Living With A BPD Husband : My StoryI would never have imagined myself married to someone with BPD. I've worked with BPD patients in a hospital for years. However, the majority of hospitalized BPD patients are female and physically hurt themselves to deal with the stress of perceived abandonment. Most of our husbands are "functioning" borderlines who paint a totally different picture. So I can't blame myself for not knowing of his diagnosis. I have colleagues who brag about being able to spot a borderline "from a mile away", and none have suspected my husband.
He is functioning in that he is able to go to work every day and put on a mask of normalcy to the outside. His coworkers love him and he has an engaging personality. He is able to control his dysregulation in front of acquaintances.
With his family though, he either cannot or will not control his dysregulation. Very trivial events make him snap. For example, he can't handle the stress of going out to eat with the kids - it will set him off for the whole night. So we avoid going to restaurants. Actually going anywhere with the kids causes him to dysregulate. As soon as something happens that he perceives as stressful - like having to hold our 2-year-old for a few minutes - his whole day is ruined and he will be sure to ruin everyone else's fun too. He does this by sitting and sulking, snapping at us repeatedly, and just refusing to relax and enjoy. For this reason I tend to take the kids places by myself. Dealing with 2 young children on my own is so much easier than bringing an adult borderline along.
Vacations are out of the question. I've taken him on at least 4 vacations, and pretty much every time something happens to cause dysregulation. For example having to look for the baggage claim or wait for a bus to the hotel. This is enough to set a bad mood for the whole trip. He acts miserable the entire time. The first few times I thought it was my fault, and that's what my husband claimed. It took me 4 trips to realize he wasn't acting normal. I see other families together, engaging and having fun. But when you look at our family, you see me and the kids attempting to have fun, and him staring down and sulking. This group's avatar is the perfect depiction. So I decided no more vacations. I love to travel, but the trips just create bad memories.
It seems that most borderline men, rather than having a fear of abandonment, have a fear of engulfment - becoming too emotionally close. For my husband, "engulfment" includes things that wouldn't bother the average person. For example, sitting next to each other on the couch, talking about feelings (even things not related to our relationship), and sometimes even eating together at the same table can be threatening to him and cause him to dysregulate.
It took me years to realize he had an actual disorder. Once I realized he had BPD, I did a ton of research. I learned he doesn't have an evil heart, but an axis 2 personality disorder caused by events in early childhood. The disorder is irreversible. One way I look at it is you're just as likely to cure Down's Syndrome as you are BPD - they're both Axis 2 disorders. I do realize this is as good as it gets. He will never feel empathy or remorse, that's part of BPD. I love him anyway. I worry for the future, because I realize people with this disorder generally cheat and leave. So I have to wait and see what happens.
Something I forgot to mention is the splitting. He is constantly categorizing people, especially close family members, as "good" or "bad". I try not to contribute anything to these conversations, because in a matter of a day, he can split that person to the opposite side and I would be wrong with whatever I said. He splits his older son - at the moment he is wonderful. He's currently not speaking to his siblings, but I know that any day they will suddenly become the best people ever. He splits me often too. The splitting can last for hours, days, or weeks... then suddenly, after no particular event, he's normal again. Strangely, he splits people he does not know as "good" the majority of the time. He will verbally protect and defend them to no end. Much more than he would ever for a family member.
I think the worst time for him was when I was pregnant with our kids. I think my pregnancies caused the biggest threat of engulfment, because typically a man is supposed to stand up and be supportive when his wife is pregnant. This was far too overwhelming for him - he didn't speak to me for months and when he did talk, it was just nastiness and sarcasm. Even after this. I don't think he's a bad person and can't even imagine what goes on in his head.