So maybe you’ve heard that Christine O’Donnell is under investigation by the Feds for illegally using campaign funds to pay her rent and to go bowling. Tsk tsk. When confronted with the allegations, Ms. O’Donnell didn’t exactly deny the allegations but instead accused liberals of mounting a witchhunt. In other words, she wants you to believe she is the victim. Playing the victim is how my ex reacted when I confronted her about her cheating ways.

When I questioned my ex about daily texts from another man, she went on the attack. She accused me of being controlling and overly-jealous. I later found out that she slept with the guy she said was just a friend. After finding out that she had lied to me, I went through her address book to find this guys’ phone number. When she found out, she accused me of not respecting her boundaries. The gal who was sneaking around with some other guy behind my back was accusing me of not respecting boundaries. Yeah, I laughed too.

Bear in mind, this was the second time she had cheated on me. Before then I had never even questioned her loyalty. Never complained when I saw her flirting with other guys. But even when confronted with insurmountable evidence, she still found a way to play the victim or turn the tables on me. When I told her why I had a hard time trusting her, she accused me of holding past misdeeds over her head. When I later blogged about her unsavory behavior, she accused me of humiliating her. It never occurred to her that she had humiliated both of us. This was the self-victimization tactic that she would use over and over again.

You would think someone who was busted over and over again, would be a lot more humble. But this is not how my ex thought. She was indignant when accused of wrongdoing. She was always the victim. Even though she would occasionally admit to being screwed up, somehow she always found a way to drag me down with her. I somehow contributed to her bad behavior. She not only failed to acknowledge her shady behavior, she tried to make it sound like I was overreacting. This was her way of bringing me down to her level. Or what I call “Spreading the Shame”.

Truth Be Told

December 27, 2010

My newlywed ex seems determined to prove to the world that her life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect city. Perfect marriage. Perfect parents. The only problem is she has borderline personality disorder. And that’s a pretty big problem. It makes it hard to believe anything she says. She is her own PR agent and, right now, she is trying way too hard. She is determined not only to fool the public but herself as well. But if you listen to enough of her stories, you start to notice glaring inconsistencies. Ironically, she’s a journalist. I guess fact checking doesn’t apply to her life story.

The question is- Does she believe her own BS?

I believe the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. While it may seem like she is a compulsive liar, I believe her lies have more do with self-preservation. She is a trauma survivor, which means facing reality brings more pain than most people can imagine. That means telling lies is essential to preserving her sanity. I believe that BPD is first and foremost a survival instinct. To understand a BP, you have to understand that they are fighting to survive. They will do anything to survive including telling boldfaced lies.

My ex use to tell me god-awful stories about her family all the time, stories of betrayal, abuse and alcoholism. Exactly a year ago, she called me while she was in Toronto for the Holiday break. She seemed very distressed. She was whispering because she didn’t want her family to hear her. Her mother had just told her that she caught her father kissing another woman. Not just any woman. The woman my ex was engaged to at that time (back in her lesbian days).

Was this for real? Or was her mother telling lies as well. With borderline families it is always hard to know what is the truth. To me, it seemed unreal. What kind of parents act this way? But for her, this was the reality she grew up with. This is the type of screwed up drama that can only happen in a borderline family. She hated her father so much, she concluded that “all men are scum”.  And now, she’s blogging about how much she adores her family and how much she misses them. Is she out of her mind? Possibly.

What we are probably seeing here is a dissociative state. Sometimes BPs detach from reality, their thoughts and their feelings when they are feeling overwhelmed. Their memories are linked to unbelievable pain (trauma). This is why it is so hard for some BPs to recall the past. To survive they must sometimes re-write their history.

Then there’s the issue of abandonment. No matter how awful a family might be, it is the only family a person’s got. My ex was constantly afraid her family would unravel, leaving her with nobody to care for her. So she maintains the illusion of a perfect family despite evidence proving otherwise. But this may be another reason why she was in such a hurry to get married. I had always suspected she loved my family more than she loved me. She was secretly looking for a replacement and now she’s found one.

It makes me wonder if she has told the man she married the truth or some variation of the truth. She would like everyone to believe that she is finally in love. But how many times has she fooled herself into believing that? Can we believe it this time? She once told me she loved me. But now she denies that she was ever in love. Consider that at the core of BPD is a fear of intimacy. A fear so intense it makes BPs runaway from love. And if they can’t run, they resort to desperate acts (inexplicable hostility or thoughts of suicide).

Consider the all too convenient timing of my ex’s marriage. She got married just as her work visa was expiring. Marrying an American meant she could stay in California. It would mean she could run away from her past again. For a BP, love is more about convenience than any deep emotional reasons.

A mentor once told her that “California is for special people”. It was a sarcastic joke, of course. But she took it quite literally. She wants to believe life is perfect. She really wants to believe “starting fresh” will make her feel special. But this is just another illusion, another act, another lie. Borderlines are good at telling lies, especially when they are trying to fool themselves.

I hate to bring bad news on Xmas Eve, but I just read that Skye has been admitted into the hospital again for an attempted suicide:

I’m in the hospital. I overdosed on Lithium. My levels were critical and I’ll be here at least a few days. We’ll see what happens…

For someone who is struggling with depression, the holidays can be brutal. Skye has also been struggling with her marriage and her borderline personality disorder.

For those of you who think marriage is a solution to your BPD woes, I want you to take a good look at what marriage is like when you have BPD. No offense to Skye, but she would be the first one to tell you it is hell on earth. If you think all your issues will disappear once you have secured a partner for life, you are kidding yourself. All the issues that you have now (depression, insecurities, mood swings, lack of trust, fear of intimacy, feeling trapped etc.) will only become worse when you are in a marriage. This is not an opinion. It is a fact that all BPs must face.

Thank goodness, Skye had the self-awareness to seek help. If you are an untreated BP, you need to avoid intimate relationships until you are better. Otherwise, you are just bringing other people (a husband/wife, children, and another family) into your misery. You are adding to the problem instead of finding a real solution. Marriage is not a band-aid or a crutch to get you through life. And treating it as such is a sign that you are more troubled than you think. Suicide attempts are just one of the f-d up ways BPs react to intimacy and the fear of abandonment that comes with it.

Don’t think, “Oh, this would never happen to me”. If you have a history of chaotic relationships, self-destructive behavior, suicide ideation, cutting, etc., this can happen to you. Let this be a wake up call. Let other BPs be a mirror into your own soul. Their story is your story. Learn from these stories.

An Unholy Union

December 17, 2010

A little birdie flew to my window and informed me that my ex just got married. I couldn’t help but laugh. Not a stop, drop and roll laugh. More like a chuckle paired with a rolling of the eyes. Was this for real? She’s been engaged to be married before. So it wasn’t shocking. It was a cynical reaction for sure, but I have every reason to be cynical. She proved to me she’s incapable of love, real love. So why oh why would she get married? Well, I guess it would allow her to stay in the States (She’s Canadian). But it would also be a way for her to get the commitment, she could never get from me.

My laughter was actually a good sign. Because six months ago, I probably would have been devastated. But a lot has changed since then. I’ve learned a lot about Borderline Personality Disorder. Six months ago I had no idea what BPD was. Knowing what I know now, I can laugh. Because getting married after three months of dating someone is so typical of her, typical of a borderline personality.

I laughed because it’s only been months since we’ve been broken up. Jumping into another relationship is one thing. Getting married to the first guy who’s willing is quite another. This is a gal who told me she saw a future with me and wanted me to move in with her.  Truth be told, I was reluctant to move in with her. At the time, I had all sorts of excuses. But I was reluctant because I knew she was deeply troubled. At the time, I had no idea how easily and how quickly I would be replaced. But after all the BPD forum threads I’ve read, this was to be expected.

The honeymoon period was over by the time she had asked me to move in with her. But previous to this moment, we were inseparable. We were the couple everyone hated, because we were so nauseatingly in love. Or so I thought. People would actually walk up to us and tell us what an amazing couple we were. We both believed the hype. But it was hype created by my borderline ex.

It started out as a relationship that went surprisingly well. We had long effortless conversations and really enjoyed each others company. BPs are good at making you think they are the One. Then slowly but surely another side of her came out, a darker side. After a month passed by, she confessed to me that she had been raped in college. This was after her first meltdown. Or rather the first time she bit my head off, because I had said something that was disagreeable to her. She knew I could not walk away if she played the sympathy card. She knew I would never reject someone because they were a survivor.  I had just caught a glimpse of what I could expect down the line, but I had no idea what I was in for.

To this day, I don’t know if she was actually raped. Because I have since learned that it is not uncommon for a BP to have false memories or misinterpret triggered memories. Nor is it uncommon for a BP to make up stories to get attention or gain sympathy. This is not a BP being deceptive. This is a very troubled person who has a very loose grip on reality, a very twisted way of thinking. A BP person who will do or say anything to make sure a loved one doesn’t abandon her.

She also claimed to have memories of being molested by a relative at a very young age. This I believe. Because most BPs have experienced some type of trauma by the time they are 3-5 years of age. This is what awakens their BPD and causes their arrested development. This is also the type of trauma that sets her up to be victimized by other predators, but it also sets her up to have all sorts of lifelong issues. It’s what makes intimacy impossible without treatment.

I am telling you this, not to publicize her private tragedies, but to impress upon you how serious BPD really is. It is more than just a disorder. It is all the craziness and tragedy that comes with it. To say it is a personality disorder may be scientifically correct. But in my personal experience, it is a gross understatement.  This is where partners of BPs have more experience than a therapist. Because they have actually experienced BPD firsthand. They didn’t read about it in some medical journal or test it in some laboratory. They went through the ups and downs. They felt the pain.

I not only stayed with her, I cared for her like a good little co-dependent partner. I took care of her when she had one of her many meltdowns, soothed her when she was having a panic attack. I listened to all her sad stories. She would tell me how screwed up her family was. She would tell me how horrible all her exes were. It wasn’t until later, that I would realize that she was the horrible ex. This was another case of a BP projecting and eliciting sympathy from a would-be “knight in shining armor”.

I adored her and she seemed to be inexplicably attached to me. She really knew how to flatter my ego. But I was reluctant to move in with her because every time things were going too well, she would find a way to throw a wrench into the works. On top of that, she found ways to punish me if I didn’t reciprocate her enthusiasm for the relationship. But how can you be enthusiastic about a relationship if you don’t know what to expect? Every day she was a different person. It was damned if I do, damned if I don’t. One night, we were out drinking with some friends of hers and she had become so drunk she was flirting and kissing one of her friends right in front of me and all her friends. They were shocked. I was mortified. This would not be the last time she embarrassed me and herself.

At the time, I was ready to walk out the door. But she pulled me back in with sobbing eyes and promises that she would give up drinking and seek therapy. She said she had no recollection of that night. (In case you are wondering, this is a sign of a hardcore alcoholic) BPD is horrible by itself, but combined with alcoholism it is a living nightmare. A BP thrives on chaos and drama. If none exists, they will create it.

So when she asked me to move in with her, of course I was reluctant. This was one of the rare times my instincts had served me well. Things just seemed to be moving way too fast. So I started putting on the brakes. It would have been foolish of me to move in with her. But I can only say that now with confidence because I have perspective.

Back then, I thought I was just afraid of commitment, afraid of intimacy. I now know that I had every reason to be afraid of her. She was an abuser who had no idea she was abusing me. She was completely screwed up and as the relationship became more serious, it got worse. BPD is a disorder that is triggered by intimacy.

My hesitation would not go unpunished. It was at this moment that she split me black. A BP splits a partner black when they sense impending abandonment (perceived or otherwise). It is a defense mechanism to cut off emotional attachment right at the point they fear you will leave them. Within a month, she broke both her promises. She began picking fights over silly little things. She began spending time with other guys. And when I confronted her about daily texts from another man. She blew up. She accused me of being jealous and controlling. This was our first and last big fight. It was all down hill from here. The sabotage had begun a long time ago, but now it was in full swing.

Days later, she suggested a break. She insisted it was just a break. But this was her way of weaseling out of the relationship. Her fears of engulfment were now in play. She didn’t have the courage to say she wanted out. So she broke my heart in stages. She used the excuse that she needed time to think and take care of a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. But she was actually seeing another guy. The same guy she had been texting. Days later, the break turned into a break up. And days after that, she confessed to having slept with the guy she insisted was just a friend.

Again her eyes were filled with tears as she apologized for what she had done. This time she was sober. Alcoholics do screwed up things even when they are not drinking. She knew she had lied and had been unfaithful. She just didn’t have the courage to actually say she cheated. She knew that this was an act of infidelity and betrayal. There was no doubt in either of our minds. And though her eyes were filled with tears, she wasn’t actually remorseful. She was just trying to evoke sympathy, to avoid my anger. I spent the whole night telling her what I thought of her. And it wasn’t pretty. I probably went too far. But so did she.

It was actually a scary night. Because after I had spent the night yelling at her, she went from being remorseful to being numb. The crocodile tears had dried up and now she was in self-defense mode. It was as if she peeled the skin off her face to reveal her true self. It was at this time, she confessed to how messed up she really was. She admitted to putting on an act for everybody to see. She grinned a sinister grin, when she boasted what a good actress she was. She said I would be foolish to stay with her because she would probably hurt me again. She was right.

Oh but it gets worse. She then confessed to me that she wanted to end her life. (though she would deny it later) She told me she would eventually move to LA. And that she would probably cut off all contact with me. She said this with a chilling grin on her face. I would later find out she would make good on her promise to cut me out of her life.

As dawn broke, we just sat in silence. And for some god awful reason, we kissed and made up. We were both emotionally beaten up and we sought comfort from the only person who could understand what we had just been through. It was then, she made a half-ass commitment to make amends for what she had done. Looking back now, I laugh that we would even think that we could save the relationship after what she had done to me. But this is the spell only a BP can put on you. This is the power and dysfunction of a co-dependent relationship. I should have walked right out the door and told her to go back to hell. But I didn’t. She had a hold on me. There was still that part of me that made excuses for her, because she was a sexual assault survivor. I was a fool but I was a fool in love. I would later learn that love was an addiction.

Needless to say the half-ass attempt to save the relationship was a joke. To add insult to injury, she insisted that she keep in touch with her “friend”.  BPs can not resist the allure of the emotionally unavailable because they are mirror images of themselves. She also made it impossible for me to see her, and got upset when I suggested she was avoiding me. She accused me of pressuring her, when all I was doing was trying to save our relationship, as we had agreed. I got upset and lashed out at her. And she used this as an excuse to shut me out completely. She ignored my phone calls and when she did respond, I was treated to all sorts of outlandish threats and accusations. She brought her friends and family into the act as well.

This after I had introduced her to my entire family. Yes, before all this madness transpired, I actually invited her to be a part of my family. She was welcomed with open arms, thanksgiving dinners, etc. And now her friends and family were treating me like dirt. How’s that for a slap in the face? BPD is not just one individual with a disorder, it is deeply rooted in a dysfunctional world. BPs go untreated and stay in denial thanks to a network of enablers. I regret introducing her to my family now, but that’s because I have experienced the unthinkable.

I wish I could say this was the end of this tragedy, but what followed was a serious of make-ups and break ups. When she cut off contact with me, she immediately ran back to her “friend”. And she only came running back when that “friend” rejected her. He got what he wanted and he had no more use for her. Of course, she ran back to me for comfort.  This after all the threats and accusations. And even though I welcomed her back as a friend…  Even though I had apologized for lashing out at her, she had the audacity to accuse me of scaring off her “friend”.  The sweet and tender lover I once knew was gone, and she was replaced by a cold-hearted bitch.

“Why on earth would someone stay with someone like that?”, one might ask. And that would be a valid question. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve asked that same question. But despite all her issues, there was always the woman who I fell in love with. She was beautiful and bright. And there were times, she acted like the perfect girlfriend. She made me laugh and want to be a better person. She inspired me with her words and her achievements. And she was great with kids.

And for all the bad days, there were always the days that I will still cherish. The days that were filled with laughter and fond memories. A BP can’t always control their behavior. But when they can, they make the most out it. They give you reasons to hang on just a little bit longer. At times, she really really did try to make it work. There were times when she showed self-awareness and demonstrated a will to change. It was these moments that led me to believe true love could conquer all. But I was kidding myself.

She eventually moved to LA. And even though we agreed to stay friends, she would go back on that promise as well. It was impossible for us to be friends, there was too much emotion between us. I knew too much about her. Once I was no longer needed to comfort her, she went back to being hostile and abusive. She accused me of not be able to handle rejection, but the truth was she was the one who felt rejected (thus the hostility). All I wanted was to stay on good terms. The day I told her I would not be moving to LA with her, something in her head snapped. I could see the light go out in her eyes. From then on, she was in fight/flight mode. My efforts to reach out to her only made her more hostile. It was her way of scaring me off.

I, on the other hand, was nicer to her than I should have been. Still she found a reason to cut me out of her life. But now I realize she did me a huge favor. Because if she had stayed in my life, I would not have been able to see her for who she really is- a deeply troubled soul. I would not have had time to heal. I would not have sought out answers.

And so when I heard she got married, I laughed. Because that could have been me. BPs seek commitment to soothe their fears of abandonment. And when I could not give her that commitment (for obvious reasons), she simply took her love and gave it to the next person in line. That’s how shallow a BP’s love is. It’s not real love. It’s simulated love.

The man she married is in for a surprise. He has no idea what he’s in for. They are still in their honeymoon period, but it’s only a matter of time when the craziness will come out. Personally, I think it is unconscionable for her to marry someone after admitting to me how screwed up she is. It’s almost as if she doesn’t care who she hurts as long as it serves her purpose. I know she reads this blog. I know she knows about BPD. But she is deep deep in denial. She has convinced herself that moving to LA and getting married will give her a fresh start. She thinks her marriage will cure a lifetime of trauma. But she’s kidding herself, as most borderlines do.

A therapist would say that BPD is a disorder where intense emotions override cognitive function. In other words, it makes smart people do stupid things. It’s never a good idea to rush into marriage, but when the core of your disorder is a fear of intimacy then you’re just asking for a lifetime of hurt. I wish them luck. They’ll need it.

The following article, written by Dr. Kathleen Young, talks about patients with dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). When reading this article, I noticed that DID bears some resemblance to borderline personality disorder. The article also seems to be directed at those who are survivors of domestic violence. But there are some observations made here that I think can apply to anyone who has survived any type of traumatic experience or abusive relationship:

Posted on September 4, 2009 by Dr. Kathleen Young

We all need connection. Interdependence, mutual relationships are crucial for our well being. However, for those who have experienced severe childhood trauma, relationships were also the source of betrayal, wounding and abuse. What does this mean then for those who have been severely abused by parents or caretakers as children? Or those who have dissociated, losing awareness of some aspects of early relationships? For example, those with dissociative identity disorder (DID) may have some parts of their system who only know about the “good mother” while others hold the memories of abuse and/or neglect.  In this way, dissociation can make evaluating who is healthy or safe and who is not more difficult.  This results in obvious and multiple complications in forming and maintaining later relationships.

Some types of relationship difficulties clients of mine describe fairly often include:

  • Feeling so wounded and mistrustful of people in general it doesn’t feel worth the risk to attempt connections. This results in extreme isolation and loneliness.
  • The belief or fear that there is something so “bad” about oneself that it will harm/destroy anyone you get close to.
  • Premature attaching to others, disclosing sensitive/a great deal of  information about oneself before assessing how safe a choice the other is.
  • Inability to fully assess potential friends and romantic partners due to dissociation. Missing “red flags” due to dissociation, different parts holding information.
  • Experiencing kind, safe, gentle people/relationships as boring, undesirable or frightening.
  • Sabotaging relationships (for example picking a fight) when things are going smoothly or feeling “too” close. This may be a way to get distance, push away or about seeing what happens. For example, if a friend or partner (or therapist) gets angry at you, will they become violent or abusive like childhood figures did?
  • Extreme care taking or people pleasing.  Do you feel like you must suppress your needs/feelings in the service of taking care of others? Do you feel like you must shift who you are in order to be loved/approved of by others around you?
  • Additional adult abusive relationships. You may find yourself in other abusive relationships: with friends, romantic partners or even helping professionals.

How does this happen? How do survivors wind up in unhealthy relationships and what can be done about it?

Imago relationship theory suggests that we wind up repeating early relationship dynamics because we are drawn  to potential partners who are an amalgam of the significant characteristics (positive and negative) of our early caretakers. This explains why children of alcoholics so often wind up partnering with alcoholics themselves as adults, for example. This is not completely bad news: the theory also holds that picking someone who fits this “imago” gives us the unique opportunity to work through our wounding and achieve a different outcome. However, this requires that we are aware enough of our own issues, ready and able to work on them and that our imago choice is not also abusive.  Instead of healing this could lead to re-enacting the abuse experiences with resulting  additional traumatization.

Attachment theory addresses the vulnerabilities abuse survivors face when attempting to form later relationships. Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD describes a “vulnerability to traumatic bonding” for those severely abused in childhood:

People who are exposed early to violence or neglect come to expect it as a way of life. They see the chronic helplessness of their mothers and fathers’ alternating outbursts of affection and violence; they learn that they themselves have no control. As adults they hope to undo the past by love, competency, and exemplary behavior. When they fail they are likely to make sense out of this situation by blaming themselves. When they have little experience with nonviolent resolution of differences, partners in relationships alternate between an expectation of perfect behavior leading to perfect harmony and a state of helplessness, in which all verbal communication seems futile. A return to earlier coping mechanisms, such as self-blame, numbing (by means of emotional withdrawal or drugs or alcohol), and physical violence sets the stage for a repetition of the childhood trauma and “return of the repressed.” [I would add to this another form of “numbing”: dissociation!]

What does this mean? Too often survivors hear this as more condemnation of themselves, as proof somehow that there is something innately “bad” about them causing others to behave abusively. I want to emphasize strongly that this is not my experience or how I understand this information.

I see the “repetition compulsion” as an unconscious attempt to master that which went so awry, early abusive relationships. Like imago relationship theory suggests, we all function this way. We all seek to rework the ways we were wounded. The problem arises when those early experiences were severely abusive, leading us to pick another abuser.

Another piece of this puzzle involves understanding the dynamics of abusers. Many abusers are good at selecting “victims”. By that I mean that they can sense who is vulnerable. I believe many abusers test and see how far they can push boundaries and pick partners who will not notice early boundary violations or control tactics. Dissociation, the very thing that is life saving in childhood, can make you more vulnerable as an adult. How do you make good relationship choices if you do not have access to all the information about people in your life? Many clients with DID have described to me having no awareness of the abusive behavior of current people in their life. Only later would we unravel that they were switching to different parts (those used to handling such things) prior to a friend or partner starting to  behave in a way that was borderline abusive. If this information is split off it can impact your decision making and safety.

So what can you do? The answer really isn’t to avoid people altogether. Learning that not all relationships are like your early abusive ones is an important part of the healing process. How can you work on making informed relationship choices?

  1. Avoid going to extremes. Neither isolation or premature, instant attachment are healthy for you. Learn to share of yourself with people in your life gradually, over time.
  2. Learn to hear and pay attention to your “inner voice”. This could be your intuition, your gut sense of something feeling not quite right with another person. This could also be the voices of other parts of you. Do not discount what they have to say without exploring it. Yes, some parts may have the job of warning you away from anyone, but there may be valid reason for concerns about an individual in your life.
  3. Get to know yourselves. Develop relationships with other parts of yourself. Learn to communicate with each other. Share information about people you are meeting, developing friendships or intimate relationships with.
  4. Do you already have someone in your life you trust? A friend? A therapist? Use them as a sounding board or reality check. Share what concerns you. Listen to feedback, especially if you tend to “forget” things that concerned you regarding the new person’s behavior.
  5. Remember that trust is something that is earned. Trust is built in relationships by experiencing each other over time. Pay attention to whether what others say and do matches up (or does not), look for consistency over time. Let yourself evaluate whether the relationship is mutual or one sided: do you each get a chance to talk, receive support and attention or does it seem to flow in one direction mostly?
  6. Learn how to sort out whether your reactions are present- or past-based.  Are you angry because someone has violated your boundaries now or are you reminded of past experiences?  Sometimes it is both!

We all deserve healthy relationships that nurture and support us. I’d love to hear your experiences: what works for you and where do you still struggle?

This is what Stephanie Hallett of Ms. Magazine asks. She is talking about a recent Facebook campaign to get people to change their avatars to cartoon characters in hopes of increasing awareness about child abuse. Ms. Hallett questions what effect this campaign will have on stopping child abuse. But I would argue that you can’t stop child abuse. Predators are out there. They will always be out there. Unless we can come up with some type of Minority Report technology, there is no way we can prevent predators from abusing children. That is the sad truth. But we can make people more aware. We can try to figure out what conditions lead to this horrible crime.

Ms. Hallett goes on to criticize the campaign for lacking substance. She criticizes the campaign for not creating “meaningful action”. I think Ms. Hallett has missed the point of raising awareness. Whether it be for breast cancer or child abuse, raising awareness is never meant to be a solution. It’s meant to be a discussion. In my opinion, the use of cartoon characters is kind of brilliant. Because it puts a friendly/familiar face to a god-awful topic that most people don’t want to talk about.

But in order for us to move towards a meaningful solution, we need to move beyond critiques of awareness campaigns. We need to agree that any campaign that creates awareness is a good campaign. We need to move onto more meaningful discussions about child abuse- What are the conditions that cause a person to abuse a child? How can we protect children from predators?  What are some factors that increase the likelihood of child abuse? Are you aware that children with borderline personality disorder are more likely to be abused? Did you know that people who were abused as children are more likely to become abusers?

And let’s not forget that child abuse is not just about sexual assault. There are a myriad of ways a child can be abused. If you are a borderline, you may be familiar with some of these abuses- neglect, fighting amongst parents, resentment/regret of children, abandonment, absence, silent treatment, mental abuse, verbal abuse,  alcoholism, etc… All of these can contribute to depression and trauma in children. And this can lead to that child becoming an adult who is abusive to his/her partner and children.

Maybe Ms Magazine should spend less time critiquing other people’s efforts/critiquing society and more time contributing to more “meaningful” discussions such as- How do we encourage those who have been abused as children to seek help so that the cycle of abuse stops with them and is not passed onto others?

Can a borderline personality make a relationship work? When I listen to Skye’s stories my heart breaks all over again. I want to tell her that it will all work out. I want to say it will work out because she has two kids. Because I know the failure of her marriage would be devastating for everyone involved. But the fact is people with BPD have a hard time with intimacy. Without intimacy, you just have two people going through the motions. And that’s on a good day. Here are some thoughts from David Oliver, the founder of BorderlineCentral.com:

The fact is, a person in the throes of Borderline Personality Disorder is incapable of adult emotional intimacy, because the very nature of the disorder decrees that they have not matured enough emotionally to the degree that is required to have emotionally healthy adult intimacy. They are caught in a cycle of emotional Push/Pull, or “love-hate.”

One of the major characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder is that those with the disorder will push away the very people they love (need) the most. This stems from child abuse or abandonment they suffered at an early stage of development, which led to them having Borderline Personality Disorder in the first place …

… Another reason why your relationship with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder will be such a stormy one is that they will have the unrealistic expectation of you that you can take care of them, when the reality is that they cannot even take care of themselves. Another characteristic of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is that they are needy and demanding. Again, however, with the push/pull cycle, they will seem needy and demanding one minute, and push you away the next minute (even as you try to meet their needs). They will seem to seek intimacy, yet at the same time they will reject that same intimacy, sometimes with anger and rage that you cannot understand. They can’t understand it, either…

I know these are harsh words for a borderline’s delicate ear, but they must be reiterated. I hesitate to post it, because I hate to discourage people like Skye when they are already struggling. But maybe it will help people understand that it’s not entirely their fault. BPD is powerfully destructive force that was forged long before a person has even met his/her borderline partner. So it is unreasonable to think that these forces can be wrangled under control before the borderline has had a chance to fully recover. But there is hope:

… The only way a person with Borderline Personality Disorder can change their destructive behavior is to seek help – they need psychotherapy; specifically, a type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is designed to help people with this disorder.

Over time, it is possible for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder to become better; perhaps, even, to maintain an emotionally healthy adult relationship, if they are willing to seek help for their disorder, and if they are willing to change their destructive behaviors. Until a certain amount of healing is done, and insight achieved through help from a qualified therapist, someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is just not capable of emotional intimacy.

This is why it’s so important to raise awareness about BPD. So that people can avoid rushing into relationships they can’t handle. To get involved in a relationship before healing, can only spell disaster for everyone involved. In a perfect world, a borderline would avoid serious relationships until after they have recovered. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where a borderline’s fear of being alone is as great as their fear of intimacy. Another one of life’s cruel jokes.

If you’re already in a committed BPD relationship, I wish you luck. Your only chance of survival depends on the borderline continuing treatment. But the partner of a borderline has to be willing to put up with the emotional rollercoaster in the meantime. Most therapists aren’t even trained to deal with BPD. How can we expect the average person to cope? Not to mention the fact that most borderlines go out of their way to choose partners who are incapable of ever meeting their impossible needs.

Many times borderlines choose partners in the heat of the moment. They choose partners that resemble their parents. Parents who were most likely in a loveless marriage, one filled with chaos and turmoil.  Parents who either abandoned them, were emotionally unavailable or abused them. They choose bad boys or femme fatales, thinking that they will magically transform into the perfect spouse. They choose partners who have that badass attitude they so love and then expect that person to be loving and nurturing.

Or if they happen to stumble upon a nice person who cares for them, they find away to push them away. Nice people just aren’t a borderline’s “type”. Eventually, they will become bored, because a BP craves conflict and tension. And will create it, if none of this drama exists. Their self-esteem is so low, they think someone must be defective to love them. In other words, if a partner treats a borderline with kindness, a borderline will pay him/her back with abusive behavior. Eventually, a borderline will probably cut him/her out of his/her life.  A borderline has a way of antagonizing even the most faithful of lovers. This is how a person behaves when they fear intimacy.

Yes, you are suppose to be together “in sickness and in health”, but I don’t think the author of those words was thinking about BPD when he/she wrote that.

As I’ve said before, the difference between a borderline personality who has accepted their disorder and one who is in active denial is like night and day. The former is reading all they can about the disease, taking medication for their mood swings, and seeking the help of a specialist. And if they can’t do these things (esp. due to financial hardship) they are at least taking responsibility for their actions, mending broken relationships and taking ownership of their abusive ways.  A BP in denial is a BP who is out of control and unwilling to take responsibility for the drama and chaos they have created in their life. They are a danger to themselves and others.

A BP in denial will fight to stay in the dark. The truth is literally too painful for them to handle. The truth triggers past trauma. The greater the trauma, the greater the pain and therefore the greater the denial. If you are a loved one who has tried to confront a BP with the truth, you will probably be demonized. In your mind, you are helping them see the light. In their mind, you are abusing them/attacking them. A BP in denial will call you all sorts of names:  idiot, ignorant, crazy, etc.  This is a BP projecting (this is what they are feeling inside). They mean to belittle you and discredit your opinion.

A BP in denial will push you away until you are no longer an emotional threat (distancing). No matter how loving your relationship might have been, this will all change once the BP has devalued your love for the sake of detaching themselves from you. The BP has cast themselves as the victim and you as the villain. A BP in denial will resort to all sorts of tricks to avoid the truth about themselves.

Ultimately, you will be banished, cut off, blocked out of a BP’s life. A BP in denial has worked long and hard to create an illusion of well-being. Confronting them with the truth dispels their lies and manipulations. You may have the best of intentions, but it is in a BP’s  nature to misconstrue your intentions especially when they are on the defensive. You may have been their caretaker, their lover, their soul-mate but none of that matters once a BP has split you black. When you threaten to reveal the truth about a BP, you become a threat (perception is everything to a BP in denial)

After you’ve been ostracized, you might try to reach out to your estranged lover. You fool yourself into believing that if you can just get them to see how crazy their behavior is, they will cease to be hostile. But such efforts will only be met with more hostility. Crazy people don’t want to know they are crazy. So they try to convince people that you are the crazy one, crazy for telling the truth. Be forewarned: A BP in denial will do anything to suppress the truth. They will go so far as to accuse you of stalking them. They might even contact the police and accuse you of maliciously slandering them. Meanwhile a BP will go on to spread nasty rumors about you.

Believe it or not, this is the same person you fell in love with. But now you are seeing their true colors. You are seeing how desperate and cold-hearted a BP can be. You might be tempted to believe that this is just a temporary state of “hysteria”. But you need to accept the fact that this is who they really are. This is BPD at its worst. You might wax nostalgic about the good times you had. But creating good moments was part of a BP’s plan to pull you into their life. Never underestimate how sick a BP really is. If you do, it will be to your own detriment. BPD is a real mental disorder with severe consequences. Many lives and reputations have been ruined because of BPD.

Even if a BP promises you they will change or seek help, proceed with extreme caution. Grow eyes on the back of your head. Once you know the truth about a BP, they will find a way to stab you in the back (ie. relationship sabotage). They figure it is only a matter of time before you will leave them, so they find ways to beat you to the punch. They will find ways to betray you and your trust. Even if their eyes are filled with tears and what seems to be remorse, you will be surprised how easily a BP can break a promise to change. Eventually, they will resent you for making them change. They will resent the inequality in the relationship and they will punish you for it. A BP in denial is just buying time until they find another unwitting lover. Don’t be surprised if a BP starts spending more time with friends, especially those of the opposite sex. A BP that has been exposed is likely to court infidelity.

Whatever your lover was to you in the past was an illusion. BPs are masters of illusion. They have spent their whole life convincing people they are “normal”. You have been bamboozled. But don’t feel bad, you were not the first and you will not be the last. Once a BP in denial realizes the jig is up, they pack up and skip out of town like some kind of snake-oil salesman. Don’t expect any sentimental good-byes. A BP can flip on you at a moments notice. Don’t be surprised at how quickly their heart turns cold. A BP’s “love” is shallow. It’s just for appearances. Don’t try to convince them to work on things, they are too busy moving onto the next victim.

You know too much about them and that makes you a threat. The best you can do is hope that someday they will realize the error of their ways. But don’t hold your breath. Denial is strong in a BP. And most BPs have a support system of enablers. Don’t expect their family to intervene. BPD runs in the family and so does denial.

The best you can do is learn your lesson. A BP’s lesson is a brutal one. Recognize that you might have a pattern of choosing emotionally-damaged partners. Learn to be more selective. You can encourage BPs to get help, but ultimately that is their decision. You can not pull a BP out of denial. Until they learn to deal with the truth, they will continue down a path of lies and manipulations. And you are much much better off, not being a part of it.