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Author Topic: 1.01 | The Do's and Don'ts in a BPD Relationship  (Read 77277 times)
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« on: September 02, 2007, 11:10:04 PM »

This workshop is to discuss the "Do's and Don'ts" for adults in a relationship with a person with BPD.

Strength: It takes a great deal of strength and emotional stability to be in a BPD relationship and not be emotionally wounded by it.  A person in a weak emotional state, who feels wounded/abused, and is depressed is likely to be consumed by the intense emotions and finding their self worth in decline.  To be in a "BPD relationship", you've got to be very strong, very balanced, and very self confident.

Realistic Expectations: A person with BPD is emotionally weak and does not have "high level" emotional skills to cope with life's complexities - especially in times of stress.  It is important to have realistic expectations for what the relationship can be in terms of consistent respect, trust and support, honesty and accountability, and in terms of negotiation and fairness, or expectations of non-threatening behavior.  It is important to accept the relationship behavior for what it is - not hope the person will permanently return to the idealization phase.

Accept the Role of "Emotional Caretaker": According to Kraft Goin MD (University of Southern California), "people worth BPD traits need a person who is a constant, continuing, empathic force in their lives; someone who can listen and handle being the target of intense rage and idealization while concurrently defining values and boundaries with firmness and candor".  To be in this type of relationship, you must accept the role as emotional caretaker - consistently staying above it.

     
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Maintaining routine and structure

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Setting and maintain boundaries

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Being empathetic, building trust, even in difficult times

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Don’t tolerate abusive treatment, threats and ultimatums

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) In crisis, stay calm, don’t get defensive, don't take it personally

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Don’t protect them from natural consequences of their actions - let them fail

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Self-Destructive acts/threats require action

And at the same time, its important to understand that you and your behavior alone, will be not enough to heal your relationship. - you can only end your contribution to the emotional instability of the relationship. Your partner has to be trying.

Protection: Difficult things will likely happen in a BPD relationship and it is important that you try to protect everyone (you, the BPD, the children) - financially, emotionally, etc.  Be prepared for digressions when they occur -  they will. This could range from controlling the bank accounts, to educating the children, to having a suicide threat or domestic violence safety plan.  You can mitigate the down times.

Preserve Your Emotional Health: The intensity of emotional reactions canb take a toll on even the strongest.  Since you cannot escape the natural human impulses to "recoil when pushed too hard"  or "be overly protective" when your partner is hurting, it really important to have other outlets / escapes to keep yourself centered and grounded. It's important not to become isolated. It's important to have a significant emotional support system for yourself (e.g., a support group, close friends, family) that is sacrosanct. To do this, it is very important that these outlets be managed carefully and that you are smart to position them non-threatening to your partner. Appreciate that no one wants to be talked about behind their back and you have to be proactive to assuage those fears regarding family and friends.

Understand Why: There are a many reasons to be in BPD relationship or to try.  It's a deeply personal decision.  Sometimes the reasons are unhealthy- such as BPD/NPD relationships, BPD/Co-dependent relationship, etc.   It's important to understand your own emotional health and what motivates you to "stay in" and build a life that "evolves around" and has to "continually compensate for" the acts of a complex person. Many professionals enter therapy when they are treating BPD to stay grounded.  It is a good idea for you too.

I thank everyone participating for helping develop this workshop topic.


Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) How do you feel about each of the items above? What additional points should be included in each category?

Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) What are some of the challenges in each category? Things we can do to be more successful?

Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) What additional subjects/category are important?

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oceanheart
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2007, 05:10:20 PM »

This is really good, everyone - you covered the topic well. I have BPD and I’d like to add a few things.

Strength: You will need the strength to be able to emotionally detach at times from your SO, to be able to separate his/her issues from your own, and to not take personally the behavior of your SO. You need a very strong sense of identity and worth in yourself.

Realistic Expectations: Maybe stress even more how dealing with a person with BPD is not a fair fight between equals, but rather a contest of wills where the SO may likely have a zero-sum mentality rather than a true desire to compromise and come to agreement (i.e., a win-win situation). People with BPD often feel attacked in any sort of argument - no matter how mundane - and thus will react defensively to most issues (I'm assuming). The non basically has to be the adult and expect, especially pre-recovery, to be the "bigger person" most times. This entails taking it on the chin, so to speak. You have to willingly accept an unfair fight most times, because of the SO's tendency to be hyper-defensive and to see any criticism as a threat to their very core self. Also, pick your fights - you'll need to reserve strength for the big battles.

Accept the Role of "Emotional Caretaker": This is tricky because there's a fine line between being supportive and being enabling, and choosing to help vs. choosing to be a victim. Consistent boundaries are very effective, but the SO will fight them all the way until they are sure you mean it and will enforce them.

     Self-Destructive acts/threats require action: I would differentiate between suicidal threats, substance abuse, reckless driving, etc. and self-injury because they are very different animals. It's important that the "non" not be too supportive and understanding at the expense of their own valid feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. Self-injury is a sign of illness and maintaining personal boundaries of one's own cannot be forgotton. It's a delicate situation because you taking a strong position on SI may actually increase the behavior (NO, you are NOT the cause of the behavior - they are choosing to engage in it).

Understand Why: This is an especially important section. I would add how important it is for you to do an emotional pro/con list, which might help you identify some underlying reasons you may be staying, and to remember that healthy relationships do not take this amount of work, especially on the side of only one partner. I would also ask of yourself what "proof" you need from your partner that they are truly trying to change. Maybe there could be a section that list signs to look for that show the SO is serious about recovery efforts?

Here's information from the book "Sometimes I Act Crazy: Living with BPD":

Dealing with fears of abandonment:

  • Understand and accept borderline anxieties: For the BP, living a life apart from her is abandonment: a husband who works late at the office, a girlfriend who spends time with other friends, a therapist who sees other patients, all may be perceived by the BP as abandoning. Such feelings are real [tho not TRUE] and must be acknowledged. Trying to use logic to convince the borderline that you are not abanding her is usually fruitless.

  • Respect your own limitations: While accepting the BP's need for constant reassurance, don't totally abandon your own interests. Establish compromises between the BP's needs and your own, and stick to them.

  • Don't try to play doctor: Interpreting behaviors in a clinical way may be perceived as controlling and can result in anger and greater defensiveness. During a conflict, never ask, "did you take your medicine today?" This will only reinforce an insulting implication that the BP is "crazy".

  • Prepare the BP for separation: For many BP's the future, particularly an unpleasant future event, doesn't appear on the radar screen. The hope is that what hasn't yet happened perhaps never will. However, ignoring it will only precipitate more severe hurt and anger when it occurs. Don't mention a weekend fishing trip with the guys two months in advance and then avoid discussion until the night before. Instead, remind her about it and propose some compensatory activity: ":)on't forget, honey, next weekend I'll be out of town with the guys. I know I'm really going to miss you. Let's go out to a nice restaurant and show this weekend." Though you may be trespassing into self-serving strategy with this kind of reminder, it is better than intentional silence or avoidance of the issue altogether. Similarly, the therapist needs to periodically remind her patient about her upcoming vacation.

  • Utilize transitional objects: "Something to remember me by" - a picture, an audiotape, an article of clothing, or any possession that links the BP to another person of importance - can lessen the pain of separation.

  • Be consistent: Work for a compromise and stick to it. Ambivalence will only result in more pleading and conflicts later
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2007, 05:22:28 PM »

Part of the protection area is protection of yourself too. To be able to keep everything else in prospective and juggle all else you have to detach yourself a little from them, not to say love them less but you have to look out for #1 a little more, you also have to learn to deflect the harsh language and terrible things that will get thrown at you so don't take them personally. And you have to budget time for yourself to maybe be alone or away from them on a regular schedule, this is very much needed to just rest and reflect upon the situation to reaffirm the commitment you are making.

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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2007, 08:02:41 PM »

Preserve Your Emotional Health: The intensity of emotional reactions, and the rage take a toll on even the strongest.  Since you cannot escape the natural human impulses to "recoil when raged" upon or "be overly protective" when idealized, it really important to have other outlets / escapes to keep yourself grounded. It's important not to become isolated. It's important to have a significant emotional support system for yourself (e.g., close friends) that goes beyond the relationship.

I think more needs to be said about isolation.  It's almost impossible to maintain healthy relationships outside of the BPD relationship because of this.  The BP wants you isolated and will do destructive things to achieve that (like rage when you want to go out with your friends.)

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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 06:34:59 AM »

I am currently a few weeks into NC but wrote a letter, which I worked on with my T, encouraging my currently uBPDxGF to focus on her self, her behaviours and seek the healing which can bring her true happiness and find her real self.

Meanwhile, just to develop what has been said here about strength, I think it can be extended to what Harville Hendrix calls 'ego strength - the ability to maintain one's view of oneself in the face of outside influence or messages.' It strikes me that as this is one of facets that those with BPD essentially lack then it is vitally important for the non to focus on this. It becomes in effect the strength which affords you the protection you need in being able to go forward. My T and I are going to work next week on the expectations and proof parts of this equation and what I have read here has been most insightful in preparation for this. Thanks, Pugwash. 
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 08:49:10 AM »

Realistic Expectations: Maybe stress even more how dealing with a person with BPD is not a fair fight between equals, but rather a contest of wills where the SO may likely have a zero-sum mentality rather than a true desire to compromise and come to agreement (i.e., a win-win situation). People with BPD often feel attacked in any sort of argument - no matter how mundane - and thus will react defensively to most issues (I'm assuming). The non basically has to be the adult and expect, especially pre-recovery, to be the "bigger person" most times. This entails taking it on the chin, so to speak. You have to willingly accept an unfair fight most times, because of the SO's tendency to be hyper-defensive and to see any criticism as a threat to their very core self. Also, pick your fights - you'll need to reserve strength for the big battles.

This sums up my whole delima! And frustration. I've given up on my uBPDW having a normal moment where she say's "yeah, I did that and I'm sorry". My only indication that something has registered after a fight is that her behavior changes. For a little while anyway.

Excellent points!
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 01:46:50 PM »

mr. anderson - the situation I described that you identified with, that was pretty much the underlying reason I left my uBPDexbf (tho the straw/camel's back was a discrete incident): I got tired of being the only one owning up to my mistakes and trying to compromise. I really did try, but could only go so far past giving 50% before I realised the investment wasn't worth it. I can't do 80/20 all the time, it's not fair to me, I'm NOT always to blame. I want to be with an adult who wants to be in a partnership, with give and take depending on varying situations (it doesn't always have to be equal). I couldn't take it anymore, so I left.

Maybe your SO's behavior changes after a fight because she's doing what she thinks you want her to, and not even in a manipulative way, but because she cares. But, unless she truly sees what she's doing is wrong, the behavior isn't really changing, it's just morphing for awhile (maybe she's doing it to avoid your disfavor, who knows?). I did learn permanent behavior change in my relationship because my ex was supportive in many ways, but it was my doing, not his - I saw the importance of changing, I had the courage to change (despite his raging), I wanted to change - he just eased the change for me by trying to be understanding (sometimes) and not punishing me for it (sometimes).

Quote from: oceanheart
"It's a delicate situation because you taking a strong position on SI may actually increase the behavior"

Ocean can you elaborate on this a bit more?

My view is coming only from personal experience as a person with BPD, not as a non - my uBPDxbf's self-injury was through elaborate and extensive tattooing (he admitted part of his whole-back tattoo was to put himself through intense pain to punish himself), not "traditional" methods like cutting, burning, or hitting one's head.

SI is rarely EVER about manipulating the non, tho it may certainly feel like it (and sometimes it is, but not often). There are many different reasons BPs do it, but the most common are: 1) self-punishment out of a deep self-hatred; 2) as a physical distraction from emotional pain that is too intense for the BP to handle (escaping pain); and 3) to "come back" from a dissociative state (to stop being numb).

These are the only ways a person with BPD knows how to cope. SI is a coping mechanism, as sick as it sounds. BP's don't know how to soothe themselves like other people, how to self-comfort when they're feeling bad. Feelings are physically and psychologically painful. I didn't cry for years even when alone because it hurt too much - I never understood the saying "have a good cry and you'll feel better." I always felt much worse. I mainly SI'd out of reason #2 because my emotions were too painful and overwhelming to feel, and causing myself physical pain acted as a light-switch of sorts: it shut off the emotional pain almost immediately. Physical pain was easily controllable - I could choose how much to inflict - and it was understandable - unlike my emotions. It was only when I learned to be able to really feel my emotions that I stopped cutting. I unfortunately went through a stage after that where I resorted to non-cutting SI out of reason #1 (self-hate), but once I started to see I was a decent human being, and that it was ok to be flawed as long as I was trying to be good and kind, that type of SI stopped, too.

Sorry if that's all a bit too personal, I just thought it might illustrate my point better. And so my point, in relation to how a non responds to their SO's self-injury, is that it would feel extremely threatening to a person with BPD to be told they "can't" do it, which is what they would perceive their partner is saying when the partner sets boundaries about SI to protect themselves. That's the only thing the person with BPD thinks they can do to escape the pain - they're the fox caught in the trap and if it takes chewing off a paw, well then. . .

As an example if a partner tried to set a boundary:

Non: "I feel very sad and helpless when I see you have self-injured. I do understand why you do it, I'm not judging you for it. I feel upset when you do because I care about you and don't want you to be in so much pain. I'd like to help you learn better ways to deal with your pain. I need to protect myself, though, too. I really can't support you in it because I don't think it's healthy behavior. When I see evidence you have SI'd I will not just ignore it like it's ok, I will _____ [whatever is appropriate behavior that's not designed to punish the BP].

But therein lies the rub of the situation - if the partner says, "I will go for a drive" or "I won't be able to talk to you like everything's ok", or "I'll need time for myself", the BP will be triggered by feelings of abandonment, heaped onto feelings of shame and self-hatred since the BP will hear in the non's caring words "you are a piece of s**t because you SI, you make me sick, you freak, I'm getting as far away from you as I can and I might never come back", etc.

So the BP's feelings will start to get overwhelming, and to avoid them, or because they believe that voice telling them they're "bad", or because they've gone to their "special place" in their heads to avoid the feelings the talk with their partner has brought up - they will SI. Also, they'll be more likely to hide their SI in different areas of the body so it isn't obvious (most of it is done on legs/arms, though in sexual abuse survivors, it's not uncommon for it to be done to their genitals or breasts, if female), to avoid the consequences the next time.

I'm not sure there's any way around this seeming catch-22. The partner has the right to protect themselves from being witness to unhealthy, frightening behavior. The person with BPD cannot really be getting better in recovery if they are continuing to SI, so the partner doesn't want to encourage in any way the other's SI. The only thing I can see where the partner can help is supporting the BP in finding and practicing and using different, healthy coping skills (e.g., exercise, meditation or prayer, temporary distraction, patience, etc). But the BP can't truly get well until they're brave enough to actually feel the pain of their feelings. Once they start to do this on a consistent basis, the intensity of those feelings lessens. Sadness still hurts, anger is hard to bear, happiness isn't so ecstatically high, but they're based in reality and they're what it takes to make a person human. But this is something only the person with BPD can do.

I realise I don't know all this stuff for certain - I'm no expert. I'm just a person who has been through it. But I hope that cleared it up somewhat anyway. I had to kinda take an educated guess about some things because I've never been in the situation where a partner either SI'd (to my knowledge) or where a partner was aware of my own self-injury, since it wasn't extensive nor frequent until around my breakdown/diagnosis. My parents knew about it then (they helped me through the breakdown), but didn't know what to do about it, so they didn't say anything much.

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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 05:49:06 PM »

One of the things that has really helped me when he is ranting, raging and getting crazy is visualization:

    Let's say he starts raging and carrying on because one of the shoes in the laundry room is not perfectly lined up with the others:  While he is yelling I let my mind drift away and picture a circle on the other side of the room with little devils (un-lined up shoes or whatever the daily issue is) dancing in the circle.  Then I mentally aim his rage and voice to the little devils in the circle.

I know it sounds crazy but it's helping me to mentally avoid being the target of his rage.

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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 05:49:54 PM »

Excerpt
It's important to have a significant emotional support system for yourself (e.g., close friends) that goes beyond the relationship.

Having a safety net to fall back on is very important. This is difficult for many to open up to outsiders due to the FOG, shame and that fear that others will not understand. Long term therapy for the non is probably not practical or affordable to many. I was fortunate to have a few close friends at work that had PD issues in their relationship and we could console and comfort each other at times. If you don't have a close family or friends this can be hard for some to develop, maybe some good ideas could be presented on how to have a lifeline to reality when in times of need. I know this board is great and e-mail can help with messages of encouragement exchanged but there is nothing like sitting down and really talking to somebody who can listen to you over a cup of coffee.
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2007, 11:17:35 AM »

wow- this is great

this is exactly the stuff I was looking for

everyone normally just says 'get out' to me

but if I choose to stay, they have no advice.

Thanks for posting this!
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2007, 01:52:20 PM »

mr. anderson - the situation I described that you identified with, that was pretty much the underlying reason I left my uBPDexbf (tho the straw/camel's back was a discrete incident): I got tired of being the only one owning up to my mistakes and trying to compromise. I really did try, but could only go so far past giving 50% before I realised the investment wasn't worth it. I can't do 80/20 all the time, it's not fair to me, I'm NOT always to blame. I want to be with an adult who wants to be in a partnership, with give and take depending on varying situations (it doesn't always have to be equal). I couldn't take it anymore, so I left.

Wow, you said a mouthfull there!

As far as BPD influence is concerned, do you think that if he owned up to 1% then he would be taking 100%? Thats the impression I get from my W. Or if you take 50% you've got the whole thing.


Excerpt
Maybe your SO's behavior changes after a fight because she's doing what she thinks you want her to, and not even in a manipulative way, but because she cares. But, unless she truly sees what she's doing is wrong, the behavior isn't really changing, it's just morphing for awhile (maybe she's doing it to avoid your disfavor, who knows?). I did learn permanent behavior change in my relationship because my ex was supportive in many ways, but it was my doing, not his - I saw the importance of changing, I had the courage to change (despite his raging), I wanted to change - he just eased the change for me by trying to be understanding (sometimes) and not punishing me for it (sometimes).

I think this nails it. Her behavior changes for a bit then reverts. Although lately, she hasn't been reverting quite as far. Especially where the kids are involved, my main concern. I think she is close to wanting to change but is very far away from admitting it, which is fine for now.

Thanks you for your openness and honesty. Your description of SI is very interesting, although now a direct concern of mine right now. Of course Si may be manifesting itself in different ways.

Thanks again!

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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2007, 03:34:35 PM »

if you stay... .to make your self healthier... be prepared to change yourself... .

you cant be afraid of confrontation... .

your boundaries must be established... you need to be you... .or be the person you were before... .and grow... .

you are not commiting to stay and continue miserable... .your staying because you believe there is going to be an improved realationship...
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2007, 08:46:17 PM »

As far as BPD influence is concerned, do you think that if he owned up to 1% then he would be taking 100%? Thats the impression I get from my W. Or if you take 50% you've got the whole thing.

I think I understand what you're asking - excuse me if I've gotten your meaning wrong, but I did see in my ex that any hint he was to blame seemed to feel like him that I was throwing the whole 100% load on him, even when I explicitly and genuinely took my share of the problem. It's that whole "if you win, I lose, vice versa" mentality, but also the fear that somehow admitting one little fault would expose him to be this horrible person or something? I dunno, I didn't get it then and really don't now either. But yeah, too, that when we own up to our own contribution, they seem happier to keep piling on more... .

I hope I didn't scare you about the SI. It's important I clarify that from what I know, SI is mainly a serious problem for those people classified as "in-acting". Not everyone who has BPD self-injures, of course. I haven't seen it mentioned much on bpdfamily.com, tho maybe I've missed it, but it seems the majority of SOs here are "out-acting" BPs. My assumption being, people who are in-acting (and low-functioning) turn the fundamental BPD rage back onto themselves while those who are out-acting (both hi & low funct) spew it onto those around them. Both serve the purpose of paradoxically finding relief from the emotions... .What a sick sad way of life, eh?

And you're right about SI itself being manifested in different ways, like through destructively impulsive behaviors. Any behavior that is used to decrease emotional stress (rather than dealing with the emotions themselves), or that is intended - even unconsciously - to cause harm to oneself, could be looked at as self-injury. For me, it's easier conceptually to limit the definition to actual physical self-harm like cutting, but you have a good point.

I wanted to second Tony's last sentence, too. That's a really good point.
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2007, 03:45:29 AM »

Hi everyone,

Just a quick thought on the SI... .I used to SI when I was still drinking and my SO still does SI when in the middle of a percieved crisis situation... .

best thing I have found that can cause momentary physical pain (to relieve the emtoional pain for a while) without causing actual harm is to squeeze a handful of ice cubes... .and I mean really really SQUEEZE it! HARD!

It hurts like hell while you are doing it, but no lasting physical damage!

I know it would be hard to persuade your SO to do this instead of using cutting instruments etc. but if they could be persuaded, by your boundary setting perhaps, it may be a viable alternative and much much safer!

B x
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2007, 09:22:25 AM »

but if they're beating themselves up emotionally, what do you do- agree? Say, no you're not? I tried just about every reaction.

DH asks me all the time if he's a good daddy.

He also says from time to time, I am an assho**, I know or I am a bad person... .
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2007, 11:41:00 AM »

but if they're beating themselves up emotionally, what do you do- agree? Say, no you're not? I tried just about every reaction.

In my experience, there wasn't any magic pill.  Finding closure, or meeting of the minds in real time, oftyen just couldn't be reached.  Things could only be left in some state of chaos... .edgey.

Maybe the only relief is within you and your ability to disengage and step away from it.  Accept the chaos and the edgey-ness and the way thing must be and learn how not to worry about it - find emotional relief some other way - with someone else. 

When HE finally wants to talk about it, there is always Randi Kreger's formula; Puvas

Pay attention

Understand fully

Validate emotions

Assert yourself

Shift stuff where it belongs

I found this very helpful.

Emotionally satisfying? No.  A sign of a healthy relationship?  No,   just life with a BPD partner.  And if (or when) you can't find it in yourself to accept this anymore -  you probably need to get out of the relationship.

Just some thoughts - although, my relationship ended, so these are like golf tips from the worst player on the course  Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2007, 08:26:50 PM »

Excerpt
but if they're beating themselves up emotionally, what do you do- agree? Say, no you're not? I tried just about every reaction.

DH asks me all the time if he's a good daddy.

He also says from time to time, I am an assho**, I know or I am a bad person... .

If they are beating themselves up  I ask them what chain of events got them to right here right now. If they can give visuals thats helps as well. I can then share that everyone is a so called "bad person" from time to time and makes mistakes and gets angry and reacts in ways that are hurtful whether they are aware of it or not.   Getting in touch with how one is being hurtful is a good thing so one can learn to change their behavior .

I find the raging is an accumulation of people who have said they are bad or ∂ƒ∫∆˚s combined with thier own repeated displays of anger and frustration that takes over and they act in ways they later regret.  I think the raging at  the non is a projection that they think the non thinks they  are an ∂ƒ∫∆˚ so they get mad at the non for thinking that way. Its a visious cycle and once started trust is elusive...


IPJK

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« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2007, 05:49:31 PM »

Bish, I had totally forgotten about the ice cube trick, that's a really great point! Good for you that you found a way to stop, too. Does your SI have any other coping skills besides SI?

There are a bunch different things one can do to encourage your SO to stop their urge to SI, see the section on "What to do RIGHT NOW instead of SI". Maybe even print the thing out and have it up on the fridge or wherever it's handiest, so it can be looked at in an emergency.

I agree with IPJK about getting them to stop and examine their thoughts/emotions instead of "letting" them beat themselves up. You can really dig yourself into a deep hole when you start thinking, "I'm such a piece of s**t", but if they can be gently guided to look at their twisted thinking (don't tell them that's what they're doing, tho!), it's easier to control the reaction. We has a list of 10 ways to untwist your thinking. Of course, this will take tons of practice for the person with BPD to be able to do on their own, but it's possible.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56200.0

There's a fine line between supporting and doing their recovery work for them, tho. I'd tread with caution and as a rule of thumb, make sure they're putting in at least 90% of the effort (higher if they're better functioning). Of course, that's coming from someone who has done much of this on her own, so I may be biased... .Whatever works for you & what's emotionally healthy for you both. Remember, too, your safety has to come before theirs, just like they say on airplane flights - put on your own oxygen mask first, then put on your dependent's mask, because if you pass out while trying to help them first, you'll do no one any good, especially yourself.
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2007, 09:01:37 AM »

Thanks for the PUVAS. The commmunication stuff is really helping us. We had a wonderful weekend, even with MIL in tow... .A few rough spots, but overall it's been her best visit in a long time. The more and more I find myself committed to staying and learning about the disease, the more I find myself being able to handle it and feel good about it.
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2007, 03:00:33 PM »

Hello all! I have just come across this thread and I have found it strangely liberating. The person with BPD in my life is my now elderly mother. I have had twenty years to learn strategies to try and cope with her and in the process I have had a lot of therapy myself. I am grateful for the fact that I have had the opportunity to work on a lot of my own issues. As a result I feel that I can honestly say that the relationship that I now have with my mother is in no way based on any kind of enmeshment or codependent needs with myself. I can state categorically that if I was not related to this person she is not someone I would have got involved with.

Since returning to these boards I have been doing a lot of soul searching, questioning why I continue to have an ongoing one sided relationship with my mother. It is draining and soul destroying, with very little to recommend it. Looking back I should have made the decision when I started out on my adult life, twenty years ago, to break all contact with her, certainly she gave me plenty of reasons to do so. The reason I didn't was partly due to the fact that I lived in terror of her and I was frightened of the repercussions. Secondly I felt that I could be the stabilising reliable person in her life enabling her to feel safe and supported.

The reality is that it has not made a bit of difference in terms of her own recovery and it has just resulted in it having a negative impact on my own life. If I could leave her now, I probably would. However, at the age of 78 my mother is more dependent than ever upon me and quite frankly I feel that I have left it to late to go NC.

The best that I can do is accept the situation for what it is. It is never going to be possible to have a good, healthy, equal relationship with someone with BPD. However, I can choose to have a more rewarding, balanced and satisfying life in other ways and put more of my focus and energies into these and limiting the amount of influence and impact that I let the BP have on my life!

I am new to the workshop board so hope that my post is appropriate for this section. I was just inspired by what Skip and others had shared and am searching for new ways to be able to cope with having a someone with BPD in my life. Thank you!

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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2007, 11:22:11 PM »

From Mr. Anderson

Excerpt
I think this nails it. Her behavior changes for a bit then reverts.

From Skip

Excerpt
In my experience, there wasn't any magic pill.  Finding closure, or meeting of the minds in real time, oftyen just couldn't be reached.  Things could only be left in some state of chaos... .edgy.

The therapists feel this way as well . Just when they  think they  got the sucker nailed down some other facet of the disorder shows up thats part of the fractured self.

I think a DO for someone in a committed relationship   is to be as educated as one can be about the borderline personality disorder from the clinical end . That takes lots of work and study on the Nons part . Its more important for the the person who has it to do the reading  but its difficut to be reading something that already feels chaotic to be made into yet something more complex.

For those who are out of their BPD relationship  more accurate knowledge  can bring more understanding to what really happened in your relationship.

I found a book by  John D. Preston that makes understanding BPD from the therapeutic side understandable for the lay person as well.  In other words its simplified a bit.

Integrative Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder: Effective, Symptom-Focused Techniques, Simplified for Private Practice

This book may have already been up for reveiw here and I missed it so this may be old news for some. I have read some of it and actually found myself bursting out laughing , The man has a sense of humor .

To get to why I choose Mr. Andersons quote and Skips . I was reading about what John calls loss of temporal perspective on page 54 of his book.  He explains what most people are able to do when they are chewed out for doing something, they can call on past situations where they were working at top steam doing a great job so they can counter any reprimand.  Someone with BPD  get caught up in the moment of feeling the shame that goes with being reprimanded or when they make a mistake and they can't recall  the times they were okay. I believe theres an inner critic who deletes any attempt when they do try to recall the times they were just fine because they are not fine really everyone says so or maybe a caregiver gave thse messages  over and over.  

I think this plays a part in why they revert back to old behavior.

If someones in this place they need a touchstone of sorts to help them remember they are not all BPD till they can learn to do it for themselves more often.They need someone to help them see the invalidity of their claim .

If you're a NON who thinks they are all bad you're not gonna make a good touchstone. This is hard to do in the face of being tested or accused raged at .  Another name for touchstone would be alter ego where another individual  stands in for the good part of them selves they can't find , This is aslo why someone with BPD has so much fear of beng abandoned when in this process of becoming their own stone they can touch.

Some of you are thinking  you've got a patient and a project not a partner.  I look at it as  someone who has suffered abuse. It's all in the wording and wording reflects ones feelings and thoughts about people.  I don't think its productive to keep thinking in terms that your partner is just a patient and a project.  This puts them in a "less than"  pitying type of framework  

Do

encourage them to just not always focus on problems,

encourage them to participate in life.

encourage them to get back up after they stumble

Its okay, they deserve to be here even if others told them they didn't once upon a time and with every negative you hand them back a positive again and again.

IPJK
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2008, 04:41:54 PM »

From a website by Tami Green, a recovered person with BPD:

www.borderlinepersonalitysupport.com/howcanihelp.html

entitled "How in the World Can I Help Him?"... .   Here are a few of her points in that article:

1.  Pertains to language... .  Be non-judgemental, be validating.  Don't correct, lay blame, lecture, etc.

2.  Find treatment for the BPD person.

3.  Lower your expectations, wayyyy down.  Accept that we are severely impaired in key areas of brain functioning and therefore are not capable of things that come easily for others. This is a big one for people to swallow! Here is a typical conversation: "But she is so talented! She has her PhD and yet she can't even hold down a job! I just can't accept that she can't work!" Trust me, if she is not working, she can't. But, with your support and proper treatment, she will work again! But it may take a while.

4.  Learn to remain calm in crisis. If you think this one is impossible, think again. We live in internal crisis most of our lives and we are learning how to stay calm--so can you! Model this for us so we know it is possible!

5.  Model appropriate behavior.

6.  don't expect that we are capable of negotiating through the typical daily life decisions with you until the core symptoms of our illness are somewhat under control. Once we learn how to regulate our emotions, understand that many of our thoughts are altered and gain effective communication skills, you will be delighted to find our conversations becoming much more productive and pleasant.

... .   There are 9 points all together... .  A good read if you are with your BPD partner and hoping to remain so.

Also a good read if you are dealing with a BPD in a non-romantic situation (mother, child, other relative, coworker, friend.) 
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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2008, 12:27:15 AM »

This is just for my relationship with my partner maybe some things apply to others. If no- you ain't us.

Do... .

Appreciate order and keeping things stable. disrupting regular days brings in more stress and makes things kind of crazy for days after.

Have stuff going on of my own. I'm an artist, and I usually have projects going on outside of home for a break. Sometimes he comes to help with metal sculpture because he is a welder too but most of the time it is my own space.

Remember the good things when he is being difficult. I would not be with him if I did not love him or did not believe he was working hard to be better in therapy and in recovery.

Know therapy and meetings are important. Without that there is no relationship.

Remember whatever he's feeling it's okay for him to feel it. It comes from someplace even if I don't get where it is at first.

Have things to talk about. Ideas and books and trivia he finds interesting.

Have fun. Play is a hard thing for him to understand sometimes. Games with rules are better but bubbles are good too.

Listen.

Don't... .

engage. If he's real angry about something I tell him I will be back when he is more calmer and can talk and not yell.

Make things trivial. Even things that seem real crazy or little to me are sometimes huge for him.

Push away when he is making a  effort to be sorry or to be friendly or show affection.

Interfere with him trying to interact with other people. He is not always good at it and sometimes it hurts but just trying to talk with any people is a big step wit him. Sometimes I want to step in and tell people who interact with him what to do to not get blown up at but that doesn't really help him learn to not blow up.

Don't be threatening. I think with that he only reacts one of two ways with violence or to act like a very scared child.

Anyway that is some basic things, for how we live.
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2008, 05:28:31 PM »

okay for me to stay i had to do all this being very strong is very important, setting boudaries and keeping the boudaries, i had to change alot in me, and learn to accept, and understand,  it is very important to also take care of you, expecially during the hard times, learning to validate things and communicate was a long process of learning for me, due to i am the one who justified alot and wanted to explain my side i did everything wrong. and it just made things worse.

  it is like it was said we are the caregivers and that is exactly what we are, so we really need to spend time doing what we like and really serching who we are.
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2009, 04:00:20 PM »

Having just this week become enlightened enough to practice Radical Acceptance. Here are my Do's & Don'ts

My Do’s & Don’ts for a relationship with a BPD

Do  accept that she’s doing the best she can with limited capabilities

Do look for the good things she does

Do learn to accept yourself as a whole and healthy person.

Do acknowledge your part in the relationship dynamic.

Do accept that you can only change your own behavior.

Do educate yourself about the disorder and use what you learn.

Don’t pressure her to give more than she is able to give or behave in ways that emotionally mature people behave.

Don’t set her up to fail by spurning what she can offer.

Don’t take any of the mean statements personally.

Don’t try to “fix” her.

Peace & Meta

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« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2009, 02:24:59 PM »

good advice buddha
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« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2009, 03:39:25 PM »

Excerpt
Do  accept that she’s doing the best she can with limited capabilities

Perhaps... .  if she has acknowledged her issues and is in/considering recovery.  But some with BPD will at times actually want to hurt the non intentionally... .they may want to "get back".
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« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2009, 08:57:28 AM »

You know - it's good to see someone with experience say this.  I think sometimes on the staying board we be too inclined to excuse deliberate behavior with  "they can't help it"  and maybe sometimes they can?  I wonder what the line is?  How can we tell? I honestly don't think things can get to a healthy point unless the BPD person does acknowledge the issue.

Peace & Metta
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« Reply #28 on: August 15, 2009, 10:05:29 AM »

Well, in a way "they can't help it" because their brains are not wired in a correct, healthy way.  But that doesn't always mean that there isn't negative intent.  My exh said to me at one time that he spent all of our money because he knew that would hurt me.  So the miswired part of his brain needed to get back at me (for no particular reason), but he did know what he was doing... .There was intent in that he wanted to hurt me.

Someone with BPD may be doing things to hurt the partner... .  because they are sure that the partner deserves the hurt.  That's where boundaries come in... .no matter what the intentions of the BPD person, we can't allow our boundaries to be violated.  In my case, I should have been more careful with access to money so that he didn't spend all of it.

 
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« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2010, 09:46:59 AM »

Change isn't easy. The way you feel about them ( RADICAL ACCEPTANCE ), the way you listen to them ( EMPATHETIC LISTENING ), the way you comm with them ( VALIDATION ), the way you respond to them ( BOUNDARIES ), all of these are tools that we use to stop making things worse so that we can begin to make them better.

It takes time and a lot of practice, but as you change - they are forced to change too.

If we stop following and instead take the lead we will see a difference   
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Change your perceptions and you change your life.  Nothing changes without changes
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