, learning to trust others since you separated?

Ragdolllover, I meant to say something in response to your sentiment about what it means to want to heal him more than myself. I understand you and I think you’re right in posing the question... there’s a big key or clue there towards finding inner wisdom. What does it say about me? What kind of void am I trying to fill in doing this? Is this the definition of codependency?

I appreciate you both sharing and lending support. It helps tremendously to know I am not alone.
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Ragdolllover

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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Broken-up
Posts: 19


« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2020, 06:32:04 AM »

@Ragdolllover, I cannot find the PDF version of the breakup resources. Perhaps the link is broken?

Here is the pdf, https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/10_beliefs.pdf
Also check the workshops and things there’s loads more info in there (pinned to top of this forum).

I spoke to my therapist last night. First session. She seems really nice and I made sure, before I confirmed with her, that she has experience dealing with BPD and relationship codependency. So I feel confidence in her so far. Funnily enough she commented that my session was mainly focused on him and not me and my feelings... Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)... I’m sure I’ll get there eventually!

I don’t know what country you are in or what access you have to counselling or therapy. In the UK, I referred myself to a free charity service provider. I was told I can change my therapist as many times as I like if I am not happy. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” for the right therapist who has the right experience to help you. I was recommended this therapist by a friend.

And yes, I felt invalidated a lot... My ex used to talk about his validation needs a lot. But often the validation of his needs and feelings was often at the expense of my own. I didn’t really notice at the time, but I’m starting to see that now...

And yes... sadly.... I am starting to realise my own contribution to the toxic relationship. My need to feel valuable or important. I know my ex really valued my support. He showed gratitude and appreciation towards my patience and understanding. There’s no denying that I enjoyed this appreciation... He would tell me “nobody understands him the way you (I) do” and that felt so special, like we really had this deep mutual understanding of each other... but it’s not true. I didn’t understand him and never will, and he barely took steps to understand me...

Recognising your own contribution to the issues of the relationship is so hard. I’m really struggling with this realisation actually. But I think it’s a crucial step in processing the situation and moving on. At least with this new awareness we can enter future relationships with more wisdom, as you say.
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Konstantine

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separation in progress
Posts: 6


« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2020, 11:14:15 AM »

And yes, I felt invalidated a lot... My ex used to talk about his validation needs a lot. But often the validation of his needs and feelings was often at the expense of my own. I didn’t really notice at the time, but I’m starting to see that now...
(...)
And yes... sadly.... I am starting to realise my own contribution to the toxic relationship. My need to feel valuable or important. I know my ex really valued my support. He showed gratitude and appreciation towards my patience and understanding. There’s no denying that I enjoyed this appreciation... He would tell me “nobody understands him the way you (I) do” and that felt so special, like we really had this deep mutual understanding of each other... but it’s not true. I didn’t understand him and never will, and he barely took steps to understand me...
I so completely resonate with your words. He used to say, and even wrote me love letters in the beginning, that conveyed his admiration of my unique ability to understand his thoughts almost better than himself. Like I could finish his sentences. We would say that it felt like we had known each other before, in perhaps a previous lifetime. I could believe it, and perhaps still do. I remember so vividly, only a couple of days into our "first date" across the globe (we decided to meet and backpack in NZ), he told me that I was like no one he had loved before, except perhaps his first teenage love, who (I have realized for a long time) he has never been able to let go.

I have always been intuitive and gifted at understanding people, their motives and oftentimes the emotions behind their actions. It's so completely ironic that my understanding of his motives vanished once I became the target of his manipulation, deceit and intoxicating affection.

However, my partner would often come home at the end of a day with complaints about the behaviour of colleagues, friends or salespeople and I would listen to him. I would offer suggestions as to what those people might be going through, why they had likely said or acted a certain way, and what they probably had actually meant - often it was like I was speaking to a child. My partner would start out feeling vindictive and upset, and by the end of our conversation, he was astonished at the possibilities I had raised. He regularly asked me with genuine surprise, "How do you understand people so well?" I believe I helped him through many interpersonal crises (big or small) and I know I felt valuable in being able to do this for him.

Like you say, I think I had fooled myself into believing the understanding was mutual. But as you also said, it was often he that insisted on needing the validation. But this too, always came at the expense of my own needs.

We had learned "active listening" or "mirroring" strategies in therapy together. But our communication was not improving in the slightest. I realize now that he regularly used these techniques or therapeutic tools to emphasize how he did not feel heard, seen or tended to. We would spend hours going over his hurt, his neglect, his fears and his anger - he driving the point repeatedly concerning what it was I had said or done incorrectly. Sometimes it was the tone of my voice, or the fact that I did not give him an estimate of when I was coming home, other times it was plans I had made with a friend. After these long draining exchanges, I would feel exhausted, utterly defeated with frustration and grief - sometimes guilt. I felt like I never got a turn to share my true feelings about a situation.

And so when you say, "he barely took steps to understand me..." – well, ouch. I get that now.

As for my apparent need to feel validated for what I have endured, I am beginning to understand that I'm the only one who ever needed to validate my experience, even now. I have been so fearful that people would not believe me, because I felt that they loved my partner and found him charming. I think this is why I was waiting for someone else – someone more "qualified" – to advise me to leave, to tell me that this was unhealthy. I turned away from my intuition, and for this, I am struggling with so much guilt and shame.

As a friend who went through something similar (she dated my partner's also BPD brother) said to me, "the thing about abusive relationships is that no one (but you) can ever really know or understand what went on in private". I've got some work to do in learning to validate and uphold my own truth and experience.
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