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Author Topic: Stuck in emotional dysregulation and can't move forward  (Read 265 times)
LDRStrugglebus

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: It's complicated
Posts: 3


« on: May 16, 2021, 03:02:52 PM »

Hello! This is my first post here. First I'd like to say what a relief it was to find this group. It makes things a lot easier to understand, and helps me feel like I'm not the huge a-hole that my uBDPbf makes me feel like sometimes. I was starting to think that there was something wrong with ME, that I was an emotionless robot because I just get why I didn't understand him sometimes...

I am/was seeing my partner for about 10 months now. Like everyone's story when we met, I thought I had met my soulmate. We progressed things really quickly (moved in together, he got me a dog 5 months in, we share finances), which has caused some contention in the past. I'm admittedly bad at setting boundaries, and setting boundaries with a sensitive person has felt near impossible. I always come out feeling like the jerk because he's "only doing this for us" and it makes me feel like the bad guy for doing anything that would go against that. At this point I've learned that the path to least resistance is to just agree (the easy route, not the "right" route).

Overall though, things had been going well until he left to work overseas (for an estimated 3-6 months). The first couple weeks were fine, and then it all went to hell in a matter of moments. While he was transitioning from his quarantine hotel to his more permanent residence, we lost contact for a few days while he was getting his phone situated. I messaged him a few times here and there even though I figured he couldn't reply and I figured he would respond when he was able to. What I thought was me being considerate/not naggy was the WRONG move. He took it to mean that I didn't care about him (abandonment trigger), even though he was only thinking about me. At this point I didn't suspect him of BPD yet and I had no idea how much validation he REALLY needed. This was my mistake, for looking at it under the lens of normalcy.

We were able to work past this eventually, but then this brought up another feeling that we had argued about in the past that he felt like he didn't mean anything to me because I wasn't "trying" as hard as during our honeymoon period. There's definitely some truth to that, but I had thought of it as a natural transition in a relationship. He has mentioned multiple times during the relationship that he would like to see me post pictures of myself on instagram as like a little reminder of what he's working hard for. I personally have never been a big social media person and I'm private/selective about what I share. I'm at the point where I don't want to post anymore about all the "fun" I'm having or portray myself in sexually charged way (this especially when I'm seeing someone seriously). This circles back to my sense of self-esteem or his perceived lack thereof. He is certain that I don't want to post because I'm no longer confident in myself.

I feel like what one posts on social media is a personal decision, not necessarily a reflection of one's true sense of value or happiness. It almost feels like he's projecting what he believes confidence to be? Like he thinks social media isn't a big deal and he can't understand why I'm so reluctant. Like he does so much for me, and he feels betrayed that I can't do this "small" thing for him.

I feel like we're coming from two different mindsets here. I believe that if you love someone you love them for everything they are and don't ask them to change (obviously unless its something detrimental to their health). I'm getting the impression from him that he believes that if you love someone you shouldn't be afraid to ask that person to change into the best self they can be (whether or not they want or ask for it). I got too emotional/took it personally and then flipped this around on him, saying that I was sad that I felt like he couldn't accept how I was now. That completely triggered/devastated him into a spiral of "not being good enough" and "if I really loved him" then it wouldn't be too much to ask. I put him in crisis mode and broke his trust. I was no longer his safe space. I completely regret being defensive instead of hearing what he was really saying, that he was feeling lonely and vulnerable and that I unintentionally invalidated his feelings.

He went into a downward spiral for the next two weeks, impulsively binge drinking to the point of near alcohol poisoning. There were a couple drunken phone calls where I was terrified that he was going to try to hurt himself. There was nothing I could say to break him out of his circular thinking. Every conversation was like a broken record. "You destroyed me" "How could you do this to me/us?" "You broke us" "If you really loved me then why do I feel like this". Being halfway across the world from him, I felt so helpless and broken because I couldn't be there to soothe him. I know that if we were together, it would have never gotten to this point. But he doesn't have the capability to self soothe in a healthy way and I couldn't figure out how to help him from afar.

One day he was finally able to pull himself back out of the storm by grounding himself through music. Over the next couple weeks there were some ups and downs, until eventually the ups started lasting a little longer than the downs. He said he didn't blame me anymore and that he knew that I wasn't going to hurt him again. But still, his head and his heart were fighting each other. He knew that he wanted me to be his forever and he was fighting the "flight" impulse. He was feeling a lot of depersonalization/dissociation this whole time in addition to the emotional dysregulation, which I know must be exhausting to him.

He could see that I was trying REALLY hard to win him back and I was doing better about communication (I had learned about BPD and communication/validation at this point). We decided a week ago that trying to fix this while he was away wasn't going to be truly productive. He was worried that trying too hard would eventually wear the both of us out and he wanted us to take a pause while we were starting to make slow progress. We recognized that to grow together, we both had things that we needed to work on in ourselves and that when we were finally able to be together again he wanted it to be a fresh start.

I made a mistake shortly after this conversation. I had decided to go and take some professional pictures so that I would have something to post on social media. I posted some caption about how I had been feeling awkward but that I was ready to put myself out there and grow (unusual vulnerability for me). I didn't tell him about the pictures because he said he wanted to just "find" pictures of me without him having to ask, so I let it be a surprise. And boy was it a surprise. I didn't get the reaction I was expecting (happiness, pride). Instead he said "it took my pain to fuel your growth". It sent him down the dark hole once again and I made it worse by taking it personally again. I was so confused. I thought I was doing what he was asking, "damned if I do, damned if I don't". I couldn't understand why in trying to do what he wanted me to do, I had activated his trigger again.

After a few days of minimal contact, he broke up with me out of nowhere. He sent some obscure text so I called him right away, and he said he "never wanted to see me again". All the stuff we shared, I could just have. I asked him why he had changed his mind so suddenly when we had just decided that we were going to be ok. From a place of emotion I asked him if this was "really it after everything we've been through" and it just sent him into a rage. I was so heartbroken, because we had just talked about how much we loved each other, how I hadn't "passed this first big test" but it was okay because we could get through anything, and that it was up to ME to be strong enough to make it through. Yet that felt like the person who said that and the person I just got off the phone with were two completely different people. He kept insisting that he "wasn't the same man who left". I hadn't realized how badly depersonalized he was feeling and how much that affected him.

I sent him a text 9-10 hours later telling him that I supported him and tried to validate his pain/need to break up and apologize for my part in it. I ended it by saying that I still believed he was my soulmate and that I hoped he would forgive me and that we would find our way back to each other someday. After 2 days of NC, he sent me a provocative text in what I think was an attempt to get me riled up. More along the lines of "if you really loved me then why are we here? why are we unhappy?". Using SET techniques from this board, I responded in a way that I think calmed him down a bit and got him to think vs react hurtfully. I tried to be really supportive and empathetic, telling him that I hadn't realize I was being so insensitive to him. That what I thought was a display of "self-confidence" was kind of a reminder to him that I was finding a way to grow while he was "stuck" there without the comforts of home to turn to.

This morning he called me and it seemed like he was starting to come back closer to baseline. We cycled back to the original argument, that I made him feel like he wasn't "good enough" because I wasn't putting in enough effort. That when he went out with friends, their wives made sure to dress up for their husbands. That every time he went out, there were tonsss of women who were trying to get his attention. That they recognized his worth without even really knowing him. I made sure not to get emotional about this, even though I'm still dying inside. What I really wanted to say was yeah of course its easy for people to see the surface level that you present when you're out at a bar. He kept phrasing it like all these strangers could see his worth, but me who was supposed to be so close to him couldn't even show him the gratitude he deserved.

He had to go to work so we ended the conversation on him asking me again why its so hard for me to do what he asked, to "put myself out there". The fact that I tried to do just that and it backfired in my face is still devastating to me. How could I have done it in a way that would have been well received? Should I have made the caption about how he inspired me to grow???

I don't really know where we stand at this point. I feel like there are still some feelings there on his part if he's still reaching out to me. How do I make this better? How can I show him that I love him?  How can I reverse this break up? Do I still have a chance? How do I help him find himself as the depersonalization is really tearing him down? How do I break the circular arguments?

This is our first break up. Every time we've fought before, he always has been very firm that he still loves me. Yet now he has stopped using that language. I'm holding out some hope because it feels like my texts were validating/empathizing enough to address his most recent hurt. But now we're back to square 1.
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Jabiru

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Relationship status: Married
Posts: 20



« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2021, 03:56:47 PM »

Hello and welcome.

He had to go to work so we ended the conversation on him asking me again why its so hard for me to do what he asked, to "put myself out there". The fact that I tried to do just that and it backfired in my face is still devastating to me. How could I have done it in a way that would have been well received? Should I have made the caption about how he inspired me to grow???
You say you aren't comfortable posting those things on social media. Try to listen to your boundaries and tell him what you are and aren't comfortable with. I've found the best way is listen to yourself and not participate in the "drama triangle".

I don't really know where we stand at this point. I feel like there are still some feelings there on his part if he's still reaching out to me. How do I make this better? How can I show him that I love him?  How can I reverse this break up? Do I still have a chance? How do I help him find himself as the depersonalization is really tearing him down? How do I break the circular arguments?
Not sure there's a 100% way. In my experience, I got the best results in the relationship (and coincidentally my happiness) when I clearly communicated my needs and limits and stuck to them. For his side, he'll need to do the work himself. You can support him if he's willing by recommending a book or to see a therapist. It's an uphill battle trying to change someone who isn't willing.

Two books that describe limits in detail are Stop Walking on Eggshells, and Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist. I recommend reading both. Good luck and keep us posted.
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LDRStrugglebus

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: It's complicated
Posts: 3


« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2021, 12:15:02 PM »

Thanks for the response Jabiru! I know setting boundaries is important...I guess I have a hard time learning how to set boundaries without making my pwBPD upset.

The push-pull cycle is driving me crazy. After this "break up", I tried giving him space. But then he complained that he felt like we were "being distant"??? What I wanted to say was yeah of course...YOU SAID YOU NEVER WANTED TO SEE ME AGAIN. I was utilizing techniques from this site to avoid smothering him, which I think is what brought about the pull of the cycle.

Over the last week there has been a new development as well...in his recent spurt of recklessness, he went out drinking one night and then one of his "friends" spiked his drink with something and he blacked out for almost an entire day. He was able to backtrack and figure out who did this to him, but now this person is trying to extort him.

Of course I feel HORRIBLE about this. He's already dealt with so much trauma and now to be violated like that...

At the same time, I have a bunch of negative feelings within myself that I feel guilty about. I'm angry & frustrated that, just days before he was praising the locals for "caring" about who he was not how much money he made. I just want to shake him like this literally just proved the opposite. All the locals he thought "cared" for him were just making him a target. How can he not see that? And then to use that against me to make me feel like I'm the bad guy? It breaks my heart.

Of course he's a victim, and no one deserves to have this happen to them. Yet he's tried to shift the blame partially to me, that if we hadn't "broken" then he wouldn't be in this position. He only mentioned it once, but I don't know how much of that he really believes. This is breaking my heart too.

We have our different triggers. His is obviously abandonment & invalidation. Mine is cheating. I know he obviously didn't do this on purpose, but it almost feels like he's unconsciously trying to get revenge of me for breaking his heart. We've been "separated" for over a month now so I guess what happened isn't technically cheating, but telling my heart that doesn't make it feel any less broken. Especially because he's been seeking external validation this whole time, which to me is like emotional cheating. He doesn't see it that way, and he basically is telling me this is a natural cause and effect reaction (doesn't feel validated by me, so he "needs" to seek it elsewhere).

I don't want to be like everyone else and abandon him, but I think I'm at my breaking point. I don't know how to be strong anymore. I think I'm broken, too. I don't know if I have any fight left in me. I don't know what he wants. How do I get the strength to move forward? Every day is an emotional rollercoaster and I don't know what he wants from me anymore.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2021, 01:22:27 PM »

First of all, there is a severe imbalance of power here. You are bending over backwards to try to please him, while he keeps shifting the goalposts.

People with BPD have an unstable self image. And letting them be the emotional leader in the relationship results in chaos.

How do you avoid this? Having strong boundaries and being yourself, as Jabiru mentioned. You don’t feel comfortable putting yourself out there on social media, then don’t.

If you twist yourself into a pretzel trying to please him, you won’t and you’ll just appear desperate. He was attracted to the strong you he first met. You don’t want to follow him down the rabbit hole into crazyland.
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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
LDRStrugglebus

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: It's complicated
Posts: 3


« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2021, 02:14:07 PM »


If you twist yourself into a pretzel trying to please him, you won’t and you’ll just appear desperate. He was attracted to the strong you he first met. You don’t want to follow him down the rabbit hole into crazyland.

I really connected with this, and it kind of helped something click into place. He was attracted to my strength, my "wholeness" when we first met. As much as he says he doesn't feel like the same person, I'm starting to feel like I don't recognize myself either. That I've been bending over backwards to meet his emotional needs because he made me feel "special" for not being like "all those other girls". And maybe part of his feeling that I "lack self confidence" is that I have lost some of that sense of self. That I've been so caught up in being a unit and putting his feelings above my own that I'm a shell of the person I used to be.

I feel like I'm being emotionally manipulated, because when I try to be "selfish" and take care of myself (at his encouragement!!!) he gets frustrated/insecure/sad about himself which makes me feel guilty. It's an endless cycle.

How do I gain that strength back? Do I ignore his rages/lashing out? I'm so emotionally worn out that I don't even have any tears left, I just feel hollow. I don't know how to be supportive, but not desperate. I always seem to respond to his passive-aggressiveness, I guess because I'm afraid that if I ignore him it'll make the situation worse or make him feel abandoned/invalidated.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2021, 06:08:11 PM »

How do you get your strength back? Let’s look at what you’ve written.

I've been bending over backwards to meet his emotional needs because he made me feel "special" for not being like "all those other girls".

So he has a history of being disappointed by women who didn’t overly support his emotional needs and you felt special in his eyes because you did that for him.

Is he supporting your emotional needs or is it a one way street?

And maybe part of his feeling that I "lack self confidence" is that I have lost some of that sense of self. That I've been so caught up in being a unit and putting his feelings above my own that I'm a shell of the person I used to be.

He’s attacking your sense of self for doing exactly what he wants you to do. You support his emotional needs and he labels you as weak and lacking self confidence. Can you see how this serves to undermine your sense of self?

I feel like I'm being emotionally manipulated, because when I try to be "selfish" and take care of myself (at his encouragement!!!) he gets frustrated/insecure/sad about himself which makes me feel guilty. It's an endless cycle.

Another double bind...he says he wants you to take care of yourself, but when you do, you feel “selfish” and he acts like a victim. So you’re supposed to devote all attention to him, but if you do, you’re “insecure” and if you don’t, you’re “selfish”?

How do I gain that strength back? Do I ignore his rages/lashing out? I'm so emotionally worn out that I don't even have any tears left, I just feel hollow. I don't know how to be supportive, but not desperate. I always seem to respond to his passive-aggressiveness, I guess because I'm afraid that if I ignore him it'll make the situation worse or make him feel abandoned/invalidated.
There’s a lot of fear here. Why would you stick around for witnessing his rages and lashing out? Undoubtedly you have better things to do with your time than be present for that unpleasant behavior?

By responding to passive aggressive behavior, you’re letting him know that works to get what he wants, or at least get your attention. How about not ignoring him but letting him know that you’ll be present and available when you both can bring your best selves to meet together?
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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: May 25, 2021, 06:55:31 PM »

I feel like I'm being emotionally manipulated

you are.

a relationship involves a lot of give and take. it involves meeting each others needs, and it also, often, involves putting your partner before yourself. and sometimes it may even involve getting out of your comfort zone, which can be a bit of a grey area.

ive had a number of partners ask me to do things with them that were awkward or not my thing at first (whether it be something sexual, a romantic gesture, or even some sort of activity like say going to a restaurant where i was pretty unlikely to like the food). likewise, there were a number of times ive asked my partners to step out of their comfort zone. and there were things ive said a firm no to, and things my partners said a firm no to. everyone feels rejected, to some extent, when that happens.

the key is really communication. pressure, manipulation, and "prove your love to me"isms generally shouldnt be a part of that. if your guy wants to see you look sexy on instagram, thats something worth considering, even if its new or awkward! its worth hearing each other out about how each of you feels about it (and respecting any differences). its also worth saying no to, should that be your decision. everyone tests their partners love on some level, and everyone can be a little bit manipulative at times when it comes to getting their needs met. its worth knowing that people with bpd traits can be extreme, in that regard.

dont be misled: while its an important point about the nuances of relationships, i dont think the instagram, misunderstanding, lets call it, is the big issue, or why you ultimately broke up. but there is a fundamental dynamic at play that, should you reconcile, needs some reexamining. your loved one needs "proof" of your love, and on some level, you need to "prove" that love. and there is a big difference between showing love and "proving" it.

youre doing this even now.

Excerpt
Do I ignore his rages/lashing out?

you dont take them as an opportunity to "prove your love". you dont take them as an opportunity to use communication techniques to "say the right thing" or soothe him.

Excerpt
Especially because he's been seeking external validation this whole time, which to me is like emotional cheating. He doesn't see it that way, and he basically is telling me this is a natural cause and effect reaction (doesn't feel validated by me, so he "needs" to seek it elsewhere).

frankly speaking, the guy is in a downward spiral that has little to do with you, little to do with any particular recent incident, and hes saying or doing whatever, to get by, in the moment.

the answer to that, to the extent there is one, is strength and consistency; those things are attractive, although there is no guarantee they will reconcile your relationship. but they are also vital, whether or not you get back together.
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