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Family Court Strategies: When Your Partner Has BPD OR NPD Traits. Practicing lawyer, Senior Family Mediator, and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience and an expert on navigating the Family Court process.
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Author Topic: Not sure what to do anymore - assistance needed  (Read 132 times)
Manic Miner
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: married
Posts: 2


« on: September 15, 2021, 09:54:09 AM »

Facts:

- Been 20+ years together, have one child.
- My spouse is NOT diagnosed with bpd. Been to several therapists for anxiety and depression. None confirmed it when I asked.
- My gut feeling tells me otherwise. I'm not qualified to give any diagnoses, but something I feel is not right. IMO, she has several bpd traits.

- For years she thought my love was not adequate or enough. I lack empathy, care or I even hate her.
- Has anger issues, sometimes with rage and aggression. But most of time she seems desperate before rage/aggression kicks in.
- Cries a lot, worried about our relationship and genuinely seems hurt, even though the reality seems much more calm or less severe than her thinking of it.
- Cannot be reasoned with logic in those times - *I* am responsible for everything, overreacted, have issues etc. If I react/defend/try to explain, it's like adding fuel to the fire.
- Can be rude, sarcastic, jealous and without any empathy when she feels hurt. The problem is, even after 20+ years of being together I STILL cannot sense or predict what kind of hurt are we talking about when it comes. Thus, getting hurt myself as I expected different outcome/treatment than I got.
- People see her as cheerful, joyful, good looking, nice, sweet, innocent (which she is, but just one part of the coin).
- She's a hardworking, highly educated and creative person and a great mother - no doubt about that.

Problems:
- I'm losing it, even though I try hard to get past everything. I'm extremely logical person and I'm losing it when someone accuses me of something that I didn't do or was other way around. When I try to be nice, have a good and working relationship, and then someone throws garbage on me.

For example, she can treat my free time and my trying to help for granted. If I show that I'm hurt, displeased, she will be mean and try to be rude, how she didn't need me in the first place etc. If I react, she will burst crying, saying how she cannot take it anymore, she will leave with our daughter etc.
 
- Every time when pressed against a wall and faced with responsibility for her behavior she uses excuses. Of all kinds - from blatant denying, crying, reflection to spinning the story, telling me how she did the house today, bought X and Y and how I'm being mean considering how much she does, cares, etc. How can I be so cruel to such a lovely wife? It's me. I have the problem.

Please try to assist me, what should I do now? Should I just let her to leave, as she threatens? Should I abandon this all, is there a point? I can't see her going to therapy about this - it's about me needing therapy after all. And I'm sick and tired being accused as a villain. Seeing that my hurting, my emotions don't matter when she feels "threatened". So frustrated and tired.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 10:03:25 AM by Manic Miner » Logged
EZEarache
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 163


« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2021, 10:39:19 AM »

Facts:

- Been 20+ years together, have one child.
- My spouse is NOT diagnosed with bpd. Been to several therapists for anxiety and depression. None confirmed it when I asked.
- My gut feeling tells me otherwise. I'm not qualified to give any diagnoses, but something I feel is not right. IMO, she has several bpd traits.

- For years she thought my love was not adequate or enough. I lack empathy, care or I even hate her.
- Has anger issues, sometimes with rage and aggression. But most of time she seems desperate before rage/aggression kicks in.
- Cries a lot, worried about our relationship and genuinely seems hurt, even though the reality seems much more calm or less severe than her thinking of it.
- Cannot be reasoned with logic in those times - *I* am responsible for everything, overreacted, have issues etc. If I react/defend/try to explain, it's like adding fuel to the fire.
- Can be rude, sarcastic, jealous and without any empathy when she feels hurt. The problem is, even after 20+ years of being together I STILL cannot sense or predict what kind of hurt are we talking about when it comes. Thus, getting hurt myself as I expected different outcome/treatment than I got.
- People see her as cheerful, joyful, good looking, nice, sweet, innocent (which she is, but just one part of the coin).
- She's a hardworking, highly educated and creative person and a great mother - no doubt about that.

Problems:
- I'm losing it, even though I try hard to get past everything. I'm extremely logical person and I'm losing it when someone accuses me of something that I didn't do or was other way around. When I try to be nice, have a good and working relationship, and then someone throws garbage on me.

For example, she can treat my free time and my trying to help for granted. If I show that I'm hurt, displeased, she will be mean and try to be rude, how she didn't need me in the first place etc. If I react, she will burst crying, saying how she cannot take it anymore, she will leave with our daughter etc.
 
- Every time when pressed against a wall and faced with responsibility for her behavior she uses excuses. Of all kinds - from blatant denying, crying, reflection to spinning the story, telling me how she did the house today, bought X and Y and how I'm being mean considering how much she does, cares, etc. How can I be so cruel to such a lovely wife? It's me. I have the problem.

Please try to assist me, what should I do now? Should I just let her to leave, as she threatens? Should I abandon this all, is there a point? I can't see her going to therapy about this - it's about me needing therapy after all. And I'm sick and tired being accused as a villain. Seeing that my hurting, my emotions don't matter when she feels "threatened". So frustrated and tired.

Hi Manic Miner,

Welcome! 20 years is a very long time. Everything you described definitely sounds like BPD.

Don't worry, you're not the one with the issue. We all experience the blame shifting and projection. It can be a lot to wrap your head around.

However, the one thing she's right about is, you are the one with the problem.  I don't mean this in a way that you have a mental health problem. I mean it that you have a problem in that you need to learn how to manager her behavior, through your reactions.

In my final couple's therapy session, I made the mistake of saying, "You're behavior is the root cause of the problem." The therapist said, "No, you're wrong. You're reactions to her are the cause of the problem." It really pissed me off at the time, because I am fairly logical also. It's a simple if then statement in my opinion. If X occurs, then Y occurs. Y occurring did not cause X to happen. Basic logic, right? However, in our situation X occurring will only initiate an "if else" of YY to engage.

What we need to learn to do is better validation. It's really difficult to do if you are used to using reason in your everyday communication. However, this is what needs to happen. For example, in response to I had a terrible day because of what you said earlier, you should respond with something along the lines of, "Wow, I didn't realize that my statement would be so painful that it ruined your whole day. Thank you for letting me know. I'm glad you allowed me to enjoy the day, anyway. That was very nice of you. I'm really lucky to have you in my life." Say it in as neutral a tone as possible. If it comes off sounding trite, or sarcastic, you'll just make things worse. 

It's definitely the opposite of what you want to do, when they are being disproportionately irrational over the perceived slight. So you see, you do need to address your own behavior, to a certain extent, if you want to try and make this relationship work. After all you actually live in backwards world.

Have you considered seeing a therapist to help you through this difficult relationship?  If not, they can be very beneficial. I suggest you look for one with a lot of experience with dialectical behavioral therapy to help you navigate the treacherous waters you are finding yourself in.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 10:45:09 AM by EZEarache » Logged
Manic Miner
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: married
Posts: 2


« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2021, 12:40:05 PM »

Hi Manic Miner,

Welcome! 20 years is a very long time. Everything you described definitely sounds like BPD.

Don't worry, you're not the one with the issue. We all experience the blame shifting and projection. It can be a lot to wrap your head around.

However, the one thing she's right about is, you are the one with the problem.  I don't mean this in a way that you have a mental health problem. I mean it that you have a problem in that you need to learn how to manager her behavior, through your reactions.

In my final couple's therapy session, I made the mistake of saying, "You're behavior is the root cause of the problem." The therapist said, "No, you're wrong. You're reactions to her are the cause of the problem." It really pissed me off at the time, because I am fairly logical also. It's a simple if then statement in my opinion. If X occurs, then Y occurs. Y occurring did not cause X to happen. Basic logic, right? However, in our situation X occurring will only initiate an "if else" of YY to engage.

What we need to learn to do is better validation. It's really difficult to do if you are used to using reason in your everyday communication. However, this is what needs to happen. For example, in response to I had a terrible day because of what you said earlier, you should respond with something along the lines of, "Wow, I didn't realize that my statement would be so painful that it ruined your whole day. Thank you for letting me know. I'm glad you allowed me to enjoy the day, anyway. That was very nice of you. I'm really lucky to have you in my life." Say it in as neutral a tone as possible. If it comes off sounding trite, or sarcastic, you'll just make things worse. 

Have you considered seeing a therapist to help you through this difficult relationship?  If not, they can be very beneficial. I suggest you look for one with a lot of experience with dialectical behavioral therapy to help you navigate the treacherous waters you are finding yourself in.

Hi EZEarache, thank you! And thanks for your prompt and thorough answer. I really appreciate it.

You are totally right that I have problems with communicating with her at this state. Actually - I fail to communicate when she's into the 'episode' at all.

Here's why I think I fail to do it:

- Nobody confirmed bpd. Every therapist so far acknowledged this as "life problems", "difficult times", "disagreements on both sides", "anger on both sides" etc. This reached the point when I said to our marriage counselor when my spouse denied most of the things I said that really hurt me - you've got to believe me, as I don't have any recorded proof. It evened out as - we both need to work on empathy.
Fair enough. But will it cure anything long-term, if her empathy magically shuts down every time she is threatened and I cannot point back and say "hey, have some empathy for me please?" I cannot even predict what will shut down her rational thinking anymore. It can be a simple word in a sentence that I said, out of nowhere.

- If I knew she had a BPD, I'd be at peace, or so I think. At least to know what I'm fighting for. I still don't know whether this is an uncontrolled mental state or this person is just the way she is.

- I feel losing my sanity and dignity when someone is reflecting things at me I didn't do or felt the opposite. Or by being rude to me just because of some imagined threat. I wonder if I allow this to happen today and apologize for things I didn't do and was actually hurt myself, how can I see this improving tomorrow?

- Endless accusations, even when we eventually reach agreement. I always need to swim the rough sea and face all kinds of winds just to prove or ask something so simple - if that "simple" annoyed her in any way. Something that normal people would finish in 5-10mins, ours take the whole day, as a fight.

- We are in romantic long-term relationship. I'm in my early 40s. I need to feel intimacy and be honest with my soulmate. Want to give and feel love. Want to feel peace and trust in our house. If I'm constantly walking on eggshells, hiding my true thinking about certain issues, being hurt and hiding it... what's the deal to stay in this relationship anyway? The major thing that is grounding me currently is our daughter, which we both love very much.
Make no mistake, I love my spouse too. I just fail to see the long-term, satisfactory resolution of this, for both sides.

To answer your last question, yes, we've been to several therapists. At least 4. None were DBT though. Last one was a psychiatrist and I'll soon go again. She helped me overcome my own temper, to refuse to bite the bait in those times and I can already see the result.

However, I still fail to utter the "right words" and disengage as should. My spouse is extremely smart and can sense my feelings, when I try to escape and just be done with certain benign situations peacefully. She will ask the same question again and demand those answers, until I'm exhausted and some arguing emerges.

It's definitely the opposite of what you want to do, when they are being disproportionately irrational over the perceived slight. So you see, you do need to address your own behavior, to a certain extent, if you want to try and make this relationship work. After all you actually live in backwards world.

Totally true, thank you.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 12:55:50 PM by Manic Miner » Logged
EZEarache
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 163


« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2021, 01:36:17 PM »

Fair enough. But will it cure anything long-term, if her empathy magically shuts down every time she is threatened and I cannot point back and say "hey, have some empathy for me please"? I cannot even predict what will shut down her rational thinking anymore. It can be a simple word in a sentence that I said, out of nowhere.

- If I knew she had a BPD, I'd be at peace, or so I think. At least to know what I'm fighting for. I still don't know whether this is an uncontrolled mental state or this person is just the way she is.

All you can do in your situation is validate and not JADE. I remember feeling the same way about a diagnosis. I have a diagnosis for my exwBPD, now. Honestly, It really didn't make that much of a difference. After our couple's therapist confirmed my suspicions, it just made things more difficult for me to work with her, because there really isn't anything you can do besides validate and not JADE. Chances are she wouldn't even believe the diagnosis anyway. When I tried to nicely broach the subject, all I got back was, "I don't care what you think." She'll probably blame shift it around and say the therapist is a quack. In my case she's written bad reviews online about the therapist. Sucks for the therapist... but it only further validated the diagnosis, LOL.





- I feel losing my sanity and dignity when someone is reflecting things at me I didn't do or felt the opposite. I wonder if I allow this to happen today and apologize for things I didn't do and was actually hurt myself, how can I see this improving tomorrow?

Validation does not require full hearted apologies. You just have to acknowledge that the feelings she is experiencing is painful for her. In the BIFF series they advocate that you actively avoid apologies with high conflict personality types. I've found that if I apologize in the long run it just leads to more apologies. For example I made the self discovery about a year and a half ago, that I was actively giving the silent treatment after one of our fights, and this was in fact a form of emotional abuse. I apologized for it and became mindful not to engage in this sort of behavior again. My apology, put it in her head that I was emotionally abusive all the time. She started accusing me of emotional abuse all the time. Even when there was no malintent on my part. When you validate, try to avoid an active apology, especially if an apology is not in order because you didn't really do anything.

In my case I am still struggling with this. I moved out six months ago. Things have really only digressed from there.  Lately, she has taken to challenging my memory on every major co-parenting issue we have come across. Last week, she started calling me psychotic. I have my own mental health challenges, so when someone makes accusations like that I take them seriously.

- Endless accusations, even when we eventually reach agreement. I always need to swim the rough sea and face all kinds of winds just to prove or ask something so simple - if that "simple" annoyed her in any way. Something that normal people would finish in 5-10mins, ours take the whole day, as a fight.

Only the whole day? You mean it doesn't go on for a week? You must be doing something right!

- We are in romantic long-term relationship. I'm in my early 40s. I need to feel intimacy and be honest with my soulmate. Want to give and feel love. Want to feel peace and trust in our house. If I'm constantly walking on eggshells, hiding my true thinking about certain issues, being hurt and hiding it... what's the deal to stay in this relationship anyway? The major thing that is grounding me currently is our daughter, which we both love very much.
Make no mistake, I love my spouse too. I just fail to see the long-term, satisfactory resolution of this, for both sides.

Oh, I can totally relate to this statement. We have a 15 month old son. As hard as it is to be a single Dad, I'm making the realization from people I've spoken, with both as parents and children of high conflict households, that getting out at such an early age is actually a blessing in disguise. Our baby will only really ever remember mommy and daddy living apart. The trauma will be much reduced. It still sucks, though. I would like nothing more than to be a happy nuclear family. Her words and behavior have made that impossible.

To answer your last question, yes, we've been to several therapists. At least 4. None were DBT though. Last one was a psychiatrist and I'll soon go again. She helped me overcome my own temper, to refuse to bite the bait in those times and I can already see the result.

Great, you absolutely should. It will help you in managing the dysregulated behavior and keep you grounded.

However, I still fail to utter the "right words" and disengage as should. My spouse is extremely smart and can sense my feelings, when I try to escape and just be done with certain benign situations peacefully. She will ask the same question again and demand those answers, until I'm exhausted.

I think if we got your wife and my exGFwBPD into the same location we would all be doomed. Your experiences are very similar to mine. Incredibly intelligent and insightful, and unable to pull herself back once she is determined to get an answer to something. It is next to impossible to back her off once she starts. Once she gets the honest answer, she's even more pissed. Which, of course, is why you didn't want to say anything in the first place. My only recourse was to actively leave the house for a while. Usually she'd still be pissed when I got back, as was I, but then if I was lucky, she would just go to another room and leave me alone.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 01:41:54 PM by EZEarache » Logged
Couper
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Married
Posts: 163


« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2021, 03:59:49 PM »

- Been 20+ years together, have one child.

How old is your child?  The biggest hang-up for me is my two children are still not even teenagers and I feel a need to weather things out for a bit longer yet. 

As is often related here, it seems like 95% of what you wrote is identical to my own experience, including the frame of mind in which you now find yourself.  You have my sympathy.

Even though I figured out how to calm down the cycle of chaos prior to finding this forum, I'm probably not the best person from which to take advice.  Despite the fact that so many individual things are good in my life, my home life is not.  However, there are plenty of more experienced people here that can help point you in the right direction and lots of good tools to study in the archive of this site.  Just having this place to compare notes helps immensely. 
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