It’s you. Not Me.

September 27, 2013

When confronting an untreated/unaware borderline with his/her behavior, you will encounter irrational hostility. It is always your fault. Never theirs. 

Criticism equals rejection equals feelings of abandonment. As we have all learned, a borderline will do anything to avoid feelings of abandonment that have haunted them since childhood.

This includes making you the bad guy aka devaluation. Discrediting the critic makes the criticism hurt less. Blaming you for their irrational rage, justifies otherwise unacceptable behavior. In their minds, their rage is always justifiable. 

Instead of accepting their condition and taking responsibility for their bad behavior, they will project undesirable qualities onto you. This is the maddening scenario where they accuse you of doing all the things they do. They will accuse you of being the one with the issues. They will say you are the one who is being irrationally angry. They will pick a fight with you aka bait you. And when you fight back (take the bait), they will accuse you of being hostile.

This is how a BP keeps you disoriented and fighting for air. They are sacrificing your emotional well-being in order to stay deep in denial. If you allow this to continue, it will cause you to lose your mind.

So, how do you handle such irrational rage? Here’s a NY Times article on the topic. Below, I have posted advice from the comment section of that article:

I’ve dealt with this extensively in people close to me, and what I can tell you is, the best approach is a combination of separating from the person with BPD, so she can’t disturb your own serenity; and firmly directly her toward DBT. You can’t help someone who is in denial, but what you can do is corral her so that she can’t act out to make you miserable.

 

If her phone calls or visits to your home make you feel stressed and angry, don’t take her calls and don’t have her over. Erect boundaries and stick to them. Yes, I mean it. Don’t put up with the behaviors. Just cut off interaction when they begin and don’t allow opportunities to arise. Because it’s through these behaviors that BPDs externalize their distress and blame it on others.

 

If they don’t get their way in doing that, and enough people refuse to allow them to, they may eventually decide to seek help. But what never works is “trying to help”, because they feel threatened and act defensively and then, a split second later, often offensively. So you can’t do that much. But what you can do, while protecting yourself, also can work to help them if they choose to take it. As the airline attendants say, Put the oxygen on yourself first.

 

This does, of course, require that you be willing to be vilified as the Bad Guy. But you can handle that, because you are a sane adult. Get counseling support in dealing with this if you need to. And really, what’s the difference in her being furious with you? Isn’t she furious with you most of the time anyway? Pretend you are dealing with a teenager and it will all make sense.

 

What I’ve seen work is DBT, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics (ie, medications standard for bipolar), and psychotherapy that works with the DBT. Clients love DBT, btw, because it helps them feel in control and calm.

 

And the argument, “it’s not me, it’s the world that’s horrible to me”—so what else is new? Lots of us feel that way a lot of the time. But we can’t do anything about the world, only ourselves. To find sanity in a crazy world is the task of most humans. Unlike other people, BPDs just never learned this on their own. But with specific help, they can.

The author is right. You can’t help someone who is in denial. Furthermore, they will demonize you if you try. They will accuse you of being manipulative and controlling. Because this is what borderlines in denial do.

16 Responses to “It’s you. Not Me.”

  1. Michael Hughes said

    I spent 5 yrs with a BPD woman. I loved her. Being able to use the word “loved” vs. “love” is an invaluable indicator to me that I am finally regaining my emotional health in regards to dealing with this TOXIC relationship that almost literally killed me. I wont go into long detail. My previous posts can be referenced throughout this site.
    The above article is 100% correct regarding the BPD”s behaviors. I will only add that it takes a completely unique, 1 in a million, man to actually be STRONG enough to allow for a BPD partner to go through the process outlined above and himself maintain the personal boundaries necessary to let that process occur.
    I tried and tried ……and tried, and became just as sick in my own codependency as she was in her personality disorder. It has taken me 2+ yrs to emotionally disconnect from my ex and finally feel that I am an individual, and not connected and enmeshed with her and “not whole” w/o her.
    My hope is that for anyone who becomes attracted to a BPD is that AS SOON as they even suspect that their potential S/O is BPD, that they execute NO CONTACT. It is the only way 1 can save themselves from future anguish that cannot possibly be imagined until it is too late.
    99 times out of 100, the longer you stay with a BPD the more you will become enmeshed in a TOXIC way….and …trust and believe that the longer you stay not only does the pain increase, but!!!…it increases exponentially!!!!!.
    God Bless you if you are that “1 in 100”. If, however, like me you are among the remaining 99…do what I didn’t do. Honor the “red flags”…you wont have to be a detective to notice them.
    When: abandonment issues, rage, splitting, delusional jealousy, unstable relationship history, projection, negative portrayal of all the previous “bad guys” she’s been with, putting you on a pedestal, things moving “way too fast”, radical impulsivity, dramatic mood swings, or other flagrant unhealthy emotional behaviors present themselves, be on alert, do some homework, and decide if this apparent “woman of your dreams” is really a BPD nightmare ready to manifest….With BPDs it’s not about “if” it’s about “when” ……MSH

    • savorydish said

      When: abandonment issues, rage, splitting, delusional jealousy, unstable relationship history, projection, negative portrayal of all the previous “bad guys” she’s been with, putting you on a pedestal, things moving “way too fast”, radical impulsivity, dramatic mood swings, or other flagrant unhealthy emotional behaviors present themselves, be on alert, do some homework, and decide if this apparent “woman of your dreams” is really a BPD nightmare ready to manifest….With BPDs it’s not about “if” it’s about“when” ……

      MSH

      Well said.

      • Gary said

        This article describes my un-diognosed estranged wife perfectly. After a 27 year marriage with 3 kids, my wife got into an affair with a family friend, justifying it all as her reaching out to show him kindness. She refused any marriage counseling, refused to talk with our pastor, cut off all her long time best friends that did not agree with what she was doing and moved out. I have been accused of just about everything you can imaging, even that I was having an affair! There has been no separations, divorce threats, affairs, substance abuse problems or domestic violence in the course of lour 27 year marriage.

        She left our home and filed for divorce almost 3 years ago. We had 2 kids still at home, age 11, 13 and 17. They were shattered by what their mother was doing and wanted to stay with me. I promised them I would fight for them, and did get temporary primary custody (not easy in California when you have a non-working mom without substance abuse problems) but it has been a brutal court battle.

        Health issues (several major back surgeries) since my wife filed for divorce and having 100% responsibility for the kids forced the sale of our business over 2 years ago. I never imagined the fight I was in for. There are severe Bi Polar type issues with many male and female relatives on my wife’s side of the family, several, including her sister have been institutionalized for extended periods of time.

        She had a very strained relationship with her mother, who passes away 25 years ago, and who she claimed abused her. My impression of her mother was that she had very obvious mental problems, but there was never a diagnosis. I and many others believed my wife had a personality disorder, but there has never been an official diagnosis, as she would not allow that and refused to even try any sort of medication.

        A clinical psychologist who talked to her briefly and un-officially several months into the divorce said to me she was bi polar, type 1 and also had what he called “maladaptive behavior syndrome”. She was the most sugary sweet, seeming loving and caring person I had ever met. through the years I saw that much of that seemed to be an act, almost like she was trying to earn points, but it didn’t seem to me it was all “from the heart”.

        I did not know how to deal with it and busied myself more and more with work to escape, which was a major mistake. I practically gave up trying to confront any of the issues because my wife could not accept even the slightest hint of criticism. Like what was said in the article, I was constantly accused of being critical, manipulative and controlling, in fact I was all to often escaping or ignoring what was going on because I didn’t know how to deal with it. Had I been more controlling I would never have allowed all the time she was spending her “friend”, who she called the big brother she never had. Strictly platonic I was told by both of them, of course.

        She is now the most bitter, angry and vindictive person I have ever known. She stated to me, after ordering that I leave the house and kids weeks after she left, and after I politely replied to her she is the one who chose to leave and I was staying, that “she knew her rights in this deal, an that she held all the power, and unless she got her way, she would destroy me”.

        The legal, emotional, physical and mental costs of this divorce have been enormous and at this point, there is no end in site. Her accusations and actions have been so bizarre and numerous, but since she is high functioning, largely ignored by the courts. This whole thing has been like an octopus that keeps reaching out another tentacle and devouring more and more of what once was a life.

        If I had only known something of Borderline Personality Disorder I would have made it my mission in life to try to better deal with this in our marriage, but unfortunately, my awareness and desire came too late. A good resource I found recently is a new book called “Splitting” by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger. It is about what it expect and how to prepare when going through a divorce with one that has a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

        Other than that, thanks for the great article, it was 100% on point.

        Gary

    • toughmat said

      Michael, the way you write is very helpful, especially now during the phase I am in. I am almost 4 months of no contact with my ex. I still wonder if she is bpd or not, but as SD has pointed out, regardless of a diagnosis her wounding is significant and it effected our relationship many times. At this point, I miss her terribly, and I am still obsessing about her daily. She was such a big part of my life, and due to my own issues, I am having a really hard time letting go. I wanted to save her, but I also just really enjoyed spending time with her, going on fun trips, and joking around with her. She was amazing much of the time. It was when I triggered her, never on purpose, that she could change. Rages were rare, but she could play some games where she would withdraw to see if I would give up a plan or something to cater to her. the worst was the feeling that I couldnt do certain things out of fear of her getting upset and of course my other relationships really suffered. (walking on eggshells I was not the most fun person to be around) Many people leave the bpd relationship and seem to thrive and almost celebrate with such confirmation they did the right thing. My situation is not like that. I keep hoping she just shows up where I am so I can see her again. I reminisce about our fun times and long for more of them. I am trying to remind myself of the bad aspects that led to breaking up and realize the healthiest thing is probably to work on myself and let her work on herself (she has a good therapist), but then what? Life is short, and I wonder if sticking it out could have led to a great relationship. I am enjoying my freedom again, but its not as great as I thought it would be. The dreams i had of the ultimate freedom from leaving her were better fantasies than realities. Or, perhaps Euphoric recall is just getting the best of me and I have it damn good right now if I just wake up.

      • Susan T. said

        Toughmat,
        I went through and I am still going through the exact things you are. It has been over a 1 ½ since I had contact with BPD ex. I also obsessed over him and still think about the good times and how wonderful he was when he wasn’t having one of his episodes. We spent every day together and did everything together. All relationships have issues that need to be worked out. He let me believe that everything was my fault. Since he was such a great person when he wasn’t having one of his episodes I overlooked a lot of things about him. I didn’t realize I was in an abusive relationship. I use to be careful of what I said around him to avoid arguments. In the beginning he put me up on a pedestal and adored me. Gradually I became the worst person in the world. He used to tell me about how his past relationships didn’t work out and he wanted ours to. I was supposed to be the one to save him. I was the best girl he had ever been with.
        These people can’t be saved. They are well aware of the way they are and do nothing to help their situation. He would project what he felt about himself onto me. I didn’t realize it but, being with him was beating me up. I had to rebuild myself all over again. They have a serious mental health issue and there is nothing that either of us can do for them. They will always be the way they are. Nobody deserves the pain that people with BPD causes on them. People with BPD hate themselves very much. They need someone to project their hate on so they can feel like a normal person. They are like vampires who need to suck blood to live. They have to project hate on someone else to have a spirit. Don’t be the person who accepts this pain.
        I know you wonder if you could have made the relationship work and you want things to be like the good times. There is nothing you could do to make the relationship work. Therapy won’t help and they will before long quit going. They will never become better and you will be a worse and beaten down person from the experience.
        Please don’t get back with her and realize you deserve better! It is going to take a lot of time and heartache but, you will get through it. You said life is short and that is why you shouldn’t put up with someone who treats you that way.
        Please keep working on yourself and don’t allow her to cause you pain again. Please find the strength to move on with your life and become a better person. Don’t let this experience make you an untrusting and bitter person. You are not the fool for being with her. She is the fool for letting you go. Only a fool would let someone who has been nothing but kind to them leave. You deserve someone who realizes your worth.

  2. Gary Conner said

    This article describes my un-diognosed estranged wife perfectly. After a 27 year marriage with 3 kids, my wife got into an affair with a family friend, justifying it all as her reaching out to show him kindness. She refused any marriage counseling, refused to talk with our pastor, cut off all her long time best friends that did not agree with what she was doing and moved out. I have been accused of just about everything you can imaging, even that I was having an affair! There has been no separations, divorce threats, affairs, substance abuse problems or domestic violence in the course of lour 27 year marriage.

    She left our home and filed for divorce almost 3 years ago. We had 2 kids still at home, age 11, 13 and 17. They were shattered by what their mother was doing and wanted to stay with me. I promised them I would fight for them, and did get temporary primary custody (not easy in California when you have a non-working mom without substance abuse problems) but it has been a brutal court battle.

    Health issues (several major back surgeries) since my wife filed for divorce and having 100% responsibility for the kids forced the sale of our business over 2 years ago. I never imagined the fight I was in for. There are severe Bi Polar type issues with many male and female relatives on my wife’s side of the family, several, including her sister have been institutionalized for extended periods of time.

    She had a very strained relationship with her mother, who passes away 25 years ago, and who she claimed abused her. My impression of her mother was that she had very obvious mental problems, but there was never a diagnosis. I and many others believed my wife had a personality disorder, but there has never been an official diagnosis, as she would not allow that and refused to even try any sort of medication.

    A clinical psychologist who talked to her briefly and un-officially several months into the divorce said to me she was bi polar, type 1 and also had what he called “maladaptive behavior syndrome”. She was the most sugary sweet, seeming loving and caring person I had ever met. through the years I saw that much of that seemed to be an act, almost like she was trying to earn points, but it didn’t seem to me it was all “from the heart”.

    I did not know how to deal with it and busied myself more and more with work to escape, which was a major mistake. I practically gave up trying to confront any of the issues because my wife could not accept even the slightest hint of criticism. Like what was said in the article, I was constantly accused of being critical, manipulative and controlling, in fact I was all to often escaping or ignoring what was going on because I didn’t know how to deal with it. Had I been more controlling I would never have allowed all the time she was spending her “friend”, who she called the big brother she never had. Strictly platonic I was told by both of them, of course.

    She is now the most bitter, angry and vindictive person I have ever known. She stated to me, after ordering that I leave the house and kids weeks after she left, and after I politely replied to her she is the one who chose to leave and I was staying, that “she knew her rights in this deal, an that she held all the power, and unless she got her way, she would destroy me”.

    The legal, emotional, physical and mental costs of this divorce have been enormous and at this point, there is no end in site. Her accusations and actions have been so bizarre and numerous, but since she is high functioning, largely ignored by the courts. This whole thing has been like an octopus that keeps reaching out another tentacle and devouring more and more of what once was a life.

    If I had only known something of Borderline Personality Disorder I would have made it my mission in life to try to better deal with this in our marriage, but unfortunately, my awareness and desire came too late. A good resource I found recently is a new book called “Splitting” by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger. It is about what it expect and how to prepare when going through a divorce with one that has a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Other than that, thanks for the great article, it was 100% on point.

    Gary

  3. Gary said

    Please remove my last name “Conner” before posting the last reply. Sorry, my mistake, I did not know the names would show in full as no one had posted a reply yet when I stared this reply. Thanks.

  4. Susan T. said

    I hope more people who have dealt with people with BPD see this. Doing research and reading about others who dealt with the same issues have helped me a lot. Anybody can get sucked in by someone with a BPD or any other abusive tendencies. Issues gradually start to happen and the abuser has such great other qualities that you don’t realize you are in an abusive situation. Don’t let anyone ruin your life or the person you are. The best advice is definitely to get completely away.

    • Tom said

      Hi Susan T. I fully agree with you. Am currently with (or am I) someone with whom I am 100% convinced she has BPD. I do not want to get into it…posted some things on ‘Reaching Out’ portion of this life-saver (mentally) blog with all credit to Savory Dish.

      My latest episode after the break up is she trying to hoover me in. Tonight she is out with friends, I know because the texted me, then came the manipulation…once am finished would love to come to come to your place (albeit I live downtown) and sleep with you. Please give me reinforcement and do not be negative, I will text you later……Those were her words. Sure I would love her to come by, spend the night…but I know that will be at 0430 when the clubs close, maybe she will go to an after-party then decide to text me…but my phone will be off.

      How do I get away? I want but I don’t want. Her proxies are good, all beautiful women out and about town. The men are for the most part losers…but she loves it. All women are whores according to her. Then she cries her friends are having babies, then that my 13 year old son is the devil…..each day is up and down…unpredictable. Plus the continues blame for all and everything. If not me, then others.

      Once we were going to make love…she says….how do I know where you have been…a flag? All I do is work, attend work related functions now and then, go to sleep early, get up early and every second weekend am with my son. I fiercly do not believe in ‘messing around’…although women in northern Europe are more up front so to speak. Nudity is no big deal.

      Anyway….I fear yet I lust….I protect yet I risk (based on everything am learning about her denial BPD)……I give but do not receive etc- I really want honesty, do not play the field (anymore) and with my ex partner had many opportunities in Lyon, Munich, Salzburg, Amsterdam, etc during business trips that lasted sometimes a week or two….never! My ex partner stated that one thing with you is that I always trusted you. Which to me was a wonderful thing for her to admit.

      Back to BPD….she has accused me of everything, being a perv. an abuser, a sexual predator, etc etc etc….if am turned on, so what does not mean that I expect. But even this she managed to put down. Here is a scenario, got back from a Carib trip…she said, well guess due to your hormones (or something like that) you want and need sex….Ok get on top of me!…I was shocked and said no honey all is fine…then she lashed out, I know you are turned on, now you have ruined it all, fuck you…and then began to hit me and pull my lips and cheeks…then grabbed my penis very hard and jerked it around….I got up…then she cried..all I wanted to do is fall asleep….the next day it was my fault she had a headache from the shit I pulled the night before…I ignored as usual….

      Lost my soul and dignity…I write this to reinforce myself by the way. Thanks everyone…without you I am a lost ship on the seas…this is my anchor. br Tom

  5. toughmat said

    Thanks Susan. I left her and.she begged me to stay and apologized. She had so been in therapy over a year amd doesnt seem as though she will stop soon which is a good sign. I decided to leave because i felt that her apologies were desperate and i needed to be free from the control and jealousy. I knew the sdysfunction would.continue unless we each healed on our own. That

    • toughmat said

      will likely take a long time and she will probably find someone else. I may as well but thats not my aim. My aim is to find myself. I was a mess before her and i still am. Like sd said two half people dont make a whole.

  6. toughmat said

    can someone please remind me why something as simple as jealousy is a reason to leave a woman that you love? Im having a very hard time letting go. I keep finding ways i could have made it work. My ex.was not nuts just wounded. Sometimes things flared up. I got mad insteas of compassionate.

  7. Susan T. said

    toughmat,
    I went through the same things. It took me a long time to let go. People with BPD will purposely do things to hurt you. My ex tried to make me jealous of others too. They need you to hurt so they can feel like a live person. They project these feelings on to you because they can’t feel them. It is like how an object gets their energy from a source. Without their source they can’t operate. My ex wasn’t nuts either and a damaged individual who can’t be fixed. He was an awesome person when he wasn’t having his episodes.
    It is natural to have compassion for these people but, you have to remember by helping them you will drain yourself of your self being. There is nothing you can do to help them. They say they want help and pretend the help you give them is working. Don’t fall for this. Please find something to fill the void she left that will leave you too busy to focus on her.

  8. toughmat said

    Thanks for responding.Susan. However my ex making me jealous was only a.tactic.she.would use if she sensed i was leaving her. Mostly she was jealous.of my time w friends, jealous of my wandering eyes if.even for a moment, and would say i put.her last. Youre right….the void is in need of healthy filling.

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