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Author Topic: Apologies from a pwBPD  (Read 360 times)
maxsterling
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« on: February 13, 2021, 10:07:59 PM »

Question - what's the most "apology" you have gotten from a pwBPD?  My wife will say "I'm sorry" for small stuff, but it's always along the lines of "I'm sorry I am a piece of crap".  A shameful apology. 

She never has once apologized directly and specifically for name calling, physical violence, or anything like that directed at me.  She will say "I'm sorry I yelled", but that is about the extent.

I've come to expect such apologies won't happen.  I am accepting of that, even though it is hard.  Sometimes I want her to acknowledge that she hurt me and say she is sorry.  I am coming to understand though that she is capable of feeling bad about it and it brings her great distress.  But rather than an apology or amends, she goes through a mode of self shame, talking about how she should move out into a hospital, how she is no good for anyone, how she should just die, etc.  Thus, more on my plate. 

I find this exhausting.  I am left to deal with it on my own, for which i need my own personal time, which I rarely get these days.  I feel like being in a relationship with a pwBPD is like being a garbage can for all kinds of crap, and our lives are about finding ways to "empty the trash". 

To be more specific here - W had another anxiety/shame meltdown last night.  This morning she had a productive T session, in which she felt she had some breakthroughs.  Awesome!  But afterwards I was there to deal with the rubble of the T session...
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2021, 11:22:12 PM »

My husband was married to a woman with uBPD/NP D for (legally) 33 years, only 19 of which they really lived with each other. In all those years of constant, and blatant infidelities, in addition to her verbal and emotional abuses, she never apologized. The closest she came, in one "after action review" (as my military husband would describe) was to ask, "Can you ever forgive me?"

Of course, he could, and can still forgive her. But that is far in the past now.

He still has PTSD, high blood pressure, a heart murmur, and an STD that surfaces at times (herpes).

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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2021, 01:07:55 AM »

I wish my expwBPD could apologize. We would probably still be together if she knew how. My speculation is that probably in her FOO taking responsibility for anything would lead to more shame and punishment and so she learnt not to.
Max, my question is why are you dealing with the rubble from therapy? That is double punishment, not only is she forcing you to deal with the thing that requires apology, but also with her shame, the more severe because she cannot express it. That is a lot. I would say try to walk away if you can, and do something nice for yourself instead. And to take the issue to your next MC session. You should not attempt to deal with it on your own. 
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2021, 07:11:05 AM »

I don't think an apology is possible and I have long ago stopped expecting one.

I think it has to do with the tendency to project and a strong denial mechanism. Also the shame for acknowleging some of the behaviors is so great, I think that causes a dysregulation in itself. I think these dysregulation serve a purpose of scrambling the thoughts so much that they don't remember, or can't admit they do, or are actually so confused over what happened.

At any rate, bringing something up or confrontation over it just seems to cause another dysregulation and progress isn't done.

I think this is what makes this condition so difficult to deal with. People learn from their behaviors. They learn in kindergarten that if you don't play nice with your friends, if you are mean to them or call them names, they won't play with you.

But when someone is enabled- call people names, say mean things to them- and there are no consequences of that- they learn that they can do this.

Learning from consequences can happen with even small children. I don't know about long term learning with a person with BPD but learning is best done in the moment. If a kid hits another kid on the playground, they have to come inside and they miss playtime. Bringing up the fact that they did this a week ago won't help as much as the consequence in the moment.

Max, you decide what you tolerate and what you don't- and it's your task to act on this. Asking for an apology isn't likely to work. If she calls you a name- you don't respond, and you walk away. If she physically hurts you, call the police and press charges. You don't have to be her emotional caretaker and process her emotional reactions to the T session- that's her work to do and it might even undo what the T wants her to do- to learn to deal with her emotions.

Although you want her to acknowlege that she has done something hurtful to you, I don't know if she can do that. However, you can. You can acknowlege that her behavior is hurtful and decide to not enable it. You don't need for her to realize when her behavior is hurtful- you are quite capable of deciding that whether she does or not.
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2021, 03:56:18 PM »

Apologies... I have a had, I think literally, thousands of apologies. Sooooooo many (what seemed like) truly heartfelt, gut-wrenching apologies.

The problem is, the apologies were never ever accompanied by a change of behaviour. "I'm sorry I hurt you so much" never led to hurting me less. "I'm sorry I've disappointed you with another false promise that I did not live up to" never led to keeping her subsequent promises.

If anything, the apologies went together with a huge dose of self loathing, self blame and in a sense self pity. Lots of talk about how 'she was a bad person that didn't deserve me'. But never any actions to do deserve me, or to correct or compensate for her errors.

This all fit perfectly with what I realised in the end: her head was always soooo full of chaos and intense emotions about herself, that there was never room for consideration of my feelings, and ultimately no true empathy for me.

So yeah, I've heard infinite expressions of guilt and remorse, but never any concrete actions to do something about it. This futher exacerbated our relationship dynamics of my boundaries getting crossed more and more. I always felt that the remorse and guilt was real, and almost too much for her to bear, so I would try to console her and tell her that she was not the worst person in the world. But in the end, without any actions on her part to correct her errors, this just meant that she would screw up, wallow in self-pity, and I would be the one comforting her. My feelings and boundaries didn't play any role in this scenario.

What was worse was that most realisations of how bad she treated me were often followed by her stating that she didn't deserve me, was a bad person, and thus she needed to leave me and let go of the relationship 'because I deserved better'.

Looking back, this was very emotionally manipulative because:
A) It made me feel like I was worth nothing to her, that she would give up the relationship so easily, rather then put in the effort to treat me better.
B) She would treat me badly, then drown in guilt, and then I would comfort her and try to convince her that she was not a bad person. Or put simply: she hurt me, I consoled her. And all attention was on her. Anyone can see that's not how things should go in a balanced and healthy relationship. But if I stood my ground and 'pushed' for an apology, she'd just go to her standard 'see, you're better of without me, we should break up' strategy.

In a sense the implied message was: when I hurt you, either you console me, or the relationship is over.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2021, 04:50:05 PM »

Similarly to others, my ex husband would occasionally apologize, but these “apologies” were more accurately pleas for comforting and acceptance and implied threats of suicide.

He’d say things like: “I’m a waste of oxygen. I don’t deserve to live. You’d be better off without me.”

He could be tearyeyed with remorse, but did his behavior change? Nope. Within a week the remorse would be forgotten and he would be hooking up with someone, making ludicrous financial decisions, being verbally or physically abusive to me, abusing substances, or a combination of the above.
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2021, 04:54:09 PM »

My current husband, who has traits, rather than fullblown BPD, is capable of making a sincere apology on occasions. However he does veer toward the “I’m a worthless piece of s#!€” direction now and then, which really negates the impact of the apology for me.
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2021, 10:00:10 PM »

There were times when my ex apologized,  similar to what others have said. Very dramatic, extreme self-deprecating words, probably designed to get a "no, you're not, don't say things like that, it's just that you (insert excuse for him that kept me feeling empathy for him)".

There were other times when he would downplay his actions, minimize and generalize them, and possibly apologize for some watered-down version of what he had done (i.e., "I'm sorry I messed up again") when what he actually did was so incredibly severe that I could not believe he could NOT acknowledge it.

Probably the most disturbing apologies fell in the middle, the ones that were straightforward, truthfully stating what happened and how it was wrong, completely sounding like a genuine, honest acknowledgement of the hurt he caused me- that's what everyone in a relationship with a pwbpd longs to hear, right? A longed-for sign that maybe, just maybe, this person has true recognition of their behavior and the impact it causes.

However, none of the apologies brought any change or real attempts to do whatever it would take to stop the behavior. Not even the apologies that sounded as if they came from a self-aware, genuinely remorseful person taking ownership of their own actions. For that reason, those apologies, in retrospect, disturb me the most when I think about them.
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2021, 08:39:32 PM »

Nope.  At least for the stuff that I want him to apologise for the most, he never does.  And as many have said, sometimes he would have apologies that are way out of proportion, I guess subconsciously wanting me to assure him that no, it isn't so bad, he is being ridiculously hard on himself. 

I don't know if it's because he puts up such a strong wall around his emotions, or because he is somewhat narcissistic, but I feel that he doesn't apologise because he doesn't think he needs to.  He doesn't think his actions are wrong, because what I've done is so, so bad that it warrants any action on his part.  He has, on occasion, said to me, because I am so bad to him, such a piece of s***, that if he cheats on me, he cannot be blamed.  Not that he has done it, but if this is the way he thinks, why would he feel a need to apologise to me?  After all, I brought it all on myself.
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Hope4Joy

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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2021, 03:18:40 PM »

Chosen - I feel like my situation is close to yours.
It took me years to realize that I had never been given an apology. I have asked for an apology a few times in recent years when I really felt one was due, but they aren’t nice. I guess it’s time to stop asking.
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truthdevotee
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2021, 03:31:44 PM »

I relate so much to so many things in this thread. Thank you all for sharing.

My pwBDP (high-functioning) rarely apologizes. It's happened on occasion. I desired her apologies for several years but let go of desiring it, because I was causing myself pain by desiring it. I guess because she is high-functioning, she doesn't feel the internal self-directed shame/guilt of harmful actions, therefore saying sorry is extremely rare.

Interestingly, over the years, I learned to be careful saying sorry after my mistakes. Saying sorry could often become another trigger for her, reminding her of the painful situation again and triggering the emotional dysregulation. These days, I say sorry but generally only once, and if she can't receive it and absorb it, I let it go. When I do say sorry I say it cautiously, because most of the time it results in some kind of "YEAH WELL YOU SHOULD BE SORRY COZ YOU DID THIS AND THAT AND THIS AND IT HURT AND... etc." It can become another reason to fall into a dysregulated state.

I'm learning that more often than not the best thing for me to do after I've made a mistake is approach her with a gentle hug or a shoulder massage. If she's dysregulated, this has the highest chance of activating her parasympathetic nervous system response. However, overall it's only about 60% successful because if the dysregulated state is too intense, it's impossible for her to even notice the gentle and loving touch. At those times, it's best for me to step away somehow, in any way I can, but this can be tricky as my children want me around.
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Cjais

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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2021, 06:17:43 PM »

Apologies... I have a had, I think literally, thousands of apologies. Sooooooo many (what seemed like) truly heartfelt, gut-wrenching apologies.

The problem is, the apologies were never ever accompanied by a change of behaviour. "I'm sorry I hurt you so much" never led to hurting me less. "I'm sorry I've disappointed you with another false promise that I did not live up to" never led to keeping her subsequent promises.

If anything, the apologies went together with a huge dose of self loathing, self blame and in a sense self pity. Lots of talk about how 'she was a bad person that didn't deserve me'. But never any actions to do deserve me, or to correct or compensate for her errors.

This all fit perfectly with what I realised in the end: her head was always soooo full of chaos and intense emotions about herself, that there was never room for consideration of my feelings, and ultimately no true empathy for me.

So yeah, I've heard infinite expressions of guilt and remorse, but never any concrete actions to do something about it. This futher exacerbated our relationship dynamics of my boundaries getting crossed more and more. I always felt that the remorse and guilt was real, and almost too much for her to bear, so I would try to console her and tell her that she was not the worst person in the world. But in the end, without any actions on her part to correct her errors, this just meant that she would screw up, wallow in self-pity, and I would be the one comforting her. My feelings and boundaries didn't play any role in this scenario.

What was worse was that most realisations of how bad she treated me were often followed by her stating that she didn't deserve me, was a bad person, and thus she needed to leave me and let go of the relationship 'because I deserved better'.

Looking back, this was very emotionally manipulative because:
A) It made me feel like I was worth nothing to her, that she would give up the relationship so easily, rather then put in the effort to treat me better.
B) She would treat me badly, then drown in guilt, and then I would comfort her and try to convince her that she was not a bad person. Or put simply: she hurt me, I consoled her. And all attention was on her. Anyone can see that's not how things should go in a balanced and healthy relationship. But if I stood my ground and 'pushed' for an apology, she'd just go to her standard 'see, you're better of without me, we should break up' strategy.

In a sense the implied message was: when I hurt you, either you console me, or the relationship is over.


This resonates so very much with me. My estranged BPD partner does the exact same thing. He hurts me so very deeply, then will do one of two things:

Either:

1) he will start to wallow in self pity and tell me that I am better off without him if I am not consoling him.

Or

2) will accuse me of something and that it’s my fault that he became “triggered”

Either way, it’s a lose/lose situation for me, my feelings of hurt have not been addressed and if I try to explain that, his reaction more recently has been “I have enough going on, not everything is about you”. But, still no changes in his behaviour.

For those who have dealt with this situation and managed to overcome it with their PBF partner, any advice to those of us struggling with this issue?
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